Angels—How They Affect Mankind
“After these things I saw another angel descending from heaven, with great authority . . . And he cried out with a strong voice, saying: ‘She has fallen! Babylon the Great has fallen!’”—REVELATION 18:1, 2.
WHILE in exile on the island of Patmos, the aged apostle John is favored with prophetic visions. He beholds thrilling events as “by inspiration” he comes to be in “the Lord’s day.” That day begins with the enthronement of Jesus Christ in 1914 and runs clear down to the end of his Thousand Year Reign.—Revelation 1:10.
2 Jehovah God did not give this revelation directly to John. He used a channel. Revelation 1:1 states: “A revelation by Jesus Christ, which God gave him, to show his slaves the things that must shortly take place. And he sent forth his angel and presented it in signs through him to his slave John.” Jehovah, through Jesus, used an angel to make known to John the wonderful things regarding “the Lord’s day.” At one point, John also “saw another angel descending from heaven, with great authority.” What was this angel’s assignment? “He cried out with a strong voice, saying: ‘She has fallen! Babylon the Great has fallen!’” (Revelation 18:1, 2) This powerful angel was privileged to make an announcement about the fall of Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion. Thus, there can be no doubt that Jehovah uses angels in an important way in carrying out his will. Before examining in detail the role that angels play in God’s purpose and how we are affected by them, let us consider the origin of these spirit creatures.
How Did Angels Come to Exist?
3 Millions of people today believe that angels exist. But many have mistaken ideas about them and their origin. For example, some religious people think that when a loved one dies, that person is called to join God and becomes an angel. Is that what God’s Word teaches about the creation, the existence, and the purpose of angels?
4 The angel foremost in power and authority—the chief angel—is named Michael the archangel. (Jude 9) He is none other than Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 4:16) Countless ages ago when Jehovah purposed to be a Creator, the very first of his creations was this angelic Son. (Revelation 3:14) Later, through this firstborn Son, Jehovah created all other spirit creatures. (Colossians 1:15-17) Referring to these angelic creatures as his sons, Jehovah asked the patriarch Job: “Where did you happen to be when I founded the earth? Tell me, if you do know understanding. . . . Who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars joyfully cried out together, and all the sons of God began shouting in applause?” (Job 38:4, 6, 7) Clearly, the angels are God’s creation, and they came into existence long before humans.
5 “God is a God, not of disorder, but of peace,” states 1 Corinthians 14:33. Accordingly, Jehovah has his spirit sons organized into three basic categories: (1) seraphs, who serve as attendants at God’s throne, declare his holiness, and keep his people spiritually clean; (2) cherubs, who uphold Jehovah’s majesty; and (3) other angels who carry out his will. (Psalm 103:20; Isaiah 6:1-3; Ezekiel 10:3-5; Daniel 7:10) What are some ways in which these spirit creatures affect humans?—Revelation 5:11.
What Role Do Angels Play?
6 The first direct reference to spirit creatures is made at Genesis 3:24, where we read: “[Jehovah] drove the man out and posted at the east of the garden of Eden the cherubs and the flaming blade of a sword that was turning itself continually to guard the way to the tree of life.” These cherubs made it impossible for Adam and Eve to reenter their original garden home. That was at the beginning of human history. What role have angels played since then?
7 Angels are mentioned nearly 400 times in the Bible. Both the Hebrew and the Greek words for “angel” can be translated “messenger.” Angels have thus served as a means of communication between God and mankind. As noted in the first two paragraphs of this article, Jehovah used an angel to deliver his message to the apostle John.
8 Angels are also used to give support and encouragement to God’s servants on earth. Back in the time of the Judges in Israel, for example, Manoah and his barren wife earnestly desired a child. Jehovah sent his angel to inform Manoah’s wife that she would have a son. The account tells us: “Look! you will be pregnant, and you will certainly give birth to a son, and no razor should come upon his head, because a Nazirite of God is what the child will become on leaving the belly; and he it is who will take the lead in saving Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.”—Judges 13:1-5.
9 The wife of Manoah eventually gave birth to a son, Samson, who became famous in Bible history. (Judges 13:24) Before the child was born, Manoah requested that the angel return to them to instruct them as to what they ought to do in the upbringing of the boy. Manoah asked: “What will become the child’s mode of life and his work?” Jehovah’s angel repeated the instructions he had given to Manoah’s wife. (Judges 13:6-14) How encouraged Manoah must have felt! Angels do not visit individuals in the same way today, but like Manoah, parents can seek Jehovah’s mind when training their children.—Ephesians 6:4.
10 There was an impressive example of angelic support in the days of Elisha the prophet. Elisha was staying in Dothan, a city in Israel. One day when Elisha’s servant got up early in the morning and looked outside, he saw that the city was surrounded by horses and war chariots. The king of Syria had sent a powerful military force to capture Elisha. How did Elisha’s attendant react? Fearful, perhaps panic-stricken, he cried out: “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” To him, all seemed lost. But Elisha answered: “Do not be afraid, for there are more who are with us than those who are with them.” What did he mean?—2 Kings 6:11-16.
11 Elisha was aware that angelic hosts were present to support him. However, his servant saw nothing. So “Elisha began to pray and say: ‘O Jehovah, open his eyes, please, that he may see.’ Immediately Jehovah opened the attendant’s eyes, so that he saw; and, look! the mountainous region was full of horses and war chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:17) The attendant could then see the angelic hosts. With spiritual insight, we too can perceive that angels, all under the direction of Jehovah and Christ, lend support and protection to Jehovah’s people.
Angelic Support in the Time of Christ
12 Consider the support that the virgin Jewess Mary received when hearing the news: “You will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you are to call his name Jesus.” Just before delivering this startling message, the angel Gabriel, who was sent forth from God, said to her: “Have no fear, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” (Luke 1:26, 27, 30, 31) How Mary must have been encouraged and strengthened by these words that assured her of divine favor!
13 Another instance of angelic support occurred after Jesus resisted the three temptations that Satan placed before Him in the wilderness. The account tells us that at the conclusion of the tests, “the Devil left him, and, look! angels came and began to minister to him.” (Matthew 4:1-11) Something similar happened on the night before Jesus was to die. In anguish, Jesus bent his knees and began to pray, saying: “‘Father, if you wish, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, let, not my will, but yours take place.’ Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.” (Luke 22:42, 43) But what kind of angelic support do we have today?
Angelic Support in Modern Times
14 When we consider the modern-day history of the preaching work of Jehovah’s Witnesses, do we not see evidence of angelic support? For example, Jehovah’s people were able to withstand the onslaught of Nazism in Germany and Western Europe before and during World War II (1939-45). Under Catholic Fascist regimes in Italy, Spain, and Portugal, they had to withstand persecution even longer. And for decades, they endured persecution in the former Soviet Union and its satellite nations. Not to be overlooked is the persecution that the Witnesses have endured in some African nations.* In more recent times, Jehovah’s servants have suffered ferocious persecution in the country of Georgia. Satan has done everything in his power to put an end to the activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Yet, as an organization, they have survived such opposition and have prospered. This is, in part, due to the protective shield that the angels have provided.—Psalm 34:7; Daniel 3:28; 6:22.
15 Jehovah’s Witnesses take to heart their commission to preach the good news of God’s Kingdom earth wide and to make disciples by teaching Bible truth to interested people everywhere. (Matthew 28:19, 20) However, they are well-aware that they cannot fulfill this commission without support from the angels. Therefore, what is stated at Revelation 14:6, 7 has been a constant source of encouragement to them. There we read: “I [the apostle John] saw another angel flying in midheaven, and he had everlasting good news to declare as glad tidings to those who dwell on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people, saying in a loud voice: ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of the judgment by him has arrived, and so worship the One who made the heaven and the earth and sea and fountains of waters.’”
16 These words clearly show that the great worldwide evangelizing work of Jehovah’s Witnesses has angelic backing and direction. Jehovah is using his angels to direct sincere people to his Witnesses. The angels have also guided the Witnesses to deserving ones. This would explain why it is that on so many occasions—too often to be just coincidence—one of Jehovah’s Witnesses meets a person at the precise time that he or she is going through a crisis and needs spiritual help.
A Dramatic Role in the Near Future
17 In addition to serving as messengers and strengthening aids to Jehovah’s worshippers, angels serve another purpose. In times past, they carried out divine judgments. Back in the eighth century B.C.E., for example, Jerusalem was threatened by a vast horde of Assyrian soldiers. How did Jehovah respond? He said: “I shall certainly defend this city to save it for my own sake and for the sake of David my servant.” The Bible account tells us what happened: “It came about on that night that the angel of Jehovah proceeded to go out and strike down a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians. When people rose up early in the morning, why, there all of them were dead carcasses.” (2 Kings 19:34, 35) How puny man’s armies are when compared with the strength of just one angel!
18 Angels will serve as God’s executional forces in the near future. Very soon now, Jesus will come “with his powerful angels in a flaming fire.” Their mission will be to bring “vengeance upon those who do not know God and those who do not obey the good news about our Lord Jesus.” (2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8) What an effect this action will have on mankind! Those who refuse to respond to the good news of God’s Kingdom now being declared earth wide will suffer destruction. Only those who seek Jehovah, righteousness, and meekness will be “concealed in the day of Jehovah’s anger” and be unharmed.—Zephaniah 2:3.
19 We can be grateful that Jehovah uses his powerful angels to support and strengthen his worshippers on earth. Our appreciation for the role that angels play in God’s purpose is particularly comforting, since there are angels who have rebelled against Jehovah and have come under Satan’s leadership. The following article will discuss what measures true Christians can take to protect themselves from the powerful influence of Satan the Devil and his demons.
For detailed accounts of these waves of persecution, see the Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses for 1983 (Angola), 1972 (Czechoslovakia), 2000 (Czech Republic), 1992 (Ethiopia), 1974 and 1999 (Germany), 1982 (Italy), 1999 (Malawi), 2004 (Moldova), 1996 (Mozambique), 1994 (Poland), 1983 (Portugal), 1978 (Spain), 2002 (Ukraine), and 2006 (Zambia).
What Did You Learn?
• How did angels come into existence?
• How were angels used in Bible times?
• What does Revelation 14:6, 7 reveal about the activity of angels today?
• What dramatic role will angels play in the near future?
1, 2. What shows that Jehovah uses angels in carrying out his will?
3. What misconception about angels do many people have?
4. What do the Scriptures tell us about the origin of angels?
5. How are angels organized?
6. How did Jehovah use cherubs in connection with the garden of Eden?
7. What does the meaning of the original-language words for “angel” show about one of the roles angels play?
8, 9. (a) How did visits from an angel affect Manoah and his wife? (b) What can parents learn from Manoah’s encounter with God’s angel?
10, 11. (a) How were Elisha and his servant affected by the invading Syrian army? (b) How can we benefit from contemplating this event?
12. What support did Mary receive from the angel Gabriel?
13. How did angels support Jesus?
14. What persecution have Jehovah’s Witnesses had to endure in modern times, and what has been the result?
15, 16. What angelic support do Jehovah’s Witnesses receive in their worldwide ministry?
17. How did the Assyrians fare against just one angel?
18, 19. What dramatic role will angels play in the near future, and how will that affect mankind?
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Manoah and his wife were encouraged by an angel
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“There are more who are with us than those who are with them”