The Angels—“Spirits for Public Service”
“Are they not all spirits for public service, sent forth to minister for those who are going to inherit salvation?”—HEB. 1:14.
JESUS CHRIST warned any who might stumble his followers: “See to it that you men do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that their angels in heaven always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 18:10) Referring to the righteous angels, the apostle Paul wrote: “Are they not all spirits for public service, sent forth to minister for those who are going to inherit salvation?” (Heb. 1:14) Those words are a comforting assurance that God uses these heavenly creatures to help humans. What does the Bible tell us about angels? How do they assist us? What can we learn from their examples?
2, 3. What are some duties of heavenly spirit creatures?
2 There are millions of faithful angels in heaven. All of them are “mighty in power, carrying out his word.” (Ps. 103:20; read Revelation 5:11.) These spirit sons of God have personality, divine qualities, and free will. They are superbly organized and have high positions in God’s arrangement, the archangel being Michael (Jesus’ heavenly name). (Dan. 10:13; Jude 9) This “firstborn of all creation” is “the Word,” or Spokesman, of God and was used by Jehovah in making all other things.—Col. 1:15-17; John 1:1-3.
3 Under the archangel are the seraphs, who declare Jehovah’s holiness and help to keep his people clean spiritually. There are also the cherubs, who serve as upholders of his majesty. (Gen. 3:24; Isa. 6:1-3, 6, 7) Other angels, or messengers, have various duties in carrying out God’s will.—Heb. 12:22, 23.
4. How did the angels react to the founding of the earth, and what could the proper exercise of free will have meant for humans?
4 All the angels rejoiced at the ‘founding of the earth’ and shared with delight in their assigned work as this unique jewel in space developed into mankind’s home. (Job 38:4, 7) Jehovah created man “a little lower than angels” but in His “image,” thus enabling humans to reflect the Creator’s lofty qualities. (Heb. 2:7; Gen. 1:26) By exercising the gift of free will properly, Adam and Eve and their descendants could have enjoyed life in a paradise home as part of Jehovah’s universal family of intelligent creatures.
5, 6. What revolt took place in heaven, and how did God respond?
5 Surely the holy angels must have been appalled when they witnessed the beginning of revolt in God’s household. One from their midst was no longer content with praising Jehovah but desired to be worshipped. He made himself Satan (meaning “Resister”) by challenging the rightfulness of Jehovah’s rulership and by launching an ambitious attempt to set up a rival sovereignty. With the first recorded lie, Satan slyly induced the first human pair to join him in rebelling against their loving Creator.—Gen. 3:4, 5; John 8:44.
6 Jehovah quickly rendered judgment against Satan by stating in the first Bible prophecy: “I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel.” (Gen. 3:15) Enmity would persist between Satan and God’s “woman.” Yes, Jehovah viewed the heavenly organization of faithful spirit creatures as a beloved wife bonded with him as Husband. This prophecy provided a sure basis for hope, although the details remained a “sacred secret” to be revealed progressively. God purposed that one from within the heavenly part of his organization would crush all rebels and that through him “the things in the heavens and the things on the earth” would be brought together.—Eph. 1:8-10.
7. What did some angels do in Noah’s day, and with what consequence for them?
7 In Noah’s day, a number of angels left their “proper dwelling place” and materialized fleshly bodies in order to pursue selfish pleasure on earth. (Jude 6; Gen. 6:1-4) Jehovah cast those rebels into dense darkness, and they thus joined Satan in becoming “wicked spirit forces” and vicious foes of God’s servants.—Eph. 6:11-13; 2 Pet. 2:4.
How Do Angels Assist Us?
8, 9. How has Jehovah used angels to assist humans?
8 Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Isaiah, Daniel, Jesus, Peter, John, and Paul are among those who were ministered to by angels. Righteous angels executed God’s judgments and transmitted prophecies and directions, including the Mosaic Law. (2 Ki. 19:35; Dan. 10:5, 11, 14; Acts 7:53; Rev. 1:1) Since we now have the complete Word of God, angels may not need to convey divine messages. (2 Tim. 3:16, 17) Behind the scenes, however, the angels are very busy carrying out God’s will and supporting his servants.
9 The Bible assures us: “The angel of Jehovah is camping all around those fearing him, and he rescues them.” (Ps. 34:7; 91:11) Because of the issue of integrity, Jehovah permits Satan to bring all sorts of trials upon us. (Luke 21:16-19) However, God knows the point beyond which a test would prove nothing more as far as our integrity to him is concerned. (Read 1 Corinthians 10:13.) Angels are ever alert to intervene according to God’s will. They rescued Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Daniel, and Peter but did not prevent the deaths of Stephen and James at enemy hands. (Dan. 3:17, 18, 28; 6:22; Acts 7:59, 60; 12:1-3, 7, 11) The circumstances and issues were different. Similarly, some of our brothers in Nazi concentration camps were executed, whereas Jehovah saw to it that most of them survived.
10. In addition to angelic help, what assistance may we receive?
10 The Scriptures do not teach that each person on earth has a guardian angel. We pray in confidence that “no matter what it is that we ask according to his will, [God] hears us.” (1 John 5:14) Of course, Jehovah could send an angel to assist us, but help may come in a different manner. Fellow Christians may be motivated to provide help and comfort. God may give us the wisdom and inner strength needed to cope with “a thorn in the flesh” that afflicts us as if we were being slapped by “an angel of Satan.”—2 Cor. 12:7-10; 1 Thess. 5:14.
11. How were angels used to help Jesus, and what did he accomplish by remaining faithful to God?
11 Consider how Jehovah used angels in the case of Jesus. They announced his birth and resurrection and ministered to him when he was on earth. The angels could have prevented his arrest and cruel death. Instead, however, an angel was sent to strengthen him. (Matt. 28:5, 6; Luke 2:8-11; 22:43) In accord with Jehovah’s purpose, Jesus died a sacrificial death and furnished proof that a perfect man can maintain integrity to God despite being tested to the limit. Jehovah therefore resurrected Jesus to immortal heavenly life, giving him “all authority” and making angels subject to him. (Matt. 28:18; Acts 2:32; 1 Pet. 3:22) Jesus thus proved to be the principal part of the “seed” of God’s “woman.”—Gen. 3:15; Gal. 3:16.
12. In what way can we imitate Jesus’ balanced example?
12 Jesus knew that it was wrong for him to put Jehovah to the test by expecting angels to rescue him if he were to engage in reckless behavior. (Read Matthew 4:5-7.) So let us imitate Jesus’ example by living with “soundness of mind,” not taking unnecessary risks, yet facing persecution confidently.—Titus 2:12.
What We Can Learn From the Faithful Angels
13. What can we learn from the example of the righteous angels mentioned at 2 Peter 2:9-11?
13 In reproving those who “speak abusively” of Jehovah’s anointed servants, the apostle Peter points to the fine example of the righteous angels. Although they have great power, the angels humbly refrain from making judgmental accusations “out of respect for Jehovah.” (Read 2 Peter 2:9-11.) Let us also keep free from improper judging, respect those entrusted with oversight in the congregation, and leave matters in the hands of Jehovah, the Supreme Judge.—Rom. 12:18, 19; Heb. 13:17.
14. What examples of humble service do the angels provide?
14 Jehovah’s angels provide us with fine examples of humble service. Certain angels refused to disclose their names to humans. (Gen. 32:29; Judg. 13:17, 18) Although there are millions of spirit creatures in heaven, the Bible reveals the names of only Michael and Gabriel. This may serve as a safeguard against our giving angels undue honor. (Luke 1:26; Rev. 12:7) When the apostle John fell down to worship before an angel, he was admonished: “Be careful! Do not do that! All I am is a fellow slave of you and of your brothers.” (Rev. 22:8, 9) Our worship, including our prayers, should go only to God.—Read Matthew 4:8-10.
15. How do the angels set an example for us in patience?
15 The angels also set an example in patience. Though they are intensely interested in knowing God’s sacred secrets, they are not privy to all of them. “Into these very things angels are desiring to peer,” states the Bible. (1 Pet. 1:12) So, what do they do? They wait patiently until God’s due time for his “diversified wisdom” to “be made known through the congregation.”—Eph. 3:10, 11.
16. How can our conduct affect the angels?
16 Christians under trial are ‘a theatrical spectacle to angels.’ (1 Cor. 4:9) With great satisfaction, the angels observe our acts of faithfulness and even rejoice over the repentance of a sinner. (Luke 15:10) The godly conduct of Christian women is noted by the angels. The Bible shows that “the woman ought to have a sign of authority upon her head because of the angels.” (1 Cor. 11:3, 10) Yes, angels are pleased to see Christian women and all other earthly servants of God comply with theocratic order and headship. Such obedience is a fitting reminder for these heavenly sons of God.
Angels Actively Support the Preaching Work
17, 18. Why can we say that angels support our preaching?
17 Angels are involved in some of the remarkable things that occur in “the Lord’s day.” These include the birth of the Kingdom in 1914 and the hurling of Satan and his demons from heaven by “Michael and his angels.” (Rev. 1:10; 11:15; 12:5-9) The apostle John saw an “angel flying in midheaven, and he had everlasting good news to declare as glad tidings to those who dwell on the earth.” The angel declared: “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.” (Rev. 14:6, 7) Jehovah’s servants are thus assured of angelic backing as they preach the good news of the established Kingdom despite the Devil’s vicious opposition.—Rev. 12:13, 17.
18 Today, angels do not lead us to honesthearted ones by speaking to us as an angel spoke to Philip and directed him to the Ethiopian eunuch. (Acts 8:26-29) However, many modern-day experiences give evidence that angels behind the scenes are supporting our Kingdom-preaching work and guiding us to those “rightly disposed for everlasting life.”a (Acts 13:48) How important it is to share in the ministry regularly so that we are available to do our part in finding those desiring to “worship the Father with spirit and truth”!—John 4:23, 24.
19, 20. What part do angels have in the events marking “the conclusion of the system of things”?
19 Pointing to our day, Jesus said that “in the conclusion of the system of things,” the angels would “separate the wicked from among the righteous.” (Matt. 13:37-43, 49) Angels play a role in the final gathering and sealing of anointed ones. (Read Matthew 24:31; Rev. 7:1-3) Moreover, Jesus is accompanied by angels when he “separates the sheep from the goats.”—Matt. 25:31-33, 46.
20 “At the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels” all “who do not know God and those who do not obey the good news about our Lord Jesus” will be destroyed. (2 Thess. 1:6-10) When John saw that same event in vision, he described Jesus and the angelic heavenly armies as going forth on white horses in order to carry on war in righteousness.—Rev. 19:11-14.
21. What action will the angel “with the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand” take against Satan and his demons?
21 John also “saw an angel coming down out of heaven with the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand.” This is none other than the archangel Michael, who will bind the Devil and hurl him—and evidently the demons—into the abyss. They will be released briefly at the end of Christ’s Millennial Reign when perfect mankind will experience a final test. Thereafter, Satan and all other rebels will suffer destruction. (Rev. 20:1-3, 7-10; 1 John 3:8) All rebellion against God will have been removed.
22. How are the angels involved in what is just ahead, and how should we feel about their role?
22 Grand deliverance from Satan’s wicked system of things is just ahead. Angels will have a definite role in these significant events that will vindicate Jehovah’s sovereignty and bring to complete fulfillment his purpose for the earth and mankind. The righteous angels are indeed “spirits for public service, sent forth to minister for those who are going to inherit salvation.” Let us therefore be thankful to Jehovah God for the way he uses the angels to help us do the divine will and gain everlasting life.
How Would You Answer?
• How are heavenly spirit creatures organized?
• What did some angels do in Noah’s day?
• How has God used angels to assist us?
• What role do righteous angels play in our time?
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Angels rejoice in carrying out God’s will
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As in Daniel’s case, angels are ever alert to intervene according to God’s will
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Be courageous, for angels are backing the Kingdom-preaching work!
Globe: NASA photo