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I was at a retreat this weekend. We were told that each of us has angels assigned to us to use in doing God's will and that we are not giving them any assignments. E.g., we aren't using the resources God has provided to do the work of the harvest.
This is new ground for me and I am not sure how to go about assigning angels to do things. The examples and discussion were very brief, but like sending angels to guard, or to open doors for divine appointments, or to bring salvation.
Do I ask angels to do things, or do I ask God to send angels to do things? I am very fuzzy about this. Do you have suggestions or insights into this area?- Puzzled
There is a lot of confusion on the role of angels in working with the church. Let me share a little bit about angels to help clear up some of that confusion. The Bible mentions "angels" several times and there are actually different types of angels, such as Seraphim and Cherubim and messengers. Angels are created beings; God created them for His purposes just like He created Man. The one big difference between man and angels is that the angels never fell into sin. (Well, about 1/3 of the original angels sinned and were kicked out of Heaven. But those who sinned are not called angels any more, now they are called demons.)
One of God's purposes for creating angels was so that they could worship Him. Another is so that that they can serve as His messengers to man. But there are a lot of other things that God has angels do. Let's look at some of their jobs/tasks from Scripture:
- Angels Bring Messages From God To Men Or Women - Genesis 16:7-9, Genesis 19:15, Genesis 21:17, Genesis 22:11-14, Genesis 31:11, Exodus 3:2, Judges 2:1, Judges 2:4, Judges 6:11-12, Judges 6:20-22, Judges 13:3-13, 2 Kings 1:3, 2 Kings 1:15, Zechariah 1:13, Zechariah 3:6-10, Zechariah 4:1-7, Zechariah 5:5-11, Zechariah 6:4-5, Daniel 10:21, Daniel 8:15-16, Matthew 1:20-24, Matthew 2:13, Matthew 2:19, Matthew 28:5, Luke 1:11-19, Luke 1:26-38, Luke 2:10-15, Luke 2:21, Acts 7:30-35, Acts 7:38, Acts 7:53, Acts 8:26, Acts 10:3-7, Acts 10:22, Acts 11:13, Acts 23:9, Acts 27:23, Galatians 3:19, Hebrews 2:2, Rev 1:1, Rev 5:2, Rev 22:16.
- Angels Deliver Or Protect God's Elect - Genesis 48:16, Exodus 14:19, Exodus 23:23, Exodus 33:2, Numbers 20:16, 2 Kings 19:35, 2 Chronicles 32:21, Psalm 34:7, Psalm 35:5-6, Psalm 91:11-12, Isaiah 37:36, Isaiah 63:9, Daniel 3:28, Daniel 6:22, Matthew 18:10, Matthew 26:53, Luke 4:10-11, Acts 5:19, Acts 10:7-10.
- Angels Fight In Spiritual Battles Against Demonic Forces - Daniel 10:12-13, Jude 1:9, Revelation 12:7, Rev 20:1-3.
- Angels Bring Warnings And Execute Judgments From God - Numbers 20:16, Numbers 22:22-27, Judges 5:23, 2 Samuel 24:16-17, 1 Chronicles 21:12-27, 1 Chronicles 21:30, Psalm 78:49, Acts 12:23, Rev 7:1-2 , Rev 8:2 & 6-13, Rev 9:1, Rev 9:11-15, Revelation 14:8-10, Rev 18:1-3 & 21, Rev 19:1-2, Revelation 14:17-19, Rev 15:1 & 6-8, Rev 16:1-21, Rev 19:17-21.
- Angels Represent God's Presence - Is 63:9, Zechariah 3:1-5, Matthew 16:27, Matthew 25:31, Matthew 28:2, Mark 8:38, Luke 2:9, Luke 9:26, Luke 12:8-9, John 1:51, Acts 6:15, 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 2 Thessalonians 1:7, 1 Timothy 5:21, Hebrews 12:22, Revelation 3:5.
- Angels Worship God - Deuteronomy 32:43, Psalm 103:20, PS 148:2, Luke 2:13, Heb 1:4-13, Rev 5:11, Rev 19:6-8, Rev 22:8-9.
- Angels Minister To Individuals (such as feeding them, strengthening them) - 1 Kings 19:5-7, Psalm 104:4, Matthew 4:11, Mark 1:13, Luke 22:43, Heb 1:14, Rev 1:20.
- Angels Are Involved In The Prophetic - Genesis 16:10, Genesis 16:11, Genesis 22:15-18, Judges 13:3, 1 Kings 13:18, Zechariah 1:9, Zechariah 1:14-19, Zechariah 3:6-10, Daniel 8:15-16, Daniel 9:21-27, Rev 10:1-11, Rev 12:1-14, Rev 17:1-18, Rev 21:9-17, Rev 22:6.
- Angels Sometimes Visit And Observe Men - Genesis 19:1, Judges 13:13-21, 2 Chronicles 3:1, Luke 24:23, Hebrews 13:2.
- Angels Are Sent To Provide Leading / Direction To Individuals - Genesis 24:40, Exodus 23:20, Exodus 32:34, Numbers 22:31-35.
- Angels Gather Souls To Heaven And To The Judgment Seat Of Christ - Matthew 13:39-49, Matthew 24:31, Mark 13:27, Luke 16:22, John 20:12, Revelation 14:14-16.
- Angels Minister Physical Healing - John 5:4.
- Angels Are Involved In Evangelism - Acts 10:1-6, Rev 14:6
Note that the above list is not an exhaustive list of everything that angels do, it is just some of their tasks that God has seen fit to tell us about in His word. Also, the Bible tells us a bit about some of the characteristics of angels:
- Angels are powerful (2 Peter 2:11)
- Angels possess wisdom (2 Samuel 14:20)
- Angels take on the physical form of fire and wind (Psalm 104:4)
- Angels do not marry (Matthew 22:30 and Mark 12:25)
- Angels do not know everything (Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32)
- Angels don't die (Luke 20:36)
- Angels are subject to Jesus (1 Peter 3:22)
In short, angels appear to be co-workers with us in accomplishing God's plans and purposes on the earth. Genesis 28:12 tells us that angels travel between Heaven and earth to accomplish God's purposes. 1 Cor. 6:3 tells us angels will one day be judged by believers, and Hebrews 2:5 tells us that angels will not rule the "world to come." That means that at some future point after we have been perfected, the church will rule over angels. But right now we are not yet perfected and we have not yet been given authority over angels.
As far as I can tell, we are currently co-workers in accomplishing God's purposes with the angels, but we are neither above them or below them. We are separate from them. Angels live in one realm and get their commands directly from God. We live in another realm that is not able to see and hear God with 100% clarity. That is why God sometimes uses angels to speak to us, because they can hear Him with 100% clarity and they can convey precisely what He wants to say. Angels never bring their own directions to us, they speak for God. That means that if we disobey an angel's command, we are not disobeying the angel, we are disobeying God. That is why I think that angels have not been given authority over us any more than we have present-day authority over them.
I am not aware of any passage in the Bible where a person commands angels. I am not aware of anything in the Bible that tells us that we can do that. In fact, when Jesus was on earth in His un-glorified human body, He did not command angels. When soldiers came to arrest Him in Gethsemane and Peter drew his sword to protect Jesus, Jesus said, "Do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matthew 26:53). In short, Jesus said that He wanted angelic help in that situation, He would not command the angels directly, but ask His Father to supply them.
So what should our relationship with angels look like? First, it should not be the center of our attention. We should not seek the angelic, we should seek God and focus on Him. Second, we should not try to command them any more than we would try to command someone from another church who was working on a joint project with your church, where each church had their separate pieces towards a larger master plan. Third, I think we should respect angels (just like we respect co-workers from other churches), but we must not elevate them to some level where we worship them.
Rev 19:10 makes it very clear that we are not to worship angels or overly elevate them. John writes, "And I fell at his feet to worship him (the angel who had been speaking to John). But he said to me, 'See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God!'"
We should respect angels and cooperate with them. We should not give an angel more honor (or any less honor) or respect than we would give another anointed human minister.
Now, coming back to your question: are angels an underutilized resource that God has made available to the church for accomplishing His proposes and advancing His kingdom? I think the answer to that is "Yes" in many churches around the world. Does that mean that we should ask angels to do certain things? I don't think so, as I don't see any Scriptural precedence for doing that. I think we would do better to make sure that we are doing the piece that God gives us in a way that doesn't interfere with the angels' ability to do their assigned job. I also think that it is a good idea to ask God to release His angels (and other Heavenly resources) to help us do what He has asked us to do.
I would not personally command angels to do this thing or that thing. Instead, I would pray and ask God to send angels to help with what He has asked me to do. In fact, I do that all the time. For example, I speak at churches and conferences a lot. I usually start the service by praying to take authority over the room and to give God complete control of the meeting. I don't have a canned prayer that I pray, I let the Spirit lead me in this prayer each time. There are a lot of times when He prompts me to ask the Father to send angels into the meeting. The prayer takes on different forms, depending on God's agenda for that specific meeting. Here are a few examples of things the Holy Spirit has lead me to pray:
- Lord, please send warring angels to breakthrough and give us an open Heaven for this meeting.
- Lord, please send healing angels to heal the sick.
- Lord, please send anointing angles to release gifts and impartations into our lives as we worship You right now.
I am a firm believer that God wants to release angels to work with us in accomplishing His purposes. I look for angelic help, and I welcome it, especially when the task seems big or difficult. But I never command angels directly or assign tasks to them. Instead I follow Matthew 7:7, "Ask and it shall be given to you..." That is what I recommend in learning to work together with angels, ask God and let Him make the angelic assignments in response to our prayers.
One more thought occurred to me as I went back and re-read your question. You said, "We aren't using the resources God has provided to do the work of the harvest." That could be true in some cases. Our best response to that is to pray and ask God to show us how He wants us to best use the resources He has given us. I still don't think we will end up commanding angels, but He may show us ways to be more sensitive to His leading and to change our own behavior in certain situations so that it is easier for the angel working with us to do their assigned task.