The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1:30-33 (NRSV)
When angels are mentioned in the Bible, the reference is usually to the angel of the Lord, or to a “heavenly host.” Angels can take on the form of a man (such as the angels who gave Lot the warning about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah – Genesis 19:1-16) or they can manifest as a voice from a burning bush, (Exodus 3:2) a pillar of cloud (Exodus 14:19), or as mighty warriors (Psalm 78:49.)
Angels as portrayed in the Bible show very little resemblance to greeting card cherubs or sweet little collectible figurines.
The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. Luke 1:19 (NRSV)
The angel Gabriel, who approached Mary, would have been a formidable and terrifying presence, rather than a sweet little cartoon character. The fact that we are given Gabriel’s name implies that he had an even more important mission than other times that angels of the Lord appeared in the Bible but were not named. Gabriel would have been a rather majestic and imposing figure. He probably looked more like this than a Precious Moments figurine:
I think I would have been afraid, very afraid, if an angel of God- especially Gabriel- appeared in front of me.
So what’s the big deal about angels?
When angels speak to people, the voice of God is speaking through them, which is a very big deal indeed. God spoke through His angels to the prophets.
Angels brought incredible, supernatural news-news that required an awe-inspiring messenger- to the people in the Bible.
Do angels still speak to us today?
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2 (NRSV)
If we were to encounter an angel, would our minds and hearts be open not only to give and show hospitality, but also to receive the blessings they come to announce?