Firstly, what does the Bible say about the word ‘angel’ and their purpose? The Bible word ‘angel’ means ‘messenger’. The angels are God’s messengers. They were present at creation and are at work for God in the world. They are immortal beings and cannot sin. We are not told how many angels there are, but we know that there are many of them. Jesus once said that he could have called for “more than twelve legions of angels” to help him – that is, more than 72,000 angels and we can read that in Matthew 26:53. The angels represent God and act with His authority and power to do His will.
I believe in angels because there are many references in the Bible to angels being sent to give messages, guide, protect and deliver and destroy and that they can enter God’s Holy Presence. Let’s look at the different way’s angels appear in both the old and new testament scriptures in a handful of verses:
To give messages
In Genesis 18, Abraham was told that he and Sarah would have a son. The angels who came to tell him this are described as ‘men’, and apparently looked no different from ordinary men. At other times angels can look very different, especially when they are showing God’s glory.
Genesis 22:11,15 – An angel called out of heaven to stop Abraham from killing his son, Isaac. The angel then blessed Abraham for his faith and obedience
Luke 1:26 – The angel Gabriel told Mary she would be the mother of Jesus.
Genesis 24:7 – Abraham wanted his servant to find a wife for his son Isaac – but it had to be the right woman! Abraham told his servant that an angel would help him and he did!
Exodus 14:19; 23:20,21 – When Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt, the pillar of cloud went with them. It protected and guided them. We are told that an angel of God was with them in this pillar of cloud. It is important to note that even though God’s angel was with the people of Israel all the time they were in the wilderness, yet they rebelled against God. The angel did not stop them sinning.
Protecting and delivering men of God
Daniel 3:28 – Daniel’s three friends were delivered from the fiery furnace by an angel.
Daniel 6:22 – Daniel himself was delivered from the lions’ den. The angel shut the lions’ mouths.
Acts 5:19 – An angel opened the prison for the apostles and again for Peter in Acts 12.
Examples of angels destroying
2 Kings 19:35 – When Jerusalem was surrounded by the Assyrian army in the time of King Hezekiah, Hezekiah cried for God’s help. An angel killed all the Assyrians who had dared to belittle God.
Acts 12:23 – King Herod, in New Testament times, was destroyed by an angel for his great pride. The angels themselves were not evil, but were used by God to do things we regard as awful, but which were obviously necessary.
What do angels look like?
Angels usually do their work without being seen by men. When Elisha and his servant were being hunted by the king of Syria, Elisha knew God would help, but his servant was frightened. Elisha asked God to open his servant’s eyes. Then he saw that “… the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha”. This can be found in 2 Kings 6:17.
God’s army of angels were there to protect! We have already seen that the angels who appeared to Abraham and Lot looked like men so they could not have had wings, but we also know that the angels could be in fire and cloud, as in the burning bush and pillar of cloud in the wilderness. So, angels do not have any particular form and can just disappear just as the one who visited Gideon did.
The work of angels today!
Even though we do not see them, angels can help us today, but only if we are trying to please God. Psalm 34:7 says that God’s angels are around those that fear Him. They may help us but it does not mean to say that believers will never have difficult times. The hard times of life are there to teach us lessons and bring us closer to God.
The future work of the angels
The Lord Jesus Christ will soon return to this earth, but no-one knows when, not even God’s angels in heaven – this is in Mark 13:32. When Jesus does return, the angels will come with him.
2 Thessalonians 1:7,8 says: “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…” The angels will be involved in bringing people together for judgment. At that time, the believers will be made like the angels.
Thank you for taking time to read this. The Bible makes many references to angels and how God uses them in our lives. Do you want to learn more?