I have noticed that angels are often used as a substitute for God in popular American spirituality. “May your angels protect you”, people say. Or “May angels take your prayers to heaven.” We must beware this tendency. The apostle Paul warned us about those who worship angels. “Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions” (Colossians 2:18).
The Biblical picture of angels is quite different than their portrayals in popular culture. We never see, for example, angels changing someone’s chariot tire or hovering in a room playing the harp. Almost every time an angel appears in Scripture, he is bearing a sword, a trumpet or a message. When they first appear, they often preface their message with, “Don’t be afraid.” There are only two angels actually named in the Bible, Gabriel and Michael. The Bible never specifies whether or not they have gender. Since Jesus says there is no marriage in heaven, I think it’s fair to say that they don’t reproduce. Angels are always referred to in Scripture by the masculine pronoun. And they aren’t always necessarily human looking either. (The seraphs in Isaiah 6:2 have six wings!) Although my wife fits the description perfectly, it is doubtful that angels are beautiful women with blonde hair and blue eyes as they are usually portrayed.
In the Bible, God usually uses angels to deliver messages to people. Sometimes they, upon special command of God, will protect a human being. But their normal task is that of messenger, sent to proclaim God’s message to people. Beware the tendency to give them unbiblical power or worth. I have seen all sorts of expressions of this: angel incense where angels supposedly take your prayers to heaven; angel products that are supposed to bring blessing like some sort of good luck charm and even prayers to guardian angels. We must be careful of these things. Only God protects. Only God blesses. And only God can answer prayers. He may choose to use an angel to do his will on occasion, but it is still God who should get all of the credit.
Angels are God’s servants, created by him do his will, nothing more. Yet they are so amazing in their appearance, bearing the glory of God, we are tempted to elevate them too high, even to the point of worship. Even John was tempted. “And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, ‘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!’”(Revelation 22:8-9). Our fascination with heavenly things is understandable. But we must never forget the first commandment to worship God and him alone. He alone is worthy.