“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth.” ~ Luke 1:26
Have you known someone who likes to give people nicknames? Maybe it was because they thought it was easier to remember than real names! As a trumpet player, I’ve frequently heard trumpet-related monikers. A former college president whom I taught called me “Trumpet Joe.” Back in college, a pastor who liked my trumpet playing called me “Gabriel,” eventually shortened to “Gabe.” I would have preferred being called by my correct name, but I learned to laugh and go along.
In Revelation 8, seven angels had seven trumpets to sound. Many conclude that Gabriel was one of them. I like to think that he also sounds the famous trumpet in 1 Corinthians 15:52 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16, which accompanies believers’ resurrection from the dead. I guess I can take being called “Gabe” as a compliment!
There are multiple fascinating accounts of angelic visitations in the Bible. Despite their great displays of power and authority, they are created beings whose power and authority come from God Almighty. Angels give us a glimpse into the infinite creativity of a mighty God who not only formed countless varieties of visible creatures but also spiritually in an invisible world (Colossians 1:16).
Scripture records important tasks assigned to angels both in heaven and on earth, but only two are mentioned explicitly by name—Gabriel and Michael. Only in extra-biblical writings can you find other angel names in common use. In Luke 1:19, Gabriel identifies himself when he says, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God.” He specifically is identified with four appearances in Scripture. In each example, he is carrying out an important mission on earth. Two are in the Old Testament to the prophet Daniel who described him as “one who looked like a man” (Daniel 8:15) and who was there to give “insight with understanding” as he interpreted visions for Daniel (Daniel 9:22). The other two are in the New Testament. He appeared to Zechariah in the temple to announce John the Baptist’s birth and later to Mary to announce Jesus’s birth.
Fear is the common response to his appearance. His first words to Zechariah and Mary were, “don’t be afraid,” and Daniel was so frightened he “fell on his face” (Daniel 8:17). Tradition has given Gabriel the designation “archangel” – a position of importance and leadership among the other angels. Although Scripture only refers to the angel Michael in this way (Jude 9), Gabriel is important because he delivered many messages with life-changing ramifications. He’s become an integral figure in the Christmas story because of his opportunity to carry the greatest news of all—the Messiah’s virgin birth.
Gabriel’s messages were always one of hope and expectancy. He made sure Daniel understood what God was revealing to him. He brought the exciting news to Zechariah and Mary and let them know they would be a part of God’s incredible plan to redeem humankind. There is a spiritual world unseen to us where God is at work. He loves us, cares for us, and has a plan for us. Yet His love goes even deeper. He wants us to know His plan, be redeemed, and be restored to a loving relationship with Him. God no longer needs angels to send messages to us because He reveals Himself through His Word. God invited you to have a personal relationship with Him and gave direct access through His Son Jesus, who has “become as much better than the angels” (Hebrews 1:4). 1 Corinthians 6:3 even tells us, “we will judge angels” someday.
Questions for Thought
- Have you given angels a higher position of importance than you should?
- Do you have a personal relationship with Him who is “so much better than the angels?”
If you believe in Christ, take advantage of your direct access to God by praying daily and meditating on His Word to let Him speak to you directly and personally.
Dr. Joe Hardin
Associate Minister of Instrumental Music
With a background in college teaching and Music Ministry, Joe is very passionate about how instrumental ensembles draw God’s people together in corporate worship and therefore recognizes the opportunity for instrumentalists to use their gifts to glorify God and edify the church. Joe and his wife, Paige, have three sons.