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Touched By an Angel or Just Plain Touched?

9/30/07

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"Touched by An Angel" was a popular TV show. Angels went around doing good by touching the lives of others. Are we Christians really touched by angels or just plain touched for believing in them? No, but we are touched if we don't realize it isn't always good to be touched by an angel.

Before explaining why it isn't always good to be touched by an angel, let's see why we believe angels exist. Psalm 148 tells us God created angels, but it doesn't tell us on what day they were created. Augustine thought they were created when God said, "Let there be light." Job 38 tells us angels were present when God laid the foundations of the earth and they shouted for joy over it. Hebrews 1 tells us angels are spirits, which are beings with individual personalities but no bodies. However, they can assume bodily form, always as males never as females, to do physical things on earth. Some angels have wings when they appear, most don't.

Scripture doesn't give an exact number of angels but says their numbers are huge. Daniel and John see in heaven "thousands upon thousands and ten thousand times ten thousand" angels. They use a word for an uncountable number. On the night Jesus was born, Luke 2 tells us there was a "multitude," a "great company" of them present.

Angels are very powerful. How powerful? Angels have amazing powers like Superman, Spiderman, and X-men are said to have. Scripture tells us one angel killed 185,000 Assyrians in one night; another shut the mouths of the lions that would have devoured Daniel. Don't think of these angels using "Bewitched-like" spells to get the job done. No, picture one angel physically killing 185,000 soldiers. Picture one angel holding lions at bay like a lion tamer would.

Angels are real. They're all around us all the time in great numbers having great powers. You're not touched for believing this, but you are touched if you believe all of these angels are good; some are bad. Scripture calls bad angels demons, devils, evil spirits, unclean spirits, or spirits of infirmity.

Where did evil angels come from if God made only good angels? People like to speculate on this, but we're bound to follow Scripture. 2 Peter 2 says us some of the good angels sinned becoming evil. Rev.12 says there was a war in heaven; the devil and the angels that followed him fought against Michael and his angels. I Tim.3 says what caused the war was the devil being puffed up with pride. The outcome of the battle is recorded: "But the devil was not strong enough, and the rebellious angels lost their place in heaven." But they didn't lose any of their great power when they fell. So that means, "Woe to the earth and to the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows his time is short!"

We aren't touched for believing there are angels. But we are touched, if we don't realize that some of these invisible creatures aren't angelic but demonic. Not everyone touched by an angel is touched by a good one; some are touched by evil, unclean, demonic ones. The good angels are at work touching you in positive ways. They guard, keep, and strengthen you. Daniel and Christ Himself were strengthened by the touch of an angel. If just a touch from a human being can be comforting, encouraging, strengthening, how much more the touch of a heavenly being?

Scripture shows the good angels do more than just touch. When Peter is in prison, God sends an angel to knock off his chains and open doors. When Elisha finds himself surrounded by his enemies, God sends an army of angels in chariots of fire to protect him. Scripture tells us that St. Michael in particular is delegated to fight on behalf of God's people.

The good angels touch people, so do the bad angels. In Scriptures we find them terrorizing, tempting, causing physical disease, and driving people to hurt themselves or others. The evil angels particularly touch people so that they oppose Christ. For example, Scripture says of Judas right before he betrayed Jesus, "And Satan entered into him." And when Peter opposed Jesus for saying He would be crucified, Jesus said, "Get behind me Satan."

The evil angel's hatred of Christ extends to His Church. Christ says where God's Word is being sown, Satan's devils are there snatching the Word out of hearts so people don't believe and sowing false Christians among the true. Where the Lord plants His Church the Devil and his angels are planting a backbiting, bitter, unloving chapel of hell.

But don't think evil angels work only on a local level. Evil angels work in every single anti-Christ, immoral, murderous idea or activity. It's not just the wickedness or the hardheartedness of men behind abortion for babies, marriage for homosexuals, and freedom for criminals; our struggle is not really against human beings in these matters; but according to Ephesians, it's against "the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." It's against evil angels called Rulers and Authorities says Paul

We're not touched for believing in angels, but we are touched if we believe everyone who wears an angel pin or everyone who believes in angels is touched by good ones. We must distinguish good angels from bad ones, and we must not go by appearances, feelings, or outward results. Paul warns us in II Corinthians 11, "Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light." The most wicked creature in the universe can appear to be a heavenly angel.

Only Scriptures can enable us to distinguish good from bad angels, and they point us to the Gospel. Paul says in Galatians that an angel which preaches a different Gospel is a damned one. Good angels serve the true Gospel. They do nothing to take away or modify the simple truth that Jesus fulfilled the 10 Commandments and died on the cross to pay for our breaking them. Good angels glory in the fact humans are saved through believing that for Jesus' sake they are forgiven.

Good angels are focused on God and His Gospel. Matthew 18 says the guardian angels of our little ones always behold the face of the Father. They always look to God and His will. God's will is that fallen man be saved in Christ. Good angels are centered on Christ. 1 Peter shows angels bent over and peering out of heaven in wonder as God sends His only Son into the world. Angels announced Christ's conception, birth, Resurrection, and Ascension. And it is angels who will trumpet His Second Coming.

Good angels are focused on Christ. In heaven, you always find them gathered around Christ, serving Him. You don't find them wandering on earth seeking something to do. No, it's Satan who Job shows roaming the earth. I Peter tells us exactly what he's doing: He's "looking for someone to devour." On the other hand, Scripture shows good angels going back and forth between heaven and earth. They go when and where God sends them, and they come back after they do what He sent them to do.

The path of good angels is between heaven and Christians. Hebrews tells us good angels are "ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation." Unbelievers aren't promised the service of angels. They are left with the trials, the torments, the temptations, of the evil angels. Ps. 91 says those who dwell in the shelter of the most high are the ones who have the angels from God to guard them in all their ways. It is Christians whom the Lord commands His angels to lift up so they don't even stub their toes against a stone.

But wait a minute; Christians have much worse things happen to them than stubbing a toe. Are we without the ministry of the good angels when that happens? This is a problem, isn't it? TV shows and movies always portray angels apart from Christ (which means they are demons), yet almost always these angels succeed in saving people from physical harm. What gives?

Jesus compared Himself to a stone and said, "Blessed is the one who doesn't stumble over Me." Good angels serve heirs of salvation by preserving them in salvation, by making sure they don't stumble over Jesus and fall away. Good angels are focused on Jesus and serving those in Him. Their mission is not to insure that you get to heaven without any bumps or bruises; no their mission is to see that you get to heaven. Your body, the angels know and you should too, is destined to wither and decay back to the dust God made it from with or without bumps and bruises. God will raise it on the Last Day no matter how many bumps and bruises it has; the good angels insure you're in heaven to enjoy your resurrected body.

You are touched by angels left and right. When you go to bed pray as Luther taught for God's holy angel to be with you so that the evil foe may have no power over you. And as you go through your day, know the good angels are defending you from all the things the evil angels try to make you trip over Jesus. They stop cars from colliding, illnesses from coming, criminals from striking, and despair from crushing.

However, even when the cars do collide, the illnesses do come, criminals do strike, and despair does crush, it doesn't mean you're without the ministry of good angels. Jacob was assured that the angels of God ascended and descended right on him, yet he was persecuted for 20 years by his father-in-law, had family trouble, a darling wife die in childbirth, and 22 years of grief over a son who wasn't dead. Or look at Paul, God's chosen instrument. He had the ministry of angels yet he suffered beatings, shipwrecks, hunger, cold, sleeplessness, and crushing concern for the church. On top of all this, he had a thorn in the flesh which he called "an angel of Satan to torment me."

The saints of old were touched by both good and bad angels, but the good ones succeeded in bringing them through the hardships of this life to the joys of the next. They will do the same for all of us in Christ, and we're not touched for believing it. Amen

Rev. Paul R. Harris

Trinity Lutheran Church, Austin, Texas

St. Michael and All Angels (20070930)