Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wingsÖnot. Itís a really cute line, and a great movie, but the theology in Itís a Wonderful Life is a disaster. Angels are real, though, and we need to understand the truth about them and their purpose. We wonít get that from Hollywood, so letís see what Scripture has to say about these most mysterious messengers.
1.The words angel and angels occur 283 times throughout the Bible, in addition to other references to ďmessengersĒ and ďmen in white raiment.Ē
2.Angels are created beings. Since there is one Creator, everything else that exists was created by Him. See Colossians 1:16 for some of the categories of created things in which angels would fit. Since theyíre created beings, they are limited. Theyíre not omniscient, omnipotent, or omnipresent. Angels struggle and fight, experience joy and surprise and wonder. Theyíre always around, watching, waiting for God to give them a task.
3.How many are there? Theyíre innumerable, according to Revelation 5:11. Thatís millions and millions, plus some.
4.Good angels, bad angels: weíre told in an oblique, thatís-a-whole-different-story kind of way, that one third of the angels are in rebellion against God. They sided with Satan in his revolt, and now fight with him against Godís plans for the world. But two-thirds are dedicated servants of God. The good ones live in Heaven, the bad ones are on Earth or in the pit.
5.Angels are spiritual beings, trans-dimensional, invisible. When they choose to be seen, theyíre terrifying creatures before whom people tend to fall on the ground, shaking. But itís also possible for people to entertain them unaware (see Hebrews 13:2), so they can tone down the terrifying.
6.Angels are incredibly powerful beings. One angel descending from Heaven to roll the stone away from Jesusí tomb caused a violent earthquake (see Matthew 28:2). One angel killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night in Isaiah 37. The frilly knick-knacks on sale everywhere just don't quite get that idea across.
7.On a mission from God: Angels have several missions. Theyíre primarily Godís messengers. Angel (malak in Hebrew and aggelos in Greek) means messenger. Angels gave important messages to Mary, Joseph, some shepherds, Gideon, Balaam, various prophets, etc. Angels also protect and minister to people (yes, you probably have a guardian angel), and restrain evil in the world. Godís army, innumerable, powerful, is up to any task He requires. Be assured that they are working unseen all around us according to Godís commands, in ways we may never know. But also note that we are never encouraged to communicate with angels or seek their help. There are powerful bad angels out there, too, serving the great deceiver, so best not to interfere with their realm at all.
8.Angels donít die. Unlike humans, all angels that were created will continue to exist forever (see Luke 20:36, and Psalm 148).
9.Angels are not girls or chubby babies. When angels appear to people in Scripture, they always appear as male adults. Even the four-faced, winged cherubim in Ezekiel and Revelation have a manís face.
10.We donít become angels when we die.
11.Angels donít sing, regardless of Christmas carol lyrics. Only people sing! That astounds me.
12.There are only three named angels in Scripture. If you know the three names, let me know in the forums on this thread.