2019-10-23
Public Domain

The Bible tells us, “[The Lord] will give His angels charge of you to protect you in all your ways” (Psalm 91:11). Angels are heavenly beings, superior to humans, who serve as messengers of God and guardians of human beings. They were also created to worship and serve God as well as protect us.

Angels are organized in three hierarchies and nine orders so that they can be classified and ranked. The ones that are revealed to us are broken down as follows: The First hierarchy contains Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones. The Second hierarchy contains Dominions, Virtues and Powers. The Third and Final hierarchy contains Principalities, Archangels and Angels.

The Bible plainly teaches that angels exist. There are more than 250 mentions of angels in Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. The Bible also indicates that angels are everywhere: “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so, you have unwittingly entertained angels” (Hebrews 13:2). It is possible you’ve even seen these messengers from God without even realizing it.

Despite being mentioned countless times in the Bible and being all around us, there are still a number of myths about angels that are completely untrue and not biblical. One big myth is that angels should be worshipped. This is absolutely untrue. The Bible does not instruct us to pray and worship angels. In fact, Scripture forbids it. The Bible tells us, “You shall not make yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on earth beneath or in water beneath earth. You shall not worship or serve them…” (Exodus 20:4-5). While we recognize the presence of angels and hold them with high regard, both prayer and worship should be offered to God alone because only He is worthy of worship and praise. Other big myths about angels have to do with their appearance.

Often, people think that angels are two-winged beings. Contrary to popular belief, angels don’t have two wings. This is another popular art depiction that is not biblical, though angels are often mentioned as flying. This is often interpreted to mean that they have wings. While wings are mentioned in the Bible, they aren’t a big part of any of the angelic stories in the Bible. The Seraphim, one of the highest ranking angels who stand before God, are described in Isaiah as having six wings. Only two of the wings were used to fly. The others were used to cover the angel’s face and feet. Cherubs, like those mentioned in Genesis, are usually described as having four wings.

Another visual that people have when they hear “angel” are halos. The halo, also called a nimbus, represents a radiant light above the head of a divine or sacred being. If you were asked to describe an angel, you would probably mention a halo in your characterization. While halos are commonly associated with angels, particularly in art and popular culture, angels were never mentioned as having a halo. In fact, halos are found nowhere in the Bible.

Cherubs are commonly depicted in art as baby-faced angels – adorable, chubby and winged. You may be surprised to learn that this depiction is nowhere close to the way they are described in the Bible. In terms of hierarchy, the cherub is one of the closest to God, serving directly under Him rather than being a messenger. We know from Genesis that cherubs were assigned to guard the tree of life. We get a full description of their appearance in Ezekiel 1:5-11. We are told that they have an overall human form but their legs end in the hooves of a calf. They have four faces (that of a man, that of a lion, that of an ox and that of an eagle) and four wings that hide their human hands. When they move, their face never turns.

There are often questions about how angels appeared to people in the Bible. Many wonder if they appear to us today. In the Bible, angels appeared to people in three major ways. The first was them showing up in a recognizable way, often appearing human. The Bible tells us, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels” (Hebrews 13:2). There are instances where you may be in the presence of angels and not even know it because they appear as human. We see countless examples of this in Luke. In Luke 1:26-38, when the angel announced the virgin birth to Mary, the angel appeared in a recognizable way. This was also the case of the angel who appeared to the shepherds and the angelic multitude who praised God in Luke 2:8-15.

Another big way that angels appeared in the Bible were through dreams and visions. This was the case for Ezekiel and John’s vision in Revelation. These are distinctive from dreams as they occurred when people were awake. Angels are sent to bring us knowledge of future events. Sometimes they deliver messages about the future to people, predicting events that are going to happen both in individual people’s lives and in world history. One example in the Bible of an angel delivering prophetic messages is Gabriel who sent messages about future events. Today, some people report receiving premonitions about the future from angels through our dreams. One important thing to note is that angels know only what God chooses to tell them about the future. Only God knows the future.

Though we don’t see them, our lives are surrounded by angels and they are here to assist us in our times of need, including death. God loves us so much that He sends His angels to guard, guide and protect us through various stages of our life. Although we may not immediately know or see that angels are around us, they are there at God’s direction and working to assist us in this live and the next.