Editor’s Note: Pastor Roger Barrier’s “Ask Roger” column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do angels leave feathers when they visit? Some people are telling me this and I don’t know what to believe.
I do not believe that angels leave feathers to let people know that they have been there. There’s nothing in the Bible about this, so I would discount what people are telling you. Nevertheless, the Bible tells us that angels have very special ministries both in heaven and on earth.
We seem to know very little about the existence and ministry of Angels. To most of us angels are more decoration than the reality. Angels appear on tombstones, the walls of nurseries, jewelry, Renaissance art, ordination certificates, Christmas cards, and Valentines.
Angels are usually fat and naked and have little bows and arrows with wings on their backs!
These caricatures are so unfortunate. Angels have a lot to do, especially for those who have eyes to see. I believe that most of their work goes on behind the scenes where they are usually not noticed.
I would imagine that very few of us will have a dramatic encounter with an angelic spirit. But if we do, it will be a marker point in our lives that we will never forget.
One of my professors from Southwestern Seminary told a story in class about a missionary friend of his. The missionary was driving through a terrible rainstorm in southern Louisiana. He was on his way to a preaching engagement and was struggling deeply with the future of his life and ministry. He was praying, “Oh, God, please speak to me. I need your guidance.”
Just around the corner, he noticed a person hitching a ride in the blinding rainstorm. He pulled over and invited the person to get in. They began a conversation and he discovered that the person was a Christian. They had great fellowship. In fact, his newfound friend helped him sort out some of the future issues with which he was struggling. When they came to the turning point where the man had to go his way and the missionary his, they stopped for a brief cup of coffee.
As the missionary drove off he realized that he hadn’t even gotten the man’s name so that he could thank him for the advice. He returned to the cafe and asked the waitress if she had noticed which way that the fellow had gone. She said, “What fellow? I wondered why you had ordered two cups of coffee.”
The missionary got back into the car and realized for the first time that when the man had originally gotten into the car, he was not even wet.
The word, “angel,” means “messenger.” For example, Hebrews chapter two tells us that the Angels were the messengers who delivered the Ten Commandments to Moses. I believe that my professors missionary friend enjoyed an angelic encounter that night.
Genebeth, your question is an important one; therefore, let me give you a short Biblical primer on the nature and work of angels.
1. God created the angels before He created anything else in the universe.
The angels watched God work and shouted for joy at the results of the creation (Job 38:4-7).
2. All of the angels were created simultaneously.
They are unable to procreate. (1 Corinthians 15:39,40). The number of angels has always been constant.
3. The number of angels is incomprehensible.
Revelation 5:11 records the number of Angels: “Ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands and thousands.”
4. Some angels rebelled against God.
Lucifer, who was in charge of guarding the throne of God and with bringing God praise and worship, and who was apparently co-equal with the angel Michael, chose to rebel (Isaiah 14).
A huge number of angels rebelled with him. Fallen angels (demons) live in one of two places today: (1) On earth, attacking and discouraging humans; and (2) In Tartarus, a prison cell in the lowest hell, waiting to be released during the Great Tribulation.
5. Angels are powerful.
Only one angel was needed to wipe out 185,000 Assyrians in a single night (2 Kings 19).
6. Angels were created to praise and worship God around His throne.
Revelation 5:11-12: “In a loud voice they sang, “Worthy is the Lamb, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
7. Angels are charged with the responsibility of guiding the affairs of nations.
We learn from Daniel 10 that angels are intricately involved in guiding our heads of state. Every nation also has a demon charged with the responsibility of bringing that nation to destruction (Ezekiel).
8. Angels fight Satan and his demons until the victory is won at the end of time.
Revelation 12:7-9: “And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back…”
9. Every church is assigned an angel to watch over it and to help protect it.
Revelation 1:20: “The mystery of the seven stars… the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.”
10. Angels will separate the wheat from the weeds at the final judgment (the saved from the lost).
Matthew 13:38-42: “The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.”
11. Angels minister to those who believe in Christ.
Jacob’s dream of a ladder, by which angels ascended and descended between heaven and earth, is a beautiful picture of their incessant activity for us (Genesis 28:12).
12. Angels provide for physical needs of believers as in the case of Elijah under his juniper tree (1 Kings 19:5-7).
After a Wednesday night service several years ago, a lady told me of an angelic protection. Driving on a lonely desert road in her VW with her children the car’s engine caught fire. She stopped and tried to open the hood. She couldn’t; it was too hot. Suddenly, another car pulled up behind her. She thought that this was strange because she’d seen no other cars on the road.
He pulled out this big pair of asbestos gloves, opened the hood and used a fire extinguisher to put out the blaze. She turned to thank the man and he was gone. Both he and the car had disappeared.
13. Angels protect believers from danger as in the case of watching over the three Hebrews in the furnace (Daniel chapter 3), or by watching over Daniel in the lions’ den (Daniel chapter 6).
Once when Brianna, our oldest daughter, was just learning crawl, Julie heard me yell from the back bathroom. “Julie, come quickly!” At the same time I heard Julie call from the back bathroom, “Roger, come quickly.” We both ran quickly to discover Brianna about to tumble headlong onto the tile of our three-foot-deep sunken tub. We grabbed her just in time.
Julie said, “I’m sure glad you called me to get back here quickly.”
“I didn’t call you,” I said. “You called me.”
“I didn’t call you,” she said.
We had an angelic visitation from Brie’s guardian angel!
Experiences like these make Psalm 34:7 come alive: “Angels of the Lord encamp around those who fear God and deliver them.”
14. Angels sometimes reveal the Lord’s plans, for example to Daniel (Daniel 9:21-23), to Cornelius (Acts 10:3-6), or to Mary at the birth of Jesus (Luke 2).
15. Angels Minister To Us At Out Time Of Death.
Luke 16:22: “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side.”
A cold chill runs up many of our backs to think that sometime in the future, and perhaps in the very near future for some of us, the Death Angel will be dispatched from Heaven to Earth.
If we are Christians, we need not be afraid of the Death Angel. They may be our rod and staff which brings us through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
16. Not all angels are good.
Galatians 1:8-11: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned… I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.”
17. Have you ever wondered about guardian angels?
Matthew 18:10: “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.”
I pray often for my guarding angel. I pray for him/her (it?) to be “strong” on my behalf in the spiritual battles that I fight. When I am praying for someone about to undergo surgery, I never fail to pray for their guardian angel, assigned to them at birth, to help guide the hand of the surgeon for a successful surgery. I want him/her (it?)and me to be good friends. I am looking forward to seeing him/her(it?) in heaven.
So, Genebeth, I hope that this short primer on angelology is helpful to you on understanding the work and ministry of angels.