Are they [angels] not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
— Hebrews 1:14
Today I want to talk to you about the ministry of angels, and how they work to protect and deliver us in times of trouble. Let me begin by retelling a part of a story that I related to you in the May 29 Gem, and I want add a story at the end to demonstrate the point even stronger.
I had long wanted to visit the city of Vorkuta, located above the Arctic Circle in Russia. It was one of the major cities where Joseph Stalin deported believers during a raging period of persecution. There Christians were incarcerated in huge prison camps and forced to work deep under the earth in dangerous coal mines, where they dug the coal that fired the massive coal-burning factories and trains of the Soviet Union.
I sensed that it was a divine assignment to visit Vorkuta at that time. Because of its notorious place in history for Christian believers, I wanted to talk to the TV director that covered that large area in order to obtain a contract for broadcasting our TV program. I also intended to find out how many believers still lived there and what we could do to be of assistance to them.
As I related in the earlier Gem, my seat on the airplane was at the front of the plane near the flight attendant station, and I was seated next to a window, which made it possible for me to see everything happening outside of the airplane. My particular seat faced the tail of the plane, so I could also see everything that was happening inside the aircraft.
First, all the passengers boarded. Then I watched out my window as cargo handlers began to load cargo into the underside of the plane. I was shocked at the amount of boxes, suitcases, and cargo they were putting into the cargo hold. In fact, it was so overfilled that when it came time to shut the doors to the cargo hold, it took several men to shut it, because the overflowing cargo was pressing against the door.
Meanwhile, inside the plane from where I was seated, I watched as airport workers piled boxes, boxes, and more boxes in the tail of the plane, until the rear end of the plane — that is, the kitchen and the toilets — were no longer visible or accessible. After that, they began piling luggage and boxes into empty seats, and then they started stacking them from the back to the front of the center aisle of the plane. The extra cargo filled the cabin all the way from the very back to where I sat in the front of the plane!
Because I was seated close to the flight attendants, I could hear their conversations. I overheard one flight attendant say to another, “I’m getting off this plane, because it’s so severely overloaded that I’m afraid this plane is not going to make it.”
Yet I knew I was supposed to go to Vorkuta. So what should I do? I thought. I bowed my head with those who were traveling with me, and we prayed, “Lord, if this plane is going to crash, please do anything needed to get us off this plane!”
Just as we finished praying, a flight attendant frantically yelled, “Everyone — as quickly as possible — get off this plane! We just received a phone call that there’s a bomb on this plane!”
People started fighting with each other and shoving their way to the airplane door. At last when everyone was off the plane, and we were inside the terminal, a public announcement was made, which declared that the entire plane was being unloaded so the authorities could search for a bomb. After hours of our waiting and wondering what to do next, another public announcement was made over the intercom, saying, “After searching the aircraft, we found no bomb on the plane. It was a false threat. However, we have decided that when we all reboard the aircraft, no extra luggage or boxes will be permitted. Only the suitcases of passengers will be permitted on this airplane.”
My companions and I stepped into the plane and reseated ourselves in the same seats that had been assigned to us. People looked relieved, peaceful, and thankful that the plane was no longer overloaded. I heard the same flight attendant who had earlier threatened to get off the plane tell his colleague, “Now we’ll have a safe flight.”
This brings me to what I want to share today about the delivering and protective ministry of angels — because I asked myself that day, Who was that mysterious phone caller who said there was a bomb on the airplane? Who caused the airplane to be so quickly emptied, leading to the fortuitous decision to remove all that dangerous extra cargo? I wondered, Is it possible that an angel was the unidentified mystery caller?
Hebrews 1:14 declares, “Are they [angels] not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” According to this verse, angels are “sent forth to minister” on behalf of those who belong to the family of God.
The word “minister” is the Greek word diakonia, a word that depicts high-level service. It is important to note that rabbis in New Testament times used a very similar phrase to describe what they called “angels of service or ministry” — angels whom they believed were assigned to protect individuals and deliver them from harm.
Let us be confident that part of the angelic ministry is to ensure a believer’s safety from dangerous and harmful things. Certainly that day at the airport, something inexplicable happened that saved the lives of my team and everyone else who was on that airplane. There were five believers on my team. I would not be surprised if that event was some type of angelic intervention to spare our lives from tragedy. In fact, I truly believe this is what happened.
Especially during the time period when Hebrews 1:14 was written, believers were often forced to physically move from one place to another and were regularly caught in difficult circumstances. But “ministering spirits” — that is, angels — were sent forth to “minister” to them. These angels provided the highest level of service available to help these believers and protect them from harm as they were en route from one place to another.
The phrase “sent forth” in Hebrews 1:14 is a translation of the Greek word apostello, which describes one who is dispatched on a mission. Therefore, these angels spoken of in this verse are purposefully dispatched on a mission to serve and protect the heirs of salvation. It was, and it remains, the mission of angels to serve the needs of the saints and to provide them protection.
Even as you read this, perhaps you can think of people who were in the direct path of harm until something happened to divert their course, and it was that change of direction that spared them from a catastrophic event. I am reminded of a time when our eldest son Paul had a car accident in Moscow. He hit a pole, and it turned the car over multiple times, totally crushing the vehicle. Yet all three people in that car walked away unharmed! The street-side pole was destroyed; the car was completely crushed. But the three people traveling in the car were unscathed. It was truly miraculous.
When Denise and I saw the car, we cried, because we realized there was no human way that death could have been avoided. It was clear to us that our son and his companions had been protected by angels who were assigned to protect them and save them from harm.
So today I want to encourage you to know that there are angels on assignment, sent to minister to you and to protect you in times of danger. To qualify for this angelic protection, Hebrews 1:14 states that one must be an “heir of salvation” — or one must be a child of God. So if you have made Jesus the Lord of your life, you qualify — and it’s time for you to recognize that angels have been assigned to you and to call upon them as you travel and traverse the twists and turns of your life.
Now every time I enter a plane, I lay my hands on its exterior and thank God for the angels who are traveling with me and who are assigned to keep me and all those traveling with me from harm. Knowing that God has provided such protection has kept me in peace on many occasions when I could have been inwardly disturbed in difficult situations. I keep in mind that Psalm 34:7 declares, “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.”
This is a good day to take a few minutes to reflect on the times when your life has been spared by the divine intervention of God and His angelic hosts. Or perhaps you can think back to times when the lives of people near and dear to you were divinely protected. If they are heirs of salvation and the way they were spared was absolutely miraculous, you can know that they lived to tell the story because of angelic intervention. Angels were sent on assignment to travel with them and to protect them.
Although we certainly don’t worship angels, I think it’s right for us to thank God for providing this high-level service to keep us and protect us from harm!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I thank You for assigning angels to protect me from harm. I am grateful for Your promise to send angels on a special mission to protect, minister to, and help the heirs of salva- tion. Since I’m an heir of salvation, I qualify! I am so thankful to know that I have angels assigned to keep watch over me and that they will serve me with the highest-level service possible. So rather than let fear try to grab hold of me in times of hardship or potential danger, I will give thanks to You for the angels who are present and on active duty — sent on a mission to protect and minister strength and help to me when I need it most!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that God sends His angels to guard me. These ministering spirits are as flames of fire and they are on a specific mission to protect the children of God. Wherever I go, angels are on assignment to go with me and to surround me and keep me safe. Because these angels hearken to the voice of God’s Word, I speak the Word and believe in its power — knowing that angels watch over those words to perform them. Although I cannot visibly see them, I have angelic traveling companions who are with me all the time in every situation I face. According to Psalm 34:7, I am surrounded by the angels of the Lord, and He delivers me from harm!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Can you think of moments in your own life when you were miraculously, inexplicably spared from tragedy? Do you see now that angels are assigned to protect you?
- Do you know others whose lives were protected unexplainably? Were the situations they found themselves in potentially catastrophic — yet instead of suffering tragedy, were they protected from harm?
- Can you think of situations in the Bible where angels provided safety, protection, or deliverance from danger?