What works are the angels assigned to by God? What works are they still doing today? What works have they ceased from doing? These are challenging questions, because we are not with these creatures in heaven and our earthly experience with them is also limited. This means that all of our answers must come from the book of God.
The primary role of an angel is to deliver messages for God, that is to be the messenger. For example in Genesis 16:7-10, the angel of the Lord delivered this message to Hagar, “Now the angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. He said, "Hagar, Sarai's maid, where have you come from and where are you going?" And she said, "I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai." Then the angel of the LORD said to her, "Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority." Moreover, the angel of the LORD said to her, "I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count." Later in Genesis 21, when Hagar thought that Ishmael was going to die, she began to cry out and the angel of God made another appearance with a message, “Then she went and sat down opposite him, about a bowshot away, for she said, "Do not let me see the boy die." And she sat opposite him, and lifted up her voice and wept. God heard the lad crying; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, "What is the matter with you, Hagar? Do not fear, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. "Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him by the hand, for I will make a great nation of him."
This type of message delivery continues in the New Testament. We have already read where Zecharias and Mary were witness to an angel delivering messages about the birth of John and Jesus which ushered in the coming of the Messiah (Luke 1:11-25; Luke 2:13-14) Around the same time, Joseph had a dream in which an angel delivered a message to him (Matthew 1:18-25). Is that where the work of delivering messages ended? There is more. In Acts 27:23-24, and angel reassured Paul that he and his shipmates would survive being shipwrecked. We read in the account where Paul claimed, “For this very night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood before me, saying, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted you all those who are sailing with you.'
Beyond their periodic messages to individuals, the angels even helped to give the Law of Moses. In Deuteronomy 33:1-2 we read, “Now this is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the sons of Israel before his death. He said, "The LORD came from Sinai, And dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, And He came from the midst of ten thousand holy ones; At His right hand there was flashing lightning for them” This was in reference to the giving of the Laws of God as we see in Acts 7:53, “you who received the law as ordained by angels, and [yet] did not keep it."
To finish this portion about angels being messengers, we also want to mention that angels came to explain visions that were given from God. In Daniel 8:16-17, we learn, “And I heard the voice of a man between [the banks of] Ulai, and he called out and said, "Gabriel, give this [man] an understanding of the vision." So he came near to where I was standing, and when he came I was frightened and fell on my face; but he said to me, "Son of man, understand that the vision pertains to the time of the end." Then in Daniel 9:21-22 we mentioned last time that the angel Gabriel came to Daniel to give him an understanding of the vision that he saw.
Sometimes angels were referred to as the angel of His Presence. The word of an angel was the word of God, and they were not to alter the message. Paul even warned of the possibility of angels tampering with the gospel and said that they will be eternally condemned if they were to preach a gospel contrary to the simple message of salvation in Christ. In Galatians 1:6-8, we read, “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is [really] not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!”
Since the entirety of God will has been delivered and is recorded in the Bible, no further revelation is being delivered by angels. Such claims of angelic revelation has led to the errors of the Mormon cult where an extra-biblical angel by the name of Moroni supposedly appeared to Joseph Smith on his bed or an angel appeared to Mohammed and delivered the teaching of the Quran. This is error and we are warned against an angel teaching anything beyond what was already delivered by the apostles and made certain through the Holy Spirit of God.
If angels revealed messages today, they would either be teaching something new, which was condemned, teaching something contradictory which is condemned or teaching something that is already revealed, which is redundant and unnecessary. We have all things that pertain to life and godliness and we are thoroughly furnished for every good work by the word of God.
Next, we want to cover that the angels praise and worship God before His heavenly throne. We have already addressed that the ministry of angels in heaven is to offer reverent shouts to God. In Psalm 29:1-2, we read “A Psalm of David. Ascribe to the LORD, O sons of the mighty, Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due to His name; Worship the LORD in holy array.”
As a recap let us read Revelation 5:11-14, “Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing." And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, "To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, [be] blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever." And the four living creatures kept saying, "Amen." And the elders fell down and worshiped.” Worship is an eternal work of all those who dwell in heaven before God.
Next, we want to point out that the angels work on behalf of the saved, that is, God’s redeemed In Hebrew 1:14 we learn, “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation? To minister is to serve. The service is specifically for those who are in line to inherit the salvation of the Lord. In Psalm 91:11, the psalmist shares, “For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways.” This passage was misused by Satan when tempting Jesus to jump from a high summit and plummet toward the ground. Jesus responded that we should not test the Lord our God. By this he meant that while this is a work of the angels to deliver the godly from trouble, we are not to attempt to create problems just to see if the Lord will respond by sending His angels.
Do we have evidence of the angels working on behalf of the people of God? Consider that angels helped saved Lot and his family by leading him out of the city that God was about to destroy. In Genesis 19:15-16, we see “When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, "Up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city." But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the LORD [was] upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city.” Besides leading the godly away from destruction, the angels also provided food in a desert place. The angels fed Elijah in the wilderness in I Kings 19:3-8, “And he was afraid and arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. 4 But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, "It is enough; now, O LORD, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers." 5 He lay down and slept under a juniper tree; and behold, there was an angel touching him, and he said to him, "Arise, eat." 6 Then he looked and behold, there was at his head a bread cake [baked on] hot stones, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank and lay down again. 7 The angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, "Arise, eat, because the journey is too great for you." 8 So he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God. We could say this is where “angel food” was introduced. It sustained Elijah for forty days.
In addition to deliverance and sustenance, angels also offer protection. Daniel was protected from lions in the den of death by an angel that was found stopping their mouths. In Daniel 3:28, the Bible records, “Nebuchadnezzar responded and said, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him, violating the king's command, and yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God.” Then in Daniel 6:22, the angelic protection was confirmed, “My God sent His angel and shut the lions' mouths and they have not harmed me, inasmuch as I was found innocent before Him; and also toward you, O king, I have committed no crime."
Now let’s add to deliverance, sustenance and protection, the work of rescuing. An angel freed Peter from prison serving as an escort to walk him out unharmed and unnoticed. In Acts 12:7-10, we read, “And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter's side and woke him up, saying, "Get up quickly." And his chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, "Gird yourself and put on your sandals." And he did so. And he said to him, "Wrap your cloak around you and follow me." And he went out and continued to follow, and he did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and second guard, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened for them by itself; and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel departed from him.
Let us add to the list of the work of angels, the ministry of helping to comfort and strengthen during tough time. For an example of this we look to the life of Jesus. Angels came to Jesus twice in his life that we have record of to comfort, strengthen and help him (once in the Judean wilderness after his forty day fast and also in the garden where he prayed for deliverance from suffering and was in great agony. In Mark 1:13 the gospel states, “And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him.” Then in Luke 22:39-43, we read, “And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him. When He arrived at the place, He said to them, "Pray that you may not enter into temptation. "And He withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and [began] to pray, saying, "Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done." Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him.” Jesus also said that He had angels at His disposal that He could dispatch at any moment in a time of need. In Matthew 26:53, the Lord 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? Wow! Amazing!
Angels don’t always intervene, but simply do the will of God. In Hebrews 11:36-40, there are countless examples of people of faith enduring horrendous pain, suffering and even death for their faith in God.
The service of angels today can be equated with the providential working of God. We may never know all of the ways that God has positioned angels to serve His purposes in our lives. Remember, the Hebrew writer said that we could encounter angels and be completely unaware of it (Hebrews 13:2). The key word is “unaware” and the point of the passage is an encouragement to continue to serve as a faithful child of God.
We know that one day we will see the angels. They will come with Jesus to carry us home as the redeemed of the earth. In the meantime, they are before the throne of God doing His bidding on missions that we may never be aware of in this life.
The angels also troubled enemies of God and carried out His judgment. We read the words of the prophet in Isaiah 66:15-16, “For behold, the LORD will come in fire And His chariots like the whirlwind, To render His anger with fury, And His rebuke with flames of fire. For the LORD will execute judgment by fire And by His sword on all flesh, And those slain by the LORD will be many.” Let us not forget that the angels are his fiery chariots on which the Lord rides in judgment. But the Lord also sends his angel (angel of the Lord) on missions to participate in judgment. In 2 Kings 19:35, one angel killed 185,000 Syrian soldiers and the people of God didn’t even have to lift a sword. In Isaiah 37:36, the text states, “Then the angel of the LORD went out and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men arose early in the morning, behold, all of these were dead.” Paul points out in I Cor. 10:10 that it was an angel that killed the Israelites when they murmured against God in the wilderness, “Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer (destroying angel). This same destroying angel (Ex. 12:23) unleashed the plague of killing all the firstborn of Egypt in response to Pharaoh hardening his heart. Listen to Psalm 78:43-51, “When He performed His signs in Egypt And His marvels in the field of Zoan, And turned their rivers to blood, And their streams, they could not drink. He sent among them swarms of flies which devoured them, And frogs which destroyed them. He gave also their crops to the grasshopper And the product of their labor to the locust. He destroyed their vines with hailstones And their sycamore trees with frost. He gave over their cattle also to the hailstones And their herds to bolts of lightning. He sent upon them His burning anger, Fury and indignation and trouble, A band of destroying angels. He leveled a path for His anger; He did not spare their soul from death, But gave over their life to the plague, And smote all the firstborn in Egypt, The first [issue] of their virility in the tents of Ham.”
To get more information on the work of the angels in judgment, read Revelation and take note of how many times angels are sent to wreak havoc with plagues. For example consider the bowls of wrath in Revelation 15:7-8. These are poured out on the enemies of God as the angels usher in the events of redemption for the saved. The text reads, “Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever. 8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power; and no one was able to enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.”
If you recall, an angel with a flaming sword was placed in the entry way to the garden of Eden after Adam and Eve were expelled from that paradise (Genesis 3:24). The account reads, “So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.” Two angels were responsible for destroying Sodom and Gomorrah because of its sinful inhabitants after helping Lot and his family escape. In Genesis 19:12-15 it is recorded, “Then the [two] men said to Lot, "Whom else have you here? A son-in-law, and your sons, and your daughters, and whomever you have in the city, bring [them] out of the place; for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the LORD that the LORD has sent us to destroy it." Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, "Up, get out of this place, for the LORD will destroy the city." But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting. When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, "Up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city." An angel is said to have struck Jerusalem with a plague in I Chronicles 21:15-16, “And God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it; but as he was about to destroy [it,] the LORD saw and was sorry over the calamity, and said to the destroying angel, "It is enough; now relax your hand." And the angel of the LORD was standing by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. 16 Then David lifted up his eyes and saw the angel of the LORD standing between earth and heaven, with his drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, covered with sackcloth, fell on their faces. We also know that angels will separate the righteous and the wicked before the throne of God in judgment. In Matthew 13:30, 39, 41-43, the gospel writer penned these words, “Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn."'" ... and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. ... "The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. "Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. The angels will also escort the righteous to rest in paradise (Luke 16:22).
Finally today, we want to briefly cover how the angels roam and stand watch, while offering providential direction from God. Zechariah 1:8-11 tells us, “I saw at night, and behold, a man was riding on a red horse, and he was standing among the myrtle trees which were in the ravine, with red, sorrel and white horses behind him. Then I said, "My lord, what are these?" And the angel who was speaking with me said to me, "I will show you what these are." And the man who was standing among the myrtle trees answered and said, "These are those whom the LORD has sent to patrol the earth." So they answered the angel of the LORD who was standing among the myrtle trees and said, "We have patrolled the earth, and behold, all the earth is peaceful and quiet." The prophet Daniel shares in Daniel 12:1, “Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands [guard] over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.”
While I don’t want to speculate or spend much time on this, angels can also be involved in politics and are not always recognized when doing so. In Daniel 10:12-14 the prophet wrote, “Then he said to me, "Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding [this] and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words." But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia. "Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet [future.]" Another example of this political involvement can be seen in II Kings 6:13-18. We mentioned this story early on in our study but never read the passage. Listen to this event. “So he said, "Go and see where he is, that I may send and take him." And it was told him, saying, "Behold, he is in Dothan." He sent horses and chariots and a great army there, and they came by night and surrounded the city. Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, "Alas, my master! What shall we do?" So he answered, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them." Then Elisha prayed and said, "O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." And the LORD opened the servant's eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. When they came down to him, Elisha prayed to the LORD and said, "Strike this people with blindness, I pray." So He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.”
Let us also recall that angels helped preachers of the gospel as in Acts 5:18-20, “They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and taking them out he said, "Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life." (See also Acts 12:5-17). The angels even protected the Christ from Herod’s massacre of all children under that age of two when the message came to Mary and Joseph to flee to Egypt (Matt. 2:13). Another interesting work that angels conduct is arranging meetings for preachers with prospects for the gospel. In Acts 8:25-29, it is written, “So, when they had solemnly testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they started back to Jerusalem, and were preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans. But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, "Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza." (This is a desert [road.]) So he got up and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship, and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, "Go up and join this chariot." After joining the chariot, Philip preached the gospel to the eunuch and he believed and was baptized. An angel also arranged the meeting for Peter with Cornelius and the conversion of his family (See Acts 10:2-6; 11:13-14). While angels cannot receive salvation, they are intrigued by our redemption and rejoice in the saving of even one soul.
Clearly there may be more going on behind the scenes of our physical realm, that we are completely unaware of each day on a higher spiritual plane. Remember the story of Balaam in Numbers 22:22-35, where his donkey could see the angel of the Lord, and kept stalling, steering clear of the angel and even stopping, while in each case Balaam struck the donkey. Then after the third time, the donkey spoke to Balaam to reason with Him and then the angel with a drawn sword is made visible and the reason for his donkey’s behavior was clear. Balaam repented.
Whatever work that they do, it is limited by and governed by the will of God. It is likely that when we refer to the providential care of God, that angels could be directly involved with carrying out these activities in our lives. Matthew 18:10 states, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.” The angels care about God’s people and are working for our salvation, and rejoicing when it comes. They await our arrival in eternity and are excited to have us join them up above.
One day the angels will make a grand appearance with Christ and it will be sudden and at a time that no one knows. On this day, the great judgment day will be announced and carried out.
It is now that you have an opportunity to prepare for that day. If you neglect the salvation available in Christ and refuse to come in obedience to the gospel, you will be eternally separated from God in a place of everlasting torment.
For those that serve the Lord faithfully until death, there is a promise of eternal life, peace and rest in heaven with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, along with the saved of old and even the angelic hosts
When Jesus comes to take us home, He will not come alone. According to Matthew 13:49, 16:27, 24:31, Luke 12:9, Jude 14, and II Thessalonians 1:6-7, the Lord will be accompanied by all the mighty angels.
Perhaps this is why the Lord confesses the names of those that professed His name to the angels of God (Luke 12:8). They need to know who the saved are for the harvest of souls when they come to glean the righteous of the earth.
The same angels will also be responsible for blowing the trumpet to initiate our judgment, following the voice of the archangel’s pronouncement of pending wrath.
Then we see that seven angels are said to be pouring out the bowls of wrath on the lost and carrying out God’s judgment.
Once we are safe in the arms of Jesus, the final acts of the angels will be to come with a key to the Abyss and a great chain to bind Satan and cast him into the lake of fire to be tormented day and night, forever and ever (Read Revelation 20:1, 10).
Those who elected not to obey and serve the Lord will be separated from God in that place of torment, while the rest of us are to meet the Lord in the air and forever spend eternity with Him and the angels of heaven.
Have you made preparations for that Day of Judgment? Are you saved and faithfully serving Jesus? Are you planning to raise your voice in praise to the Lord with the angels of heaven or will you be screaming in agony and regret for not choosing to repent and turn away from your sin. You must call on His name, so that He will confess your name before the Father and before the angels.
Here is a unique opportunity! You can start a party in heaven today among the heavenly hosts by either coming in obedience to the gospel or by returning to the Lord. If you would be interested in learning more, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org