The Invisible Army
Now what do we know about these fantastic beings? Well, in our last study we began to look at them, and we covered the idea of who they are. We talked about the existence of angels, the origin of angels, and the nature of angels, and just tried to define for you who angels are. Tonight I want to add one other very special angel who doesn’t quite fit the mold of all the rest.
In fact this angel is not like any other angel. He is called the Angel of the Lord or the Angel of Jehovah. We find this angel only in the Old Testament. He never appears in the New Testament. He begins to appear with Abraham and he ceases from scriptural appearance with Zechariah. So we believe he has to be something very special. Let me introduce Him to you in Genesis 16.
Genesis 16:7-13, “Now the Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. 8 And He said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from, and where are you going? She said, “I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.” 9 The Angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand.”
10 Then the Angel of the Lord said to her, “I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.” 11 And the Angel of the Lord said to her: “Behold, you are with child, and you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has heard your affliction. 12 He shall be a wild man; his hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him.”
13 Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” Now here is an interesting thing. This Angel of the Lord is called God. Look at Exodus 3:1- 6, “Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.
2 And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. 3 Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.” 4 So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!”
And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” 6 Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.” Again the Angel of the Lord is called God.
Look at Judges 13:21, “When the Angel of the Lord appeared no more to Manoah and his wife, then Manoah knew that He was the Angel of the Lord. 22 And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, because we have seen God!” Now here we have seen three separate incidents, here is a special angel called the Angel of the Lord, who is equated in three places with God.
Zechariah 1:12, “The Angel of the Lord answered and said, ‘O Lord of Hosts.’” Now here is a conversation going on between the Lord of Hosts and the Angel of the Lord, and the Angel of the lord is defined as God. Look at Zechariah 3:1, “And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, ‘The Lord rebuke thee.”
Here is a conversation between the Angel of the Lord and God. So who is the Angel of the Lord? Well, it’s the second person of the Trinity, which is the Lord Jesus Christ as He is known in the New Testament. You are experiencing a Christophany, a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ. Now understand, Christ is the only member of the Trinity who ever manifests himself as a person.
God is a spirit, and the Bible says no man has seen God at any time. The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity is also a spirit. In the Old Testament where you have a pre-incarnate revelation, a pre-incarnate manifestation of Christ as the Angel of the Lord. In the New Testament, He appears as God in human flesh, the man Christ Jesus. That’s why the Angel of the Lord never appears in the New Testament.
And if you were to look at the ministry of this Angel of the Lord, you would find that His ministry throughout the Old Testament parallels the ministry of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. For example, in the Old Testament, the Angel of the Lord gives revelation, He reveals God’s Word. He’s the one who called Moses. He’s the one that called Gideon. He’s the one that called Sampson.
Christ is our intercessor in the New Testament. He is the advocate. In Zechariah 3, the Angel is the one standing before God defending the believers against the attacks of Satan, precisely what Christ does in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, Genesis 22, the Angel of the Lord confirms the covenant with Abraham; in the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the one who sealed the covenant with His blood.
In the Old Testament, as we read in Genesis 16, the Angel of the Lord comforted Hagar; in the New Testament, Jesus Christ is our comforter. This is so very important, because it proves to us that the Trinity has always existed as the Trinity and it isn’t God just playing different parts in history. Now let me take you to the next question. Now what do angels do? What are they doing right now?
Let’s study the ministry of angels. Angels are ministers of worship. In Isaiah 6, the angels, seraphim, when they were there seeing the vision of the Lord, said, “Holy, holy, holy.” They worship God. In Revelation 4:6, “And before the throne there was a sea of glass like crystal, and in the midst of the throne and around about the throne were four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind.”
These are similar to the angelic descriptions given in Ezekiel when he goes to describe them; tells about their wings and all that in verse 8. And he says there, “Saying night and day, ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.’” That’s worship. They, “Give glory,” verse 9, “and honor and thanks to him seated on the throne who lives forever and ever.”
Angels are also ministers of service, and that falls into several categories, like priestly service. Look at Hebrews 1:7, “And of the angels He says, ‘Who makes His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire.” Whatever this priestly service is, they’re like wind and fire in the presence of God rendering priestly service to Him in His presence. And they are called ministers.
Angels are also personal messengers. In Psalm 103:20, “Bless the Lord, you his angels, who excel in strength, who do his commandments, heeding the voice of His word.” They’re very strong and they’re supremely obedient. They do His word. Luke 1:19, “And the angel answering said to him, ‘I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God.” Gabriel stands in the presence of God until he gets his orders.
And Gabriel was used here in this chapter to bring the message to Joseph and Mary about the coming of the Messiah in human flesh. Galatians 3:19 says, “What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions (sins), till the Seed (Christ) should come to whom the promise was made; and this all was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator (Christ).”
What part did angels have in it? Acts 7:38 says, “This is he (Moses) who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, the one who received the living oracles to give to us.” Verse 53, “who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.” Hebrew 2:2, “For the message God delivered through angels has always stood firm.”
Now here you have at least four references, to the fact that angels are involved in the giving of the Law. Exodus 31:18, God wrote with his finger the Law in stone and then the angels delivered it to Moses. Now that is why the Jews so highly regarded the angels, because the angels were part of giving the Law. Sometimes God sent them with messages verbally, other times He sent them a big tablet.
Angels are agents of God’s rule. God wants to carry out certain governmental things, and they are busy doing that. For instance, they restrain wickedness. We always think of the Holy Spirit as the restrainer, and that is right. But there are ways in which the angels restrain people. They physically prevent people from doing evil. Whereas the Holy Spirit’s restraint might be more internal, an angel might just stop somebody.
In Genesis 18, there was the meeting of the angels there with Abraham. Later on the angels went over to Sodom. In Genesis 19:1, they arrive in Sodom, two angels came to Sodom at evening, Lot sat in the gate and he met these angels. Now the city was given over to homosexuality and the men in that city saw those handsome angels and said, let us get those guys.
Verse 10-11, “The angels put forth their hand and pulled Lot into the house to them and shut the door. 11 And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they became weary trying to find the door.” Now what happened there? The angels restrained their evil. These angels restrained wickedness in a very physical way.
Angels, as agents of God’s rule in the world, also control natural elements. In Revelation 7:2-3, “Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, 3 saying, “Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.”
Now these angels were getting ready to bring the plagues of Revelation on the world and they had control of the natural forces. They’re about to turn the sea to blood. They’re about to turn the fresh water to blood. They’re about to kill the grass and the flowers. They’re about to create chaos in the heavens so that the stars fall. They were able to make great huge hailstones come down to the earth.
They have control over the elements in Revelation 8 and 9, and verse 7 says, “The angel sounded and hail and fire mixed with blood came down;” verse 8, “And the second angel sounded and a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea,” and verse 10, the third angel sounded and a star fell from heaven, and this pollutes the fresh water; a fourth angel sounded and the sun was struck.
Now, angels help God in controlling nations. Behind the human scene, in every country in the world, there is a spiritual conflict. Demons are fighting for the control of our society. And angels are counteracting that control. God has holy angels active behind the scenes. Read Daniel 4:13 and 17, “I saw in the visions of my head upon by bed, and behold a watcher, a holy one came down from heaven.”
Sometimes angels are called watchers. They watch, verse 17, “This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and it is demanded by the word of the holy ones so that everyone may know that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of men and gives it to whomsoever he will, even to the lowliest of men.” God runs everything, even the worst men are in government because God allowed it.
And angels carry out the plan of God. Holy angels are active in the unfolding plan of history. Now we know demons are active. But so are God’s holy angels and they are twice as much. Now the ministry of angels is also for Christ. They ministered at His birth. He is the Angel of the Lord, the chief of the angelic hosts. He said, if I want, I could call as many legions of angels as I want.
If one angel of the Lord could kill 185,000 Assyrians in 2 Kings 19:35, imagine what 12 legions of them would do. And they were busy attending to Him. The first thing the angels did around the birth of Christ was they predicted it. They were God’s revealers. They were the first ones to tell Mary and Joseph that the child was coming, that God was coming into the world.
The angels were around during His life. They were very busy taking care of Him. One of the most beautiful characteristics of God is the tenderness and the care that God showed toward Jesus Christ in dispatching the angels to minister to Him. That gives me confidence that God also dispatches the angels to care for me because He sees me in Christ as significant even as Christ.
In Matthew 4:11, after Jesus was tempted for forty days, it says, “The devil left Him and behold angels came and ministered to Him.” They did whatever needed to be done to meet His needs. In Luke 22:43 when Jesus asks, “Father if you will, remove the cup from me. Nonetheless, not my will but thine be done.” And immediately there appeared an angel to Him from heaven to strengthen Him.”
So the angels attended Jesus in His life. And they attended His resurrection in Matthew 28:2-4, “Behold, there was a great earthquake for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and rolled back the stone from the door and sat on it. 3 His countenance was like lightning and his clothing as white as snow. 4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.” They fainted.
Angels weren’t around at the cross. They cannot personally comprehend redemption since they’re not experiencing it. Demons have no possibility of redemption, for they once were holy and forsook it. Angels love to look into the gospel to better understand it. And in Revelation 5 they join in with us in singing, “Worthy is the Lamb.” Thought they can’t experience redemption, they can praise God for it.
Angels will predict and accompany the second coming. Matthew 25:31 says, “When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him.” And in Jude 14 it talks about Him coming with His angels. They were there at His birth; they were there at His temptation; they were there through His life; they were there at His resurrection; and they were there at His ascension.
They minister to believers. Hebrews 1:14 says they are “sent forth to minister for them who shall be the heirs of salvation.” Did you know that angels love you? Look at Daniel 10:11 and the angels said to Daniel, “O, Daniel, a man greatly beloved.” The only way that angel could love Daniel was because God loved Daniel. And angels love what God loves, then angels love us.
How do you know they watch all Christians? Ephesians 3:10, “God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display His wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places (angels).” The angels watch us to see the wisdom of God so they in turn can worship and praise His name. The angels watched the apostles, and they also watch the church.
And they watch the preacher. 1 Timothy 5:21 says, “I solemnly command you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus and the highest angels to obey these instructions without taking sides or showing favoritism to anyone.” You should take care of the preacher and take care of his needs; and you better behave because you’re doing this before Jesus Christ and the elect angels who are watching.
Angels deliver truth. Most of the book of Daniel and most of the book of Revelation was delivered by angels. God the Holy Spirit is the inspiration of it, but they’re the agents that deliver it. So the angels revealed the word to us. The only thing we know that angels ever delivered is here. So if somebody says, “I met an angel and he gave me a message,” watch out. He surely is lying.
Angels are guiding the believer. For example, Philip was having a big meeting in Samaria, and he was preaching mightily. And suddenly it says in verse 26, “An angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Arise and go to the south to the way that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, which is desert.’” Verse 27 says, “He arose and went.” Behold a man of Ethiopia is sitting wondering what the Bible says.
And Phillip comes by, and leads him to Christ. An angel guided Philip, into the place of service for the Lord. In Acts 10:3, “An angel of God came to Cornelius. And he said God heard what you were praying and He wants you to meet a guy named Peter.” The angel gave him the whole message, guided him, and told him exactly what to do. So angles were used to guide believers to salvation.
Angels also provide. In Psalm 78:23-25 we read about angelic provision for Israel. It says “But God commanded the skies to open. 24 He rained down manna for them to eat, and gave them bread from heaven. 25 They ate the food of angels! God gave them all they could eat for 40 long years in the desert.” So the angels saved Israel from starvation and they delivered physical food.
The prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 19:5, “He lay and slept under a juniper tree.” Elijah just knocked off the priests of Baal, and heard that a woman was after him so he ran and he stopped exhausted under a tree. And he says, “Lord, take my life.” Then he lay down and slept under a juniper tree. Suddenly an angel touched him and said, “Arise and eat.” And there was a cake baked on coals and water.
And he did eat and drink and laid down again. And the angel of the Lord came a second time and touched him and said get up and eat again. The journey is too great for you. And he arose and did eat and drink and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty night.” Some fantastic food. There’s old Elijah, and God sent His angel, and gave him everything he needed. God also takes care of us! Let’s pray.