The NKJV Bible mentions the word angel or angels 280 times. 105 times in the Old Testament and 175 times in the New Testament. According to Herbert Lockyer, “In both the Old and New Testaments the root for angel means messenger. The Hebrew word mal’akh in the Old Testaments and angelos in the New Testament means simply messenger whether human or divine…both terms…tell us what angels do rather than who they are.” [i]
According to Christ in these verses the role of angels is to protect God’s children. In fact, Jesus tells us that the ministry of angels is one of the reasons and motives why we do not despise and make light of any Christian. Simply, if God cares enough to protect his children by sending angels, they must be important to him.
The angels were made by Jesus Christ, God the Son himself, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” (Colossians 1:15-16). It is obvious that Christ knows about angels because he created them and he teaches about their role in our lives here on earth.
God in His Providence has given us his servants to be our servants. Paul asks, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14). The angels worship God, “Praise Him, all His angels; praise Him, all His heavenly hosts.” (Ps. 148:2). In the book of Revelation, in heaven called the city of the living God, there are an innumerable company of angels, myriads of angels who number ten thousand times ten thousand, who do not rest shouting worship day and night (Rev 4:8; 5:11; Heb 12:22; Deut. 33:2). There are so many angels you could not count them. Don’t worry about the multitudes of people going in the wrong direction and their influence over our lives! They are pathetically outnumbered by God and his angels and they minister to you, and serve you. You are not alone.
In addition to this, angels are powerful, “Bless the Lord, you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of His word.” (Psa. 103:20). There was an angel that blocked the entrance to Eden with some form of omnidirectional sword. (Gen. 3:24). Seeing angels terrified Gideon (Judges 6:22) David, “was afraid of the sword of the angel of the Lord.” (1 Chr. 21:30). The angels at the resurrection of Christ frightened the women there (Matt 28:5). Just one angel can destroy a mighty army. In 2 Kings 19:35-36 one angel destroyed 85,000 soldiers and another time 70,000 (2 Samuel 24:15-16). So, the little pictures of angels who look baby cherubs fluttering around is cute but not biblical.
There are three words we notice in Heb 1:14: “ministering” and “spirits” and “salvation” This word “ministering” is where we get the idea of liturgy. Liturgy is formalistic religious worship. The root of its meaning is to help and serve others. It is God’s will that they serve the people of God. Such is the kingdom of God. The angels no matter how glorious must be servant of all and least of all.
Angels have to give an account as ministering spirits before God and in Job it says twice, “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord.” (Job 1:6; 2:1). This verse directly relates to what Jesus said, “angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 18:10). The angels are responsible to reflect our Heavenly Father’s loving specific care, protection and attention. Let me illustrate this. Not everyone can be close to the President, only his cabinet and a few other people. The angels have special access to God and give account to Him about us and for us. They have been given custody and care for God’s little ones and are responsible for them, “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.” (Psa. 91:11).
They are spirits. The angels have no physical bodies. They do not have human limitations. This works for our benefit. The Psalms and the book of Hebrews speak of God, “Who makes His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire.” (Heb 1:7; Psa. 104:4). Angelic wind and fire. They are invisible and powerful like WIND. They have FIRE, great energy they do not become tired. They are EFFICIENT. They achieve maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense. They are PASSIONATE, they love what they do and serve God with strong passion and desire to please him and help us. Such is the kingdom of God. They are created beings-spirits who were made for one purpose: to serve and to give God glory and to serve and give us help.
“For those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14). Jesus tell us with this ministry of angels in view, “Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” (Matt. 18:15). The most powerful and highest-ranking angels are employed in the humble office of looking after God’s little ones- the heirs of salvation. They aid us in our journey to heaven. The people of God are up for an inheritance WHICH IS salvation.
The angels are concerned about people’s spiritual welfare. Christ says, “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10). This recalls what we read today, “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray.” This promise Jesus gives is concerning his children. Those souls are claimed by the Father and HIS faithful Son Jesus and the angels go out to find and rescue them.
The angels are called his hosts. God is called “the Lord of hosts” or Lord Sabaoth. The Psalmist says, “Bless the LORD, all you His hosts, you ministers of His, who do His pleasure.” (Psa. 103:21). In the birth of Christ, the angels are called the “Heavenly host.” (Luke 2:13) standing on God’s right and left hand (1 Kings 22:19).
Lord of hosts or Sabaoth has a double meaning. First it means, the Lord of hosts is the God of the angelic armies. This relates precisely to what Jesus said in gathering lost sheep. He gathers his angels to battle FOR his people. “The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them.” (Psa. 34:7). Christ directly intervenes in these little ones lives to SECURE his own victory and INSURE the salvation of his people. They are, “kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:5).
Second the Lord of hosts means God who gathers his sheep. He is the God who brings together his people for salvation and worship. Later on, as God wills, we will see Christ again in Matthew 18:20 when our Lord says, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” They gather in the name of Lord Sabaoth the Lord of hosts, the God of the myriads of angels and multitudes of saved sheep, the people of God. One day the Lord of hosts will, “send out His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” (Matt 24:31). Then Christ, Lord Sabaoth will send out those holy ministering angels like wind and fire, “they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire.” (Matt 13:41-42).
Our only hope is in Christ who is Lord of Hosts. In Gen. 28:10-16 When Jacob dreamed, he saw a, “ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.” The immediate context is Jacob later known as Israel, is on the run from his brother Edom. He finds a place called Luz and he uses a rock for a pillow and he goes to sleep. He has a dream where the angelic hosts set up a security check on Jacob whom God had blessed and with whom he made covenant. One angel would come down check on him and go back up the ladder and check in before the face of his heavenly Father, another one would come back down check on him and go back up as see the face of his heavenly Father and check in. Then the Lord stood at the top of the Ladder and said that he would bless Jacob and his descendants. Delightful.
What a thought for the child of God who has heavens body guard assigned to them by the Lord Sabaoth, “He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:4).
Then Jacob woke up excited and renamed the city of Luz as Bethel which means the house of God…the gate of heaven! (Gen 28:17). It is interesting because years ago the disobedient people built the tower of Babel to make their own way to God and to achieve their salvation. They called that place the Gate of God. But God called it confusion. Father, Son and Holy Spirit put a stop to that.
God in Christ show us God makes the ladder, that ladder is Christ. I recall a scripture in the New Testament Jesus said to Nathaniel a Son of Israel in whom there was no guile in John 1:51: “And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”
Christ is that ladder! Like a ladder reaching from heaven to earth, Christ bridges the gap between Heaven and Earth. The shadow of Jacobs ladder finds its reality in Jesus-WHO presents himself as the true ladder who left heaven to come to earth! As Jacob saw in a dream the reconciliation of Heaven and Earth, Jesus brought this reconciliation between God and man as he reconciles the world to himself not counting their trespasses against them and Jesus speaks from the top of the ladder of the Cross and says, “You are forgiven!” “It is finished!”
Jesus is our Bethel, the Gateway, the dwelling of God, the door of the sheep (John 10:9). If anyone goes by that Gateway they will be saved from God’s wrath and punishment and have abundant eternal life. A life of God’s generosity to the underserving not rewards for the deserving. Even for us, wandering straying sheep he says as the Ladder and the Gateway, “Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”
[i] All the Angels in the Bible Herbert Lockyer chapter 1 the Spiritual Bodies of Angels, pg. 3. © 1995 Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.