You might think from this article’s title that it is about those precious mortals who grace our world with their kindness. Indeed, what a blessing they can be! This time, however, we will examine the work of those supernatural beings described in the Bible.
When angels make their appearance in Scripture, they are described in various forms – sometimes magnificent, other times humble and humanlike; sometimes mighty, other times tender and amiable; sometimes punishing, other times gracious and beneficent. It’s little wonder, therefore, that these mysterious creatures so intrigue us.
Because the Bible portrays angels as having an active role in human affairs, most of us hold some loose theological belief in them. But how do we clarify that belief? How do they relate to us? Finally, how should we interpret their role in a practical sense?
Recently, a friend sent me video footage of a brilliant angel purportedly caught on a surveillance camera. The image was awe-inspiring. With today’s technology, however, I had to wonder if this is a hoax. I hunted around a little and saw that some, indeed, did attempt to debunk it. In the haze of my confusion, I concluded three things: (1) Some really want it to be true; (2) Some really want it to be false; (3) I have no experience in video production; thus, I have no contribution to this debate.
Moving beyond this particular video, however, I am armed with a couple of things that form my personal convictions concerning angels:
First, I have God’s Word to guide me. The Bible is filled with references to angels -- at least 273 instances! There is, therefore, plenty in Scripture for building a solid foundation pertaining to them.
Second, I have certainty based on my own experiences. No doubt, God has sent angels to my aid in a myriad ways throughout my life, even before I became a Christian. How many times have angels spared me from disaster, helped me find things, sent messages from God? I don’t know. And you don’t know how many times they have visited you, either. Regardless, I do have certain experiences that I call “known angelic episodes.” I say “known” because of my certainty in each case.
Let me share my three episodes, beginning with the most recent:
1. Less than a year ago, my husband Clay picked someone up from the San Diego airport. Once he got home, he realized he was missing his wallet. He searched the car and couldn’t find it. He felt certain it had fallen out on the ground at the airport. We prayed hard. We didn’t have time for this! He called the airport lost and found. The wallet had not been turned in. We both searched every corner of the car again. It wasn’t there.
We prayed more. Clay cancelled his credit cards. He then planned to go to the DMV to get a new driver’s license. Because I didn’t know what else I could do to help, I decided to go to the car and search one more time. I unlocked the car and opened the back door. Immediately, my eyes fell to something sitting on the floor of the car. The wallet was right there in plain sight! But we had searched that spot more than once! I had my hand there as I leaned down to feel under the seat! We had searched all around the area -- under the seats, between seats, around the seats. Yet there it was! Explanation: God sent His angel!
I know, I know. You think we must have missed some crucial fact. After all, the wallet couldn’t have just materialized. It must have been there all along. I can hear you explaining it away. OK, let me try the next one on you.
2. This was some fifteen years ago. Clay and I had a morning flight to catch. Back then, we still used paper tickets. We had purchased our tickets some time back and put them in a safe place. Well, here we were, the night before, all packed and ready for our flight. But we had a huge problem: we couldn’t find our tickets. We prayed and searched everywhere . . . repeatedly. What would we do without our tickets? Finally, it was so late that all we could think to do was to go to bed, get up in the morning, go to the airport, and plead for mercy.
It was winter. We buried ourselves under a heap of blankets and went to sleep. Early the next morning, Clay was still mostly asleep when he mumbled, “What’s this?” I opened my eyes and looked at him. As I watched, he pulled his hand out from under his blankets. There was something in his hand -- the two airline tickets! What?!! How could this be? He had never gotten out of bed. He didn’t do this, but there was his hand firmly grasping the tickets. Explanation: God sent His angel!
I know, I know. This amazes you, but you still think there must be another explanation. Well, we sure couldn’t think of one! Perhaps you are trying to explain this one away, too. OK, I have one more story for you.
3. This one took place thirty or more years back. We were visiting Clay’s family in Bluefield, West Virginia. His parents had a lovely two-story home with a full basement. We stayed in the second-floor guest room. One day, Clay told me he was going down to the basement to read his Bible awhile. I remained in our room to have my own quiet time. I was praying when a very strange thing happened. I saw a vision. I saw Clay seated in the center of the basement couch reading his Bible. An angel sat beside him on either side. They were reading the pages, too.
I had only seen a couple of other visions in my life, so I was excited. I prayed (in retrospect, flippantly), “Lord, You gave me a vision . . . but it’s just a vision. Oh, I’d love to see an angel for real.”
Well, God chose to give me a dose of reality, a lesson I wouldn’t forget. At once, something changed in the room. I felt the atmosphere intensify. The air around me pulsated. My eyes opened wide. What? Suddenly, an electrifying light flooded my vision, and the intensity built quickly. The radiance was so shockingly unearthly that I KNEW I was about to see an angel in all his glory – FOR REAL!
The impact was immediate. Did I stay flippant? Did I wait expectantly to see my guardian buddy? I’ll tell you what I did: In utter terror, I gasped, “No!” Then, just as quickly as it had all begun, the atmosphere calmed and the light was gone. I felt like God and His angel enjoyed a good laugh, probably saying something to each other like, “She didn’t really want to see an angel, did she?”
The Bible records incidents of people confronted by angels in their glory. Often, it was a terrifying experience. Daniel saw an angel twice. Both times, he fell on his face in terror (Daniel 8:17, 10:9). The shepherds in Bethlehem felt terror when confronted by a brilliant angel (Luke 2:8-9). Upon seeing an angel at Christ’s empty tomb, the guards fell down like dead men (Matt. 28:2-3).
God gave me a taste of their terror, and I have never forgotten it. If you think you can explain away this last story, OK, you’ll just need God to convince you.
From personal experience, I believe that God sends us His angels. Generally, they stay veiled, but occasionally they reveal themselves. Sometimes, Clay and I have become cognizant of their activity on our behalf. We can think of no other explanation; there is none.
A few weeks ago, my niece Charity drove from Arizona to Texas. She found herself caught in a massive dust storm that caused an awful accident. Despite the chaos around her – colliding cars and semi trucks, with resulting fatalities -- she emerged unscathed. Charity loves the Lord. We believe God sent an angel to help her through the mayhem.
Several years ago, we heard an amazing testimony. This man, Bruce Van Natta, is actually a friend of our good friend, Norelle Lutke. If my little experiences haven’t impressed you, I hope Bruce’s incredible story does. He has authored a book entitled, Saved By Angels. Click here for his video testimony: http://www1.cbn.com/video/bruce-van-natta-saved-by-angels
Thank you, Lord, for the angels among us!
Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.
-- Hebrews 1:14, Psalm 91:11
One word of caution: Don’t ever seek out angels, and never pray to them. The devil appears as “an angel of light.” He exploits our tendencies toward deception and idolatry. He has hordes of fallen angels/demonic spirits to carry out his evil assignments. It is all too easy for us to get fascinated with supernatural manifestations and let these deceptive spirits influence us. While God sends His holy angels to guard, guide, and protect us, in seeking Him alone is our safety.
If you have an angel story you’d like to share, please share in the comments. We’d love to hear it.
Here is "Archangel" painted by John Sullivan, who was in my home group years ago. If anyone knows what became of him, please let me know. I love this depiction.