Christians around the world are claiming that angels speak to them (video example at the end of this article). Those claims raise several questions:
- Are these claims real?
- If real, how can we know that these encounters are really with angels?
- Are these angels good or evil? How can we know for sure?
- What do these angels say when they speak?
- How should we respond to what they say?
These and other questions are the focus of our new series, When Angels Speak.
[Podcast version available at the end of this post.]
“Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.” Genesis 28:12
“Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.” Revelation 5:11
“All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God.” Revelation 7:11
The existence of angelic beings is supported by Jesus Christ, the Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles. Here are examples from each.
Jesus Christ – “Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 13:40-42
Old Testament Prophet – “Then Daniel said to the king, ‘O king, live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you.” Daniel 6:21-22
New Testament Apostle – “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.” 1 Timothy 3:16
Angels exist because God created them.
“Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; Praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts! Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all you stars of light! Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, And you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord, For He commanded and they were created.” Psalm 148:1-5
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” John 1:1-3
“For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” Colossians 1:16
God created angels to serve Him and His creation. Both the Hebrew (malak) and Greek (aggelos) words translated ‘angel’ in English mean “messenger.” Angels deliver specific messages from God to people as well as meet their needs.
“Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:19-21
“Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.” Luke 1:11-13
“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women! But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1:26-33
We need to remember something very important as we move through this special series. Angels are not equal to Jesus Christ in position or power. We are reminded in Scripture of the important truth that Jesus Christ is above all other beings in the universe. Here are four examples –
“For to which of the angels did He ever say: ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You’? And again: ‘I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son’? But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: ‘Let all the angels of God worship Him.’ And of the angels He says: ‘Who makes His angels spirits And His ministers a flame of fire.’ But to the Son He says: ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.’ And: ‘You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; And they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will fold them up, And they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not fail.’ But to which of the angels has He ever said:’ Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” Hebrews 1:5-14
“Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:15-23
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.” Colossians 1:15-20
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” John 1:1-4
When the angels of Heaven announced to a group of shepherds near Bethlehem about the Incarnation of the Son of God, their message was one of praise for “Christ the Lord” –
“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:8-14
God’s angels delivered the message to human beings that God had sent His Son to be both Savior and Lord. It is this delivering of ‘messages’ from God that we want to look at in this series.
We have already seen some of the messages that angels delivered from God to humans. So, the question that comes to mind is when did angels begin speaking to humans?
The first time we see an angel speak to a human is when Satan spoke to Eve in the Garden of Eden. Satan’s first recorded words were a question –
“Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” Genesis 3:1b
Eve answered and then Satan said this –
“You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4-5
Satan, who we later learn is a powerful angelic being, lied to Eve. He said God had lied about humans dying if they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (“… but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” Genesis 2:17) Why would an angel God created lie about what God had said?
Jesus called Satan a murderer and liar (John 8:44). John the Apostle called Satan “the great dragon .. that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9). John also said that whoever sins is of the devil, “for the devil sinned from the beginning” (1 John 3:8). In that same context, John said that the Son of God (Jesus Christ) had been revealed for the purpose of destroying “the works of the devil.” The Apostle Peter described Satan as our ‘adversary’ who “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). John called Satan “the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night” (Revelation 12:10).
Satan sounds like a very bad angel. Did God create Satan as a bad angel? No. God created Satan in the same way He created the other angels – perfectly. So, what happened to Satan?
The Apostle Paul said that Satan was “puffed up with pride” and fell into condemnation (1 Timothy 3:6). Jesus spoke about seeing “Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18). Jesus said there will come a time when He will tell some human beings to depart from Him, “you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). John the Apostle wrote that Satan will be cast from Heaven to the earth along with “his angels” who will be “cast out with him” (Revelation 12:9).
So, Satan has angels who are also bad and opposed to the purposes of God? Yes.
The Apostle Peter wrote that God “did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment” (2 Peter 2:4). Jude wrote that some of the angels “did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode” and that God “has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day” (Jude 1:6). Many angels followed Satan in his rebellion against God. Some are chained in hell waiting for God’s final judgment, but some have been allowed to serve at Satan’s command to oppose God and His people.
The Apostle Paul described the battle we have with fallen angelic beings this way –
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12
Paul also wrote that when Jesus Christ died on the Cross, He “disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them” (Colossians 2:15). Those spiritual powers that Paul told us we ‘wrestle against’ include Satan and other fallen angels.
Demons are also mentioned often in the Bible, so are they fallen angels or some other type of spiritual power? As we study about angels in the Bible we find many types of spiritual creatures with a variety of appearances. It is certainly possible that some of the fallen angelic beings would be those spiritual powers called ‘demons’.
What do evil angels do? The same thing their leader does. They oppose God and His plans. They oppose the good angels as they (good angels) serve God and humans. They cause many problems for humans, including sickness and mental disorders. They oppose God’s people in serving God and progressing in their spiritual walk with God. They communicate false teachings that are opposed to the true teachings of God. They even give humans some supernatural abilities (e.g. fortune-telling, spiritism, divination, witchcraft, soothsaying, necromancy).
“You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor shall you practice divination or soothsaying.” Leviticus 19:26
“When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not appointed such for you.” Deuteronomy 18:9-14
“Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. But he did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down; he raised up altars for the Baals, and made wooden images; and he worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. He also built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, ‘In Jerusalem shall My name be forever.’ And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. Also he caused his sons to pass through the fire in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom; he practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft and sorcery, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger.” 2 Chronicles 33:1-6
“And the Lord said to me, ‘The prophets prophesy lies in My name. I have not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them; they prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart.” Jeremiah 14:14
“Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, ‘These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.’ And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, ‘I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.’ And he came out that very hour. But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.” Acts 16:16-19
Evil angels/demons are also behind false worship –
“They shall no more offer their sacrifices to demons, after whom they have played the harlot. This shall be a statute forever for them throughout their generations.” Leviticus 17:7
“They sacrificed to demons, not to God, To gods they did not know, To new gods, new arrivals That your fathers did not fear.” Deuteronomy 32:17
Some angels deliver messages from God. Some angels deliver messages from Satan.
Some angels tell the truth. Some angels lie.
Keep this in mind as we continue our study.
When Angels Speak Example – “Show me the angels.”
We will ‘hear’ angels speak in the next part of our study.
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Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.