Coming up to Halloween, it’s a great time to recognise that it is not a cute festival of dressing up, it is a macabre celebration of evil and the demonic. Today I want to offer a Biblical and balanced view of the supernatural world.
So let’s start with this… The spiritual world exists. We know it, Hindus know it, so do new agers, Muslims, satanists, almost every tribe on earth knows it. Scientists ignore it, because they say they can’t see it or measure it. They have their own fantasies, like aliens and big bangs, but as Christians, frankly, we mostly ignore it too! But the Bible says…
Ephesians 6:10-13 (ESV Strong’s)
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
We need to recognise that there is an unseen world around us, and that a battle rages unseen by human eyes. There s a plethora of Hollywood and TV shows about ghosts, speaking to the dead and even angels… More than an angel, Portals to hell. However, most Christians live our lives with barely any regard for the spiritual world.
The Bible talks about 2 sides, good and evil, God and Satan, and while the Bible talks about battling “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places”, on occasions it also shares about how this realm can break into the physical world we see and touch and live in.
THE UNSEEN BATTLE
While angels and demons are mentioned hundreds of times in Scripture, details of their world are scarce. One encounter in 2 Kings is worth noting…
2 Kings 6:15-17 (ESV Strong’s)
When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
This unseen world, this unseen battle, is real. In this Scripture, Elisha could see what his servant could not see… The forces of heaven marshalled to support and bring victory for a man of God.
Other than an 80s band, who are angels? Well, angels are mentioned over 300 times in more than half the books of the Bible. There are good angels, called the elect, and there are bad ones, called demons. This is such a huge topic that I am going to examine angels this week and demons next week. So let’s start by looking at the good guys, whose main roles appear to be to worship God, deliver messages, fight for Him, and hence us, and lead and guide us.
1. ANGELS ARE SPIRITUAL PERSONS
Angels are not impersonal forces like a hurricane, or electricity. Like the Holy Spirit, they are spiritual, but also have personalities. On occasions they can take human form…
Think about how angels appeared to Jesus’ mother Mary, or how they appeared at the birth of Jesus, or the resurrection. Angels are intelligent, joyful beings, who delight in doing the work of God. Like us, they have personalities.
Hebrews 13:2 (ESV Strong’s)
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
2. ANGELS ARE CREATED BEINGS
Angels are not gods themselves, they are created beings. They are not made in God’s image as we are, but they are created none the less.
Psalms 148:2,5 (ESV Strong’s)
Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts! Let them praise the name of the LORD! For he commanded and they were created.
When were they created? There is a hint in Job, where describing creation it says,
Job 38:7 (NIV-WS)
while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?
So angels were created before creation was completed. And how many?
Hebrews 12:22 (ESV Strong’s)
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,
You could also look at Daniel 7:10 or Revelation
Revelation 5:11 (ESV Strong’s)
Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,
In Greek MYRIAS, meaning ten thousand times ten thousand, or by extension, a number so large it is incalculable. ie a lot!
3. ANGELS HAVE FREE WILL
It is clear that angels have free will, to obey or not obey their Creator. This is alluded to in Scripture, where one of the head angels, called Lucifer, rebelled against God, and became who we know as Satan, taking 1/3 of the angels with him.
Revelation 12:3-4 (ESV Strong’s)
And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth.
As describing Satan as the King of Tyre in Ezekiel 28, the Bible reveals that Satan was a lead angel, in the Garden of Eden…
Ezekiel 28:14-15 (ESV Strong’s)
You were an anointed guardian cherub.
I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God;
in the midst of the stones of fire you walked.
You were blameless in your ways
from the day you were created,
till unrighteousness was found in you.
He chose to rebel, and a third of the angels went with him to become demons. That’s why,
2 Corinthians 11:14 (ESV Strong’s)
even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
Satan started, demons started as angels of light, with the ability to choose, and they chose rebellion, but 2/3 chose obedience to God.
4. ANGELS ARE TERRIFYING BUT PROTECTING
We need to remove images of cute, chubby, cherub beanie babies as angels, because it is a complete lie. Most angelic visitations start with the angel saying,
Luke 2:10 (ESV Strong’s)
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Most reports I have ever heard about angelic visitations have them as huge, beautiful and quite terrifying.
Fiona and I believe that our daughter Kira encountered and angel when she was barely 3 years old. She was having night terrors, and when I went into her room, she described dark, yucky, scary things trying to claw her. I prayed, and she slept.
Next day I asked her how she had slept, and this little 3 year old said this… It was ok when that big guy came in the room. Big guy? He sat on the end of my bed, wrapped his wings over me, wearing a white sulu and stopped the yucky things reaching for me.
My little girl knew nothing of theology, but I believe she saw an angel. And to top if off, she volunteered this… “Guess what dad, he had orange hair just like me!” Kira’s angel has red hair like her. God is awesome!
5. ANGELS ARE MISUNDERSTOOD
One very common thought is that, when people we love die, they become angels. Many, even Christians, say they’ve got their angel wings, or they’ve become my angel. It’s a sweet, sirupy thought, but it is absolutely not true.
Angels are created beings, not gods, and not dead people.
Psalms 8:4-5 (ESV Strong’s)
what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the angels and crowned him with glory and honor.
Right now, angels are higher than us, but one day we will judge or be in authority over them…
1 Corinthians 6:3 (ESV Strong’s)
Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!
So, we should not worship them. They want to point us to Jesus.
People also talk about angel spirit guides, and these are spirits, and they are angels, but they are fallen angels… Angels and spirit guides are demonic, and not to be played with or consulted on your life’s direction!
SO WHAT DO ANGELS ACTUALLY DO?
Angels are not floating around on clouds playing harps all day. God has given them roles… They are to serve God number one, and then us…
Hebrews 1:14 (ESV Strong’s)
Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?
Like us, angels were created to worship God. Many references site angels worshipping, Nehemiah 9:6, Isaiah 6:2, or how about the birth of Jesus
Luke 2:13-14 (ESV Strong’s)
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
But the big one of course is John’s vision of heaven…
Revelation 5:11-12 (ESV Strong’s)
Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
Angels have plenty of work to do because they are servants. The Word angel in both Greek and Hebrew means messenger. These worshipping workers are sent to do God’s bidding, serving us who believe.
Psalms 103:20-21 (ESV Strong’s)
Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word! Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will!
3. WATCH OVER
Angels most often appear when we face difficult, even impossible situations.
Psalms 34:7 (ESV Strong’s)
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them
A typical example of angelic protection and guidance Peter in prison…
Acts 12:7-9 (ESV Strong’s)
And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision.
My mum and dad were in a horrible car crash some years ago, trapped inside the wreck on a lonely stretch of road at Beerwah. Dad’s neck was broken at C2. A woman randomly appeared, said she was a nurse, and stabilised his head, reaching through the window. She held his head until paramedics arrived and put a brace on and removed him. Mum wanted to thank this random, skilled lady, but she wasn’t there. The paramedics had never seen a lady when they arrived. That, I believe, was an angel.
Angels are not cute, chubby, winged babies, they are terrifying weapons of spiritual war! Consider King Hezekiah, facing the evil Assyrian…
2 Kings 19:35 (ESV Strong’s)
And that night the angel of the LORD went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies.
Revelation 12:7-8 (ESV Strong’s)
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.
Later we read about Jesus, Called faithful and true, on His white horse
Revelation 19:13-14 (ESV Strong’s)
He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.
So angels worship, work, watch over us and go to war for the Lord. We could talk more about Jacob, Abraham, Gideon, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Peter, John, Elizabeth, Hannah, Mary and others who have encountered angels.
HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND TO ANGELS?
So angels are real, they tend not to call attention to themselves, but they point us to Jesus, give messages, protect and even fight for the Lord, and for those who love the Lord. But how should we respond to angels?
1. DO NOT WORSHIP ANGELS
Revelation 19:10 (ESV Strong’s)
Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
Some want to worship angels, but they are created beings like us. We must not worship the created, but only the creator.
That’s one of the acids tests between angels and demons. Satan wants your worship, and even masquerades as an angel of light, but don’t be fooled. Angels, when they appear in our world, come and go quickly and very surreptitiously. They don’t draw attention to themselves and always point you to Jesus.
2. DO NOT PRAY TO THEM
Having the intervention of these incredibly powerful allies makes it tempting to call directly in them. Angels may be an answer to prayer, but we must not pray to them, try to contact them or harness them for our uses.
Angel Spirit guides are the wrong Spirit… Period! Don’t pray to Michael or Gabriel, direct your prayers to God. We have one intercessor, Jesus Christ.
1 Timothy 2:5 (ESV Strong’s)
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
3. DO NOT PLACE THEM ABOVE THE BIBLE
Today countless books exist directing us to speak directly to angels who guide us into secret knowledge. These are not angels, they are demons. True angels never supersede or contradict the Word of God. Angels never replace Jesus. Angels always exalt Jesus. So don’t elevate them above the Word of God
Colossians 2:18 (ESV Strong’s)
Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind,
Gnosticism was an early church heresy, still alive today, claiming secret knowledge, or fresh revelation if you like.
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO PRAY TO GOD
So where does this leave us?
Angels are powerful allies in the fight against the enemy, but they are faithful servants of the God of Heaven. Don’t pray to them, don’t seek them, but it is valid to pray and ask God to send angelic help and angelic protection.
So what is the take away from this message? You need to be clear about angels. They are created beings, powerful, intelligent and totally committed to serving God, and hence helping us. But be careful. If they claim to be able to lead or guide you, they are the wrong angel…
2 Corinthians 11:14 (ESV Strong’s)
And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
Next week we will look at what the Bible says about demons and the fallen angels, but whatever happens, know now that God’s angelic army is superior to anything the enemy can produce. And you don’t have to summon them directly, pray to the Lord and let Him sort the details.
What are you facing right now that is troubling you? Do you have fear, danger, temptation? You don’t have the right to order God about, and you have no right to command, summon or direct angels. But you can pray to the Lord and present your requests to God, trusting that He will do whatever He sees fit, maybe even sending His angels to bring about His will.
Psalms 91:11 (ESV Strong’s)
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.