Read Daniel 9
Focus on verse 21
I once met a person who told me that when they attended funerals, they would bring a little silver bell to the service and sit near the back and at what they presumed to be an appropriate time in the funeral service they would ring the bell to signal to the grieving family that their loved one had received their “wings”. This notion that when we die we become angels is surprisingly popular – it is also dead wrong. Angels are spirit beings that were created by God apparently to live eternally in His presence. Humans are also spiritual beings that were created by God, however He created us “in His own image” and designed us to exist for a period of time in a physical form during which we have the opportunity to choose whether we want to spend eternity with God or without Him. So, while it is true that after we die we continue to exist in a spiritual state, we do not “become angels”.
In today’s reading Daniel experiences the presence of and angel of God while spending time in prayer and confession. It is the same angel, Gabriel that he had seen previously who is sent to speak to him and to relay an important message from God to Daniel.
The realm of angels is the part of the spirit world that connects the realm of man with the realm of God. All the angels that God created function within that realm. These apparently include the three archangels, Michael, Gabriel, and Lucifer (who we also know as Satan) as well as all the hosts of angels who serve God with Michael and Gabriel, and the third of the host of angels who followed Lucifer. We sometimes refer to these fallen angels as demons.
These angels and demons exist and go about their business amidst the affairs of humanity. A fair analogy might be to consider how we coexist with bacteria. There are good bacteria that help us remain healthy, and there are bad bacteria that cause us to get sick – or in extreme cases cause death. Within our bodies the good bacteria often fight or resist the bad bacteria which causes us to recover from the flu or cold symptoms that the bad bacteria was causing.
We do not typically see the bacteria that are around us but that does not mean they are not there. Similarly, we do not see the angels and demons that operate in our presences, but we sometimes experience the result of what they do.
Fallen angels typically seek to deceive and influence humans to toward rebellion and destructive lifestyles and habits. Good angels resist the fallen angels and seek to encourage us toward truth and obedience. In special and rare instances angels (and sometimes demons) are permitted by God to appear in physical form to us. This can be a frightening experience, which is, why in ever instance recorded in scripture of an angelic appearance the first words the angel typically says are “fear not”, which actually also serves as verification that the appearing angel is one of the “good” ones. The reason we know this is because the mode of operation of the demons tends to be to use every possible means to cause us to fear them.
The scriptures also speak of “entertaining angels unaware” suggesting that there may be times when good angels appear in human form to assist humans in a manner that is not immediately detected as abnormal to the humans involved.
It is a comforting notion in my mind to think that there may be a number of angels assigned by God to watch over me and protect me not only from my own stupidity or carelessness, but also from the demonic forces that may be seeking to harm me.