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God’s Messengers They pop up everywhere, don’t they? They appear in many religions, in legends, in the Old Testament and the New, in hymns and Christmas carols, in art and on Christmas cards. Some people believe each of us has a special one watching out for us and protecting us. Angels, I mean. We are so used to hearing about them I almost think we wouldn’t be phased if we bumped into one in the street! But what exactly do we know about them? Well, we believe that the angels are heavenly beings, in touch with God, benevolent spirits who do God’s bidding and act as go-betweens for communication between God and mankind. They are a step up from humans (Psalm 8 says “You have made him (man) a little less than the angels”), therefore we humans look up to the angels and respect them as being close to God. They also provide us with a guiding and protecting presence, hence the term ‘guardian angel’ which is in common use today. So let’s take a closer look at what we mean by the word ‘angel’. If we go back to the Hebrew, the word mal’ākh means messenger, and this messenger can be either human or heavenly. There are certainly plenty of stories of angel messengers in the Bible. Perhaps the most famous one is about the visit Mary had from Gabriel, the angel who announced that she was going to bear God’s son. Mary’s response (“No way! I’m not married!”) shows that the angel messengers allow interaction between humans and God. Of course, that wasn’t the first time that Gabriel (whose name means ‘God is my strength) got a mention. The prophet Daniel tells us that while he was praying to God, Gabriel came flying down to where he was, delivered a message from God and explained the vision which Daniel had seen. This same angel told Zechariah: “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God who sent me to speak to you and tell you this good news”. The good news was, of course, the forthcoming birth of Zecharaiah’s son, John the Baptist. Two other angels which feature in biblical texts are Michael (whose name means ‘who is like God?’) and Raphael (‘God heals’). Michael is mentioned three times in the Book of Daniel and in the New Testament appears in Revelation as the leader of God’s army against the Devil. Raphael cured the blindness of his companion Tobit and is also said to be the angel which stirred up the water in the pool at Bethesda thus releasing its healing powers. Other well-known Bible stories feature angels; in his dream at Bethel, for example, Jacob saw a ladder reaching from heaven to earth with angels moving up and down, connecting the two great spaces. Lot and his family were led by an angel out of Sodom before that city was destroyed. And it was an angel who approached Gideon in the village of Ophrah to announce that he, Gideon, was to save the people of Israel from the Midianites. 32

Crosstalk Magazine December 2015 January 2016  

The Christmas edition of Crosstalk magazine

Crosstalk Magazine December 2015 January 2016  

The Christmas edition of Crosstalk magazine

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