‘for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible’ (Colossians 1:16 NRSV)
God by Christ created not just human beings and animals, but also angels.
Angels are a bit of an embarrassment to many Western Christians today and are often explained away or ignored completely.
In Scripture, by contrast, they play a significant role, being mentioned over 100 times in the Old Testament and over 160 times in the New.
Relatively little is known about angels but Scripture mentions three main roles: Worshippers, messengers and protectors.
Angels are worshipers of God, and are not to be worshipped themselves. In Revelation chapter 5 we are given a vision of them worshipping around the throne of God, ‘Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne… they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, singing with full voice,
“Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Colossians 1:11-12)
This has practical relevance for us. If we are part of a small congregation worshipping God, it can be a great encouragement to know that we are joining in with something much bigger – The angelic worship of God.
Angels also serve as messengers; indeed the Greek word angelos has the meaning ‘messenger’. At key times in Scripture angels have appeared with key messages. In Luke chapter 1 the angel Gabriel has important messages to bring to Zechariah and Mary
(V.19,26) and at the empty tomb it was an angel that announced,
‘He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said.’ (Matt.28:6) and then gave the women a commission,
‘go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead’. (V.7) The messages of the angels in Scripture are to be carefully listened to.
But angels are also protectors,
‘The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.’ (Psalm 34:7) and
‘For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.’ (Psalm 91:11)
Angelic protection is not something that we are normally aware of but we can be grateful for angelic intervention and it may be more common than we realise.
The 18th century Enlightenment questioned the very existence of angels, regarding them as mere flights of fancy. Today, our modern, enlightened and sophisticated Western culture is heavily influenced by that view.
Perhaps it is time to take angels more seriously. To value them as part of God’s creation for the service they give to God and human beings.
Let’s come to Mount Zion and to innumerable angels in festal gathering
(Heb.12:22) praising our God for the wonders of his creation.
Father, thank you for your angels who give us an example of how to worship you and how to faithfully convey important messages; thank you for the protection they provide in your bounteous grace.
Have a good week thanking God for His angels.