Doug Batchelor - The Mysterious World of Angels
There was an amazing story in the Bible, the prophet Elisha was sort of the secret weapon for the king of Israel. Every time the king of Syria wanted to launch an attack on Israel, he wanted to ambush them, he'd have his spies find out where the king of Israel was going to be traveling and try and get them through some narrow canyon so he could surprise him. But every time they tried to launch these surprise attacks, it seems like the king of Israel found out in advance. And the king of Syria was so frustrated he said to his servants, "One of you must be a spy. How else can the king of Israel always know what my secret plans are?" And one of the servants for the king of Syria said, "It's none of us, we're not betraying you." He said, "It's Elisha the prophet in Israel. He knows the things that you say in your bedroom, which would make any king nervous. He said, "Well, we can't have that! Where is he?" He said, "Well, he's staying in a little town called Dothan." Dothan by the way, is where Joseph went to look for his brothers, it means wells, two wells.
So the king of Syria says, Look, let's, get the army together. And a great army came, and during the night they surrounded this little hamlet of Dothan, where Elisha was with some of the people and his servant.
Early in the morning, his servant wakes up to go to the well and get water and he looks over the little walls of Dothan, and they were just big enough to keep the cattle out, and he sees the glimmer of armor and hears the snort of the horses. And his eyes get adjusted and he realized they are now surrounded by the Assyrian army. In a panic he runs and he shakes Elisha awake and says, "Alas, Master, what will we do?" Elisha doesn't look one bit troubled. He gets up and he walks through the door, and then he walked outside the city walls, and he prays a prayer. 2 Kings 6 verse 17, "And Elisha prayed, and said, 'Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes that he may see.' And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha."
You've heard that expression, chariots of fire. And when Elisha saw Elijah taken up to heaven, that's when he got his first glimpse of these chariots and horses of fire. These are the ministering spirits of God. I don't think that God is galloping around up in heaven on an Appaloosa. You know, this is the Biblical terminology to talk about, you know, it says, When Elisha was caught up, chariots and horses of fire using the spiritual. It says, "I looked over Jordan and what did I see? A band full of angels." That's good theology. That's what they were. These are angels of God that they saw protecting them.
The mysterious world of angels, there's a lot of misunderstandings about angels, which is why we're talking about it today. Typically when people see pictures of angels they see fat little babies on clouds looking extremely bored. More times than not, if you type angels in the Internet and look at pictures, you're going to see they looked like Greek goddesses, they're ladies. Are angels male, female, or babies?
Now typically when angels appeared in the Bible, it says they appeared as men. And it says when the disciples saw Jesus ascend to heaven, there stood by them two men in white raiment at the tomb. Says they were men. When the angels came for judgments on Sodom, says there were men. There is one vision in Zechariah, where he said, "I raised my eyes," Zechariah 5:9, "and there were two women, coming in the wind in their wings, for they were the wings of a stork, and they lifted up a basket." This is an apocalyptic vision. So it never says they're angels, it's really a vision.
Typically they appear as men, but don't take that too far, because angels don't have gender like we do. Jesus made it pretty clear in Mark 12:25, "For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry or are given in marriage, but are like the angels in heaven." Angels do not procreate like humans. Sometimes people read in Genesis chapter 6, "And the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair and took them wives of all they chose." And you know, in some Bibles you might even have one here, translates that these fallen angels married humans and had babies that were giants.
That is one of the goofiest teachings I've ever heard. Angels do not procreate with humans. Jesus is very clear about that. That verse, the sons of God are talking about the children of Seth, Adam, and Eve that were faithful, they were still worshiping God, they were offering there at the garden, at the gates of the Garden of Eden. And then you had Cain, he departed from the Lord, and they had two separate groups of people, and Cain was in us, children of men. They weren't the sons of God. How did he become a son of God? Behold with manner of love the father's bestowed on us that we should be called sons of God. When we believe we are adopted in, God said to his son when he was baptized, this is my beloved son. And when we're baptized and we accept Christ, we become sons and daughters of God.
So it's when the children of Seth began to intermarry with the daughters of Cain then wickedness was great in this world because of the mixed marriages. It had nothing to do with angels marrying people. They don't have gender that way. Angels do not procreate with humans. Angels are created, they're made by God. He makes them uniquely. And Lucifer may have been one of the first of his angels.
There are typically three terms that we find being used in the New Testament. It's usually angel, means messenger, angelos. In the Hebrew you've got malakh, or malach, if you say it with a Jewish pronunciation. You've got the seraphim. A seraph is one seraphim, cherub is one, cherubim would be two. And these are the ministering spirits. Literally seraphim means the burning ones. And the malakh is, they're like deputies. They're the people of authority. It's also translated messengers. And so there seem to be different levels of angels, different ranks of angels, and they're organized servants of God.
You read about them in...By the way, the word cherubim means minister, more precisely. Hebrews 1 verse 14, speaking of the angels, "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit eternal salvation?" God has his army of angels that watch over us to minister. Psalm 103 verse 20, "Bless the Lord, you his angels, who excel in strength, who do his word, heeding the voice of his word. Bless the Lord, all you. his hosts, you ministers of his, who do his pleasure." These are ministering spirits. Sometimes in the Bible it calls it, He's called the Lord of hosts, so there you would have the Lord of angels. One place you can see where he's called the Lord of Sabaoth. That doesn't mean the Lord of the Sabbath, It's a completely different word, it means the Lord of armies. It's an army of angels.
You read in Daniel 7 verse 10, "A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him. A thousand thousands ministered to him. And ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him." Because surrounding the dwelling place of God are clouds of angels. When Jesus comes it says He's coming like He left. How did He leave? He was caught up into this cloud, and not H2O, but a brilliant cloud of holy ones, burning ones, the angels. And when He comes again, it says He will come with all the angels. He's coming in a cloud of angels.
We look through the telescope and we see these nebula and we call them nebulous clouds. But as we get a little closer what we thought were cloudy images we find out these are actually burning suns. And they just looked like clouds from a distance. And so when Christ comes, He's coming with clouds of angels.
Now, I probably should say right here, you don't want to worship angels. See, there are good angels and there are bad angels. "There was war in heaven, that great dragon, the serpent, was cast out, who deceives the whole world. He was cast to the earth, and his angels", Satan means adversary. He's gone from Lucifer to adversary. "They who deceives the whole world, he was cast to the earth and his angels were cast out with him." You read in 2 Peter 2 verse 4, "For God did not spare the angels who sinned." Yup, there are angels who sin. You know what that means about angels? In order for you to sin you must have a free will.
Angels are unique and individual. If God doesn't make two snowflakes the same, and if every human on the world has got a different iris and fingerprint, then why would you think that God has a big cookie-cutter factory where He makes His angels and He just stamps them out and they're all the same? I'm sure these angels are unique. They are created, not born, they're created by God to live forever, and they're probably, I don't know what their, you know, they part their hair differently and they've got some different idiosyncrasies, I'm not sure. But they've got their unique personalities, yet they're holy, the good ones, and then you get the fallen ones Jude 6, "And the angels who did not keep their first estate, their proper domain, but they left their own abode, he has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness."
Bible says that one angel's going to come down in chains, Satan. And these chains are, they are chained to our world. They cannot leave. They're not free like the other ministering spirits. In everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day. Angels said to Christ, the fallen angels, "Have you come to judge us before the time?" They know their judgment's coming. Satan's come down with great wrath, because he what? Knows his time is short. God's fixed a day in which he'll judge the world and Satan and his angels. The Bible says, "Depart you cursed into everlasting fire prepared for Satan and his angels."
So there are some bad angels out there. How many? I don't know, I can tell you the percentage. So Satan, when he was cast out, he drew a third of the stars, were drawn in the wake of the tail of the dragon. A third of the angels followed Lucifer in his rebellion against God. We don't know how many that is, I'm guessing billions. Because, if God has guardian angels for each person, and they're eight billion people roughly in the world, then there's got to be a lot of good angels. And we're not the only world that they take care of. Look at how big the cosmos is. I'm sure they're going through the whole creation of God. So there are billions of angels, I would think.
So, what do the angels do? Angels guard and protect. Job 1:9, "Satan was angry with the Lord, he said, 'Does Job fear God for nothing? Have you not made a hedge about him, and about his household, around all that he has?"' Is it a hedge of bushes? Or was he hedged in with the Lord? Bible says, "The angel of the Lord," Psalm 34:7, "The angel of the Lord encamps round about those who fear him."
You sometimes, you just, I remember one time, you all got your stories, I posted I was going to preach about angels today online, all these people started telling me their angel story, because I think it's really neat. And don't build your theology on angel stories. When someone says, I had an angel spoke to me, you gotta be careful. It might be an angel that spoke to them.
You know, there's a lying prophet in the Bible. He went to a prophet of the Lord, God told that prophet after you pronounce your judgement on King Jeroboam, you do not eat bread, you do not drink water in this place, you go home, you do not pass go. Well he was on his way home, and this false prophet said, God told me you're supposed to come to my house. An angel of the Lord, he says, told me disregard what you heard earlier, I got a message from an angel, you're to come to my house. He listened to that false prophet, who had an angelic message, and he died. And so you gotta be very careful when people say, an angel told me. I mean, people have angel experiences, I believe that.
Don't base your theology on someone's angelic experience. But they got all kinds of movies and TV programs and people talk about this, and they'll say, yeah, angels were talking to my dead relatives in heaven. And so there's a lot of bad theology that has come through that corridor of people saying an angel told me.
But I do believe angels guide. And I remember one time in particular, I was driving to Central Church, and I always have to cross several streets where there's lights. And I'm an aggressive driver, and if the light's green, you know what that means? Go fast! And I'm going along, and I'm coming up and the light is green, and I felt the strongest urge to hit my brakes on a green light. And I hit my brakes and slowed down.
Somebody ran the light, went right through, they would've T-boned me, they were speeding right through. And I knew right then that an angel had said, Hit your brakes. Because everything else in my world would've said, Go. Have you had experiences like that? And it just, it was uncanny, it's like a voice told me. So often when we say the Lord did this for me, or the Lord did that for me, it's not generally the Lord. The Lord works through his agency, it's usually angels. God gets the glory, but He often works through His angels. And He's guiding them. And people will say, Oh, the devil made me do this, and the devil tempted me. It's typically not the devil. Matter of fact, the devil doesn't know who most of us are. God knows all of us, but the devil, he's not omniscient, he doesn't know everybody. It's usually his fallen angels that are doing these things. And so I just, the Bible says a lot about it.
It's probably healthy for us to know what the Word says. So you've got these angels, and they guide us. God told Moses, "I will send an angel before you to keep you in the way, to bring you to the place that I prepared." Angels do guide and, if we ask for it, I think they're more inclined. Angels have feelings. Now, you have a guardian angel, but I don't recommend you try and talk to them. And I know some people, they say, I've given my angel the name Wilbur, and I'm always talking to Wilbur. So you gotta be very careful. You might think it's Wilbur and it could be some other wicked angel named Ernest.
So nowhere in the Bible are we told to talk to the angels. Angels might appear to us, but talks about worshiping angels, that's forbidden in the Bible, the angels loathe that. John fell on his knees, John Revelation 19, to worship the angel. The angel says, "See you do not do it." And Daniel and Ezekiel and they all saw angels, they felt inclined to fall down and worship. The angels always pointed the glory and the worship back to God, because it's a sin to have any other God besides the Lord, right? Angels are co-laborers with us.
Now, people, the Bible tells us, that we are made a little lower than the angels. We do not have the same power and strength and knowledge and connection with God that angels have. But humans are made in the image of God and, in some ways, we have advantages. And one of those is something that really bothered the devil. Humans, like God, made in the image of God, are able to procreate in our own image through an act of cooperative love. The devil can't create life. And it really bothered him that, in this world, these humans could procreate, and he couldn't. And so, in some ways, you know, we've got blessing.
But angels have emotions. "All the morning stars sang together, and they shouted for joy." Jesus said, Luke 15, "Likewise there'll be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance." So if it's true that angels can feel joy when the lost are saved, how do angels feel when people are lost? Do angels feel sadness? What do you think the angels did when Jesus was on the cross? Were they strumming their harps, or is it like Psalm 137, where they hung their harps on the willows, how can we sing the song of Zion in Babylon? And the angels, it's like when Daniel was in the lion's den, it says, "In the king's palace, there was no music brought before him, and the angels were sad."
They've got feelings, they've got emotions. Even good angels can be devastating, they're very powerful, they can be deadly. Psalms 78:49, "He cast on them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, indignation, and trouble. By sending angels of destruction among them." 1 Chronicles 21:16, "Then David lifted his eyes." This is when David numbered Israel and a plague was going through the land. "David lifted his eyes and saw the angel of the Lord standing between heaven and earth, having a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem."
You know, we've sometimes heard about the grim reaper, you've heard the expression the angel of death. Many times in the Bible these angels of death are not diabolical, they're actually good angels that were sent with judgment. "And David prayed and the angel put his sword back in its sheath." Acts chapter 12, King Herod was trying to wipe out the church. The beginning of Acts chapter 12, Herod the King kills the apostle James. He sees it pleases the Jews. He says, I'm going to kill Peter too.
You see a battle going on, a spiritual battle, a great controversy between the Word of God and the devil working through Herod the King. Herods are typically not good in the New Testament, and try and kill the babies in Bethlehem. And you know what happens at the end of the story? Peter escapes from prison, Herod then makes a speech, and they say, Oh, it's the voice of God. And he doesn't give the glory to God. Herod wants to be God, like Lucifer. It says, "And then the angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give God glory. And he was eaten by worms and he died." By the way, Josephus actually mentions that very event in history.
And then, as we began our message this morning, we noticed that throughout the life of Jesus we see angels. Every time in the life of Christ when the devil would try to destroy Him, you remember Nazareth? Well, first of all, they wanted to kill Him as a baby in Bethlehem. He was delivered. Through His youth, I'm sure angels were guarding Christ. Can you imagine how vulnerable Jesus would've been as a child and a baby if it was not for angels that were guarding Him?
And then when He began His ministry, He fast 40 days in the wilderness. You know it says after He fasted, It's His angels came and ministered to him. I believe they did for Him what the angel did for Elijah when he was hungry. I think they fed him at the end of those 40 days. And then, in the garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus... Well, several times through His life they tried to kill Jesus. You know, they wanted to throw Him off a cliff in Nazareth, it says, and He passed through their midst. Who do you think parted the crowd so Jesus could pass through? I think the angels of God said, This is not his time. Other times, they took up stones to stone Jesus, and Jesus was protected. And in the garden of Gethsemane, when he prayed and he wept three times and said, Not my will, thy will be done. You know, at that moment, it may have been Gabriel. We don't know who took the place of Lucifer, maybe Gabriel. Gabriel may have already been in one of those positions. But I think Gabriel came and it says angels ministered to Him. I think they were there to comfort Him, but do you know at that moment in the garden, as the angels, left Him, He got up and He went to the disciples, He said, Now is the hour of darkness. And as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the fish, the sufferings of Christ began that night. God's presence, God's angelic protection, was withdrawn from Jesus for the first time in his life, maybe the first time in history.
And the devil and his forces had their way with Christ. He paid the penalty, they tortured him, they tried to extract all the suffering they could. More than anything, they wanted Jesus to sin, because then the plan of salvation would have imploded. And so they didn't just want to kill him, they wanted him to do something wrong, to sin, because then there'd be no hope for us. And the angels had to watch and they had to veil their presence, just like you and I can't see them. And Peter said, Lord I'll save you. And Jesus said, Don't you know I could pray for 12 legions of angels right now? That means they weren't there helping him, they withdrew from him. They were watching as he hung on the cross, they watched the whole scene. They watched the mob, they took careful notes.
You know, angels are recording, not only are they guiding. Jesus said, In the judgment we'll give an account for every idle word that we speak. And I think God's got these angels, the angels are there when the books are open. And I don't know if the Lord uses a hard drive or how he does that, but he's got some way the angels record. Talks about books. And angels were watching and they were recording those who mocked Christ on the cross. And they took notes when that thief said, Lord, remember me.
They saw when Jesus was laid in the tomb and the angels could not wait for Sunday morning when the signal was given that Jesus had paid the penalty of suffering and death. He had fulfilled those three days and three nights in the hands of Satan, the heart of the earth suffering for the sins of the world. And God said, Okay go for it. And they came and threw aside the stone. And angels were there to tell the women. When He rose. Angels were there when He ascended to heaven, and angels are going to be with Him when He comes again.
It's good to know you're not alone, isn't it? You know, Jesus said, I'll be with you always. Now Christ is at the right hand of the Father. So how is Christ with us? Through His spirit? And that same spirit is given, God the spirit to the angels, and it's given to us, and it's reassuring to know that they're always here, present.
It's also little sobering. Jesus said, If you confess My name in this evil and adulterous generation, I will confess your name before My Father and His angels. If you deny Me and My name in this evil and adulterous generation, I will deny your name before My Father and His angels. And you look in the book of Job, and you see God confessing the name of Job before the angels. That means that, when we stand up for God in our daily battles, the Bible says angels desire to look into the things that are happening.
This plan of salvation is being acted out on a stage, it's a theatre to the universe is watching. So it's comforting to know angels are watching. It can make you nervous to know angels are watching. I hope it'll help keep you in the way to know that all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. God sees everything, amen? The eyes of the Lord run to and fro through the earth looking for those through whom He can show Himself mighty.