Somethings are not always what they seem. It was senior week. I had just graduated from high school the week before and for the first time in my life, I was taking a trip on my own. Me and 5 of my closest friends packed in a car and my truck headed to Myrtle Beach, SC. Now before I go any further, this is not a repentance session where I air out all of the dumb things I was a part of that week, I have already buried that guy. There is one story though that I want to tell about that week that relates very well to the point that I would like to make tonight- some things are not always what they seem. It was halfway through the trip and we were wondering what our next little adventure would be. We hit a mild jackpot so to speak as we learned that one of our favorite R&B singers was in town for a concert at the Magic Attic Night Club on the strip. Montell Jordan had a major hit out that summer called This is How We Do It and he was the headlining act for the evening. At this point in my life, I was really into the R&B movement in music- listening to the likes of R Kelly, Boyz II Men, and Montell Jordan. I had heard Jordan’s hit song a hundred times it seems like and I knew it well, but I had never seen him either on videos or in person- to sum up, I did not know what he looked like. All I knew is that he had this really cool song and a high voice. In my mind, as I waited for him to come on stage, I picture this guy somewhere between 5’8 – 6’0 that was high energy and probably bounced all over the stage like a little chihuahua. When the time came for Jordan to come out on stage, my jaw hit the ground. Out walks this 6’7 singer that was high energy, but he wasn’t like a bouncing chihuahua- this dude was BIG. I had to chuckle because his high voice DID NOT match his 6’7 body. The bottom line is he was nothing like I had envisioned in my mind.
We have all been in situations like that at some point in time during our lives. We get a mental image of a person or a thing, then when our eyes finally make contact, we are startled when the person or thing is nothing like we thought. I’m afraid there is a group of beings that we regularly have the same misconceptions about in the Bible. I’m speaking of God’s personal delivery system- his angels. The word angel itself means “messenger.” This is showcased most prominently in the Christmas story where the angels delivered the prophesies of the births of John the Baptist and Jesus, where they told the shepherds about the birth of Christ, and where they save the baby from Herod. For so long, our society has depicted these angels as diminutive, gentle, and harmless creatures with cute little wings that top our Christmas trees year in and year out- much like we think of cupid during Valentine’s Day. Now, before I get a bunch of hate mail, or you go ripping your angel off the top of your tree, hear me when I say that this is not what I am getting at here. It doesn’t bother me one iota if you have one of these angels atop your tree, or over your nativity, or in your window. Angels have the capability to comfort, console, and display the love of Christ in what I would assume to be a show of tenderness when the time calls for them to do so, I simply want to give you the biblical description of angels so that we can also be comforted in the protection that angels offer as well; because simply put, angels make Rambo look like a 3rd grade sissy.
We have a running joke at church because my pastor gets a little fired up about the subject of angels and their appearance. He and I agree on the issue, but he is far more intense and passionate about the debate. So I wanted to look at, what I personally consider to be overlooked descriptions given to us about angels in the Bible. The first instance is their appearance. Like I said before, God’s messengers are not cute little babies with wings floating around with bows and arrows like cupid. Angels were intimidating. How do we know this? Simply look at the appearance of angels in the Bible. Angels appear multiple times throughout, such as Gabriel appearing to Daniel, to Elizabeth a& Zechariah, and Mary & Joseph; as well as the angels appearing to the shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night. All of these encounters have something in common- the angels have to say each time, “Do not be afraid.” Now, I realize they were startled by this angelic being popping out of thin air, but it is one thing to be startled and another thing to be afraid. These people were fearful for their lives. You are not going to elicit that kind of response unless the person is intimidated by what they see. As far as physical appearance, the only thing the Bible really tells us is that they dress in white, wearing clean linen with gold sashes, and a face or appearance like lightening (Daniel 10:5-6, Revelation 15:6). Maybe you are a little more hardcore than I am, but if a heavenly being pops up out of thin air and looks like lightening, I’m going to be a little unnerved.
The next thing that the Bible tells us is that while the primary job of angels is to be God’s messengers, they are NOT pushovers. Apparently, they not only look intimidating, they can back it up as well. Psalms 103:20 says, “Praise the Lord, all His angels of great strength, who do His word, obedient to His command.” There is also a great reference to the capabilities of angels in the book of 2 Kings. During the divided Kingdom, Hezekiah is taking a stand against the might of the massive Assyrian army. What we see is God sending an angel, ONE angel, down to severely cripple the Assyrian army: “And that night the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies (2 Kings 19:35).” You read that correct, ONE angel, singular, took the lives of 185,000 Assyrian,s and as an Ancient History teacher, let me assure you that the men serving in the Assyrian army were highly trained, highly experienced soldiers. This causes their king, Sennacherib to return home to Nineveh. It is this very power that we should take comfort in, knowing that God commands this force that protect his people. Psalm 91:9-12 says:
“Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.”
The final encounter and the coolest attribute, in my opinion is the appearance that we never know about. Angels are God’s messengers after all. They are sent to deliver messages, deliver us, and protect us and the church. These encounters are not always going to be like the ones to Mary and Elizabeth. In fact, the most common encounter you will every have with an angel, is the one you never know even happens. Hebrews 13:2 reminds us, “Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it.” Pretty cool to think about huh? So, the next time you are “lucky enough” to avoid an event with a potential tragic consequence, hopefully you will be reminded that you are being watched and protected by your heavenly Father, and the protection detail He uses is more than capable to do the task. After all, they can destroy armies single handedly if commanded.
In Christ Alone,
Rev. Bro. Coach
Angie Mosteller: http://www.celebratingholidays.com/?page_id=1510.