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By J. Stephen Lang -- Angels are God's messengers, invisible except when they assume a shape to appear before human beings. We don't know what they "look" like, except they appear as grand, awe-inspiring beings -- not the chubby, sweet-faced infants in old artworks. People in the Bible -- and Christians of later times -- usually speak of angels as magnificent beings -- impressive figures who inspire awe but also give comfort.

Angels appear in many places in the Bible, but the most familiar passages remind us that of their role as protectors and comforters of God's people.

The angel of the LORD guards all who fear him, and he rescues them.

Psalm 34:7

If you make the LORD your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your dwelling. For he orders his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you with their hands to keep you from striking your foot on a stone.

Psalm 91:9-12

The high priest and his friends, who were Sadducees, reacted with violent jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the jail. But an angel of the Lord came at night, opened the gates of the jail, and brought them out.

Acts 5:17-19

The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, chained between two soldiers, with others standing guard at the prison gate. Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel tapped him on the side to awaken him and said, "Quick! Get up!" And the chains fell off his wrists. Then the angel told him, "Get dressed and put on your sandals." And he did. "Now put on your coat and follow me," the angeLORDered.

So Peter left the cell, following the angel. But all the time he thought it was a vision. He didn't realize it was really happening. They passed the first and second guard posts and came to the iron gate to the street, and this opened to them all by itself. So they passed through and started walking down the street, and then the angel suddenly left him.

Peter finally realized what had happened. "It's really true!" he said to himself. "The Lord has sent his angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jews were hoping to do to me!"

Acts 12:6-11

"Beware that you don't despise a single one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father."

Matthew 18:10

"I assure you of this: If anyone acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I, the Son of Man, will openly acknowledge that person in the presence of God's angels. But if anyone denies me here on earth, I will deny that person before God's angels."

Luke 12:8-9

"There is joy in the presence of God's angels when even one sinner repents."

Luke 15:10

Jesus and the apostle Paul promised that angels would play a key role in the Second Coming of the Lord. The angels are "reapers," gathering in the "harvest" of God's faithful people. They are also "heralds," announcing Jesus' glorious arrival on earth.

"I, the Son of Man, will send my angels, and they will remove from my Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil, and they will throw them into the furnace and burn them. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the godly will shine like the sun in their Father's Kingdom. Anyone who is willing to hear should listen and understand!"

Matthew 13:41-43

"And then at last, the sign of the coming of the Son of Man will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the nations of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man arrive on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send forth his angels with the sound of a mighty trumpet blast, and they will gather together his chosen ones from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven."

Matthew 24:30-31

The Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the call of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, all the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and remain with him forever. So comfort and encourage each other with these words.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18

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The Book of God's Promises -- Copyright, 1999 by J. Stephen Lang. All rights reserved, used with permission.

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