Most Americans relied on newspapers during the Civil War for information about the conflict. Correspondents accompanied armies into the field and wrote articles based on what they witnessed firsthand and what soldiers reported to them after battles. Once the papers were edited, printed, and delivered to the post office, weeks had passed since the described events.
Understandably, the time lag in receiving information made the war seem more remote than it was. The bulk of the fighting in the South added more perceived distance from the war’s realities for people in the North.
That illusion of distance and remoteness lasted until the war landed in their front yard. After July 3, 1863, no one in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, would have described the Civil War as a distant conflict.
We face a similar misconception about the cosmic war that’s been raging since Satan rebelled against God. The apostle Paul, acting as a spiritual battlefield correspondent, said, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
Phrases such as “spiritual forces” and “heavenly places” can lull us into believing this distant conflict has little to do with us. After all, the fighting was going on long before we got here, and it will continue long after we’re gone.
But that illusion of distance is shattered when we realize that the battlefield isn’t just on our doorstep—it’s actually within us. This titanic spiritual war against the invading armies of darkness and wickedness takes place every minute of every day of our lives.
Fortunately, we don’t fight these battles alone because God has a host of angelic allies who also work on our behalf.
1. Our Heavenly Allies—God’s Holy Angels
Angels have gained a curious prominence in our culture. Today we can find angels in movies, TV commercials, product labels, atop Christmas trees, on sports jerseys, in the names of cities, and on countless knickknack shelves.
This fascination with angels is nothing new. In the first-century church at Colossae, some false teachers claimed to be too humble to worship God, so they worshiped angels instead (Colossians 2:18). In Revelation 22:8–9, the apostle John fell at the feet of an angel and started to worship him. But the mortified angel immediately stopped it, “Worship God,” he said.
To put angels in a proper context, we need to look at what the Bible says about who they are and what they do.
- Angels Are Created Beings (Colossians 1:16)
Unlike God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, angels are not eternal. God created them at a point in time. Referring to Jesus in Colossians 1:16, Paul said, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.”
That “all things” includes angels.
- Angels are direct creations of God.
- Angels will exist forever.
- Angels have intellect.
- Angels have emotions.
- Angels have a will.
- Angels have limitations.
- Angels can appear to be human.
- Angels Minister to Believers (Hebrews 1:13-14)
The writer of Hebrews gave us an ideal starting point in understanding the role of angels. We can think of angels as God’s AAA service—always available to assist, on call day and night, and willing to help Christians in need.
The Bible identifies four areas of service that angels provide for believers:
- God uses angels to sustain and encourage us (Matthew 4:11).
- Angels reveal God’s will to us (Matthew 1:20-21).
- Angels protect us from physical and spiritual harm (Psalm 91:11-12).
- Angels minister to us in death (Luke 16:22).
- Angels Are “Ministers” to Unbelievers
The Bible reveals at least three ways in which angels intervene in the lives of unbelievers:
- Angels are ministers of God’s goodness to unbelievers (Genesis 16:7-12).
- Angels are ministers of judgment to unbelievers (Psalm 78:49).
- Angels are ministers of eternal death to unbelievers (Matthew 13:49-50).
And that’s what every Christian should know about angels.
Full Passage: Hebrews 1:13-14