I have neglected to share my sermons the past few weeks. A few of you have noticed and mentioned it, so I’m going to try to catch up. There will be a normal daily post later.
The following is an English transcript of the message from a few weeks back.
“For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!”
Psalms 34:7-8 NLT
What are angels? Last week we looked at a lot to do with the spiritual forces of darkness. This week I want to consider what we know about angels from the Bible. Angels are very popular in the modern world. There are many myths and legends attached to angels. We will try to sort the truth from the myths this morning.
First of all, what are angels? I want to say at the beginning that there is a lot about angels that we don’t know. They are largely mysterious to us. That is okay. We will not try to make up facts about them; that is dangerous. Rather, we will accept the truth we know from God.
Angels are created beings, and they are spirits. They do not have a physical body; though, they are able to take various forms. This is due to their spiritual nature. We see various types of angels mentioned in the Bible: cherubim, seraphim, princes, beasts, and the archangel. From these various types, we understand that angels have different roles or responsibilities in heaven. Given that there are princes and an archangel, there appears to be a hierarchy that angels follow.
“Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens! Praise him from the skies! Praise him, all his angels! Praise him, all the armies of heaven! Praise him, sun and moon! Praise him, all you twinkling stars! Praise him, skies above! Praise him, vapors high above the clouds! Let every created thing give praise to the Lord, for he issued his command, and they came into being.”
Psalms 148:1-5 NLT
““Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?”
Job 38:4-7 NLT
“It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. They were calling out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!””
Isaiah 6:1-3 NLT
“In my vision I saw what appeared to be a throne of blue lapis lazuli above the crystal surface over the heads of the cherubim. Then the Lord spoke to the man in linen clothing and said, “Go between the whirling wheels beneath the cherubim, and take a handful of burning coals and scatter them over the city.” He did this as I watched. The cherubim were standing at the south end of the Temple when the man went in, and the cloud of glory filled the inner courtyard. Then the glory of the Lord rose up from above the cherubim and went over to the entrance of the Temple. The Temple was filled with this cloud of glory, and the courtyard glowed brightly with the glory of the Lord. The moving wings of the cherubim sounded like the voice of God Almighty and could be heard even in the outer courtyard.”
Ezekiel 10:1-5 NLT
Angels are often called the hosts or armies of heaven. As such, they may operate in that sort of military order of authority. That brings us to consider what angels do. One of the main things that angels do is fight spiritual battles. How they do this is mostly a mystery to us, but we understand from the Bible that there are spiritual battles going on in the heavenly places all the time. One of the main battles is for the souls of men, of course.
“I looked up and saw a man dressed in linen clothing, with a belt of pure gold around his waist. His body looked like a precious gem. His face flashed like lightning, and his eyes flamed like torches. His arms and feet shone like polished bronze, and his voice roared like a vast multitude of people. Only I, Daniel, saw this vision. The men with me saw nothing, but they were suddenly terrified and ran away to hide. So I was left there all alone to see this amazing vision. My strength left me, my face grew deathly pale, and I felt very weak. Then I heard the man speak, and when I heard the sound of his voice, I fainted and lay there with my face to the ground. Just then a hand touched me and lifted me, still trembling, to my hands and knees. And the man said to me, “Daniel, you are very precious to God, so listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you.” When he said this to me, I stood up, still trembling. Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia. Now I am here to explain what will happen to your people in the future, for this vision concerns a time yet to come.””
Daniel 10:5-14 NLT
“Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”
Ephesians 6:11-12 NLT
“Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels. Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last— salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth— the one who accuses them before our God day and night. And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.”
Revelation 12:7-11 NLT
Another function of angels is to be messengers. They carry messages from God to man. This does not appear to be a frequent event in history, and it was not done for small events. The most notable angel messages were those regarding the coming of John the Baptist and of Jesus. There were also numerous other angel messages in the Old Testament and some in the New.
It appears that God has used fewer angelic messages in the New Testament, the time after Jesus was on earth. This agrees with the teachings of Jesus that indicate God’s message to man was complete in Jesus. There will be nothing added to God’s revelation of Himself. Everything we know or learn of God will agree with what He has spoken in the Bible.
One important message given by an angel was to the Gentile name Cornelius. He was a Roman soldier who loved God. The Lord sent an angel to him while he was praying to promise that the Apostle Peter would come. Peter also received a vision from God. He came and preached Jesus to Cornelius, and that was the beginning of salvation coming to us the Gentile people.
“While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.” Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.” Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news!”
Luke 1:11-19 NLT
“In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you! ” Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!””
Luke 1:26-33 NLT
“In Caesarea there lived a Roman army officer named Cornelius, who was a captain of the Italian Regiment. He was a devout, God-fearing man, as was everyone in his household. He gave generously to the poor and prayed regularly to God. One afternoon about three o’clock, he had a vision in which he saw an angel of God coming toward him. “Cornelius!” the angel said. Cornelius stared at him in terror. “What is it, sir?” he asked the angel. And the angel replied, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have been received by God as an offering! Now send some men to Joppa, and summon a man named Simon Peter. He is staying with Simon, a tanner who lives near the seashore.” As soon as the angel was gone, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier, one of his personal attendants. He told them what had happened and sent them off to Joppa.”
Acts of the Apostles 10:1-8 NLT
Though angels are spiritual and supernatural beings, they are not omnipotent or omnipresent. They are restricted by space and time. Angels are said to fly in the Bible. Some of them have six wings; some appear to have only two wings. It takes them time for angels to get from one place to another. We especially notice this in a conversation the prophet Daniel had with an angel who mentioned the archangel Michael.
Angels are used by God to deliver both blessing and judgment. It was the angel of the Lord who went through Egypt and killed the firstborn of every family during the plagues of Egypt in the Book of Exodus. Angels also went with Israel to lead them and even fight for them in battles. One notable battle was when King Sennacherib of Assyria blasphemed God and Israel. In that battle, God sent angels to destroy the Assyrians as they slept, winning the battle for Israel.
“For the Lord will pass through the land to strike down the Egyptians. But when he sees the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe, the Lord will pass over your home. He will not permit his death angel to enter your house and strike you down.
And that night at midnight, the Lord struck down all the firstborn sons in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sat on his throne, to the firstborn son of the prisoner in the dungeon. Even the firstborn of their livestock were killed.”
Exodus 12:23, 29 NLT
“Then King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz cried out in prayer to God in heaven. And the Lord sent an angel who destroyed the Assyrian army with all its commanders and officers. So Sennacherib was forced to return home in disgrace to his own land. And when he entered the temple of his god, some of his own sons killed him there with a sword. That is how the Lord rescued Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem from King Sennacherib of Assyria and from all the others who threatened them. So there was peace throughout the land.”
2 Chronicles 32:20-22 NLT
Another important role of angels is watching over and protecting God’s people. The idea of guardian angels is very popular today. There is little evidence that every believer is assigned his own particular angel, but we do know that Jesus said that angels watch over little children. We also have promises that God’s angels are assisting the righteous.
We do not see evidence that unbelievers have guardian angels. In fact, the Bible speaks about the dangers that unbelievers face alone. Also, we see God using angels to bring punishment on the wicked. At the end of time, God will send His angels to gather the wicked into judgment after Jesus has come with His angels to take the righteous to glory.
““Beware that you don’t look down on any of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father.”
Matthew 18:10 NLT
“For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go.”
Psalms 91:11 NLT
“When Ahab got home, he told Jezebel everything Elijah had done, including the way he had killed all the prophets of Baal. So Jezebel sent this message to Elijah: “May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them.” Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.” Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again. Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.””
1 Kings 19:1-7 NLT
We know angels watch over believers, but who commands angels? Can we pray and tell angels what to do? Will they listen to us?
We see numerous times that angels command others not to bow to or to pray to or to worship them. Prayer and worship are reserved for God alone. Angels are His servants. In one place, an angel tells the Apostle John he is his fellow-servant, his comrade under God.
We read in the Bible that humans were created a little lower than the angels. As such, angels are above us, and we cannot command them. We can, however, ask God to help and protect us, and He may choose to use His angels to do that. Angels answer directly to God and to no one else.
Throughout history there have been people who worshipped angels. This was directly forbidden for believers. That makes sense, as worshipping or praying to anything or anyone who is not God is idolatry.
“What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor.”
Psalms 8:4-5 NKJV
“And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.””
Revelation 19:10 NKJV
Do people become angels when they die? This is a common belief, but it is false. Angels are not people and people are not angels. It would be like asking if dogs become cats when they die. We are completely different creatures.
The Bible has hundreds of references to angels. In all of those situations, angels are never talked about as if they were babies, children, women, or elderly people. Always angels are talked about using masculine pronouns. They are not men, and Jesus says they do not have gender the way humans do, but they are certainly not beautiful women or precious cherub babies.
One important characteristic of people is that we are fallen in sin, but we have access to salvation through Jesus. The angels of heaven are not fallen, and they always obey God. They have no need of a Savior; though, scripture says they long to look into the wonders of salvation. The Bible also says that the angels of heaven rejoice when a sinner is saved.
Believers become heirs with Christ. What all this means, we do not understand, but the Bible tells us that believers will reign with Christ and will rule and judge over angels in the new heaven and new earth. I do not understand what all that means, but it is clear that people will not be angels. Rather, believers will change from being a little lower than the angels to ruling over them with Christ.
“Jesus replied, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God. For when the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage. In this respect they will be like the angels in heaven.”
Matthew 22:29-30 NLT
““Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to sit beside Abraham at the heavenly banquet. The rich man also died and was buried, and he went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side.”
Luke 16:22-23 NLT
“Jesus replied, “Marriage is for people here on earth. But in the age to come, those worthy of being raised from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage. And they will never die again. In this respect they will be like angels. They are children of God and children of the resurrection.”
Luke 20:34-36 NLT
There are also fallen angels. Satan himself is an angel. We only have a small piece of the story, but the Bible tells us that Satan rose up against God. He wanted to be God. For his rebellion, he was cast out of heaven and all the angels who joined him. Revelation speaks prophetically about the devil as a dragon sweeping a third of the stars of heaven away. Many Bible scholars understand this to speak of when Satan convinced other angels to join him in rebelling against God.
Jesus said that at the end of time, the devil and his angels will be cast into the bottomless pit of hell, which was prepared for them. Also, all those who have fallen under the rule of the devil will be punished with them.
Angels are eternal beings. They will never die. This is similar to humans except our earthly bodies will die. Our spirits will live on forever, either in glory with God or in hell with the devil and his angels.
““Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:”
Matthew 25:41 NKJV
“And I remind you of the angels who did not stay within the limits of authority God gave them but left the place where they belonged. God has kept them securely chained in prisons of darkness, waiting for the great day of judgment. And don’t forget Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns, which were filled with immorality and every kind of sexual perversion. Those cities were destroyed by fire and serve as a warning of the eternal fire of God’s judgment. In the same way, these people—who claim authority from their dreams—live immoral lives, defy authority, and scoff at supernatural beings. But even Michael, one of the mightiest of the angels, did not dare accuse the devil of blasphemy, but simply said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (This took place when Michael was arguing with the devil about Moses’ body.)”
Jude 1:6-9 NLT
“Then I witnessed in heaven another significant event. I saw a large red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, with seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept away one-third of the stars in the sky, and he threw them to the earth. He stood in front of the woman as she was about to give birth, ready to devour her baby as soon as it was born.”
Revelation 12:3-4 NLT
The Bible says there are countless numbers of angels. There are far more of the heavenly host than there are of the hosts of darkness. Several times in the Bible, God opened the eyes of men so they could see the hosts of heaven. This was to show them that greater are those with God’s people than those who are with the disobedient.
We have nothing to fear with God’s hosts encamping around about us. Does this mean we will never suffer? No, we will have physical troubles, but the host of heaven will help us fight our spiritual battles so that we come out victorious.
“When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha. “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.”
2 Kings 6:15-17 NLT
We see in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus was praying in agony before going to die on the cross that there were angels who came and comforted Him. How they comforted Him, we don’t know, but we do know that God can send His angelic servants to help us, as well.
““Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him.”
Luke 22:42-43 NLT
Every child of God should feel great courage in knowing that God has provided every resource we need to conquer. The angels are watching. They are with us, surrounding us. In whatever trouble we face, we can ask God to send us help, and they will be there.
What a tremendous blessing! I look forward to the day when I am in glory with God and can begin to learn all that has happened in the spiritual world outside our view. I hope to meet the angels who fought on my behalf. But until then, I will rest in the promise that they are with me wherever I go.