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The Work of Angels.....by Finis Dake... PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jim   
Wednesday, 20 September 2017
 

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The Work of Angels

In the previous chapters we have already studied several aspects of the work of angels. Here we will take a more thorough look at the subject in all of its facets as revealed in Scripture.

Angels Serve God

Of course, in the broadest sense all that angels do can be considered service to God. As Psalm 103:20 states, angels are beings which "excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word." But there are specific duties angels have that fall exclusively into the category of serving God.

Angels Sing, Praise and Worship God

Quoted above, Psalm 103:20 is really a commandment to worship, beginning with the imperative, "Bless the LORD, ye his angels." A similar command is found in Psalm 148:2, "Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts." That they obey this command has been clearly demonstrated in the previous chapters. We know that angels shouted for joy at creation (Job 38:4-7) and worshipped at the birth of Christ (Lk. 2:13-14). Such worship is seen throughout the book of Revelation, as typified in the scene in chapter 5 when the living creatures and elders are joined by "many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength" (vv. 11-12).

Angels Minister Before God

One of the ministries of the living creatures was to care for the "golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints" (Rev. 5:8). These are golden bowls full of incense which represent the prayers of the saints. This ministry is complemented by the activity of the angel in Revelation 8:3-5 which

. . . came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.

This ministry carried out at the altar involving incense is always a priestly function, yet here we see angels performing it, indicating that they also minister unto the Lord (1 Chr. 23:13; 2 Chr. 29:11). There are also angels associated with ministry in the heavenly temple in Revelation 14:15-19.

Angels Perform Guard Duty

Another way angels serve the Lord is by guarding various things at His command.

The Tree of Life

The first mention of angels guarding anything is when Adam and Eve were driven out of the garden of Eden and God stationed cherubim and a flaming sword to keep the way to the tree of life hidden (Gen. 3:24).

The Abyss and the Euphrates River

Revelation 9:1-3 describes the ministry of the angel who has the key to the bottomless pit (otherwise known as the abyss, from the Greek word abussos, translated "bottomless"). This angel opened the abyss and released a horde of demonic locusts who had the power to torment men for five months. Later in this same chapter, the angel with the sixth trumpet is commanded to "Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates" (v. 14). These fallen angels have been "prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men" (v. 15). They are the leaders of the 200,000,000 demon horsemen who have also been bound in the abyss and will be loosed under the sixth trumpet to cause the second woe (vv. 16-19).

In Revelation 20 the angel came not only with the key to the bottomless pit, but also with "a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season" (vv. 1-3). We see here that not only do angels guard things, but this responsibility also involves binding and loosing other spirit beings.

The Gates of the New Jerusalem

John said he was carried away in the Spirit to "a great and high mountain" where he saw the "great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God" (Rev. 21:10). This city had "the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal" (v. 11). In addition, there was "a wall great and high, and . . . twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel" (v. 12). Of the guard posts mentioned, this would have to be the most pleasant of all!

Angels Drive Spirit Horses and Chariots

Paul taught that there were many things in the invisible world like the things we have in the visible world: "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made" (Rom. 1:20). Our vague conception of spiritual things makes it hard for us to grasp the realities of the spirit world. All we know about it is what the Bible reveals. If we take Paul literally here we could easily believe that there are many kinds of heavenly creatures—just like the incredible variety we have on earth. Paul did not limit the number of invisible things that are made clear by things in the earth; so to be wise, let us not limit them either. We know for a fact that there are horses in heaven, as proved in many scriptures.

Elijah’s Translation

The second chapter of 2 Kings opens up with the words, "And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal." It was evidently known that Elijah was to be taken to heaven that day, as is clear from the encounters with the sons of the prophets at both Bethel and Jericho (vv. 3, 5). Obviously, Elijah knew it as well, for he said to Elisha, "Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me" (v. 9). Elijah then told Elisha that his request would be granted if he saw him when he was taken away (v. 10). Then, while they were having their last words together, there suddenly appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated them and took Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind (v. 11). And when "Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof," obviously indicating the angelic drivers of these spirit horses and chariots (v. 12, emphasis added).

Elisha Surrounded by the Syrian Army

Sometime after the healing of Naaman, the captain of the army of Syria (2 Ki. 5), the king of Syria made war on Israel, taking counsel with his servants as to where to make camp and attack. These camps and places of attack were made known to Elisha who then passed the information on to the king of Israel who was saved three times this way (2 Ki. 6:8-10). When it was discovered that Elisha was telling these secrets, the king of Syria sent out spies and located him in Dothan. He then sent horses, chariots, and a great army by night, and they encompassed the whole city (vv. 11-14).

In the morning, the servant of Elisha saw the Syrians and returned to the prophet, saying fearfully, "Alas, my master! how shall we do?" (v. 15). Elisha answered, "Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them" (v. 16). Elisha then prayed for his servant’s eyes to be opened, and they were: "and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha" (v. 17).

Visions of Zechariah

Describing his first vision, Zechariah writes,

I saw by night, and behold a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees that were in the bottom; and behind him were there red horses, speckled, and white. Then said I, O my lord, what are these? And the angel that talked with me said unto me, I will shew thee what these be. And the man that stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, These are they whom the LORD hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth. (Zech. 1:8-10)

The riders of the horses are invisible agencies of God—angels—sent forth into the earth to accomplish various purposes. The horses are not symbolic at all, but literal creatures—actual spirit horses created to live on the planet heaven and be used by those going back and forth between heaven and earth.

In his tenth vision Zechariah again saw such spirit beings:

And I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains; and the mountains were mountains of brass. In the first chariot were red horses; and in the second chariot black horses; and in the third chariot white horses; and in the fourth chariot grisled and bay horses. Then I answered and said unto the angel that talked with me, What are these, my lord? And the angel answered and said unto me, These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth. The black horses which are therein go forth into the north country; and the white go forth after them; and the grisled go forth toward the south country. And the bay went forth, and sought to go that they might walk to and fro through the earth: and he said, Get you hence, walk to and fro through the earth. So they walked to and fro through the earth. Then cried he upon me, and spake unto me, saying, Behold, these that go toward the north country have quieted my spirit in the north country. (Zech. 6:1-8)

Again, this must be taken literally of heavenly spirit creatures. That there are such horses and other creatures on the planet heaven (and no doubt on other planets) is clear from the fact that the visible things on earth clearly show the invisible things in heaven (Rom. 1:20). The colors are not symbolic any more than the various colors of earthly horses. They merely show that there are many varieties of created things in heaven, as we have on earth.

The Second Coming of Christ

In what had to have been one of the most spectacular visions he had seen, John writes,

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. (Rev. 19:11-14)

Here we see the armies of heaven on white horses following Christ, who also rides a white horse, coming from heaven to seize the governments of this world and to reign forever (Dan. 2:44; 7:13-14). These spirit horses are as real as those we know on earth. In size, shape, and outward appearance they are alike, being different only in bodily substance. All visible things are thus like their invisible counterparts (Rom. 1:20; Col. 1:15-18).

If there are horses in heaven, there may be all kinds of animals, for heaven is called a "better country," and is sure to be as good as the planet earth (Heb. 11:10-16). We know there are cities, streets, mansions, rivers, trees, and other things in heaven because they are mentioned in Scripture. The more we accept the many plain scriptures on things in the heavenly world, the more real the next life will become to us now.

Angels Do Scout Work for God

As we have seen, it is clear from Scripture that there are spirit horses which are driven by angels, for a variety of purposes. At least one of those purposes involves the angelic assignment of doing scout work for God. This was their purpose in Zechariah’s visions (1:7-11; 6:1-8). When Zechariah asked the man in his first vision who the various riders were, he was told, "these are they whom the LORD hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth" (1:10). After accomplishing their mission, they reported back to the angel of the Lord, saying, "We have walked to and fro through the earth, and, behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest" (1:11). Thus the riders are explained to be persons whom the Lord sent forth as scouts to report on conditions in the various nations.

Such was God’s purpose in sending angels to Sodom. He told Abraham, "Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great . . . I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know" (Gen. 18:20-21).

Angels Serve Men

In Hebrews 1:14, Paul describes angels as "ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation." Angels fulfill this excellent description in many ways.

Angels Lead Sinners to Preachers

A wonderful example of this is seen in the life of Cornelius. One of at least ten centurions mentioned in Scripture, Cornelius and his household were among the first Gentiles to hear the gospel after Pentecost. In Acts 10:2 Luke gives a vivid description of Cornelius’ character: "A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway." In addition, he is revealed in v. 22 to be "a just man" who had a "good report among all the nation of the Jews." He was even fasting on this particular day, according to his own testimony in v. 30. None of these fine qualities could save him, but God did respond to Cornelius by sending an angel to direct him to the very one who could present the gospel to him.

At about the ninth hour of the day an angel came to him in a vision (v. 3) and said, "Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God" (v. 4). The angel then gave Cornelius specific instructions to "send men to Joppa" and find Simon Peter (v. 5). The angel even told him exactly where Peter was staying.

The next day God prepared Peter’s heart to take the gospel to the Gentiles by showing him a vision three times, telling him not to consider common or unclean what God has cleansed (vv. 9-16). Then, when Cornelius’ men arrived, the Spirit told Peter to go with them (19-20). He obeyed, and while he was still preaching, "the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word" (v. 44). They received the Holy Spirit ­and spoke in tongues, magnifying God (v. 46). Peter thus declared, "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?" (v. 47).

When Paul says that these ministering spirits are "sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation" he uses the Greek word apostello, meaning to send forth as a messenger with a commission, the sender remaining behind. The noun apostle denotes one thus sent. The angel Cornelius saw was sent to him in this capacity. Cornelius then became an heir of salvation.

Angels Direct Preachers to Sinners

In the case of Cornelius above, the angel directed him to Peter who then preached the gospel to him. At other times, angels may direct preachers to those who need their message. Such was the case with Philip. After he had preached the gospel in the city of Samaria, an angel appeared to him, saying, "Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza" (Acts 8:26). Gaza was about a hundred miles south of Samaria, yet Philip obeyed instantly, leaving a wonderful revival and a city with all its conveniences to go to the desert to preach to one soul. He wasn’t even told how far south to go or why he was going. But because of his obedience, this angelic encounter resulted in the Ethiopian eunuch being saved (Acts 8:27-38).

Angels Warn Men of Danger

The angel who appeared to Cornelius helped spare him from the greatest danger of all—eternity in hell. Angels also warn men of mortal danger. An example of this was when the angel appeared in a dream to Joseph, saying, "Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him" (Mt. 2:13). Joseph heeded this warning as soon as he woke up, for the Scripture says "he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt" (v. 14, emphasis added). It was good that he did, for when the wise men didn’t return to Herod as he had commanded them, he "was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men" (v. 16). After Herod died, the angel, true to his word, appeared to Joseph in another dream to tell him that it was safe to return to Israel (vv. 19-20).

Angels Protect Saints

Psalm 34:7 declares that "the angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them." Psalm 91:11 further emphasizes this idea: "For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways."

Daniel experienced just such protection when he was thrown into the lions’ den for breaking Darius’ foolish law by praying to God. When Darius came the next morning, after fasting all night long, Daniel proclaimed, "My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me" (Dan. 6:22).

Peter also knew what it meant to have angelic protection, having been delivered from prison twice by an angel. The first time was when he and John had been thrown into prison by the Sadducees (Acts 5:17-28). But then "the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life" (vv. 19-20). The second time was after Herod Agrippa had James killed with the sword. It pleased the Jews so much he decided to kill Peter as well (Acts 12:1-3). But while he was in prison, the church was praying for him (v. 5). On the night when Herod was going to kill him,

the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him. (Acts 12:7-10)

What an experience! The next verse shows the effect it had on Peter. It begins, "And when Peter was come to himself," indicating he wasn’t fully aware that what was happening was real. But when he was sure of himself once again, he said, "Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews" (v. 11).

Indeed, Matthew 18:10 warns anyone who might think to harm God’s children to consider this ministry of angels: "Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven."

Angels Strengthen Saints

There are times when we must simply endure our various trials. The ministry of angels at that point will not be protection from the trials, but strength in the midst of them. After killing the 450 prophets of Baal, Elijah fled for his life from the wrath of Jezebel. He went a day’s journey into the wilderness and then sat down under a juniper tree and actually prayed for God to kill him (1 Ki. 19:4). Exhausted by his flight from Jezebel, he went to sleep. Then an angel touched him—not to take his life in answer to his prayer, but to feed him in preparation for a long journey. His fare was simple, but mighty under God’s blessing—merely a cake baked on coals and a cruse of water. No doubt food never tasted better to a worn runner. After this meal he slept again under the personal protection of the angel. Awakened by the angel a second time, Elijah was told the journey was too great without more of the angel’s cooking. He went in the strength of such food forty days and forty nights, and came to Horeb, the mount of God (vv. 5-8).

Jesus also knew the strengthening ministry of angels. After fasting forty days in the wilderness and enduring victoriously the direct temptations of the devil himself, the Bible says that "angels came and ministered unto him" (Mt. 4:11). The second occasion for this type of ministry was near the end of His life, while He was praying in the garden of Gethsemane. Luke records that in the midst of His prayer, "there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him" (Lk. 22:43). Perhaps without that ministry He wouldn’t have been able to continue as He did: "And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (v. 44).

Angels Come in Answer to Prayer

We have already seen this in several of the texts we’ve examined. When Peter was miraculously released from prison by an angel—just before he was to be executed—Luke is careful to note that it was while "prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him" (Acts 12:5). It was in the midst of Jesus’ prayer in the garden that an angel came to His aid (Lk. 22:43). And Jesus knew that more would come if He asked for them. Admonishing Peter for trying to deliver Him with a sword, Jesus said, "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?" (Mt. 26:53). It was while Cornelius was praying that the angel appeared to him, leading to his salvation and that of his entire household (Acts 10).

Abraham understood the ministry of angels. While commissioning his servant to look for a wife for Isaac, Abraham spoke prophetically concerning angelic assistance, saying, "The LORD, before whom I walk, will send his angel with thee, and prosper thy way; and thou shalt take a wife for my son of my kindred, and of my father’s house" (Gen. 24:40). Perhaps it was confidence in this word that encouraged the servant to pray so specifically that the girl he asked for a drink would also offer to water the camels—let her be the one You have chosen for Isaac’s wife (Gen. 24:12-14). We don’t know exactly how the angel prospered the way of this servant, but it could have been by prompting Rachel to respond exactly as the man had prayed.

Some vivid illustrations of angels coming in direct answer to prayer occurred in the life of Daniel. In chapter 9, after reading in Jeremiah that God would complete the desolations of Jerusalem in seventy years (vv. 1-2), Daniel prayed a powerful prayer of confession for the sins of an entire nation (vv. 3-19). While he was still praying, Gabriel came and said,

O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision. (vv. 22-23)

Then in chapter 10, Daniel described his vision and another angelic encounter that occurred after he had spent three weeks in prayer and fasting. Gabriel specifically told him that "from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words" (v. 12). In other words, "I am come to answer the prayer that you have prayed."

Angels Receive Departed Saints

While it is clear that angels minister to saints in a variety of ways while living, there is yet another service they perform after we die. According to Luke 16:22, when the beggar Lazarus died he "was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom." In contrast, the rich man simply "died, and was buried," and then found himself being tormented in hell (v. 23).

Angels Bear Messages

As stated in the first chapter, bearing messages is at the heart of angelic activity. The Hebrew and Greek words translated angel mean simply, messenger. We could probably study every text about angels and find some aspect of bearing a message in whatever they’re doing. But there are specific ways angels have functioned in this capacity, as we shall see.

Angels Were Involved in the Giving of the Law

Though angels aren’t mentioned in Exodus when we read about the giving of the law on Sinai, Moses nevertheless stated in Deuteronomy 33:2 that "the LORD came from Sinai . . . with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them." That these saints were angels is clear from Psalm 68:17 which states that "the chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place." In his sermon prior to becoming the first martyr, Stephen said that the law had been received "by the disposition of angels" (Acts 7:53). Paul said in Galatians 3:19 that the law was "ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator," and later in Hebrews 2:2 that the word was "spoken by angels."

Angels Give Prophetic Revelation

At times the type of revelation angels give may be quite simple, as in the case of Elijah when king Ahaziah had already sent two captains of fifty with their fifty to fetch him, all of whom were consumed by the fire of God sent from heaven (2 Ki. 1:1-12). When the third captain with his fifty came humbly, pleading for their lives (vv. 13-14), the angel of the Lord simply told Elijah, "Go down with him: be not afraid of him" (v. 15). That was all the revelation he needed at the moment.

In Paul’s case, the message was more prophetic in content. When he was a prisoner on board a ship that had been relentlessly battered by stormy winds, he was able to stand confidently in the midst of the ship’s crew and say,

I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me. (Acts 27:22-25)

Thus, an angel bearing prophetic revelation enabled Paul to face certain doom with the assurance of God’s deliverance.

Prophetic messages from angels don’t always deal with protection and deliverance, however. When Zacharias was in the temple carrying out his priestly duty,

there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. (Lk. 1:11-20)

In this way, the birth and ministry of John the Baptist were foretold by the angel Gabriel.

Gabriel’s next stop was to announce to Mary that she was the one chosen to carry the Messiah:­

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. (Lk. 1:26-35)

Is it no wonder, when angels were involved in the giving of the law on Sinai, that Gabriel would have a part in delivering the prophecies of the very one who would come to fulfill every jot and tittle of that law?

Joseph, the husband of Mary and the earthly father of Jesus, received prophetic messages delivered by an angel in a dream. The first was a prophecy of the birth of Christ, given with the encouragement not to fear to take Mary as his wife (Mt. 1:20-24). His second message was a warning to flee to Egypt and escape the wrath of Herod (Mt. 2:13). The third was an announcement that it was safe to return to Israel because Herod had died (Mt. 2:19-20). All three messages contained revelation Joseph needed, and he was obedient in every case.

The most significant delivery of prophetic revelation by an angel was that which was given by Gabriel to the prophet Daniel on several occasions. After his second vision of the ram, the he-goat, and the little horn which is the Antichrist (Dan. 8:1-14), Gabriel came to bring Daniel the interpretation of what he had seen (vv. 15-27). Gabriel came a second time in 9:20-27 to give Daniel understanding of the seventy weeks of years that were to come upon Israel and Jerusalem. Daniel’s third encounter with Gabriel was in chapter 10, following three weeks of fasting and prayer and a vision of the Messiah. Gabriel’s message began in 10:11 and continued to the end of the book, spanning history from the time just after Daniel’s own, all the way to the tribulation period. So we see that large portions of this important prophetic book were actually the messages of Gabriel to Daniel.

Angels Preach and Make Announcements

In addition to giving prophetic revelation, angels are also known to preach and make announcements. In Revelation 8:13 John saw "an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!"

In Revelation 14:6-11 we see three angels preaching. The first flies around in the heavens close enough to be seen and heard of men. He preaches the everlasting gospel to all men on earth during the last three and a half years of the tribulation. This gospel is the same as what we now preach with one exception: he will be able to announce that the hour of God’s judgment is come. We can only announce that it is coming (vv. 6-7).

The second angel will fly in the heavens announcing the fall of Babylon, which will be destroyed under the seventh vial (vv. 8; 16:17-21; 18:1-24).

The third angel will fly in the heavens warning all men in the kingdom of Antichrist that if they take the mark, the name, or the number of the name of the beast and worship him, they will seal their own doom and be punished in eternal hell (vv. 9-11).

Surely the best announcement ever made by angels, however, is the famous passage recorded by Luke:

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Lk. 2:8-14)

Spiritual Warfare

Angels have been engaged in spiritual warfare since the fall of Satan (Isa. 14:12-14; Lk. 10:18; Ezek. 28:11-17), and will remain involved in this work until the time when every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess the Lordship of Jesus Christ (Phil. 2:9-11; Isa. 45:23-25). The following points outline the basic aspects of this warfare, as revealed in Scripture.

Angels Rule Nations

As in earthly warfare, angelic warfare involves territorial conflicts. After Daniel prayed and fasted for "three full weeks" (Dan. 10:2-3), Gabriel appeared and announced that he had been sent on the first day of Daniel’s prayer, but had been withstood for twenty-one days by the prince of Persia (v. 12). It was only after Michael the archangel—"one of the chief princes"—came to help him that he was able to come in answer to Daniel’s prayer (v. 13). Michael is revealed in Daniel 12:1 as the prince of the children of Israel. Gabriel states in Daniel 11:1 that he himself came in the first year of Darius the Mede "to confirm and to strengthen him," apparently indicating an angelic leadership over the nation which was holding God’s people captive. These two fought against the satanic prince of Persia and would afterwards engage the satanic prince of Grecia (Dan. 10:20).

As we saw in the previous chapter, Satan has trusted angels over all the governments of this world.   Yet God also has trusted angels who carry out His will concerning what He has predicted to take place in the kingdoms of this world. Hence, there are wars in the heavenlies between these two groups of angels. This will continue until the final conflict revealed in Revelation 12:7-9.

Angels Are Organized Into Armies

Psalm 68:17 says that "the chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of thousands of angels." We’ve already seen a demonstration of these angelic armies in 2 Kings 6:8-17 when the angels outnumbered the Syrian army that came up against Elisha. These armies will be present with the Lord Jesus when He will be "revealed from heaven" (2 Th. 1:7). The second chapter of Joel vividly describes them gathering at Armageddon:

Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand; a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations. A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them. The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run. Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array. Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness. They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks: neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded. They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief. The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining: and the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it? (Joel 2:1-11)

This is a picture of the Lord’s army, and He will be leading them personally (v. 11).

Angels Wage War in Bodily Combat

Angels fight in bodily combat the same way men do, as we have seen in the conflict between Gabriel and Michael against the prince of Persia. Before Michael’s arrival, the prince of Persia had withstood Gabriel for twenty-one days (Dan. 10:13). Imagine the bodily combat that must have gone on between these two angelic princes! And such warfare will continue in the heavenlies until the final conflict in that realm occurs, as John has already recorded:

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (Rev. 12:7-9)

This war in heaven will be the last actual struggle between Satan and God over the possession of the heavenlies where Satan reigns (Eph. 2:2; 6:12). Satan still has access to God’s heaven to accuse the brethren, but from the time of this casting out he will never again enter heaven as he has done before (Job 1:6; 2:1; Zech. 3:1).

Judgment

Seeing the angels’ role in spiritual warfare, it is not difficult to imagine God using them to carry out judgment on earth as well. Their work in this area is also an extension of their function as messengers of God. In the capacity of judgment, they are bearing what is sometimes the final message of God to rebellious people.

David’s Sin in Numbering Israel

The story of David’s sin of numbering Israel is told in both 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21. In these passages David commanded Joab to go throughout Israel and number the people. However, both Joab and the captains under him objected to the plan. Nevertheless, the king’s word prevailed and they obeyed, much to the sorrow of David later. This was one time he did not act wisely and take proper advice. He went against the better judgment of all his counselors, because Satan was using him on this occasion (1 Chr. 21:1).

Perhaps there was more back of this desire of David to know the number of Israel. He may have had plans to enlarge his empire without consulting God. But God saw fit to bring any such plans to an immediate end, and He punished David for his pride before it could lead him into ventures of conquest that would be a curse to him.

Always a man after God’s own heart, it didn’t take David long to figure out that God was displeased. In 2 Samuel 24:10 it says that "David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly." Through Gad the prophet, God gave David an answer the day after his repentance:

So Gad came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Choose thee either three years’ famine; or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee; or else three days the sword of the LORD, even the pestilence, in the land, and the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the coasts of Israel. Now therefore advise thyself what word I shall bring again to him that sent me. (1 Chr. 21:11-12)

David wisely took the third option, saying, "let me fall now into the hand of the LORD; for very great are his mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man" (1 Chr. 21:13). He had been in the hands of Saul for years and more recently in flight from Absalom. He couldn’t bear the thought of being in the hands of men again, so he cast himself upon the mercy of God:

So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men. And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand. (2 Sam. 24:15-16a)

When David saw this angel and the destruction that had already occurred, he repented a second time, more deeply than the first, saying, "Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father’s house" (2 Sam. 24:17). This time David was willing to take all the blame and suffering if God would only spare the innocent people. When men are willing to take the blame for sin and receive punishment for themselves and their families, they are near the point of mercy.

Indeed, in this case what began in judgment ended in mercy. David followed Gad’s instructions and "built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called upon the LORD; and he answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offering. And the LORD commanded the angel; and he put up his sword again into the sheath thereof" (1 Chr. 21:26-27).

Sennacherib’s Defiance of God

When Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, became king of Judah, Scripture records that

he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did. He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan. He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. For he clave to the LORD, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses. And the LORD was with him; and he prospered whithersoever he went forth: and he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not. (2 Ki. 18:3-7)

This rebellion was against the tribute that Ahaz had agreed to pay to the king of Assyria. In the midst of revival, Hezekiah refused to pay any more tribute.

In the fourth year of Hezekiah’s reign, the Assyrians besieged Samaria and took it in three years (2 Ki. 18:9-10). Thus the ten tribes of Israel entered Assyrian captivity (v. 11) "because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD their God, but transgressed his covenant, and all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded, and would not hear them, nor do them" (v. 12).

In Hezekiah’s fourteenth year, Sennacherib king of Assyria decided to collect on the tribute Hezekiah had refused to pay earlier. After losing all the fenced cities of Judah (v. 13), Hezekiah reconsidered his stance and gave Sennacherib three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. He took from both the house of the Lord and the king’s treasuries, as well as cutting off the gold overlaid on the doors and pillars of the temple (vv. 14-16). Yet Sennacherib was not satisfied.

Perhaps the Assyrian king thought he could do the same to Judah that his predecessor had done to Israel, so he sent a large army to take Jerusalem.   His commanders stood before the walls and insulted Judah (vv. 17-25). They made fun of Judah’s power to make war and mocked them for rebelling, for trusting in Egypt and for trusting in God (vv. 19-22). They taunted them with the idea that even if Assyria gave them two thousand horses, Judah would not be able to find enough men to ride on them (v. 23). They even boasted that the God of Israel had commanded them to come against Jerusalem (v. 25).

The officers of Assyria evidently spoke loud enough to be heard on the walls of Jerusalem—perhaps to make the people become afraid and surrender—for an appeal was made by the officers of Israel that they speak in the Syrian tongue so that the people on the walls would not understand (v. 26). But instead of being quiet, the officers of Assyria spoke all the louder, and now made insults against both God and king Hezekiah (vv. 27-37). Particularly offensive was their questioning of God’s ability to deliver Judah:

Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered at all his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath, and of Arpad? where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah? have they delivered Samaria out of mine hand? Who are they among all the gods of the countries, that have delivered their country out of mine hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of mine hand? (2 Ki. 18:33-35)

After rending his clothes and putting on sackcloth, Hezekiah went into the house of the Lord and sent for the prophet Isaiah, asking him to pray for the remnant of Judah (2 Ki. 19:1-4). Isaiah responded with the prophetic assurance not to be afraid, that Sennacherib would "fall by the sword in his own land" because of his blasphemy of God (vv. 5-7).

Rabshakeh, Sennacherib’s mouthpiece, renewed his insults, this time accusing God Himself of being deceitful, saying, "Let not thy God in whom thou trustest deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria" (v. 10). But Hezekiah again responded in prayer:

O LORD God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth. LORD, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, LORD, thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God. Of a truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands, and have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them. Now therefore, O LORD our God, I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD God, even thou only. (2 Ki. 19:15-19)

God also responded again, this time sending a lengthy prophetic message of comfort through Isaiah (vv. 20-34). The message ended with God’s declaration, "For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake" (v. 34).

Angelic judgment was the means God used to punish the Assyrians. The very night of the prophecy, "the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses" (v. 35). The death of 185,000 soldiers caused Sennacherib to return to Ninevah where he was murdered by his own sons while "worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god" (v. 37).

Herod’s Pride

Sennacherib wasn’t the only king who encountered angelic judgment on account of pride. Acts 12:20 tells us that "Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king’s country." We do not know what caused Herod’s anger with Tyre and Sidon, but we do know they were equal with the inhabitants of Galilee as subjects of Rome, so Herod couldn’t go to war with them. He could, however, cut off supplies from Galilee and the other countries under him. Tyre and Sidon were trading centers and could not exist without provisions from surrounding countries, so they made peace with Herod, having evidently bribed Blastus, the king’s chamberlain, who apparently had great influence over Herod and pacified him.

Herod then made a political response. Dressed in royal robes, he "sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them" (Acts 12:21). He thrilled his audience who shouted, "It is the voice of a god, and not of a man" (v. 22). Herod was then judged for pride: "And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost" (v. 23).

The Great Tribulation

The book of Revelation is full of angelic appearances. We have already studied several of them, including the four living creatures called beasts in the King James. Those we will examine below have to do specifically with the various judgments that occur during the great tribulation, prior to the second advent of Christ.

The Seven Trumpets

The eighth chapter of Revelation begins, "And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets" (v. 1-2). The seven trumpets are to be blown successively between the seals and the vials. The first will be blown after the seventh seal and the last in the middle of Daniel’s seventieth week, completing the first three and a half years.

  • First Trumpet: "The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up" (Rev. 8:7).
  • Second Trumpet: "And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; and the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed" (vv. 8-9).
  • Third Trumpet: "And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; and the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter" (vv. 10-11).
  • Fourth Trumpet: "And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise. And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!" (vv. 12-13).
  • Fifth Trumpet: "And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit" (Rev. 9:1). This angel opens the abyss and releases the army of demonic locusts which have authority to torment all men but the 144,000 Jews who bear the seal of God in their foreheads. This they do for five months (vv. 2-10). This army has a king, the angel of the bottomless pit, known in Hebrew as Abaddon (Destruction) and in Greek as Apollyon (Destroyer, v. 11). He is a fallen angel who is now bound in the abyss with these demon creatures. This torment completes the first of the three woes announced in the fourth trumpet (v. 12).
  • Sixth Trumpet: "And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men" (Rev. 9:13-15). These four angels will lead a demonic army of 200,000,000 that will kill a third of the unrepentant men on earth (vv. 16-21). This destruction and that which accompanies the two witnesses in chapter 11 complete the second of the three woes promised in the fourth trumpet (11:14).
  • Seventh Trumpet: "And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever" (11:15). After this trumpet Satan and his angels are cast out of heaven, Israel is persecuted for three and a half years, the Antichrist rises to power along with the false prophet, and the mark of the beast is instituted (12:7 - 13:18).

The Seven Vials

Revelation 14 reveals the 144,000 in heaven, the preaching of angels, and the reaping of the earth for the winepress of God’s ­­wrat­­h. This all prepares the way for the seven angels who have the seven last plagues which fill up the wrath of God (15:1).

  • First Vial: "And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image" (16:2).
  • Second Vial: "And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea" (16:3).
  • Third Vial: "And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood" (16:4).
  • Fourth Vial: "And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory" (16:8-9).
  • Fifth Vial: "And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, and blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds" (16:10-11).
  • Sixth Vial: "And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared" (16:12).
  • Seventh Vial: "And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great" (16:17-21).

Second Advent of Christ

Jesus ended His discussion on the cost of discipleship by referring to His second coming: "For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works" (Mt. 16:27). Likewise, Paul comforted the persecuted Thessalonians by speaking of the time "when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Th. 1:7-8). The work of angels is strongly associated with the second advent of Christ.

The Regathering of Israel

When explaining to His disciples the manner and time of His second coming, Jesus said, "For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Mt. 24:27). He then identified the signs that would point directly to His coming in the air:

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (vv. 29-30)

At this point the angels are released to carry out their work: "And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (v. 31). For proof that the elect in this verse are Jews, see the many notes on this and related passages in the Dake Annotated Reference Bible.

The Wheat and the Tares

In explaining the parable of the wheat and the tares given in Matthew 13:24-30, Jesus indicated the harvest would take place at the end of the world (v. 39). The Greek word for world here is aion which means any period of time; in other words an age. In this passage it refers to the end of this age, as do all the other places where "the end of the world" is used (Mt. 12:32; 24:3; 28:20). This age will end at the second advent of Christ (Mt. 24:29-31; 25:31-46; Rev. 19:11-21; Zech. 14:1-5).

The reapers who will separate the tares from the wheat are angels, according to Matthew 13:39. Jesus elaborates in vv. 41-42, saying, "the Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."

The Sheep and the Goats

In the final passage describing the events and judgment that will occur at the second advent of Christ, Jesus said:

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. (Mt. 25:31-33)

Jesus will then speak to the sheep on His right hand, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world," rewarding them for caring for the least of His brethren (vv. 34-40). But He will cast the goats into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels, for their failure to care for the least of His brethren (vv. 41-46). We know from the many scriptures quoted above that it will be angels who will carry out this judgment.

What This Means To Us

It has been our purpose from the beginning of this study to thoroughly examine what the Bible has to say about the subject of angels. Having completed that, we must now ask ourselves, what does all this mean for us? How does this affect our lives?

The first and most obvious step is to simply believe in angels because the Bible is so full of teaching about them. No man has any excuse for misunderstanding this or any other teaching in the Bible, for the Bible is very simple to understand.

Our problem, however, is not with understanding, but with believing. Even after more than three years of teaching by the greatest of all teachers, the disciples still had to be rebuked for their unbelief and hardness of heart. This was not because they could not understand, but because they did not believe what Christ said. Even after Christ appeared and manifested Himself to the disciples in various ways, they still refused to believe until He "upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart" (Mk. 16:14).

We too may struggle at first to fully accept and realize that we are dealing with "an innumerable company of angels" (Heb. 12:22). But we must, like children, simply accept the Bible as God’s Word and take it as the final court of appeal on the subjects it contains—including all the teachings we have presented in this volume on angels.

Having done this, we will immediately be encouraged by the presence of these ministering spirits who are "sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation" (Heb. 1:14). Rather than facing opposition from the enemy fearfully, as Elisha’s servant, we can know as Elisha did that "they that be with us are more than they that be with them" (2 Ki. 6:16). Indeed, "the chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place" (Ps. 68:17).

And as "we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Eph. 6:12), we can stand firm with greater faith, knowing that in the final battle, Michael and his angels will have victory over Satan and his angels, casting them out of these high places (Rev. 12:7-10).

If we find ourselves in dire straits, we can have confidence that we serve the same God who sent angels to deliver Daniel from the lions’ den and Peter from prison (Dan. 6:22; Acts 5:19; 12:7-11). We must believe the promises in Scripture that "the angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them," and that "he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways" (Ps. 34:7; 91:11). Yet we should also "pray without ceasing," knowing that such angelic assistance is often in answer to prayer (1 Th. 5:17; Acts 12:5; Dan. 9-10).

We may even have the privilege of seeing angels, as did many throughout Scripture. But whether we see them or not, we must still be hospitable to strangers, "for thereby some have entertained angels unawares" (Heb. 13:2).

—Heavenly Hosts
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