Is it foolish to ask God to send His angels to protect the persecuted?
Back in the 1950s, an American missionary and his wife accepted an assignment where two missionaries had been killed by tribemen – not the most encouraging prospect for the newly arrived husband-wife team.
They said as they took up their work, it seemed as if often they were surrounded not only by the hostile natives, but by the very powers of darkness. The latter were so real, that night after night they were forced to get up and strengthen their hearts by reading the Word of God and praying for God’s special protection.
Specifically, they asked the Lord to send His special angels to guard them.
One day a convert made a comment about the missionaries’ watchmen.
The woman missionary replied, “We have no watchmen; only a cook and a little herd boy. What watchmen do you mean?”
The convert stared at her thoughtfully. He turned to the husband.
“When you and your wife came here we determined to kill you as we did the missionaries before you,” he said. “Night after night we came to carry out our intentions, but there always stood around your house a double row of watchmen with glittering weapons, and we dared not come near.
“At last we hired a professional assassin, who said he feared neither God nor devil. One night he came close to your house. We followed at a distance. He brandished his spear. There stood the shining watchmen and the killer fled in terror.
“So, we gave up our purpose to kill you.”
Who could believe such a story? Scoffers abound – particularly those who have never experienced God’s protection.
After all, it’s just too sweet a sentiment, that heavenly angels have been sent here to watch over us.
Children are told that even though we can’t see them, we are surrounded by angels watching over us and protecting us from harm.
But is it true?
Mark Buntain was a missionary in India. He built a church, an orphanage and a much-needed hospital in Calcutta. But tragedy struck the region. Torrents of rain came down, forcing the government to evacuate much of the city. Mark reluctantly boarded the evacuation plane.
Questions whirled through his mind, “Will this flood wipe out all of his work for the poor?” He felt dejected. He did the only thing he knew to do – which was to pray. A man sat next to him in the plane, and began to encourage Mark.
He told him that everything was going to be all right. He even outlined several steps that Mark could implement that would make his ministry even more effective. After talking with this man, Mark was greatly encouraged.
The stewardess came by and asked Mark what he would like to drink.
Mark gave his order and then turned to see what his companion would order, but to his amazement, the man was gone.
He had vanished!
Mark searched all over the small plane looking for the man, but he was not in there.
Buntain later wrote that he was convinced he had been visited by an angel.
But do guardian angels only help missionaries?
“My dad and grandfather had not seen eye to eye for several years,” recalls journalist Jay Tower, “but they were just starting to be like father and son again when my grandfather suffered a severe stroke. We all knew my grandfather wouldn’t be coming home from the hospital and my dad was taking it very hard.
“On the way to the hospital, my father ran out of gas on the freeway. A man pulled over and gave my dad a ride to the gas station.
“The whole time my dad did not mention what was going on.
“When they returned to my dad’s car, my dad thanked the man for the ride, got out and started walking toward his car with the gas can.
“As he was walking toward his car, he heard these words:
“Your father is with your mother and Suzanne (a cousin who had passed away a couple years before) now and he wants you to know how very proud he is of you.”
“My dad turned around to say, but the man was gone.
“My father got to the hospital knowing that my grandfather was already gone. Everybody was trying to console him and tell him Grandpa was in good hands and in a better place.
“My dad just smiled.
“I know,” he said softly.
But are there really guardian angels who help humans? What does the Bible say?
Some people think of angels as little, chubby babies flying around holding a little bow and arrow.
Some also think that angels are people who have died. But the Bible makes a clear distinction between saints and angels. Angels are a completely different class of beings.
The Bible describes angels as fearsome warriors. The first words out of the angel’s mouth is often “Fear not!”
What are angels? Hebrews 1:14 tells us that they are ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation.
Three important facts about angels are mentioned in this verse. First, angels are spirits, therefore they are not usually seen. Just because you don’t see an angel does not mean one is not there.
The second fact reveals that the duty of angels is to minister and serve humans. Humans do not serve angels, angels serve humans.
The third truth about angels is that their ministry is limited primarily to those who are or will be saved.
Psalm 8:5 and Hebrew 2:6-7 tell us that angels are a class of spiritual beings a little higher than the order of men. This does not suggest they are more valuable than people, because Christ did not die for angels, but for people. Angels cannot be saved through His death on the cross, but people can.
According to Colossians 1:16, they were created before the earth was created, according to Job 37:1-7. They are made differently than humans, according to Luke 20:33-36 and Psalm 8:5.
They are mightier than unsaved men, according to 2 Peter 2:10-11, but not mightier than the Christian, according to Luke 10:18-20 and Ephesians 1:20-23, 2:6.
Angels are often referred to as “stars” and “sons of God” in such passages as Job 1:6, 2:1, Isaiah 14:12, and in Revelation 1:20, 9:1, 12:4,9. But they are not “sons of God” in the same sense as Christians.
Psalm 103:20-21 indicates that angels were created to minister to and serve the Lord. But their purpose seems to go even further in that they are actively involved in the affairs of men.
Even though they were created before us, in some respects they were created for us. God, in His predetermined plan, saw the creation of man beforehand and created angels to be actively involved in that plan.
When God created the angels, He made them good and holy, according to 1 Timothy 4:4, Colossians 1:16 and Genesis 1:36.
However, they can be tempted. One-third of the angels, led by Lucifer, rebelled against God, were kicked out of heaven, and are now inhabiting this worldly sphere, according to Luke 10:18, Revelation 12:3-4, 20:2, Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:12-17.
We now refer to these fallen angels as “demons.” Jude 6 tells us that the angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, are kept in eternal bonds for the judgment day. Some of the demons that are currently in bonds will be released just prior to the second coming of Christ, according to Revelation 9:1-21.
However, most of the fallen angels are in this earthly sphere for a limited time, waiting for judgment. In Matthew 8:28-29, the demons inside the man cried out to Jesus, “Have You come here to torment us before the appointed time?” Thus, there is an appointed time for their judgment and their place of torment will be the abyss (Luke 8:31).
In Matt. 25:41, we find that Jesus says the eternal fire was prepared for the devil and his angels. This would seem to indicate that the lake of fire was originally prepared for Satan and the rebellious angels that were ousted from heaven, but will also be used as a place of punishment for those who follow Satan, according to Matthew 25:41-46, Revelation 20:10-15 and Mark 9:47-48.
Jesus said in Luke 20:34-36 that resurrected people neither marry nor are given in marriage; for neither can they die anymore, for they are like the angels. He didn’t say that we will become angels, but that we will be like them.
In the Old Testament, they often appeared as men (Genesis 19), as well as in the New Testament (Mark 16:5). Hebrews 13:2 tells us that some of us have entertained angels without even knowing it.
Angels can appear in glory and brightness (Luke 2:9) or can be invisible (Numbers 22:22-35, 2 Kings 6:15-17). Angels can also appear in dreams (Matthew 2:13,19), but they always appear for a purpose, such as to give a message or to give aid.
Their bodies are not made of flesh and bones (Luke 24:36-39), but they have knees and tongues (Philippians 2:10-11) and hands (Matthew 4:6).
In Luke 15:7-10, Jesus said there is joy in the presence of angels over one sinner who repents. It doesn’t say the angels rejoice, but that they are present when the people in heaven rejoice over a repentant sinner.
But are there guardian angels?
And are they all around us, helping us?
In Matthew 18:10, Jesus warns those who would harm one of His little ones because their angels see the face of the Father. Does “their angels” mean that each believer has his own guardian angels to protect him?
Or does this only apply to children? Well, there are a number of instances in which angels prepared the way for adults and protected them from harm. In Genesis 24:7, an angel went before God’s beloved one to find him a wife.
In Exodus 14:19, an angel went before them to prepare the way.
In Psalm 34:7, we are told that the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues us!
Psalm 91:11-12 says that the angels guard us in our ways and sometimes they intervene to keep us from hurting ourselves. This verse was actually misquoted by the devil in Luke 4:10 by trying to get Jesus to leap from the top of the Temple, claiming that the angels would rescue him.
Angels can deliver the saints if they are in trouble, according to Acts 12:5-11. There, an angel woke up Peter in prison and his chains fell off. The angel then led Peter past the guards while the gate opened by itself, setting him free.
Matthew 4:11 says that after Jesus was tempted, the angels ministered to Him. Luke 22:43 says that in the Garden of Gethsemane, an angel strengthened Jesus. Daniel 10:15-18 says that an angel touched Daniel and he was strengthened.
But do we each have our own guardian angel?
Search the Scriptures and you will not find the term “guardian angel” anywhere. However, Matthew 18:10’s reference to little ones being protected by “their angels” hints of the possibility.
And verse after verse describe how they protect us.