Angels In The Bible

The Bible is filled with accounts of angels, in which they were usually doing one of two things: carrying out God's judgement or protection.

When you think of angels what comes to mind? Beautiful cherubic figures fluttering through the clouds? Winged models that make great paintings? Although that is what many people see, let's take a look at angels before artists got hold of them, and that is through the various accounts of angels in the Bible and the roles they played.

In the scriptures we find that when dealing with people angels generally fulfilled one of two roles: carrying out God's judgement or ministering to believers.

Carrying out God's judgement:

A beautifully written and detailed account of an angel carrying out God's judgement is in 2 Samuel 24:15&16. King David had disobeyed a direct command of the Lord, which led to calamity falling on areas of his kingdom. "So the Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning until the appointed time; and 70,000 men died. When the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the calamity, and said to the angel who destroyed the people 'It is enough! Now relax your hand.'"

It is interesting to note here, and in further texts we will be looking at, that the angel was in human form. Not only did God tell the angel to "relax" his hand, but reading that passage further we see that David could see the angel.

Other examples of angels executing judgement can be found in 2 Chronicles 32:21, Isaiah 37:36, and Psalms 35:5&6.

In the New Testament we see fewer accounts of judgement, but a major one is found in the telling of the death of King Herod. In Acts 12:22&23 Herod was delivering an address to his people: "And the people kept crying out, 'The voice of a god and not a man!' And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give

God the glory and he was eaten by worms and died."

The most notable account of angels carrying out judgement is found in Genesis 19, starting with verse 1. "Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting at the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground." The account goes on to show that Lot invited the angels into his home to spend the night there, eat dinner and rest.

Here we also see that the angels were in human form.

Even though these angels were sent to destroy Sodom, they were also there to spare Lot. In Genesis 19:12&13 we read "Then the men said to Lot 'Whom else have you here? ...whomever you have in the city, bring them out of the place; for we are about to destroy this place.'", and then again in Genesis 19:15 "And when mornng dawned the angels urged Lot saying, 'Get up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city'. But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his daughters, for the compassion of the Lord was upon (Lot)."

Once Lot was safely outside the city, Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed by fire and brimstone, including all that grew on the ground, as well as its inhabitants. Although here we see angels carrying out destruction and God's judgement on the wicked, we also see a graphic account of them ministering to the righteous, and there are many more biblical accounts of the protection of angels than destruction by their hands.

Ministering To The Righteous:

The book of Daniel in the Old Testament gives two wonderful accounts of angels helping God's followers. First, in Daniel 3, King Nebuchadnezzar ordered all those he ruled over to bow down and worship a golden image that was made in his likeness. However, three men who were wholly devoted to the Lord, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, refused to bow down and were then thrown into a furnace of blazing fire. The three were tied together and thrown into a fire that was so hot it killed the men who threw them through the door. Moments later, when the king checked on the men, he not only saw them walking around, untied, but he saw a fourth man with them.

"(Nebuchadnezzar) said 'Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.'" (Daniel 3:25). He summoned the three men to come out and they exited the furnace unscathed. This made a believer out of Nebuchadnezzar, for in Daniel 3:28 he declares "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him."

Later we read of Daniel himself and his own experience with an angel's protection. King Darius had signed an injunction that no man could make a petition to any god or man besides him, for if they did they would be thrown into the lion's den. Daniel, of course, would honor no man but

God and was subsequently thrown into the den with hungry lions. The next day the king went to check on Daniel. Daniel 6:20 says "And when he came near the den to Daniel, he cried out with a troubled voice. The king spoke and said to Daniel 'Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions?'" In verse 22 Daniel replies "My God sent His angel and shut the lions' mouths, and they have not harmed me... I have committed no crime."

For those skeptics who think that perhaps the lions just weren't hungry, read on to verse 24. "The king gave orders, and they brought those men who had maliciously accused Daniel, and they cast them, (and their families) into the lions' den; and they had not reached the bottom of the den before the lions overpowered them...".

These are two strong examples of angels ministering to the righteous, but in no way are they the only ones. In Acts 5:19&20 we are told the angel of the Lord opened prison doors so the apostles could be released, and one came to Peter, also, while he was in prison in Acts 12:7.

Even Jesus himself received the benefits of angels. After being tempted by Satan in the wilderness for 40 days, we're told in Matthew 4:11 "Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him."

The Bible continues to assure believers today of the assistance of angels. Psalms 91:11 says "He will give His angels charge concernig you, to guard you in all your ways." , and Hebrews 1:14, when referring to angels, says "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?". Other instances can be found in Genesis 16:7, 1 Kings 19:5, and John 5:4.

When studying angels, the Bible gives us more reference material than any other source and from it book upon book could be written on all aspects of angels, but the above references and stories are a great place to start learning about the roles they play.

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