We Are Not Alone
Angels provide a link between heaven and earth.
By Tony Philip Oreso
I can still recall how, as a child, I heard the church bell toll on Sabbath mornings at 8:45 sharp. It was a warning that Sabbath school would begin in exactly 15 minutes. By 9:00 church pews were full, hymnals were opened, and songs of vibrant praise filled the four walls of the church; the chorister always led the congregation in singing “Holy Sabbath, Day of Rest.”
However, my favorite part of the program was when the different age groups separated to study the Bible with materials appropriate for their ages. For us children that meant amazing Bible stories about God’s heroes and how they were visited and served by angels.
Now, more than two decades since I sat in those tiny chairs and learned how God sent His angels to serve and protect His people, I realize that not everything I learned is supported by the Bible.
In high school our principal shared stories about angels that had the effect of communicating that one of the angels’ primary responsibilities was to record our misdeeds and provide God with details every evening after we went to sleep. So I saw angels with some apprehension.
But what is the real story? What does the Bible say? How are our lives affected by the existence of angelic beings?
Scripture Revelation About Angels
The word translated “angel” in the Bible’s original languages means “messenger”; they are supernatural beings who represent God to human beings. In the Old Testament angels appeared to Hagar (Gen. 16), Lot (Gen. 19), Jacob (Gen. 28), Moses (Ex. 3, 14, 23), Gideon (Judges 6), Elijah (1 Kings 19), Daniel (Dan. 6), and others.
Angels were featured prominently in the life and ministry of Jesus. They also assisted in the formation of the early church. The book of Revelation mentions angels more than 70 times.
But that was then, this is now. What do angels do for us?
Angels guide seekers for truth. Though He did not receive a rabbinical type of education, Jesus’ wisdom and knowledge were derived from the great library of God’s creation. Plus, He spent countless hours learning from His parents about how God had directed His people in ages past.
We can count on God’s angel messengers to bring us messages of hope and encouragement. Ellen White wrote about the role angels play in helping us mine truth from God’s Word: “Every child may gain knowledge as Jesus did. As we try to become acquainted with our heavenly Father through His Word, angels will draw near, our minds will be strengthened, our characters will be elevated and refined. We shall become more like our Saviour” (The Desire of Ages, p. 70).
This example helps us picture a graphic reality: “Angels from the world of light are near to those who in humility seek for divine guidance” (The Desire of Ages, p. 141).
Angels deliver from evil spirits. The strong opposition we often meet in accomplishing God’s work can sometimes overcome us. Occasionally the daily struggles we face, not to mention the spiritual battles we fight, break down the defenses of our souls. The barriers established by habitual prayer, devotion, and ministry sometimes begin to crumble and doubt begins to obscure the leading of God’s Spirit. We see our condition as helpless; but it’s not hopeless!
Just as an angel appeared to Elijah, after his showdown with Baal’s prophets on Mount Carmel, with both physical and spiritual nourishment (1 Kings 19:1-9), we can count on God’s angel messengers to bring us messages of hope and encouragement just when we need them. The encouragement may not come from a supernatural source (as we think of supernatural), but we can be assured that angels are at work—even through human agencies—to lighten our loads and help us be mindful of God’s presence.
When we surrender again our all to God, He takes charge and His angels arrest the agencies that take us captive. We are reclaimed back to Him and heaven rejoices in our recovery.
Let us be clear: spirits of darkness battle for souls once under their dominion; but angels of God contend for those souls with prevailing power.
Angels protect Christ’s followers. Lot and his family were protected by angels and led safely from the midst of Sodom before that wicked city was destroyed (Gen. 19:15-17). And when Jesus struggled in the Garden of Gethsemane with the enormity of His sacrifice for sinful beings He was about to make, an angel came to strengthen Him emotionally and spiritually (Luke 22:43).
These stories bear witness to the involvement of angels with Christ’s followers today. Ellen White wrote: “So, in all ages, angels have been near to Christ’s faithful followers…. From what dangers, seen and unseen, we have been preserved through the interposition of the angels, we shall never know, until in the light of eternity we see the providences of God. Then we shall know that the whole family of heaven was interested in the family here below, and that messengers from the throne of God attended our steps from day to day” (The Desire of Ages, p. 240).
Yet the ministry of angels is no guarantee that God’s people will be preserved from all harm. Citing the example of John the Baptist, Ellen White wrote: “Though no miraculous deliverance was granted John, he was not forsaken. He had always the companionship of heavenly angels, who opened to him the prophecies concerning Christ, and the precious promises of Scripture. These were his stay, as they were to be the stay of God’s people through the coming ages” (The Desire of Ages, p. 224).
So even if we aren’t saved from danger and harm, we can be established in God’s promises and have faith in the ultimate, positive outcome.
Angels cooperate in proclaiming the gospel. Angels stand in complete reverence to the Lord. Hand in hand with human agents they lend their energies in spreading the gospel of Christ. With the Holy Spirit they convict us of sin and teach us the way to serve God. Their heavenly power, combined with our human ability, draws souls to Christ.
“We are to be laborers together with the heavenly angels in presenting Jesus to the world,” wrote Ellen White. “With almost impatient eagerness the angels wait for our co-operation; … And when we give ourselves to Christ in wholehearted devotion, angels rejoice that they may speak through our voices to reveal God’s love” (The Desire of Ages, p. 297).
“Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” asked the writer of the letter to the Hebrews (Heb. 1:14, NIV). In these challenging times, in ways both visible and invisible, God’s angel messengers are still at work to keep us close to Him and prepare us for Jesus’ soon return.
Tony Philip Oreso is a freelance writer based in Nairobi, Kenya