Thursday, April 15, 2021

The Ministry of Angels (Hebrews 1:14)

"Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?" (Hebrews 1:14).

The word aggelos (pronounced “angelos”), from which we get the word angel, means “messenger.” It occurs more times in the New Testament than the word hamartia (“sin”). Sometimes aggelos is used to refer to human messengers of God—pastors of the church, for example—but most often it refers to spiritual beings created by God who serve Him.

Hebrews 1:14 says that one of the most important duties of angels is to guard the human race. Psalm 8:5 says that human beings were made “a little lower than the elohim.” Elohim is usually translated God, though in the few instances where it refers to human judges and kings it is often rendered judges. Here in Psalm 8:5, it may refer to angels because Hebrews 2:7 translates it that way. Thus, some have said that human beings were originally made a little lower than the angels.

Human beings, however, were made the very image of God. Psalm 8 goes on to say that mankind is the special concern of God, that man was set as ruler over the entire cosmos, and is destined to he crowned with glory and honor. Hebrews 2:7 probably means that because of sin, humanity became lower than the angels, and Jesus for a time assumed that status (though without sin).

Angels were made to serve humanity, but they are not under our control. They are under God’s control. They serve us as God directs them. This is the origin of the idea of “guardian angels,” though the Bible does not say that each of us has a particular guardian angel; rather, all the angels guard us.

The author of Hebrews is contrasting angels with the Son. The Son rules on the throne, while angels are servants. As God, the Son directs the angels. As man, the Son is served by the angels. In both aspects of His theanthropic being (theanthropic meaning “God-man”), Christ is superior to any angel.

But let’s not overlook the comfort here as well. Angels do not resent being servants; they delight in it. They delight to guard and help those of us who have been called to God’s service. It surely must have grieved them to have to stand by and let Jesus die on the cross. They yearn to serve you and me the same way.

How does it change the way you look at life to know that angels are guarding and helping you? They want to help. God restrains them sometimes so that difficult things happen to us for our good; but we’ll not know until heaven how many pains we were spared because of the work of our angelic friends.