Do angels really exist? Well, I think if we take the Bible at all seriously, we will believe they do. But… not necessarily in the sense you may think. When we think of angels in our culture today, we usually come away with an odd or distorted picture of a being that may or may not:
- Look like a cuddly, flying baby with wings.
- Look like a cute, cuddly, flying baby with wings… and a bow and arrow.
- Look like a female.
- Have wings… or be a being who has lost or is trying to earn its wings.
- Be creatures that were at one time human.
That is not of all the misconceptions we have about angelic beings, but there’s enough in that list to mess up some of our Christmas decorations if we try to represent a biblical view of them!
First, angels are never presented in the Bible as babies. Angelic beings are messengers of God who at times appear as human, but never as infants. Those are Renaissance depictions inspired more by art than by Scripture.
Second, angels are never presented… let me repeat that… NEVER presented as feminine. They are actually asexual beings according to Jesus, and when an angel is encountered or introduced only male names are associated with them.
Third, angels do not necessarily have wings though some do. Some (those depicted in Isaiah 6 for instance) have six wings. But angels are not necessarily issued wings or winged creatures.
Fourth, angels are created beings… not beings which were transformed from a formerly human state. In other words, people do not die and become guardian angels, though the angels do watch out for those who are heirs of salvation.
OK. So by now, some of you are weeping because I have stolen from you those Christmas decorations that do not “square” with what the Bible teaches. We are not going to have a large bonfire to burn our incorrect, angelic ornaments and decorations, but sometimes our mistaken images remove from the angelic beings the glory that God has placed in them.
So in the next few days, let’s explore what the Bible does say about angels as we continue to move toward Christmas.
FOR MEDITATION: Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2
FOR REFLECTION: Ask God to give you clarity and insight to see His glory in the angelic host this Advent.