In 1994, a new television show hit the airwaves. By its fourth season, it became the fifth most watched program in America, snatching up nearly 22 million viewers. It was called, “Touched by an Angel.” Each week, captivated viewers sat enthralled, as angels helped humans face some of life’s most difficult dilemmas. While the show was entertaining, and although it dealt with some important themes, it had one flaw. Its view of the angelic was warped. It promoted ideas which weren’t necessarily true. Indeed, angels are fascinating beings. It is for this reason that the show was so popular. However, if we want to learn about angels, it’s best to look to the Bible. Consider four types of angels which are mentioned in Scripture.
The word “angel” comes from a Greek word which means “messenger.” The same word is used in the Bible to refer to pastors (Revelation 1:20). Angels are messengers, and there is a type of angel which seems primarily devoted to the task. Consider the way in which one announced the birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:20-23). Angels stand as a reminder that God is a God who speaks. He has a message for humanity, and during the times in which the Bible was being written, He used angels to communicate that message.
are seen as early as the first book of the Bible. Genesis 3:23-24 describes how they were stationed at the entrance to the Garden of Eden after humanity’s first sin. They were given the task of guarding God’s holiness. When we read the Old Testament, we learn that golden images of cherubim adorned the ark of the covenant (Exodus 25:18). Their presence on that ceremonial piece confirms their function. They were concerned with the holiness of God; thus, they remind us that the Lord is the Holy One who deserves respect and reverence.
are a third class of angels. They are primarily concerned with the worship of God. They are only mentioned in Isaiah 6:1-3, but they seem to be depicted in Revelation 4:8 as well. They continually sing praises in the presence of God. They show that our God is one who is worthy of our adoration.
seem to be special angels who have specialized functions (1 Thessalonians 4:16), and they most likely possess more power than other classes of angelic beings (Jude 9). Two of them are mentioned by name in Scripture — Michael (Daniel 12:1) and Gabriel (Luke 1:26-27). Their nature and power reminds us that there is an invisible, spiritual war raging all about us. The God who is “the Lord of Armies” (Psalm 46:11) has mighty spirit beings to do His bidding and to accomplish His purposes.
The Angel of the Lord
is an altogether unique angel. In the Old Testament, He appears in the drama of human redemption when watershed moments occur (Genesis 16:7; Numbers 22:31; Judges 2:1). Interestingly, He is the only angel to receive worship from man (Joshua 5:13-15 ). This tells us that He is more than an angel. He is the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ! His appearing in Hebrew history reminds us that God delights in being near to His people. Though He is a lofty, transcendent being, He takes delight in descending to us and relating to us.
Dr. Patrick Latham