There is a LOT of speculation offered when it comes to the topic of supernatural beings, specifically angels. I have no intention of declaring myself an expert on a topic which I cannot say I have relentlessly pursued; but I find myself, like many others, intrigued by them. One evidence of our cohesive intrigue is that Amazon currently offers 6,321 books about angels. While we cannot know everything at this stage in history, there are such clear Biblical references to them that we can be certain they exist; and additionally draw certain conclusions about them. I find the topic personally relevant because, well, they are eternal, just as we are. And they were created by Christ, just as we were (Col. 1:16). But mostly I find angels intriguing because since creation points to creator, I believe they tell us some things about God.
We can’t possibly explore all there is to know in a single post, but here are 2 truths that I’d like to highlight:
- Angels act upon the command of God. They are intimately aware of why he deserves to be worshiped. They are not free spirits hopping around on clouds, playing harps and gently chastising us when we are about to make a bad decision. Have you ever stopped to consider that these are the very beings that serve God as their commander in chief? It is good to remember that while we are wise to offer appropriate respect, angels are not to be worshiped — or prioritized over a pursuit of God himself. I also conclude from various texts (ex: Daniel 10) that angels are often on very specific missions. They are “sent,” and they are given charge over people (Michael watched over Israel) and territories. There is order to their efforts. What does this say about God? He is a God of order. He is intentional in his efforts. He has a plan for his creation – no one was made for nothing. When we pray, he responds.
- They are sometimes referenced as ministering spirits, and were frequently used as messengers. Hebrews 1:14 “Are not angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” Abraham was visited by an angel immediately before his wife became pregnant with Isaac. Gideon was visited by an angel who gave him the mission to fight for his people. Shepherds were visited by a host of angels announcing the birth of Jesus. Jesus was attended by angels after he faced temptation in the desert. What much of this evidences to me about God is that he deeply loves us, and employs angels to minister to us and ultimately serve his goal of making himself known to us. Here’s something else I find intriguing about many of the visits; see if you notice a theme:
- Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel who was sent to tell her about her coming pregnancy with Jesus: Luke 1:30 “But the angel said to her, ‘do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.’”
- Visit to Zechariah about birth of John the Baptist: Luke 1:11-13 “Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard…”
- Visit to Daniel in response to his prayer for clarity – Daniel 10:12 “then he continued, ‘Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.’”
“Do not be afraid,” is a phrase offered by the angel in each of these visits. Upon realization of their presence, these people were terrified. And they are on the side of the good guy! I admittedly speculate, but I think it has something to do with the fact that these are the ones that serve the God who is completely holy, completely compassionate, and completely just. He is big. And we are small. So anything outside of our range of immediate experience of strength, power, and might, is a little terrifying — it doesn’t mean it’s bad. Angels are not wimpy, they are tougher than the picture we often paint them into. What does this tell us about God? If angels serve at His word, and upon sight we are often terrified, it begs that we offer the same healthy respect to the one who discharges them at his pleasure. He is big. And he has demonstrated his love for us by pouring out his compassion in offering so much insight to the purposes he had in mind for so many; through the visits of angels.
My sweet friends, the greatest take-away I could encourage you to come away with is that God is on mission for us. Angels exist. And they are subject to his command. They offer protection, celebrate our eternal decisions (Luke 15:7) and provide clarity; as we have seen. I admit this is a humble attempt at capturing such a massively eternal, intensely magnificent topic. I beg your grace as you consider these words.