Summary: This message deals with the reality of, and the skepticism surrounding, guardian angels.
GUARDIAN ANGELS based on Acts 12:1-11
By Pastor Glenn Pease
There are few stories more exciting than escape stories. One of my favorite kinds of movie when I was a kid was prison escape movies. They are so full of suspense, and the obstacles to overcome are enormous. There is a great need to be clever, and best of all, they are not fiction, but are based on fact, for history is packed with true prison escape stories. Sometimes the key is simplicity. Leon Daudet walked out of a French prison in 1927. It was thought to be escape proof. He had a friend telephone the warden and tell him that Daudet had been pardoned. The warden believed it, and without double checking he released him.
Sometimes the key is love. In Charles Reade's book The Cloister And The Hearth he tells of how his hero Gerard was imprisoned in a tower. All at once and arrow came whistling through the tiny window high up in the cell. His first response was fear that someone sought to assassinate him. But when no other arrow came he crawled about in the dark to find the mysterious arrow. When he found it he was puzzled because of a silk cord attached. What good was a silk cord to him? Then it flashed in his mind that the hand of Margaret his sweetheart was behind this arrow. He lowered the silk cord from his window, and when he felt a tug he pulled it up, and at the end was a thicker cord. As he continued to pull a heavy rope was attached, and by means of that heavy rope he was able to escape.
The stories of escape are near endless, and the Bible is a great resource for escape stories.
1. There is Lot's escape from Sodom.
2. There is Isaac's escape from death on the altar.
3. There is Joseph's escape from the pit and Potipher's wife.
4. There is Israel's escape from Egypt.
5. There is Moses's escape from Pharaoh.
6. There is Elijah's escape from Jezebel.
7. There is David's escape from Saul.
8. There is Jonah's escape from the whale.
9. There is Jeremiah's escape from the dungeon.
10. There is Daniel's escape from the lions den.
11. There is Paul's escape from assassins, prison, and shipwreck.
12. There is Peter's escape from prison.
All of these escape stories have something in common. They are stories of successful escapes do to outside help. There are times in life when you just cannot do what needs to be done to escape bondage and be free. You need someone else to be there on the outside who can lend you a hand. Sometimes we need to depend on a friend, lover, or family member, and sometimes we need to depend on resources that go beyond what any man or woman can supply. We need to depend on the supernatural means that God alone can supply.
In Peter's case it was a guardian angel. As we face another year with all of its potential for conflict and victory, bondage and freedom, I thought is would be of value for us to explore what the Bible says about these unique beings that can be our allies in the battle of life. Hardly anyone ever preaches on this special class of beings called guardian angels. They have been around a long time, and the Jews developed the idea that everyone has a guardian angel. The early Christian leaders like Origen and Chrysostom also believed that every Christian has such a guardian.
Many felt that the guardian was actually a look-alike of the one he was guarding. Angels were seen as doubles. If this theory is true, then it means everybody does have a twin; if not on earth then in heaven. This theory is based on Peter's experience in verse 15. Rhoda ran to tell the Christians praying for Peter that he was at the door. They had some debate and told her she was crazy. When she insisted she saw Peter, they responded that it must be his angel. These Christians felt that this person at the door who looked like Peter must be his guardian angel. In other words, they felt Peter had an angel that looked just like him. It is a fascinating theory which the early Christians used to give dignity to the individual. Every age struggles with self-esteem. They stress that every person is of such worth to God that He has another one just like them in His presence. If one just like you is good enough to stand in God's presence and serve Him, then who are you to belittle yourself?
Not all Christians accept this theory, and not all Christians believe that every Christian has a special guardian. Calvin felt that angels in general are assigned to minister to man, but not specific angels for specific men. B.B. Warfield felt that the assignments of guardian angels were temporary for a specific time and need, and not a permanent assignment for life.