2 Kings 19:14-19, 35-37
As I’ve discussed before, the Bible tells us everything we need to know about God, ourselves, and how to live. It’s not given to us in order to satisfy our curiosity on every subject. Whether or not there's life on other planets is not something we absolutely need to know, so the Bible doesn’t really address that.
The reason I bring this up is because there's a common trap in discussing angels. The Scriptures give us a lot of tantalizing tidbits about them, but it certainly doesn’t tell us everything we (or at least I) would like to know. For example, how do they sense things, since they don’t have eyes or ears? When they “look” at the world around us, what do they “see”? Just how involved are they in our daily lives? The Bible doesn’t really tell us, so it’s useless to speculate.
Here are three things which are crystal clear, however. First, they are incredibly awe-inspiring beings. Almost every time in which they appeared, the first words out of their mouths were “Don’t be afraid.” Several times the lucky human recipient of this visitation was physically overwhelmed (for example, see here). John, the apostle of Christ himself, was tempted to worship one, not once but twice. I always get a kick out of seeing cute little chubby babies with wings on the front of holiday cards, because that's about as far away from the reality as you can get.
Second, they're incredibly powerful. You can read about that in today’s passage. I have a slightly macabre sense of humor, so I imagine King Sennacherib getting up the next morning, bellowing, “Where’s my breakfast?! Heads're gonna roll!” Oh, sorry about that, your majesty. Most of your army is too busy being DEAD right now. Friends, that’s 185,000 men killed overnight by one angel.
Third, they're incredibly focused. Did you read the passages in Revelation I cited a minute ago? When John fell at the angel’s feet, what was the latter's reaction? “Get up! Don’t do that! I’m a fellow servant!” This is the trap I mentioned before. To the degree that we can learn some spiritual lessons from the angels, it’s all well and good. To the degree that we obsess over them and wonder too long about details, we’re heading into really bad territory. What's their focus? Worshiping and serving and pleasing their Creator. A few years ago when there was an angel craze, I could almost imagine them crying out from behind the scenes: “Don’t focus on me! Don’t spend so much time thinking about me! Focus on the Lord God Almighty! He’s worthy of all your attention!” In today’s reading, Hezekiah prayed for deliverance with a specific purpose in mind: “so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God." And the angel was more than happy to bring that about, because that was his heart as well.
I think that there are two great lessons we can learn from the angels. First, we need to know that there are “friends” all around us, giving us secret help when we need it. We don’t need to know the specifics, but it does help to know that my Lord cares enough about me to send angels, both human and non-human, to lift me up when I need it. Second, we can learn from their example in regards to focus. Their whole being is centered towards serving and obeying the Lord, and they shun any attention which detracts from his glory. I only wish that described me. How about you?
Lord Jesus, you're so good to me. There's a whole other world surrounding me, which I know nothing about. Thank you for protecting and providing for me, as only you can.