As we saw in the first part of this new series, Christians around the world are claiming that angels speak to them. How can we know if that’s true? How can we know that if a supernatural angel speaks, it is an angel sent from God?
The English word ‘angel’ is a transliteration of the Greek word aggelos (ἄγγελος). It means ‘a messenger.’ The Hebrew word translated ‘angel’ (malak – מַלְאַךְ) also has the idea of being ‘a messenger.’
It is the ‘message’ of the supernatural being spoken today that is the focus of our series. Can we trust what ‘angels’ are saying now?
[Podcast version available at the end of this post.]
When Angels ‘Spoke’
To understand how angels speak today, we need to learn how angels spoke in the past. Since angels are supernatural beings, we will turn to the one supernatural source we can trust to tell us the truth – the Bible.
Though we don’t know what language angels use to speak to each other, we do know that angels spoke to human beings in the past in ways people understood.
We don’t know what language Adam and Eve spoke in the Garden of Eden, but they understood what Satan said to them (Genesis 3). We don’t know what language Satan spoke when he presented himself to the Lord in Job 1 and 2, but we know God understood him.
So, what language did angels use to speak to humans in the Bible and what language do they use today? There’s no reason to think angels can’t speak any human language they want, but might they speak the same language Peter and the disciples did at Pentecost? “… everyone heard them speak in his own language” (Acts 2:6). We don’t know for sure, but we do know people in the Bible understood what the angels were saying.
We are going to share many examples of when angels spoke in the Bible so we can learn what angels say and how they say it. Remember, angels are ‘messengers’. They deliver messages from God or from Satan (e.g. “deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” – 1 Timothy 4:1). We will be able to use the biblical history of ‘angel speak’ to compare with what people say angels are saying to them today. We will also look at what people in recent centuries have said about angels speaking to them. That should also help us determine ‘who’ is sending them.
Satan presents a ‘counterfeit’ message (e.g. “Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die” – Genesis 3:4) and his angels deliver his counterfeit message wherever he sends them. The best way to know what a counterfeit looks and sounds like is to know what the real thing looks and sounds like.
“For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.” 2 Corinthians 11:14
“You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” John 8:44
Angel of the Lord
You will see the phrase Angel of the Lord used many times in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament. It would seem from the context of what the Angel of the Lord said and how the hearer responded that the “Angel of the Lord” may be the pre-incarnate Christ (the eternal Son of God prior to His Virgin Birth where He ‘became flesh and dwelt among us’ – John 1:14).
The Angel of the Lord spoke to the Egyptian handmaid Hagar –
“Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from, and where are you going?’ She said, ‘I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.’ The Angel of the Lord said to her, ‘Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand.’ Then the Angel of the Lord said to her, ‘I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.’ And the Angel of the Lord said to her: ‘Behold, you are with child, And you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, Because the Lord has heard your affliction. He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against every man, And every man’s hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.’ Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, ‘Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” Genesis 16:8-13
The Angel of the Lord spoke to Abraham –
“Abraham, Abraham!’ So he said, ‘Here I am.’ And He said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me … By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son— blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” Genesis 22:11-12, 16-18
The Angel of the Lord spoke to Jacob –
“Then the Angel of God spoke to me in a dream, saying, ‘Jacob.’ And I said, ‘Here I am.’ And He said, ‘Lift your eyes now and see, all the rams which leap on the flocks are streaked, speckled, and gray-spotted; for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar and where you made a vow to Me. Now arise, get out of this land, and return to the land of your family.’ Then Rachel and Leah answered and said to him, ‘Is there still any portion or inheritance for us in our father’s house? Are we not considered strangers by him? For he has sold us, and also completely consumed our money. For all these riches which God has taken from our father are really ours and our children’s; now then, whatever God has said to you, do it.” Genesis 31:11-16
The Angel of the Lord spoke to Moses –
“Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, ‘I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.’ So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then He said, ‘Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.’ Moreover He said, ‘I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.” Exodus 3:1-5
The Angel of the Lord spoke to Balaam –
“Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand; and he bowed his head and fell flat on his face. And the Angel of the Lord said to him, ‘Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to stand against you, because your way is perverse before Me. The donkey saw Me and turned aside from Me these three times. If she had not turned aside from Me, surely I would also have killed you by now, and let her live.’ And Balaam said to the Angel of the Lord, ‘I have sinned, for I did not know You stood in the way against me. Now therefore, if it displeases You, I will turn back.’ Then the Angel of the Lord said to Balaam, ‘Go with the men, but only the word that I speak to you, that you shall speak.’ So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.” Numbers 22:31-35
A supernatural being identified as “Commander of the army of the Lord” spoke to Joshua at Jericho. Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped. The Commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” That may be another instance of the pre-incarnate Son of God speaking to a human based on the acceptance of Joshua’s worship and telling him to take off his sandals because the place where he stood was holy. (Joshua 5:13-15)
The Angel of the Lord spoke to the children of Israel prior to Joshua’s death –
“Then the Angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said: ‘I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you. And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this? Therefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they shall be thorns in your side, and their gods shall be a snare to you.’ So it was, when the Angel of the Lord spoke these words to all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voices and wept.” Judges 2:1-4
Notice that the Angel of the Lord spoke as the one who led Israel up from Egypt into the land which “I swore your fathers.” The Angel also said “I will never break My covenant with you.” That certainly has the sound of God speaking to Israel, identified as the Angel of the Lord.
The Angel of the Lord spoke to many of Israel’s judges. One of the most interesting examples is how the Angel of the Lord spoke to Gideon –
“Now the Angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, ‘The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!’ Gideon said to Him, ‘O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.’ Then the Lord turned to him and said, ‘Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?’ So he said to Him, ‘O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.’ Then he said to Him, ‘If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who talk with me. Do not depart from here, I pray, until I come to You and bring out my offering and set it before You.’ And He said, ‘I will wait until you come back.’ So Gideon went in and prepared a young goat, and unleavened bread from an ephah of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot; and he brought them out to Him under the terebinth tree and presented them. The Angel of God said to him, ‘Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth.’ And he did so. Then the Angel of the Lord put out the end of the staff that was in His hand, and touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire rose out of the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. And the Angel of the Lord departed out of his sight. Now Gideon perceived that He was the Angel of the Lord. So Gideon said, ‘Alas, O Lord God! For I have seen the Angel of the Lord face to face.’ Then the Lord said to him, ‘Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die.’ So Gideon built an altar there to the Lord, and called it The-Lord-Is-Peace. To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.” Judges 6:11-24
You can read other examples of the Angel of the Lord speaking to people in Judges 13 and Zechariah chapters 1 and 3.
Holy, Holy, Holy
God’s angels are consistent in what they speak in Heaven. We hear no idle chatter or prideful self-boasts, but direct and focused worship of Almighty God.
We find this in Isaiah’s prophecy from the 8th century BC –
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” Isaiah 6:1-3
We find this in the Revelation of Jesus Christ written at the end of the 1st century AD –
“Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!’ Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: ‘You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.” Revelation 4:6-11
We also hear this wonderful ‘new’ song in Heaven, sung by millions of God’s angels –
“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, saying with a loud voice: ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” Revelation 5:11-12
Recording of Angels Singing?
This video claims to include the sound of a choir of angels singing at a gathering of Christians in the Netherlands in 2017. Does the singing sound anything like the songs of angels we read in Scripture? Where are the words of angels praising God and calling out “Holy, holy, holy”? Could the recorded singing have been a human or synthesized choir played through a sound system? Or do you think this is the real thing? Are we actually hearing angels from Heaven singing on earth? or are we hearing from other supernatural beings who are not from God?
[Sound of choir singing begins about 3 minutes into the video.]
We will see how God’s angels deliver His messages of judgment and destruction in the next part of our study, When Angels Speak.
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Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.