Serving God and Mankind

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Serving God and Mankind

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God has given His angels important responsibilities. There are special individual duties, there are different duties for different types of angels, and there are obligations for all angels.

Common to all angels is the duty to heed and obey God. Angels were created as agents of God to carry out His will. And the righteous angels are in total obedience. This is why we pray to God, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10 Matthew 6:10Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
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). The angels of heaven carry out God’s will perfectly—and we in prayer are asking that all people on earth would follow that example. Psalms 103:20 Psalms 103:20Bless the LORD, you his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening to the voice of his word.
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states, “Bless the Lord, you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of His word.”

While God is able to see everything through His Spirit, it seems that He also wants a direct, eyes-on view and report of events on earth through angels. We saw this in the case of the angels who were sent to Sodom in Genesis 19. We see it in the seven spirits of God as “the eyes of the Lord, which scan to and fro throughout the earth” (Zechariah 4:10 Zechariah 4:10For who has despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.
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; see Revelation 3:1 Revelation 3:1And to the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things said he that has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know your works, that you have a name that you live, and are dead.
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; Revelation 4:5 Revelation 4:5And out of the throne proceeded lightning and thunder and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
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; Revelation 5:6 Revelation 5:6And I beheld, and, see, in the middle of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the middle of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
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; compare Proverbs 15:3 Proverbs 15:3The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.
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).

God has used some angels as intermediaries in communicating various instructions and laws. Acts 7:53 Acts 7:53Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.
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says the Israelites “received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.” Galatians 3:19 Galatians 3:19Why then serves the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.
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says that Israel’s full legal and ceremonial system “was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator [Moses].” Hebrews 2:2 Hebrews 2:2For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward;
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likewise referred to this “word spoken through angels [having] proved steadfast,” wherein “every transgression and disobedience received a just reward.” Likewise God sometimes used angels to communicate messages to prophets and apostles, as in Zechariah and Revelation (see also 1 Chronicles 21:18 1 Chronicles 21:18Then the angel of the LORD commanded Gad to say to David, that David should go up, and set up an altar to the LORD in the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.
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).

Serving God’s people and the needs of mankind

Angels are often spectators or observers of what God is doing through mankind. From this they learn more of God’s plan of salvation (see “Angels Are Not People Who Died—Man Has a Far Greater Purpose and Future ”). While angels are spirit beings, they often minister or serve in very physical ways. Specifically, they minister to those called to be God’s people today.

We read about this role in Hebrews 1: “For to which of the angels did He [God the Father] ever say: ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You’? And again: ‘I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son’? But when He again brings the firstborn [Jesus Christ as a forerunner] into the world, He says: ‘Let all the angels of God worship Him …’ Are they [the angels] not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:5-6 Hebrews 1:5-6 5 For to which of the angels said he at any time, You are my Son, this day have I begotten you? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? 6 And again, when he brings in the first-begotten into the world, he said, And let all the angels of God worship him.
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; Hebrews 1:14 Hebrews 1:14Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
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).

In a famous example of physical service, an angel provided the prophet Elijah with food and water and encouraged him to eat:

“Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, ‘Arise and eat.’ Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, ‘Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.’ So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb [Mount Sinai], the mountain of God” (1 Kings 19:5-8 1 Kings 19:5-8 5 And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said to him, Arise and eat. 6 And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baked on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. 7 And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for you. 8 And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God.
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).

The angel provided for Elijah’s physical needs, not the spiritual. Notice that the angel didn’t preach to him or tell him to repent. That was not his role here. It’s later in the chapter that Elijah hears the word of God.

Angels don’t typically take care of the spiritual matters for God. Jesus Christ and God’s ordained ministers and other members of God’s Church usually do that. Angels don’t take up that responsibility unless specifically assigned.

Of course, sometimes they do have that assignment, such as in communicating God’s laws, as we saw above, and preaching the gospel to the world at large (Revelation 14:6 Revelation 14:6And I saw another angel fly in the middle of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
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). But usually the responsibility is to help with physical needs.

Angels protect us: “The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them” (Psalms 34:7 Psalms 34:7The angel of the LORD encamps round about them that fear him, and delivers them.
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).

Remember the physical protection that angels afforded Daniel? They closed the mouths of lions (Daniel 6:22 Daniel 6:22My God has sent his angel, and has shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: for as much as before him innocence was found in me; and also before you, O king, have I done no hurt.
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). An angel broke Peter out of jail in Acts 12:7-8 Acts 12:7-8 7 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came on him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. 8 And the angel said to him, Gird yourself, and bind on your sandals. And so he did. And he said to him, Cast your garment about you, and follow me.
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, and then made sure that Peter got himself dressed and put his shoes on properly! Once again, we see angels making sure to meet the physical needs of God’s servants and giving them needed assistance.

Notice also Psalms 91:10-11 Psalms 91:10-11 10 There shall no evil befall you, neither shall any plague come near your dwelling. 11 For he shall give his angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.
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: “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”

Angels will also defend us against our enemies: “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” (Psalms 35:1 Psalms 35:1Plead my cause, O LORD, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.
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; Psalms 35:5 Psalms 35:5Let them be as chaff before the wind: and let the angel of the LORD chase them.
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).

Heralds, meting out judgment, gathering the elect

God also uses angels as heralds to proclaim good news and warn of judgment.

Gabriel was used to announce the birth of John the Baptist and of Jesus Himself, as we saw in an earlier chapter. Angels rolled back the stone from Christ’s tomb and announced that He was not there—that He had risen from the dead.

In Revelation 14:6 Revelation 14:6And I saw another angel fly in the middle of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
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, cited above, the apostle John wrote: “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.” The angel then tells everyone to “fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come” (Revelation 14:7 Revelation 14:7Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
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).

Another angel then announces the fall of Babylon (Revelation 14:8 Revelation 14:8And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
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), while a third angel warns against receiving the mark of the Beast so as not to “be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb” (Revelation 14:9-11 Revelation 14:9-11 9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 11 And the smoke of their torment ascends up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.
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).

Also in the book of Revelation we see angels sounding the seven trumpets that herald the calamities of the Day of the Lord and the glorious return of Jesus Christ. In Revelation 8:13 Revelation 8:13And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the middle of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabitants of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!
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we see an angel in the form of an eagle pronouncing woes to the earth’s inhabitants over the final three trumpet blasts.

And the angels are used to mete out judgment at God’s command. After David’s sin in numbering Israel, an angel was used to bring a plague—and to show where a new altar of sacrifice was to be built (2 Samuel 24; 1 Chronicles 21).

In defending Jerusalem from invaders, an angel of the Lord slew 185,000 people in the camp of the Assyrian army—causing King Sennacherib to head back home in defeat (2 Kings 19:32-37 2 Kings 19:32-37 32 Therefore thus said the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it. 33 By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, said the LORD. 34 For I will defend this city, to save it, for my own sake, and for my servant David’s sake. 35 And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. 36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelled at Nineveh. 37 And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword: and they escaped into the land of Armenia. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead.
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).

In Ezekiel 9 we see men from God who are angels, because of the sins of the people, sent in to slay the people of Jerusalem starting at the temple.

When God struck Egypt with plagues at the time of the Exodus, “He cast on them the fierceness of His anger, wrath, indignation, and trouble, by sending angels of destruction among them” (Psalms 78:49 Psalms 78:49He cast on them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them.
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).

When Herod accepted the praise of people lauding him as a god, “immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died” (Acts 12:23 Acts 12:23And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.
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).

In Revelation 15 through 16, we see angels pouring out bowls on the earth containing the seven last plagues at the time of Christ’s return.

We’ve already seen in Revelation 12:7-9 Revelation 12:7-9 7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, 8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
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that Michael and his angels will fight against Satan and his demons and cast them down to the earth. Soon afterward, at Christ’s coming to the earth, He will have an angel lay hold of Satan to then shut him away for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-3 Revelation 20:1-3 1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
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).

Jesus spoke of a harvest of His followers at the end of the age in which “the reapers are the angels” (Matthew 13:39 Matthew 13:39The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
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). And they will get rid of what’s in opposition to God: “The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire” (Matthew 13:41-42 Matthew 13:41-42 41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
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).

Yet they will bring His true followers to Him: “And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:31 Matthew 24:31And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
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).

And in the far future of the new heaven and new earth, we will find angels at the 12 gates of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:12 Revelation 21:12And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:
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).

God’s righteous angels will always be there, for they are immortal, as we will then be too (Luke 20:36 Luke 20:36Neither can they die any more: for they are equal to the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.
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). And forever they will devotedly serve God and His glorified children. Again, may we all follow the example of their perfect obedience!