Do you believe in ghosts? How about angels?
Jesus believed in angels. In Luke 15:10, Jesus says, “there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”
The Bible reports times when people met angels and talked to them. Not long ago we celebrated the birth of Jesus and we heard many stories of angels meeting with people.
It seems that angels often cannot be told apart from people. You may have met an angel without knowing it. Angels can look just like you and me. Hebrews 13:2 says, “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!”
An example of someone who did this is Abraham. In Genesis chapter 18 there is the story of three men who visited Abraham. After two of the men left, the men went to Sodom and destroyed it. They were actually angels.
There are a couple of questions that people often have about angels. Why and when?
First though we need to state clearly and categorically that God created angels. They are created beings. Angels are creatures. Angels have the nature of creatures, just as we do. They have intelligence, as we do. They have emotions, as we do. Angels have free will and the ability to reason, as we do. In some ways they are not like us, because they have no physical body. They are spiritual creatures. They have spiritual bodies, and so are limited to being in one place at a time. Angels are superior to us in intelligence and strength, which may be why they are sometimes called ‘the sons of God’.
Why did God create angels? The Bible tells us that angels are messengers. In fact the Hebrew word for angel is malawk and it means messenger. The Old Testament often refers to angels as messengers of God – malawk elohim. Angels are to carry messages from God. They are to pass these messages to us. The function of an angel is to be a spiritual messenger. God created angels also as servants or ministering spirits. God created angels to look after humans and minister to them. God created angels to raise us up and serve us (Hebrews 1:14). “Angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation.”
God’s angels were in the garden of Eden to take care of Adam and Eve. They were placed there to look after the two children and raise them.
The other question is, When did God create angels?
You may have noticed that they are not included in the Genesis account of the six days of creation. The Bible does not tell us, but we know they already existed before Adam and Eve.
The book of Job says the angels were already there when creation began.
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?”
There is a slightly puzzling phrase in Genesis where God appears to be talking to himself. On day one of creation, for example, the Bible records, ‘God said, “Let there be light.”’ He does this each day until God says, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.”
Many people suppose that at this point he must have been talking to the angels. Others suppose it to be the trinity. If we jump from the very first book of the Bible to the very last book we shall find in Revelation 5:11–14 another function of angels.
Angels worship God around his throne. They seem to have existed before time and so by the way we measure time they may have been in existence billions of years before God created the world, worshipping him and serving him.
The angels of God are glorious beings. Sinless and beautiful, they reflect the holiness and perfection of God.
God’s angels are to be highly respected. They are never to be worshipped.
However, God’s angels are not the only angels. There are other angels. We should understand why this is. Where did they come from, and when?
Angels are real spiritual beings, and the events in the Garden of Eden really happened. At that time there were only God’s angels.
One of the most glorious angels of all, a magnificent creature called Satan, was in charge of caring for and teaching the children, Adam and Eve. His job was simply to care for them until they were old enough to take their position as the leaders of all creation, even angels.
There was no other woman in all of creation, for all angels are male. In his pride, he desired her for himself. He desired what God had forbidden. It seems that Satan had a question.
Why do we have to obey God? It was this question he subtly asked Eve, tempting her.
This became the question that must have haunted Satan. He still resists and defends himself. You can hear his cry echo in the words of those he inspires. Just as God’s disciples reflect his heart and desires in their words and thoughts, those who are inspired by Satan unwittingly reflect his thoughts.
Ideologies such as anarchism expressly say we shouldn’t obey.
Obedience, like submission, is unattractive to many minds. We may feel that we should be free to do whatever we fancy. We may resent being told what to do, even by God, because we think we are clever enough to know what is best for ourselves.
We don’t have to obey. Like Satan and Eve we can ignore God’s will. What we ought to recognise though is that there are always consequences.
A man about to drink from a glass of poison is wise to stop when warned of the contents of the glass. The stubborn or proud man will ignore the warning, but he cannot escape the consequences of drinking poison.
The man who ignores God and drinks poison should not complain that he has been punished unfairly. He often will complain, but he has in fact no grounds for complaint. If he had obeyed God he would be safe and well.
Obedience to God is first and foremost for our own good. God can see the consequences even if you can’t. Trust God, he is love. He never issues orders just to stop you having fun. All of God’s rules, regulations and commands are for our benefit.
Look what is written in Jeremiah 6 – “Listen, all the earth! I will bring disaster on my people. It is the fruit of their own schemes, because they refuse to listen to me. They have rejected my word.”
Even if it seems a small thing, when we obey God great things happen. Even if it seems a small thing, when we obey Satan terrible things happen.
Eating a simple fruit was not a big deal, but today we still live with the awful consequences of the disobedience of Adam and Eve and Satan.
After Saul had his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, he got his first instruction. Jesus said to Saul (Acts 9:6), “Get up and go into the city.”
It was easy to obey, but it was also important that Paul should obey. Because of his obedience, God was able to transform Saul into Paul and use him to establish his church.
Abraham is the father of faith and obeyed God is many great things. In just one small thing (Genesis 15) he failed to obey God and so his descendants were slaves in Egypt for 400 years.
Moses put out his hand when God told him to, and the red sea parted. Such a simple thing to obey, but what great results.
Naaman the leper washed in the river Jordan (2 Kings 5) and was healed. He complained that it was too easy to obey. He thought obedience should be harder.
Obedience in small things is essential and we can trust God’s instructions, because God is love. Do not despise the small acts of obedience, it is how God is making us perfect.