At Christmas, we often think of angels, but with the Holy Spirit indwelling the believer during the Church Age, do believers still need, require, and receive help from angels? It seems that with the event of Pentecost, angel activity dropped off.
To begin, I want to emphasize that just because someone or something is invisible doesn’t mean he, she, or it is not there. We don’t see angels with our eyes or hear them with our ears, as on occasion people did in Old Testament times—and even in the New Testament, including the first days of the Church Age. The unusual events connected with angels in Bible stories can make us feel as if, in contrast, angels today don’t do anything. Nevertheless, we have reasons to believe that angels are working on our behalf right now. Someone has observed that the Holy Spirit works in and through us by virtue of His indwelling us; angels of God work for us. We don’t see them for the same basic reasons that we don’t witness spectacular miracles going on today. The great miracles we read about in the Bible tended to come in clusters during some crisis hour, some pivotal point in God’s program in accordance with His purposes for that time. Yet we know that God still answers prayer today.
In addition, the lack of visible angel activity today is akin to the lack of God’s audible speech to people today. While God does not speak audibly to us, He does communicate with us. We can receive God’s message to us through the completed canon of Scripture and through the moving of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
The Bible doesn’t say a great deal about angels in our dispensation. However, Hebrews 1:14 tells us that angels are ministers to believers. The passage emphasizes the superiority of Christ, the Son of God, to angels, who are servants. But in the course of the passage, we also learn that angels minister to us at present.
So what do they do? First, let me warn you about present-day nonsense. Angels are not “go-betweens” in communicating with God, and angels do not pray for us. But legitimately, one of the angels’ main roles in Scripture was protecting. Daniel 6:22 reads, “My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths.” Daniel gave testimony to angelic protection in the lions’ den. Another passage is Acts 5:19: “But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out.” The angel miraculously freed the missionaries from prison. Still another passage, Acts 12, shows us how an angel of the Lord delivered Peter from prison.
Have you ever experienced what we often refer to as “a close call”? These times, such as a near collision or some other brush with tragedy when you could have been wiped out, as it were, indicate angelic protection. It wasn’t your time to check out of this life. Psalm 34:7 assures us, “The angel of the Loan encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them.” And when it does come time for us to go Home to be with Jesus, the Bible indicates that angels escort (or better yet, carry) us to Heaven.
Satan, the prince of the power of the air, doesn’t let God’s children arrive in Heaven without a battle (Daniel 10:13; Ephesians 2:2), but with angelic protection we get to our destination unscathed (Luke 16:22). In the meantime, we can be sure that the Devil would love to tear us to bits, bodily as well as spiritually (1 Peter 5:8), but God’s angels are providing a protective seal around us to keep that from happening against God’s will. Matthew 18:10 indicates special protection for children, and some who have been with a dying child have testified that the child saw and even tried to describe the angels coming for him or her.
We can believe in current angelic work on our behalf too, because we live in a space of time between (1) Bible times, when angels were often mentioned, and (2) the future calendar of divine events, when angels again will busily engage in God’s work.
Certainly angels are not inactive today. Angelic activity is prominent in the prophetic book of Revelation. And no doubt as we near the end of time and demonic activity grows, the angels of God are going to be increasingly active. To the wicked, the angels of God will someday administer God’s wrath. But the prospect for believers is that the angels of God will attend to us forever (Hebrews 12:22). Isn’t it a wonderful scene to imagine the angels of Heaven waiting on us as we sit in God’s banquet hail someday for the marriage supper of the Lamb? Being served by angels certainly is not beyond the realm of possibility.
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