Greeting cards and gift shop figurines featuring angels as cute babies sporting wings may be a popular way of depicting them, but the Bible presents an entirely different image of angels. In the Bible, angels appear as powerfully strong adults who often startle the humans they visit. Bible verses such as Daniel 10:10-12 and Luke 2:9-11 show angels exhorting people not to be afraid of them.
The Bible contains some fascinating information about angels. Let's discover some highlights of what the Bible says about God's heavenly creatures who sometimes help us here on earth.
Serving God by Serving Us
God created an abundance of immortal beings called angels (which is Greek for "messengers") to act as intermediaries between himself and humans because of the gap between his perfect holiness and our shortcomings. 1 Timothy 6:16 reveals that humans can't see God directly. But Hebrews 1:14 declares that God sends angels to help people who will one day live with him in heaven.
Some Faithful, Some Fallen
While many angels remain faithful to God and work to bring about good, some angels joined the fallen angel Lucifer (now known as Satan) when he rebelled against God, so they now work for evil purposes. The faithful and fallen angels often fight their battle on earth, with good angels trying to help people and evil angels trying to tempt people to sin. So 1 John 4:1 urges: “… do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God …”.
What do angels look like when they visit people? Angels sometimes appear in heavenly form, like the angel who Matthew 28:2-4 describes sitting on the stone of Jesus' tomb after his resurrection with a dazzling white appearance reminiscent of lightning.
But angels sometimes assume human appearances when they visit earth, so Hebrews 13:2 cautions: "Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it."
At other times, angels are invisible, as Colossians 1:16 reveals.
The Bible specifically mentions only two angels by name: Michael, who fights a war against Satan in heaven and Gabriel, who tells Mary that she'll become Jesus Christ's mother. However, the Bible also describes different types of angels, such as cherubim and seraphim.
The Bible describes many different types of jobs that angels do, from worshiping God in heaven to answering people's prayers on earth. Angels on assignment from God help people in a variety of ways, from giving guidance to meeting physical needs.
Mighty, Yet Not Almighty
As powerful as they are, however, angels aren't all-knowing or all-powerful like God. Psalm 72:18 declares that only God has the power to work miracles.
Angels are simply messengers; those who are faithful rely on their God-given powers to fulfill God's will. While angels' powerful work may inspire awe, the Bible says that people should worship God rather than his angels. Revelation 22:8-9 records how the apostle John began to worship the angel who gave him a vision, but the angel said that he was just one of God's servants and instructed John to worship God instead.
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