“Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master.” Luke 2:9-11 Messenger Paraphrase
Contrary to popular belief, angels are not merely the stuff of old wives’ tales, cute Bible stories for children, or even prime time television shows. Angels are very real and are constantly active carrying out the will and work of God of releasing His heavenly glory in the earth realm. It was that way at the first coming of the Messiah – and it will be that way at the second coming of our Messiah Jesus. In fact – God’s Heavenly Army is still actively involved releasing the glory realm of heaven in the lives of His people today!
It should be no surprise that God would bring change to our lives through supernatural encounters. One of the most prominent means by which we experience the supernatural is through encounters with angels. In my own life I have encountered messenger angels and angels of the Lord’s presence, large and small angels, those dressed in clothing and also those with wings and trumpets. I have been startled and yet expectant. I have seen angels in dreams and in visions. On much rarer occasions I have seen their actual appearance.
Various Characteristics of Angels
I believe angels are as unique as people! Biblically, they possess quite an assortment of characteristics. From encounters I have had with these celestial beings, their unique appearance and other qualities have to do with the specific design and function God has given them. Let’s consider a few of these distinctions.
1. The language forms of angels include a heavenly language unknown to natural man (see 1 Cor. 13:1) as well as earthly dialects known to man. They can speak softly or shout loudly enough to shake the earth, and all angels, great and small, sing praises to God and before man.
2. Certain angels have wings. Some have two wings, some have four wings, and some have six wings.
3. Some angels appear to be dressed in white garments. The angel or angels who rolled away the stone from the Lord’s tomb had an appearance “like lightning” (see Mt. 28:2-4), and “two men in white clothing” appeared to the disciples who were staring into the sky after Christ ascended (see Acts 1:9-11).
4. Angels play musical instruments. Revelation chapter 8 speaks of seven angels with trumpets (see also 1 Thess. 4:16). Angels use trumpets to announce God’s will or to warn people of eternal judgment.
5. Angels often have the appearance of men. Two angels of judgment met Lot in Sodom in Genesis 19. Their appearance was so pleasing that the homosexuals in the city wanted to rape them—until they were struck blind by the angels. Hebrews 13:2 warns us to be hospitable, for we might entertain angels unaware. Why? Because angels can take on the appearance of men in their look, walk, talk, and culture.
6. Angels can come as wind or fire (see Heb. 1:7; Ps. 104:4).
One powerful passage in Second Kings 6 reveals some additional truths we need to remember about angels:
Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (2 Kings 6:15-17).
Three Primary Functions of Angels
There are three primary functions that angels perform amongst their many tasks. Let’s look at them briefly.
1. Service to God – Worship and Praise!
“Praise Him, all His angels; praise Him, all His hosts!” (Ps. 148:2) Angels are created beings, and God is the Creator. The first function of every angel is Godward.
2. Service to Christians – Help is on the Way!
“And of the angels He says, ‘WHO MAKES HIS ANGELS WINDS, AND HIS MINISTERS A FLAME OF FIRE.’…Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” (Heb. 1:7, 14) We are the created beings who inherit salvation; therefore, we are the ones for whom angels are sent to render service.
3. Performance of God’s Word – Obeying the Commands of God!
“Bless the Lord, you His angels, mighty in strength, who perform His word, obeying the voice of His word! Bless the Lord, all you His hosts, you who serve Him, doing His will” (Ps. 103:20-21).
There appear to be two or three different ways this works. The first involves the direct command of God, such as when God commanded Gabriel to deliver a message to Mary in the Gospel of Luke. The second involves the dispatch of angels in answer to intercessory prayer. This happened when Daniel interceded for Israel and Gabriel was sent to him (see Dan. 10:11-12). The third may well involve the release of angelic activity in response to our utterance of God’s rhema word to us in certain situations. Angels will not obey man’s word, but they may well obey God’s Word through man as we echo God’s Word or voice in the earth by His Spirit.
Ministry of Angels and Man’s Response
Careful study of the subject of angels, including the 300 Scriptures in the Bible that mention them, reveal many things about their ministry and function as well as how human beings are to relate to them. God’s Word gives us three primary warnings concerning angelic beings:
1. We are not to worship angels.
“Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels…“ (Col. 2:18 KJV).
2. We are not to revile angels.
“Yet in the same manner these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties” (Jude 8). (See also Second Peter 2:10-11.)
3. We are to judge every message, whether from men or angels.
“But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8).
Key Points to Remember in Regards to Angelic Encounters
2 Kings 6:15-17 illustrates seven key points about angels and angelic activity that I personally have seen both biblically and experientially:
1. Angels may be present and unperceived at any time.
2. Angels may be present and unseen but perceived by feeling or hearing (I urge you to read Ezekiel 10:5).
3. Angels may be visible to one person yet invisible to another person standing nearby.
4. Any of us may pray for someone’s eyes may be opened to this revelatory angelic realm.
5. All of us can grow in spiritual sensitivity.
6. Anyone who finally sees into the angelic realm will be astonished.
7. Seeing into the angelic realm will bring a new reality into our hearts: “For those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:16b).
Join in Prayer with me – “Lord, open the eyes of my heart that I might truly know, “Greater are they who are with us than they who are in the world.” Send forth the angels of protection to watch out over me. Send forth Your messengers with the word of the Lord. I welcome Heaven’s arsenal to wage war in my behalf. Thank You, Lord, that angels still release Heaven’s glory into earth. In Christ’s name. Amen.”