Do you believe in angels? (pt 2)

Yesterday we began looking at angels.  The second half of the first discussion is included below….

Let’s take a look at some of the way these messengers were used in the OT.

Angels rescue Hagar when she is sent away by miserable, jealous Sarah. They announce the birth of Isaac and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. They destroy Sodom and rescue Lot from the city. Angels interrupt Abraham’s slaying of Isaac and guard Jacob. Angels commission Moses and lead Israel. Angels arrange the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah and gave the law to the Israelites. Angels commission Gideon and announce Samson’s birth. They rescue Elijah and surround Elisha. An angel saves Daniel from the lions and smites the Assyrian army. Angels camp around God’s people and aid in writing Zechariah.

Angels were busy in the Old Testament!

But they don’t retire and stop working once Jesus arrived. Angels are a major component of Jesus’ arrival and figure largely in and throughout His entire life. Angels announced the birth of John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin and the forerunner or announcer of the coming Messiah. Angels named John. Angels foretold the birth of Jesus to Mary and Joseph separately. Angels named Jesus. Angels announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds and sang hallelujahs. An angel directed the child’s flight to Egypt and ministered to Jesus at his temptation. An angel came to Jesus in Gethsemane and rolled away the stone at his tomb. An angel announced his resurrection to the women and two angels presented him to Mary Magdalene.

Angels are also busy throughout the rest of the NT, particularly the books of Acts and Revelation opening prison doors, releasing prisoners, sending people, directing individuals, executing God’s judgment, protecting helpless and proclaiming God’s messages. My most surprising discovery about angels this week was from Matthew 18:10.  “Beware that you don’t look down on any of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father.” – Little children apparently have guardian angels!

So, you may be thinking – what’s the point? Why do we concern ourselves with angels?

Angels protect and deliver us. Angels minister personally to us. Although we can’t predict how they will appear, Scripture tells us angels have even been our neighbors and we may have even entertained them in our homes without us being aware. Often they may have been our companions. We know little of their constant ministry. The Bible assures us, however, that one day our eyes will be unscaled to see and know the full extent of the attention angels have given us.

Some Bible scholars believe that a little child’s guardian angel continues to watch out over him or her. We don’t fully know because the Bible doesn’t say, but whether they do or don’t, we can trust that God will use all of His creation and all of His power to achieve His goals and purposes. Angels are motivated by unending love for God and are jealous to see the will of God fulfilled in us.

God is protecting and guiding you through whatever dark places and trials you are experiencing and His angels may be part of that plan. Angels, directed by God, may keep you from harm and divert your paths away from dark places and trials. And even when we’re stuck – we can’t move forward, and can’t move backwards – we don’t know which way is up or down – God meets us there as well. He ministers to us in our times of greatest need and likely uses His angels to do so, just as they ministered to Jesus in his darkest hour. Are you in one of those dark places right now? Are God’s messengers ministering to you, showering you with God’s protection and love, drawing you near to His heart to comfort you?

God is calling you to Him with His love and mercy. No matter where you’re at with Him right now, you’re never too far gone. And that brings us to the final point about angels I want to touch on. Many Bible scholars when reading and studying the OT scriptures point to a few unique places where they believe celestial appearances are more than just angels. Daniel 3:19-27 is one such example. Translating the Hebrew language into English is challenging at times to get just the right word, and this may indeed be one of the places.

19 Nebuchadnezzar was so furious with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face became distorted with rage. He commanded that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual. 20Then he ordered some of the strongest men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So they tied them up and threw them into the furnace, fully dressed in their pants, turbans, robes, and other garments. 22 And because the king, in his anger, had demanded such a hot fire in the furnace, the flames killed the soldiers as they threw the three men in. 23 So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, securely tied, fell into the roaring flames.

24 But suddenly, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?”

Yes, Your Majesty, we certainly did,” they replied.

25 “Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!”
Then Nebuchadnezzar came as close as he could to the door of the flaming furnace and shouted: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”

So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stepped out of the fire. 27 Then the high officers, officials, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn’t even smell of smoke!

What is translated as “god” in the New Living Translation, shows up as “son of the gods” in another, which literally means “son of deity”. In one commentary a Rabbinical scholar explains that this Hebrew phrase would best be translated as a son of God. At any rate, it is at least possible, if not probable, that standing amongst the fire with Shadrach, Meschach and Abendego was a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ himself.

Isn’t that amazing? I think it is. The reason I think it’s so amazing is this – Jesus is our rescuer and redeemer. He offers us hope in our messy lives. And God’s plan to to send Jesus wasn’t an afterthought or Plan B – this was God’s original plan to bring His people, His beloved creation, His image bearers into relationship with Him. And if indeed Jesus is making an appearance, protecting and saving people long before He was born in a stable, I stand once again reassured of God’s amazing love and plan for my life, and for the lives of all his people. Perhaps on this side of heaven we’ll never know for sure whether Jesus was standing in that blazing furnace – but we do know this. God protected those three boys with some visible manifestation of Himself or another heavenly visitor to comfort and rescue those in their times of greatest need.  And He does the same for us even today.