Have you ever seen an angel? I have not. I have a number of precious “people angels” in my life. But face-to-face with a real, live, heavenly angel? Not a chance!
Reality Check About Angels
Historically, whenever a person saw angels, they were dumb-founded, shocked, or simply terrified! Let’s look at a short list of encounters:
- Joseph – first encounter.
- Joseph – second encounter.
- (It’s getting to be the “norm.”) – Joseph.
- Peter in prison.
There are fascinating details surrounding these 7 angel encounters. Regular people doing regular things when God sends a “power visitor” to change the course of their life.
Moses and the Burning Bush
Moses had been caring of his father-in-law’s flocks for years. Then it happened! A burning bush. If you know anything about fire and bushes – the bush is supposed to burn up. Not this one. It just kept radiating, burning, blazing – making an extraordinary statement.
Moses was dumb-founded and super curious. Ex. 3:2-3 says – “There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, ‘I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.’ ”
FYI – Moses obeys what the angel tells him to do from the burning bush!
Gideon Threshing Wheat
Judges 6:12-13 tells the story of Gideon’s angel encounter. He was threshing wheat at the time. Here’s the short version – “When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
Gideon then says what you and I would have at least thought, if not said. Gideon exercises “the fear of the Lord” with deep respect. But I just love his first words to this “larger-than-life” angel.
“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all His wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
“Pardon me, my lord!” Isn’t that great? . . . first words out, even with all his questions.
We often wonder about unsolved life mysteries. We groan at losses, grieve unfairness, regret mistakes, and hate unending barrage of problems. Worst of all, we sometimes lose “the fear of the Lord.” Gideon didn’t. His questions and frustrations were all couched within the context of deep respect for God.
FYI – Gideon didn’t need to understand everything to obey the angel to the detail!
Shepherds Watching Their Flocks
Luke 2:8-10 says, “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”
These guys were “terrified.” An entity from another dimension appeared in piercing light and power. It made their littleness look even smaller! Have you ever been terrified? Not just scared. Terrified means you just hope to make it out alive. These shepherds would have rather taken on a bear or lion than an electric, powerful angel of the Heavenly Hosts.
FYI – the shepherds immediately obey the angel!
Joseph – First Encounter
From the beginning of his adult story, Joseph has recurring encounters with angels. Most of us get important messages via mail, email, texts, or phone. But Joseph gets jolting, real-life, very-powerful, personal angel visits! Wow.
Mt. 1:20 records the first visit – “An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” The Matthew Film portrays this visit dramatically. Joseph clutches his head, wondering if he is going insane, as he slowly sinks against a wall to the ground.
FYI – Joseph obeys the angel!
Joseph – Second Encounter
To be clear, Joseph gets critical data for “next personal decisions” from these electrically vibrant messengers. Visit #2 transpires after the wise men travel to see young Jesus.
“When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” (Mt. 2:13)
FYI – Joseph obeys the angel – again! Middle of the night. No questions. Gathers traveling stuff, wife, child. Saddles up the donkey. Has no idea they will be gone for years. Doesn’t think about his property. Just obeys.
Joseph – It’s Getting To be The “Norm.”
By this time, Joseph is getting used to the incredible angel directives. The next, and likely last, heavenly visit is recorded in Mt. 2:19. “After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.’ ”
Not that it is “hum-drum” by this point. But –
FYI – After these recurrent experiences, Joseph again obeys the angel! Probably not with a comfortable yawn as he says “OK” – but he definitely obeys.
Peter In Prison
Acts 12: 6-7 – “The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.”
Peter is prepared to die. He’s getting good sleep, possibly anticipating “going home” to his beloved Jesus the next day. No fear. No worries. Just peaceful sleep. In fact, the angel has to hit him to wake him up! Wow.
FYI – Peter obeys the angel and walks out of prison. Not the “home-going” he anticipated, but grateful for more time to serve Jesus.
Easter Angel On The Grave Stone
Now we consider the story of Easter. During that terrible week of preparation and suffering, Jesus is ministered to by His powerful, fully loyal, servant angels: glorious warriors of His Heavenly Hosts – God’s unstoppable army.
Then comes the critical cross. And burial. And then . . .
God sent an angel down to earth from Heaven after Jesus had already raised from the dead on Sunday morning. The angel is so electric, powerful, and pure, that he makes superheroes look like children at play. But this actually happens. The angel’s landing on earth likely shakes the earth.
The Easter Angel is given clear orders:
- Roll back the stone to the empty tomb.
- Sit on it. Let people see you.
- Assure My children to not be afraid.
- Assure them I AM alive as I said I’d be.
- Let them see the empty tomb.
- Tell them to pass the truth on to others.
- Tell them to meet up in Galilee with Me.
Application Questions and Thoughts
What would you do if an angel suddenly stood in front of you? Are you open to God’s messages without glorious angels? Do you receive daily from His Word? Are you honest, transparent, authentic, and respectful to the Commander in Chief of the Heavenly Hosts in your difficulties?
You can enjoy the comfort and joy of His undeserved friendship. God gives you friendship. He is the Commander in Chief of the heavenly hosts. He offers you friendship, and it doesn’t have to be through an angel. It’s real.
So the main question is: Do you obey . . . FYI?
Think about angels. And think about what it’s like to obey just because you trust God, and you love Him back. You want to respond to His friendship. Let that be your message to Jesus who gave you a very strong message at Easter time – “I LOVE YOU!”
*Portions taken from SharpShooting: Your Bronze Bow, day 87 – a study in Matthew.