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As I've studied what the Bible has to say about angels, one very encouraging fact has become clear to me. God doesn't send them because we deserve it. He sends them because we need help. Angels are literally messengers of God's mercy.

Think about Lot and his family and you'll see what I mean. Angels brought them deliverance from the impending judgment and destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:1-26) even though they had chosen of their own free will to live in those evil cities. Lot didn't really deserve the personal angelic escort that took him to safety, yet God sent it anyway

We see a similar example in the account of Elijah given in 1 Kings chapters 18 and 19. There, we find that Elijah had just experienced the power of God in a mighty way. God had poured out fire from heaven in answer to his prayers and enabled him to defeat 400 idolatrous prophets of Baal.

This, however, infuriated Queen Jezebel. She threatened to kill Elijah and he was so terrified that he ran for his life and hid in the wilderness. Elijah's response was to sink into a pit of oppression, doubt and despair. The Bible says:

"He requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God" (1 Kings 19:4-8).

Think of it! Right on the heels of one of God's greatest displays of power, Elijah had run away in doubt and fear. Certainly, at that moment, Elijah did not deserve God's mercy. Nevertheless, God sent an angel, a messenger of mercy to sustain him and encourage him.

Another interesting point to notice is that in this account, as in almost every other, whether in the Old Testament or the New, the visitation of an angel came immediately at the moment of greatest need. It came right on time! God didn't wait around for the person in need to prove himself deserving of intervention. He moved quickly.

Surely, God is rich in mercy! He delights in demonstrating His love and compassion!

That's wonderful news for every Christian. Why? Because we all need the mercy of God. All of us make mistakes from time to time and need immediate help. And through the ministry of angels, that help can come to us right on time.

A Life of Faith
A word of warning is appropriate at this point. The help that angels can provide is a wonderful blessing. We are not, however, to live in continual dependence on the ministry of angels. The Bible says the just shall live by faith (Hebrews 10:38). That is God's highest way for us.

We are what we believe. And what we believe needs to be cultivated along the lines of God's Word. "For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he," (Proverbs 23:7). With God all things are possible. And all things are possible to him that believes (Mark 9:23).

"But Mac," you might be thinking, "If we are called to live by faith and faith brings the answer, why do we even need the ministry of angels?"

We need it because learning to live by faith is a process. It's not something you decide to do today and become an expert at tomorrow. Faith begins with a decision, but it must be cultivated as you grow spiritually.

"Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God," (Romans 10:17). The Word has to be planted in you. It has to be watered. It has to be cultivated. Through that process, faith comes.

Faith doesn't always come overnight, however. That's why Galatians 6:9 says, "...let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." If we'll keep on confessing the Word, meditating the Word and acting on the Word we'll reap a harvest.

When? In due season!

Sometimes, though, you'll come up against a hard place in your life before your due season arrives. You'll encounter an emergency you haven't yet developed the faith to handle. That's when you need God's immediate intervention. That's when you need a messenger of mercy to be involved in your circumstances. You need a source of deliverance and provision other than your faith.

The ministry of angels has been given to us for just such times. They come as God's ministering spirits, sent forth on our behalf to enable us to escape those especially hard places in life.

Just as angels came to help Lot and his family, just as Elijah experienced the provision of God's mercy at the hand of a ministering spirit, we too can expect that kind of assistance. It is one of the ways God helps us while we are here on this earth, particularly as our faith deepens in Him.

Thank God for the angels!

Positioning Yourself for Angelic Assistance
We've already established the fact that angels are often dispatched to help individuals who do not necessarily seem worthy of their aid. They come simply as God's messengers of mercy.

Yet it's obvious that angels do not always intervene. There are times when they are desperately needed but they do not come. The people of Israel, for example, were taken into captivity many times in their history, whether by the Babylonians or Egyptians or others, and often there was no angelic rescue team to help them.

There are other instances, however, where God did intervene, where mercy was extended, or deliverance came at a crucial moment. What made the difference?

As I studied the various angelic visitations in the Bible with this question in mind, I noticed a pattern. I found there was a lifestyle, an attitude or an approach to living that was common among individuals who received angelic help. In short, I noticed they met certain qualifications.

This is an encouraging discovery. It tells us that there is a way we too can live an attitude and an approach to life we can embrace that will enable God to dispatch angelic messengers of mercy for us just as He did for people in the Bible.

When you are in the middle of a hard season or when you've blown it, there is an answer. If you live a certain way and do certain things, the ministry of angels can be brought to bear in your life to help you when we need it most.

Please understand, I am not suggesting there is some kind of magic formula that releases the power of angels. I am simply pointing you toward a lifestyle that is clearly identified in the Word of God, a lifestyle that puts you in a position to operate in true spiritual power.

You see, ultimately you want to grow spiritually to a place where you can consciously commission your angel or angels on a daily basis. Not arrogantly ordering them around, but commissioning them to help you accomplish the will of God in your life. And the way you live your life will have a direct impact on your ability to do that.

When Only God Can Help
Let's begin our investigation into the qualifications for angelic ministry by looking in Isaiah 36 and 37. There you'll find the example of a man who clearly met those qualifications. It is an amazing story. It's the account of how Judah's king, Hezekiah, overcame the evil Sennacherib, king of Assyria, and the Assyrian army. It's also an example of the power of God's angels.

Chapter 36 begins during the 14th year of King Hezekiah's reign. Sennacherib, king of Assyria, had come up against the cities of Judah and conquered them. He then set his sights on Jerusalem with plans to take it by siege.

Sennacherib sent his "Rabshakeh" to Jerusalem to meet with King Hezekiah. (Rabshakeh is not a man's name. It is a military term which refers to an office of state much like that of secretary of state. It literally means the king's representative charged with negotiating truces and surrenders.)

Sennacherib assumed that because of the destructive force of his great army, Hezekiah would surely surrender Jerusalem to him without a struggle. Rabshakeh was sent, therefore, to deliver the terms of surrender to Hezekiah.

As Rabshakeh met with Hezekiah's representatives, he spoke so that all of the people of Jerusalem could hear. He warned them not to be persuaded by Hezekiah to trust in the Lord for deliverance. He reminded the people that the Assyrian army had just defeated the forces in Judah and that, frankly, nothing could stand in the way of King Sennacherib.

In order to get the full picture, let's back up a little and look at what had happened just prior to Rabshakeh's visit. Historically, this event took place in 701 B.C. and Assyria was the dominant power of that time. They had embarked on a two-year campaign to conquer the rest of the civilized world and the primary obstacle standing in their way was Egypt. But in order to conquer Egypt, Assyria had to march south through Israel.

Hezekiah had learned of the Assyrians' plans well in advance of their attack on the cities of Judah. He realized he did not have the military strength to face the Assyrian army alone and in an attempt to save his kingdom, Hezekiah had made an alliance with Egypt. (In direct disobedience to repeated instructions from the Lord.)

Egypt was eager to make this alliance because if Judah turned back the Assyrians, the Egyptians would never have to fight them on their own soil.

Thus, a pact was made. Egypt supplied Hezekiah with paid mercenaries to bolster his forces.

It was these combined forces that the Assyrian army had defeated at Lachish, one of the cities in Judah. In fact, this is the city from which Rabshakeh came when he ordered the surrender of Jerusalem (Isaiah 36:2). As he called for the surrender, he reminded the people of Israel that no alliance or nation had been able to stand up against the great Assyrian army (Isaiah 36:5-7).

As Hezekiah listened to Rabshakeh's message, he realized he could no longer depend on natural, military might. His alliance with Egypt had failed him. Disaster was at the door and only God could help him now.

Repent, Seek God's Word and Pray!
What did Hezekiah do to secure that divine help? Verse one of chapter 37 tells us, "And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord." In other words, Hezekiah repented of his sin.

What sin? The sin he had committed when he made the alliance with Egypt. For generations, it had been a standing order of the Lord not to enter a covenant or agreement with Egypt.

The second thing Hezekiah did was turn to the Word of the Lord. "...He sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests covered with sackcloth, unto Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz" (v. 2). Hezekiah sought the Word of the Lord as represented at that time by the prophet Isaiah.

The third thing Hezekiah did was pray. Look at verse 14. "And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up unto the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord." Earnestly, he made his case before God in prayer and said :

"Incline thine ear, O Lord, and hear; open thine eyes, O Lord, and see: and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent to reproach the living God...Now therefore, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord even thou only" (Isaiah 37:17, 20).

It's important to understand that Hezekiah couldn't have prayed that prayer if he hadn't first repented. Prayer is not going to work if you're still walking in the wrong path and your heart is wrong. You first have to change and get in line with God. And that's exactly what Hezekiah did.

Follow Hezekiah's Example
Do you know what happened in that situation? The Lord sent an angel to help Hezekiah. "The angel of the Lord went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses" (v. 36).

Hezekiah woke up the following morning and found his enemies were all dead. God sent his angel and that angel slew 185,000 soldiers of the most powerful army on the earth at that time. And he did it in one night. Friend, that's the way to fight a battle!

Thank heaven Hezekiah qualified for that kind of assistance! He lived in such a way that he allowed God to send an angel on his behalf, even when he had blown it. He was quick to repent. He sought out the Word of the Lord. And most importantly, he prayed.

That's the lesson for us today. We need to recognize those times when we fail or are not in faith, and then we need to repent. Of course, true repentance calls for a change of direction.

Once you've repented, get in the Word. Study and meditate on God's promises. See what He says about your condition or circumstances.

Finally, pray! Prayer is hard work but don't give up. Press in and seek the Lord's face with an attitude of humility.

Remember, this is a process. And this process is a way of living. It's an attitude we have and a lifestyle we embrace. When we are quick to repent and determined to change our course; when we consistently spend time in God's Word; and when we pray; then we are candidates for the ministry of angels. We open the way for God to send them to intervene on our behalf.

Source: Angels At Your Service by Mac Hammond
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers

 

 

Author Biography

Mac Hammond
Web site: Mac Hammond
 
Mac Hammond is senior pastor of Living Word Christian Center, a large and growing church in Brooklyn Park (a suburb of Minneapolis), Minnesota. He is the host of the Winner’s Minute, which is seen locally in the Minneapolis area and can also be viewed at winnersminute.com. He is also the host of the Winner’s Way broadcast and author of several internationally distributed books. Mac is broadly acclaimed for his ability to apply the principles of the Bible to practical situations and the challenges of daily living.
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