My name is Jeff and we are in a series of lessons called A Who-ville Christmas. In this series we are looking at who are some of the key players in the Christmas story and lessons God teaches us through them. Last week Ben helped us to look at you and who you would be this Christmas and what kind of person you would be.
Today, we are going to take a look at the angels and who they are and what lessons God is teaching us through them.
Let’s start with Luke 2:8 which says, That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” 15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about” (NLT). Who are the angels and what is God telling us through them?
Angels are a reality
Number one, angels are a reality. They are not fairies in a fairy tale. They are not a metaphor. They are not an allegory of some type. They are as real as you and me. They are as real as heaven and hell, life and death. Just as the air you breath exist, so do angels.
Let’s start with a definition: Angels are created, spiritual beings with moral judgment and high intelligence, but without physical bodies. Let me give you a few observations.
- Angels were created by God. Angels have not always existed; they are part of the universe that God created. Colossians 1:16 tells us, “God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world” (NLT). Angels were created by God just like He created people, dogs, trees, and stars. Angels were made by God. What this means is when people die they don’t become angels. Angels already exist. Angels were created for a specific purpose apart from people.
- Angels have moral judgement. Their moral judgement is seen in the fact that some of them rebelled against God, followed Lucifer, and fell from their positions. Jude 6 says, “And I remind you of the angels who did not stay within the limits of authority God gave them but left the place where they belonged. God has kept them securely chained in prisons of darkness, waiting for the great day of judgment” (NLT). They can choose between right and wrong.
- Angels have high intelligence. You get a glimpse of their intelligence throughout the Bible as they speak to people (Matt. 28:5; Acts 12:6-11) and sing praise to God (Rev. 4:11; 5:11). They understand some of the deep things of God.
God’s Word makes it clear that angels are real. They show up at significant events throughout the Bible. Whether we like it or not, understand it all or not, there are real angels among us that we cannot see. Hebrews 1:14 says, “Angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation” (NLT). They are real.
Angels are supernatural
Number two, angels are supernatural. This means they should remind you that your life is a spiritual life. There is more to life than you can see. There is the natural world and there is the supernatural world. In describing the angels and the shepherds encounter notice that in verse 9 you are told, “Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them.” What seems to be out of nowhere an angel appears. Then in verse 13 we read, “Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others.” The angels are able to come and go between two worlds: the physical world and the spiritual world. They are able to appear in our world and then disappear. They can also be present without being seen. Just because you don’t see them does not mean they are not there.
There was a major group of people in the Jesus’ time called the Sadducees and they did not believe in some of the aspects of the supernatural. In Acts 23 we get a glimpse of this when we are told, “The Sadducees say there is no resurrection or angels…” (v.8, NLT). They simply denied the reality of anything that cannot be seen. I don’t know if you believe in angels or not, but to not believe in their existence is deny many portions of God’s Word. They are everywhere throughout His Word and they remind us of the spiritual side of life.
In 2 Kings 6, Elisha and his servant had been surrounded by the Aramean army. Elisha’s servant was greatly afraid. Elisha prayed to God asking Him to open his servant’s eyes to see the reality of the situation. So the Lord opened the eyes of Elisha’s servant and what he saw was both the natural world and the supernatural world. He saw the Aramean army (the natural world), but he also saw the angelic army (the supernatural world) that was ready to protect them.
Hebrews 1:14 says, “Angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation” (NLT). Here they are described as “spirits” (pneuma). This is not talking about ghost or the spirits of dead people. This word “spirit” simply means not having a body. It simply emphasizes the supernatural aspect of what it is referring too. It’s the same word to describe the Holy Spirit. Angels are spiritual beings. They are supernatural beings.
The Christmas Story is much more than a nice children’s story about a baby. It’s a supernatural and spiritual story. We see this with the angels.
Angels are messengers of God
Number three, angels are messengers of God. Luke 1:26 tells us, “God sent the angel Gabriel…” (NLT). God sent Gabriel to deliver a message. In the Christmas story the angles were sent to bring good news to the shepherds, news and instruction to Mary and Joseph. Angels are messengers of God.
Sometimes they are messengers of God’s judgment like when they were used to bring a plague upon Israel (2 Sam. 24:16-17) or pouring out the bowls of God’s wrath on the earth (Rev. 16:1).
Regardless of what kind of message they bring they are servants of God. Hebrews 1:14 says, “Angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation” (NLT). The bottom line is they are sent to care for God’s people in one form or another.
Angels glorify God
Number four, angels glorify God. Luke 2:9 says, “Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them” (NLT). When the Bible refers to the Lord’s “glory” (doxa) it is referring to all that God truly is – His nature, character, power, and acts. He is glorified when He is allowed to be seen as He really is, which is exactly what the angels did!
The “Lord’s glory” is a demonstration of God’s presence among His people. Whenever God shows Himself through an angel or through a loving act by one of His people His glory is on display. Whenever you find God’s angels you are going to find God’s glory being revealed in some way.
So I think one of the implications and applications from the angels is they remind us to glorify God wherever we are. 1 Corinthians 6:20 says, “For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (NASB). When you read the story of Christmas and think about the angels or when you see a nativity scene with angels be reminded that the angels are examples for you and me.
- They are examples and reminders to glorify God in what we do.
- They are examples and reminders to bring God’s good news to people.
- They are examples and reminders there is more to life than what you can see.
This takes us to number five.
Angels are among us
Number five, angels are among us. God’s Word makes it clear that God wants you to be aware of the existence of angels and of the nature of their activity. God is not hiding the truth about angels. Let me wrap our time up by showing you how angels are among us.
- Angels are among us to be served by us. Hebrews 13:2 says, “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” (NLT). Angels can take human form, they can look like you and me. I have often wondered that when I get to heaven will I meet an angel there that will tell me, “You remember when you helped that stranger in El Dorado, Arkansas… that was me.” I don’t understand why angels would need our hospitality, but they do.
- Angels are among us to worship with us. Hebrews 12 talks about “countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering” of worship with God’s people (v. 22, NLT). I’m convinced that if we could see into the supernatural that we would see some angels gathered here with us each week to worship God. Who knows, they could be sitting in the empty seat that appears to be empty.
- Angels are among us to protect us. It was an angel that shut the mouths of the lions so Daniel would not be hurt by them (Dan. 6:22). It was angels that delivered Peter and others from prison (Acts 5:19-20). How many times have angels protected us when a car suddenly swerves and misses us, or when we seem to catch our footing and not fall down the stairs or when a car pulls in front of us to slow us down on a highway to help us avoid a wreck. Psalm 91 says, “For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. 12 They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone” (vs. 12-13, NLT). Angels are an active part of your life.
- Angels are among us to strengthen us. After Jesus had gone through an intense spiritual battle with the devil we are told in Matthew 4, “Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus” (v.11, NLT). I wonder how many times after you have gone through an intense spiritual battle that tried you mentally, emotionally, and physically that God sent His angels to minister to you and you weren’t even aware of it.
Let’s summarize what we’ve learned today. Angels are created, spiritual beings with moral judgment and high intelligence who are messengers of God that bring glory to God by serving us, worshipping with us, protecting us, and strengthening us.
What do you respond to a lesson like this?
- You need to know that angels are real. They exist.
- You need to feel encouraged that God sends His angels to intervene in your life in various ways.
- You need to trust God to send His angels to your service when required.
Again, when you think about the Christmas Story and think about the angels remember they are examples for you to bring good news to people, to worship God, to glorify God and to be sent by God to be a blessing to people.