Duties of Angels
What are the duties of angels?
Do angels help people in trouble like they are portrayed in movies and TV? The Bible does indeed say angels have helped people. They do more than that however.
Like us, they praise God(Psa. 148:2). Seraphim, a type of angel, glorify God by saying
"Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory"(Isa. 6:3 KJV)
The living creatures the apostle John sees in his vision of Heaven constantly say
"Holy, holy, holy, LORD God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come."(Rev. 4:8 KJV)
Notice the word holy is stated not just once or twice but 3 times. This emphasizes the holiness of God.
They guard against evil
One example of angels fighting evil is when an angel tells the prophet Daniel of a great conflict with a prince of Persia(Dan. 10:11-14). Since men cannot fight angels, this prince of Persia must have been a demon. He tells Daniel the prince resisted him for 21 days, and the archangel Michael came to help.
An account in the Bible talks about Michael and his angels fighting Satan and his demons(Rev. 12:7-12). Although Satan and his demons are powerful, Michael and his angels are victorious. They throw the enemies down to the earth.
This raises the question: do we have guardian angels? This is another idea that is prevalent in society. Angels are described as caring for those who seek refuge in God(Psa. 91:11). Jesus talks about how children have angels(Matt. 18:10). Are these angels still there for these children when they grow up? The Bible doesn't say whether we have angels assigned to us for life. An angel rescued the disciple Peter from prison(Acts 12:5-15), so they have rescued men. Most likely God sends angels to help us but not necessarily ones that are assigned to us for life.
They are messengers
The angel Gabriel appears to the prophet Daniel to give important messages. One time Daniel had a vision he could not explain, so Gabriel explains it(Dan. 8:15-27). On another occasion, Gabriel tells Daniel what will happen in the end of times(Dan. 9:20-27).
In the New Testament, an angel appeared to Zechariah to tell him his barren wife will give birth to John the Baptist(Luke 1:11-22). Zechariah doubted this as both he and his wife were very old. The angel took away Zechariah's voice but gave it back after John the Baptist was born.
Angels played an important role in the birth of Jesus. An angel appeared to Mary to tell her she will give birth to Jesus(Luke 1:26-38) while an unnamed angel convinced Joseph to not turn away Mary after Mary immaculately conceived Jesus before she and Joseph were married(Matt. 1:20-21). After Jesus was born, an angel announced the news to shepherds(Luke 2:8-11). Later on an angel tells Joseph to flee with his family to Egypt after Herod orders the death of all boys under the age of 2(Matt. 2:13). An angel later tells Joseph to return to Israel after the danger passed(Matt. 2:19-20).
Angels also played a role in the resurrection of Jesus(Matt. 28:1-7; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-10). An angel rolled back the stone that sealed Jesus' tomb. When Mary Magdalene and Mary, mother of Zebedee's sons, went to Jesus' tomb, an angel appeared to them and said Jesus was not there but had risen from the dead. The angel then tells them to tell the disciples this.
Are ministering spirits
An angel helped the prophet Elijah(1 Kings 19:4-8) when Elijah felt so depressed he wanted to die. The angel touched him and told him to eat. Elijah then saw a cake baked on stones. He ate it, and it sustained him on the journey of 40 days to Mt. Sinai.
Angels also carry our spirits away when we die(Luke 16:22). In a story Jesus told, a poor man named Lazarus died. After he died, angels carried him away to paradise and most likely comforted him.
Carry out miracles and God's plans
An early example of angels carrying out God's plan is when Hagar and her son Ishmael were in the middle of nowhere in the desert and out of water(Gen. 21:14-19). God heard the boy crying and sent an angel to comfort Hagar and Ishmael. The angel said Ishmael will become a great nation. God then created a well of water for them both.
One of the most memorable instances is when God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham's son(Gen. 22). Abraham bound Isaac up and was ready to kill him. Then an angel appeared and told Abraham not to sacrifice Isaac. This was a test of Abraham's faith, when he was willing to kill the one thing he valued more than anything else on Earth.
Another example is Balaam and his donkey(Num. 22:22-35). The donkey saw an angel, but Balaam didn't. The donkey tried to avoid the angel, but when he tried Balaam beat him. The angel then had the donkey ask why Balaam was beating him. Amazingly there's no indication Balaam was startled by a talking donkey. Balaam's eyes were then opened, and when he saw the angel he realized the sin he committed.
One of the most dramatic examples of angelic intervention is when the king of Babylon demanded people worship a golden image or be burned in a furnace(Dan. 3). When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused, the king was angry and ordered them be thrown into the furnace. After being thrown in, an angel appeared with them in the furnace. What's remarkable is this angel did not enter or leave the furnace with them. The king saw it and was astonished. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego left the furnace unharmed.
Another well-known example in the book of Daniel is when administrators tried to have the prophet Daniel killed(Dan. 6). They convinced the king of Babylon to put Daniel in the lion's den for worshipping God and not the king. Daniel was left there all night with several lions. The next morning the king found Daniel alive and well. An angel of the Lord shut the mouths of the lions, leaving Daniel unharmed.
Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by Satan after fasting for 40 days(Matt. 4:1-11; Mark 1:13; Luke 4:1-13). Satan tried to get Jesus to turn stones into bread, jump off a cliff and worship him. Jesus refused each temptation. After Satan left, angels ministered to Jesus in the wilderness.
What about today?
All these stories in the Bible sound great, but do they happen today? Are angels truly among us in this age? We have no reason to believe not. Heb. 13:2 says to be kind and gracious to strangers as some have entertained angels without even knowing it.
Last updated 10/21/2011