The World of Angels


The World of Angels

April 10th, 1968 @ 12:00 PM

Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

Hebrews 1:14

4-10-68    12:00 p.m.



Now the message today is The World of God’s Angels.  And out of all of them I prepared, this is the one that most blessed my heart: The World of God’s Angels.

They are a created order of being.  That is, they are not saints who have been translated to heaven, but they are an order that God has created in themselves.  They are created; they are not eternal.  In the one hundred forty-eighth Psalm, the psalmist refers to the creation of the angels [Psalm 148:2-5].  That was some time before the foundation of the world.  For in the thirty-eighth chapter of Job, the angels are described as looking with wonder and with joy on God’s creation; and they sang together [Job 38:4-7].  They are astonished at the plan of redemption in Christ Jesus.  And 1 Peter says "they desire to look into it" [1 Peter 1:8-12], this amazing, astonishing, yet heavenly thing of the incarnation and the atonement of God for our sins:  "Angels desire to look into it," Peter says.

There is another thing about angels that is dimly, very dimly, revealed in God’s Word concerning their existence, and it is this:  at some time in the ages and the ages past, they themselves faced a tremendous decision. That means that they also, like us, are moral beings.  They had a choice between right and wrong.  And the Bible says that many of them fell:  they chose their archangel Lucifer, and iniquity was found in them, and they lost their first estate [Revelation 12:4; 2 Peter 2:4].  Most of the angels, two-thirds of them, remained faithful to God [Revelation 12:4]; and they live in an eternal state of felicity and abiding holiness.  That’s why the Book will call them "the elect angels" [1 Timothy 5:21], or "the holy angels" [Mark 8:38], or "the angels of light" [2 Corinthians 11:14].  There are angels of darkness [Ephesians 6:12].  There are angels of Satan.  But most of the angels are angels of God [Revelation 12:4].

Now, their number is infinite, and they are in orders themselves.  The fifth chapter of Revelation, in the eleventh verse, says, "Ten thousand times ten thousands of angels, and thousands of thousands"; an infinite number.  In the twelfth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, the author says that, "We who trust in Christ are come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven" [Hebrews 12:22-23], with us, and in the same breath God names His angels.

Now that innumerable throng called "the hosts of heaven"; the Lord of hosts, that is, God of the angels.  In that great throng there are orders and ranks.  Some of them are named in the Bible.  There are archangels.  In Daniel, Michael is referred to as one of the princes of heaven [Daniel 10:13, 21, 12:1].  And in Jude, Michael is referred to as an archangel [Jude 9]; and at the consummation of the age, "when the Lord shall descend with a shout, with the voice of the archangel" [1 Thessalonians 4:16].   So there is an order of archangels in that great throng.  There is an order called, in the Revelation, in the eighteenth chapter, "mighty angels" [Revelation 18:21], as though the others were not as exalted and as able.  There is an order of cherubim; a cherub and the cherubim [Ezekiel 1:5-28, 10:1-22], and there is an order of seraphim; a seraph and a seraphim [Isaiah 6:1-4].  So we know that in that great angelic hosts there are ranks and there are orders.

Another thing about them: they have personalities, as you do.  They have names.  There will be [Gabriel], whose name means "the hero of God" [Daniel 8:16, 9:21; Luke 1:8, 26].  There will be [Michael], whose name means "who is like God" [Daniel 10:13, 21; Jude 1:9; Revelation 12:7-8]  And in other literature, and once in the Bible, you will find the name of Lucifer and Raphael [Isaiah 14:12].  They have names.  Now, they also have specific and significant and personal assignments.  Gabriel will have an assignment, and it will always be the same.  And Michael will have an assignment, and it will always be the same.  And they’re very different from one another.  Gabriel has the assignment of being God’s announcer and God’s messenger.  He announced to Daniel the seventy years that should be accomplished for his people Israel [Daniel 9:21-24].  He announced to Zacharias the birth of John the Baptist [Luke 1:11-19].  He announced to Mary the birth of Jesus [Luke 1:26-35].  But Michael is the warrior of God.  In the Book of Daniel, Michael stands up for Israel as a great proponent and protagonist and protector [Daniel 12:1].  Michael is in Jude, disputing with Satan [Jude 1:9].  And of course, in the twelfth chapter of the Revelation, "And there was war in heaven:  Michael and his angels warring against the dragon and his angels" [Revelation 12:7-9].  So the angels in heaven have distinct assignments, and they are consistent in those dedications.

Now they are depicted in this precious Book as the ministers of God’s saints.  The last verse of the first chapter of Hebrews, speaking of the angels, said, "They are all ministering spirits, sent forth by God to minister to us who are the heirs of salvation" [Hebrews 1:14].  What do they do, then, these unseen personalities whom God sends forth to bless His people?  There are several things.  One, they protect us.  Ten thousand times we say, "Well, I was lucky," or, "A providence delivered me."  No, God sent His angel and he helped us and defended us and protected us.  It was two angels that delivered Lot, a worldly Christian who compromised his life in Sodom, but still a child of God though an unworthy one; two angels protected Lot [Genesis 19:1-23].  In the story, and one of the most dramatic in the Bible, Elisha was surrounded by a bitter, inimical Assyrian army [2 Kings 6:11-14].  And when his servant arose the next morning and saw the whole vast army around the little town in which they were staying, he went to his master and said, "O my lord, my lord, look, we are lost!" [2 Kings 6:11-14].  And Elisha the prophet, unperturbed, said:

Why, they that are with us are more than they that are with them.  And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, open his eyes.  Open his eyes!  And the eyes of the young servant were opened; and behold, the mountains round about were filled with chariots and horses of fire, round about Elijah, every chariot driven by an angel.

[2 Kings 6:16-17]


To protect God’s people: an angel closed the mouths of the lions when the statesman prophet was cast into the den [Daniel 6:16, 22].  Jesus said, "Little ones, little children, new believers are watched over by guardian angels who are ever in the presence of the Father" [Matthew 18:10].  They protect us.

The angels comfort us.  Do you notice, carefully – and that’s why I believe every syllable in this Book is inspired [2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21], even the order of the words, even the syllable of it, every jot and tittle, as the Lord said.  The angels comfort us; when the young man Jacob was sent out by Isaac and Rebekah to a foreign and a strange land, that night, the first night out, he lay down, pillowed his head on a stone [Genesis 28:10-11]; and that night God let down a ladder from heaven.  And the Book says, "And the angels of God ascended and descended" [Genesis 28:12], not "descended and ascended," but the angels of God ascended then descended: that is, they were with Jacob, though he knew it not, ascending, comforting and strengthening the young man.  And I haven’t time to speak of the angels who strengthened and comforted Jesus in the hour of His temptation and trial in the wilderness [Matthew 4:1-11], and in Gethsemane [Luke 22:39-42].

The angels deliver us, as an angel did Simon Peter from the iron prison of Herod Agrippa [Acts 12:7-10]; as an angel stood by Paul in the twenty-seventh chapter of Acts, in the midst of the storm, and said, "Be of good cheer" [Acts 27:20-23].  And the angels are the messengers of God, carrying out the mandates of heaven.  When Abraham lifted up his hand to plunge the knife of sacrifice into the heart of his son Isaac, it was an angel who called out, "Abraham, Abraham" [Genesis 22:2, 10-11]; the angels of God, carrying out the mandates of the Lord.

It will be angels who come for us when we die.  Luke 16:22, "And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom, into heaven."  And that sentiment, that revelation, has given birth to some of the most beautiful hymns in the English language, loved and sung by the church.


My latest sun is sinking fast, my race is nearly run

My strongest trials now are passed, my triumph is begun

Oh come, angel band, come and around me stand

Oh bear me away on your snowy wings, to my immortal home.

["My Latest Sun is Sinking Fast"; Jefferson Hascall, 1860]


Angels bearing us to heaven when we die.


A’lookin’ over Jordan, what did I see comin’ for to carry me home?

A band of angels a’comin’ after me, comin’ for to carry me home –

sing it with me –

Swing low, sweet chariot, comin’ for to carry me home

Swing low, sweet chariot, comin’ for to carry me home


If you get there before I do, comin’ for to carry me home

Just tell the Lord I’m a’comin’ too, comin’ for to carry me home –

sing it –

Swing low, sweet chariot, comin’ for to carry me home

Swing low, sweet chariot, comin’ for to carry me home

["Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," Wallis Willis, 1862]


"And it came to pass, that the angels carried him into Abraham’s bosom, to heaven" [Luke 16:22].

Well, I have one other part; I’ll just say it and not speak of it.  At the consummation of the age, angels are coming in glory, in power, oh, oh!  They’re God’s reapers, destroying angels [Matthew 13:39; Revelation 14:20].  And I’ll not speak of them.  They are coming, when the Lord appears personally on this earth [Matthew 24:29-31].  Many times will the Lord refer to His coming with all the holy angels, all of them.  Heretofore they have appeared by ones, or by twos, or by bands, or as a choir at the announcement of the birth of our Lord in Bethlehem [Luke 2:13-14]; but at the consummation of the age they are all coming on clouds of glory, when Jesus appears for His own; all of them, all of them [Matthew 25:31].  Like some grand finale of an opera, or a musical, or an oratorio, the stage will be the whole vast creation.  And when Jesus appears, all of the innumerable and infinite hosts of heaven will come with Him [Matthew 25:31].  Think of it.   I close. 

John said in Revelation 5:

I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and around the seraphim, and the four and twenty elders; and they cried with a great voice, ten thousand times ten thousands and thousands of thousands, Worthy is the Lamb, worthy is the Lamb.

[Revelation 5:11-12]


Oh, I can just see them thronging God’s universe, pointing to Him!


Worthy is the Lamb . . . to receive blessing, and honor, and glory, and riches, and power, and dominion; and every creature in heaven, and every creature on earth, and every creature under the earth, the netherworld, and every creature in the sea, and all that is within them heard I saying, Glory and power and majesty and blessing and dominion and honor be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever and ever.  Amen and Amen.

[Revelation 5:12-13]


What a day!  What a consummation!  Brother, think of it!  And we shall be there with ten thousands of His angels [Revelation 5:11-14], singing the song of Moses and the Lamb [Revelation 15:3-4].  Think of it!

Our Lord, if we are ever discouraged or defeated, forgive us.  Oh, what victory, what glory, what celestial, heavenly, infinite prospect:  what God hath reserved in store for those who love Him.  Bless us as we go our ways and bring us back tomorrow.  In the love and mercy and grace of Jesus, amen.