We’ve been going through our series, Supernatural. Today we are going to dive headlong into the topic of Angels. For our book giveaway today, we have a different book by Dr. Michael Heiser called Angels.
The spiritual beings the Lord created go by many names as we’ve seen in previous messages. To name a few, there are cherubim, seraphim, archangels, princes, the divine council, the heavenly host, and all the astrological metaphors such as stars.
In Western culture here in the United States and all of the major first world countries, we have a particular image in our head that appears when we hear the word “angel.” Many of us would think of a human-like figure, with wings and robes. Maybe they have a halo above their head.
Where do we get this picture?
Many paintings and movies and stories portray this image. They portray this sort of assumed or ideal image of what an “angel” is.
I’m sure you’ve all seen the old paintings of classical art with little cute chubby baby cherubs with little wings flying around like in the movie Fantasia.
Many of you have seen spiritual beings in TV shows and movies like Touched by an Angel or any number of cartoons.
But what does the Bible say about angels? Does this image we have fit with what the Bible says? And more importantly, does it even matter what the Bible says about angels?
There is so much confusion about angels in our culture, and not only that but in the Church. It would seem that those who believe the Bible is the infallible rule of faith and profess it’s inerrancy would certainly know about angels, right?
But the problem is that few people have really taken the time to examine what an “angel” actually is, and especially what it isn’t. We tend to go along with the cultural assumptions.
Let’s look at first just what the word Angel means and where it comes from in the Bible.
The Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, which is a fancy dictionary/encyclopedia about that kind of supernatural stuff, says the Greek word angeloscomes from early Jewish and Christian literature. Angelos is the most common designation of an otherworldly being who mediates between God and humans.
This is where we get the word angel from. It means messengerand is most often a spiritual being. That means that angelis not the name of the being, but it’s job description. When the Bible says “angel”it is not referring to the beings’ species so to speak, but to a specific duty that the spiritual being carries out. And that is to deliver a message from God to humans.
“Angel” is a job description.
Interestingly, many ancient religions believed that the gods of the nations used angels to communicate with each other over the long distances between the nations, like a courier. That makes sense especially with last week’s message on cosmic geography.
Now the same goes for the Hebrew word malʾāk,itsimply meansmessenger, and interestingly it is used for both heavenly beings and humans. 1 Kings 19:2 says Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah. Now she certainly didn’t send an angelic or supernatural messenger, but a human messenger. In most other places, however, the context is clear that the messengers are God’s divine messengers or angels.
Look at Genesis 19 for example. This is a good description of what angels really do.
The two angels appeared to Lot and entered his home. They were there to destroy the city and later on when the men for the city come for them it says…
The angels were there to deliver a message before destroying the city.
Since an angel isn’t necessarily the type of being, but just what it does, it’s duty so to speak, it helps us to remove any presuppositions about them that aren’t biblically true.
One of the misconceptions about angels is that angels have wings. Nowhere in the Bible does it says that an angel has wings.
In fact, there is nowhere in scripture where the words wingsand angelsshow up together. The only places a divine entity is said to have wings is in the description of cherubim and seraphim.
But cherubim and seraphim are also job descriptions just like angels. Their jobs are shown in a few places in the Bible. The most important function of a Cherubim is to guard the throne of the LORD. On the Ark of the Covenant, Yahweh sits between two cherubim. Seraphim are generally considered to be winged serpents by most scholars and are the beings that sing to LORD…
They aren’t angels since their job isn’t to deliver God’s messages as an intermediary between God and humans. They serve and attend to the Lord directly. Seraphim come up again in a bit too, so keep them in mind.
A second misconception that people believe is that people become angels when they die. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:3 we will judge angels, not become them.
1 Peter also says concerning the good news of salvation…
In Peter’s mind,the angels are not the product of humans, but they actually are there before humans and are watching the grand narrative of scripture unfold. Angels are clearly distinct in every way from humans.
In fact, angels rejoice in the Lord when we are saved by him. Jesus said…
There are many passages about angels in the Bible.
You might be more familiar with Luke’s story about them.
In this story,the angel of God delivers a divine revelation as a messenger to humans. This is the story of the angel Gabriel delivering the message of the coming Messiah to Mary. He tells her God’s message.
Beginning in chapter 1 verse 26 of Luke’s Gospel…
* In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you.” But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be. Then the angel told her: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end.” Mary asked the angel, “How can this be,since I have not had sexual relations with a man?” The angel replied to her: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most Highwill overshadow you. Therefore, the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. And consider your relative Elizabeth — even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called childless. For nothing will be impossible with God.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” said Mary. “May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her.
Luke 1:26-38 CSB
I want to camp out in this section today and talk about a few things we can observe.
So first let’s look at the text and see what it says…
First, Angels are not always easily understood. Verse 29 says…
Just like in this passage, in many passages of Scripturethe angel’s communication to us as humans is complicated and confusing. I believe a lot of the information is intentionally obscured,becauseeven the angels don’t know the fullness of the message, only what God has given them. This is probably why we have so many ideas about angels, we are all confused about the subject.
One person may understand angels a certain way while another something different altogether.
Other places in scripture express the same confusion about the messages angels communicate. Daniel became physically ill because he didn’t understand an angel’s explanation.
Daniel had just spoken to the angel Gabriel. Maybe it’s something about Gabriel that makes people physically exhausted, ill, and confused. IDK, but people are always confused and sick after talking to him.
Angels aren’t always clear.
Next, the Bible communicates that angels frighten people in some way. Back in the story of Gabriel and Mary, verse 30 starts off,
This happens all over the Bible with spiritual beings when they appear to people. A lot of the time when spiritual beings appear to people they freak out. Doesn’t it seem obvious that they understand people pretty well if they say “don’t be afraid” as soon as they see them?
Picture this with me:
Anthony and I were talking about this the other day and I couldn’t stop laughing…
so an angel appears here and says “fear not” to a group of people.
Then the people see him and start screaming and freak out, they’re running amuck.
Then the angel screams, “I SAID FEAR NOT!!!”
We instinctively are afraid of paranormal and supernatural occurrences and if an angel were to appear before us, I think we would freak out.
Look at these passages.
That’s just a quick list, but it’s a starting point. People are afraid of spiritual beings and the unseen realm. I happen to think it is built into us. It doesn’t fit in with the natural world. We like things that we can understand and Angels just don’t fit that category neatly for us.
I think a description of a spiritual being would be helpful.
Let’s look at this picture of the Angel of the Lord wrestling with Jacob. Maybe you’ve seen this picture titled “Jacob Wrestling with the Angel” by Gustave Doré(1855) that fits with the Hollywood description of angels.
This is your standard idea of what an angel looks like. I bet if you were to ask people what that creature is on the right, they would say angel. No doubt.
Doesn’t look very frightening to me. Just a long-haired dude with wings in a robe.
Ok. We have already discussed how that is not a biblical depiction, but even the biblical picture of those who look like men doesn’t sound frightening. Basically, this dude here, just without the wings. He doesn’t look too scary. He’s a wholesome looking guy.
But is that how spiritual beings in the Bible are described?
I’ll tell you what. If you aren’t frightened by an encounter with a spiritual being you aren’t human. It is in our nature to be afraid of these beings. It’s actually in most of our nature’s to be afraid of things we don’t understand.
That is what makes supernatural horror movies so frightening. That stuff is real, and it freaks me out. I also love them. It’s like a car accident and you can’t look away because you want to see what happened, but you hope everybody is ok.
Angels are frightening. The Bible says so. At the tomb when Jesus had resurrected, and the women went to go anoint his body, this happened…
It doesn’t say they were startled or shaken up a bit, like, ”my word?” or “heavens me?” They were terrified!
They’ll scare you to death.
Angels aren’t cute little beings who come in and make you feel all fuzzy inside and love somebody else. They are spiritual beings in the form of a man who pops out of nowhere and freaks out everybody they encounter.
“Do not be afraid”
Often the beings who appear are in human form because the 6 wing and 4 face monsters we find guarding the throne of the Lord in the book of Ezekiel would flat out scare us to death immediately. Again, the DDD says the scary guys:
The guys who guard the throne of God in the heavenly assembly are not angels. They are throne guardians called seraphim. They are not angels. But this is where we get the idea that angels have wings because we have lumped them into the same category.
These aren’t angels. They have some human and some animal attributes. But, the descriptions of angels are that of a man.
Angels who communicate with humans would get nowhere if they looked like this.
So, we’ve seen what the bible says angels are, and what they aren’t and what they do and don’t do. So…
Angels matter because they give glory to God.
The apostle John wrote in the Revelation about a glorious vision he had. He said:
The angels exist to bring glory to God by being his messengers. That is their charge. It’s in the job description. And they will do it for eternity.
This is why they matter. Their purpose mirrors our purpose.
Our main goal in life, man’s purpose is to glorify God for eternity. His earthly family is supposed to do this, so why not his spiritual family?
We can do this by proclaiming the message of the LORD, just like the angels do. Our biggest objective is to bring others in the family of God, the Kingdom of God. So, tell everybody who Jesus is. Tell them how he has changed your life, and tell them how he died and rose from the dead to bring us into his family.
You can glorify God is by communicating the message of God with your friends and family just likeangels are to communicate the important message of God to us, God’s human family.
Then the angel told her: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
Luke 1:30 CSB
Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end.”
Luke 1:31–33 CSB
The angel replied to her: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
Luke 1:35 CSB
Just like a prince has the authority and diplomacy of the King, as their son. But not just any son will do. The sons of god, which we mentioned in previous messages were the watchers, do not have the authority that THE Son has.The firstborn son with the highest authority does. Jesus is THE Son of God and has ALL authority in heaven and on earth.
Gabriel went on to say,
For nothing will be impossible with God.
Luke 1:37 CSB
Gabriel told Mary some exciting stuff! This is good news for all of creation!
These are the core doctrines of Christianity coming by way of God’s angel. The angel literally told us what we were supposed to believe.
Tell everyone what Gabriel told Mary. Preach the gospel, the good news of Christ Jesus to all the world.
The message of Jesus is essential and we can be angels ourselves to those who the Lord sends us to.
When you tell somebody about Jesus, about your faith, you are bringing the good news.
We are to proclaim the message of Jesus Christ just like the angel Gabriel!
As the Lord God, Jesus has all authority, even over angels. I think it goes without saying that he is our authority and the message that Gabriel gives us here is just that. Gabriel is telling us that the LORD has ultimate authority and yet still finds favor with his people. Just like God sent Gabriel with a message for Mary, Jesus has sent us with a message for the world.
See, Gabriel was fulfilling his charge from his King by telling Mary what was to happen with her, and he proclaimed the good news to her. In a sense he was fulfilling the great commission before it was given.
That is our duty. To follow in the steps of the angelic message of the Savior for all mankind and – in a sense – to be angels ourselves. We are to be messengers of the Lord. As Christians we must be God’s envoy and couriers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is the great commission. Our King has commanded it.
So, practically speaking, we learn from the angels to tell people about Jesus—telling them who he is and why he came. That is what the church is about.
As amatter of fact the Southern Baptist Convention, which Sonrise is associated with, has said that churches can affiliate with them and instead of saying they’re Southern Baptist they can call themselves Great Commission Baptists.
I actually believe every church is a great commission church or else it isn’t a church. Those who don’t follow the instructions delivered by the Lord and his angels are not Great Commission Churches or Great Commission Christians. Churches that aren’t about the Great Commissionaren’t churches or Christian.
God hasn’t called you to sit back and watch. He has called you to act like an angel. Being part of the kingdom of God means you tell people about Jesus.
Our Father in heaven tells us pray for his will to be done in heaven and on Earth. The angels are fulfilling their responsibility, so do we.
Telling people about the good news, sharing the gospel is a family business. So…
Let’s talk about being part of God’s family.
We are God’s family and God our Father finds favor with us. He has given us life in his son Jesus. Just like a family who follows the direction and spiritual leadership of the father, Christians follow their heavenly Father’s leadership.
The Apostle John said,
But to all who did receive him [Jesus], he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name.
John 1:12 CSB
John said that those who have received the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ are children of God. And that means that we get to dine at our Father’s table. The Father is having his family over for dinner and we are going to sit down with him to eat.
So today as we prepare to take the Lord’s Supper, remember the good news of salvation in Christ. Remember the message of the angels on behalf of God and as you take the bread and the cup, do so as part of the great commission, and in great pleasure, as we remember Christ crucified.
His body was broken on the cross for us to pay the debt owed to God for our unholy behavior We are in debt to God because of our sinful behavior and only the perfect Jesus, not being a created angel or created man, but 100 percent God and 100 percent man. His perfect sinless body was crushed on the cross and he was subjected to the full wrath of the Lord for all of us.
Jesus blood was spilled for us as a means to cleanse us and purify us from sin. This was meant for humans; this was meant for the church.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11…
So today we take the Lord’s supper as a God ordained sacrament to proclaim Christ until he returns. We take the bread and the cup to represent the spiritual battle won by Christ on our behalf. This is a sign of commitment to the Lord. The angels rejoice with us today as we gather and take the Lord’s supper to remember Christ.
If you have never pledged your allegiance to the Lord Jesus and committed your life to him and him alone, then today, hear the call of the Lord; listen to the words I have spoken. And if you’ve committed to Jesus, take with us as a body of believers and rejoice in the love God has for his family. We will eat together and after the elements are passed. Please hold onto it so we can take them together as one body of believers.