It’s that time of year again. From favorite holiday movies to grandkids’ Christmas pageants, angels fly on the scene everywhere. With radio tunes and carols at church, we hear echoes of angelic voices. No doubt, their role at Christmastime brightens our season. But what if the angels’ influence reaches beyond yuletide celebration and entertainment? Might their nature and responsibilities ever wing their flight into our offices, kitchens, garages, and board rooms?
Angels are Wondrous & Fascinating
First, consider the angelic title. In both testaments, the word for angel means “messenger” and “one who is sent by God on a mission.” Billy Graham winsomely queried and affirmed:
Have you ever seen or met one of these superior beings called angels? Probably not, for both the Bible and human experience tell us visible appearances by angels are very rare—but that in no way makes angels any less real or powerful. They are God’s messengers whose chief business is to carry out His orders in the world.
Note their chief business. As demonstrated by Gabriel in the nativity narratives, angels are sent by God to carry his message of good news and share other updates of his kingdom agenda. Such special work as messengers should not surprise us, especially when we understand their creation.
Consider the angelic origin. The angels are created beings. In fact, they were crafted by God along with the celestial bodies (Ps. 148:1-6). They engaged in joyous shouts, likely singing at their creation (Job 38:6-7). In accord with “all things,” Christ created angels for his own purposes and glory (Col. 1:16).
Holy writ does not say that angels carry the Imago Dei like humans do (Gen. 1:26-28). But perhaps such a close connection to original creation on the fourth day sheds some light on angels’ close affinity with serving to fulfill divine purposes.
Consider a third insight: angelic nature and purpose. They are spirit beings with distinct purposes. They might occasionally reveal themselves in bodily form, as occurs in Genesis 18 with Abraham. However, they are primarily described as spirits. Hebrews 1:14 (NASB) says: “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?”
Note their unique purpose, to render service to humans destined to inherit God’s gift of salvation. John Calvin described angelic work like this: “The angels are the dispensers and administrators of the divine beneficence toward us; they regard our safety, undertake our defense, direct our ways, and exercise a constant solicitude that no evil befall us.” Certainly, there are additional rich insight about angels, like how they compare and contrast with humans as well as their classifications and ranks. But especially note this fourth insight.
The angel’s Jesus-focus. They brilliantly spotlight Jesus. Is it good for us to explore angels? Yes, after all, they are featured regularly in biblical revelation. Should we pay close attention and believe their good news message? Absolutely! They are God’s messengers, sharing his kingdom plans. Should we go ga-ga with worship and zealous adulation over them? No, never. Both Paul and the writer of Hebrews charge us: Christ is supreme. Worship him, not angels! (Col. 2:18; Heb. 1:6-14). Are they powerful, mysterious, and working wondrous works for God? Oh yes, and that’s why Christmas characters like Zachariah, Mary, and Joseph react in sudden fear and awe. Now consider their influence.
Angels Serve to Banish Our Fears & Build Our Faith
When Gabriel appeared to Zachariah, he reassured him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard” (Luke 1:13). It’s the dominant angelic message: “Fear not!” But the angel does so much more than scold. He gives a solid reason and substantive news. “Your prayer has been heard.” Ponder that. The angel was working in response to Zachariah and Elizabeth’s prayer.
In verses 15-17, the angel explains how significant this baby’s life and impact will be. Zachariah said to the angel, “How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years” (Luke 1:18 NASB). He was struggling with fear and unbelief.
Our life work, family, and endeavors are frequently full of sudden fears and the challenge to believe God. Perhaps you know your own struggle right now. What about these?
- Financial fears over annual revenue
- Uncertainty about physical health
- Conflict with coworkers, family, or friends
- Addictive “demons” and besetting sins
- Fear about your future, including the new year to come
- Anxiety and perpetual worry over market conditions
Are any of those fears true for you? Let Gabriel’s challenge banish your fear and encourage your soul today. Consider the ongoing work of angels on your behalf.
Angels’ Work Can Influence Our Work
Psalm 103:20 says: “Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.”
Hebrews 13:2 challenges us: “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
In light of these biblical truths about angels’ work, try flying with these ideas during the Christmas season:
- Be extra-hospitable, on mission with God, especially with strangers.
- Don’t live in fear. Let this be your season for greater growth in faith.
- Pray with bold and tenacious anticipation. God will answer, maybe even with angelic action (whether you see it or not).
- Drop your overly analytical, play-it-safe outlook.
- Be angelic. You won’t become an angel, either in this life or the next. You are human. But you can be angelic. Let’s learn from their example of good work.
What if this season, like the angels, you worship with exuberant joy in God’s presence? Serve him obediently. Go where he sends you. Like the angels, share his gospel message. Let all you do and say spotlight Jesus, his good news, his kingdom agenda. The angels’ good work can influence your good work for Christ’s glory and praise!