Angels figure very, very prominently in the NT. People don’t really know this, or they overlook angels in the created order. At the other end of the scale, some are so preoccupied with angels they nearly fall into angel worship.
In terms of the Providence of God, if Ezekiel’s wheels within wheels are a kind of visible/invisible machinery of providence (as Spurgeon described it in his sermon “God’s Providence” #3114), then perhaps the other angels are also a kind of visible/invisible machinery of God’s providence, like we glimpsed in Jacob’s ladder. (Genesis 28:12)
Dr RC Sproul has two lectures available on angels, part 1 & 2. He said the Greek word for angel appears in the NT more often than does the Greek word for sin (hamartanó). It also appears more often than the Greek word for love (agape).
|Chris Koelle Book of Revelation Graphic Novel|
Sproul taught from Hebrews and Colossians and also 2 Kings, and said it was obvious given the texts devoted them that there had been a problem in the first century of people giving them junior deity status and ascribing worship to them, with even Paul & Silas being mistaken for angels.
But with all the warnings not to overestimate angels in their position, neither does the NT deny the importance of them, Sproul said.
He also said something interesting,
Part of the problem we have with angels, is that we tend to associate angels with the supernatural realm. We think of the angels as being a supernatural being. In one sense it is correct to call angels a supernatural being. In another sense it’s quite dangerous to refer to them as supernatural beings, because the one thing that’s clear in the scriptures about the nature of angels is that they belong to nature. They belong to the created order. Angels are not divine. Angels are creatures, part of the original creation that God made. In THAT sense, angels are natural beings.
The reason they are looked at as supernatural beings is because of their constituent nature. The bible tells us they are creatures, but they differ from us and animals and plants in that their nature is a spirit nature rather than a physical or a material nature. Because they are spirit beings under normal circumstances, they remain invisible to the naked eye. Unless they manifest themselves in a kind of angelophany, their basic nature is invisible, dwelling in a realm that is invisible to us.
Sproul said, how often do we think of angels? Of course we’re not to adore them, or be preoccupied with them, but we are to give them due meditation, as they are an important part of the order and are referred to frequently in the bible. He said we need to be thinking about why there is such a heavy concentration of angels at certain times in history.
This was something that was brought to my attention back some years when I listened to John MacArthur preach through Revelation. It was an eye-opening series in many ways.
Sproul’s lectures focused on the angels as messengers and angels as ministering spirits. But that is not all they are. Angels are also vehicles of Judgment. It is angels who mainly bring the judgments of Revelation. For example,
Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. … Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them. The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up. (Revelation 8:2, 6-7)
In addition to angels being part of the machinery of God’s providence, messengers, ministering agents, judgment-bringers, they are also warriors.
|Archangel Michael fighting the Dragon, Durer 1497|
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven (Revelation 12:7)
When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So 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. (2 Kings 6:15-17)
Angels are an amazing part of the created order! I recommend both of the Sproul lectures. They are about 25 minutes each.
Enjoy learning about angels, our ministering helpers, messengers of God, fighters against evil for our Holy Trinity.