Is it possible to have a Parking Angel? It's funny, but I never go without a good spot.
The idea of a Parking Angel is not biblical, but the idea does lead to a deeper question: Does God reward faithful believers with parking spaces?
I tried an experiment to see if the most devout Christians were able to park the closest to church. In my unscientific study, I discovered the best parking spaces went to those who arrived at the church the earliest (with the exception of the handicapped parkers). I also noticed that Christians who were considered to be the most faithful chose to park at a distance so visitors could be closer to the church. Wouldn’t it be interesting, then, if God sent a Parking Angel to church to assign spaces based on faith?
It is possible that on occasions when finding a good parking spot is important, God shows his favor by having a space available. God delights in doing good things for his children, and I believe he does this in many ways that often go unnoticed. But, I don’t believe he ever uses a specific Parking Angel. In my experience, when I have prayed for a parking space, God usually answers by telling me I need the exercise.
My pastor says there are no angels. Is this true? If not, where do you get your information on angels?
Angels are real. They are not just a figment of our imagination or wishful thinking. But your pastor is not the only one to doubt their existence. Centuries ago the Sadducees, a religious sect that Jesus often criticized, taught that angels were not real beings but only impulses God inspired in people or examples of his power. Some teachers today “demythologize” angels by claiming their presence in the Bible is figurative--that they symbolize God's power, his love, and his protection.
Because angels don't leave fingerprints, submit to litmus tests, testify in court, or slide under a microscope for examination, their existence cannot be verified by scientific methods. Still, the fact that science lacks the tools to investigate spiritual beings does not disprove the possibility of a spiritual world. As theologian Karl Barth rightly observed, “In the Holy Scripture angels are not an absurdity or curiosity which we are at liberty to reinterpret, to deny, or to replace by curiosities of our own invention.”
So what evidence can we give for the existence of angels? First, for most Christians the belief in angels is a matter of faith. "To those who are willing to believe, no explanation of these events is necessary... and to those who are not willing to believe, no explanation is possible," explains writer Joan Wester Anderson. The reality of angels has been accepted church doctrine through the ages and is based on scripture teachings. The word angel appears 292 times in 35 books of the Bible, and other words are also used to designate angels. Jesus always treated angels as real; In Matthew 18:10 he taught that the angels of children “continually see the face of my Father in heaven.” The presence and activity of angels is a prominent part of salvation history.
Often, when I speak to an audience I also ask, “How many of you have had an experience with an angel?” On every occasion, many hands are raised. It surprises many skeptics to learn that a great number of people believe in angels because they or someone they know has had an angel experience.
Skeptics argue that if angels are active in our world, we should be able to find evidence of their activity. In fact, such evidence does exist—people of every gender, age, and race have had direct encounters. As St. Thomas Aquinas observed, "Angels transcend every religion, every philosophy, every creed. In fact angels have no religion as we know it...Their existence precedes every religious system that has ever existed on Earth.
For more information on angels, you can read:
- Angels and Us, by Mortimer Adler, particularly the chapter "The Reality of Angels."
- Angels: History of Mystery?, by Sharon Linnea
Also, I've heard that the east gate of Eden is protected by cherubim with a flaming sword that slashes back and forth. Does one of the cherubim wield the sword, or does the sword move on its own?
Cherub is often recognized as the singular word for cherubs or cherubim even though cherubim is also referred as the singular word for cherubims. It's also interesting to note that the word cherubs, not cherubim, is usually equated with cute cupids (such as Raphael's popular little angels) seen on Valentine's Day cards. Yet these baby-like figures have nothing in common with the biblical idea of the cherubim. In Numbers 6, angel statues built for the Temple were 15 feet tall and had a 15-foot wing span, but because they were so tall, many people still had a hard time discerning their appearance.
So what do cherubim look like? Well, cherubim are angels and, like all angels, are spirit beings. This means they cannot be seen by the human eye unless God allows them to assume a physical form. In scripture, verses reveal that not all cherubim look alike. Some have lion-like features and human-like faces (See Ezekiel 1:10) while others do not. But even though cherubim do not appear as cute human babies, they always appear as exceedingly strong, majestic, magnificent, and awesome creatures.
As for your second question, you asked about the flaming sword in Genesis 3:23-24: So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
The Garden of Eden was a big place so there were probably many warrior cherubim guarding various entrances. All we know about the flaming sword is found in the verse above. The four explanations usually believed are:
- The flaming sword was held by one of the cherubim and turned every way.
- The flaming sword was an angel since angels may also appear as flames or fire.
- The flaming sword was similar to the pillar of fire that led the Israelites through the wilderness.
- The flaming sword was a form of the Shekinah glory.