Last week we looked at who angels are, how long they existed and learned that people cannot become angels or vice versa. Now let’s see these celestial beings in action! Keep in mind that these stories are real and happened to real people. Try to put yourself in their shoes and imagine how you would react.
This is a 3-part series
What jobs do angels have?
They worship and praise God. (Psalm 148:2, Heb 1:6)
The Bible gives us quite a few glimpses of angels singing praises to God. On one fantastic occasion humans were witness to their worship on the night Jesus was born. A great number of them appeared in the sky in front of shepherds in a field at night. What a scene that must have been!
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” Luke 2:13-15
They serve God. (Gen 3:24, Psalm 103:20, Matt 26:53)
In Genesis 28 Jacob has a dream of a stairway to heaven. While traveling from Beersheba to Harran, he stopped for the night.
“He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying.” Genesis 28:12-13
“When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.” Genesis 28:16-17
They are under the command of Jesus. (Matt 25:31, 1 Thes 4:16, 2 Thes 1:7, Rev 1:1, 5:11-12) “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.” Matthew 25:31
They rejoice in God’s good work. (Luke 15:10)
They are God’s messengers on Earth. (Gen 16:7, Luke 1:26, Matt 1:20, Luke 1:11)
The angel Gabriel came to see Mary to tell she would give birth to the messiah. He also appears to Zachariah to announce the birth of his son John the baptist.
Unknown angels appeared to:
- Joseph to tell him Mary was indeed pregnant with the savior (Matt 1:20-21) and two more times to direct him where to go
- Shepherds in the field to announce Christ’s birth (Luke 2:8-11)
- To the apostles a number of times
- And to the women outside Jesus’ empty tomb to tell them He had risen (16:5-7).
“Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.” Matthew 28:1-7
Is it just me, or do you love how he sat on the rock? This wasn’t a small rock, it probably weighed 1 or 2 tons! For some reason him sitting on the rock gives me the impression that he is joyful, at peace. In my mind, even playful. I wonder what his version of the story looks like. The messiah had finally come and defeated death after thousands of years! This angel’s King and Captain was victorious. What a glorious day of rejoicing that must have been for the angels of the Lord.
They guide and protect humankind according to God’s will. (2 Kings 19:35, Daniel 6:22, Psalm 91:11, Matt 24:31, Luke 4:10, Acts 5:19)
Let’s look at the story of Daniel in the lions den. Daniel was one of the Jewish exiles from Judah living in Babylon. The king was tricked by men, jealous of Daniels position in the court, into making new law that forbade anyone from praying to anyone except the king. It was a trap for Daniel, as he prayed three times daily.
So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”
A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.
At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”
Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.” Daniel 6:16-22
They sometimes appear in human form to do God’s work among people. (Gen 22:11, Heb 13:2)
There is a fascinating passage in Genesis 18. The Lord appears to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre near his tent. When he lifted his eyes he saw three men in front of him. With great enthusiasm he bowed down to them, washed their feet, had bread prepared and slaughtered a choice calf to offer these strangers. These were no ordinary people, but in fact heavenly beings appearing as men. And in fact they even ate.
Many scholars say one of these was either Christ or the Lord himself and two angels. (You can read commentary here or here if you are interested.) God tells Abraham he will destroy Sodom because it is full of sin. Abraham begs him to save the city if he can find even 10 righteous men. God agrees.
The two angels continue on to Sodom to warn Abraham’s nephew, Lot, to flee the city before God rained down sulfur and fire from Heaven to destroy it (Gen 19:24). There were some skirmishes with men of the city, but Lot left with his family by the aid of angels. However his wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt.
Of course the passage is much more detailed and layered than this. If you’re a visual person, like me, I highly recommend watching the interpretation of this scripture in the miniseries “The Bible.” You definitely won’t be able to see angels as winged babies after you see these warriors bring God’s wrath on Sodom. It’s not for children, that’s for sure.
It appears that Sodom has been discovered by modern scientists and that it was possibly struck by a firey meteor. It covered the city, scientists say, “with a super-heated brine of Dead Sea anhydride salts,” according to Forbes.
They minister to Christians and aid in answering prayer. (Psalm 103:21, Heb 1:14, Matt 4:11)
They guard and bring Christians to Heaven at their time of death. (Exodus 23:20, Luke 16:22)
They do battle against fallen angels in the heavenlies. (2 Kings 6:17, Dan 7:10)
“And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. And the dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” Revelation 12:7-9
They play a large role in the end of days.
Revelation describes angels carrying out commands of sounding the seven trumpets and bowls of judgement (Rev 8:2), preaching the gospel (Rev 14:6), binding up Satan (Rev 20:1-3). God even sends them to harvest the good and evil. (Rev 14:17-19)
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Here is a PDF of the discussion guide if you would like further reflection or to do it as a group.
Next: How do angels do battle in the spiritual realm? >>
Next, let’s focus on how angels do battle in the spiritual realm. One-third of the angels were cast out of Heaven — Satan and his demons. We’ll see why. We’ll also see what the Bible has to say about guardian angels and how we can do battle ourselves in the heavenlies.