We continued our series at Gateway in Austin called “Angels and Demons: Do You Believe in the Supernatural?”
Our world is intrigued and sometimes even embraces evil. Horror movies make a ton of money at the box office. Shows about the occult, the paranormal, and true crime are all big business. Why are we so drawn towards evil? And where does evil originate? Discover how evil can be found in the world’s systems, in the What is an angel? Are they real? Are they chubby babies with harps sitting on clouds? So much of what we believe about the spiritual realm and the afterlife comes from Renaissance paintings and myths that swirl around in our culture. Instead, we will go back to the ancient text where stories of angels in the Bible are very different than what we might expect. And knowing the truth about the unseen world makes a difference in our lives.
Message Video from Gateway in South Austin:
Last week, John talked about the fact that “Evil is Real.” He shared how evil comes the ways of the world, from the supernatural realm of the demonic, and from within. He reminded us that we don’t need to fear evil—evil is nothing–like darkness is nothing– as long as we turn to the light. That is critical because evil is real and can lead us into dark and destructive places.
Jesus says evil is deceptive above all else. We never knowingly fall into its trap…we get there through many, small, seemingly unimportant steps, decision by decision. And if you get nothing else out of this message—I hope you will see how deceptive evil can be—and that God’s Word is truth, light, that dispels all evil.
God’s plan to overcome evil is by transforming one willing human heart at a time, and then we become those who bring light into the darkness!
Today we get to try and tackle another subject, one that has over 4000 book resources on Amazon alone. This subject conjures up mostly feel good, goosebump type feelings. Today we discuss Angels.
Now, when I say Angels, I’m sure many of us, if not all of us, have a picture that comes to mind.
- Some might think of Charlie’s Angels,
- Some might get triggered by the pandemic and winter storm and think of Angel Soft toilet paper,
- Some might think of cupid and people matching,
- Others might think of people, a nice person who was a life-saver for you in a time of need.
Some have positive thoughts, others negative thoughts, and yet some of us might have NO thoughts at all (or care) about angels, their existence and their purpose.
So to keep us focused for the next half hour, we’re going to work through three basic ideas about angels:
- What is the Biblical backing or proof of angels?
- What is the purpose of an angel?
- What does this have to do with us?
- What does the existence of angels show us about God’s character?
What does the Bible say about Angels?
Now last week, John Burke shared how we can know angels are real even if you may be skeptical that the supernatural realm exists. If you missed last week, be sure to go back and watch or listen to it.
What is an angel? Are they real? Are they chubby babies with harps sitting on clouds? So much of what we believe about the spiritual realm and the afterlife comes from Renaissance paintings and myths that swirl around in our culture.
Most of what I knew about angels was from pop culture and youth camp.
- “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings” – ZuZu from It’s a Wonderful Life
- “He’s got his angels watching over me – every move I make!” – Amy Grant
- At camp, the leaders would tell angels and demons stories instead of ghost stories.
There are close to 300 references to Angels in the Bible. None of them refer to proving their existence, but speak to a matter of fact that they do exist and are an extension of God.
Angels are mentioned in 59 of the 66 books of the bible. Ruth, Nehemiah, Esther, the letters of John, and James
Angels are created beings like we are, but not bound by time or space.
Angels played prominent roles in stories of human interaction with God.
- Daniel, Abraham in the Old Testament
- Zechariah and Mary in the New Testament
Although their presence in scripture is normalized, it was always a sight to see, so many times we read references where they say, “Do Not Be Afraid”
What did Jesus say about angels?
- Jesus accepted as valid the Old Testament references to angels and their functions (Matt 22:30), but spoke specifically of the “devil and his angels” (Matt 25:41) as destined for destruction.
- He described angels as holy creatures (Mark 8:38) who could rejoice when someone became a Christ-follower (Luke 15:10).
- Angels do not marry. In fact the verse explaining this has been misconstrued so that in popular culture people believe those who die become angels in the next life which is actually not what it is saying. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. – Matthew 22:30
- And although they were highly intelligent ministers of God’s will they were not omniscient (Matt 24:36).
- Christ claimed at his arrest in Gethsemane that more than twelve legions of angels (numbering about 72,000) were available to deliver him, had he wanted to call upon them for assistance (Matt 26:53).
- He taught that angels would be with him when he returned to earth at the second coming (Matt 25:31),
- and that they would be involved significantly in the last judgment (Matthew 13:41, Matthew 13:49).
What is the purpose of an angel in the Bible?
Angels set a model of obedience to God’s will in heaven to which the Christian church should aspire (Matt 6:10).
There’s a radical obedience and service that an angel demonstrates in scripture. Hence, an angel of light comes to bring “good” things to help us in our spiritual journey.
Messengers…they declared and promoted God’s will on earth
Guides/ministers for us on earth. They rejoice when one of us comes to the full knowledge of Jesus. Our repentance and temporary sorrow, is joy to them, because they know what lies ahead for the one who follows Jesus.
They war in the heavenlies. They fight on our behalf in ways we cannot see.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. (Psalm 34:7)
He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. (Psalm 91:11)
Two quick stories from the Scriptures describe this:
Elisha had a connection with God that helped protect the people of Israel. The King of Aram did not like that at all so he sent his army to kill Elisha. Let’s pick up the story in 2 Kings 6.
When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.
“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
What’s cool about this story is they saw what most never see – angels protecting us.
Elisha prays that the army attacking would be blinded. Once they were blinded, they led the attacking army into their fortified city of Samaria. Once inside the city, they could see! You can imagine how panicked they must have been as they realized they were surrounded by their enemy – the Israelites!
Instead of killing them, they prepared a great feast for them and then sent them on their way. The story ends with “So the army from Aram stopped raiding Israel from that time on.
The angels were protecting, and Elisha walked in faith knowing that. This time they got to see it!
We can walk in faith knowing God protects us! We can move forward on whatever He asks us to do.
That is the critical part – what does God want you to do?
Here’s another remarkable story from the Scriptures:
Daniel was taken hostage and made a servant for the Babylonian king who destroyed his home. More than likely he was also castrated in order not to be distracted and perform his duties in the king’s court. Daniel and his friends chose to live according to their beliefs in spite of the pagan nation that opposed them. Sometimes they received permission from their superiors – like to eat a kosher diet, but other times they were sent to be executed only to be miraculously rescued by God whether it was when Shedrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into a fiery furnace or Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den.
Even still, Daniel never seemed to grow bitter towards his captors. He served them faithfully as ultimately he knew he was representing God and serving God in the way he served his captors.
God also gave him dreams and visions that gave him hope in the future and sustained him.
In Daniel 9 he prays the most beautiful prayer of repentance for his people. It’s a prayer we can pray on behalf of our nation. He acknowledges the evil and asks for forgiveness and for transformation.
Perhaps as a result of that prayer, he encounters an angel and gains insight into the spiritual battle going on all around us.
I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; those who were with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. 8 So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground.
A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. He said, “Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling.
Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. 13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. 14 Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.” – Daniel 10:7-14
Daniel’s prayers activated something in the heavenly realm. A battle ensued.
Our prayers do something in the heavenly realm!!
What does that have to do with us?
Q&A Sunday – First Question was : “What should Christians believe about ghosts, magic, Tarot cards, channeling, etc.? What are the spirits or ghosts that haunt people or that people say they see?” – Wakeboard Will
So the Bible teaches that we should not seek contact with the Dead. The reason being, there are deceptive evil spirits that may appear good and helpful, but their intent is to deceive and turn people away from God. It says Satan himself can come disguised as an angel of light—so the Bible warns us not to go to mediums who summon the dead, or use Tarot cards, or channel spirits because in doing that we may be interacting with evil spirits who have knowledge of the dead loved one, or other knowledge to fool us, but they are using that to deceive us. To get them seeking their guidance rather than the Lord’s guidance. The Bible tells us how to know:
Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God…This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. 1 John 4:1-3
It is not our job or goal to summon an angel or any kind of spirit. We are to steer clear of sideways approaches to God, when the work of Jesus on the cross has already given us direct access to God.
We are to be open to God encounters that guide us along our earthly journey. Moments where we hear a whisper, moments we are told to do or not to do something. Hebrews 1:14 – God sends his angels to “minister” to us, as those who will inherit salvation.
And even though right now, we as humans are “a little lower than the angels” what we are going through has a purpose as we follow God in an evil world and overcome evil by His love and forgiveness, and so one day we will actually be leading and teaching the innocent angels in the world to come (Heb 2:7-9) – next week we will talk about how to actively overcome temptation and evil.
“God wants us in his family, alongside his supernatural family, partnering with him as they do, just in our world…If we placed more attention on those items we might just be more motivated to remember that this world isn’t our real home. And if we approached that way, the Church (that’s us) would change.” – Michael Heiser
Our job is to have a relationship with God through his Holy Spirit.
The Spirit guides us in all truth and righteousness.
We have the gift of God’s presence with us daily, it is part of walking in salvation.
What does the existence of angels tell us about God?
There’s a lot more to God than we realize or see which reflects his beauty and richness.
The existence of angels reiterates and affirms God’s undying devotion to his children, so much so that he even has special beings or agents to protect them; and how ultimately, both of these things point back to the goodness of God.
This means that everything angels do, everywhere in the world, at all times, is for the good of those who follow Christ. “An angel who does something by God’s assignment anywhere in the world is fulfilling the promise that God will work all things for the good of all Christ-followers — everywhere. This is a sweeping and stunning promise. All angels serve for the good of all Christians all the time. They are agents of Romans 8:28.” – John Piper
What God calls his spiritual family directly relates to how he views us, his earthly family. God’s love and concern for the angels demonstrates his love and concern for us. God’s vision for human believers is tto rule with him, displacing the rebellious supernatural sons of God as his council-partners in a new global Eden.
This broken world is not our real home. One day, God will make all things right and there will no longer be this schism between heaven and earth, but there will be a new heaven and new earth!
Do you believe in the supernatural?
There is an unseen realm which can affect us both positively and negatively.
Ultimately, we have the freedom to choose – will we go God’s way or our own way?
Will we choose the light or give into the darkness?
Jesus’ death on the cross took on darkness head on, and it killed him. The fallen angels must have thought they had won not realizing that in God’s Kingdom everything is upside down. The greatest are the ones willing to serve. The way to destroy violence is not with revenge but with sacrifice. You see, Jesus did not remain in the tomb. The love of God is stronger than death and evil, and Jesus rose from the dead. He is alive!
Jesus offers new life to you and to me! When we surrender our lives to Him, we become new! The resurrection power we see in Jesus comes to live in us – the Spirit of God!
Whether you sense the need to make this decision for the first time in your life, or you’ve been following Jesus for decades – all followers of Jesus every day need to surrender every aspect of life to Jesus so that His light and life drown out the darkness everywhere we go!
Pray to God, and rest assured that He is with you. And that He has angels fighting for you, watching over you.