The Truth about Angels
While it took decades to be recognized as such, Frank Capra created a movie classic with his 1946 release of It’s a Wonderful Life. Who hasn’t sympathized with George Bailey’s skepticism as he is guided by a wannabe angel through a paranormal experience? And, what first-time viewer hasn’t been a little perplexed when the unexpected jingle of a Christmas bell signaled that Clarence finally earned his wings?
Obviously fictitious, this holiday fixture underscores people’s interest in angels, especially during the Christmas season. In biblically documented accounts, the activities of the angelic realm reach beyond the Nativity, as seen in the following passage:
“Are they [angels] not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” (Heb. 1:14).
Using a rhetorical question, the writer of Hebrews explains the purpose of angels within the scope of human history. Yes! Angels operate in the physical dimension for the specific purpose of helping all who experience salvation.
In the last century, however, culture’s fascination with angels spiked in the 1980s generating a lucrative genre for the media industries. Pennies on the ground, feathers floating in the air, bells tinkling and electric lights flickering were all cited as imagined proof of angelic activity.
With growing public interest, bookstores and libraries created sections devoted to the topic of angels. Angel-awareness seminars highlighted interest in angelic activity. Psychics boasted ability to connect people with guardian angels. Websites archiving angel encounters ballooned into a new market driven trend.
Angel hype has little to do with angelic encounters as documented in the Bible. Angels are awesome beings that do not acquiesce to the quirks of popular opinion or the desires of individuals.
Angelic beings are devoted in service to God. They are ministering spirits. Their actions are not governed by man’s desires, but rather by God’s supreme will as He carries out His sovereign purposes in the lives of men.
Do we benefit from the activity of angels today? Absolutely! Do they leave clues to their presence? Probably not!
The writer of the book of Hebrews suggests the possibility that when we use our homes and resources for hospitality, we could conceivably entertain angels. Nevertheless, their presence in our midst will likely be without our knowledge:
“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels” (Heb. 13:2).
As ministering spirits, angels are responsible to protect, guide and assist in providing answers to our prayers (Ps. 91:1-12; Acts 8:26; 12:1-11). Although angels do not necessarily reveal themselves or their names, most people of faith can look back on miraculous events in their lives as assurance that God provided angelic help at times of great need. He alone is capable of sending His ministering spirits to intervene on our behalf in the day-to-day realities of life!
As you consider angels in the Christmas story, separate the facts from popular fiction. Then, rejoice because God still uses angels to actively engage in the outworking of His plan and purpose.
1) It’s a Wonderful Life picturing Henry Travers as Clarence the angel and James Stewart as George Bailey. (Image used for illustrative purposes) (Photo credit: Screenshot [PD-US, PD-Art]/Wikimedia/Enhancement, MKM Portfolios)
2) All remaining photographic angel representations (Images used for illustrative purposes) (Photo credits: Pixabay/Enhancement, MKM Portfolios)
Copyright © 2016 Charles E. McCracken, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.