Rev. Paton, a missionary in the New Hebrides Islands, tells of a night when hostile natives surrounded the mission headquarters with the intent on burning their house down and killing him and his wife. He and his wife prayed all night during that terror-filled evening. When daylight came they were amazed to see the attackers leave. They thanked God for delivering them. A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Jesus, and Rev. Paton asked the chief what had kept them from burning down the house and killing them. The chief replied, “Who were all those men you had with you there?” Rev. Paton answered, “There were no men there, just my wife and I.” The chief argued that they saw many big men standing guard in shining garments with drawn swords in their hands. They seemed to circle the mission station so that the natives were afraid to attack. Could it be that God had sent angels to protect His servants?
Many people have a strong belief in angels, but this belief is not based on Biblical teaching, but personal desires or views of the world? I would say that a vast majority of what we hear and see concerning angels is Biblically incorrect. For example, “when good people die they become angels; angels come down to earth as God’s messengers to grant people’s prayer request; or angels are creatures with wings.” The word “angel” simply means messenger. The Old and New Testament present angels as genuine personal beings who serve as messengers and ministers of God or Satan. Scripture indicates that there are two classes of angels: good angels or ministering spirits (Heb 1:4), and bad angels called demons, evil spirits (Lk 8:2) or unclean spirits (Lk 11:24,26). However, let’s focus merely on the good messengers of God whom we normally call angels.
The Bible states that angels, like men, were created by God (Neh 9:6 & Col 1:6), but Scripture does not tell us when they were created. They have spiritual bodies, not physical bodies, and some have the ability to appear like a human being. The majority of angels who appear to people do not have wings, and appear as mere men (Gen 18:2). Only Seraphim, angelic being who stood above the throne of God (Isa 6:2,6) and Cherubim, another kind of angel, appeared to have wings (Ezek 1:5-8, 13-14,24). In a few instances angels fly, but nothing is said about wings (Rev 14:6). Scripture indicates that they are limited in space and power (Dan. 9:21-23; 10:10-14; Job 1:12 & Rev 12:7-9). They have intellect, can communicate intelligently in speech (Matt 28:5), can choose from various courses of action (Isa 14:12-15 & Matt 8:31), and can have emotions (Job 38:7; Isa 6:3 & Lk 15:10).
Scripture tells us, “He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways” (Ps 91:11). Hebrew 1:14 calls them ministering spirits. Thus, angels are here to render service or minister to believers. And that service can take a variety of forms: guide (Matt 1:20 & 28:5-7), provide needs (I King 19:5-8), protect (Dan 6:19-22), encourage (Dan 10:10-14), comfort (Zech 1:13,14), answer prayer (Dan 9:20-24 & Lk 1:11-17), deliver (Acts 5:17-19 & 12:6-10), rejoice over the redemption (Lk 15:10) and attend to the righteous who have died (Lk 16:22 & Jude 9).
Are there angels today who are able to influence the affairs of men? My answer is definitely yes! Dr. Mitchell, a celebrated neurologist, had gone to bed after a long day and was suddenly 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 bitter cold, snowy night, but he felt that he must go. When he reached the home, he found the mother desperately ill with pneumonia. After arranging for medical care, he complimented the sick woman on the intelligence and persistence of her little daughter. The woman looked puzzled and told him that her daughter died a month ago, and added that her coat was in the child’s closet. Dr. Mitchell went to the closet and opened the door where he saw the coat worn by the little girl who had brought him, warm and dry, and could not possibly have been out in the wintry night. Could the doctor been called by an angel who appeared as this woman’s young daughter?
Are there angels around today? Do they guide and protected God’s people even today? Scripture tells us, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Heb 13:2). We do not know when angels are ministering to us or when we are ministering to them. Theologian J. I. Packer noted this about the activities of angels, “Both as communicators and as guardians their work is ordinarily unnoticeable, and not until we get to heaven shall we know how much we owe to it.” Scripture tells us that angels are real, and are ministering today in a variety of circumstances, whether we recognize it or not. John Calvin noted, “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 befalls us.”
David Moore and his friend were in a small plane in severe fog with only a few minutes of fuel left. They radioed to the Asheville, North Carolina, airport for emergency instructions but were informed the field was closed due to fog, and that the airport had no instrument capability for emergency landing. The pilots were instructed to return to Greenville and land there. David notified the tower that there was insufficient fuel to return to Greenville and that they must land now. There was a period of silence, then a voice told them that they could land and that emergency preparations would be undertaken. The voice gave them specific and detailed instructions which soon allowed the plane to land in a very difficult situation. In a shaky voice, David thanked the air traffic controller for saving their lives. The controller responded, “What are you talking about? We lost all radio contact with you when we told you to return to Greenville. We never heard from you again and were stunned when we saw you break through the clouds.” Could it have been the activity of an angel? We don’t know, but the Bible tells us that angels are all around believers ministering to them in a variety of ways.
-Pastor Mike Kotrla