“Well, I guess God needed another angel…”
These are words of comfort spoken by well-meaning friends and family members after a loved one dies. If it was true that people died because God “needed” them to serve him as angels, let’s consider what this says about God. According to this understanding, God is too weak and incompetent to create angels so he murders moms, dads, sons, daughters, and other loved ones in order to build up his “army” of angels to accomplish His will.
Does that sound like the God of the Bible? No.
This past Sunday, I had the honor of teaching through Acts 8:26-40 at Renovation Church. In the beginning of this passage, Luke writes that “an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip…” – What was this experience like? For many of us, angels have been painted as chubby babies floating around the sky; or as some type of mystical being who strums a golden harp somewhere up in the clouds. All of these views are gross distortions of what the Scriptures actually teach on angels.
1. Angels are spirit beings created to worship God.
The first thing I want to make clear from the outset is that angels are distinctly different and separate from human beings. God created angels as spirit-beings; this means that they do not have physical bodies. At times, under God’s direction, angels can take on the appearance of a human being for a particular mission but they do not possess their own physical bodies.
Angels – like humans – exist primarily to glorify and worship God. In the Book of Revelation, we are given a glimpse into the mystery of angelic worship. According to Revelation 5:11-12, angels gather around Jesus and proclaim His worth, power, and glory. Angels do not draw attention to themselves but instead focus all attention on the person and work of Jesus Christ. The only “angels” that draw attention to themselves are demons (see point #4).
2. Angels are warriors engaged in an invisible war.
The second theme you will notice as you read Scripture is that angels are mighty spiritual warriors engaged in an ancient spiritual war. At some point of time in the past (we do not know when) an angel named Satan/Lucifer rebelled against God and a third of the angels followed Satan’s leadership. As a result, God cast Satan and his demons to the earth to kill, steal, and destroy until the culmination of time. At the end of the ages, Satan and his demons will be thrown into the Lake of Fire to experience torment for all eternity as a result of their rebellion. Hell was not originally created for man; instead, it was created to confine Satan and his demons in eternal bondage.
Presently, Satan and his demons seek to “wage war against the rest of her offspring – those who keep the commands of God and hold firmly to the testimony about Jesus (Rev. 12:17).” Into this warfare, God sends his angels as “ministering spirits” to protect His people and fight against the enemy. In the ancient Book of Daniel, we are given a glimpse into this hidden war. In response to Daniel’s prayer, he is met by an angel with the following message:
“Don’t be afraid, Daniel,” he said to me, “for from the first day that you purposed to understand and to humble yourself before your God, your prayers were heard. I have come because of your prayers. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia opposed me for twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me after I had been left there with the kings of Persia. – (Daniel 10:12-13)
In the text above we are introduced to four characters to highlight the interaction of humans, angels, and demons in this spiritual war:
1. Daniel (the man who had been praying).
2. The angel who came in response to the prayer.
3. The “prince of the kingdom of Persia” who is a demonic entity.
4. Michael – another angel – who came to assist in this battle.
3. Angels are messengers sent by God.
One of the most common roles angels play in the Scriptures is relaying messages from God to God’s people. The Greek word translated as “angel” in the New Testament is angelos. It literally means “a messenger.” This is the role given to the angel in Acts 8:26 when the angel relays a message to Philip. The other example that likely comes to mind for many people is the Christmas story where an angel named Gabriel relays a message to a young woman named Mary about becoming pregnant with a baby boy.
Throughout both the Old Testament and the New Testament, God, at times, relays messages to His people through angelic beings. I believe God can and still does this at times today but all spiritual experiences must be evaluated by the Scriptures. If the experience does not line up with God’s objective revelation in His Word, the experience is to be rejected.
4. We are to never seek out angels.
This point is vital to understand in tandem with the three other things I have shared above. There are some movements – especially new age spirituality – that encourage adherents to seek out guidance and communication with angelic beings. If you read through the other three points, it may seem like it would be a good idea to form some type of relationship with an angel since they are created to worship God, wage war on God’s behalf, and relay messages from God.
Nevertheless, here’s what you and I need to notice in Scripture – God’s people never seek out angelic experiences. Instead, they seek Jesus and, at times, God provides His people with an angel as a means of communication. If you choose to seek out an angelic spirit, you will have a genuine spiritual experience. The problem is that just because something is “spiritual” does not mean it is of God. We must carefully heed the warning of the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:14-15, “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no great surprise if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness…” Friends, the only kind of angel who exalts himself rather than Jesus is a demon. Demons will happily disguise themselves angels of light as a means of deceiving Christians and entire religious movements.
There are many more roles that angels play than the ones I have listed above. What are some that you can think of? Do you have a question about angels? Let me know what by leaving a comment!