The Ministry of Angels

“The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.”
—Psalm 34:7

JESUS SAID, “In my Father’s house are many mansions” (John 14:2), and we know from other disclosures of God’s Word that there are different orders of sentient beings on the spirit plane of existence. (Eph. 1:21, Col. 1:16) There was Michael, the Archangel, on a plane above all others—cherubim and seraphim. There is a wideness in the vast domain of God, which is comparable only to the wideness of his loving mercy. He has seen fit to employ certain spirit messengers in his dealings with mankind, and we have come to know something about them.


We believe that the Heavenly Father governs mankind in part through these messengers who, as royal ministers from him, come direct from the courts of heaven. They are invested with adequate power to bless, instruct, guide, protect, and deliver the true children of God throughout their earthly course.

These messengers are spoken of in Job 38:7 as having participated in the general rejoicing that followed the creation of man near the close of the sixth creative day. Job 38:4 and 7 read, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? … When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”

The angelic sons of God had long been witnesses of the great creative work that had been carried on under the direct supervision of the Logos, for “all things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:3,4) Evidently this heavenly host had been appointed to positions of responsible service, and they thus shared to some extent in the accomplishments of the different creative days.

They were committed to duties which they had performed in obedience to Divine command, and were possessed of developed, intellectual minds. They could well understand that in the creation of perfect human beings with powers of procreation, this new order of beings constituted a complete departure from likeness to any previously existing sentient being.

We know from God’s Word that these are special servants of God. We believe they are imbued with the fullness of desire to hold to the Divine purpose in all the issues of Divine Truth and grace, and that they carefully watch the unfoldings of infinite wisdom and love, radiant with holy delight in the mighty trusts to which they are appointed.


When Jehovah unveiled to their sight the splendor of his finished work of Creation, all their glorious ranks broke forth in shouts of joy. While from then until now they have continued to perform high ministries between heaven and earth, a dark cloud of sin, and the effect of selfish desire translated into sinful action, was soon to cast a terrible shadow over the joys of the new Creation in Eden. There was a brilliant, beautiful, and powerful angelic being, Lucifer, who said in his heart, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: … I will be like the most High.” Of him it is recorded, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!”—Isa. 14:13,14,12

Thus arose the first rebellion in the universe of God recorded in the Scriptures. Others of the angelic host fell later from their high estate. Legions of holy angels have remained true to their sacred trusts, and they have special interest in the uplift of mankind. It was by an apostate from their own ranks that the pure, fair creatures of paradise in Eden were seduced.

The terrible curse of sin and death was wrought by the malicious scheme of angelic envy. As the holy angels survey the sorrows of our world, they must feel humiliating sadness that those who were once pure and loyal as themselves should have been the betrayers of mankind.


The holy angels are further interested in our race as the objects of the Savior’s love and redemptive work. They are bound to Christ by profound affection. They love and adore him as the only begotten Son of God. They see in him the promised and certain victor over evil, and the rightful and mighty ruler in God’s due time of our present alien world. They share in Christ’s love for mankind.

As allies of Christ they are the “ministering spirits” of the saints, sent forth to serve the “heirs of salvation.” (Heb. 1:14) The loyal angels are spoken of in the Scriptures in terms which imply that their number is so great that it baffles the human mind to give expression to it. Jesus said he could in an instant call to his aid more than twelve legions of angels. A single one of these angels of the Lord smote one hundred and eighty-five thousand Assyrians in one night. (II Kings 19:35) The Bible declares that they “excel in strength.”—Ps. 103:20

Familiar with the works of God, how vast must be their understanding of natural and sentient forces! They are the guardians of the good of the earth, also the sleepless watchers over our lives and destinies, and as sentinels at the gates of danger. Though they salute us with no audible voices and cheer us without visible signs, their presence and their ministries are as real as when they gave announcement of the birth of Jesus with song and flashing glory.


The ministry of angels occurred in Old Testament times, and the service of the holy angels has been recorded in Israel’s affairs. The patriarchs knew their voices, and were familiar with their visitations. It has been asserted as highly probable that in all the instances narrated in the first fifteen chapters of Genesis, in which the Lord is said to have spoken to Noah, Lot, and Abraham, the audible voice was that of an angel—Jehovah speaking by his commissioned messengers.

God has usually spoken to man by his holy angels, except when he has spoken by the prophets, or by his Son. (Heb. 1:1,2) As Hebrews 2:2 records, “The word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward.”

Early cases of angelic intervention involved Hagar twice. In the second instance she was in the desert, alone with her ill and starving boy, the bread and water exhausted, she sat apart from him, and sent forth into the veiled heavens her cry of despair. An “angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation. And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink.” (Gen. 21:17-19) This record of Hagar’s experience can be taken by us as a lesson, that when there is no earthly ear to hear, nor heart to pity, the penitent, imploring prayer of a righteous person will be heard.—James 5:16

When Abraham was ninety-nine years of age, sitting at noontime in the opening of his tent, he was surprised by the approach of three strangers with royal bearing, to whom he responded by advancing and bowing himself to the ground before them, and by offering them ample hospitality. (Gen. 18:1-10) These strangers were angelic messengers having materialized in human form for the purpose of their visit. They had come to announce to Sarah and Abraham that a child of Divine intention should be born to them in their extreme old age.

Notwithstanding the teachings of science and the laws of nature, this strange angelic announcement stood fast. Never has any angel gone forth from the presence of the Most High to any nation, people or person with uncertain tidings. The ‘word spoken by angels’ is as the utterance of the lips of God; and though thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers conspire to thwart its accomplishment, not one jot or tittle shall fail.


This angelic group, however, was on a double mission. When their visit to Abraham and Sarah was ended, they went their way toward the doomed cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and at eventide two angels, not three, entered the gates and stood before Lot, the only righteous man in all the metropolis of Sodom.

At the break of the following day, those ministers of mercy to Lot, and of wrath to Sodom and Gomorrah, hastened to lead forth the elect to be saved out of the two doomed cities. When they entered Zoar there burst forth torrents of brimstone and fire; and the smoke of their swift destructive force rose over all of the countryside about them.—Gen. 19:1-25

Another angelic manifestation to be found in the Scriptures involved Jacob fleeing from the wrath of Esau, his brother. It was at the close of day that Jacob, a weary and lonely fugitive in the midst of an open field with darkness only for a curtain and the stars for his sentinels, came to a place called Bethel to get some sleep.—Gen. 28:11

In his sleep he saw a ladder, reaching from earth to heaven, thronged with angels on errands of peace and blessing, serving between God’s footstool and his throne. (Gen. 28:12) These messengers were not sent to a glamorous court, but to one lone wanderer. Here in type and prophecy are depicted angel vigils over the weary and exposed pilgrims of earth. Over and over again we bring to our minds the comforting assurance of our text, “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.”—Ps. 34:7

These words of the psalmist, are a source of comfort to the true Israel of God. Jesus said in Matthew 18:10, “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.”

Truly ‘the angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him.’ They do not come and go simply in great and dire perils, just when the righteous are well nigh lost. They are never absent, but always on duty, fully armed and vigilant.

They formed a cloud of darkness between Israel and Pharaoh’s pursuing hosts. They were a wall of consuming fire between God’s people and their pursuers, and a front and rear guard as the cherubim kept the way of the tree of life amid the splendors of Eden. “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?”—Heb. 1:14

Further words of warning are given by the apostle to the Hebrews, “If the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation.”—Heb. 2:2,3


In the light of these, and many correlative scriptures, it is a lack of trust to question or dispute that to the holy angels are committed important ministerial trusts connected with bringing about salvation for the church, and restitution for the world spoken of by all of the Old Testament prophets, and by Christ and the apostles as well.

The inspired revelation of Daniel is very interesting. His predictions cover all the great governments of the world and include the Messianic advent, the crucifixion and the resurrection of our Lord. Also included are the return of Christ to earth, the raising of the dead, the destruction of all that is evil, and the establishment of an everlasting kingdom of righteousness and peace on the earth.

Much of Daniel’s instruction came to him through an angel. In much that Daniel foresaw, and about which he made prophetic predictions, the angel Gabriel was his authority. (Dan. 8:16; 9:21) We have been given to know that the words spoken by angels to the prophets have stood, are standing, and will continue to stand fast until their fulfillment.

Daniel was a captive in a foreign land, but he was true to his people and to the God of his fathers. He resisted the fascinations and corruptions of court life, and challenged the admiration of his enemies by the exalted purity and dignity of his character and conduct. God honored him as few men have been honored.—Dan. 10:11-14

The honors, however, bestowed upon Daniel by the king awakened in the hearts of certain subordinate officials of the government the most cruel jealousy. By a wicked plot he was cast into a den of ferocious lions. A miracle was wrought on his behalf. Standing erect by Daniel’s side was a holy angel.

Then the voice of Darius the king was heard, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?” Then Daniel answered, “O king, live for ever. My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me.”—Dan. 6:20-22


Angels played important roles in preparing for the birth of our Lord, and in the events of the Christ child. An angel was sent to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist. Zacharias was overcome with fear at the presence of the angel visitor; but the angel said, “Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.”—Luke 1:13

Zacharias, however, knowing that both he and his wife Elisabeth were “well stricken in years” could scarcely accept such joyful tidings, though they came from the lips of an angel; and he said, “Whereby shall I know this?” (vs. 18) and the angel answered and said unto him, “I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed.” (vss. 19,20) Instantly, Zacharias’ priestly lips were sealed, and he beckoned to wondering people who stood by, remaining speechless.

Likewise, the first announcement of the Savior’s birth was made by an angel. The First Advent sermon was preached by an angel. The first redemption song ever sung to mortal ears burst in wondrous melody from a multitude of angel voices.—Luke 2:13-15

Later the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph, who was told to arise, take the young child, Jesus, and his mother, and flee into Egypt, “and be thou there until I bring thee word.” (Matt. 2:13-15) Accordingly Joseph and Mary, in instant obedience to the Divine command, took the child and set forth to go to Egypt.

Nor did their heavenly guardian forget his trust; for when Herod was dead he again visited Joseph and Mary in Egypt at Divine command. (Matt. 2:19-23) The holy angels kept watch over the child Jesus, fulfilling this prophecy, “He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all they ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.”—Ps. 91:11,12

The scene of the resistance of Jesus to the snares of the great Adversary was in the wilderness, away from the sight and sympathy of men. He was alone in the sense that up to then he had no selected and announced ministry, no human companions or followers. Yet he was not alone, for the guardian angels of heaven were close about him, subject to call as his holy bodyguard, his allies, swift and powerful ministers from the Father to his beloved Son. Throughout all of his earthly career they attended him day and night. They still serve as his messengers of love and power to all who look with faith for his appearing.

It was an angel from heaven that rolled away the stone from the tomb of our Lord. Upon the explanations and instructions given by an angel depends, largely, our hope of the Savior’s return, the resurrection of the dead, and the reign of the Son of God on the throne of David.


Certain it is that the same holy, powerful beings who gave attendance to the Savior all through his earthly career, and ministered to him in all his trials and sufferings, really and constantly attend all his saints, even the poorest and weakest.

They guard their steps from danger; deliver them from the “snare of the fowler” (Ps. 91:3); defend them against the assaults of demons; and assuage their sorrows. They provide for their necessities, and strengthen them for all of their toils and labors of love. Truly the ‘angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.’

Angelic power, under Divine commission, is superior to physical law. Untouched, Peter’s chains fell off, and the huge iron gate seemingly opened of its own accord at the angel’s approach. Wherever God’s presence is, angels are there to be found. If our Heavenly Father trusts them to manage weighty affairs of Divine ministration, ought we not to accept with confidence the inspired assurance that all these are ‘ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?’—Heb. 1:14

John was sent to Patmos for banishment and solitude; the Lord turned the banishment of this faithful servant into an occasion for the most remarkable revelation of the Divine purpose. Events covering the rise and fall of nations, and the progress and experience of the church thenceforth to its glorification and kingdom honors, were unfolded and seen by John. These revelations were intended for the enlightenment of the saints through the centuries to follow, including the last phases of human history under the order of the present evil world, and the opening of the new order.

We believe that God has been pleased to give his angels charge over us, not only for our protection from such evils as might otherwise befall us, but that he may endear us and them to each other, with greater resulting joy when we later meet in the kingdom of our Father. Meantime, while we may not worship angels, we may “esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.”—I Thess. 5:13

The time will come when the voice of “every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, … and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.”—Rev. 5:13

Dawn Bible Students Association
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