There are accounts of angels all through the Bible. One of the simplest explanations of what and who they are comes in the New Testament letter to the Hebrews. "Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? " (Hebrews 1:14)
So, in the first place, they are spirits that minister and their ministry is directed towards those people who are going to inherit everlasting life. Secondly, they work for God, and at His bidding. They have no free will like us humans. No ability to decide for themselves whether they will work for God or not. The same letter to the Hebrews also says that God's son, Jesus Christ is superior to the angels - even though angels came to minister to Jesus just before he was crucified.
But that was after Jesus died and rose from the dead. Jesus was actually created to be lower than the angels and then made greater than the angles - after he suffered death. The angels have never experienced death according to the Bible. (Hebrews 2:9) They are immortal creatures who do God's bidding. And there are thousands - perhaps millions of them. "But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven." (Hebrews 12:22) Now that should be good news for us - who need salvation.
Angels, for the most part, appear as human beings. Some look just like ordinary men and women. Getting back to the letter to the Hebrews, we are told not to forget to be hospitable and to entertain strangers. Some in the Bible have actually invited strangers into their house and found them to be angels. Abraham did this on one occasion - actually served dinner to three men who turned out to be angels. (Genesis 18:2)
These angels were on their way to the city of Sodom to save Abraham's nephew Lot. When they got there they had to protect Lot's family from some angry citizens. Then, the next morning, they had to take Lot and his family literally by the hands and lead them out of the city, just before God destroyed the place. Abraham's grandson, Jacob, wrestled with and angel all one night. In the morning Jacob was hit on the thigh by the angel and crippled. But it was a good sign. Even though crippled, Jacob had learned that he could struggle with God and also with men and in the end prevail. Well, at least God would be prepared to work and struggle with mankind's faith and fear and still spare their lives. (Genesis 32:28)
There are many very dramatic accounts of divine intervention by angels. The most amazing of these is found in the book of Isaiah, chapter 37. An Assyrian army had surrounded the city of Jerusalem. The city, under King Hezekiah, prayed to the God of Israel for deliverance. In response to their faith, God sent an angel who put to death 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night. When the Jews got up in the morning there were only dead bodies. (Isaiah 37:36)
An angel appeared to the Egyptian wife of Abraham, Hagar. An angel appeared to Moses talking to him through a burning bush. Angels rolled the stone away that covered the tomb of Jesus - allowing the risen Lord to go free of the grave. Angels will be involved at the end of the world. The last book of the Bible, Revelation, has constant references to angels. Most of the time sounding trumpets of judgement to come on the world. The New Testament writers quote Jesus as saying that angels will come to gather God's elect at the end of the world. And, the end of the world will be heralded by an angel sounding a trumpet. (1 Thessalonians 4:16)
What may be of even more importance to us is that the Bible indicates that all those who follow God may have the equivalent of a personal guardian angel. "The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them." (Psalms 34:7) That is a remarkable truth to consider. If we follow the God of the Bible, the God of Israel, who is the only true and living God, then we can be assured of the protection of his angels.
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