19 July 2014 by Dr Yeo Teck Thiam –
I think it is always an exciting prospect when we hear of encounters with angels. It is with joy that we think of angels on earth, for it is God’s good pleasure to give His angels to help us. And so our God ordained His angels to minister to this creation.
Yet, as spirits and celestial beings, they will not be visible to human eyes, for the things of the spirit cannot be seen with earthly eyes. So what we seek to understand of angels must come from what God has chosen to reveal to us, whether through Scripture or specific encounters.
Nevertheless, God has His angels watching over us. We can be sure of these things because Scripture confirms them.
In fact, Jesus rebuked the disciples when they would not let children come to Him. Jesus said, “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” Matthew 18:10
We speak of these angels as our guardian angels. The angels watch over us on earth, to help us in the things we do physically, and so they report to God on these things about each of us. We can see this scene where the angels presented themselves to God in Job 1:6.
Thus also, we see Satan came along to present his report. In Job 1:6 and 2:1, Satan pressed charges against Job, and demanded his legal rights when he roamed this sinful earth to do evil.
Therefore, in the book of Job, Scripture gives us an understanding that Satan is always accusing us of sins, so as to demand punishment against us. However, our guardian angels are always there to report in our defense, and to tell the LORD what they have done to help us against Satan.
This angelic help is God’s promise, as it is written:
“He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”
Although this promise is said specifically for Jesus while He was on earth, yet we know God is gracious to us. God blesses us in the same way.
We do encounter situations in this life where danger or troubles are inexplicably diverted. So we are delivered from harm in such situations, but do not know how these came about. God gives guardian angels to help when we encounter inexplicable situations.
Likewise, God’s angels thwart fallen beings from harming us. Angels directly oppose fallen spirits who are also unseen in their evil against us. This is particularly true where evil spirits have no legal right to attack us. This may be discussed separately, with other thoughts in spiritual war.
Many people will have experienced or sense unseen help that kept the danger at bay. Some speak of this as our “lucky stars” or our sixth sense. But since this lucky star does not always operate reliably, it is better to be thankful to God for delivering us from evil.
So the writer in Hebrews 1:14 confirms for us, “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” Praise the Lord!
A Puzzling Encounter
Here, I will like to relate a puzzling encounter on a sunny spring morning. In my early years at work, I was posted to New York. I had to go to downtown Manhattan to get a job done, and I was at Wall Street, near to the Twin Towers. This landmark building was around, of course, at the time in the 70s. However, being new to the place, I was not familiar with the buildings.
I had stepped up from the subways, and was looking around, trying to look for directions. Then suddenly, a very pleasant elderly man with a ruddy smiling face walked to me, amidst all the people walking pass me. He asked me where I was going.
I told him the address, and he pointed out the building to me. I looked where he was pointing, and was relieved as it was just close by. All I muttered was, “Oh!”
So I turned to thank him. But he was not to be seen. I knew how he looked like, but I could not see him, and he didn’t wait for me to speak to him!
There was none around with his coat. It was not the typical shades of blue, brown, or black coats around, as he was wearing a brown striped coat and holding a leather briefcase. So I gave thanks for this guidance, even though I don’t know why or where it came from!
Some may conclude that it was incidental that I could not see the man again. Yet, I have to think that in the years in the Big Apple, I am not sure I can recall people coming to guide me when I did not ask for help, and then disappearing without checking if I got the details right!
Strangers and Angels
God gives charge to His angels to help us all the time, whether we are young or old. The help comes in many ways and forms.
God’s angels are allowed to take the form of men in their visitation. They come with God’s purpose for good. They do not have to wander about when they come to earth, as restless fallen spirits are condemned to.
It will be as men in human form that people see angels most of the time. This is not what most people expect. Yet it is also evident in many accounts in Scripture when they are described. The key occasions where this is not so, are when angels are seen in visions or dreams.
However, angels also do not stay around long to be seen. Our walk in this life is by faith. When we can see, our faith is not fully tested. Nevertheless, since we know angels can put on the human form and be seen, we must face the possibilities that we may often meet them in day to day living without realizing it.
Thus there is the injunction that we must be hospitable for this reason. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:1
We eagerly want to learn why angels do this. But this exhortation comes to us with a surprising fact. Angels often appear to us on earth as men.
It is therefore ironical that many people wish to see angels, yet do not know they have seen them without recognizing them! Many want to see angels with wings and halos, but often the angels come to us as people like us!
The second part of this article will explore the appearances of ministering angels.
NOTE: Mr Yeo Teck Thiam is a retireer who used to work as a chemical engineer, specializing in food and perfume chemistry for an international food company and perfumer. His other main interest is astronomy and other mathematical matters, relating to the Biblical passages.
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