Summary: Angels - what they do, and why God cares enough to send them into our lives.
Acts 12:1-11 THE SECRET SERVICE
As a child of God, you are being watched, and you are being guarded and protected, much more than you realize.
Have you ever noticed how much the candidates for president are being watched? It’s not always obvious when you see them on TV, but every where they go, they are guarded and protected by heavily armed men in suits and trenchcoats. Who are these armed men? They are the United States Secret Service, and their goal is to protect people who hold high offices in our country. Every where they go, the Secret Service is there, watching them, guarding them, and protecting them.
Would you like to be followed around like that – no privacy? As a Christian, you already are. You are being closely watched and guarded and protected, but not by heavily armed men in suits – that’s not good enough, in God’s eyes. You are being guarded and protected by something bigger and better – angels. They follow you every where you go. They watch you and protect you – there are probably some of them right here in this room right now, and you are not aware of it.
Do you know about these angels? Most people really don’t get the concept of angels. Lots of people believe that when you die, you go to heaven, you grow wings, and you’re given a harp, and then you become an angel. That’s not how it works. When you die, you’re not going to become an angel. People don’t turn into angels. In heaven, you’re going to continue to exist as a human being, but in a different way. Angels are a completely separate classification of living beings, according to the Bible, and you’ll see thousands of them in heaven.
And I hope you don’t picture them as cute and harmless little creatures. Sometimes you see little angel dolls – they look like red-cheeked toddlers with wings and diapers – cupid or tinkerbell – lovable, cuddly creatures. The Bible pictures angels as quite the opposite. In our Old Testament reading, one of the angels named Michael is described – a chief prince among the angels, a powerful and intimidating warrior. In our Revelation reading, the Apostle John was so overwhelmed by the angel that had been talking to him that he fell down to worship him. But notice what the angel said to John, in verse 9: “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!” Do you see how the angel describes himself? As a “fellow servant.” Angels aren’t cute stuffed animals. They are powerful beings created by God, to serve God with you.
And angels serve God in different ways. Sometimes they are messengers – as we see on our bulletin cover – they conveyed the message that Jesus had risen. Sometimes they are protectors, God’s secret service for Christians. We see an example of that in Acts 12. King Herod was persecuting the Christians. He executed the Apostle James, and he was planning to execute the Apostle Peter too, but not for awhile. Peter was put into a high security prison, and notice what the Christians were doing in verse 5: “So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.” God answered those prayers by sending an angel. The night before Peter’s trial, an angel appeared in Peter’s jail cell. He woke Peter up, caused Peter’s chains to fall off his wrists, and led Peter out of the jail. The whole thing seemed like a dream to Peter, as he walked with the angel right past the guards and out the front door. Verse 11 is a key verse: “Then Peter came to himself and said, ‘Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating.” Later, an angel struck down King Herod while he was giving a speech. That’s God’s secret service. Angels are sent to protect God’s people.
This teaches us how God works. When you pray for something, when you are in trouble, when you need something, God often responds by sending angels. They are powerful beings whose purpose is to whatever God asks, and often that means helping you. Your best friends are not who you socialize with. Your best friends are actually angels. You’ve never met any of them before, but they are with you everywhere you go. They especially watch over you during your childhood. They stand guard over you every night at the foot of your bed. If it weren’t for God’s secret service watching over you, the Devil and his evil angels would cause so many bad things to happen to you that would make your life unlivable!