For many years the existence of angels has been questioned. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, were well aware of the fact that angels exist. The Bible informs us that God placed Cherubim (angels) at the entrance of the Garden of Eden to keep anyone from entering. For many years these angels were visible to mankind as a witness of the awful results of sin. In those days there was no question of the existence of angels. However, today we do not have a visible manifestation of angels for all to behold, which has caused some to question their existence. Yet, what does the Bible have to say about this?
Even among those who believe that angels exist there are misunderstandings regarding who they are. Some have maintained that angels are spirits of dead people. Is this true? You will notice that the first time angels appeared to mankind (in the Garden of Eden) was many years before anyone had ever died, not to mention the fact that “the dead know not any thing.”(Ecclesiastes 9:5) Therefore it is impossible for angels to be the spirits of dead people.
Throughout the Bible we find instances where angels have appeared to men. God has often sent His angels to encourage, strengthen, enlighten, or warn His people. Do angels have anything to do with the events in your daily life? Do you have a personal guardian angel who has been appointed by God to protect you?
This study is designed to examine what the Bible says concerning the work of angels in our lives. I pray that you will be blessed by having a more accurate understanding of the goodness of God in providing us with the benefit of the ministry of angels.
Let us first look at a few words and phrases used in the Bible that refer to angels.
The eyes of the Lord
The phrase, “the eyes of the Lord” has been used several times in the Bible referring to angels. Zechariah was shown a vision in which he beheld a stone with seven eyes.
“For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.” (Zechariah 3:9) What are these seven eyes that are upon the rock?
John was shown a vision in which he beheld seven eyes as well. He wrote, “And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.” (Revelation 5:6) The seven eyes are the seven Spirits of God that are sent forth into all the earth. Who are the seven Spirits of God?
The writer of Hebrews states: “But to which of the angels said He at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews 1:13, 14) The angels of God are ministering spirits sent forth to minister.
In the first chapter of Revelation John informs us that the seven Spirits are before God’s throne. He wrote, “John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from Him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before His throne.” (Revelation 1:4) The seven Spirits are before the throne God.
John also saw that “all the angels stood round about the throne.” (Revelation 7:11) John “heard the voice of many angels round about the throne… and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.” (Revelation 5:11) Many angels are round about God’s throne. The seven Spirits that are before God’s throne are the multitude of angels; ministering spirits sent forth into all the earth.
Zechariah wrote concerning the eyes of the Lord: “For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven [referring to Zechariah 3:9]; they are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth.” (Zechariah 4:10) The seven eyes (or the host of angels) run to and fro through the whole earth. This undoubtedly refers to the angels.
We see the same language used in the second book of Chronicles: “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9) The eyes of the Lord, spoken of here, are His angels that run to and fro throughout the whole earth to help those whose heart is perfect toward Him.
The recording angels
Not only do God’s faithful angels watch over and protect us, but they have another duty. “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3) God’s angels faithfully record both the evil and the good that we do.
The angels of God are able to record more than we might think. Solomon wrote concerning this: “Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath 1167 wings 3671 shall tell the matter.” (Ecclesiastes 10:20) This verse tells us that even the thoughts that we think are being recorded by the angels. The Hebrew word that was translated “wings” often represents the angels, as we will see in more detail later.
“Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird 1167 3671 [Margin: in the eyes of everything that hath 1167 wings 3671].” (Proverbs 1:17) In vain the net is spread before us in the sight of God’s angels.
We can see how this principle was demonstrated for Elisha. “And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. 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.” (2 Kings 6:15-17) There are many angels working behind the scenes which we are not aware of. Thank the Lord for His continual watch-care over us.
“Hear attentively the noise of His voice, and the sound that goeth out of His mouth. He directeth it under the whole heaven, and His lightning 216 [“light for doctrine, teaching,”* “illumination”**] unto the ends of 3671 [Margin: wings] the earth.” (Job 37:2, 3) God directs His illumination (light for doctrine) to His angels, and they bring it to us.
|* Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, published by Baker Book House Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Copyright 1979** Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, reprinted in 1992 by Baker Book House Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan.|
When God’s people are in trouble “they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and He saveth them out of their distresses. He sent His word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.” (Psalm 107:19, 20) How did God send His word to deliver them? We just read, in 2 Chronicles 16:9, that the eyes, or the angels, run to and fro throughout the earth to help God’s people. God sent His word, by His angels, to help them.
“He sendeth forth His commandment upon earth: His word runneth very swiftly.” (Psalm 147:15) God sends forth His angels with His words, and it runs very swiftly.
“Bless the Lord, ye His angels, that excel in strength, that do His commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His word. Bless ye the Lord, all ye His hosts 6635; ye ministers of His, that do His pleasure.” (Psalm 103:20, 21) God’s angels are also called His hosts, hence “The Lord of hosts.”
The same Hebrew word that was translated “hosts” is found in Psalm 68. “The Lord gave the word: great was the company 6635 [host] of those that published it.” (Psalm 68:11) The Lord gave His word, and His angels published it unto us, and we in turn are commissioned to preach it to the world.
Isaiah wrote, “Woe to the land shadowing with wings 3671, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia: That sendeth ambassadors by the sea, even in vessels of bulrushes upon the waters, saying, Go, ye swift messengers, to a nation scattered and peeled, to a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden down, whose land the rivers have spoiled!” (Isaiah 18:1, 2) The wings, or angels, are swift messengers.
Ezekiel was shown a vision in which he heard the sound of cherubims’ wings. He wrote, “And the sound of the cherubims’ wings 3671 was heard even to the outer court, as the voice of the Almighty God when He speaketh.” (Ezekiel 10:5) The wings were heard, as the voice of the Almighty God.
The chariots of God
Psalm 18 depicts the experience of Christ on the cross. When Christ called out to His Father, the Bible says “He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under His feet. And He rode upon a cherub [a type of angel], and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings 3671 of the wind.” (Psalm 18:9, 10) This verse is talking about God, the Father, and says that He rode upon a cherub; upon the wings of the wind. It seems strange that God would use angels as transportation, yet the Bible clarifies this even more.
David wrote, “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place.” (Psalm 68:17) The chariots of God are a multitude of angels.
The Psalmist wrote, “Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain: Who layeth the beams of His chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds His chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind: Who maketh His angels spirits; His ministers a flaming fire.” (Psalm 104:1-4) If the clouds are His chariots, and His chariots are a multitude of angels, then the clouds, in this verse, represent His angels.
Ezekiel wrote concerning his vision, “And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon He was, to the threshold of the house. And He called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer’s inkhorn by his side.” (Ezekiel 9:3) The glory of God was upon the cherub, or the angel. This is His chosen means of transportation.
Again Ezekiel wrote, “the glory of the Lord went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the Lord’s glory.” (Ezekiel 10:4) Again we see that the Lord rides upon a cherub.
Ezekiel continues his description of his vision: “Then the glory of the Lord departed from off the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubims. And the cherubims lifted up their wings, and mounted up from the earth in my sight: when they went out, the wheels also were beside them, and every one stood at the door of the east gate of the Lord’s house; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above. This is the living creature that I saw under the God of Israel by the river of Chebar; and I knew that they were the cherubims.” (Ezekiel 10:18-20) Clearly we can see that the cherubims were chosen to transport the God of Israel from one place to another.
The prophet Daniel wrote, “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought Him near before Him.” (Daniel 7:13) Here we see that the Son of God uses the angels to be transported from one place to another. The clouds of heaven in this verse, as we have already seen, represent the angels of God.
The gift of the Spirit
Days after Christ’s ascension into heaven God gave His disciples the gift of His Spirit in great measure. Luke wrote, “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4) Could the sound they heard have been the sound of angels, wings? Could the cloven tongues of fire have represented the angels that were made a flaming fire? (Psalm 104:4; Hebrews 1:7)
Olive trees and a candlestick
God gave Zechariah a very interesting vision which sheds wonderful light on the ministry of angels. Zechariah described it: “the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof.” (Zechariah 4:1, 2) What does a candlestick represent?
Christ explained to John, “The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.” (Revelation 1:20) Candlesticks represent churches. What are churches? They are groups of people. The candlesticks represent God’s people.
Zechariah continued explaining his vision. He wrote, “And two olive trees by it [the candlestick], one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.” (Zechariah 4:3) When the angel that talked with Zechariah explained the meaning of these two olive trees, he said, “These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” (Zechariah 4:14) The two olive trees are the two anointed ones (cherubs) that stand before the Lord.
The cherubs are anointed as described by the prophet Ezekiel. “Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.” (Ezekiel 28:14) The anointed ones are cherubs, or angels.
The angel that talked with Zechariah began his interpretation of the vision by informing him, “This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6) This vision was given to explain how God’s Spirit is received.
The angel queried Zechariah, “What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?” (Zechariah 4:11, 12) The two olive trees, God’s angels, empty out of themselves the golden oil, God’s Spirit, into the bowls of the candlestick, or the minds of God’s people. God has chosen that His Spirit comes to us through the angelic host. If you remember in Job 37:2, 3, the Lord directs His lightning (light for doctrine) unto the angels, who, in turn, empty themselves into us.
This truth was explained in the first verse of Revelation. John wrote, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to shew unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John.” (Revelation 1:1) The Father gave a revelation of Jesus Christ to His Son, who, in turn, gave it to His angel, who finally was sent to bring it to John. God has chosen to use this chain of revelation, from the Father, to His Son, to His angels, to His people, who share it with other people.
Paul wrote that even humans can impart God’s Spirit to others after it has been imparted to them. “He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Galatians 3:5) Job said, “To whom hast thou uttered words? and whose spirit came from thee?” (Job 26:4) We have an influence upon people by our words and actions. In this way we minister spirit to others. The spirit we minister depends upon whose spirit is leading us. Whose spirit is coming forth from you?
We have seen that God’s angels bring us His word, they record our thoughts and actions, they strengthen us, they bring us His Spirit, and they are the chariots of God. Now we can better understand what David meant when he wrote, “I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.” (Psalm 61:4) And again, “How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.” (Psalm 36:7) I pray that we would all put our trust under the shadow of God’s wings, for He is well able to preserve us.