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When we think about angels, we tend to think of the most obvious things about them, things we have learned from the Bible. For instance, we might think of angels as God's messengers, such as Gabriel announcing to Mary that she would give birth to the Christ or the angels announcing Christ's birth to the shepherds. Or we may think of the protection and guardian role that angels play in watching over God's elect, such as Psalm 91:11-12, "For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone." Or we may think of angels' role in bringing forth the judgments of God; such as the Angel Of Death who slew all of the firstborn sons of the Egyptians, or the angel who brought a plague to Israel when David sinned and numbered the people (from 1 Chronicles 21). Or we might think of the mighty warrior angels who are engaged in spiritual warfare against Satan's forces, such as Michael and Gabriel fighting the prince of the kingdom of Persia (Daniel 10). Or we might think of the angels in God's presence worshipping and praising Him before His throne (Rev 19:6-8).
And all of these are correct and valid things to think about angels. The Bible describes each of them. But the Bible has much more to say about angels than just those five activities. Angels have some tasks and characteristics that may surprise you. Let's look at some of them.
Did you know that angels are involved in gathering souls after a person dies? The righteous are taken up into Heaven by angels and the unrighteous are taken before the judgment seat of Christ. In Luke 20:12, Jesus describes the angels as taking the poor beggar to Heaven when he died. Matthew 24:31 and Mark 13:27 both talk about the angels gathering the elect from the four corners of the earth and taking them to the Lord's presence. Matthew 13:39-49 describes the angels gathering people to Christ's throne in the last day. Revelation 14:14-16 describes the angels gathering the end time harvest of souls. John 20:12 describes how angels watched over Christ's body in the tomb. We see, from these verses, that angels play a role in escorting souls when they die (or when Christ returns)--they seem to escort both the saved and the unsaved to their proper destination.
Angels don't just minister to people, they also minister to other angels. For instance, we see God using one angel to send a message to another angel who was currently "on the job" giving a message to a prophet. Zechariah 1:2-5 states: "Then the angel who was speaking to me left, and another angel came to meet him and said to him: 'Run, tell that young man, "Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of men and livestock in it. And I myself will be a wall of fire around it," declares the Lord, "and I will be its glory within"'" (NIV).
Angels minister to us in ways you may not have thought about before. For instance, angels assist in evangelism. We see this activity when an angel appears to unsaved Cornelius in Acts 10:1-6 and instructed him to send for Simon Peter in Joppa because "He will tell you what you must do" which was to receive Christ (Acts 10:44-47). Also, Rev 14:6 says, "Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of Heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth--to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people" (NKJV).
Did you know that angels actually pray for us and they are involved in God hearing and answering our prayers? Just as we pray and intercede for each other, angels sometimes pray and intercede for us. We have an example of this in Zechariah 1:12. An angel has been talking to Zechariah about some prophetic things. Suddenly the angel broke into prayer for God to restore Jerusalem and the cities of Judah. The verse says, "Then the angel of the Lord answered and said, 'O Lord of hosts, how long will You not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which You were angry these seventy years?'" (NKVJ). And Rev 8:3-5 describes angels being involved in our prayers and bringing them before the Lord.
In fact, angels appear to pay attention to what goes on in the earth and they take great interest in the activities of man. Zechariah 1:8-11 describes angels going through the earth and observing the state of affairs on it. Luke 15:10 tells us that the angels rejoice when a person is saved. 1 Cor. 4:9 informs us that the angels observed life and activities of the apostles. 1 Timothy 3:16 tells us that the angels watched and observed Jesus' life when He walked on the earth as a man. And 1 Peter 1:12 tells us that the angels watch the spread of the gospel with interest and desire. In fact, angels and the heavenly host may very well be part of that great "cloud of witnesses" mentioned in Hebrews 1:12 that watch the activity of each believer as we serve the Lord. When Daniel was interpreting King Nebuchadnezzar's dream in Dan 4:23, he described an angel as "a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven." So clearly a part of angels' activities include watching and observing what goes on in men's lives on this earth.
Angels are also involved in physical healing. We developed this in some detail in lessons 3 and 4. John 5:4 shows angelic activity for physical healing: "For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had" (NKJV). The New International Version (NIV) translation omits this verse, but it is present in most translations, including the King James (KJV) or New King James (NKJV) or New American Standard Bible (NASB) or the Amplified Bible (AMP) or the English Standard Version (ESV) or the Contemporary English Version (CEV) or the 21st Century King James Version (KJ21) or the American Standard Version (ASV) or the Worldwide English New Testament (WE) or the Young's Literal Translation (YLT) or the Darby Translation (DARBY). [In fact, we see that the NIV version seems to leave out a lot of the power of God type of verses related to healing and deliverance. It also omits Matthew 17:21 and omits the phrase "and fasting" from Mark 9:29.]
The Bible tells us about some of the characteristics of angels:
And here are some more miscellaneous details the Bible tells us about angels:
This is not an exhaustive list of what the Bible has to say about angels. But it begins to give you a little insight into the realm, characteristics and activities of angels.