In 1956 during the Mau Mau uprisings in East Africa, according to missionaries, a band of roving Mau Maus came to the village of Lauri, surrounded it, and killed every inhabitant, including women and children–three hundred people in all. Not more than three miles away was the Rift Valley Academy, Kijabe, Kenya, a private boarding school where children were being educated while their missionary parents worked elsewhere. Immediately upon leaving the carnage at Lauri the Mau Maus came with spears, clubs, torches, and bows and arrows to the school, bent on destruction.
You can imagine the fear of those children at the school. Word had already reached them about the destruction of Lauri. There was no place to flee. The only resource was prayer.
Out in the night, lighted torches were seen coming toward the school. Soon there was a complete ring of these terrorists about the school, cutting off all avenues of escape. Shouting and curses could be heard coming from the Mau Maus. Then they began to advance on the school, tightening the circle, shouting louder, coming closer. Suddenly, when they were close enough to throw a spear, they stopped. They began to retreat, and soon they were running into the jungle. A call had gone out to the authorities, and an army had been sent in the direction of the school to rescue the inhabitants. But by the time the army arrived, the would-be assassins had dispersed. The army spread out in search of them and captured the entire band of raiding Mau Maus.
Later, before the judge at their trial, the Mau Mau leader was called to the witness stand. The judge asked him, “On this night did you kill the inhabitants of Lauri?”
The leader replied, “Yes.”
“Was it your intent to do the same at the Rift Valley Academy?”
“Well then,” asked the judge, “why did you not complete the mission? Why didn’t you attack the school?”
The leader of the Mau Maus, who had never read the Bible and never heard the gospel, replied, “We were on our way to attack and destroy all the people at the school. But as we came closer, all of a sudden between us and the school there were many huge men, dressed in white with flaming swords. We became afraid and we ran to hide!”
Prophet Elisha in Dothan 2 Kings 6:fs15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked. 16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all round Elisha.
We believe in angels! We believe in angels because the Bible mentions angels almost 300 times. We believe in angels because there are many trustworthy accounts of angels appearing to Christians.
Recent years have seen an explosion of interest in angels. An article in the American magazine Newsweek’ not so long ago titled “In Search of the Sacred” observed that “20% of Americans have had a revelation from God in the last year, and 13% have seen or sensed the presence of an angel”.
As Christians, we believe in angels. But WHAT do we believe about angels? The word simply means messenger and in the Bible it occasionally refers to human messengers. But much more often it refers to angelic beings, God’s messengers, the heavenly host.
Angels are spiritual beings created by God to serve Him. Some, the good angels, have remained obedient to Him and carry out His will, while others, fallen angels, disobeyed, fell from their holy position, and now stand in active opposition to the work and plan of God.
Angels are created beings and they are spirit creatures
(1) Angels are spirit beings.
They do not have material bodies as we do. Angels are not subject to the limitations of human beings, especially since they are incapable of death (Luke 20:36). Angels have greater power than man (Matt. 28:2; Acts 5:19; 2 Pet. 2:11), yet they are limited in power (Dan. 10:13). Angels are not created in the image of God, therefore, they do not share man’s glorious destiny of redemption in Christ.
(2) All angels were created holy, without sin, and in a state of perfect holiness.
(3) As created beings, they are mere creatures.
Like all of creation, angels are under God’s authority and subject to His judgment (1 Cor. 6:3; Matt. 25:41).
The good and loyal angels are the mighty servants of God who constantly serve him always doing His will. The Psalmist described them as, “Bless the LORD, you His angels, Mighty in strength, who perform His word, Obeying the voice of His word! Bless the LORD, all you His hosts, You who serve Him, doing His will” (Ps. 103:20-21). Hebrews: “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” (Heb. 1:14). The answer is “Yes!” Though God can always act independently without the use of agents, He has chosen to use both angelic and human instruments to accomplish His will. In keeping with this, over and over again in the Bible, we find angels acting as God’s servants involved in all kinds of ministry to people.
Angels Protect people
“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.” John Calvin (1509–1564)
Perhaps no aspect of their ministry to man is more talked about than the idea of a “guardian angel.” “Does everyone have a guardian angel?” While no passage specifically states that every person has a guardian angel, the Bible does teach that angels do guard or protect as Psalm 91:11 declares.
Psalm 91: 9 ¶ If you make the Most High your dwelling- even the LORD, who is my refuge- 10 then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. 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.
In addition, Matthew 18:10 may suggest a guardian angel because of the statement Christ made regarding little children when He said, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you, that their angels in heaven continually behold the face of My Father who is in heaven.” But it should also be pointed out that Psalm 91:11 is directed to those who make the Lord their refuge. The psalmist explained that no harm or disaster can befall those who have made the Lord their refuge (their “shelter from danger”; . . . ) because He has commissioned angels to care for them. Angels protecting people
There is a reliable story of of a pastor shared about his recent trip to Mexico. He, along with several others, had gone there on a preaching mission. While they were returning, their van developed mechanical problems. After jacking up the van, the pastor crawled underneath to check out the problem. The jack collapsed, and he suddenly felt the crushing weight of the van on his chest. His companions quickly grabbed the bumper to lift the van. They weren’t able to budge it. He cried out, “Jesus! Jesus!” Within a few seconds a youthful-looking Mexican came running toward them. He was thin and small in stature. He was smiling. As he reached the van, he grabbed the van and lifted it. The others joined in, and the van lifted like a feather.
As he was freed, the pastor felt his chest expand and the broken bones mend. The visitor then lowered the van, waved to them, and ran in the direction from which he had come, until he disappeared on the horizon. No one knew who the mysterious visitor was or where he had come from. Angels protect.
Angels Provide for people
As angels were sent by God to provide sustenance for the Lord at the end of his forty days in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11), so he has undoubtedly on occasion done so for believers in our day. Some would include the provision of bread and water for Elijah (1 Kings 19:5-6), but this was a ministry of “the Angel of the Lord”
As an illustration of possible angelic provision, Sue Bohlin gives the following account: In 1944, the penniless wife of a pastor and evangelist in Switzerland, Susie Ware prayed, “God, I need five pounds of potatoes, two pounds of pastry flour, apples, pears, a cauliflower, carrots, veal cutlets for Saturday, and beef for Sunday.” A few hours later, someone knocked on the door, and there was a young man carrying a basket, who said, “Mrs. Ware, I am bringing what you asked for.” It was precisely what she’d prayed for—down to the exact brand of pastry flour she wanted.
The young man slipped away, and even though Rev. and Mrs. Ware watched at the window to their building, the man never exited. He just disappeared (Anderson, Joan Wester. Where Angels Walk, New York: Ballantine Books, 1992, pp. 60-62).
In the book Celebration of Miracles. Connie, and her husband Geoff, were missionaries in Africa working with Hindu people and had an opportunity to visit missionaries in India. The trip involved a 38-hour train ride from New Delhi to an orphanage in the south. They had been warned not to eat the food on the train, but they had taken very little food with them and Connie was so famished she decided to take her chances. She ate some curried mutton, and was soon extremely ill.
After arriving at the orphanage, Connie went to bed where she remained for three days. Geoff was traveling during that time and the missionaries thinking she was reacting to the miserable poverty of their surroundings thought she didn’t want to be bothered and left her alone. It was not until it was time to move on to the next orphanage that they realized she was desperately ill. They realized she needed to get to a hospital fast so they set out for the nearest one which was three hours away. About fifteen minutes into the ride Connie’s muscles began to cramp. First her fingers then her knees and toes curled inward and her facial muscles contracted so she was unable to speak. Finally she found herself paralyzed as the jeep bounced along the primitive road.
They were concerned, thinking she might not make it because she was so dehydrated. Geoff cried out to God, “please do a miracle! Do something!” Suddenly the missionary who was driving spotted a small Red Cross building just off the trail. As the jeep pulled to a stop, Connie tried to protest. She was concerned about the rampant AIDS epidemic in these remote areas and the practice of reusing needles.
As the group made their way into the building which was well lit and very clean, an Indian man, dressed in white shirt and baggy pants, greeted them in perfect English. He said, “I know what’s wrong with her. She’s dehydrated. I have some electrolytes here in this packet. This water has already been boiled.” He mixed the electrolytes with the water and handed Geoff an eye dropper encased in a plastic bag. “It’s sterile,” he said, looking right at Connie.
Geoff was given instructions to put one drop at a time in Connie’s mouth (which had locked open) until they reached the hospital. When they reached the hospital an hour-and-a-half later, her muscles had relaxed and she was able to walk into the hospital. The doctor said it was the worst case of dehydration he’d ever seen. Her body had literally sucked the water out of the cells and she’d come within hours of dying.
A few weeks later, after returning to Africa, they received a letter from the missionary couple in India. They said, “You won’t believe this, but when we returned to our village via the route we had taken to get you to the hospital, that Red Cross building was gone. There was nothing there in the place where it was.” Was this the work of one of God’s ministering spirits? One day we will know, but in the meantime, we can certainly give praise to the Lord.
Angels Proclaim God’s Truth
Throughout the Bible we find angels involved in communicating God’s truth or message as the Spirit of God directed them. This is, of course, is very much in keeping with the basic meaning of the word angel as a messenger They announced the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus (Luke 1:11f, 26f; Matt. 1:20f)..
Angels Punish or Carry Out God’s Judgments
Remember the Angel of Death who carried out God’s judgement on the first-born of the Egyptians in preparation for the Israelite’s escape from Egypt!
Billy Graham calls angels “God’s secret agents”. They protect. They provide. They proclaim God’s truth and they carry out God’s punishments. On that glorious Day when Christ returns, he will be surrounded by legions of angels, as He is right now in heaven.
There’s the good news about angels – but there is some bad news.
While all the angels were originally created holy and without sin, there was a rebellion by Satan, who, being lifted up by his own beauty, sought to exalt himself above God and rebelled. In his rebellion, he took with him one-third of the angels (Rev. 12:4
So now, there are good angels and there are evil angels.
The leader of these fallen angels (or demons as they are also called) is Satan (cf. Matt. 12:25-27). Satan, the leader of unholy angels, is a liar, a murderer, and a thief (John 10:10). As God’s great antagonist, He hates God and God’s people. Scripture teaches us that he prowls about like a roaring lion in search of those whom he may devour by his nefarious schemes (1 Peter 5:8). As an angelic being, Satan, along with his demon-like angels who operate under his authority, is supernaturally powerful and brilliant, and he uses all his powers against humanity. Not only is he a liar, and a thief, but that which characterizes him above all else is deception. John describes him as the one “who deceives the whole world” (John 12:9). In his cunning, he disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). So, in view of this, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness . . .” (2 Cor. 11:15).
These rebellious fallen angels are what the Bible calls demons, or unclean spirits. They come to deceive people and lead them astray. Satan is the master of disguise. It is clearly his masquerade as an angel of light with his servant angels ,who also disguise themselves in one way or another. And so we must beware of many of the reports of angels which we read of from outside the church. In some circles there is almost an Angelmania in the world today. So we need to be suspicious of
1. Contacting or communing with angels.
There are now books available with titles like Ask Your Angels (Daniel, Alma, Timothy Wyllie, and Andrew Ramer, Ask your Angels, New York: Ballantine, 1992) and 100 Ways to Attract Angels (Sharp, Sally, 100 Ways to Attract Angels, Minnesota: Trust Publications, 1994). But the Bible gives neither permission nor precedent for contacting angels. When people start calling on angels, it’s not the holy angels who answer. They’re demons, disguising themselves as good angels to people who don’t know how to tell the difference.
2. Loving our angels, praying to our angels.
Some self-styled “angel experts” instruct their followers to love their angels and call upon them for health, healing, prosperity, and guidance. But angels are God’s servants, and all this attention and emphasis and glory should go to God, not His servants. God says, “I will not share my glory with another” (Isaiah 42:8). Scripture makes no mention of loving angels—only God, His word, and people. And it never tells us to pray to angels, only to the Lord Himself.
3. Instruction, knowledge, or insight from angels, and special knowledge or teachings from angels.
Many of the false religions and cults in the world today are based on revelations from angels. God’s angels are not teachers. God’s word says they are messengers—that’s what “angel” means—and they minister to us. God has revealed to us everything we need for life and godliness in the Bible (2 Peter 1:3), so any hidden knowledge that spirit beings try to impart is by nature occultic and demonic. ALWAYS REMEMBER
1. The ministry of holy angels will never contradict the Bible.
2. A genuine encounter with a holy angel will glorify God, not the angel. Holy angels never draw attention to themselves. They typically do their work and disappear.
Never Worship Angels
Do Not Participate in Angel Gimmickry
Closely associated with the worship of angels, but in a more subtle way, is all the angel gimmickry going on in our culture today. Sometimes this is not just a matter of collecting and enjoying angel figurines much as someone would collect and enjoy figurines and pictures of eagles.
”Christians should never fail to sense the operation of angelic glory. It forever eclipses the world of demonic powers, as the sun does a candle’s light.” Billy Graham (1918– )
We believe in angels. It’s very true that many have “entertained angels unaware” (Hebrews 13:2). But we need to make sure we’re entertaining the right kind of angels!
When John Paton was a missionary in the New Hebrides Islands, hostile natives surrounded his mission headquarters one night, intent on burning the Patons out and killing them. Paton and his wife prayed all that night. At dawn they were amazed to see the attackers just turn and leave.
A year later the chief of that very tribe was converted to Christianity. Paton then asked him what had kept him and his men from burning down the house and killing them that night. The chief asked Paton a return question: “Who were all those men you had with you there?” Paton told him there had been no one except his wife and himself, but the chief insisted they had seen hundreds of men standing guard–big men in shining garments with drawn swords.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
Yes! We believe in angels!