Angels are all the rage these days.
In the fairly new SYFY television series, “Dominion”, we find angels warring against humans because they believe mankind is responsible for the disappearance of God (The 2010 movie, “Legion” follows a similar plotline).
In the 1996 movie, “Michael”, a booze-drinking, partying and brawling, scruffy-looking archangel Michael flees to earth for one last hurrah before being “stuck” behind the Pearly Gates of heaven forever. Okaaaayy.
Earlier this year, CW released a series titled, “The Messengers”, a show about five young people who die and return to earth as angels, each with their own special powers to defeat Satan in the end times.
Angels. They stir up our imaginations and curiosities, don’t they?
Some of these movies and plotlines aren’t so far fetched (while others are just plain ridiculous).
- In the scriptures, we certainly do read of angels engaging in battle against evil spiritual forces (Daniel 10:13; Jude 9; Revelation 12:7-17),
- we read of them serving as heavenly couriers (Daniel 8:16-17; Luke 1:26-35; Matthew 2:13),
- we read of them serving and ministering to Jesus Christ (Matthew 4:11; Mark 1:13; Luke 22:43);
- and we read of them serving and ministering to Christians (Genesis 16:7-10; Luke 16:22; Acts 5:19-20; Hebrews 1:14).
A really long time ago, I read in Hebrews 13:2 that I ought to be really nice and hospitable to strangers, for in doing so, I may have actually been showing hospitality to angels without knowing it. That verse stuck with me all these years and I always wondered what that experience would be like if I ever did meet one.
You know what else I was deeply curious about and wanted to know? I wanted to know what goes through the mind of an angel. I wanted to know what angels think about! (Am I the only one??). By the way, I’m not talking about the movie-angels with six-pack abs and curly hair, but actual holy angels of God who presently serve God in the unseen realm.
Well, I was delightfully surprised to find that they are as curious about us as we are about them.
Let me show you the passage, and then I’ll guide you through what’s happening there. 1 Peter 1:12 says, “It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.”
The “It” spoken of at the beginning of this verse is referring to salvation to eternal life every Christian has through faith in Jesus Christ. Earlier, Peter made the case that the believer’s inheritance (salvation) is not only imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, but it is so precious that God Himself guards it for us and holds on to it securely for us, in heaven. In other words, you cannot lose your salvation in Christ because God holds your salvation securely in His hands.
It is this precious salvation that the angels of heaven busy themselves studying.
Interestingly, the word used to describe their longing carries two different ideas. It can mean to stretch one’s head forward to get a better view as one would at a parade, or to bend low to examine something more closely, like the time when Peter and John stooped low to look inside the empty tomb of Jesus on Easter Sunday morning. My point is this, these angelic beings are like PhD students with notepads or iPads observing our faith in Christ, furiously taking notes about our salvation that they intend to dig deeper into.
So of course, the question arises, why in the world are angels so curious about our salvation? Aren’t they in heaven where everything’s shinier? Aren’t there more fascinating things in heaven and in the spiritual realms to occupy their minds with? What’s the big deal about “our salvation”?
Well, the answer may be simpler than you think and it has everything to do with the very thing they cannot experience, but we can. In other words, God loves us so much that angels stand amazed at the depth of His affection for us and ours (though flawed) for Him.
You and I throw around terms like “saved” and “believer” very easily, but you have to realize that there is no such thing as a “saved” angel. Jesus died on the cross for the sins of mankind, not angel-kind, hence elect angels do not need to be redeemed. Though Lucifer and a third of the angels who rebelled against God in a time before time are doomed and eternally condemned, there’s no indication in the Bible that the present holy angels are capable of ever sinning. Somehow, God has made it so that those holy messengers who remained loyal to Him are eternally secure in their faithfulness to Him.
However, there’s something missing.
Though angels dwell in the presence of God and have the ability to experience great emotion (Job 38:7; Revelation 5:11-13), they have never experienced what it means to be forgiven for their sin – because they never sinned!
You and I have!
Holy angels have never known what it is to be spiritually lost (even rebellious), yet, be “wooed” by the relentless love of the Father and won back to faith in Christ.
Holy angels have never stuck a middle finger at God, ran off on their own to follow their own plans, land themselves in a great mess, crawl their way back to God, offer themselves up as slaves begging for mercy, yet be received with open loving arms like they just won gold in an Olympic race.
See where I’m going with this?
The angels of God are curious about our salvation because it is truly a great wonder to these celestial beings that God so loves mankind that even while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us! They have never experienced the heart operation you and I went through when God took our “hearts of stone” and made it “hearts of flesh” that is now receptive to Him. They have never known what it feels like to experience new life in Christ through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and they have never known the wondrous joy of being delivered from entangling sin.
That is a privilege God has allotted to mankind alone.
So picture it. Wherever or whenever it is you celebrate your love for God, whether through song or prayer, at church or in private, there are angels curiously wondering, with great delight and inquisitiveness, what it must feel like to be in your shoes. It might even be for this very reason that Jesus says in Luke 15:7 that “there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (I’m assuming here that angels, along with the Triune God, are the ones throwing a party over one saved soul).
That should blow your mind.
I’m also Biblically-inclined to think that someday, when we are living in eternity with Jesus Christ at the epicenter of all activity in heaven, angels will ask us for the opportunity to hear about our precious faith. That’s not being arrogant or presumptuous; scriptures already tell us that “even angels long to look into these things.” So you may someday find yourself explaining to an angel what it felt like to long for "more of God" in your life. An angel (or several) may someday ask what it felt like the moment the Holy Spirit first came into your life. See where I'm going with that?
To be clear, angels are not mindless robots. Job 38:7; Revelation 5:11-13 shows that they are capable of great emotion, but they have always been in the presence of God's glory and haven't known much else. Though a fulfilling existence for them, our faith carries a greater depth because we were redeemed from nothing and elevated to the ranks of heavenly royalty, seated in heavenly realms as heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.
All that to say this; if the holy angels of God get excited about observing our salvation which comes through faith in Christ, if they hold in their hands paper and pen and are furiously taking notes about our precious faith, longing to look deeper into it, how much more should we? How much more should we who carry within us so precious a gift long to look into it with thankfulness, inquisitiveness, and gratitude?
So take a moment today and give God some praise for your salvation. Celebrate and thank God for the cross of Jesus Christ where your sins were dealt with. Read through the book of Ephesians and reflect on the eternal plan that initiated the work of salvation in your life. Tell someone far from God about this precious gift God offered to you for FREE through faith in Christ.
Make some noise about your faith already!
Because even now, angels are watching with great curiosity.