Jack Graham - Angels - Part 1
Hebrews, chapter 1, verses 6 through 9: "And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, 'Let all God's angels worship him.' Of the angels he says, 'He makes his angels winds, and his ministers (again, angels) a flame of fire.' But of the Son he says, 'Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness (more than your companions or) beyond your companions.'" That's speaking of Christ who was full of joy. The "oil of gladness" means leaping for joy. Jesus was full of life and joy. Never think that Jesus was a pale, sanctimonious recluse. He was a Man among men, the Son of God, the Savior of the world. And the focus always is upon Him. "Of You, O God, Your throne is forever". I want to remind you that angels exist, as we exist, to exalt our God, to worship our God. For any of us it's not about us. Angels, these are not about us. They're always about Him!
Now I've been telling you for a number of years that there is an unseen, invisible world all around us. The physical world, the tangible world is temporal and is passing away. Sometimes we look at what we have around us and we say this is the real world. And when we talk about spiritual things, you know, "Oh, tell me something real. Don't tell me something spiritual"! Well, the spiritual world, the unseen, invisible world is more real than what we see. And the unseen world dramatically, dynamically influences the seen world. And all around us is a realm, a supernatural dimension, the kingdom of God. And in this realm, in this environment, this spiritual environment there are angels, there are demon spirits who are fallen angels, and certainly there is Satan, but above all and over all is God Himself who governs the universe.
You might ask the question, I even asked it when I was asked to write this book by my publisher, why would I write a book about angels? Why would I study angels? It may seem like a kind of fringe topic and there's a lot of craziness and bazaar things said about the supernatural and angels and all the rest. But what I wanted to do was to study what does the Bible say? And while I resisted initially in doing this study and preparing this book, I came to absolutely love it. I found that there are nearly 300 references in the Bible to angels.
Last night I just, I had a list in my study of all the angel references in the Scriptures, both Old Testament and New Testament. And I just began to review them. It took me well over an hour to review the angel announcements and appearances and activity that we see throughout the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. So this is not a fringe subject. It is a faith subject and this unseen world is very, very real. But the reason we do it is because when we understand the mission of angels, we understand better God's, listen to this, God's sovereign control of the universe and of our lives. When we study angels and who they really are and what they do and why it matters, we grow in our depth and understanding of who God is; His greatness, His majesty, His glory! Because angels are worshipers, angels are witnesses and angels are mighty warriors; weapons in the hands of Mighty God.
Now if you want a theological definition of angels, and for all the theological types, which should include all of us, we all should study theology, that's the Bible. But there's a great theologian by the name of John Calvin of yesteryear and here's what Calvin said if you want a theological definition of angels and who they are. "The angels are dispensers and administrators of divine blessing toward us. They regard our safety, undertake our defense, direct our ways and exercise a constant", here's a word, "solicitude that no evil befall us".
Angels. Who are they? What do they do? Are they here right now? Well, I'm going to take a couple of weeks to draw from this study that I did in the angel book some of the lessons that we all need to learn. Just the basic truths, if you will, regarding these angels. I said they are worshipers, they are witnesses, they are warriors. Let's look at angels as worshipers. The angels, "Let all of God's angels worship Him". Hebrews 1:6. 24/7/365, from eternity past, eternity present and eternity future the angels are exalting Christ, extolling the greatness and the glory of God. We all need to remember that angels are created beings; created by God. Colossians 1:16 tells us of the creation. "For by Him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, (and of course the angels would be included in the invisible realm), whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authority, all things were created through Him and for Him".
So angels were not born; neither do they die. In that sense the angels are immortal. And their purpose first and foremost is to offer endless and eternal praise to God. "Let all the angels worship Him". The angels this very moment are celebrating around the throne of God. Where do angels live? Well, they interact in the earth but their primary home, their home base is the throne of God, the heaven of the heavens. They are immortal. They were created in eternity past. Job 38, verse 4-7 gives us a hint as to when they were created. Job is arguing with God about his own circumstances and his pride is showing. And so God calls him out in Job 38, verses 4 and 7: "Where were you (God asked) when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me if you have understanding and who determined its measurements? Surely you know! (insert sarcasm there) Or who stretched the line upon it, or what were the bases sunk or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars", that's an angel reference, "when the morning star", not physical stars, but the stars of heaven, these angelic beings, "sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy".
Sons of God - angel reference. And this, of course speaks of an angelic hosts of praise worshipers, offering their praise and glory to God. And therefore they remind us of our need to worship God. I'm inspired by these angels and motivated to sing with the angels in adoration and in celebration of our God. Did you know the New Testament tells us that angels observe us in our worship? I wonder what they observe when they observe you and your worship? They must be amazed at some of us because they know we know the truth about Jesus Christ. And yet we offer no exuberant praise or elevated praise to Him.
When we praise God we are preparing for heaven. And one day we will join the angel chorus and the angel band in celebrating our God and His glory forever! We get a glimpse of this glory in Isaiah chapter 6 which is a key passage about angels in the Bible, and there's an entire chapter on this one in the book. But this is when Isaiah the prophet is broken hearted because King Uzziah, the great king of Israel has died, and that was a time of uncertainty for Israel. They didn't know the future of their country. Much like our own country right now, there was an absence of leadership and the king had died. And yet the King of heaven lives. And Isaiah went to the temple to seek answers and solutions to the problems of his time, and when he was there he was given a vision of the glory of God.
And in verse 1 we read this: (put it up there) "In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord, high and lifted up; sitting on a throne, and the train of his robe filled the temple. And above him stood the seraphim". Now the seraphim are an angelic rank. Angels are ranked and organized. "Each had six wings", here's a reference to angel wings. We're not certain if the wings are symbolic or actual wings, but in this case the wings are representative. "With two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew". And thus the reference to angels flying. And they are crying out, according to the Scripture, "Holy, holy, holy is (the Lord God Almighty!) the Lord of hosts; and the whole earth is full of His glory"!
And so we see behind the scenes, beyond the earth these angel beings worshiping God and declaring His glory. Again, when we do that we also hear the brush of angel wings. The angels are immortal. The angels are innumerable. How many angels exist? We don't really know. What we do know is, according to Daniel 7:10 that: "A stream of fire issued and came out from before Him; and thousand thousands served Him (that's the angels), and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him; and the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened". Thousands upon thousands and tens of thousands upon tens of thousands! Millions of angels! This reference would be like saying if someone asked you, "How many stars"? You would just say, "Oh I don't know, billions"! The reference here is an innumerable host in the heavens and on the earth of these angel beings. They are glorious beings! Beautiful, magnificent, bright and shining in one instance as the sun. The angels are not only innumerable, they're inspirational.
As I said we are prompted to praise our God because we're inspired by the angels. And again, I just want to say the book, while it's about angels, it's ultimately about our God! The nearness of God, the presence of God, and that angels elevate us to experience Him in a deeper way. The angels are invisible. Rarely do we see angels. We see them in the Bible from time to time. They manifest themselves in a physical presence. I was asked between services are they male or are they female? And the answer is unknown. From time to time they are represented in the Scripture as male warriors. But they have no physical properties but may manifest themselves... here's the thing. Angels choose to be invisible. They choose to be backstage, if you will, pointing to center stage of Christ.
They are, as Billy Graham called them, secret agents, and they do their job very well. They work undercover. They work behind the scenes. What they do you don't typically see. I believe in angels. I've never personally seen an angel that I know of, though the writer of Hebrews says when we show hospitality to strangers we may minister to angels unaware. In other words, it could be an angel and you're serving God by serving this one, a stranger in your life. But I do, having said that I've never seen an angel, I do know that I have experienced divine activity in my life, the supernatural presence of God in my life, and I have sensed God's protection, I have sensed God's presence in my life in very real ways, and at times I've sensed angel presence.
These angels are also invincible. They are immortal, they are innumerable, they are inspirational, they are invisible, they are invincible! By that I mean powerful. Second Thessalonians 1:7: "And to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels"! So when you think of angels, don't think of a soft, sentimental, new age, wispy figure that floats through the air, a little butterfly, a little cuddly cherub, or a Disney princess, or your fairy god mother. None of the above. Angels are powerful spirit beings. They are mighty and strong. We see them in the Bible holding back wind, and moving oceans. We see angels judging the world. God uses angels to execute judgment. We saw that especially in the book of Revelation in the pouring out of wrath during the Tribulation, and these angel judges wreaking havoc upon an unbelieving world.
It happened in the Old Testament when only two angels walked into Sodom and Gomorrah and brought the judgment of God. They tore the town down and burned it up, just two powerful angels. Just one angel executing judgment at the gate of Eden, east of Eden when the man and the woman sinned against God and they were cast out in judgment from the Garden, and God posted an angel east of Eden. When Jesus came out of the grave it was an angel who rolled the stone away, just one, rolled that massive stone away. But even bigger than that at the end of time when Satan is put into the bottomless pit, God sent one angel with a key and a chain. Think about that. All the havoc and hell that Satan in his mighty furor has unleashed upon the earth, but when it comes time to put him away, to put him in the pit, God just sends one angel, and boop! You're in. Doesn't sound like a cuddly cherub to me.
We love to think of angels comforting us, and they do, but remember, it is their strength that comforts us. It is their power like soldiers in a heavenly army. The angels are awesome because our God is awesome. The angels are mighty but they are not almighty. They do the work of God. The angels are also intelligent. They have minds, emotions, and wills, and we see that. They have various names. We're given two of the names in Scripture. Michael and Gabriel are two of the angels, high ranking angels' names. Most of them are unnamed and unsung, again in keeping with their invisible nature to stay behind the scenes. Angels know it's not their name that matters, but there's one name that matters: it's the name of our God! But they are intelligent beings. They're not like storm troopers in Star Wars, just animated warriors. They're glorious beings who are beautiful and bright and they are ministering spirits. If an angel manifested himself before us today, we would be tempted to worship that angel.
John, the beloved, the great disciple, on the isle of Patmos was given this vision of heaven and he saw a mighty angel and in the book of Revelation, chapter 22, it was said that when he saw the angel he fell down before the angel to worship and the angel said, "Get up! Don't do that! Worship only God"! So any idea you may have heard to elevate angels into a kind of demigod or semi-god or god with a little "g", there's no such thing as worshiping angels. One of the problems that New Testament Christians had, the book of Colossians was written to offset it in many ways, was the worship of angels in a form of new ageism that was taking place in the first century, Gnosticism. So the worship of angels has always been around but it's clear in the Scripture that we are never to worship angels, as angels are around to point us to God. Angels are worshipers.
In the final moments let me say that angels are witnesses. Angelos is the word for angel in the Bible; it means messenger, one sent to deliver a message. And we see that so often, whether it is a message introducing the Law. Angels were present when Moses was given the Law, the Ten Commandments, at heavenly announcements such as the birth of Christ. I mentioned judgment; they're sent with messages of judgment or a message of protection-that God is with you. We often see angels carrying these messages especially in the life of Jesus. Jesus spoke more about angels than anybody else in the Bible. And when you read the Gospel, angels show up, you hear their wings fluttering on almost every turn of the page. Whether it was the angel announcing the birth, the conception of Jesus to Mary, giving Mary the name Jesus "for He will save His people from their sin". Or speaking to Joseph in a dream as to the origin of who Jesus is. Or, of course, outside in the fields of Bethlehem when the angelic chorus shouted, "Unto you is born this day a Savior who is Christ the Lord"!
That beautiful and glorious appearing of angels outside of Bethlehem at the birth of Christ. Or angels speaking to Joseph, again in a dream, and telling him to take Mary and the Child and flee to Egypt for safety because of Herod's rampage to kill the Jewish boys under the age of two. So an angel came to protect Jesus and to preserve that family, and an angel came and told Joseph when it was time to come back. Or when Jesus at the outset of His ministry, after His baptism, goes into the wilderness and he tempted there for forty days, and struggles with Satan and all those temptations! And He overcomes it. And at the end, exhausted from this battle, angels come and minister to Jesus and prepare Him for His ministry that would be public for the next three years. Then throughout His ministry His words, He spoke of the angels and told stories about angel beings through and through.
When it came to the end in the Garden of Gethsemane when He's pouring out drops of blood in the Garden, getting ready for the cross, going to the cross, surrendering to the will of the Father, He's broken and before He's taken away into captivity, angels come and minister to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus said that He could call at any time for a legion of angels, even seventy thousand angels, and they would come and deliver Him. But you know what happened at the cross where He could have spoken and in a word called the angel armies to deliver Him. He bled and He died and He went the distance, paid the price for our sins on the cross.
Angels must have been amazed as they stood and watched. If they have emotions and the Bible says they do, they must have poured tears as they saw the precious Son of God. Their swords were drawn and ready to go, but they never got the commission because Jesus had another mission and that was you and me. And then as I mentioned, when the stone was rolled away, it was an angel that rolled the stone away in the garden tomb, and it was an angel sitting on that stone that said to the women who arrived at the tomb, "He's not here! He is risen"! And then an angel again, appearing with Jesus as He is ascending into heaven after His resurrection, forty days later. It was an angel ascending with Him who said to those disciples and to all of us, "Don't stand gazing into heaven. This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven will so come in the same way that you've seen Him go"!
So He goes into heaven with an angel, and He's coming back as we read earlier in 1 Thessalonians with the holy angel, with a shout of God, with the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God, Jesus is coming again! And the angels are coming with Him! And throughout eternity in the new heavens and the new earth the angels are present to glorify Him. So get this: angels existed before creation. They were made by the hand of God before time began. They have existed throughout all of time, and they will exist after time as know it. And we will live with the angels in the worship of the Lord our God forever and ever! They are witnesses of these things and messengers of hope.