The Ministry of Angels
The work of angels is to execute God’s will in heaven and upon this earth. Their service can be summarized in the following five ways:
1. They announce and forewarn. An angel announced in advance to Abraham and Sarai the conception and birth of their son Isaac (Genesis18:9f). The angel of the Lord foretold the birth of Samson (Judges 13:2-24). Gabriel announced the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus (Luke 1:13,30). An angel announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds and suddenly a chorus of heavenly hosts joined them in praising God. Angels also forewarned the righteous of imminent danger. Abraham and Lot were forewarned by an angel about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:16-19:29). Joseph was warned to flee to Egypt by an angel (Matthew 2:13).
2. They guide and instruct. Abraham was repeatedly in conversation with angels and guided by them in his sojourn. He told Eliezer, God will “send his angel before you” (Genesis 24:7). When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, the angel of God guided them (Exodus 14:19). In Exodus, God told them, “See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared (23:20). An angel gave instructions to Cornelius (Acts 10:3-5).
3. They guard and defend. “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who take refuge in him” (Psalm 34:7). An angel made Balaam revise his prophecy and rewrite his sermon (Numbers 22). God’s angelic army stood by to defend Elisha and his servant (2 Kings 6:17). An angel prevented Abraham from sacrificing Isaac (Genesis 22:9-12). An angel protected the lives of Daniel and his three Hebrew friends (Daniel 3:28; 6:22). The angel of death slew the first-born of Egypt to force the release of the Israelites (Exodus 12:23). The angel of the Lord slew the army of Sennacherib to keep him from destroying Jerusalem (2 Kings 19:35). Jesus could have called upon twelve legions of angels to save himself (Matthew 26:53).
4. They minister to our needs. In Acts 12 Peter was in great need when an angel released his chains, and marched him out of prison. Angels are mediators of God’s love and good will toward mankind and their mission is always benevolent. An angel ministered to Elijah when he was exhausted by feeding him some hot cakes and water (1 Kings 19:5-7). After Jesus fasted for forty days and was tempted by the devil, the “angels attended him” (Mark 1:13).
5. They assist in judgment. When the people shouted that Herod spoke as God, “Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died” (Acts 12:23). The sheep and the goats will be divided, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him” (Matthew 25:31).
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