Most Americans think angels exist, yet few understand their great purpose.
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Compared with the devil, angels carry more credence in America.
Angels inspire even more belief than the traditional view of hell. More people believe in these beings than astrology, reincarnation, and the belief that physical things can have spiritual energies.
In fact, about 7 in 10 U.S. adults say they believe in angels, according to a recent poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
“People are yearning for something greater than themselves—beyond their own understanding,” said Jack Grogger, a chaplain for the Los Angeles Angels and a longtime Southern California fire captain who has aided many people in their gravest moments.
That search for something bigger, he said, can take on many forms, from following a religion to crafting a self-driven purpose to believing in, of course, angels.
Yet most take angels’ existence for granted, retaining views developed early in life. Stunning visuals in movies often flavor their perspectives.
The fascination with angelic beings is anything but modern. Visit any major art museum, and you will see centuries-old portrayals of these winged creations in earthly and heavenly scenes. People have, as Mr. Grogger put it, yearned for “something greater than themselves” for all human history.
Some believe a guardian angel looks over them at every turn. Others believe these beings take a more hands-off approach, largely disconnected from the here and now, merely inhabiting heaven and observing the affairs of mankind.
The large number of U.S. adults who say they believe in angels includes 84 percent of those with a religious affiliation—94 percent of evangelical Protestants, 81 percent of mainline Protestants and 82 percent of Catholics—and 33 percent of those without one. And of those angel-believing religiously unaffiliated, that includes 2 percent of atheists, 25 percent of agnostics and 50 percent of those identified as “nothing in particular.”
Perhaps you have even heard sermons on the subject in one of the world’s 2,000-plus denominations and sects of Christianity. The Bible certainly does have much to say on the subject, yet confusion abounds about these spiritual beings.
Do those who believe in angels—including you—really know what they are?
Word of Caution
There is a clear reason why angels are so popular: As human beings, we were designed to look to a higher power. We were designed to seek understanding outside of what can be learned through experience. As the prophet Jeremiah concluded, “I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walks to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23).
The thinking person realizes that people do not instinctively have all the answers. Rather than trending toward peace, safety and prosperity, mankind is collectively moving ever-increasingly toward war, chaos and economic depression. Something is wrong, and the desire to look beyond the physical realm to the spiritual to find answers is natural.
But with more than two-thirds of the U.S. population acknowledging the existence of angels, there are many ideas and beliefs about these beings—most of them wrong. In fact, a wrong focus on angels can place “believers” in grave danger!
Consider the first of the Ten Commandments: “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Ex. 20:3). This blunt instruction leaves no room for misunderstanding. While angels have a great purpose, they are not to be worshipped—only God is!
People have been fascinated by these spirit beings since first interacting with angels in the Garden of Eden. After Adam and Eve’s fateful decision, God “drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life” (Gen. 3:24). This began mankind’s little-understood relationship with these powerful lifeforms.
In the book of Job, God asked the patriarch a series of pointed questions. These establish His superiority to mankind, but also reveal a clue as to just how long angels have existed.
Notice: “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if you have understanding. Who has laid the measures thereof, if you know? Or who has stretched the line upon [measured] it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? Or who laid the cornerstone thereof; when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4-7).
Understand what is being said here. “Morning stars” and “sons of God” are both terms for angels. They were already in existence when the Earth was created billions of years ago!
An aside: Note that the Earth referenced above is the same Earth God created “in the beginning” in Genesis 1:1. The recreation and resurfacing of Earth explained in Genesis 1:2 occurred only about 6,000 years ago, with the purpose of making it habitable for human beings. To learn more about the planet’s creation and recreation, read our Real Truth article “Is the Earth 6,000 Years Old?”
Understanding what the Bible teaches about angels is inseparable from learning what it says about fallen angels, also known as demons. Before being driven from Eden, our first parents were deceived by the greatest of these corrupted beings: Satan the devil.
His creation is specifically outlined in Ezekiel 28: “You have been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold…” (vs. 13). This was a brilliant being, the pinnacle of God’s creation to that point.
The passage continues, “…the workmanship of your tabrets and of your pipes [musical instruments specially fashioned for the one previously called Lucifer] was prepared in you in the day that you were created. You are the anointed cherub that covers; and I have set you so: you were upon the holy mountain of God; you have walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. You were perfect in your ways from the day that you were created, till iniquity was found in you” (vs. 13-15).
Not only was Satan created in “perfect” form—like all angels—he also had special access to God’s throne.
With this access came great temptation. Satan became so confident in his own ability and power that he believed himself qualified to assume God’s role as supreme ruler of the universe.
Notice the prophet Isaiah’s description of the devil’s hubris: “How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations! For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (14:12-14). This final phrase is a mistranslation and should actually read, “I will be the most High.”
Take a moment to appreciate the difference. Satan’s goal was not to be like the most High. His goal was to be the most High!
The devil today leads vast hordes of fallen angels—demons—bent on thwarting God’s purpose for mankind. We will later see how righteous angels assist in God’s great Plan.
All Around Us
Though we cannot see them, angelic beings—good and bad—are numerous and all around us. II Kings 6:17 records an account of a human’s eyes being opened to the presence of angels who were to protect ancient Israel: “Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray you, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.”
Before continuing, come to grips with the fact that these invisible beings are real, have existed far longer than mankind and are currently far superior to us in power.
In acknowledging their power, we must be cautious. All too often, an undue focus on angels opens the door to the demonic spirit realm.
The broad acceptance is what fascinates San Francisco-based witch and author Devin Hunter: Angels show up independently in different religions and traditions, making them part of the fabric that unites humanity.
“We’re all getting to the same conclusion,” said Mr. Hunter, who spent 16 years as a professional medium, and started communicating as a child with what he believed were angels.
Mr. Hunter estimates that a belief in angels applies to about half of those practicing modern witchcraft today, and for some who do not believe, their rejection is often rooted in the religious trauma they experienced growing up.
“Angels become a very big deal” for long-time practitioners who have made occultism their primary focus, he said. “We cannot escape them in any way, shape or form.”
Whether witting or unwitting, seeking and establishing contact with “angels” invariably puts individuals in contact with the wrong kind—demons! Human beings are designed to seek God! Do not listen to any “authority” that tells you otherwise.
Others have a vaguer conception of angels, such as Jennifer Goodwin of Oviedo, Florida. She is unsure if God exists and rejects the afterlife dichotomy of heaven and hell, but the recent deaths of her parents solidified her views on these celestial beings.
Ms. Goodwin believes her parents are still keeping an eye on the family—not in any physical way or as a supernatural apparition, but that they manifest in those moments when she feels a general sense of comfort.
“I think that they are around us, but it’s in a way that we can’t understand,” Ms. Goodwin said. “I don’t know what else to call it except an angel.”
While less dangerous than seeking contact with angels or dabbling in the occult, this concept is also wrong, no matter how sincere. King Solomon wrote, “The dead know not anything” (Ecc. 9:5). They do not manifest themselves to the living in any form.
Yet far from a bleak consignment to the darkness of death forever, God’s purpose has always been to resurrect—bring back!—the dead. As Jesus Christ explained, “…all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth…” (John 5:28-29).
But angels should comfort us in another way—as part of God’s Master Plan.
The Human-Angel Relationship
Not only is an incorrect focus on angels dangerous, it obscures their true nature—and our awesome potential as humans.
The apostle Paul in Hebrews 1 explained the big-picture purpose of angels in relation to God and human beings. “God…has in these last days spoken unto us by His Son [Jesus Christ], whom He has appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (vs. 1-3).
God not only appointed Christ “heir of all things” but also put in place a plan for Him to “purge our sins.”
Verse 4 explains that Jesus was “made so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.”
Paul then quotes the Psalms, asking, “For unto which of the angels said He at any time, you are My Son, this day have I begotten you? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to Me a Son?” (Heb. 1:5). Understand. Angels are not in a Father-Son relationship with God—Jesus Christ is.
Verse 6 establishes the unmistakable relationship between Christ and angels and offers the first hint about our supreme purpose: “And again, when He brings in the firstbegotten into the world, He says, And let all the angels of God worship Him.”
Notice the word firstbegotten. “First” implies subsequent “begettals.” Just as human parents beget multiple children, the almighty God intends to beget additional sons and daughters of His own. And just as Christ the firstbegotten is worshipped by angels, so will God’s other children.
Romans 8 explains: “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (vs. 28-29).
Do not miss what is being said. Your ultimate potential is to be born into the Family of God—a staggering opportunity not offered to angels. But angels are charged to help us achieve this sonship.
Hebrews 1:7-12 continues establishing Christ’s superiority to angels, culminating in verses 13-14: “But to which of the angels said He at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make Your enemies Your footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?”
Human beings inhabit the physical realm, bound by time and space. It is in God’s interests to keep Christians alive and on track while they build His character, qualifying for the gift of salvation—what we just saw to be sonship in God’s Family. There are times when unseen dangers could cut life short, necessitating angelic intervention from beings who are not subject to the laws of physics.
Later in Hebrews, Paul reveals that angels can take on human form, disguising themselves when necessary (13:2).
Continuing the thread from chapter 1, mankind’s role in the God Family begins to clarify: “For unto the angels has He not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that You are mindful of him? Or the son of man, that You visit him?” (2:5-6).
Paul, quoting King David, marveled that God would entrust the coming Kingdom of God—the “world to come”—to mankind! Yet the scope of rulership is larger than even this.
Continuing: “You [God] made him [man] a little lower than the angels; You crowned him with glory and honor, and did set him over the works of Your hands: You have put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him” (vs. 7-8).
Put plainly, angels exist as helpers “in the background” ensuring we are unobstructed in pursuit of membership in the Family of God.
Read David C. Pack’s book The Awesome Potential of Man to more fully understand these ministering spirits and the ultimate potential they help human beings to achieve.
You now know what few do—that the truth about angels is far more wonderful than any false alternative!
This article contains information from The Associated Press.