The revelation of God tells us that God’s creation includes not only the physical Earth and its living creatures, but also a whole world of invisible creation. In faith we know that God created the heavens and the earth, things that are seen and unseen, The world is filled not only with material creation, but also with the invisible reality of Angels. We cannot hear all the sounds that fill our world, yet the message and song of the Angels fills the universe. We cannot see all the reality that fills our world, but we know that we are surrounded by ministering spirits who have been sent forth to serve God (Hebrews 1:14).
When Angels appear in the biblical stories, it is usually at the point of deepest mystery, when the wonder of God touches the lives of people most profoundly. Like a spotlight shining on stage at the key moments, the appearance of the Angels highlights the meaning and magnificence of God’s action among his people.
The Hebrew word for ‘Angel’ is Mal’akh, whose basic meaning is the same as its Greek equivalent Aggelos, or messenger.
Among the many functions of the Angels in the Israelite and Christian traditions, their role as intermediaries is crucial. They are constantly crossing the divide between God and humanity, bridging the gulf between heaven and earth. Because they are in direct touch with God, Angels reveal God in their very essence. They help people on earth to perceive divine power in the world and prepare them for ever-deeper experiences of God and ultimately for union with God.
The ladder envisioned by Jacob, the stairway connecting heaven and earth with Angels ascending and descending, symbolizes the Old Testament mediation of Angels. They bring the saving power of God to humanity and invite individuals to step over the boundaries of the material world into the limitless world of God. In the world of ancient Israel, the fiery seraphim and cherubim were known as guardian figures of God’s heavenly throne, preventing full access to God’s presence, hiding God’s glory with their protective wings. Yet in the New Testament the Angels’ mediation is overshadowed by the perfect mediation of Jesus Christ. As both divine and human, his very being is the presence of God in the world and the perfect expression of humanity joined to God.
Superior to the Angels and adored by them, Christ breaks the boundaries that prevent access to God and opens wide the passage to heaven. As sharers in the mediation of Christ, the Angels serve Him and facilitate God’s mission of bringing salvation to all people through Him.
A further aspect of the mission of God’s Angels is their service as guardians of God’s people. The Bible offers credible evidence of individual guardian angels for each person, offering not a substitute for God’s loving presence, but a manifestation of it. Like God, the Angels care about each individual person. As Jesus tells us, “There is joy in the presence of the Angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). Jesus urges us to take care of God’s lowly people, “for I tell you, in heaven their Angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:10). The personal ministry of guardian angels is an extension of God’s unbroken attention toward us: guiding us, protecting us, rescuing us, and ultimately bringing us to everlasting life.