There are Internet sites, books, and magazines about angels, so what’s up with the preoccupation about angels, including so-called guardian angels?
Messengers of God
The Hebrew word used for angel is “mal’ak” and means “messenger” or “representative,” while in the New Testament Greek, the word angel comes from “aggelos” and means “a messenger” or “envoy,” and “one who is sent,” so angels in the Bible are basically messengers of God and represent God, as when they came to rescue Lot and his family from Sodom’s coming destruction. Angels are envoys or messengers of God and they are His representatives, so that is one of the duties angels perform. The Apostle John received “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John” (Rev 1:1). Mary, Elizabeth, Joseph, many others received messages from angels, and even at the tomb, an angel announced, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him” (Mark 16:6).
Protectors from God
God may also send angels to miraculously protect or rescue those who are crying out to Him. One example is the angel of the Lord who kept Adam and Eve from going back into the Garden of Eden, something God must have seen as necessary, perhaps because Adam and Eve wanted to return. The psalmist wrote, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them” (Psalm 34:7), and if necessary, God “will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (Psalm 91:11), so even if “A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand…it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked” (Psalm 91:7-8). In the Book of Daniel, God “sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God” (Dan 3:28). Daniel told King Nebuchadnezzar, “My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm” (Dan 6:22). Clearly, one of the duties of angels is for protection.
Ministers of God
After Jesus had been tempted by the Devil in the wilderness, and after a forty-day fast, He must have been severely weakened, at least physically, so what happened after perhaps the greatest battle of temptation ever? Mark 1:13 records that Jesus “was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.” On another occasion, Jesus prayed three times, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42), and right after that, “there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him” (Luke 22:43), so angels are ministering spirits, sent to Jesus in this case, but also for us. It doesn’t matter if we see them or not…they are there. The author of Hebrews writes, “Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire” (Heb 1:7). Clearly, angels are messengers of God, angels are protectors from God (when needed), and angels are ministering spirits sent to minister, to Jesus Himself, but they also minister to us, so why do we get so wrapped up in angels, almost as if worshipping them? I visited one elderly ladies home (a shut-in) and it was full of every angel image, statue, picture, and knickknack you could imagine. There were angel coffee cups, plates, placemats, and table lamps. You could not look anywhere in this woman’s house and not find an angel image. I asked her why she had so many angels in her home and she said, “I feel protected with them surrounding me.” Sadly, these were images or icons of angels, and not the real thing, and I wondered why angels protecting her superseded the fact that the Bible says there is protection in God alone, although He may involve angels (Psalm 91).
People have been worshipping angels for thousands of years, which to me is a mystery. Why would anyone worship angels and not their Creator? This was nothing new to the Apostle Paul who wrote, “Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind” (Col 2:18). The Bible says angels are worshippers…worshipping God 24/7 (Heb 1:6; Rev 7:11). Angels do not allow us to worship them as we read in the Book of Revelation, where John writes, “I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God” (Rev 22:8-9). Since we are commanded to only worship God and not angels, why do so many seem preoccupied, some even obsessed, with angels? What is it about them that draw worshippers when the one true God is not worshipped?
I remember reading a story of a family who constantly prayed to their “guardian angel,” even though the Bible doesn’t specifically say we have guardian angels. It didn’t matter to this family…they prayed to angels, worshipped angels, and focused solely on angels, but all to the detriment of true worship, which should be reserved only for God. Human nature seems to seek encounters of the supernatural kind, and angels are certainly that, but for those who elevate angels above and beyond worshipping Christ, they are making angels an idol, and idolatry, in whatever form, breaks the commandment to God. We ought to worship alongside the angels of God to give glory to God and the Son of God, Jesus Christ. That’s where true worship is, because you cannot worship God unless it is in truth and spirit (John 4:24).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is host of Spiritual Fitness and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.