The work of angels


In the epistle to the Hebrews it is written about the angels of God: “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14 - NIV). Therefore, these heavenly beings are sent by God to serve His children. Let us look at some of these services.

The angels of God are sent by God to His children to foretell them some events (the birth of someone, the death of someone, a war, a famine, etc.). For example, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to Zechariah to foretell him the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:11-20); and in the six month that same angel was sent to Mary, a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, to foretell her the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Luke 1:26-38). God sent an angel to John to show him many things that are still to come (Read the Book of Revelation). Sometimes God sends His angels to give His servants some special orders, as in the case of the evangelist Philip, as it is written: “Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying: Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. This is desert” (Acts 8:26 - NKJV), or – as we saw before – in the case of Joseph, whom an angel of God commanded to take the young Child Jesus and His mother and to flee to Egypt (Matthew 2:13).

Some other times, God sends His angels to comfort and strengthen, as in the case of His Son, while He was in the Gethsemane, as it is written: “And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him” (Luke 22:43), or in the case of the apostle Paul, while he was on the ship, as it is written: “But after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said: Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss. And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying: Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you” (Acts 27:21-24 - NKJV).

God sends His angels to protect His children and deliver them from peril and evil, as it is written: “The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them” (Psalm 34:7 – The IBDV reads ‘gli angeli del Signore, that is, ‘the angels of the Lord”), and again: “Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways” (Psalm 91:9-11). In the book of Acts we have two examples of how God delivered some of His children through His angels. The first is that of the apostles of the Lord, as it is written: “Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison. But the [an] angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught” (Acts 5:17-21); the second is that of Peter, as it is written: “Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter [Passover] to bring him forth to the people. Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And, behold, the [an] angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him. And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews” (Acts 12:1-11). Of course, the angels of God protect and deliver God’s servants from their enemies when it is in His providence to do so, for we have some examples in the Bible which show us that sometimes God allows His servants to be killed by their enemies, as in the case of some believers of the Church in Smyrna, who were put in prison for Christ’s sake and put to death after 10 days (Revelation 2:10), and of James the brother of John, who was killed by Herod with the sword (Acts 12:2). On certain occasions, such as during a famine, or in the midst of a particular distress, God sends His angels to bring food, water, money, etc. to His children. God, for example, sent an angel to bring bread and water to the prophet Elijah while he was in the desert (1 Kings 19:1-8). God sent his angels to minister unto Jesus in the desert, after He was tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:11). I know many testimonies which confirm that angels are sent by God to deliver His children from death, and to meet their material needs.

The angels of God will accompany Jesus Christ when He comes in glory, (Matthew 25:31), and He will send them with a great sound of a trumpet to gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other (Matthew 24:31).

The angels of God are sent also to lead unbelievers to salvation, which is in Jesus Christ. In the Scripture we find the example of Cornelius, to whom God sent an angel to tell him to send men to Joppa and call for Simon Peter, who, when he had come into Cornelius’ house, told him words by which Cornelius and all his household were saved (Acts 10:1-6; 11:13-14). And last but not least, the angels of God are sent by God to execute His judgements on the wicked. For instance, we read the following story in the book of the Acts of the apostles: “And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king's chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king's country. And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the [an] angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost” (Acts 12:20-23). According to the Scripture, at the end of the world the Lord will send forth His angels and they will weed out of His kingdom all workers of iniquity and will throw them into the eternal fire: “The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:41-42). Before the return of the Lord from heaven God will use some of His angels to execute His judgements on the world (Revelation 15:1-8; 16:1-21).