(Angels - Part 1 | Part 2)

We live in a time when people, both Christians and non Christians, are fascinated by angels.  Walk down the street of any modern town or city and you'll see a whole variety of stores featuring material on these heavenly creatures.

Unfortunately, much of what we see and read today is based on half-truths.  We have much angelic literature that is a combination of mythology, beliefs from pagan religions, and New Age thinking all of which in not only confusing, but is far from what Scripture teaches.

Who are the Angels and What do They Do?

The Scripture:   Colossians 1:16

"For by him (Christ) all things were created:  things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities, all things were created by him and for him."

1. Who created the angels?

Yes, just as everything else in heaven and on earth, angels were created by Jesus.  If we will search our Bibles, there is much we can glean about them.

The Scriptures:  Psalm 103:20, Hebrews 12:22, Luke 15:7, Mark 12:25, 1 Corinthians 6:3

"Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones"; "You have come…to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly…." "There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent"; "When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven"; "Do you not know that we will judge angels?"

2.  What do these scriptures tell us about angels?

Can we imagine this scene from heaven where thousands upon thousands of angels assemble with God, rejoicing over the repentance of a single sinner—mighty creatures who will yet someday be judged by the believers?

Angels Are Ministering Servants

But who are the angels?  Why were they created?  Perhaps the most succinct description of angels is given in Hebrews.

The Scripture:  Hebrews 1:14

"Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?"

The author of Hebrews poetically describes angels as "messengers swift as the wind and as servants made of flaming fire" (Hebrews 1:7 The Living Bible).

3.  What is their purpose?

Yes, knowing the trials and difficulties we would face on earth, a loving God created angels as his messengers, primarily to serve and protect us.

Angels Protect The Righteous

The Scripture:   Psalm 91:11-12

"For he (God) will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways."

4.  What is one way the Lord guards us?

The Scripture:  Psalm 34:7

"The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him and he delivers them."

5.  How do angels protect us?

From the day God banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, God's people have been protected by these angelic beings.

The Scripture:  Genesis 3:23, 24

"He (Man) must not be allowed to…take from the tree of life and eat, and live forever…He (God) placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim (a higher order of angel)…to guard the way to the tree of life."

6.  From what was man protected?

7.  How was he protected?

We have another striking picture when the king of Aram was at war with Israel; the king sent a strong force there to surround the city.  The Prophet Elisha's servant saw the troops and was terrified but Elisha prayed and the servant's eyes were opened.  When he looked up, he saw the hills full of the Lord’s horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.  This is just one time of great crisis when the Lord sent an army of angels to protect and save Israel.

Angels Ministered In The Old Testament

Long before this, however, the Bible records several instances of angelic appearances in the Old Testament.  In fact, we see angels protecting and ministering to Jesus' ancestors and those involved in their lives. When the patriarch, Abram, left his native land, God made him a tremendous promise.

The Scripture:  Genesis 15:5

"He (God) took him outside and said, 'Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.'  Then he said to him, 'So shall your offspring be.'"

8. What was God's promise to Abram?

But as the years passed and his wife Sarai bore no children, Abram lost faith and had intercourse with her servant, Hagar.  When Hagar became pregnant, Sarai was so jealous she mistreated Hagar and Hagar ran away.  God sent an angel to Hagar to tell her to return to Abram and Sarai.

The Scripture:   Genesis 16:11-12

"The angel of the Lord also said to her:  'You are now with child and you will have a son.  You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery.  He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers."

Hagar returned to Sarai and Abram and bore the son promised by the angel.  This son was Ishmael and is considered to be the "father" of the Arab nations.

Many more years passed and when Abram (Now Abraham) was 99 years old, he still had not received the promised heir.  One day three visitors (angels) appeared to him.

The Scripture:   Genesis 18:20

"Then the Lord said, 'I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.'"

9. What was the angel's promise?

After the son Isaac born, there was rivalry between the two boys and Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael away.  As they wandered in the desert, an angel again spoke to Hagar and promised that God would make Ishmael's descendants into a great nation.  Although Ishmael could never be Abraham's heir, God did not desert him and comforted his mother.

The Old Testament further relates stories of angels' helping and protecting God's people, often bringing them good news.  An angel spoke to Moses out of a burning bush, telling him to go to Egypt and lead the Israelites out of that land to freedom, and an angel was instrumental in the deliverance.  An angel also instructed Joshua, Moses' successor, and other Israelite leaders.

What do Angels Look Like?

We can learn much about the angels' original state from the Old Testament books:  Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel.  Perhaps you have wondered exactly what angels look like.  Perhaps you have visualized them as ethereal, serene creatures dressed in long robes.  But this picture is largely the product of medieval artists and sculptors rather than from the Bible.

The Scripture:  Ezekiel 28: 12, 14

"You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.  You were anointed as a guardian cherub for so I ordained you…."

Biblical scholars consider these passages to refer to Satan before his fall.

10. Who was he before he fell?

Although the Bible does not specifically describe angels, it gives us a description of the cherubim, one of the higher order of angels.  Ezekiel has this to tell us.

The Scripture:   Ezekiel 10:12,14,21

"Their (the cherubim's) entire bodies were completely full of eye.  Each had four faces: one face was that of a cherub, the second the face of a man, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.  Each had four wings, and under their wings was what looked like the hands of a man.

11. Describe the cherubim

Another higher order of angel is the seraphim.  We find a description of the seraphim in Isaiah.

The Scripture:   Isaiah 6:2-3

"Each (had) six wings:  with two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.  And they were calling to one another:  'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory!'"

12. Describe the seraphim

Another description of a creature we may assume is an angel is given in the Book of Daniel.

The Scripture:   Daniel 10:5-6

"I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of the finest gold around his waist.  His face was like lightening, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude."

13. Describe the man Daniel saw

This "man" had been sent by God to tell Daniel what would happen to Israel in the future.

In Part 2 we will learn about how angels ministered to Jesus and the Early Church.

(Angels - Part 1 | Part 2)

The Answers

  1. Christ
  2. They are mighty; they are multitudinous; they have emotions; they do not marry; someday in the future, they will be judged by the Christians.
  3. To serve those who will inherit salvation
  4. By his angels who guard us in all our ways
  5. They encamp around us and deliver us.
  6. From living forever
  7. God placed cherubim in the Garden.
  8. That Abram's offspring would be as numerous as the stars
  9. That Sarah (Sarai) would bear a son by that time the following year
  10. The model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty; an anointed cherub
  11. Their bodies were full of eyes; each had four faces (a cherub, a man, a lion, and an eagle) and four  wings, and under their wings was what looked like the hands of a man.
  12. Each had six wings; two covered their faces, two covered their feet and with two they were flying.  They called out to one another, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty!"
  13. He was dressed in linen with a belt of gold around his face like lightning; his eyes were like  flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze.  His voice sounded like a
     multitude.

All scripture quotations in this publication are from the Holy Bible, New International Version
(unless otherwise indicated)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, New International Bible Society
Copyright © 2001 by JoAnne Sekowsky