Episode 7: The Reality of God's Heavenly Beings, the Angels

Peace to Live By Episode 7: The Reality of God’s Heavenly Beings, the Angels - Daniel Litton
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[Transcripts may not match broadcasted sermon word for word, and may contain extra material that was cut from the broadcast due to time constraints]

       Most of you have probably seen the old movie from the 1940s 'It's a Wonderful Life,' which starred Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. If you'll remember, that movie was about an angel named Clarence, and he had been sent to the earth to help George Bailey. Now George had gotten himself into some trouble, or at least he thought he had, because his coworker at the Building and Loan, Uncle Billy, had lost some $8,000. Now, in today's money, that would be about $100,000. That's quite a bit of money. When he and Uncle Billy couldn't find the money, George went on a downward spiral, and eventually, asked God for help.

       Clarence the angel is sent to help George. As George is about to commit suicide, the angel distracts him, thereby saving him from carrying through. When George wished he had never existed, the angel allowed him to see what life would be like without his effect on it. George realizes that he indeed was important, as all people are important, and he begs the angel to reverse the action. He prays to God, and life is put back the way it was.

       It is true that in times of desperation, God will help people by sending his angels. Sometimes God has to allow us to get to a certain point in our lives or in a situation in order to wake us up to reality and to what really matters in life. And sometimes, these events are preparing us for something bigger and better. It is true that angels do indeed help Christians, and at times they bring Christians messages. And it's also true that often times these angels help people without them even being aware of it.

       One way in which God loves us as Christians is through the angels that he has caring for to us. Angels do not have the ability to love us because in order to love, you have to have a free will. You have to have the ability to be able to choose to love someone. Now love is not a feeling, but rather a choice a person makes, in this case God, to love someone or something. Married people often times will get a divorce because one or both may 'feel' he or she doesn't love the other person anymore. But love is a choice. If you base your love solely on feelings, that love will undoubtedly fail over time.

       God clearly shows a distinction between his love for Jesus, his only Son, and his relationship with angels. It is noted of God the Father that, “And to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:13-14, ESV). So, one way God shows his love for us, as Christians, is through angels who “serve” us. And angels are subject to God (1 Peter 3:22). Now, at one time in the past angels did in fact have a free will. This can be seen from the writings of the Apostle Peter (2 Peter 2:4) and Jude (Jude 6), as they both note that God didn't spare the angels who fell, that is, who became traitors against God in the past.

       In order for us to gain a better understanding of angels, I want to ask a series of questions, 10 questions total, that I will then answer. We will dissect from the pages of Scripture the different aspects pertaining to angels. I think these questions will make this information easier to understand.

       First, let's ask the question, Where did angels come from? Well, God created angels, just like he created the first human beings. It is noted in Nehemiah 9:6 the following: "“You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you" (ESV). So, God created these “hosts”—the angels—just like he created everything else that we see. And these angels live with God in heaven (see Luke 12:9). But how many angels did God create? The Bible does not give us an exact number. However, there are several key texts that give us an idea—or picture—into this thought. The writer of Hebrews in one instance described angels as “innumerable” (Hebrews 12:22, ESV). Jude noted in his epistle that when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to the earth for the second time, that he will bring with his “ten thousands of his holy ones” (Jude 14, ESV). It is also noted in Revelation 5:11 that, “Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,” (ESV). So, while from these verses we cannot arrive at a definitive number of angels in existence, it can be seen that there are a lot of angels.

       Now for the second question: Since angels are holy, are they to be worshiped? As angels are living with God in heaven, it can then be noted that they are holy beings―for they are 'in' heaven. But that does not mean that they are to be worshiped. The Apostle Paul warns against this, for he says, “Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind,” (Colossians 2:18, ESV). Remember what happened with the Apostle John when he went to worship an angel? In Revelation, it is recorded, “Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” (Revelation 19:10ab, ESV). One of the primary purposes of angels then is to worship God. The writer of Hebrews notes in talking about God's relationship with Jesus, “And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God's angels worship him.”” (Hebrews 1:6, ESV). So, the angels provide worship for Jesus, as God.

       Third question: How do angels compare with humans in God's eyes? As it stands right now, angels are of a higher esteem, or rank, than that of human beings. It is noted in in Hebrews 2:5-8 the following:

“For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. It has been testified somewhere, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet” (ESV).

But one day Christians will be of a high esteem like the angelic beings. The Lord Jesus Christ notes of Christians after this life, “for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection” (Luke 20:36, ESV).

       Question four: So, what do angels look like? Genesis 18 tells us that they appear as men. So, they look completely real, as if they were people themselves. Mark 16:5 says the angel of The Lord was a "young man" (ESV). The whole passage says, "And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed" (ESV). The angel in this case wore "a white robe." Now angels themselves may appear by themselves, as we see with the angel Gabriel in Luke 1:26, or there may be a multitude of angels as we see in Luke 2:13. And what gender are angels? In the Bible, they are always men. But, I think they could probably appear in human form as women.

       Question five: Now what about rank among angels? What is there make up or order? Again, with this subject I do not think it is possible from the pages of Scripture to get a complete picture here. Nevertheless, the Bible does give us some details about this subject. Angels are ranked, like we see in armies of the world today. We can see ranks in Ezekiel 28:12 (in discussing Satan) and Jude 9. We can see titles as a rank perhaps in Daniel 10:13. This passage says, "The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia," (ESV). Note that Michael is called "one of the chief princes." Speaking of Micheal, it is noted in Revelation 12:7 that he had angels who were assigned to him.

       Question six: Now can we, as humans, see angels anytime we want? Well, obviously not, as we do not see them around us. I think it would be fair to say that we cannot see them unless God gives us the ability. We see this example in Numbers 22:31, when it says, "Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, with his drawn sword in his hand. And he bowed down and fell on his face" (ESV). Therefore, it seems reasonable to presume that angels are all around us perhaps, but we cannot see them without God's enablement. Another example of this would be 2 Kings 6:17, which states, "Then Elisha prayed and said, "O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see." So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (ESV). We could take Luke 2:13 for another example of the shepherds seeing the heavenly host in Luke 2. Bottom line is that God has to enable us to see angels. But, we need to be care, for the writer of Hebrews notes that, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2, ESV). That's an interesting thing to think about.

       Question seven: Do angels protect Christians? Are there guardian angels? And what about nations? I tied these concepts together since they are related. For this first part of the question, yes, angels do protect Christians. Perhaps the best example of this is found in the book of Daniel. Turn with me in your Bibles or tap in your Bible app to Daniel chapter 6. Let's pick up the passage after the prophet Daniel had been thrown into the Lion's den, starting with verse 19:

"Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, "O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?" Then Daniel said to the king, "O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm." Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God” (Daniel 6:19-23, ESV).

So, Daniel was protected by the angel of the Lord, and it was because of his trust in God.

       Now do people have guardian angels? Well, consider what Jesus says in Matthew 18:10 about children. This verse states, ““See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven” (ESV). So, it would appear from this verse that it is possible.

What about nations? Do angels help governments in accordance with God's will? Undoubtedly, I would have to say, my greatest American hero is George Washington. What strong character and guts it took to face the British army in the Revolutionary War. As many of you know, Washington was an exemplary Christian, though he himself probably wouldn’t have looked at himself like that―for he often times felt very humbly of himself, if you read his journal entries.

But Washington without a doubt believed in God and the work if his angels, and he can give us some background on this. For he said, in his first Inaugural Address as President in 1789:

“No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency…. [W]e ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.”

Angels unquestionably, through God's provision, helped Americans in the Revolutionary War, and have helped Americans in various times and trials ever since.

       Question eight: What is the future for angels? Now angels are also going to have a major role in end times events. Jesus talked about this quite a lot and the angels are also talked about a lot within the book of Revelation. Jesus did note that the angels themselves do not know when the end time will be, just like he didn't know during his earthly ministry and just like we as humans do not know (see Matthew 24:36). One thing Jesus said about angels at the end time is that they would be reapers. He states in Matthew 13:41 that at the end of time, “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear” (Matthew 13:41-43, ESV; see also Matthew 16:27). Mark 8:38 states that, “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (ESV). But Jesus will also have his angels gather up Christians, as noted in Matthew 24:31, for it says, “And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (ESV).

       Question nine: What does the book of Revelation say about angels? The book of the Revelation also, in a very detail form, notes the activities of angels at the end times. For example: the Angels are involved with 144,000 Israelites who are sealed, being saved, as noted in Revelation 7. Angels are involved in the Seven Trumpet judgments, with the utter destruction that they cause to the earth and it's inhabitants, both people and animals. These judgments are seen in Revelation chapters 8 through 11. There are seven angels with seven plagues, and angels pour out the seven bowls of the wrath of God, noted in Revelation 15 and 16. These bowls of wrath from the angels bring severe punishment to the followers of the antichrist, the world leader. If you haven't read the book of Revelation lately, or have never read it, I would encourage you do so. I understand that a lot of what is says can be scarey, and especially so since all that it says is really going to happen, but it is beneficial and helpful for you to read it. Plus, God will give you a special blessing if you do so, as he does for anyone who will read this book aloud and believes it (Revelation 1:3).

       Question ten: What is the future relationship between Christians and angels? It should also be noted that we, as Christians after this life, will judge angels. The Apostle Paul notes in 1 Corinthians 6:3 that, “Do you not know that we are to judge angels?” And, Christians will also be like angels in that there is no marriage in heaven. Let’s consider a lengthy passage found in Matthew 22. We will consider verses 23 through 30. Turn there with me in your Bibles or navigate there in your Bible app. The passage states:

“The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.’ Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother. So too the second and third, down to the seventh. After them all, the woman died. In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.” But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven…. And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching” (Matthew 22:23-30, 33, ESV).

I know this a particularly hard passage, especially for those of you who are married and hate the thought of not being married. But, you have to remember when we are in heaven, we will actually see God. So, we will be able to have great fellowship with him, and we will be fulfilled so much so that marriage will pale in comparison to this fellowship. And, so long as your spouse is a believer, he or she will be with you heaven, and you will still have fellowship with that person, and even better fellowship than you have now.

       In closing today, let's consider a parable that Jesus told his disciples in Luke 15:8-10. That passage states:

“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (ESV).

Jesus also said in Luke 12:8-9: “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God” (ESV).

Jesus doesn't want to have to deny anyone before the Father in heaven. He wants everyone, which includes you, to come into a personal relationship with him. God loves everyone, and there are no exceptions to his love. There is no offense, or offenses, you could commit against God in and of which he would not then offer you his salvation. God will forgive any offense, or offenses, no matter how heinous. Even if you are trapped in an overpowering habit or problem, God still wants you to come to him today, and accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. He can help you where you need help, no matter what.

       If you would like to accept Jesus today as your personal Lord and Savior, then pray after me this simple prayer:

God, I am a sinner. I have not lived my life following your will, but have done what I have wanted to, and it has not turned out so great. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, and that he rose from the dead so that I might have a new beginning in you. I surrender my life over to you so that you will take care of me. Please change my life, and make me a better person, like Jesus. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

-Daniel Litton