When the book of Hebrews speaks of angels, it is to make clear to the early congregation (which struggled with error and heresies because the New Covenant was still being written) that Yeshua is way beyond the angels. It would appear that some of these Jewish believers saw Yeshua as the Messiah, but could not see Him as divine; He was like an angel in their thinking. The writer seeks to correct this.
The writer shows Yeshua's superiority to these awesome, yet created beings:
- Yeshua is the Son of the Father (Heb. 1:5).
- The angels worship Yeshua (Heb. 1:6). Revelation speaks of 10,000 times 10,000 around His throne (Rev. 5:11)
- He is God with an everlasting throne. (Heb. 1:8)
However, angels do play a powerful role in the lives of men. In fact, one of their primary roles is to minister to us who serve the Lord.
Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? (Heb. 1:14).
They Bring Prophetic Messages
Angels announced the birth of Messiah to the shepherds in Bethlehem. Gabriel, the angel, appeared to the father of John the Baptist with a prophetic word about John. An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph to tell him it was okay to marry Miriam, "for He who is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit." (Matt. 1:20)
Daniel received a visit from Gabriel, as well, with an extremely important prophetic message (Dan. 9). It was an angel who told Philip where to go so as to be in the right place to find the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8). It was an angel who announced to Cornelius that he should send for Peter, who would then open the way of salvation to the nations.
They Protect Us
In the book of Acts, the apostles are freed from prison by an angel (Acts 5) and told to go to the temple courts to "tell people all about this new life" (Acts 5:20, NIV). An angel punched Peter, in Acts 12, to wake him up and get him about of prison! That reminds of when I was in Bible college. I was falling asleep during the class of our no-nonsense director and would have received a four-hour work detail had I been spotted! But, suddenly, someone poked me hard in the chest, just as I was drifting off. Startled, I looked around to see who poked me, thinking I was in trouble, but there was no one. An angel? Maybe.
Psalm 91:11 says, "For he will give His angels charge over you, to guard you in all your ways." Over and over again in Exodus, God says, "I am going to send an angel before you" (Ex. 23:20, 23; 32:34; 33:2) An angel shut the mouth of the lions that would have gladly eaten Daniel (Dan. 6).
Fight Demons/Spiritual Warfare
When Daniel was seeking the Lord, the angel who visited him said he was in a battle with demonic forces for 21 days (Dan. 10:13). What is interesting here is that it appears Daniel's intercession strengthened the angel in his battle. Don't give up in prayer! Again, we see Michael and his army of angels fighting the dragon (Rev. 12:7).
They Help Us in Temptation
When Yeshua was tempted in the wilderness, the text says that "the devil left him, and immediately angels came and ministered to Him" (Matt. 4:11). And when He was tempted in the garden of Gethsemane, struggling with the fact that He would soon be separated from His Father, "an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him" (Luke 22:43).
They Can Appear to Us as Humans
Hebrews tells us:
Do not forget to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unknowingly (Heb. 13:2).
The idea here is that when someone is in need, it may be a test, and actually an angel that you are helping. Lot shows hospitality to visiting angels who came in the form of men. When Mary encountered the two angels after the resurrection, though they were "in white," she does not appear to know they are angels, as she has a conversation with them. When Yeshua comes as the angel of the Lord to Joshua, he does not know at first that it is not a mere mortal (Josh. 5).
Bring Judgment on the Wicked
Herod, when he was praised as a god and did not give glory to God, was struck done and killed by an angel. Angels brought judgement on Sodom and Gomorrah, saying, "the Lord has sent us to destroy it" (Gen. 19:13b). The angel of the Lord defeated the Assyrians in the time of Hezekiah.
Revelation speaks of angels announcing judgment through sounding trumpets (Rev. 8:7-13). It is an angel who releases God's wrath on earth (Rev. 14:19).
Do I Have a Guardian Angel?
I cannot find any strong support for this in Scripture. There are two verses that somewhat speak to it. One is: "See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I say to you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 18:10).
Personally I see the "their" as belonging to the collective group of "little ones," and others, not each one having an angel. However, I would be thrilled if there was an angel for each of us. Regardless, angels do watch over us and they do belong to us in the sense that God has commissioned them to serve believers (as noted above Heb. 1:14).
Then, when Peter is freed from prison in Acts 12, the maid Rhoda, who answers the door, says, "It must be his angel." But that is merely the quote of someone who may have been brought up to believe that we each have an angel assigned to us. She was not a theologian. Nevertheless, there is enough support in scripture to expect angels to be active in our lives and to minister to us, the heirs of salvation.
I cannot see any place where we are to pray to angels. I think this can open one up to deception. Yeshua taught us to pray to the Father, in His name.
"I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it" (John 14:13-14).
In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. (John 16:26-27)
I regularly ask the Father in Yeshua's name to send angel to be active in my life to protect and guide me. But I do not speak to angels and make this request. They are to do God's will, not mine: "Bless the Lord, you His angels, who are mighty, and do His commands, and obey the voice of His word" (Ps. 103:20).
Ron Cantor is the director of Messiah's Mandate International in Israel, a Messianic ministry dedicated to taking the message of Jesus from Israel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Cantor also travels internationally, teaching on the Jewish roots of the New Testament. He serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua, a Hebrew-speaking congregation in Tel Aviv. Follow him at @RonSCantor on Twitter.
This article originally appeared at messiahsmandate.org.
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