Monday, March 28, 2011


Angels fascinate people. People have written hundreds of stories about angels. Most of these stories have very little basis in reality. If the stories are to be believed, angels have big white wings made of feathers, they only wear white, and they spend a lot of their time sitting on clouds playing the harp. Occasionally, they come to earth to help someone out, fall in love, and decide to give up being an angel and be mortal instead. Some of these stories are entertaining, but the characters they portray have no more basis in reality than Santa Claus. What is real?

The Bible has a lot to say about angels and yet it leaves much left unsaid. In appearance, we know that at least some of them look like men, at least part of the time. Some appear to have wings—that is if we classify cherubim as angels. David sung of the Lord mounting the cherubim and flying. That brings to mind a different picture than we normally have. The seraphim have six wings—two to cover their face, two to cover their feet and two with which to fly.

I think a more realistic understanding is that there are a number of different kinds of heavenly beings. Some appear very much like men. Some are so strange that the Bible just calls them beasts. Some are spirits. It is possible that angels don’t look like the other heavenly beings. Whatever they are and whatever they look like, we know that angels are more powerful than humans and they have freewill by which they can choose to sin, but they desire to look into the gospel. Jesus died for humans, not angels.

Angels are busy creatures and they appear to move through time in the same way we do. Daniel had to wait three weeks for an angel to come to him because the angel had been delayed. That is a very significant event in terms of our understanding of angels. Stories often indicate that angels just pop from one place to another. Whatever means they use to get around, it may be some time between when you become aware of your need for help and when an angel comes to help you.

But why use angels anyway? God spoke the world into existence, it isn’t like he really needs angels in order to help us. The Bible doesn’t really give us much of an answer for that, but the thing that seems the most logical is that God provides angels with the opportunity to serve him just like he gives us opportunities. Service to God is an act of worship and it also gives us something to do with our lives. Don’t you think angels would get bored if all they did was to sit on a cloud all day? Just as God gave Adam stuff to do when he created him, it makes sense that he gave the angels stuff to do when he created them.