The fastest known thing in the universe is the speed of light which is 186,000 miles per second. An email makes it to the other side of the planet at nearly half the speed of light which is 670,616,629 mph. A slower means of communication is the post, also known as ‘snail mail’. Most postal systems aim for 1st Class items to be delivered the next working day, though obviously longer for international mail. Snails can travel just over one mph and so can cover 25 metres in the 24 hours! The longest time elapsed between a letter being posted and its delivery is 89 years. This was received in December 2008 by Janet Barrett, a guest-house owner in Weymouth, Dorset, UK and was an RSVP to a Boxing Day party invitation, which had been posted on 29 November 1919. The message inside read:
- ‘Dear Percy, Many thanks for the invitation, be delighted. See you on the 26th December. Regards Buffy’ – it was delivered in a plastic bag with a note apologizing for any damage but with no explanation!
The first documented use of a postal system occurred in Egypt around 2400 BC when Pharaohs used couriers to send out decrees throughout the territory of the state. In 1635, King Charles l established a public postal service in the UK. Long before any of these we read of other messengers – angels. The word angel arrives in modern English from Old English ‘engel’ and the Old French ‘angele’. Both of these derive from the Latin ‘angelus’ (literally ‘messenger’). What do you know about angels? Do you believe they exist? Have you met any?
- ‘Believers, look up - take courage. The angels are nearer than you think’ – Billy Graham
- ‘Fools rush in where angels dare to tread’ – Alexander Bacon
- ‘I could not have made it this far had there not been angels along the way. So yes, I believe in angels, absolutely I do’ – Della Reese
- ‘We cannot pass our guardian angel's bounds, resigned or sullen, he will hear our sighs’ – Saint Augustine
The Old Testament has 108 references to angels but the New Testament has 182. Angels are very powerful but they are subject to Jesus Christ. They worship God and execute his Will as they carry messages, rescue God’s people and protect each of God’s children. They can sometimes be seen by animals and humans but are often unrecognized. Angels are musical and they are great at a party. Before the world began, angels were with God and they will dispense various judgements at the end of time. These mighty messengers of God have been very active throughout history and still are. The Apostle John was given a guided tour of heaven by an angel – perhaps you will get a personal tour! Those who have trusted in Christ will even judge those angels who rebelled for they do not have a good eternal future. The last book of the Bible tells us much about the future and there are 77 references to angels in it. Angels are part of our present and they will be part of our future.
- ‘For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways’ – Psalm 91:11
- ‘The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them’ – Psalm 34:7
- ‘But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out’ – Acts 5:19
- ‘The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists ... They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him’ – Acts 12:6,7, 10
Many celebrities, the wealthy and world leaders have personal bodyguards. These men and women put their lives on the line to give protection and are highly paid for doing so. One of the assignments for angels is to be a personal bodyguard for each child of God. If you have been a Christian for a while, you will have heard many stories of angels preventing accidents and intervening to rescue people. Three favourites: a young female missionary rescued from a gang in Turkey, an angel confirming the gospel in a pub and angels being heard singing on an amateur worship recording. There are so many that books have been written about them because they sell well – why? Angels capture the imagination, they take a person back to childhood yet they can become an obsessing distraction.
- ‘I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, ‘Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!’ – Revelation 22:7-9
- ‘Do you not know that we will judge angels?’ – 1 Corinthians 6:3
- ‘Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?’ – Hebrews 1:14
Angels have different levels of seniority and authority given to them. Archangels are the ‘top brass’, Michael and Gabriel being the only two of which we know. Yet there are legions of angels and within those there are cherubim, seraphim, those who warn, bring messages, guard and lead, bring judgement, strengthen, overseeing churches and even nations. It was Gabriel who told Mary that she would give birth to Jesus, an event that was accompanied by a vast choir of angels. After Jesus endured the 40 days of testing, angels came to strengthen him. Following the resurrection, angels appeared to the disciples to explain what had happened and what they should do next.
- ‘And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” In speaking of the angels he says, “He makes his angels spirits, and his servants flames of fire” – Hebrews 1:6-7
- ‘The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil’ – Matthew 13:41
- ‘I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star’ – Revelation 22:16
- ‘Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it’ – Hebrews 13:2
Whilst we may not always recognise angels, it is wise to be aware they are very much around and to pay attention to whatever they say or do for they are sent by God to you. Next time you sense one is near, it may be for your personal protection, to help, comfort or lead you.
‘When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all round Elisha’ – 2 Kings 6:15-17
You are never alone. Even when everything seems stacked against you, remember that those who are with the child of God are more than those who are against and you will find strength in God in any situation.
TAGS – heavenly host, guidance, worship, praise, powerful, angelic beings