TWISTED: RE-EXAMINING HEAVEN, HELL, ANGELS, AND DEMONS
WEEK THREE: ANGELS
- We are in week three of a series called, Twisted: Re-examining the subjects of heaven, hell, angels and demons. Our goal is to gain a biblical understanding of God’s reign and rule in heaven and earth. If you missed any of the other topics, I encourage you to check out our website, byhaliaumc.org, to read the messages.
Angels. Are Angels Real? Do they exist today? Since our culture takes its cues from Hollywood more than the Holy Bible—and since many movies and TV dramas center on angels (and demons), they must exist, right? In the 1990s one of our favorite shows was Touched by an Angel, staring Roma Downey and Della Reese. These two angels—Monica and Tess—always sent one major message in every episode: God loves you. Not a bad message, huh?
Have you ever seen an angel? Maybe you did and were unaware. The writer of Hebrews says , “Hebrews 13:2 à Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
In preparing for this week’s message, I came across a classic sermon by the late Billy Graham, who wrote a biblically based book in 1975 called, Angels: God’s Secret Agents. If you’re going to steal, steal from the best! Let me give credit for Rev. Graham for the inspiration of this morning’s message.
Graham tells the story of John Paton, the 19th century missionary to the New Hebrides Islands of the South Pacific, who was opposed by the cannibalistic natives of the island. One evening the natives and their chief surrounded the house with their weapons, intending to capture and/or kill John and his family. But suddenly the natives ran away. Some months later the chief was converted to Christianity and the two spoke of that incident. The chief asked Paton where he got all those men with guns to surround the house. Paton said, “I didn’t have any men,” and the chief said, “Oh yes you did! That’s why we ran away! Were those angels protecting that missionary?
Let me share a more personal story. When Cassie was “obviously” pregnant with our first daughter, Stephanie, she was walking from her car into a local Brandon drug store when an elderly, stately dressed, black man whom she had never before seen walked straight up to her, put both hands on her shoulders, looked straight into her eyes, and said, “Ma’am, your daughter will be blessed.” It took Cassie by surprise and frightened her a bit, but she quickly regained her composure and thanked him.
He then smiled and said, “You have a nice day,” and began walking toward the parking lot. She immediately turned back around to watch where he was going and saw nothing. He was gone! Was that an angel?
Bringing it closer to Byhalia, Pat and Gracie have shared their own unexplainable story of a potential angelic visitation. I’d like to ask Pat to come up and share it again. Pat?
One last example, and this one is a visual one. Some years ago, at a Promise Keepers event, several participants reported seeing what they call an angelic being on stage with the musicians. Here’s a close-up .
Were any of these encounters angelic in nature? I can’t say for sure. But to those who experience them, I would bet you’d have a hard time convincing them otherwise.
The Bible would also argue otherwise. There 108 references to angels in the OT; 165 references in the NT. I’ll reference several angelic encounters throughout this message, but let me begin with one of my favorites. It comes from the second book of the history of the kings, 2 Kings, in the sixth chapter. Let me set the stage for you before reading this morning’s passage.
The year is somewhere between 852 and 798BC. Elisha is a prophet during a dark time in the northern kingdom of Israel. Elijah has already been taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire. Elisha received of double portion of God’s Spirit—meaning a deeper and greater expression of the manifest presence of God—to the extent that he was able to turn bad water into drinkable water, make oil flow to fill enough jars for a widow to make a living during the economic disaster, and resurrect the Shunammite’s son to life.
One of Israel’s military threats was the nation of Aram. Let’s pick up the story from there.
Read 2 Kings 6:8-17.
Those who are with us are more than those who are with them. God had protected his servant Elisha from arrest by the Arameans. The story goes on to tell how, through Elisha’s prayers, God blinded the soldiers of Aram, routed the into Israel’s capital city of Samaria, but spared their lives. The Arameans stopped pursuing Israel after that. Those horses and chariots of fire were the protecting angels of Elisha and his servant.
What are the angels?
- Created beings. In our call to worship this morning, we recited words of praise from all created beings in Psalm 148. Verse two says, 2Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts. This is a song of praise from all of creation…God’s creation! And his angels are among God’s creation.
- Angels are NOT human beings who die and become promoted to angels. He has made us a little lower than the angels. Psalm 8:3-5 says, 3When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? 5You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.
- Angels are spirits…we don’t see them…even though they sometime come in human form. Hebrews 1:14à Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
- Angels appeared in bodily human form to some people in the Bible—Abraham (Gen 18), Lot (Gen 19).
- Angels also appeared in dreams, as with Joseph regarding the birth of Jesus in Matt 1.
- Angels also appeared in visions, such as with Ezekiel and John on the Island of Patmos.
- Angels have superhuman Intelligence and Power2 Peter 2:11 points out that angels are stronger and more powerful than humans
The Assyrians had threatened to destroy Israel, King Hezekiah prayed to the Lord for deliverance. The Lord heard his prayer and protected Israel. In 2 Kings 19:35à That night the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp.
Rev 20:1-2à1And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. 2He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.
But they are not all-knowing. For instance, they don’t know when Jesus returns. Listen to what Jesus says, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Matt. 24:36In a vision of Daniel (chapter 7)à Thousands upon thousands attended Him, and myriads upon myriads stood before Him. A myriad is 10,000. That math is 10,000X10,000, which is 100 million. The point here is…THERE’S A BUNCH!
The same is true in Revelations 5:11 à Then I looked, and I heard the voices of many angels and living creatures and elders encircling the throne, and their number was myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands.
Angels have various ranks
Colossians 1:16à For in [Christ] all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.
Only one archangelà Michael, whose name means “Who is like God?” He appears to be in charge of all the angels under the direction of God. He is the angel of law and judgment.
Only other heavenly angel mentioned by name in the Bible is Gabriel, whose name means “man of God.” He seems to be the messenger of mercy and promise. He appeared to Daniel in the OT, and in the NT, he appeared to Zechariah for the announcement of the birth of John the Baptist, and to Mary for the announcement of the birth of Jesus.
There’s one other named angel in the Bible…one who was thrown out of heaven. His name is Lucifer. He’s called son of the morning in Isaiah 14:12à How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! (c.f. Ezekiel 28) But that story is for NEXT week!
What kind of moral creatures are Angels?
Jesus calls them holy angels in Mark 8:38à If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes into his Father’s glory with the holy angels. They are holy…set apart. The cry out praises to Jesus before the throne of God in Revelation 5 and 7. Listen to Rev. 7:11à All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”
What do angels do? They are obedient to God
They worship Godà Deut. 32:43 says, Rejoice, O heavens, with Him, and let all God’s angels worship Him.
They execute God’s WILL. They do God’s bidding. They can affect the affairs of great nations.
In Genesis 19, two angels pulled Lot back into the house and saved him from the wretched citizens of Sodom.
In Numbers 22, the angel of the Lord stood blocking the path of Balaam on his way to supposedly bless Balak, the enemy king of Israel.
In Luke 16, Jesus tells a parable of the rich man and Lazarus, which tells many truths about right living, heaven, and hell. But it also mentions that when Lazarus died, angels carried him to the side of Abraham (heaven).
The angel helped Peter get out of jail in Acts 12
An angel encouraged Paul when he was at sea during the great storm and told him he would survive in order to speak with Caesar. (Acts 27)
Angels execute God’s will.
Angels also execute God’s JUDGMENT
They destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19
Revelation tells us that angels are going to be the executor of God’s judgment in the last days.
Angels were with Christ in all the important events of his life
They were there during the announcement of his birth,
They ministered to him after Jesus was tempted by Satan 40 days and nights in the wilderness
They were with Jesus at his resurrection from the grave, and they announced to Mary, the other disciples of His resurrection.
After Jesus’s ascension, the angels foretold His return to the disciples in Acts.
BUT the angels were NOT with Jesus at his arrest and crucifixion
During his arrest in Matthew 26, one of Jesus’s followers struck a soldier’s ear and cut it off. After telling him to put away his sword, Jesus said, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”
72,000 angels ready to rescue Jesus. Jesus said, NO! I love these people. The human race is doomed to judgment, death and hell. The only way they can be saved is if I save them by taking their sin and judgment on the cross.
And when Jesus Christ died on that cross, the most amazing thing that ever happened in the history of mankind: God took your sins and my sins, your death and your hell, and my death and my hell and PLACED IT ON HIS SON JESUS CHRIST. HE BECAME THE SIN BEARER FOR US SO THAT GOD CAN SAY, I CAN FORGIVE YOU BECAUSE OF WHAT JESUS DID.
Finally, they rejoice in the lost soul being saved. In the parables of lost things—sheep, coin, and son—Jesus makes this declaration: I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
CONCLUSION: Angels are real. They minister to us. They execute God’s will and righteous justice. They worship and obey Jesus. Come to think of it, aren’t these things WE also are to do? To act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God? And there’s good news! We are not alone. Not only do we have the Holy Spirit in us and with us, but we also have angels among us. And there are who are with US than are with our enemy. AMEN!