In the Christmas story of Luke 1 and Matthew 1, we read about how both Mary and Joseph were told God’s plans regarding Jesus and His birth through angels. And then later in Luke 2, angels appeared to shepherds to announce the birth of God’s son, Jesus. Angels are discussed in the Bible nearly 300 times! (Dr. Billy Graham, Angels, pg. 45) They are often portrayed as large, beautiful, scary, magnificent creatures. What are they? What are their roles? Who are they in relation to us? Join me as we learn what the Bible says about these heavenly fearsome beings created by God!
“In the midst of a world which seems destined to live in a perpetual state of crisis, the subject of angels will be of great comfort and inspiration to believers in God…and a challenge to unbelievers to believe.” (Dr. Billy Graham, Angels, pg.xvii)
Dr. Billy Graham wrote the best-selling book, Angels in 1975, and updated it in 1995. Much of this post comes from Dr. Graham’s wonderful research on this subject.
Angels at Work
Christian author, speaker and missionary, Elizabeth Elliot shared an unique story about her dad in A Slow and Certain Light:
“My father, when he was a small boy, was climbing on an upper story of a house that was being built. He walked to the end of a board that was not nailed at the other end, and it slowly began to tip. He knew that he was doomed, but inexplicably the board began to tip the other way, as though a hand had pushed it down again. He always wondered if it was an angel’s hand.”
“Reader’s Digest shared a story about a celebrated Philadelphia neurologist who had gone to bed after an exceptionally tiring day. Suddenly he was awakened by someone knocking on his door. Opening it he found a little girl, poorly dressed and deeply upset. She told him her mother was very sick and asked him if he would please come with her. It was a bitterly cold, snowy night, but though he was bone tired, the doctor dressed and followed the girl. He found the mother desperately ill with pneumonia. After arranging for medical care, he complimented the mother on the intelligence and persistence of her little daughter. The woman looked at him strangely and then said, “My daughter died a month ago.” Was this the work of God’s angels on behalf of the sick woman?” (Dr. Billy Graham, Angels, page 6-7)
“A British express train was racing through the night with Queen Victoria as passenger. Suddenly the engineer saw a startling sight. Revealed in the beam of the engine’s light was a strange figure in a black cloak standing in the middle of the tracks and waving its arms. The engineer grabbed for the brake and brought the train to a grinding halt. He and his fellow trainmen clambered down to see what had stopped them. They did not see the strange figure but after walking a few yards found that the upcoming bridge had been washed out in the middle and his train would have plummeted down the stream. It was eventually realized that the flagman had been a large black moth in the beam. When Queen Victoria was told of the strange incident, she said, “I’m sure it was no accident. It was God’s way of protecting us.” God may have used his unseen angels to place the moth on the headlight lens exactly when and where it was needed.” (Dr. Billy Graham, Angels, pages 21-23)
Psalm 91:11-12 (NIV)
11 “For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”
I have never seen an angel (that I know of), but I have no doubt that God and his heavenly force have kept me, and my family safe many, many times over the years.
Are Angels Real?
The Bible mentions them almost 300 times and they are created by God. Colossians 1:16, 17
It seems that Angels can change their appearance and move quickly. (Dr. Billy Graham, Angels, pg. 31)
The Bible tells us that God made man a little lower than the angels. (Hebrews 2:5-7) However this will change in Heaven. We will eventually judge angels. (Hebrews 1:13-14)
The Bible says in Hebrews 1:14 that angels are nonmaterial and are ministering “spirits”. They do not possess physical bodies but can do so when appointed to special tasks by God. They do not have the ability to reproduce, they do not marry nor are given in marriage. (Mark 12:15)
Hebrews 12:22 speaks of an innumerable company of angels…some biblical scholars believe there are millions of angels. John the Apostle tells us in Revelation 5:11 that he saw ten thousand times ten thousand angels ministering to the Lamb of God in the throne room of the universe.
Angels are better organized than man. They think, feel, will and display emotions; guide, comfort, and provide for people in the midst of suffering and persecution; at death, the faithful will be ushered by angels into the presence of God. (Dr. Billy Graham, Angels)
John Calvin in Institutes said, ” The angels are the dispensers and administrators of the Divine beneficence toward us; they regard our safety, undertake our defense, direct our ways, and exercise a constant solicitude that no evil befall us.”
2 Thessalonians 1:7 tells us “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels.”
Even one angel is mighty, as though an extension of the arm of God. Right from the beginning of the Bible in Genesis, God used cherubim to seal the entrance to the Garden of Eden from Adam and Eve when they sinned and disobeyed God in Genesis 3:24, lest they eat the fruit from the Tree of Life and lived forever. If Adam had lived in his sin forever – this earth would long ago have been hell. It is a blessing that we, all fallen sinners, eventually die. (Dr. Billy Graham, Angels, pg. 33)
Angels are organized in terms of authority and glory. It seems to follow this pattern: archangels, angels, seraphim, cherubim, principalities, authorities, powers, thrones, might, and dominion. (Dr. Billy Graham, Angels, pg. 79)
There is only one archangel – Michael. Below that are angels, and then seraphim and cherubim. Seraphim are mentioned in Isaiah as burning ones/flying serpents. Cherubim are mentioned in several spots in the Bible. Specifically in Ezekial 9 and 10, they are described as having 4 wings, 4 faces (one cherub, one eagle, one lion, and one man), many eyes and wheels, and human hands and feet.
Angels never draw attention to themselves but ascribe glory to God and press His message upon the hearers as a delivering and sustaining word of the highest order. (Dr. Billy Graham, Angels, pg.38)
Angels are usually invisible, but when appearing visibly, are usually so glorious and impressively beautiful as to stun and amaze men who witness their presence. (Dr. Billy Graham, Angels, pg. 37-38)
The Bible seems to indicate that angels do not die or get sick. Except for Lucifer and the angels who fell with him, they will experience the ravages of sin, destruction, and chaos. (Dr. Billy Graham, Angels, pg. 52)
1 Corinthians 13:1 tells us that angels have their own language. The Bible also implies that angels are tuned to sing without any discordant notes…and make music that is worthy of the God that made them. (Billy Graham, Angels, pg. 70)
Lucifer and the Angelic Rebellion
“Angels have a much more important place in the Bible than the devil and his demons.” (Billy Graham, Angels, pg. xvi)
Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)
12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Satan was once known as Lucifer, “son of the morning.” Lucifer may have been an archangel with Michael, but Lucifer wanted to be God and persuaded possibly 1/3 of the angels to follow him. Lucifer was the most beautiful and brilliant of all created beings in heaven. His insurrection started a terrible war in heaven that continues to this day. God cast them out of heaven. They are prowling the earth and cause havoc and destruction everywhere they go.
Isaiah 14:12-14 (NIV)
12 “How you have fallen from heaven,
morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!
13 You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to the heavens;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.
14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”
However there is Good News! Throughout the Bible, God tells us that He wins the war!
John 16:33 (NIV)
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
“Christians must never fail to sense the operation of angelic glory. It forever eclipses the world of demonic powers, as the sun does the candle’s light.” (Billy Graham, Angels, pg. 37)
“Spiritual forces and resources are available to all Christians. Because our resources are unlimited, Christians will be winners. Millions of angels are at God’s command and at our service. The hosts of heaven stand at attention as we make our way from earth to glory, and Satan’s BB guns are no match for God’s heavy artillery. So don’t be afraid! God is for you. He has committed His angels to wage war in this conflict of the ages – and they will win the victory.” (Billy Graham, Angels, pg. 21)
If you don’t already know Jesus, it’s not too late! He loves you and wants to be part of your life! Admit you are a sinner, ask forgiveness, and invite Him into your life today! It will be the best and most important decision you ever make!
John 1:12 (NIV)
12 “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—”
Luke 15:10 (NIV)
10 “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”