by Dick Innes
Are Angels Real?
I recently read the following story, reported to be true, set in Sumatra among the wild Battas. In spite of the dangers, Von Asselt and his wife sensed a call to take up missionary work among these dangerous people. "The first two years," Von Asselt said, "were such that I shudder as I think about them. It seemed as if we were constantly harassed not only by hostile men but by hostile powers of darkness."
One day a Batta leader came to me and said, "Now Tuan (which means teacher), I have one request. I would like to see your watchmen."
"What watchmen?" I asked in astonishment. "I have no watchmen!"
"The watchmen you station around your house at night to protect you," my visitor said.
"But I have no watch-men," I repeated. "I have only a little herdsboy and a little cook and they would make poor watchmen."
The man looked incredulous, as if to say: "Do not make me believe otherwise for I know better." He then asked, "May I look through your house to see if they are hidden there?"
"Certainly," I replied, laughing, "look through it but you will not find anybody."
So he went in and searched every corner, going even through the beds, and at last he came out very disappointed.
Then it was my turn to ask the questions. "Tell me about those watchmen you saw."
"When you first came here," he said, "we were very angry with you. So we resolved to kill you and your wife. We went to your house night after night, but when we came near there always stood close around the house, shoulder to shoulder, a double row of watchmen armed with glistening weapons. We dared not attack them to get into the house.
We were, however, unwilling to abandon our plan so we went to a professional assassin. We asked him if he would kill you and your wife. We told him who you were and about the watchmen we had seen protecting your house. He laughed at us and said, "I fear no God or devil and will get through those watchmen easily."
"So we all came together in the evening and the assassin, swinging his weapon about his head, went courageously on before us. As we neared your house we remained in the background and let him go on alone. In a short time he came running back and said, No, I dare not risk going through alone. Two rows of big strong men are there, very close together, and their weapons shine like fire.
"So we gave up the thought of killing you, but tell me, Tuan, who are those watchmen? Have you never seen them?" "No," I replied, "I have never seen them." "And your wife, has she never seen them?" he asked. "No," I replied, "my wife has never seen them either." "But we have all seen them, how is that?" he eagerly exclaimed.
Then I went into the house and brought out a Bible and said, "This Book is the Word of our great God and in it he promises,"
"The Angel of the Lord encamps around about those who fear him, and he delivers them."1
"That," I said, "we firmly believe. Therefore we need not see the watchmen. But you do not believe, therefore our God had to show you the watchmen that you might learn to believe."2
In the Bible angels are mentioned more than 300 times. The following are just a few of the many instances. God sent an angel to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt.3
He used an angel with a drawn sword to block Balaam when he was riding on a donkey to pronounce a curse against Israel. Sad to say, the donkey saw the angel long before Balaam did.4
An angel announced the births of Samson,5
John the Baptist,6
and Jesus Christ. At Christ's birth the Bible 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 of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. Suddenly a great company of the heavenly hosts [angels] appeared with the angel, praising God."7
When Jesus had grown, an angel ministered to him following his temptation in the desert.8
An angel was also present at Jesus' tomb after his crucifixion and announced his resurrection,9
and when he returned to heaven rising into the clouds, two angels appeared and said to his followers, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."10
The disciples of Christ were freed from prison by an angel, as was Peter. On another occasion an angel told the Apostle Paul not to be afraid.11
According to the Bible, angels are highly intelligent and powerful beings, not to be confused with fallen angels (demons) or Satan who can appear as an angel of light. Nor are they to be worshiped, but they are to worship and serve God and to help and protect God's people.
For instance, a friend of mine, a well-known counselor, recently passed out and crashed when she was driving alone on a busy freeway. Her car was a total wreck. When she came to she found herself in a seat belt on the non-driver's side of the car with a stranger helping her to get out. As soon as she was freed, this man vanished. Nobody else at the scene saw him.
Was this a strange coincidence or was it divine intervention? Regardless . . .the Bible assures us that angels are "ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation,"12
In other words, angels are God's messengers sent to protect and care for those who are God's people or real Christians; that is, those who've put their faith in Jesus Christ and have received him as their personal Lord and Savior and have committed and trusted their life to him.
The good news is that you, too, can be under the care and protection of God's angels should you choose to commit and trust your life to Jesus Christ.
1. Psalm 34:7, (NIV); 2. Dr. Mantle, Taps, publisher unknown. 3. Numbers 20:16; 4. Num. 22:22-31; 5. Judges 13; 6. Luke 1:11-20; 7. Luke 2:8-13; 8. Matthew 4:11; 9. Matthew 28:2-6; 10. Acts 1:11; 11. Acts 5:19; 12:7-10; 27:24; 12. Hebrews 1:14, (NIV).