Many popular ideas form our concepts and beliefs about angels. But where can we find the real truth on this fascinating subject?
It was a beautiful sunny day when my family and I went out on our bike ride. As we biked along, we came to a four-lane street that we had to cross. The light was green, so I led the way, but I didn't realize our little six-year-old was lagging behind.
Suddenly a car came roaring around the corner heading right toward her! Our hearts sank as we knew there was no stopping that car. We heard the screeching brakes, the smell of burning rubber, and waited for the crunch of metal and the screams. But there was silence.
You've probably heard stories about angels of protection or perhaps you have your own story.
Stay tuned to Beyond Today as we search for "Angels Among Us."
Did you know that over half of all American adults believe they've been protected and watched over by their own guardian angel? (USA Today, 10/18/2008)
The notion of angels is one of the most captivating subjects around. Now what about you? Have you ever felt touched by an angel? Are there angels among us?
Now no doubt, popular ideas can shape the way we think. There are so many ways the concept of angels is used, in movies, books, biker gangs, even advertising such as the Victoria Secret angels. We even have the city of angels in America - Los Angeles.
But you have to be careful where you get your ideas about angels. If you don't go to the source to discover what angels are all about, you'll get off track. You'll be confused with so many false notions out there about them.
Now some believe that people become angels when they die. Others even feel that deceased loved one has gone to heaven and is now a guardian angel. Now how could that be true? It can't be that comforting, can it? Because it's not the truth! So don't be fooled.
But where should you look to find the truth? Well you've got to go to the only authority there is when it comes to spiritual truth - that's the Bible, the Word of God.
Are there angels among us? Nearly seven in 10 Americans believe that angels are active in the world (survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life). Now if you're one of those, your Bible says: you're right! There are angels among us.
Now, we have to be careful what we mean by that. If you want to know the truth about angels, you can't go to speculations of some people or, their experiences, or even what you may think sounds logical. You should only go to the source of Scripture.
Now let me point out one reason why. It's important to go to the Bible for this very reason alone. The Pew Forum conducted a "U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey." You know what they found? They found that atheists and agnostics—those are people that don't even believe in God—that they actually know more about religion than religious people! Now can you believe it? They scored better than religious Americans about religious knowledge. Now here's what they actually said: "Americans are not well informed about the tenets, practices, history and leading figures of major faith traditions—including their own."
It's pretty startling, and you know I believe that includes the subject of angels. Most people, they're not well informed. They don't have a true biblical understanding. In fact the average score on that survey was only 50 percent correct! Now what about you? When it comes to angels, what's your understanding? You need to know the facts and do you realize, it could very well impact your life.
Now the Bible has a lot to say about angels. Did you know there are about 300 references to angels in the Bible? And time after time, Jesus Himself refers to them. The New Testament records dozens and dozens of encounters with angels.
So this is an important topic. And as we begin, let's realize first, that angels are created. They're created beings.
When we look over at Colossians 1:16, it explains: "For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on [the] earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created by Him and for Him..."
You see God through Christ created even the invisible things, the things we can't even see and that would include angels!
And over in Nehemiah 9:6, it tells us: "You alone are the LORD; You have made heaven, The heaven of heavens, with all their host…"
So you see, there is no doubt that angels are created beings. They're not eternal. They haven't lived forever. They're not like God in that way. They haven't lived forever.
Now, even though they're created, they've been around for a very long time. You might ask, well how long have they been around?
Well when God was talking to Job, He gave us an indication exactly how long they've been around. God asked Job, "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?" (Job 38:4-7).
You see there in verse seven, it's talking about the angels. In the New Revised Standard Version it says, "When all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?" The NIV says, "When the morning stars sang together, and all the angels shouted for joy?"
So angels have probably existed for billions of years. How do we know? Well science has speculated about the age of the universe and our solar system. Some scientists say it may be 20 billion years old. Now even though the universe is very old, man has only been around for about 6,000 years according to the genealogies of the Bible. That's just a fraction of time compared to the overall picture. But the angels? They were here before mankind. They witnessed the creation of the earth. They've been around for a very long time, since before the world was created.
So you see it's important to realize that angels, they're not like us. They're not physical. They're spirit beings. Now here's a couple of amazing facts:
Over in Hebrews, it describes angels as spirits. So, they don't have physical bodies like we do. Normally, you can't see them. They're invisible! Jesus Christ said they don't marry. They don't have babies (Mark 12:25) and they don't die! (Luke 20:36). See, they're not like us.
No wonder we're told that right now, mankind is a little lower than the angels. That's over in Hebrews 2:7. We're told angels have greater wisdom, (Matthew 24:36). They have greater power than man. Remember the stories? How the angel rolled back the stone after the crucifixion? (Matthew 28:2). Remember how the angel just appeared to Peter and the prison doors just flew open? (Acts 5:19, 2 Pet. 2:11). Amazing miracles! Amazing powerful beings!
So it's important to realize angels were created. And you know they were created special. They were holy. They were without sin. So angels, for the moment, are the pinnacle of God's creation.
So it helps us to ask the question: What are they doing? What is an angel's job description? Can they have an effect on your life? What is their purpose? What are they doing among us?
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Now if you were to look into that word "angel," you'll find that the word itself comes from a Greek word that means messenger. The matching Hebrew word mal'ak has the very same meaning.
So throughout the Bible, we find angels living up to their name. They're used by God to be messengers as they reveal His Word. Numbers of times, over and over, they appear and announce important messages. Remember how they announced the birth of John the Baptist? (Luke 1:11, 26; Matthew 1:20). And they announced the birth of Jesus Christ as well.
Now, trouble—it's just ahead of us, the Great Tribulation. God will once again use angels to announce key events. Over in the book of Revelation 14:6 gives us insight into what's happening just down the line in the future. It says, "Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—saying with a loud voice, "Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water."
That angel will be delivering an extremely important message from God. Almost like a courier being sent by God to bring a special announcement from God.
You see, angels are messengers, but not just messengers, they're also created as servants. They serve the needs of mankind and God's people in very special, physical ways. Notice Hebrews 1:14. It asks the question, "Are they not all [angels] ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?"
You see it points to what angels are. That's a part of an angel's job description and maybe that's the one that's the most interesting. What's more talked about than the idea of a guardian angel? Over the years, I've been asked many times: Does everyone have a guardian angel? Well most might be surprised to realize that nowhere in the Bible does it specifically state that every person has a guardian angel.
Now, what the Bible does show is that angels do guard and protect; it's one of their duties! Psalm 91:11, it tells us, "For he shall give his angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. They shall bear you up in their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone."
You see angels are protectors. They watch over us. God gave them that as one of their duties. You may have remembered my story about our family bike trip. As we were going along and crossing that four-lane street, suddenly here comes this car roaring and my little girl was in danger! We were sure, there was no hope for, we were sure we were going to hear the crashing of metal and the screeching of the voices that would be resulting from a terrible accident. But somehow, almost beyond belief, our little one was protected. Somehow she made it across. The whole family safely on the other side. Was it an angel? Well, I think God can protect us.
One of the jobs that God gave angels is to do just that, to look after us. Psalm 35:1. It tells us, "Plead my cause, O Lord, with those who strive with me; fight against those who fight against me. Let them be like chaff before the wind, and let the angel of the Lord chase them."
God is an amazing God. He cares so much for us and over and over again through the Bible, He gives us examples of His protection. The story of Daniel is a good example of that. Remember Daniel in the lion's den? What kept the lions from killing Daniel? Well Daniel 6:22 says, God sent His angel to shut the lions' mouth so that they didn't hurt Daniel.
Now here's a problem: because the angels have guarded, because they protect His people, some miss the point.
I mean it's amazing how much angel gimmickry is going on today. Is it just a nice hobby of collecting angel figurines? To some, they become icons. They allow them to replace their dependence on God and His Word.
Some like the, have the idea that they have their own little baby cherub, a little cupid or maybe even a powerful angel that will somehow save them from any adversity. But there's a problem with that. People do this sometimes without ever calling on God for help. Some people look to angels almost as their own personal genies.
But you know, time and chance still happen to all of us. We're not all guaranteed angelic protection in every situation in life. You know our faith in God is sometimes tested when He allows difficulties, when He allows trials, when He allows circumstances like that in our life. But it doesn't change the fact, God still loves every one of us, even when tragedies occur. So we must look to Him for strength. We must have faith in God.
You may even know some people who have almost a near obsession or a near worship of angels. Certainly angels are real, but, they don't get the credit. They should never get the credit. The real credit for miracles, the real credit for answered prayer, must go to God! Otherwise, it becomes an idol. It stands opposed to the true worship of God.
And you know when you look in the Bible, angel worship has been around for a long time. Colossians 2:18 tells us, "Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by [with] his fleshly mind."
You see that was a problem back then and it's a problem today. As Christians, we should adhere to the Commandments, and the first one. How important is it when it comes to this? It says, "You shall have no other gods before Me" (Exodus 20:3).
You see the apostle John had an experience that was recorded back in the book of Revelation that dealt with the worship of angels. Revelation 19:10. In this situation John fell at the angel's feet to worship him. And the angel said to him, "Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."
You see that passage makes it so clear, we must never worship angels. They're fellow servants who serve God. So like John, we are told to worship God.
Certainly angels are powerful. They're awesome in so many ways! But like us, they're only creatures and servants of the living God who alone, God alone deserves our worship. So this means we don't pray to angels. We don't trust in them, even though God may use them powerfully. Our trust, our love, our focus must be to God, not to angels.
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The topic of angels is certainly a big one, and we'd like to break it down a little bit further. So to discuss this with me today is fellow host of the program, Darris McNeely.
Darris, how do we know that angels are among us?
It's a good question Steve. How do we know? We have to look at the Scripture; I mean the Bible is where angels are revealed to us, discussed. You've read many of the scriptures. You didn't cover all of the subject, obviously, in this short program but, we know from what the Bible tells us that it is a realm of the spirit world that exists, and it is a very real presence in aiding God in His plan and His purpose for all of mankind.
Now how can our viewers, for example, be sure that they have God's protection? That angels might be watching? Is there a way, or how can that be?
You know, I heard a sermon one time given by a colleague who had spent a number of years just collecting stories about angels, and it was a fascinating sermon that he gave, held our attention, and he had different episodes and instances like the one you had at the beginning with your own family, of people who had had things happen in their lives that could not be explained by anything physical.
Now, I'm convinced and I feel that it was an inspirational sermon. There are inspirational aspects to that and sometimes we can see certain things that take place that we know we had God's protection. But we have to take that in a sense, on faith and understand it that way, but also keep it in its proper perspective and be careful not to trivialize it as something that is kind of a, a pseudo-spiritual experience that we had because we may have interactions with angels.
And so in some ways it's not just asking for protection but we better make sure our relationship with God is right, that, because God has got to get the focus. He has got to get the honor and the praise and the glory, not some angel.
No, it's not a matter of worshipping angels. You read that scripture from Colossians that talks about the fact that we should not worship angels. The book of Colossians was written to counteract a great deal of worship of angels that was a part of the culture in the world at that time, is still with us. You walk into a lot of shops, you see that there are whole shops at times devoted to angel relics I call them. Little statues or things that people can buy to, you know in a sense, to remind them of certain things. And that's the trivialization I'm talking about.
One also needs to be very careful because though God can protect us in many different ways, there are times that God chooses not to protect or to intervene and accidents happen. Tragedies do occur. We read in the Bible, for instance in the book of Hebrews, the great chapter of faith, of men and women of God who had bad things happen to them…
Went through difficult times…
…As part of God's plan and working with us individually. So don't think that just when, when an accident happens, when a tragedy takes place, that God has abandoned or forsaken us.
That too is a part of life that we have to understand and yet there is this aspect of angels. And at times, actual protection and guidance that we most likely don't even know about so many, so often in our life.
It sort of reminds me of what the Bible talks about, about some of the spiritual battles that are going on.
Oh that's another big part of…
Yeah and it's a part we haven't hardly touched on at all…
No, that would be another program to do.
But it's an interesting aspect of what, part of the angel's job description is all about; that there are some things going on behind the scenes that we don't even see, that we're not really aware of in many ways.
The Bible reveals that there are powerful angelic beings, righteous angels, unrighteous angels, but even angels that seem to be over whole nations. The book of Daniel talks about the prince of the kingdoms of Persia and Greece, and they are withstanding the, God's angel Michael in bringing a message to Daniel.
In the book of Revelation, Revelation chapters 2 and 3, there is an angel of each of these churches that are mentioned there in the book of Revelation, so there is a very role that angels have. The role that they have over the nations and involved in the work of nations, such as we saw there in Daniel, is a fascinating subject of and by itself. That we don't, it's the unseen dimension in history, that is little understood. That is a program that we do need to do and will probably do one of those in the future…
Yeah, in fact people could go on the Web. They could go there, BeyondToday.tv.
Get more information from our literature...
Yeah, do a search and check that out because that is a whole big subject on its own.
But there is an unseen dimension in world history that where angels do often, do play a role that the Bible tells us, just gives us a bit of a glimpse, not the whole picture, but enough to know that there is more that happens than the eye sees.
Now one of the things that's interesting about angels is, we briefly touched on the fact that right now we're a little lower than the angels, but what does that point us to as far as the future holds?
It points us to God. It points us to God. We are below the angels in the sense of, we are created physical beings, angels are created spirit beings. But, God's purpose for man is to one day be over the angels. The apostle Paul talked about the fact that we will judge angels in 1 Corinthians, and he chided the people there in chapter 6 about the fact that they couldn't judge among themselves. We will judge the angels. That's another dimension of God's plan as well.
Angels were not given to marriage, in that way. Man is, and that marriage shows us the supreme relationship that man has with God to ultimately be a part of His family. Angels do not have that promise.
Mankind made in God's image. Angels are not said to be made in God's image. So it is, it's a big subject so we hope that you'll go online and look for more things. Go to BeyondToday.tv and search for more articles to help fill in some of those spots that you really want some more information on.
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Now do you want answers to your questions about the reality of the angelic world? Instead of reading all the manmade books that deal with the subject, be sure to go to the only source of truth—the Word of God. The Bible tells us that angels are mighty spirit beings that were created to serve God and you. It's a good thing to ask God to give you the help and protection that only He can give through His angels. So pray for protection. Ask God to open your mind to His truth and set His angels about you. Put your trust in God! Angels serve Him, so should you.
Thanks for joining me today. If you missed some of today's program, you can go online and catch the entire program at BeyondToday.tv. Don't forget our free offers and be sure to tell your family and friends about us.
Tune in again next week, at this same time for another edition of Beyond Today. I'm Steve Myers. Thanks for watching.