A lot of mystery surrounds the topic of angels. Although they are mentioned throughout Scripture, there is much we don’t know about them. But why should we take the time to study angels? Angels are mentioned in Scripture about 280 times, and the majority of those times are in the New Testament. Angels play an important role in God’s overall plan for humanity. They remind us that the unseen world is real and remind us that there are forces at work even though we do not see them. I’ve noticed throughout the years that many Christians today are lacking awe and a sense of mystery when they consider the things of God. My prayer is that this presumption will start to be corrected as we gain respect for the mystery surrounding God’s angels. As we study the things of heaven, we will find ourselves drawing closer to God and His awesome wonder. Through learning about angels, we can be confident in God’s protection, and we can learn from their example how to serve the Lord wholeheartedly. All glory be to our Creator—Lord of heaven and earth.
What are angels?
Angels are God’s messengers. The Greek and Hebrew words for angel mean “messenger.” They serve God as we should. They are spiritual beings that are prominent in the Bible and have been significant in carrying out God’s will. God created angels just as He created us, and He has a purpose for them just as He does for us. Nehemiah 9:6 says, “You have made heaven… with all their host.” And Paul says that “all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers” (Colossians 1:16). In the Bible, there are three types of angels mentioned: cherubim (Genesis 3:24), seraphim (Isaiah 6:2), and hosts, which are referred to whenever the Bible says “the Lord God of hosts.” They each serve a different purpose. Within these types, there is also a hierarchy—with the archangel, Michael, having the most authority. Each angel has their own job description and carries out God’s will by communicating His messages, both by what they say and what they do (Psalm 103:20-21).
Can angels fall away from God?
Angels have free will, just like us. Satan was once the angel named Lucifer, which means “morning star.” He became jealous of God and wanted to take His place. Lucifer wanted to be God and wanted others to serve him. Because of this iniquity, Lucifer was banished from heaven and his name became Satan, which means “adversary” (Isaiah 14:12-21). Satan enticed one-third of the angels into joining his rebellion (Revelation 12:4). They, too, were cast out of heaven, becoming fallen angels, also known as demons. When Satan and his followers made this decision, it was a permanent choice—an eternal choice. The Bible presents no opportunities for these fallen angels to repent and be forgiven. The demons are without hope, for Jesus Christ did not shed His blood at Calvary to redeem the fallen angels (Matthew 25:41). Christ’s precious blood was shed for mankind—for the world of lost men and women.
Do I have a guardian angel?
Guardian angels are a very popular subject in our culture. Sometimes people, even non-Christians, say their guardian angels saved them in near-death experiences. Oftentimes, people believe that their loved ones who have passed come back to earth as their guardian angel to watch over them. As far as I can determine, there are just two verses in the Bible that indicate there might be guardian angels in today’s world. In Matthew 18:10 Jesus says, “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.” Seemingly, some of God’s angels are assigned to stand ready before the Father to respond instantly to His command for protection and care over these children. Jesus calls these particular angels “their angels,” which has made many believe everyone has an angel—a guardian angel. The second passage is in Acts 12, where an angel freed Peter from prison. After his release, he went to a house where a group of Christians was praying for his release. When the servant who heard Peter’s knock answered the door, she was so excited she left him outside and ran to tell the other believers. They didn’t believe her and reasoned that the person at the door must be Peter’s angel.
There have also been times in the Bible when angels have come to assist one of God’s chosen. After Lazarus died, angels carried him to Abraham’s bosom. And Elisha and his servant were surrounded by many angels. The psalmist writes that all the angels rally for the protection of one saint.
We cannot be one hundred percent sure each believer has a guardian angel; but know that God’s angels care about us and can intervene in our lives as they are called by God.
Do we turn into angels when we die?
It is a popular belief by some that after we die, we become angels. But the truth is, we do not. God created angels separately from mankind. They are different than us. God created Adam in His own image (Genesis 1:26), yet the Bible does not say angels were created in His image, although they occasionally take human form when they appear in Scripture. Also, it is never stated that angels are redeemed—Christ died for humanity on the cross, not for angels. In fact, angels are curious about salvation because they have never experienced it for themselves (1 Peter 1:12) and it makes them rejoice (Luke 15:10). According to the Bible, angels are a created class of being and are never represented as spiritually-progressed men. People do not evolve into angels. We do not become angels when we die. Angels were created simultaneously—their full number created in the beginning—and there has been no increase in their ranks since that time. God’s angels exist eternally—as they were created.
What can we learn from angels?
Angels are God’s servants, as are we. We can learn a lot from their wholehearted devotion to our Heavenly Father. They show us how to worship and they show us how to work. In heaven, angels worship and adore the Lord, just as we should here on earth. Our chief purpose is to give glory to God, as we learn from the example of angels in the Bible. At the end of Revelation, the angel tells John to “worship God” (Revelation 22:9). Like angels, we can learn to worship the Lord with all our heart. Angels worship not only wholeheartedly but also all the time. From angels, we can learn to praise God (Hebrews 1:6; Luke 2:13-14; Revelation 5:8-14; Revelation 7:11); share in His joy (Luke 15:7); and stand in the presence of God (Matthew 18:10).
Angels have acted as God’s messengers throughout the Bible. These agents have been used to announce God’s directives to biblical characters who needed guidance, or who were chosen by the Lord to serve His special purpose for them. There’s no sloppy workmanship or laziness or negligence on the angels’ part—God can count on them, and so can we (Psalm 103). Angels are embodiments of their mission—as we should be. They are God’s messengers—as we are. We, too, are called to be messengers for Christ. Jesus’ last words on earth were: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). This was His final commission to us—to be God’s messengers to the world.
Angels live in the presence of God and stay focused on Him—they experience the awe that comes with being in His presence. What if you and I camped each night beside God’s throne in glory and stayed full of His presence, even when we went into the world to do His work? We can! We should meditate on the glory of the Lord every night and live in His presence every day!
Of course, there is much more to cover on the topic of angels. I go into this topic in more detail in the book Angels. I hope when studying angels, you gain not only a better understanding of who they are and how they help but how we can learn from their example.
If studying this subject has an impact on you like it had on me, your mind and heart will soon be opened to believe a host of things you may have never before realized. There’s a lot more to this “strange” topic of angels than we imagine. Once we investigate the amazing truths Scripture tells us about angels, it creates a greater desire to know more about our Creator, God.
That, in fact, is the only sufficient goal in the study of angels: that you might draw closer to God. If you study angels and the result is anything less—if your study results in a file of information about angels or a fascination with them or even a supposed relationship with one, but you haven’t encountered at least a tug toward humble submission to the Almighty God…you’ve totally missed what angels are all about. The goal in discovering more about angels should be to more fully comprehend the magnificence and majesty of our Creator, and ultimately create in us the desire to love and serve Him more completely as we come to know Him better.