For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
The problem is, we don’t normally see them! Those celestial beings called angels. We know they are here because God says so. They’re all around. However, since we don’t detect them, we don’t often think of them.
They are angels unaware.
Some humans have seen them. Jacob did when he was returning to meet Esau (Genesis 32:1). David saw an angel striking people with a plague (2 Samuel 24:17). Nebuchadnezzar saw one walking around in a fiery furnace (Daniel 3:24-25). There have been other sightings.
It appears there are different types of angels that carry out different assignments. Some serve their Creator as messengers. We think of those who once made an announcement over the fields of Bethlehem. Who could forget the ones announcing that the Easter grave was empty?
Some serve their King as warriors. The first battle in history took place far above our heads. It was a case of angels against angels: “And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him” (Revelation 12:7-9).
The rebellious angels, now called demons, were thrown out of heaven but not barred from earth. Here, among us, the battle rages on. Angels still fight angels. Angels from the realms of glory are being deployed to protect God’s people from superior and deadly spiritual enemies.
These defenders from heaven have been described as God’s Special Forces. It’s an apt title.
We might remember the Bible naming the Holy One as the “Lord of hosts.” Some translations use the better term, “Lord of armies.” He commands an army of countless angels.
We have no idea how often an angel has stepped in to protect us from disaster. We might wonder about a time when we should have been in a car accident—but somehow, were not. Some may wonder about the times they surprisingly escaped injury or death in battle.
They might have said it was a miracle they survived. It may have been just that. It might have been the work of angels unaware.
One morning, the servant of Elisha looked up to see that an enemy army had surrounded the city. When he asked, “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” Elisha told him, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
The servant couldn’t see it. He knew how few defended the city. But then, Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.” We learn: “Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:17).
When we think of divine intervention, our minds tend to go toward big, life-threatening events. But the Bible tells us that God also pays attention to the little things. Jesus talks about noticing a single bird dropping from the sky. He reports the heavenly Father knows the number of hairs on our head.
So, maybe it should not surprise us to learn that he sends angels to keep us from tripping over stones.
Angels are here to protect us from dangers we may have never noticed. This includes threats invisible to the human eye. Among them are the unseen forces of darkness gathering to attack our souls. It surely includes virus particles that would attack our bodies.
We are told angels are commanded, “to protect you in all your ways.”
Nothing slips unnoticed through the defensive perimeter surrounding God’s people. Angels stand watch. Only that which has been cleared by Command is allowed in. Pain can sometimes enter—but only so much. Sometimes, misery is given a pass—but only so much. God sets the limits and provides the deliverance.
Our orders are: “Stay inside the wire!” So, we mark the boundary he tells us not to cross.
We live our lives watched over by angels unaware.
Many a Christian has ended the day with the words of Martin Luther’s Evening Prayer. Those words fit our lives quite well. So, when night falls, we might pray:
I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, your dear Son, that you have graciously kept me this day. I pray, forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me this night. For into your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let your holy angel be with me, that the wicked foe may have no power over me. Amen.
Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.