Christmas: Teach Your Family about Angels
Christmas is filled with images of angels atop our trees and lighting our front yards. But very few of us know how amazing and powerful they are. Most people don’t realize that angels are mentioned over 300 times in the Bible. The earliest books: Genesis and Job describe their creation, and the last book, the book of Revelation, is filled with their praises and power to carry out God’s work.
The classic Christmas movie on angels is “It’s a wonderful Life” with Jimmy Stewart. George Bailey, a desperate man in dire straits, is transformed by the appearance of Clarence, his guardian angel. Angels are not imaginary. They are real and are deeply involved in God’s work and in our lives.
So before you hang a cherub on your Christmas tree, why don’t you explain to your children what the Bible reveals about these heavenly creatures?
- What do angels look like?
Angels are spirit beings (Hebrews 1:14), so they do not have any essential physical form. But angels do have the ability to appear in human form. When angels appeared to humans in the Bible, they resembled normal males. In Genesis 18:1-19, God and two angels appeared as men and ate a meal with Abraham. Joshua prepared to attack the fortified city of Jericho when a “man” with a drawn sword stood before him. In Joshua 5:14, he identified himself as the “commander of the armies of the Lord,” a warrior angel appearing as a man.
Other times, angels appeared not as humans, but as something other-worldly, and their appearance was terrifying. Often, the first words from these angels were “do not be afraid,” because extreme fear was such a common reaction. The Roman soldiers stationed at Jesus’ tomb became as dead men when they saw the angel of the Lord (Matthew 28:4). The shepherds in the fields in Luke 2 were “sore afraid” when the angel of the Lord appeared and the glory of the Lord shone around them.
- Are angels superior to Jesus?
No. Hebrews 1:5-14 teaches “God speaks of his angels as messengers swift as the wind and as servants made of flaming fire; 8 but of his Son He says, “Your Kingdom, O God, will last forever and ever; its commands are always just and right. No, for the angels are only spirit-messengers sent out to help and care for those who are to receive his salvation.” LB
3.Are there different kinds of angels?
Yes! Cherubim guard God’s glory. They are guardians. They stood at the Garden of Eden with flaming swords so that Adam and Eve would not try to re-enter. The wings of the cherubim covered the Ark of the Covenant, where God’s glory resided in the Old Testament. Cherubim also appear as fearsome four-headed creatures before the throne of God in heaven. They continuously sing “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts.”NIV
Seraphim are the praise-leaders in heaven. “Holy, holy, holy,” they chant. Isaiah’s vision of God’s throne room was like this: Seraphim stood over him; each one had six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and they used the remaining two to fly.” NET
Daniel 4:13-17 teaches that angels are protectors of people and of nations.
“While I was watching in my mind’s visions on my bed, a holy sentinel came down from heaven. This announcement is by the decree of the sentinels; this decision is by the pronouncement of the holy ones, so that those who are alive may understand that the Most High has authority over human kingdoms, and he bestows them on whomever he wishes.” NIV
Some angels are “Divine bouncers.” Visiting angels protected Lot and his family and struck the perverted attackers blind. One angel with a flaming sword scared Balaam’s donkey and prevented the wayward prophet from blessing Israel’s enemy. An angel army trounced the Syrian army to protect Elisha and his servant in 2 Kings 6. A “protector” angel delivered Peter from prison.
- Do angels have names?
Only three angels are named in the Bible: Michael, Gabriel and Lucifer.
Michael fought as a warrior angel to deliver God’s message to Daniel about Israel. (Jude 9, Daniel 10 and Revelation 12). Gabriel announced the coming of Jesus to Mary and Lucifer was described as the “son of the morning” or a fallen angel in Isaiah 14.
- How many angels are there?
More than we can possibly imagine! In Deuteronomy when God gives the law, Moses writes, “the Lord came with myriads of angels.” Luke tells us at the birth of Jesus there was a “multitude of heavenly hosts.” Hebrews 12:22 teaches that we worship with an innumerable company of angels. And in Revelation 5, John writes “I heard the voice of many angels-10,000 times 10,000 and thousands of thousands.”
- What do angels do?
They do God’s work! Angels were involved in Jesus’ earthly life many, many times. Gabriel announced Jesus’ birth to the Virgin Mary. (Luke 1:26-32) He also announced to Zechariah the priest that his aging wife was going to bear a son. Gabriel instructed Zechariah to name his son John. Zechariah balked and Gabriel struck him dumb until the baby was born (Luke 1:19).
Angels sang in the skies over the manger (Luke 2:9-14). Angels warned the young family to escape to Egypt (Matthew 2:12). Jesus received comfort after his forty-day fast and temptation of Satan. (Matthew 4:11). Jesus agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane, sweating drops of blood. After Jesus prayed, the angels comforted him. At the Resurrection an angel rolled away the stone that covered Christ’s tomb (Matthew 28:3).
- How do angels help us?
They watch you. They are constantly vigilant. They guard you. They rescue you. Daniel described how he saw the angel of the Lord shut the mouths of the lions when he had been thrown in the den to be devoured. When Peter was imprisoned in Acts 12, God dispatched an angel to help him escape. He walked home without even being noticed!
My friend was rear-ended by a huge 18-wheeler truck going 60 miles per hour. Her car was tiny in comparison. The car was totaled, but she was unharmed. I know angels were dispatched to save her! My baby crawled near a precipice that would have sent her to her death. My husband and I heard an urgent cry to help her. When we asked who called us, no one was in the house. An angel had preserved her life! My husband was threatened by a man who swore to assassinate him. Mysteriously, his truck veered into a guard rail and stopped him from getting to our home. I believe my husband was protected by angel guards!
And…one final thought. This Christmas, remember to be kind to everyone, including strangers:
Hebrews 13:2 “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” NLB