Are angels real? How many angels are there?
Let’s establish the fact first that angels exist. There is no denying their presence throughout the Bible as they appear in 17 books of the OT (108) and 17 books of the NT (186). They existed before God created the earth as recorded in Genesis and they are seen into the very time of the end throughout the book of Revelation. Almost 300 occurrences of angels appear in the pages of the Bible.
Just as we acknowledge the work of the fallen angels among us, like Satan and his evil ones, demons, wicked forces we must also recognize the domain that exists around ours where angels move to do the bidding of God. How many of us have heard lessons about Satan’s work? For example in II Corinthians 2:11, we read, “so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes” We also read in II Corinthians 11:3, “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity [of devotion] to Christ.” Then in Eph. 4:26-27, Paul warned, “BE ANGRY, AND [yet] DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity.” Regarding the opportunities of Satan, Paul instructed Christians in Ephesians 6:10-12, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual [forces] of wickedness in the heavenly [places.]. So what does the work of Satan look like? Consider I Peter 5:8, “Be of sober [spirit,] be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” This is how he has always worked, even in the book of Job 1:7; 2:2, where we read, “The LORD said to Satan, "From where do you come?" Then Satan answered the LORD and said, "From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it." In James 4:7, the inspired writer tells us, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” So if Satan is this active, is it possible that the angels of heaven are still at work? I believe that we cannot assume otherwise.
If Satan and the other fallen angels have a continuing work against God, certainly, the angels of God must continue in their work of worshipping before the throne of the Creator, along with doing His providential bidding when necessary, among men. We are taught that we could at times be in the presence of angels and be completely unaware of it (Heb. 13:2).
We have made light of the real spiritual beings actually existing around us. We have failed to fully appreciate the spiritual world enmeshed with our world which can be demonstrated in II Kings 6:15-23. Angels represented by fiery chariots and horses surrounded the strong forces of enemy troops that encompassed the people of God. When the servant of God was troubled after waking up to a wall of warriors that had circled the city to destroy it, an amazing event unfolds. The prophet prayed for spiritual sight for the servant so that this other world would be visible to the human eye. The prophet said those who are with us are more than those who are with them! Wow! The unseen world where angels move was for a moment revealed. The angels were there already, but were unknown until uncovered. We cannot even begin to know what is happening right now in this realm. Without a doubt there are angels among us, just as evil forces seek our spiritual wellbeing each day (Satan is on the prowl while God and His angelic hosts are a wall about us). God is still working right along with the powers of hell and the Lord will be victorious while the gates of hell will not prevail but they will be destroyed along with all who dwell in bondage there in a lake burning with fire.
The angels are “ministering spirits” The Bible says in Psalm 34:7 that the angel of the Lord encamps around the people of God (those that fear Him). A few of their biblical roles included guards, messengers, guides, protectors, comforters, deliverers, encouragers, strengtheners, informants, rescuers, ladder climbers, wrestlers, weight lifters, warriors, executioners, destroyers, recruiters, transporters, lion tamers, birth announcers, and worshippers.
They have both an earthly ministry in human relations as is Matthew 26:53, where Jesus said, “Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” They are also found serving before the throne of God in heaven in worship (Rev. 7:11).
Angels, based on the meaning of the word in Hebrew (malak – dispatch as a deputy) and Greek (angelos), are “messengers of God” (Hebrews 2:2) In Genesis 28:12 angels ascended and descended in and out of heaven, in which case the ladder or highway in the vision was a symbol of the Christ according to John 1:51. Angels are a part of the “family in heaven”. In Ephesians 3:14-15, Paul said, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name”. Yet they live standing by the throne of God in worship and are only sent on periodic missions to earth to do God’s will among us.
There are myriads upon myriads of these messengers in an innumerable company before the throne of God. David records that there were thousands upon thousands (or twice ten thousand, meaning 20,000) angels coursing through the skyways of the stars in Psalm 68:17, and speaks of tens of thousands and thousands of thousands in regards to the total angelic population (See Daniel 7:10). Jesus could have summoned twelve legions (72,000 is the estimate) of angels that were standing by and ready to move in while he prepared to be crucified, but he elected not to call them and endured the cross of Calvary for you and me.
Angels prophesied of and announced the birth of Jesus, protected him in his youth, they were with Him in his ministry, they were available at His death, caused an earthquake when coming to roll away the stone at His resurrection and were there to accompany Him at His ascension. They were also prophesied to come with Him at His return for judgment. This shows how the angels are directly involved in earthly affairs as well as the heavenly and that there are a multitude of angels around us as God directs.
John says in Revelation 5:11 that there are ten thousand times ten thousand angels, which tells us that there is an army of angels so grand that they cannot be accurately numbered. The number 10,000 was the highest numerical value that could be utilized to illustrate the point in this time period. The point is that we aren’t to do the math or try to take a census of this population, but we are to accept that the number is so immense that it cannot be counted accurately by men. One angel is powerful alone. All of these angels are a remarkable army of heavenly hosts. Hebrews 12:22 speaks of the innumerable hosts of heaven. Job said it best when he asked, “Can God’s host be numbered?” (Job 25:3)