The Thing About Angels...
I’ve noticed something about our present world. Most of the time, it appears to be so cynical, so self-satisfied, so materialistic, so confident in the things that are seen, that it has very little time for spiritual things. But every now and then, the world comes around to the thought that maybe it ought to pay more attention to a wider reality.
I’ve noticed something as well, and that is, whenever the world begins to describe what our Christianity is, they almost always get it wrong. They give us a whole set of mistaken impressions as to what Christianity is, and what the Bible is supposed to teach. So, that having been said, I thought that it would be good for us to talk about that subject that is so inspiring to some, so little known to others, but which always produces a kind of percolation of thought within our livesthe subject of angels.
There are such things in the world as angels. Many times, you and I face the prospect of dealing with angels. So let’s think together about their origin, about their nature, about the mission to which God has called them, and even about their present activity. Finally, in an area of tremendous interest, let’s consider what will be their prophetic role in the world that is now breaking upon us.
Before we can realize who angels are, we must first understand their origin. Was there ever a time when angels were not? The answer is yes. Why? Because angels are created beings.
Think of our cosmology for just a moment. There was a timeif you will permit me to use the word “time” about that era before time existedwhen there was only God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Spirit and the Son are co-equal and co-eternal with the Father. God is that eternal Being.
But then God chose to produce an order of creation, once upon a time. Among the very first beings He created was a very special group called “Angels.” After that, He produced another very special group called “Humans.” So there are angels, there are humans, and then, of course, lesser orders of created beings such as the animals. So the origin of angels is that they were made. They were not propagated by God in the sense that they are His generic sons and daughters. Instead, they are created beings.
So the Bible uses the word “created” about angels. There was a time when angels were not, but they were created by God. It is an important difference to keep in mind. Already we should draw a couple of conclusions from that. Because angels are created beings, they cannot be God, as God is not an angel, correct? Therefore, we should never worship angels. In fact, the Bible says that it’s a great sin to worship an angel, and no real angel will ever let you worship him. We should think of angels as being more capable than man in many ways, but less than God. We should also, while we are at it, remember that there is coming a time when man will be shown to be greater than the angels. Man was made a little lower than the angels for the time being, but Paul tells us that one day we shall judge angels (1 Corinthians 6:3).
The Bible says that when Jesus Christ came down, He took not on Himself “the nature of angels.” And so of course, they were not in the nature of God. From the Scripture, we can then know that they have a different nature from men. They are not men. Also, because they have a different nature from God, they must be created, and not propagated, by God.
If then, angels have a nature that is unique unto itself, what can we say about that nature?
These are spiritual beings, these individuals called angels. They are subservient to God, and they are temporarily superior to men. On at least one occasion in Scripture, they are called a “flame of fire” (Hebrews 1:7).
One of the essential things that we have to remember about angels is that they are free moral agents. They have power to choose. We know that at least in the beginning, angels could say “yes” or “no” to God.
The Bible teaches us that there are two kinds of angels. There are elect angelsthose who chose to follow the Lord; and there are fallen angelsthose who chose to follow Satan, Lucifer, and chose to be enemies of God. Therefore we know that even at this moment, an historic conflict is being played out in the universe, a conflict which in part involves the angels. Angels, good and bad, are in a contest with one another, great in power and might.
The Scripture teaches that the elect angels have a mission in life. Christ talked about children, and He said “in heaven their angels do always behold the face of My Father” (Matthew 18:10). So angels minister especially to children. In fact, the indication of Scripture is that every child has an angel, and that angel produces good results in that child’s life, and represents that child in many ways. Angels also minister to adult human beings. Hebrews tells us: “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14).
I guess that I can confess this in public. I travel somewhat, to one place and another. Therefore, in that I am not home all of the time, what do I do about my wife and family at home? I’ll tell you a little practice I have: I assign four angels, one to each corner of the lot on which our house stands. And I tell them, “Please take care of all of the details until I get back, and I’ll need you to take care of them then, too.”
Does this sound sacrilegious? Let me tell you once again, the Bible says that angels are “ministering spirits,” to minister, exercise their strength, for, or on behalf of those “who shall be heirs of salvation.” This has been a very practical program for me.
Angels, also, are assigned to churches. Remember, Christ wrote to the angels of the seven churches of the Book of the Revelation, “Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus”; “unto the angel of the church in Smyrna”; “to the angel of the church in Pergamum,” and so on.
Their Present Activity
So angels have a mission: divine representation. As a part of that divine representation, the Scripture indicates that in a very real sense they carry from heaven the answer to our prayers. Daniel prayed, back in the Book of Daniel, and an angel was sent out to bring to Daniel the answer to his prayers. The angel got there late, you will remember, and Daniel, in a sense, said, “Where have you been?” The angel said, “I would have been here very quickly after you prayed, but I had a battle with the Prince of Persia, and he stood in my way” (Daniel 10:10-14). So we are told that angels represent the answer to prayers, and they bring to us a very real divine gift at times, the gift of God’s protection.
Now, in that we mentioned that here is a Prince of Persia who is an angel, let’s remember for just a moment what fallen angels do. Fallen angels, in the service of Satan, set out to deceive the nations. They subvert the work of God. They work havoc in the Church. They are against the things of Christ. But especially do they whisper in the ear of every ruler of the world. They say, “Do this and do that,” and they try to steer that nation away from God.
You’ll recall that when the devil is finally placed in the bottomless pit, the Scripture says “that he should deceive the nations no more” (Revelation 20:3). No more of his unelect, fallen angels will be sent out to subvert the nations of the world. What a time of blessing that will be! So in terms of high policy, angels operate from both heaven and hell.
Their Prophetic Role
In the prophetic time, angels perform their message to the churches; they sound trumpets of divine judgment; and they carry out the will of God in capturing the Devil. In fact, when we look at what happens in the Tribulation, I rather guess that we will find a thousand other instances in which angels will have a role to play, that perhaps we aren’t told of now.
I think there’s a reason for this: in the Scripture, we do not have a square block with numbers on it, that precisely tells us of all of the things that the angels do. Rather, what we have in Scripture are very stirring statements of their activity. The implication is that they work on what to us is a serendipity basis. They work unpredictably in our lives, and in the life of this world.
Angelsthey are God’s agents. They do His bidding. They don’t often tell us what they are up to. But they operate in order to carry the will of God to the universe wherever it is needed. In that sense, they are so terribly necessary in your life and mine.
Taken from Angels and the Dragon by Dave Breese
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