A Systematic Expository on the book of Hebrews
STUDY 3: IDENTITY AND MINISTRY OF ANGELS
Hebrews 1: 4-7, 13, 14.
The Epistle to the Hebrews was written to Jewish believers to emphasise the truth that the New covenant is better than the Old covenant, that Jesus Christ is the better Priest, and the better Mediator - the final Priest and the final Sacrifice at the same time. The Old covenant was brought to Israel and maintained by angelic mediation (Acts 7: 53; Galatians 3: 19; Psalm 68: 17; Hebrews 2: 2, 3). The Jews knew this, and consequently had the highest regard angels. If the writer of Hebrews, therefore, was to persuade the Jews that Christ is the Mediator of a better covenant than that given through Moses, he would have to show, among other things, that Christ is greater than the angels. In Hebrews 1: 4-14, seven Old Testament passages are quoted to establish this truth.
Today’s bible study devotes attention to the identity and ministry of angels. The Bible speaks a great deal of angels. The 108 direct reference to angels in the Old Testament and 165 in the New. Our next study will show how Christ is better and greater than the angels.
GENERAL FACTS ABOUT ANGELS
Psalm 148: 2, 5; Colossians 1: 16-17; Hebrews 12: 22; Luke 2: 13- 15; Matthew 22: 30; Luke 20: 36; Matthew 24: 36; Hebrews 13: 2; Colossians 2: 18.
Angels were all created before man. They do not have the infirmities that men have. They are of a higher order than man - an amazing creation of God. After the fall of the rebellious angels with Lucifer, the angels remaining in heaven were no longer subject to sin. Satan and the fallen angels will be tormented in everlasting fire at the end of this age (Matthew 25: 41, 46; Revelation 20: 10). God’s holy angels are powerful and wise. They are innumerable (Hebrews 12: 22; Daniel 7: 10; Revelation 5: 11). Angels do not marry and are unable to procreate. They are not subject to death. Their number, therefore, neither increases by procreation or by additional creation nor decreases by death or by annihilation. Angels often appear as men (Acts 10: 3, 30; Genesis 19: 1, 12, 15; Hebrews 13: 2) but may also appear in other forms. Concerning the angels who appeared at Christ’s resurrection, we read: “his countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men” (Matthew 28: 3, 4). Some people seek for names of angels but believers trust in the name of Christ which is above every name (Judges 13: 16-18; Philippians 2: 9-11). False prophets, ignorant sinners and blinded backsliders worship angels and bring wrath and judgment upon themselves. We are warned in scripture that we should not worship angels (Colossians 2: 18; Revelation 22: 8, 9).
THE NATURE OF ANGELS
Hebrews 1: 4-7; 2: 6, 7, 16-18; Psalm 104: 4; Luke 24: 39; 2 Thessalonians 1: 7; Isaiah 37: 36; Mark 8: 38; Psalm 103: 20; Daniel 9: 21 with 10: 6.
Angels have a superior nature to that of men. Man, in his present state, is lower than God’s holy angels. Angels are not like men who are plagued with infirmities, weaknesses, prone to tiredness, sickness, death, limited by time and physical conditions. Men living on earth are subject to frailties and oppression which angels, living in heaven, are free from. While men can be tempted, can sin, fail God and be lost, angels are holy and sinless. Hunger, thirst, weariness and decay, known to all men are unknown to angels. Angels are spirits, not having flesh and bones like men. Angels are powerful and mighty, only two angels destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19: 13). A single angel smote 185, 000 Assyrians in one night. Angels are holy and obedient to God. They are intelligent and wise, glorious, immortal, heavenly spirit beings. They need no rest, they can appear visible and invisible and can move at inconceivable speed. Angels can speak human languages (angels spoke to Abraham, Lot, Balaam, Nanoah, Elijah, Daniel, Zacharias, Mary, the Shepherds, Peter and others). There are also tongues or languages of angels (1 Corinthians 13: 1).
THE MINISTRY OF ANGELS
Hebrews 1: 13, 14; Psalms 34: 7; 91: 10-13; 2 Kings 6: 13-17; Daniel 6: 22; 10: 5, 6, 10-12; Genesis 19: 15-17; Acts 5: 17-21; Numbers 22: 22-33; Luke 22: 41-43; 1 Kings 29: 4-8; Luke 16: 22; Matthew 24: 30, 31.
We find references to the ministry of angels from Genesis to Revelation and in every section of the Bible. Angels have a part in God’s dispensation of Grace as well as in the Old Testament time. When God gave the Law, it was attended by angels. The Law was given by the instrumentality of angels: “By the disposition of angels” (Acts 7: 53; Galatians 3: 19; Psalm 68: 17). Angels’ ministry includes bringing answers to prayer (Daniel 10: 12, 13) , making God’s revelation known (Daniel 9: 21-23) , protecting believers (Psalm 34: 7; 91: 11), delivering and directing preachers (Acts 5: 18-20; 8: 26-30; 12: 6-11) , fighting against believers enemies (Numbers 22: 22-33; Acts 12: 20-23) , strengthening in trial (Luke 22: 43) , leading sinners to true Gospel preachers (Acts 10: 3-8) , revealing God’s truth to disciples (Matthew 28: 5-7; Acts 1: 9-11; 27: 22-24) and receiving departed spirits of believers (Luke 16: 22). When Jesus was about to be arrested in the Garden, and Peter drew the sword, He said that He could have called twelve legions of angels for His protection if He wanted to (Matthew 26: 51-54).
The Bible records many appearances of angels to men. Angels appeared to various people: to Hagar to counsel (Genesis 16: 7-12) , to Lot to warn and deliver (Genesis 19: 12-17) , to Jacob to encourage, and commission (Judges 6: 12), to Manoah to inform him of the birth of a deliverer (Judges 13: 8-21), to Elijah to feed and strengthen (1 Kings 19: 4-8), to Daniel to protect from the lions (Daniel 6: 22), to Zacharias to prophesy the birth of John (Luke 1: 26-38), to Joseph to confirm the supernatural conception of Mary (Matthew 1: 18-21), to the shepherds to inform them of the birth of the Saviour (Luke 2: 8-17), to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to assure them of the resurrection of Jesus (Matthew 28: 1-7), and to many others (Acts 1: 11; 5: 19; 8: 26; 10: 3; 12: 7-11; 27: 23; Revelation 1: 1; 22: 16).
The ministry of angels for the “heirs of salvation” continues today and will continue till the end (Hebrews 1: 14; 13: 2; Revelation 7: 2, 3; 14: 6, 7). A remarkable instance occurred at the time of the first World War. A chaplain, who served in France told of some of his experiences. He was commissioned to serve with a detachment of Mons; and during the period of fighting in that region there was a large body of English soldiers who became separated from the main army and were just about to be surrounded by the enemy. They saw no hope, but they made up their minds they would not surrender. The enemy was advancing down a long slope toward them. This chaplain with thousands of others who were gathered there, watching the approach of the enemy, all at once saw the Germans halted. Someone spoke behind him and said, “Look!” He turned. He stated that in space above these soldiers he saw ranks upon ranks of angels, every one of them with drawn swords. All the soldiers who expected to be annihilated were saved. This has been documented from more than one source.
There is no question about the ministry of angels. God still sends them for the protection of His own.
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