Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Hebrews, Day 5: Hebrews 1:14 - What is the Relationship Between Angels and Believers?

What is the Relationship Between Jesus and Angels?
Hebrews 1:14

Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation? 
- Hebrews 1:14, ESV

Do you have a guardian angel? If a stranger comes and helps you out in some unexpected way, could they be an angel in disguise? If you extend hospitality to a stranger, could you be entertaining an angel unaware? Do territorial angels rule over and protect particular areas of the world? 

These questions are all fascinating. Each of them also has some basis in a verse or passage of Scripture:

Guardian Angels: Jesus said, "See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven." - Matthew 18:10, ESV
Helpful Angels: The two angels who helped Lot and his family escape Sodom.
Entertaining Angels: "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." - Hebrews 13:2, ESV
Territorial Angels: In Daniel 10, Daniel is told of the mysterious prince of Persia against whom his heavenly messenger visitor had to fight. See Daniel 10:13, 20, ESV

Even though you could make a connection between these verses and passages and these concepts about angels, here's what we often miss: These passages were not written to teach us about angels. The purpose of each of these passages is something different, not a course in angelology. 

For example, we should not conclude from Hebrews 13:2 that the best reason to practice hospitality is the slight possibility that, by doing so, we might end up having an encounter with an angelic being. We are called to show hospitality to strangers because we are called to love one another and to remember that all people are made in God's image. We are called to love people, not to hope for an angelic visitor. Also, in Matthew 18:10, Jesus is teaching His disciples to value and care for children, not to speculate about guardian angels. 

Christians who go combing through Scripture trying to figure out deeper, hidden mysteries about angels are missing the point of Scripture. Scripture wasn't written to reveal the mysteries of angels, but to reveal the mystery of Christ for our salvation. Jesus is the central point of the Bible, not angels. Even here in Hebrews 1, we have an extended teaching on the greatness of Jesus, followed by one short verse about the ministry of angels in the lives of believers. 

What does that one verse tell us about angels? They are servants sent for the sake of believers, those who will inherit salvation. Angels are warrior-messengers from God, and their mission is to protect and serve the children of God, the heirs of salvation. 

The work of angels is almost always kept hidden. We almost never see them, and if and when we do, we almost never know it. Trying to see them or trying to figure out when we see them is actually trying to undermine their ministry and the intentions of God: Angels are seeking to serve believers and glorify Christ, not to draw attention to themselves. God sends angels to do His work for His glory, not for their own. 

So, we can be comforted knowing angels are real and knowing God uses them as part of His good purposes for us. They are powerful, and they are hidden for a reason. We should thank God for them and not get too curious about trying to see them or figure them out.     

The best advice for us to heed when were getting too fascinated by angels is what Jesus told the 72 disciples when they returned from their mission of proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom. We read in Luke 10:17-20 - 

The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (ESV)

Let us not find our joy in angels or even in having all power over the enemy, but that our names are written in heaven! 

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