A short study of angels.
The word “go-fer” is an actual word: it’s in the “Scrabble” dictionary! It is used to describe a menial laborer to has to go for this or that at the boss’ command. The earliest known use of this word was back in 1967, so it’s been with us a long time.
“Gofer.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gofer. Accessed 24 Dec. 2021.
Daniel Scarpati worked as a gofer in Hollywood. His new book, “Gofers: On the Front Lines of Film and Television,” explores the behind-the-scenes work of gofers in the entertainment industry.
After working six years as a gofer, Scarpati started his own production company and realized no one had written a book about being a “production assistant,” a kinder name for “gofer.”
“The many responsibilities of a gofer include taking breakfast orders, carrying and distributing paperwork, helping keep the set clean, knowing where bathrooms are, knowing the paths to and from each set, keeping track of the last person leaving the set to go to lunch, returning all signed paperwork to the office, collecting walkie-talkies and charging them overnight.”
He emphasizes four words: “Have a thick skin.” This is because gofers get for the silliest things by actors, producers and directors. “In entertainment production, things move fast and don’t often pause for feelings,” he wrote.
It may seem a little disrespectful to apply the term “gofer” to angels, but their duties require them to “go for” this and that reason, all the while doing the will of God. It may seem a little silly to represent angels with a winged gopher, but I’m hoping it’s an image that will stick with you and reinforce what we’re about to learn from God’s word.
Angels are the other race God created. They are His servants ministering to us.
1. God created angels to serve Him.
Psalm 148:5 = He commanded; they were created. LET EVERY CREATED THING GIVE PRAISE TO THE LORD, FOR HE ISSUED HIS COMMAND AND THEY CAME INTO BEING. Everything in creation - the material and spiritual - exists because God spoke and it happened; including angels.
Here is a brief survey what the Bible tells us about angels.
Psalm 103:20-21 = they are mighty but obedient. PRAISE THE LORD, YOU ANGELS, YOU MIGHTY ONES WHO CARRY OUT HIS PLANS, LISTENING FOR EACH OF HIS COMMANDS. YES, PRAISE THE LORD, YOU ARMIES OF ANGELS WHO SERVE HIM AND DO HIS WILL! Angels are a race that wields heavenly power to accomplish earthly things. However, their power comes from God and they use it to do God’s will, not their own.
Hebrews 1:14 = they are spiritual beings. THEREFORE, ANGELS ARE ONLY SERVANTS - SPIRITS SENT TO CARE FOR PEOPLE WHO WILL INHERIT SALVATION. As spiritual beings, they are not bound to a single time and place as we physical beings are. Angels serve God but much of their activity benefits God’s people - they CARE for us.
Hebrews 13:2 = they can take physical form. DON’T FORGET TO SHOW HOSPITALITY TO STRANGERS, FOR SOME WHO HAVE DONE THIS HAVE ENTERTAINED ANGELS WITHOUT REALIZING IT. When angels visited Abraham and Sarah, they looked like a trio of ordinary travelers (Genesis 18:1-2). Abraham fed them a meal. People have written about “angel sightings.” These stories should be met with skepticism. In many cases in the Bible, angels had an ordinary appearance so they could assist us incognito; they are God’s secret agents.
They are male in name and appearance. (Luke 24:4 = at the tomb of the resurrected Jesus.) AS [the women] STOOD THERE, PUZZLED, TWO MEN SUDDENLY APPEARED TO THEM, CLOTHED IN ROBES. Angels may be genderless; if that is the case, the use of male names may’ve been used to imply their authority in a patriarchal culture. In any case, depictions of angels as children or as beautiful women are inaccurate. We might also observe that in a race of spiritual beings, gender may be truly irrelevant.
They may or may not have wings. When they appear in human form, angels do not, of course, have wings. Heavenly beings that are winged have different names. For example, they are called “cherubim” or “seraphim.” The heavenly beings described in Isaiah 6:2, Ezekiel 10 and Revelation 4 are examples of heavenly beings that are winged or not but are clearly not human.
Matthew 28:2-3 = they may be glorious in their appearance. SUDDENLY THERE WAS AN EARTHQUAKE! FOR AN ANGEL OF THE LORD CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN, ROLLED ASIDE THE STONE, AND SAT ON IT. HIS FACE SHONE LIKE LIGHTNING, AND HIS CLOTHING WAS AS WHITE AS SNOW. Given the way they appeared and by the description of his appearance, the women at Jesus’ tomb easily recognized their visitor as an angel. In cases like this, the glory is not their own, but the angels reflect the glory of God in heaven.
Luke 20:34-36 = they are immortal. JESUS REPLIED, “MARRIAGE IS FOR PEOPLE HERE ON EARTH. BUT IN THE AGE TO COME, THOSE WORTHY OF BEING RAISED FROM THE DEAD WILL NEITHER MARRY NOR BE GIVEN IN MARRIAGE. AND THEY WILL NEVER DIE AGAIN. IN THIS RESPECT THEY WILL BE LIKE ANGELS. THEY ARE CHILDREN OF GOD AND CHILDREN OF THE RESURRECTION.” We’re not here to learn about marriage, but to focus on the fact Jesus here affirms - angels do not die. They live eternally. In this way, Jesus did not die to redeem the angels. He died to make mortals CHILDREN OF THE RESURRECTION.
Jude v. 9 = they are humble. BUT EVEN MICHAEL, ONE OF THE MIGHTIEST OF THE ANGELS, DID NOT DARE ACCUSE THE DEVIL OF BLASPHEMY, BUT SIMPLY SAID, “THE LORD REBUKE YOU.” (THIS TOOK PLACE WHEN MICHAEL WAS ARGUING WITH THE DEVIL ABOUT MOSES’ BODY.) In Revelation 12, John shows that Michael is more powerful than Satan. Even so, in this incident that is not mentioned elsewhere in the Bible, the angel Michael showed humility by not opposing the devil in his own strength, but left it to the Lord to REBUKE Satan.
Matthew 22:30 = they are single. FOR WHEN THE DEAD RISE, THEY WILL NEITHER MARRY NOR BE GIVEN IN MARRIAGE. IN THIS RESPECT THEY WILL BE LIKE THE ANGELS IN HEAVEN. If all angels are males or if the race is genderless, it makes obvious sense that they should be unmarried, as marriage unites individuals of two different genders. It also makes sense because they are spiritual beings, not physical beings. As we learned in Luke 20, marriage is an institution for persons in the material world.
Both Daniel 7:10b and Luke 2:13 confirm that God made a lot of angels. MILLIONS OF ANGELS MINISTERED TO [THE ANCIENT ONE]; MANY MILLIONS STOOD TO ATTEND TO HIM. Our New Living Translation Bibles paraphrase Daniel’s 7:10’s “thousands upon thousands” as MILLIONS to give a modern reader a sense of awe at the numbers of the angelic race. Luke 2:13 describes the angels who visited the shepherds as a “vast army.” This may not have been the entire population of angels.
Hebrews 12:22 = they have emotions. NO, YOU HAVE COME TO MOUNT ZION, TO THE CITY OF THE LIVING GOD, THE HEAVENLY JERUSALEM, AND TO COUNTLESS THOUSANDS OF ANGELS IN A JOYFUL GATHERING. The Bible doesn’t go into detail about the intellect or personality of angels, but it tells us like people and like God, they have feelings. This verse is given to describe the worship angels give to God - it is joyous.
2. How the angels serve God.
As His messengers, angels deliver warnings to the wicked and promises to the righteous. During Advent we’ve seen angels appearing to Zechariah, Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds.
As His agents, angels bring blessings and wrath. Here are examples of each: Prior to announcing her role in the birth of the Messiah, Gabriel blessed Mary, saying she was favored by God (Luke 1:28). On the wrath side, two angels destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:13).
As His worshipers, angels praise God in heaven. Hebrews 1:6 = AND WHEN HE BROUGHT HIS SUPREME SON INTO THE WORLD, GOD SAID “LET ALL OF GOD’S ANGELS WORSHIP HIM.” John’s Revelation contains scenes of worship conducted by spiritual beings in heaven. Worshiping God may be the most important thing angels do; it is certainly the most important thing we do!
Angels are God’s warriors, engaging in spiritual warfare. Luke 2:13 refers to the angels that appeared to the shepherds as THE VAST ARMIES OF HEAVEN. Revelation 12:7-9 describes Satan’s defeat at the hands of MICHAEL AND HIS ANGELS. Invisible to our senses, spiritual warfare occurs all the time.
3. Angels’ relationship with the other created race.
Psalm 8:5 says God made man a little lower than angels. When you look at the marginal note on this in the NLT, it explains that GOD is a better translation than HEAVENLY BEINGS.
On the other hand, 1 Corinthians 6:3 says we will judge the angels. DON’T YOU REALIZE WE WILL JUDGE ANGELS? SO YOU SHOULD SURELY BE ABLE TO RESOLVE ORDINARY DISPUTES IN THIS LIFE. This may imply that humans already outrank angels or that we will in the New Creation. I think we already outrank them in the sense that human beings alone are given the image and likeness of God. It’s possible the angels mentioned here are the fallen angels (demons). In this case “judging the angels” means we will add our voices to God’s as He condemns them for all eternity.
One of the duties of angels is to take care of us. This may imply a higher rank on our part. Hebrews 1:14 = THEREFORE, ANGELS ARE ONLY SERVANTS - SPIRITS SENT TO CARE FOR PEOPLE WHO WILL INHERIT SALVATION. Angels are said to be SERVANTS, but that is a role we share with them. We exist to serve God and one another, angels exist to serve us and God. In taking CARE of us, angels minister to humans in times of need and protect us from harm God has not permitted.
Similarly, Psalm 91:11 says they stand guard over us. FOR HE WILL ORDER HIS ANGELS TO PROTECT YOU WHEREVER YOU GO. This is where the notion of a “guardian angel” comes from, though people have mythologized that phrase and taken it too far. The protection the angels provide is not limited to good places or times but is said to cover us WHEREVER we go.
Angels are the other race God created. They are His servants ministering to us.
Biblical literacy is a virtue and a skill that is necessary for spiritual maturity. Good theology is a necessity. This means it’s a good thing for us to learn about angels toi have the most accurate information possible.
But we always want to be able to answer the “So what?” question. Knowing these things, what difference should it make in the way we live our everyday lives?
One, we must not worship angels (Colossians 2:18; Revelation 22:8-9). We need to know the truth, so we won’t be taken in by false doctrine or false depictions of angels. In New Testament times, false teachers diverted people’s attention from God by causing them to worship angels instead.
Two, belief in angels is not optional; it is an important fact of Scripture. We are too prone to downplay the supernatural part of life. Ignoring the spiritual reality is to ignore the basis for all that is. The Bible teaches that the physical world is a shadow or reflection of the spiritual world. To really know our physical world, we must know the spiritual world after which it is modeled.
Three, acknowledging the supernatural does not mean obsessing with it. We are not to see angels or demons in every situation. We can’t blame the devil for our vices or credit angels for our virtues.
Four, our connection to the spiritual world is through prayer and the Holy Spirit. The Bible condemns and false and unholy all other means of accessing or employing the spiritual world as if we could control it. This is the definition of the occult and believers are to avoid the occult like the spiritual disease it is.