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IN THE CARPENTER’S WORKSHOP: Angels

When I think of heaven, it would not be complete without God’s angels.  Heavenly beings, created just for divine communication and protection, the angels come to earth at very special times for God’s people, and God’s people only.

Earth has been blessed numerous times with visits from angels.  God sends them when there are “big doings” afoot in the plans of heaven.  Billy Graham calls them God’s secret agents.

What a great thing it would have been to stand with Daniel, as the angel Gabriel explained the visions that God had shared with him!  And to be Joseph, as that very same angel told him to go ahead and marry Mary, who was to be the mother of Jesus our Savior.

Angels have always been the ones God used to make great announcements.

They helped reveal the laws of Moses.

They came to tell Abraham and Sarah that, at the age of 90, they were going to have their first child, and that the nation of Israel would spring from him.  Their response?  They laughed!

Maybe the idea of their having children at that age was strange.  Maybe they did not realize that these men were really angels.  Thank God that he did not hold this against them!  He blessed them even though they had little faith at the moment.

Standing there when they really realized the angels’ words were true would have been a major blessing for all of us.  We all long to see the working of God in the present, and that was a major moment in the history of God’s people.

Angels strengthened and cared for Jesus after his 40 days of temptation in the wilderness.  A choice assignment for them, I am sure.

Right after the devil quoted the scripture, “he will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone,” they came to Jesus to feed and lift him up.

If the devil believes in angels, how much more should God’s people believe in them!

We are God’s people, and he has promised to protect and encourage us.  One of the wonderful ways this happens is through his heavenly angels.

One night Peter was in prison for preaching.  He was bound with two chains and guarded by two soldiers on either side and hundreds outside.  The angel of the Lord came in, poked him in the side, and walked out of prison with him.

Whether the angels escort us out prison, out of sin, or into heaven, they are symbols and partners of God’s purpose.  They make the next step possible.  They are created to encourage.

While scripture is clear that angels are not human beings, I still am glad for a number of “angels”  God has sent over  the years  to me.  God’s special people have walked in the door at precisely the moments I most needed to be encouraged or lifted up.  Pastoring to pastors and laity alike, we can all be angelic at times.  I am sure God welcomes that activity.

I love the movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life.”  One of the main characters is Clarence, an apprentice angel, who is earning his wings by helping George discover that he really does matter to those in his town and family.  George’s daughter, Zuzu, says at the end of the film, “every time we hear a bell ring, an angel gets his wings.”

While the only angels in scripture who have wings are the cherubim and seraphim who guard the ark of the covenant, most angels are seen as men dressed in white with no wings.  Abraham, the women at the tomb and many others had the same experience.

But it is still nice to think of angels when bells ring.  An unknown writer penned these words, “When angels visit us, we do not hear the rustle of wings, nor feel the feathery touch of the breast of a dove; but we know their presence by the love they create in our hearts.”

Love is indeed the message.  God loves us and sends his angels to make sure his purpose happens in our hearts and world.

The next time God wants to do something big in your life, he may indeed speak through an angel, literally meaning “messenger” of heaven.  Whether through reading God’s word about angels (and I’m sure you have some to look up after reading today’s column) or in seeing them work around you, seen and unseen angels go about their godly work.

I think that you have a guardian angel.  God loves us so much, that there is nothing he will not do to encourage or protect his people.

Here is an Irish blessing for you, complete with angels:  “May God grant you always...A sunbeam to warm you, a moonbeam to charm you, a sheltering angel so nothing can harm you.  Laughter to cheer you.  Faithful friends near you.  And whenever you pray, Heaven to hear you.”