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What are Angels?

What are Angels by Elizabeth and Jim GeorgeIf you are like many people, when you think of angels, your mind immediately thinks about the figure many people place on the top of the Christmas tree. Perhaps we are inclined to respond this way because the Christmas story in Luke 2 mentions angels who spoke to the shepherds.

The English word angel comes from the Greek word angelos, meaning messenger, so in Scripture, an angel is essentially a created being whose task is to be a messenger from God.

What are Angels?

GOOD ANGELS

This category is made up of holy angels or angels of God. Jesus also spoke of “his angels” as those who would be called upon to provide assistance (Matthew 24:31). Michael is described as the commander of the army of good angels who defeated and expelled evil angels from heaven (Revelation 12:7-8). Gabriel, the other good angel named in the Bible, appears to be the chief messenger angel.

Even within the category of good angels there are different kinds of angels:

Cherubim — The first kind of angels mentioned in the Bible are cherubim. They were celestial beings sent by God to guard the tree of life in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:24). They were represented symbolically in the Ark of the covenant (Exodus 25:18-22), in the Tabernacle (Exodus 26:31), in the temple (2 Chronicles 3:7), and seen by the prophet Ezekiel in a vision of the restored Jerusalem (Ezekiel 41:18-22).

Seraphim — These angels have their ministry in heaven. They were seen by Isaiah in a vision as hovering above the throne of God and described as having six wings (Isaiah 6:1-3).

Guardian angels — These are sent by God to minister to all believers (Hebrews 1:14), and to those angels who guide the affairs of nations, also called the “chief princes” (Daniel 10:10-14).

God’s messengers — These good angels announced and heralded the birth of Christ. They also tended to Jesus in the wilderness and in the Garden of Gethsemane. They were present at the empty tomb of the resurrected Lord and at His ascension into heaven. In the future they will proclaim God’s messages of judgment (Revelation 14-17) and, as messengers, will execute God’s judgment (Revelation 20:1-3).

BAD ANGELS

This category of angelic beings consists of “the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). They formally resided in heaven, but they were unfaithful to God and were driven out of heaven. Satan is the chief advocate of evil and wickedness in this group of fallen angels. Although Satan as an angel is very powerful, he does not possess the ability to be in more than one place at a time, nor is he all-knowing, and he cannot read minds. He does, however, manipulate people into doing his bidding.

What Does This Mean for You?

There’s a war going on, but it is not a war you see. It’s the spiritual warfare. Although God and the devil are in battle, you don’t have to wait until the end to see who will win. God has already defeated Satan in the power of sin and death with Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

Today and every day Satan is still trying to wreak as much havoc as possible. He is still using the same schemes and tactics he has used on other people through the ages to tempt you to sin. Don’t let Satan attack you through your weakness. Follow these three practices prescribed in the Bible:

  1. “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Ephesians 6:11)
  2. “Be alert and sober mind your enemy the devil probably around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.” (1 Peter 5:8-9)
  3. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he’ll flee from you.” (James 4:7)

RESPOND

Dear Lord, when temptation comes my way, give me strength to bear it with grace and maintain a clear conscience. Amen.

RENEWING RESOURCES

The 50 Most Important Teachings of The Bible—With great clarity and simplicity, Jim George outlines essential elements of the faith, including today's devotion on angels, in this helpful Bible study tool.

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REFLECT

Each morning, put on the full armor of God: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the preparation of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (see Ephesians 6).

REMEMBER

God has already defeated Satan in the power of sin and death with Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.


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