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Celestial workers

Angels, like travellers between two worlds, intervene in this world’s events. And their presence is very real.

THEOLOGY AUTOR 218/Jose_Hutter TRADUCTOR Noemí Sánchez Read 11 DE JUNIO DE 2020 08:36 h
Photo: [link]Reinhart Julian[/link], Unsplash (CC0)

Angels are God’s workers, entrusted with specific tasks. The root of the word “angel” in Hebrew is related to work. They have a non-stop timetable. There is no evidence that they have days off or holidays. They are incessantly active.

It is even conceivable that they put in extra shifts when Jesus was here on earth. Their activities, a few of which are summarised below, reflect the vital importance of that time in history.

  • They announced the birth of Jesus (Luke 1:26-33 and 2:13).

  • They protected the newborn Saviour (Matthew 2:13).

  • They strengthened Jesus after His temptation (Matthew 4:11).

  • They were ready to defend Jesus (Matthew 26:53).

  • They served Jesus in the garden (Luke 22:43).

  • They removed the tomb’s stone (Matthew 28:2).

  • They announced His resurrection (Matthew 28:6).

  • They attested His ascension into Heaven (Acts 1:11).

This is not an exhaustive list.

In the fullness of time, God’s plan for salvation arrived. The Son became a man, whilst being God at the same time. Heaven touched earth. Jesus fulfilled His mission to redeem us.

The angels were working behind the scenes. They were on red alert.

We should not fail to notice their role in the life of Jesus. Similarly, we should not consider the great acts of God’s salvation plan without acknowledging the reality of the spiritual world.

When we read the gospels, we notice the unusual angelic activity from beginning to end. Our attention is captured by how silent, discreet and efficient they are. This provides a great example to us.

Although the gospels do not specifically state the point, it is clear that the angels want God’s salvation plan to be fulfilled.  This is why they worshipped when the Son arrived in this world (Hebrews 1:6). They appear continually in the gospels and Jesus had a lot to say about them.

While those were special and unique times, the angels’ work on earth did not end there. Therefore, we arrive at one of the most interesting subjects for us: the angels’ ministry with believers and with the Church in general.

The first two chapters of the letter to the Hebrews offer some very interesting insight to this subject. Angels are the ones who have been “sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation” (Hebrews 1:14). That is to say: they were sent for us.

Interestingly, angels are not mentioned in the Bible before Adam and Eve’s fall. But, from then on, they are instrumental in the fulfilment of God’s salvation plan, standing against the hosts of evil. Their apparitions are, therefore, proof of divine grace. They take care of God’s people (Hebrews 1:14). Their presence is always a sign of God’s direct and supernatural intervention. The events of this world- not just those that contribute specifically to the plan of salvation- are influenced and led by them. The book of Revelation provides good examples of this, irrespective of how we interpret them. The fact is that the angels execute divine intervention on events that take place here on earth. Angels not only form part of history, they make history.

But they also exercise a lower-key ministry. They watch and observe us (1 Corinthians 4:9 and 1 Timothy 5:21). They are also present when the church meets together. Sadly, we are not normally conscious of this: during a church service we do not only have those visibly present, but also an indeterminate number of celestial onlookers. I must confess that this is one of the reasons why I don’t care if I am preaching to 5 or to 500 people. I will prepare my sermons with the same care- not just for the visible 5, but also because I know that I will have invisible spectators who also deserve a well-prepared sermon.

Even though we can’t hear them, I am convinced that they are part of the glory of the smallest church that meets in the humblest of venues.

Reformer John Calvin declared that angels are present when the believers meet to call on God and that the Church should be like a theatre where they can admire God’s great and amazing wisdom (1).

When God summoned His cherubim with a flaming sword to prevent Adam and Eve from going back into the garden of Eden, His divine grace was shown through efficient pressure posed by an angelic threat.

Certainly, the angels know how our relationship with God is. They love us and wish to see us reconciled to God so they can share heaven with us (Luke 15:10).

[destacate]It is not governments, nor hidden elites, nor international conspiracies who hold the destiny of this world, but the God of our covenant with His army under His command.[/destacate]God sends His messengers to help us in our pilgrimage home (Hebrews 2:16). Without our knowledge, angels receive orders to work in our favour and for our benefit. They are completely submitted to the divine will. A good example is found in the story of Peter in jail. God heard the prayers of the church for the liberation of Peter and neither Peter nor the church could believe it when it happened.

Miracles of this calibre are not common, but they do happen. What is even more surprising, all angels, from the lowest in rank to the archangel Michael, are under God’s command to serve the Church. They are however part of God’s creation and, for that reason, we are categorically forbidden to worship them.

In his commentary about Hebrews 1:14, puritan theologian John Owen, emphasizes the word “sent” and tells us that it refers to a continual and constant occurrence. He says that angels are constantly in God’s presence and He sends them at different times – and always the ones appropriate for the task (2).

Angels are God’s instruments to exercise government over all creation. History cannot be understood without their participation. The final goal is the well being of God’s Kingdom and, to achieve it, whole empires have risen and fallen. This is the good news behind every day’s good news: the destiny of this world is not decided by our governments or by international conspiracies, nor by a hidden elite or other dark powers. Our God of the covenant and His army under His command are in charge.

Angels, like travellers between two worlds, intervene in this world’s events. And their presence is very real. As a believer grows in his or her faith, this reality becomes more evident.

The angels serve us, even as we end our life here. We all must die one day, unless the Lord comes back before that. But even as we die, we are not alone. God will send His special messengers to take us home. Luke 16:22 expresses clearly what Job 33:23 tells us: “He shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:31).

This hope should give us comfort when the time to leave this world comes. At that moment, our eyes will be opened and we will recognise our fellow servants, who have, in fact, already been close to us for a very long time.



1. John Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion, III, xx, 23

2. John Owen: Hebrews, vol.3, p. 239, Edinburg (1854).




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