Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Angels 101

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Psalm 104:1-18

TO CHEW ON: "Who makes His angels spirits
His ministers a flame of fire." Psalm 104:4

I have noticed a fascination with angels in the last few years. Perhaps the TV show "Touched by an Angel" is partly responsible. People wear angel jewelry pieces almost as amulets of good luck or protection. Some speak of their dead loved ones as now existing as angels. Of course all kinds of angel lore has been around for ages (plug "angel lore" into Google and you'll come up with a hodgepodge of facts and hearsay from Christianity, Judaism, Islam and New Age).

The Bible talks about angels -- more than I realized before I did today's little study. If anything, it has increased the mystery and the wonder. Here are some things I discovered:

- Angels are created beings. But they were created before humans, because they are described as present with God when the world was created (Genesis 2:1; Job 38:4-7).

- Angels were created with a free will. But Lucifer and others rebelled against God (Isaiah 14:12-15). Thus angels are responsible for the origin of evil. As my trusty old Lectures in Systematic Theology puts it: "Here is the place where we should discuss the problem of the origin of evil; for evil originated in heaven and not on earth" (H.C. Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology, Eerdmans, 1963 - p. 194).

What angels are like:
- They have discernment and wisdom (2 Samuel 14:17,20)
- They have unusual strength (Matthew 28:2, 2 Peter 2:11)
- They can show themselves (Genesis 19:1-3; Hebrews 13:2)
- They have the ability to transcend the physical limitations of earth (Revelation 10:1-3).

What good angels do* (this is where it gets exciting):
- They stand before God and worship Him (Matthew 18:10; Revelation 5:11).
- They protect and deliver God's people (Psalm 91:11; Acts 12:11).
- They guide and encourage God's servants (Matthew 28:5-7; Acts 8:26).
- They interpret God's will to men (Daniel 10:5,11; Zechariah 1).
- They are the executors of judgment toward individuals and toward nations (Ezekiel 9:1,5,7; Genesis 19:12-13).
- They carry the saved home when they fall asleep in Jesus (Luke 16:22).

The actual words "guardian angel" don't appear in scripture, but the concept of a personal angel assigned to each one of us probably comes from Matthew 18:10 (link above), where Jesus speaks in defense of children whose angels have continual access to God, and Psalm 91:11-12 which promises:
"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.

As to their activity in our lives - we may or may not ever be aware of their presence. But they are definitely one of the means by which God accomplishes His will on earth regarding us: Hebrews 1:13-14.

PRAYER: Dear God thank You for the angelic part of creation -- which I do not understand and have never seen, but gladly accept. Thank You for help You have sent my way at their hands. Amen.

MORE: Angel Tracks?

It was late when they reached Falcon Lake and snowing hard. My husband and his parents decided to stop at the local motel that December 1978 night before pressing on to Thunder Bay. Trouble was, try as they might, they couldn't rouse anyone. So there was nothing to do but go on.

"The road was white from shoulder to shoulder," my husband remembers, "and it was snowing hard." Then he noticed tire tracks on the road ahead. Despite the heavy snow, they were fresh -- and remained visible for the next hour or so, until the storm was left behind. Never once, though, did anyone in the car see any sign of taillights or the vehicle. Hubby says of that night: "I said at the time, and I still think today, those tracks were made by an angel, guiding us through the storm."

Have you ever had an experience with an angel?

* I took these points from H. C. Thiessen's Lectures in Systematic Theology (Eerdmans, 1963) pp. 205-206

Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.

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