Have you ever been in a situation where you found yourself calling on your guardian angel? If you’ve seen active military service, I probably know your answer. Most who have experienced danger answer in the affirmative. This is hardly surprising.
A 2008 Baylor University study showed that more than half of all Americans claim to have been protected from harm by an angel on at least one occasion. They could have attributed their happy escapes to luck or coincidence, but they didn’t. They told researchers that they were helped by angels.
But what exactly is an angel? We often use the word but we mean different things. Some men use the word romantically. Indeed, there are dozens of popular melodies with angel in the title. Some think of angels as delicate creatures with diaphanous wings. Others think of specific angels, like Gabriel.
The Bible frequently speaks of angels without describing exactly what they look like. Furthermore, Scripture is deliberately ambiguous about whether angels are human or supernatural. One can see this clearly in the Hebrew. Take a look at this verse:
And the two angels came to Sodom in the evening
and Lot was sitting at the gate of Sodom.
Now look at this verse:
And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying,
we came to your brother to Esau…
The Hebrew word used for “angels” in Genesis 19 and for “messengers” in Genesis 32 is one and the same – Ma-LA-CHim:
That’s right—exactly the same word translates as messenger and angel.
Angels are messengers of God. At times they are supernatural; but they can also be humans on a mission. And it makes no difference whether or not those people know that they are acting as messengers of God.
During June and July of 1969, I undertook a grand adventure—a foolhardy motorcycle trip through Africa that surely added gray hairs to my parents. (Note to Lapin children: Do not try this!)
One day I joined a crowd of villagers to watch the Apollo moon landing on the only black and white TV for miles around. It had been wedged into a tree and was running off a car battery. The next day I resumed my travels and arrived at a “cross road”. It was actually a place where two dirt tracks converged. My well-planned itinerary had me taking the better-traveled left route to the northwest.
To this day, I don’t know what made me unexpectedly turn right. All I know is that I felt an almost irresistible tug in that direction. My machine’s handlebar seemed to swing of its own accord as I leaned into the turn and found myself heading along a rutted track leading I knew not exactly where.
That afternoon I came across a stranded white Ford sedan containing a couple and their two young children. They had been there for two days and were hungry, tired, and frightened. Not too many people came along that northeast road. After poking around under the hood, I discovered that their fuel pump had failed. Using a piece of rubber I cut from their spare tire’s inner tube, I was able to replace the torn diaphragm of the pump. They called me their angel, which made me blush. Then they gratefully went on their way.
On July 21, 1969 God used me as His messenger. The people I helped thought of me as a human angel. The terminology doesn’t make much difference does it?
For He will send His angels for you, to guard you in all your paths.
May this always be true for you.
I hope you will take advantage of the last few days that Madam, I’m Adam: Decoding the Marriage Secrets of Eden is on sale. After all, our spouses are certainly messengers from God designed to help each of us reach our full potential.