So have you been touched by an angel recently? (No, I am not talking about Roma Downey from the TV show!) The Bible teaches that angels are real spiritual creatures that exist and help human beings like you and me. And that is a good thing since we are in a battle: fear, failure, finances, anxiety…basically all the stuff of life that can wear us down. Most importantly, we need to remember that God is on our side: all-knowing, all-present, and all-powerful God fights for us.
Now, whereas God is our commander in the battles of life, angels serve as his lieutenants. What does the Bible teach us about angels? According to Psalm 8, the divine ranking order goes like this: God, angels, humans, animals and fish, etc.
What do angels actually do? The name comes from the Greek word “angelos” which means “messenger.” Basically, angels are God’s messengers. One of the first times we meet angels in the Bible is in the story of Hagar and Ishmael in Genesis 16. When Sarai (Abram’s wife) mistreated Hagar out of jealousy over Hagar’s pregnancy, Hagar fled. We are told that “The angel of the Lord found Hagar, and told her to return to Sarai and submit to her because God would one day increase her descendants to become too numerous to count.” Then in Genesis 18, two angels appeared to Abraham and told him his wife would give birth to a son one year later.
Skipping ahead to the New Testament, we find angels bringing messages throughout the Christmas story. In Luke 1, an angel appeared to Zechariah to tell him his wife Elizabeth would become pregnant in her old age. Eventually, Elizabeth gave birth to John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus. Then, the angel Gabriel told Mary she would conceive a child through the power of the Holy Spirit and she was to name him Jesus because “he will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, his kingdom will never end” (Luke 1:32—33). Afterwards, when Mary’s fiancé Joseph discovered she was pregnant, he planned to divorce her, assuming she had committed adultery, but an angel appeared to him in a dream and explained it was all part of God’s plan (Matthew 1:18—25). After Jesus was born, an angel again appeared to Joseph in a dream and instructed him to take his family and flee to Egypt to escape the murderous King Herod (Matthew 2:13).
A second function of angels is to serve God by praising and worshipping Him. In Isaiah 6, Isaiah had a vision of God seated on his heavenly throne. He witnessed angels surrounding God and singing to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Is. 6:3). In Luke 2, when the shepherds were tending their sheep, an angel announced the birth of “a Savior…he is Christ the Lord” and then a “great company of the heavenly host appeared, praising God and saying ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
So how do angels help you and me? That leads to a third function of angels: Psalm 91:11—12 says “For he [God] will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” Bible scholar Willem A. VanGemeren explains the meaning of this passage: “The Lord charges “his angels” with the protection of the godly, wherever they may be. They have been charged with lifting the godly out of danger and delivering them.”
Think about that: we have angels keeping us safe, even as we are unaware of it! I am not sure about you, but that gives me peace, comfort and strength for the battles I face!