Sunday, January 02, 2011

What are angels? Do I have a guardian angel?

What are angels? Do I have a guardian angel?

True or false: Angels have long, flowing hair and big wings.

True or false: Female angels always sing in the angel choir.

True or false: Children who die at a young age become angels in heaven.

True or false: Every person on earth has a guardian angel.

True or false: Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.

Okay, ready for the answers? All of the above . . . are false. If you answered “true” to any of them, you’ve been watching (or believing!) too much television!

When angels appear on earth, they usually look like regular people. The only “wings” mentioned in the Bible belong to the cherubim, two of which were depicted on the Ark of the Covenant. Though angels have appeared in bodily form on a few occasions, they are ministering spirits without physical bodies like ours.

There are no female angels mentioned in the Bible, none at all.

Children are humans; angels aren’t and never were human. Children who go to heaven remain human in heaven; they do not become angels.

Does everyone have a guardian angel? The Bible doesn’t say so. However, Jesus once warned his followers not to look down on the children: “For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father.” We’re not exactly sure what he meant by that, but perhaps he meant that some angels are charged with watching over little ones, and these angels always have ready access to God.

How many angels are there? More than we could count. Consider these verses:

· “Surrounded by unnumbered thousands of chariots [of angels], the Lord came from Mount Sinai into his sanctuary” (Psalm 68:17).

· “No, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering” (Heb. 12:22).

· “Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders” (Rev. 5:11). Talk about an angel choir!

Why were the angels created? Yes, the angels were created just as humans were created. They have not always existed, though they are eternal. God created the heavens and the angels and the universe, and Jesus Christ reigns over all of them.

Can angels sin? Yes—at one point, many of them rebelled against God and chose to follow Lucifer, or Satan. Lucifer was a created being, too, a beautiful angel, but he became proud of his beauty and his intelligence. He chose to rebel instead of obeying God, and as a result he and his angelic followers were cast out of heaven. Most Bible scholars believe that after this point, the angels were “sealed” so they could no longer sin. The ones who followed God will remain faithful to him; the ones who rebelled will be punished with Satan. Second Peter 2:4 tells us that “God did not spare even the angels who sinned. He threw them into hell, in gloomy pits of darkness, where they are being held until the day of judgment.”

Humans who sin are given a chance to repent and accept Christ. The angels who sinned are not given that chance. Jude tells us that “the angels who did not stay within the limits of authority God gave them but left the place where they belonged . . . God has kept them securely chained in prisons of darkness, waiting for the great day of judgment” (Jude 6). This is just one example of God’s great grace and mercy on the human race.

What do angels do? Let’s begin by looking at what they do NOT do. They do not marry. They do not have children. They do not follow their own plans, but serve God continually. And while the Bible frequently states that man was created in the image of God, it does not say that about angels. What do angels do? Hebrews 1:14 tells us: “Therefore, angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation.” Angels serve those who will accept Christ. Since God knows everything, he knows who will accept Jesus. And he sends angels to protect and help those people both before and after they become followers of Christ.

If humans are created in the image of God . . . and given a chance to repent, does that mean that humans are more powerful than angels? Not now—angels have great power and great intellect, and Hebrews 2:7 tells us that we were created “only a little lower than the angels.” But one day in the future, we will be given the opportunity to judge the angels who sinned. What a responsibility!

Memory verse: “Therefore, angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation.” Hebrews 1:14

Discussion questions:

1. Since angels are sent to minister to humans, read the following verses and explain how the angel served the man or woman involved:

· Matthew 4:10-12

· Genesis 16:7

· Genesis 19:15

· Exodus 23:20

· Matthew 1:20

· Matthew 28:5

· Luke 1:13

· Luke 22:43

· Acts 5:19

2. There are many types of angels and differing ranks of angels. And while one of their jobs is to serve God’s children, they also obey him in other things. Hebrews 13:2 says, “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” Do you know anyone who claims to have seen an angel?

Next week we’ll talk about angels who rebelled against God.


Cassandra R. Cooper said...

Thank you! I do get tired of seeing all the books about "How to have your own Guardian Angel" and others of the same. Saying that, I will say that I believe that God still sends his angels to earth and I have my own experiences, 3 different stories. Do they have wings no, did they look like humans yes. Should we be spending tons of time and effort "worshiping them" no! They worship GOD.
OK, Happy New Year and I will now remove myself from my soap box (do they even make soap boxes anymore?) and get ready for church!
Blessings on you and yours and praying for you continued success as a writer(I just love your work)
I still remember and use the notes from the class you taught at GCWC in 2005. Have my bones on my tween book, now filling in the skin!


suzy said...

I always thought you were one...
oh well.
An extraordinary human being will have to suffice.

Angela said...

Suzy, you are too much. Thank you.

And I've always had an affinity for angels--probably because of my name. A friend once pointed out that I had angels all over my kitchen, and I'd never realized it.

Just like we have angels all around us, and we rarely think about it.

Thanks be to God for sending those ministers to us.


Alycia Morales said...

This is such a wonderful and timely post! Our pastor just shared a sermon on angels as God's messengers last week!
I haven't ever seen an angel, but my child has. I'll never forget the time I went to his room and he described seeing really tall men with very large swords standing around his bed...It still gives me chills to think of what he saw that night.

joanieponytail said...

Thank you so much for dispelling some of the myths about angels. As much as I love It's a Wonderful Life I know Clarence will never get his wings.
I look forward to doing my homework and looking up the verses you shared.