In the past holiday season, we heard much about angels. We heard the stories of Gabriel who announced Jesus’ birth to Zacharias and to Mary, and we read of the heavenly hosts which sang in the presence of the shepherds (Luke 1:25-26, Luke 2:13-14). I myself would say I do not often think about angels and their place in my own life. We marvel at the many times God used His angels as messengers and protectors in the scriptures but often forget the glorious place they have yet today. God’s angels have much work. They work as messengers and “to serve [God’s] elect” (Belgic Confession Art. 12). I think it is important we remember the angels’ protection, God’s graciousness in sending angels, and God’s marvellous upholding of the angels.
One of the first times we see angels in scripture, they come to save Lot from the destruction soon to pass upon his home in Sodom (Gen. 19:15). The angels’ purpose was to turn Lot’s head and make him flee. By making Lot run from these cities, they protected both his physical and spiritual life. Perhaps Elisha’s experience with angels was the most terrific. As the city was about to be sieged, God opened Elisha’s eyes, and he witnessed the hosts of angels round about him (II Ki. 6:8-16). This was a sure comfort that God was there to protect him and an enlightenment to the angels’ place in Israel’s life. The angels also ministered unto Jesus in his temptations (Matt. 4:11). In John Calvin’s commentary on this passage he says, “we must not suppose, that Christ was ever forsaken by the angels: but, in order to allow an opportunity for temptation, the grace of God, though it was present, was sometimes hidden from him, so far as respects the feeling of the flesh.” The angels ministering then must refer to comfort, “care, fortification, and powerful assistance, against Satan” that the Father provided. We know the angels will work for our comfort as they comforted Christ. Also, though the angels in no wise granted us our salvation, the Father used the angels to uphold Christ in his physical suffering of the flesh so He might persevere to achieve our final salvation.
Although we might not see the angels round about us as Elisha did, we must always be mindful that God still sends them today for us His people. When you might feel like all is against you, remember God has sent his hosts to fight against our enemies. God not only personally watches over us and is within us warring against our flesh but also has His hosts around us fighting the enemies. Often the world imagines a devil on one shoulder and an angel on another, but this minimizes what God says about His “hosts” of angels (II Ki. 6:15-17, Luke 2:13, Jos. 5:13-15, Ps. 24:10, Hg 2:4). God graciously sent His Son to save us from our sins, His Spirit to war within our flesh and give us spiritual strength, and His angels to protect us from Satan and his attacks against us.
God’s graciousness as displayed in His angels extends beyond their role in our protection. It is amazing to consider the righteousness of God’s angels. As Adam was the created head of man, Satan was the head of all the angels. In his fall, all the angels held a corporate responsibility. Although none of Satan and his wicked followers were saved, we know that it is only by God’s sovereign upholding that no more angels have fallen since Satan took a third part with him in rebellion and pride against God (Rev. 12:4). How gracious is God to protect and keep His angels, when their leader attempted to become like God and hated God. It is beyond our understanding that God has created other rational creatures besides ourselves which He upholds in a state of righteousness. How awe-inspiring to imagine that there are those besides men whom we will be able to talk to in heaven!
It is altogether amazing to ponder on the existence of the angels, spiritual beings, who surround us and protect us. Their existence among us on earth and our lack of seeing them may sound like a fantastical story or something you would find in a child’s cartoon, yet God assures us of His angels and their protection for us. God gives us many blessings, may our focus always be on the great sacrifice of His Son and the glory of His name, but with admiration and thankful hearts may we find joy and comfort in the angel’s protection and service of us.
Luke Christian Potjer