Stump the Rector

Kelli wrote that she had been reading in the Bible about angels and wanted to know more.

Kelli

I don’t pretend to be an expert on angels but I can offer some input both from Scripture and from personal experiences.

First the word “angel” means messenger, which seems to be a primary role for them in Scripture. They communicate God’s will to mankind as preeminently seen in the annunciation of the angel to the Blessed Virgin Mary (Lk 1:26).

Angels are also known as ministering spirits. We are told in Scripture of two occasions in the life of Jesus, once in the wilderness and one in the garden, when they cared for Jesus after He went through those challenging times (Mt 4:11; Luke 22:43). In Matthew we are not told directly how they went about ministering to Jesus but commentator Matthew Henry says that they “supplied him with what he needed and dutifully attended to him.” This makes sense since He had just completed a long fast. In Luke we are told that the angel was sent to strengthen Jesus. It is likely that Jesus received from the angel, what we all need in times of trial, the love and compassion of the Lord. It is a mystery why the Father chose to send strength through an angel, but it is undeniable that He did.

The idea of having a guardian angel comes from a couple of passages. Hebrews 1:14 says of angels “are they not all ministering spirits sent to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit eternal life?” Our Lord speaks of angels in Matthew 18:10 when referring to children, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” We see their care for us as we see angels rescue Lot and his family from the destruction of Sodom (Gen 19), go before the Children of Israel in the wilderness (Ex 32:34) and open the prison cell for Peter (Acts 12).

Additionally, we taught in the book of Daniel that angels do battle with forces of evil. In Daniel 10, Michael aided the messenger who came to minister to Daniel as he fought his way to Daniel. This theme is echoed in the Revelation, which speaks of Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon and his angels (Rev 12:7).

While angels are real, that may not always be obvious. Hebrews 13:2 says that we should not neglect showing hospitality to strangers because we may actually be entertaining angels without knowing it.

I have spoken with two people who have had direct contact with angels. The first is my mother. One night a stranger came to church and asked for help. The priest asked my parents to give him a room for the night, and although he was dressed like a member of a motorcycle club, they agreed. At first my mother could not sleep for fear of this stranger doing them harm. But after praying for God’s safety, she saw an angel, larger than the doorframe, standing on front of their bedroom door with a drawn sword in hand. After this she was able to sleep.

The second person was a young woman who had been raised in a satanic “church.” She called a local pastor and asked to be rescued, fearing for her life if she was caught leaving the cult. The pastor went to her rescue and as they arrived at the pastor’s home, she saw a giant standing at his front door. The giant so terrified her that she refused to exit the car. When she explained the circumstance to the pastor, while he could see no one, he remembered that he had said a brief prayer before leaving, asking the Lord to send an angel to protect his family while he was gone. Still seeing no one, he released the angel, who then left, and the young woman entered his home. I spoke with her after she had been baptized and was walking in the way.

One last comment about angels. Colossians warns against the “worship of angels” (Col 2:18). Since the word used there can also mean “religion of angels” it can imply more than just the act of worship. This would include not using them as mediators or as amulets to protect from evil. I suggest that any over-fascination with angels would also be included under this warning. Angels are a gift from God to human kind but our eyes are to be “fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Heb 12:2). As Steven Covey put it, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”

1 thought on “Stump the Rector

  1. Great article. I have an interesting angel story I love to retell. While working in SICU Vanderbilt I had the opportunity to care for our first heart/lung transplant and she was VERY sick for a very long time; many times the Doctor’s thought that they’d lost her but she always made it through. One night that I had her as my patient was one of those critical nights and I stayed at her bedside all night and never left her side (if you’re wondering, yes I always prayed for my patients). To everyone’s surprise she made a drastic turn around that week and was able to get off the breathing tube and was able to speak with us. I went into her room to speak to her and tell her I’d been one of her nurses and was so happy to see her doing better. She looked at me and said, “Oh yes! I remember you! Then she said but who was the other one with you?” I told her no one had been with me and her eyes were bright and she said “No, there was one with you and she had long blonde hair like yours but longer and she stood by my bed holding my hand all night.” I knew that had to have been her angel.

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