This post is retrieved from the archives of the unexplainable, a Twilight Zone episode from my past. I tend to stay away from angel stories. I imagine that most angel stories are the result of bad theology, fanciful thinking, bad pizza, or willful deception. Let the discerning mind consider.
The Bible clearly teaches that there are two realities in the created order: the reality of the material universe that we can see, touch and smell. And the reality of the invisible realm of the spirit, where supernatural beings dwell. Angels, mostly, holy and fallen.
Angels are created beings, superior to man until we are glorified (Heb 2:7). They are always referred to in the masculine gender in Scripture, never in the feminine. We are not to worship them (Col 2:18). John the apostle bowed down to worship one and was told, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book; worship God” (Rev 22:9). Neither are we to talk with “them”, unless, like Mary and Joseph, or Peter in prison, or John on Patmos, they are on a specific mission from God with a specific message from God to one of His children. If an angel from heaven appears with a message, it had better line up with recorded Scripture (see Gal 1:8).
Angels, among other duties, are “ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation” (Heb 1:14). They watch over believers (Matt 18:10). The noun “angel” comes from the Greek angelos. Basically it means “messenger,” one sent with a message. The sender can be God, Satan, or man.
Angels sent by God are holy; they do not have “material bodies as men have. They are either human in form, or can assume human form when necessary, cp. Luke 24:4, with verse 23, Acts 10:3 with verse 30” (Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Vine). NOTE: Angels are NOT departed humans who get their wings when someone rings a bell (sorry, Frank Capra). Pure fiction. Hollywood and greeting cards are loaded with bogus angelology.
Angels that are sent by Satan are demonic, or fallen angels. Devils can pose as angels of light, so when it comes to angels be wise (2 Cor 11:14).
Those “angels” sent by man are messengers. They are sent by a church or organization with a message to another church or organization. In the case of the seven angels in the opening chapters of Revelation, they may be angelic, or more likely refer to the human representative of the church—its elder, or overseer (Rev 2-3).
Scripture reveals that there are different classes of angels: seraphim (six-winged beings guarding the throne of God Is 6:2, 6); cherubim (multi-winged creatures involved in various redemptive processes of man); at least one archangel, Michael, the “great prince who stands guard over the sons of Israel” (Dan 12:1). There may be other orders of angels or beings that are not revealed in Scripture, so we will not speculate about such things at this point. This blog has to do with regular angels, the working class bunch.
All of this said, the following is a true story. However, be discerning as you read.
When I was a young Marine stationed at Camp Lejeune, NC, my friend, fellow Marine and believer Gary, took a bus trip to Parris Island, SC, where my dad and family were stationed. During the trip, Gary and I discussed Hebrews 13:2. You know the verse, the one about angels among us.
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it (NASB).
What does it mean? we wondered. We knew that it may primarily refer to itinerant ministers who need food and shelter, but could it also refer to the supernatural kind? Are there really angels walking about looking like humans? We knew that there were angels in spirit form all around us, but what about visible ones? We turned to the passage in Genesis (18), where Abraham entertained three angels, One of whom was the Angel of the LORD, likely the pre-incarnate Christ.
We pondered this for awhile until we came into the station at Columbus, SC, where we were to transfer buses.
I need to set the stage here. The station platform was large and crowed with people getting on and off buses. Much hustle and bustle. There were six-inch metal bumper rails (think hitching posts) separating the platform area from where the buses drove into their spaces and parked. I was standing next to the rail on the platform side; Gary was standing on the bus side (don’t ask me why). Our bus had not yet arrived.
As we chatted I looked across the length of the platform and saw an interesting sight at the far end. Like I said, it was crowded. I’m a tall guy, so I could see over the heads of most of the people. Making a beeline toward me through the crowd (and I mean beeline), was a little white-haired old man. His eyes were riveted on mine. Even at the distance I could see in his eyes that he was on a mission. I was his target.
People moved out of his way, he did not deviate from his path. He came straight up to me, put out his hand and shook mine. There was no hesitation or uncertainty in his voice: No, “may I have a moment of your time, sir?” He just smiled broadly and pronounced, declaratively, “Isn’t the Lord wonderful!” The way he’d said it was as though he knew that I was a believer. I know that sounds kooky, but that’s how it seemed to me.
“Y-yes, He is,” I replied, taken aback.
And then it happened. With the speed and agility of a wide receiver the little old man reached around me, took hold of Gary’s arm, and yanked him onto the platform, just as our bus barreled up to and stopped six inches from the parking rail! I don’t know how he did it. Gary would have been seriously hurt, if not crushed, had it not been for the intervention of the little man. Then, before we could catch our breath, a second elderly man drew up next to the first one, and the two of them, wishing us Godspeed, walked away into the crowd.
Gary and I were stunned. What just happened? we wondered. Cue up the Twilight Zone theme.
You can be sure that Gary and I pondered this as we continued on our way south. Were this little old man and his friend human messengers, one of whom was at the right place at the right time? Or were they angelic beings sent by God to protect Gary from premature doom? I don’t know. One day I will. What I do know is that God’s eye is on the sparrow, and He watches over His children day and night, and that He sends His ministering spirits to protect us, even when we might not be aware of it.
Onward and Upward!