Angels - who are they?

The idea that we share this planet with heavenly beings who go unseen or unrecognised amongst us is intriguing and the inspiration for many fictional films and books.  In the Bible, angels are portrayed as real beings who have enormous power and go about doing God’s work.  Most of the time they do so without being seen but on rare occasions they have been observed by people.  Often when this happens, they are not recognized as angels and are mistaken for ordinary people.  In Hebrews we are told “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels” (Hebrews 13:2, NKJV).  This makes it plain that angels do not ordinarily have wings.

The original words translated angel in the Bible both mean “messenger” (the Hebrew word ‘malak’ and the Greek word ‘aggelos’). This gives us a clue as to what angels do - they are God’s messengers who convey information from Him to mankind, as the angel Gabriel did when he famously told Mary she was going to give birth to Jesus.

Reading more reveals that angels are far more than just the bearers of news - they also work behind the scenes to carry out God’s will on earth.  In the Psalms we read “Bless the LORD, you His angels, Who excel in strength, who do His word, Heeding the voice of His word. Bless the LORD, all you His hosts, You ministers of His, who do His pleasure.” (Psalms 103:20-21)

This work extends to influencing world affairs.  In the book of Daniel, we have a fascinating glimpse into the angelic  realm when Gabriel, talking to Daniel, says “… the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.” (Daniel 10:13).  Gabriel was trying to influence the ruling powers of the Persian Empire and encountering difficulty, without Cyrus the Great or his government even being aware of it.

Another way the angels work is what they do with individual men and women, extending God’s care and guidance to those who believe in Him.  In Hebrews angels are described in this way “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14).

In these uncertain times there is immense comfort in the knowledge for believers to know that the world is in safe hands, and that these amazing and powerful beings are at our side.