Tonight we’re begin discussion called, The Invisible Army, talking about angels. And we’ll be dealing with the godly, holy, elect angels, as opposed to the fallen evil angels known as demons. I’m asked, do you believe that beings exist in other places than the earth? My answer is yes. The next question usually is, do you believe in UFOs? Yes, I believe in unidentified flying objects.
I believe that the Bible says that there are beings occupying the universe, literally millions of them filling the void around us. Their number is uncounted and they live in the heavenly sphere. And since the creation of man, they have mingled in human affairs. Hebrews 13:2 says, “Don’t forget to entertain strangers, because in this manner, some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
John Paton, a missionary to the New Hebrides tells a story about some angelic care that he received in his lifetime. One night, wild cannibals surrounded his house, frantically dancing and jumping up and down desiring to kill John and his wife. Realizing there was no way they could protect themselves against them, so they prayed. Soon after that the attackers all vanished into the jungle.
According to Paton’s biographer, a year later the chief of the tribe became a Christian, and John asked him at that time, “What happened that night about a year ago when your natives surrounded our hut there on the sand and all of a sudden they left?” The chief said that they had seen men standing guard, hundreds of big men in shining clothes with swords in their hands circling his home.
Did God dispatch a legion of angels to protect His servant? It wouldn’t be the first time. 2 Kings 6:15-18, “And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was a Sirian army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16 So Elisha answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
17 And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18 So when the Syrians came down to him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, and said, “Strike this people, I pray, with blindness.” And God struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.”
During World War II, the famous story of Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker, who was shot down in the Pacific Ocean, is recounted, and he himself was telling this to Billy Graham. For weeks he was lost, drifting in the ocean. “And this part I would hesitate to tell, except that there were six witnesses who saw it with me. A seagull, came out of nowhere and sat on my head in the middle of the Pacific.”
I reached up my hand very gently, took him, killed him, we divided him equally among us. We ate every bit. Nothing ever tasted so good. I have no explanation, except that God sent one of his angels to rescue us.” You see the universe is occupied by these creatures, and though the natural human vision cannot perceive them, they mingle in the earth all around us and they work for God.
When you begin to talk about holy angels, people are more skeptical than they are when you begin to talk about demons. In a dimension that we can’t comprehend, they’re there. They’re all around the place. And just because we can’t see them doesn’t mean they aren’t there. They exist in a dimension that we cannot perceive, but they are there. Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth unseen.
In spite of the reality, the fact is that there are millions of holy angels and yet people for the most part have ignored them. We have a fascination with demons and I think the reason why so much of it is influencing whatever happens to be going on in the world. The world started and continued the occult movement, so others followed their lead and got concerned about demons.
Did you know there are 273 references in scripture to angels? Then why have the holy angels been ignored? And we don’t know much about them. You say, why not? Number one, as a reaction against past speculation surrounded angels. They argued about how many of them fell, and that seems to be clear from Revelation 12. They argued about guardian angels and so many scholars ignored them.
Secondly, the study of holy angels has suffered in recent centuries because of the worship of angels by the Roman Catholic Church. Did you know that along with worshiping God and Christ that the Catholic Church promotes the worship of saints as well as angels, since the fourth century? But in Colossians 2:18, Paul warns us against worshiping angels, but that’s precisely what happened.
Thirdly, the study of angels has suffered as a reaction to speculation, and as a reaction to paganism. The Gnostics believed in demons, demi-god’s. Heathen philosophers talked about spiritual beings. Paganism was just loaded with worship of all different multiple spirits and sub-gods and demi-gods, et cetera. So the church sort of retreated and only concentrated on Christ.
Fourthly, the study of angels is neglected in the age of rationalism and science. Once the world got into the Industrial Revolution and everything kind of took a turn towards science, to accept the fact that there were floating spirits everywhere just wasn’t reasonable. Now in the age of existentialism, people have begun to allow demons back into their understanding and angels are going to come along also.
Fifthly, in a modern sense, the attention of Christian people has turned from studying holy angels to the occult movement that has preoccupied us with demons. Now that’s just a little background to give you an idea of why there has been an ignoring of the holy angels. So we ought to study angels, because 273 times God refers to them. That’s worthy of our attention, right?
And by the time we’re done, you’re going to have some sensitivity to an entire universe full of new creatures that you have never really understood before, but with whom you will spend your whole eternity. So you might as well get to know them. You’re going to be mingling around with them forever. No sense in going up there and saying, “Who are you?” They were there before you came.
Now, what is the benefit of such a study? Number one, it’s going to show you a new view of God’s creative power and God’s tremendous sovereign control over the world and the universe. It’s going to increase your appreciation of God when you see what He has created in this angelic host. And when you begin to see how they work, you’re going to get a whole new vision of what God is like.
Secondly, you’re going to be thrilled to find out that all of those angels that are holy angels, God has dispatched not only to serve Him, but in serving Him, to serve you and me and that angels are busy attending on us. That’s exciting. That’s probably the most thrilling thing, and that’s what we’re going to get to. Thirdly, it’s going to force us to study the Scriptures.
In his book ‘God’s Secret Agents’, Billy Graham says, “I am convinced that these heavenly beings exist and that they provide unseen aid on our behalf. I do not believe in angels because UFOs are astonishingly angel-like in some of their reported appearances. I do not believe in angels because of the sudden world-wide emphasis on the reality of Satan and demons.
I believe in angels because the Bible says there are angels, and I believe the Bible to be the true Word of God.” We believe in them because the Bible mentions them 273 times. I feel you’re going to have a meaningful knowledge of these powerful, holy, beautiful creatures who serve God and serve us. We’re going to find out who they are, what they are, and how we should respond to them.
When reading the Old Testament you find woven all through the narrative that angels are everywhere. If you were to just take all the angels out of the Old Testament, you would have inexplicable events. You would have events that had no possible way of occurring. You would have problems without solutions if you removed angels. Because if there aren’t any angels, who was God sending all the time?
If you look into the New Testament, who would announce the birth of Christ? Who told the shepherds where to go? Who was it that came to Jesus at His temptation after He had fasted for 40 days and ministered unto Him if the angels didn’t? Who came to the grave and announced the resurrection? Who is going to come to gather the elect from the four corners from the world?
And Jesus in His own teaching talked about angels. In Matthew 22 He said they’re like the angels in heaven. In Matthew 18 He talked about angels. In Matthew 24 He talked about angels. In Matthew 26 He talked about angels, and that’s just a little smattering of the dozens of times that He talked about angels. Angels exist. I believe it because people have encountered the fallen ones.
Once there were no angels. Angels were created. They are creatures. Colossians 1:16 says, “For by Him, talking about Christ, were all things created that are in heaven, that are in earth, visible and invisible.” They’re called by different terms: Thrones, dominions, principalities, powers. Those are ranks of angels in the invisible army, and the invisible army is organized. And they were created by Jesus Christ.
When were they created? They were created before time began. They were created before man and the earth because they had fallen by Genesis 3, so that Satan could be in the garden already to tempt Eve. Job 38:7 says, “When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” When? Verse 4, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth.” So they predate the earth.
They have no capacity to reproduce. In Matthew 22:29-30 our Lord put it simply this way, “You are mistaken not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like the angels of God in heaven.” God spoke and instantly millions of creatures came into existence, each one independently created.
The only change came when Revelation 12:4 says Satan comes out of heaven like a dragon and his tail took a third of the stars with him. Apparently a third of those angels fell and became demons, but they’re all going to live forever, some in hell and most of them in heaven. Amazing angels created instantly by God and every one created independent of one another. No two are alike.
Well, how many are there? At the birth of Christ it says there appeared a multitude of the heavenly host. At His arrest, Jesus said, “If I wanted to I could call on twelve legions.” Revelation 5:11 says, “And I beheld and I heard the voice of many angels. And the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands.” There are billions of angels all over the universe.
When you study the Bible you’ll find them in the third heaven where God lives. You’ll find them in the second heaven traversing the universe. You’ll find them in the first heaven, which is the atmosphere of the earth. Sometimes they’re before the throne of God. Sometimes they’re in transit like Daniel 10. In Revelation 4 and 5, they’re by the throne of God. And many times they’re on the earth.
What are angels like? First of all they’re personal. What are the attributes that make up personality? Intelligence, emotion, and will. In Ezekiel 28:12 in describing Lucifer the son of the morning, who was the highest of angels, it says he was the sum of beauty and full of wisdom. In Matthew 28:5 the angel answered and said to the women, “Fear not. I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.”
In Revelation 17 it is very clear that angels understand the plan of God. There came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls and talked with me. And this is what he said, “Come here and I’ll show you something.” That’s intelligence; the ability to communicate. Now they don’t know everything. In fact in 1 Peter 1:12 it says that the gospel is something which angels desire to understand.
They too have emotion. In Job 38:7 it says they sang together, and singing is a response to emotion. There is joy in heaven over one sinner that repents. Emotion is worship. And angels in Isaiah 6, were standing there, the seraphim, with their feet covered with two wings and with two wings they’d fly and two wings covered their face and they cried out, “Holy, holy, holy.”
And they have the capacity for self-determination or will. In Hebrews 1:6, “And again He brings in the firstborn into the world, He says, ‘Let the angels of God worship Him.’” The very fact that He invites the angels to do something indicates they had a will to do it. In fact, that’s how Satan got in trouble, wasn’t it? He said, I will, I will, I will, I will, I will, five times in Isaiah 14.
And they’re different from men. Because Hebrews 2 says that Jesus Christ became a man and was made a little lower than the angels. They occupy a higher state than we do for this time anyway. Someday we’re going to rule over angels; 1 Corinthians 6:3 says we’ll rule the angels. Why? Because we’ll be joint heirs with Christ. So we in the kingdom eternity will reign over angels with Christ.
Now their life and their world is just as involved, active and just as complex as ours is. The difference is we can’t see them, but they can see ours. They are spirits and that’s the key difference. Hebrews 1:14, “Are they not all ministering spirits.” He’s talking about the angels. It isn’t a material fleshly body like ours, but they have spatial limitations. They are going from one place to the next.
1 Corinthians 15:44 says this, “There is a natural body and a spiritual body.” Well, angels must have a spiritual body. Now when they do appear, and sometimes God chooses to let them be manifest, they always appear as a man. In Genesis 19 when the angels came to visit Abraham and when they went to Sodom they were just handsome men. In Matthew 28:3, it says, “His face was like the sun.” Let’s discover more next week.