Canadian singer/songwriter Sara McLachlan sang about the “Arms of an Angel”, a beautiful, emotional tribute to a friend of hers who died suddenly of a drug overdose. We frequently hear about angels in popular culture. Tony Kushner won a Pulitzer Prize for his play “Angels in America”, a story about an AIDS patient who is visited by an angel. On television “Touched by An Angel” ran for nine seasons and was nominated for 11 Emmy awards. We see angel motifs on mugs and ornaments, and on the top of our Christmas trees, but as Christians do we understand and appreciate God’s gift to us?
In Psalm 91:11-12 we read “For He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.”
Eugene Peterson’s “The Message” simplifies this psalm:
“Evil can't get close to you, harm can't get through the door.
He ordered his angels to guard you wherever you go.”
This scripture makes it clear that God created heavenly beings to protect us and guard us from evil, but is that their only purpose?
Angels were also created to praise God and glorify his Name. In Luke 2:13-14 we are told “and suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
In Revelation 5:12 John heard angels “saying with a loud voice, worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory and blessing.”
Angels are God’s messengers. The angel Gabriel came to Joseph and told him Mary would give birth to a son, to call him Jesus, and that he would save the world from their sins.
Three strangers visited Moses one day. He greeted them warmly, allowing them to rest and wash their feet. Moses killed a tender calf for dinner. One of them remarked "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son." Genesis 18:10. Sarah then conceived a child at the age of 90, as foretold by the angel who took the form of a man.
In Hebrews 13:2 we read:
“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
Angels also provide strength and comfort to God’s people. Jesus himself was strengthened by an angel as he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me, yet not my will but yours be done. An angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him.” Luke 22:43
In these troubled times, with a world-wide pandemic assailing the patterns of life we know and love, we must, more than ever, lean on our Savior and remember his marvelous provision for us- his cherubims, seraphims, and living creatures.