Have you ever seen an angel? Possibly. Did you know it was an angel? Maybe. You have probably heard sermon illustrations about angels and maybe a friend told you about an experience they believed was angelic. There may even have been a time in your life when something happened that made you wonder, “could that have been an angel?” Hebrews 13:2 tells us, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” Angels are God’s messengers, created by him to serve his purposes. They are spirit beings but can become visible to men when necessary. Colossians 1:16 says, “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible . . .all things were created by him and for him.” Angels are seen from Genesis to Revelation, in heaven and on earth. Hebrews 12:22 tells of the multitudes of angels in heaven and angels are mentioned more than 300 times in the Bible. If the inspired writers of the Bible recorded the work of angels in the world, then God intended us to be aware of their presence and their purpose in our own lives. So let’s look at what angels have done, so we can know what angels are doing.
Sarah encouraged her husband, Abraham, to have a child with her maid servant, Hagar. When Hagar became pregnant Sarah was jealous and sent her away. Genesis 16:7 says, “The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert.” The angel told Hagar to go back home and submit to Sarah. The angel said that Hagar would have a son and name him Ishmael who would have many descendants. The angel also said those descendants would live in hostility toward all his brothers. Most of the Arab population are descendants of Ishmael. It is interesting that God used angels to encourage Hagar to return to Abraham, knowing that those descendants would live with animosity toward his children. God uses angels in world events to fulfill God’s sovereign plan.
When Moses saw the burning bush and approached, it was an angel that appeared to him in the flames. Angels were present on Mt. Sinai when Moses received the Law. The whole mountain shook with their presence. Later, God told Moses that he would send an angel before him to drive the enemies from the Promised Land. God uses angels to speak for him and reveal his power and presence.
Jezebel threatened Elijah and he fled. Elijah fell asleep under a tree, wishing he was dead, and an angel came and told him to get up and eat. (1 Kings 19) God sent that angel to encourage his prophet and inspire and strengthen him to continue his ministry. God uses angels to minister to those in ministry.
Daniel was thrown into the lions den and said that God sent his angel to shut the mouths of the lions. (Daniel 6:22) God sends his angels to protect the prophets and ensure his word will be spoken.
An angel appeared to Mary telling her she would give birth to a son and then appeared to Joseph, instructing him to take Mary as his wife. God sent his angel to make certain Mary and Joseph were able to believe the miracle of his Son. God sends angels to help people believe in his Son.
Have you ever seen an angel? Has God sent a messenger to guide your path, instruct you, discipline, or convict you of a sin? Has God sent an angel to help you recognize a miracle or protect you from danger? Will God send an angel so you can fulfill a calling? Possibly. Probably? Are you convinced that angels are real and at work in the world? St. Francis de Sales said, “Make yourself familiar with the angels and behold them frequently in spirit; for without being seen, they are present with you.” And one day all that is “unseen” on earth will be revealed in heaven. I’m excited to see those angels!