What The Bible Teaches About Heaven’s Angels
In 1858, Scottish missionary, John G. Paton went to the New Hebrides (now called Vanuatu), a chain of islands in the South Pacific, for the purpose of evangelizing the natives steeped in demonic worship, witchcraft and cannibalism.
Paton a dedicated gospel trailblazer, just prior to his journey to the islands, was advised by the London Missionary Society that he would be wasting his time trying to “convert cannibals” – because others had tried before and were savagely murdered – and that he and his wife would probably be eaten alive.
Undaunted, and with little support, Paton decided to move forward in faith.
He believed in the power of the gospel and wanted to give evidence to skeptical modern men that the gospel can and does transform the most unlikely people and their societies… including head-hunting cannibals!
Facing constant danger and incredible trials Paton in a few short years was enabled by God’s grace to reach more than 70 percent of the islanders with the gospel and lead them to saving faith in Christ.
Hearing of Paton’s remarkable ministry among cannibals an Australian newspaper reported the following testimony of supernatural angelic intervention…
“… One night savage warriors surrounded Paton’s mission headquarters intent on burning them out and slaying them. John Paton and his wife Margaret turned to the Lord in prayer, leaning on His great promises of Psalm 91 for angelic assistance.
They claimed the divine protection of the blood of Jesus and prayed in the Spirit throughout that terror-filled night.
Next morning, when the first rays of sunlight appeared, the Patons saw their attackers had fled, and with grateful hearts praised the Lord for His miraculous hand of deliverance.
Almost a year later, the chief of the tribe surrendered to Christ and received salvation.
Paton, remembering what had happened, asked the chief what had kept him and his warriors that night from killing them.
The chief surprised him by inquiring, ‘Who were all those men you had there with you?’ The missionary replied, ‘There were no men there with us – only my wife and I praying inside.’
The chief insisted that he and his tribe had seen hundreds of big men standing guard outside the headquarters that night – all dressed in white shining garments with drawn swords in their hands.
These armed security guards encircled the mission station so that the savages were afraid to attack.
Only then did Paton realize that God had dispatched an army of angels to protect him and his wife. The chief agreed that there could be no other explanation.”
This story is consistent with an invisible army of angels revealed in Scripture as well (2 Kings 6:15-17).
Psalm 148:2 (NLT) Praise Him, all His angels! Praise Him, all the armies of heaven!
As Psalm 34:7 tells us, “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, and He delivers them.” Moreover, “The Lord will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (Psalm 91:11).
The Invisible Spiritual Realm
There is an unseen supernatural world. Sometimes it’s difficult for us to believe and accept that, because we live in the natural world. We relate to what we can see, hear, taste, smell, or touch.
Even so, the Bible teaches that there is an invisible, spirit world – the realm of God and Satan, and of angels and demons.
“I believe in angels because the Bible says there are angels; and I believe the Bible to be the true Word of God!” – Billy Graham
Right now, if somehow we could pull back the curtain, with our spiritual eyes opened it would amaze us to see what was happening in the spirit realm…
We would see the activity of God’s angels on assignment; the diabolical work of demonic spirits and we would witness all of the realities of spiritual activity taking place around us at any given moment.
Hebrews 1:7 (TLB) God speaks of His angels as messengers swift as the wind and as servants made of flaming fire.
Many of us believe in the reality of angels perhaps because we’ve sensed an angelic presence in some close brush with death.
We’ve lived through a moment where we could have been easily killed – in an accident on the job or maybe in a car or motorcycle… or some other incident.
And when it was over, after our pounding heart slowed down a little, we couldn’t help wondering: Did God send an angel to watch over me and divinely intervene on my behalf?
Thinking Biblically About Angels
A Time magazine article on angels, from several years ago, revealed that a staggering 77 percent of Americans believe in the existence of angels.
49 percent believe they have their own guardian angel, and 31 percent even said they had felt some kind of angelic presence in their life at some point.
Our perception of angels comes primarily from greeting cards, cartoons and movies. When we think of angels we envision the chubby, naked cherubs who appear each year at Valentine’s Day.
Most of the time what people think and say about angels is pure nonsense. For centuries people have entertained the wildest speculations about both angels and demons.
Unfortunately most people’s ideas and impressions about angels come straight from television and Hollywood.
Over the years, Hollywood has hijacked the intriguing subject of angels, which has led to serious distortions and fanciful ideas…
Perhaps we think of the angel Clarence, trying to earn his wings by helping Jimmy Stewart in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Or maybe we’ve caught a few episodes of that old TV program, “Touched by an Angel” or the movie classic, “The Bishop’s Wife” where Cary Grant is Dudley the angel.
As a result of these and many other shows, millions have entertained and been duped with strange ideas that angels are exalted humans or have to earn their wings, or that angels are space travelers and extraterrestrial beings far advanced beyond us visiting planet earth…
These ideas and many more “off-the-wall beliefs” to the point that most of us don’t really know what we believe about angels.
The Bible is the best and most reliable source of information about angels. It is free from speculation and tells us all we need to know about angels – and, for the Christian, is the final authority on the subject.
Any movie, book, magazine article, personal experience or teaching about angels that contradicts the Bible should be instantly rejected and ignored.
Psalm 103:20 (NASB) Bless the LORD, you His angels, mighty in strength, who perform His Word. Obeying the voice of His Word!
Everything we hear, read or think about angels must be measured by the standards of biblical truth. The Bible tells us the truth period, and we can rely completely on what it declares.
Do Angels Actually Exist?
Scripture everywhere teaches the reality and activity of angels. These divine agents are at the beginning when God banished the first human couple from the Garden of Eden and “stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24), to the very end when Jesus sends His angel “to testify to you these things for the churches” (Revelation 22:16).
Revelation 5:11-12 (NIV) Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
Angels miraculously rescued Lot from Sodom, guided Israel through the wilderness, fed Elijah under the juniper tree, surrounded Elisha with chariots of fire, delivered Hezekiah from Assyria’s onslaught, led Isaiah to spiritual commitment, directed Ezekiel into ministry, and gave lions lockjaw to protect Daniel.
Angels accompanied Jesus through every phase of His life and ministry, escorted Lazarus to heaven, supernaturally released Peter from prison, encouraged Paul aboard a sinking ship, and gave John a guided tour of the heavenly New Jerusalem.
Acts 27:23-24 (NASB) “For this very night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood before me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul.”
What Are Angels Really Like?
Angels are spirit beings, with superhuman intelligence, created by God as part of His kingdom. The word angel means messenger, and they were created to serve and glorify their Creator.
Angels exist because Jesus created them to exist (Colossians 1:16). Angels exist as eternal servants to God and Christ (Psalm 103:20).
Hebrews 1:14 (NIV) Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
- Angels are sent to serve those who will inherit salvation. Notice the verb sent. If they are sent, there must be a sender. They are God’s response to our prayers, our faith and our needs. He sends them to aid and assist those who inherit salvation… all born-again believers.
Psalm 34:7 (MSG) God’s angel sets up a circle of protection around us while we pray.
- Angels are referenced almost 300 times in 39 books of the Bible. Angels were present when God created the universe. The Bible refers to them as “ministering spirits,” “heavenly hosts,” and “holy ones” (Hebrews 1:14; Psalm 103:21; Jude 14).They are assigned by God to assist, defend, guard and watch over His children.
- Angels are “ministering spirits.” This accounts for their invisibility, their divine ability to travel quickly, to fly swiftly between heaven and earth, to worship at God’s throne in heaven one moment while supernaturally transporting themselves to fulfill an assignment on earth in the next.
Psalm 103:20-21 (NIV) 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.
In his sermons about angels, founder of the Methodist Church, John Wesley said, “The angels of God minister to us in a thousand ways which we do not now understand. They prevent our falling into many dangers, which we are not sensible of; and deliver us out of many evils we are unaware of – countless times have we been miraculously protected and preserved.”
- Angels are not a race like humans. They are majestic spirit-beings, distinctly separate from the human race with their own unique nature, and cannot die (Luke 20:36). They do not marry, neither are they male or female. They are sexless and do not reproduce. There is no mention in Scripture of “baby” angels (Matthew 22:30).
Humans and angels will keep their distinction in the ages to come. Humans will not become angels, and angels will not become human.
Psalm 104:4 (NKJV) Who makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire.
- Angels have superior intelligence to humans, and they are multilingual. Language is no barrier for angels. Not only can angels speak, they can communicate to any people, in any language, on the face of the earth (2 Samuel 14:20; Acts 11:13-14; 1 Corinthians 13:1; Revelation 14:6).
- Angels have emotions because the Bible says they get excited over each person’s salvation. When they see a human being repent and get saved, they break out in rejoicing (Luke 15:10).
Job 25:3 (TLB) Who is able to number his hosts of angels?
- Angels are too numerous to count. The Bible informs us in Psalm 68:17 and Hebrews 12:22 and Revelation 5:11 that an incalculable number of angels exist – more than 100 million, at least – and that they are organized into ranks and offices, a massive angelic army ready at God’s command.
Angels In Action
Angels are called Christ’s mighty angels (2 Thessalonians 1:7), because they have superhuman strength, are supernaturally powerful, and carry out mighty exploits…
- One mighty angel, in one night, supernaturally destroyed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers when they attacked Jerusalem and God’s people (Isaiah 37:36).
- One mighty angel rescued the three young Hebrews from certain death in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:19-25).
- One mighty angel kept Daniel from being eaten by the lions (Daniel 6:22), so, we could say that angels are lion tamers!
- One mighty angel rolled the stone away from the tomb of Jesus on the day of His resurrection (Matthew 28:2-4).
- One mighty angel miraculously delivered Peter from a Jerusalem prison, and sixteen Roman guards – breaking his chains and leading him out to safety (Acts 12:5-11).
- One mighty angel, at the Second Coming of Christ, will bind Satan with a great chain and lock him away in the bottomless pit for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-3).
What Do Angels Do?
Angels are God’s ambassadors and messengers, and are actively working 24/7 around the clock to do God’s bidding, to obey His word and carry out His divine will (Psalm 103:20-21).
Hebrews 1:6 (NKJV) Let all the angels of God worship Him.
Angels minister directly to God by praising Him, exalting Him and magnifying the holiness and greatness of God, proclaiming “Holy! Holy! Holy!” Jesus called them “holy” angels (Luke 9:26).
Millions of angels stand in awe before God’s throne in heaven, unceasingly worshipping and glorifying His majesty (Revelation 4:8-11; 5:11-12; 7:11-12).
Angels patrol the earth as God’s special agents to enforce God’s will (Zechariah 1:10-11; Psalm 103:20-21), and engage in spiritual warfare against demonic forces (Daniel 10:13; Revelation 12:7-8).
Throughout all of Scripture, the presence of angels are seen on assignment and actively involved in the affairs of man. They are here among us. They encamp around about us. They have been given charge over us.
- Angels are always present around us (Psalm 34:7).
- Angels surrounded Jesus in such numbers, the Bible says that He had legions of them at His disposal (Matthew 26:53).
- Angels can assist in leading people to Christ (Acts 10:3-8, 22).
- Angels rejoice over those who repent of their sins and come to the Lord (Luke 15:10).
- Angels hear the Lord Jesus confess the names of those who are saved (Luke 12:8).
- Angels can assist in bringing answers to prayer (Acts 12:5-11).
- Angels are present at the death of believers and escort them into heaven (Luke 16:22).
Psalm 91:11 (TLB) He orders His angels to protect you wherever you go.
Exodus 23:20 (NCV) I am sending an angel ahead of you, who will protect you as you travel.
Genesis 24:40 (NIV) The LORD will send His angel with you and make your journey a success.
Psalm 91 promises that God commands His angels concerning you. How many times have you been delivered from danger and protected from certain peril that was headed your way?
Supernaturally, God has placed a hedge of divine protection around His children and assigned guardian angels to watch over you – and to keep you and your family safe.
The White Cavalry: Angelic Deliverance
Gwynn Day, in his book “The Wonder of the Word” published by Moody press, records the following historical account of a supernatural encounter with angels…
The story of the White Cavalry at Bethune, France in April of 1918 was attested by thousands of German soldiers and related in the words of a Prussian commanding officer who gave the following report.
“We were advancing at the head of our troops, all of whom were in excellent spirits, singing as they swung along, thinking that the British were now defeated and all that remained was to go forward without opposition and capture Paris.
By my side was Lt. Fritz and he suddenly seized hold of my arm saying, ‘Look, Herr Kapitän, there is a large body of mounted men approaching Bethune from the other side.
Why, they are clad in white and are mounted on white horses. Who can they be?’
‘I don’t know,’ I replied. ‘They may be British colonial mounted troops.’
We halted instinctively and stood watching those white uniformed clad cavalry advancing quietly through the smoke. Their figures clearly outlined in the shining sun.
I gave the signal and our artillery fired on them and we saw the shells breaking into death-dealing fragments and bursting amidst their ranks with shattering crashes which shook the ground.
This was soon followed by intensive machine gun fire which raked them repeatedly to and fro until it would seem impossible for anyone to survive.
But the White Cavalry continued, moving forward at a slow trot – and not a man nor a horse fell. Resistless as the incoming tide, they advanced and in front of them rode their leader, a fine figure of a man.
By his side was a great sword, not a cavalry sword but similar to that used by the Crusaders. And his hand lay quietly holding the reigns of his great white charger, as it bore proudly forward.
Then a terror seized me and I found myself fleeing from that awe-inspiring body of White Cavalry, frightened, terrified.
All around me were masses of our men, formerly an army, now a defeated rabble, broken and afraid.
All fleeing from the unstoppable White Cavalry – and especially from that awesome leader on his great white charger.
The German army is defeated, we have lost the war and it is due to the White Cavalry.”
Who were the White Cavalry? Psalm 34:7 helps us understand: “The angel of the Lord encamps round about them that fear Him and delivers them.”
Many believed that God had directly intervened in answer to the fervent prayers of the British people and manifested deliverance.
For months, churches across Britain, encouraged by King George and the British government, held all-night prayer meetings asking God to divinely intervene and end the war.
Angels are not visible to us, with the exception of those occasions when God sends them on a special mission or clothes them in human form (Hebrews 13:2).
The descriptions of angels in Scripture are certainly awe-inspiring. If we could remove the veil that blocks our view of the unseen spiritual world, we would see that there are angels all around us!