Read Hebrews 1
Focus on verse 14
I remember a lullaby that I became familiar with when I was a child. I didn’t hear it often, but for some reason it sticks in my memory. It is called “The Evening Prayer” and the lyrics are as follows:
When at night I go to sleep,
Fourteen angels watch do keep:
Two my head are guarding,
Two my feet are guiding,
Two are on my right hand,
Two are on my left hand,
Two who warmly cover,
Two who o’er me hover,
Two to whom ‘tis given to guide my steps to heaven.
(From the Opera “Hansel and Gretel” by Englebert Humperdinck.)
While I would hesitate to vouch for the theological accuracy the number and duties of the angels mentioned in the lullaby, I am quite convinced of the reality of angels and that they play an ongoing and active role in our wellbeing, quite possibly much more often than we realize.
In today’s reading we begin the book of Hebrews, which was a letter written to encourage the Jewish Christians in Rome who were apparently enduring some fairly intense persecution at the time. The author of the letter encourages the believers by assuring them of the victory they have through Christ regardless of their earthly circumstances, and that the role of God’s angels is to serve the saints at God’s discretion.
The focus of today’s reading is on the last verse of chapter one, which describes quite clearly the role of angels, and to me this is both surprising and encouraging.
Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation? (v. 14)
Apparently, angels are sent out by God on missions to serve the saints of God, and in doing so they are serving God. It would be a bit of a theological stretch to say that angels are at our beck an call. It would, however, be correct to say they are at God’s beck and call, and it would also be correct to say that God often sends them on missions for our sake. One might argue that Paul’s claim in Ephesians regarding believers being “seated in the heavenly realm with Christ” places believers in a position of authority over the angels, which technically would be accurate, but I am doubtful that this gives us the power to randomly order angels about. What it does give us is the authority to rebuke – in the name, and by the power of Jesus – the fallen angels that serve Satan in his mission to destroy us.
There may also be a measure of truth to the lyrics of “The Evening Prayer” in that God at times issues orders to His angels to watch over us and protect us from Satan’s attempts to destroy us.
Most often in such cases we are not even aware of this spiritual battle that rages in the unseen world, and this is probably a good thing, as if we did see everything that was going on there it would probably freak us out with regularity!
So, whether it is fourteen, four, or forty angels that God sends to watch over me, of this much I am certain; I have little doubt that He has frequently assigned angels to watch over me, and that if He had not – I rather doubt I would still be here. I trust He will continue to do so until the time at which my number is up, in which case I suspect He will assign an angel or two to help me make the transition from this world to the next. While I can’t honestly say I am eager for that day to arrive, I can honestly say I am glad to have the assurance that when it does – I will be in good hands.