There is an eye-catching statement made in the final chapter of Hebrews. Hebrews 13:2 says, "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it."
Most of us have seen the movie classic, It's A Wonderful Life" and we know who Clarence the angel (2nd class) is, and we know that whenever a bell rings that means an angel has just earned his wings. It is a moving story, and Clarence is an endearing angel, other than that we don't learn to much about angels that is Biblically correct.
How many of you have ever had what you thought was an encounter with an angel?
Story: About 15 years or more ago we were on vacation heading to Ohio. At that time we had one of those little pop-up campers that you tow behind the car. As we were driving through the Youngstown area, I realized that we were having some kind of problem with the camper...and a driver passing us yelled that we had a flat.
I pulled off the road into a store lot. Checked the tire. It was flat. I also discovered that I had unwisely buried my tools at an inaccessible spot which would require unloading almost the whole camper. But worst of all, I did not have a camper jack and the car jack would not work for this job.
As I was bemoaning my stupidity and lack of foresight an automobile pulled into the lot. A somewhat older gentleman got out and announced that he had come to help us. I explained my dilemna. He opened his trunk and I beheld a mechanic's dream. Tool boxes and trays of all kinds of tools, neatly arranged and ready for use. And of course he had exactly what I needed.
He changed the tire, put the spare on...would accept no payment except a thank you.
Two amazing factors in this event that struck me, in addition to a spiritual awareness; he said that he had come to help us, and I wondered who had sent him; but also...when he came over to offer his help, he called me by my first name. And I thought, "How does he know my name?" but I was afraid to ask. When I got back in our car to continue our trip, one of the children said to me, "Daddy, was that man an angel?"
Maybe, just maybe, that man might have been an angel. Maybe he is an angel assigned to me. If so, he has helped me with many mechanical and building projects over the years without me being aware of his presence. He has also spared me injury and saved my life on ocassion. He hasn't done much for my golf game, however. (Some things even angels can't fix.)
Do I believe in the existence of angels? Yes! Do I believe that God assigns angels to minister to and watch over his people? Yes!
AMP. Heb. 1:14 "Are not the angels all (servants) ministering spirits, sent out in the service of God for the assistance of those who are to inherit salvation?"
Psalm 103:20-21 "Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey His word. Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants, who do his will."
I. WHO ARE THE ANGELS?
Angels are spirit beings but with some kind of a heavenly body which is not visible to us unless God chooses for them to be visible.
It seems their visibility to us or lack of visibility is determined by their assignment.
In Numbers 22, we read the story of Baalam's encounter with an angel. This angel was sent to oppose him. The story is almost funny, if it wasn't for the tragic greedy political choices of Baalam.
Baalam did not see the angel, but the donkey on which Baalam was riding saw the angel and was not happy. Baalam was not happy with his stubborn unmoving donkey. Then the angel makes itself visible to Baalam and Baalam is gripped with fear. (Story-Numbers 22)
There are many Biblical accounts, both Old and New Testament that seems to indicate that an angels visibility or lack of visibility is determined by their assignment, or by God deciding that such visibility is important for our spiritual insight and understanding.
We are told in I Cor. 15:40 that there are earthly bodies and heavenly bodies. That is, some body types are suitable for earth and some are suitable for heaven.
Whatever heavenly form angels have, they are also capable of appearing in some kind of earthly human form.
Angels may also appear in other forms, such as the angel at the empty tomb of Jesus (Matt. 28:3-4), whose "appearance was like lightening, and his garment as white as snow..." This angel appeared in dazzling, brilliant glory.
According to Col. 1:16, it seems that all the angels were created at the same time. Speaking of Christ, "For by Him all things were created: things in HEAVEN and on earth, visible and INVISIBLE, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him."
According to Rev. 12:4, one third of the angels fell from their heavenly position and calling when they followed Lucifer (the light bearer or light bringer) the mighty archangel in his rebellion against God and his attempt to overthrow the throne of the Most High. (Ezekial 28:12-17; Isaiah 14:12-14; 2 Pe. 2:4; Jude 6)
This rebellion occurred in eternity past and brought great darkness to this planet plunging it into the condition found in Gen 1:2.
It seems that Lucifer was assigned authority over this planet, but he became so proud of himself that he sought to replace God's rule and throne with his rule and throne.
Isaiah 14 - The "I will" spirit = a spirit of rebellion. EX. "I will ascend, I will be like the most High, I will rule, I will exalt my throne..." Five "I will" statements! Statements motivated by the sin of pride.
Is it any wonder where mankind gets these same ideas? And is it any wonder that the one who was the "light bearer" now masquerades as an angel of light. II Cor. 11:14 "...Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light." In other words, he pretends that his way is the right way...that he has wisdom and brings true light and freedom to our minds and spirits. In his pride he pretends that he knows best.
The one-third of the angels who rebelled and fell with Lucifer, now called Satan or the Devil, exist now as evil or demon spirits. They operate also in the realm of the invisible and the supernatural...fighting against God's will and God's people.
ILLUS. - Daily we hear the news reports about war and fighting in Bosnia, S. Africa, Israel, Somalia, Iraq, Rwanda.
What would we behold if daily we could watch a news report of the battles being fought in the heavenlies? It would be more awesome than any CNN news report. It would awaken our spiritual sensitivities and shock us into praying like never before.
From the pictures we see in Daniel 7:10 and Rev. 5:11 it would seem that angels number in the trillions. Maybe a number larger than the national debt!
Let me say this: In our generation we have heard many stories and theories about extraterrestrial life forms. We even have some imaginative movie producers who have tried to present these life forms as being cute and friendly toward us.
Special beings do indeed inhabit our universe. They are angels. Either God's angels or Satan's demons. And demons are not cute or friendly!
Angels are more powerful than mankind, thus to deal with fallen angels...demons...we need help from the kingdom of light. We are told in Ephesians 6:10-12...
"...be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
Note the different classifications or ranks of evil spirits: rulers, authorities, powers, spiritual forces.
Just as God has organized his kingdom to carry out his righteous agenda, Satan has organized his kingdom to carry out his wicked agenda.
Whose agenda are you a part of?
Our struggle to live for Christ in this world, to do His will in this world, to obey His commands in this world, to order our use of time and talent and treasure according to God's priorities...all this and more is a struggle or battle against fallen angels, as well as our fallen nature.
The Bible indicates that angels are beings created by God. Therefore they are lower than and not as powerful as the Creator. The Bible says (Ps. 8 and Heb. 2:6-8) that the human creation was made a little lower than the angels. So, who is more powerful...angels or us? Are we stronger than fallen angels? NO!
Is there any way then to win out over Satan and live a godly and good life in your own strength and wisdom? NO!
This battle cannot be won with reason or emotion. It takes spiritual power to win over the spiritual forces of darkness. How foolish to think we can fight spiritual forces with carnal reasoning and our own wisdom and strength! Read: 2 Cor. 10:3-5
Testimony of Scripture:
Jesus: "Without me you can do nothing."
I Jn. 4:4 "Greater is He that is within you than he that is in the world."
Who is in the world? Satan and his demons (angels). Who is in us? Christ in us the hope of glory. Our great need of Christ should cause us to humble ourselves and live in dependence upon Him. II. WHAT DO ANGELS DO? (God's angels)
From the Biblical record it seems that angels are highly organized and divided into ranks. They are given power or authority over various juristictions.
As a ministering spirit or servant of God, Lucifer and the angels assigned under him, seem to have been given juristiction over this planetary system, and Lucifer decided he wanted it all and rebelled.
The battle that now rages will one day turn this universe over to its Creator and rightful owner once again. I Cor. 15:24-28
Until then....we....citizens of the Kingdom of Light are a witness to and against the kindgdom of darkness. We are a witness that people can choose to serve God, be His faithful stewards on this planet, choose not to rebell, and can choose to oppose the evil one in the name of the Lord.
The Bible gives some insight into the ranks and classifications of angels. Indeed they are a heavenly army, just as the church is God's earthly army.
The Bible speaks of archangels, which means "leading angel" and names Michal as an archangel. The Bible also speaks of cherubim, seraphim, and some referred to as living creatures. They seem to function in four main roles:
1. Messenger angels: Gabriel Examples: - came to Moses, Abraham, Jacob, Daniel (chap. 10), Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, etc. with a message from God. Angels will be sent to annouce His return.
Acts 8:26 "an angel of the Lord said to Philip
10:3 "an angel of God came to him and said, 'Cornelius!'..."
2. Ministering angels: Examples: - came to Elijah in his time of weakness, need and depression; Gen. 24:40 help in finding a wife; Ex. 23:20, 23 "I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way."; "My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land."
Ps. 34:7 "The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them."
Daniel 6:22 "My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions..."
Acts. 5:19 "During the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brot them (the apostles) out."
Read: Acts 12:6-11 Angels came and ministered to Jesus after his time of temptation in the wilderness.
3. Martial angels: who do battle against God's human foes, and against God's heavenly foes.
II Kings 19:35 "That night the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp..."
Daniel 10 - Michal the Archangel came to fight against an evil angel called the Prince of Persia. This angel was fighting against the angel who was delivering a message to Daniel. Reinforcements were sent in and the answer got through.
Ps. 78:49 "He unleased against them His hot anger, his wrath, indignation and hostility -- a band of destroying angels."
Acts 12:23 "Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died."
4. Managing angels: who rule the elements (vs. 7), who function in connection with God's creation, and who function in God's court. They manage the affairs of His kingdom on earth and in heaven.
These angels will also be involved in the end times.
EX. Matt. 13:49 "This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels wil come and separate the wicked from the righteous."
Destiny: wicked angels and satan, and unbelievers- Matt. 25:41 "Then He will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels."
Matt. 13:39 "The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels."
Angels are seen in Revelation as keeping heaven's books, keeping the records for God, and also rejoicing when a person repents and comes to Christ.
Acts 7:53 "You have received the law that was put into effect through angels..."
In some way angels were involved in the administration of the old covenant and its laws.
The writer is drawing attention to angels in order to draw attention to a greater truth. As great as angels are; as important as they are to God's will being done; as powerful, awesome, and magnificent as they are... they are only ministering spirits who exist to serve the Lord and who rush to do His bidding.
They too are worshippers of the Son of God. Their destiny is to minister through out all eternity. But Jesus' destiny is to reign. He is therefore far superior to the angels in every way.
It is a marvelous and comforting truth to know that angels minister to us today.
It is awesome to realize that angels are present with us; helping and aiding us in ways we do not fully understand.
But there is only one Savior. He creates, He sustains, He governs, He redeems us, He cleanses sin. By divine worth...He is the One to be worshipped by the angels and by us. He is all powerful, all knowing, and everywhere present. In all these ways the superiority of Jesus is proclaimed.
Angels watching over me...that's nice.
But if I don't have a Savior, all the angels in heaven cannot save me or change my life.
I'm thankful for the ministry of angels. I would not depreciate or demean God's provision.
However, I still need a Savior...so do you.
Why are these truths so important? Chapter two will give us the answer.
This thought is left with us: as we look into chapter 2...
If the ministry of angels is important and not to be ignored.
How much more important is the ministry of Jesus and what will happen if we ignore Him?
If angels are judged and fallen angels punished, what will happen to those who reject the precious saving gospel that comes to us through Jesus.
Some ways we can be like angels:
We can bring rejoicing to the angels in heaven by repenting and surrendering to Jesus.
Other sermons by Pastor John.