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Angels Among Us: What the Bible Reveals about Angelic Encounters
by Perry Stone
Learn More | Meet Perry Stone
ANGELS OF HEAVENLY REVELATIONS
During the Old Testament dispensation, angels were needed in giving instruction and direction to God’s people. The word “angel” (singular) is mentioned 201 times in 192 verses in the Bible, with 104 of those references found in the Old Testament. Angels traveled from the upper celestial realm with time- sensitive and life-changing information, giving direction and, at times, warnings, to patriarchs, prophets, and holy priests. It must be remembered that there was no law or written word from God from the time of Adam until Moses received the Torah (five books) on Mount Sinai—a stretch of 2,500 years. When a “word from God” was required, the message came through a spiritual dream or vision, a spoken word of inspiration, or through an angelic visitation.
The gospel is a curiosity to the spiritual realm as noted in the verse “angels desire to look into” (1 Pet. 1:12). When God descended to give Moses the law and the Commandments at Mount Sinai, David wrote, “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels; the Lord is among them, as Sinai, in the holy place” (Ps. 68:17). Angels surrounded Mount Sinai as God’s Word was burned into the stone tablets.
The Angels Michael and Gabriel
In both the Old and the New Testaments, there is one noted angel, who during a 600-year time frame made personal visits to the Hebrew prophet Daniel in Babylon, to a Jewish priest at Jerusalem’s Temple, and to a young virgin named Mary living in Nazareth. This angel is Gabriel, whose name means “Man of God.” He is one of two angels mentioned by name in Scripture; the other being Michael the archangel (Dan. 12:1; Jude 9). Clearly, Michael is the highest- ranking angel in authority who also commands an army of angels (Rev. 12:7).
At Moses’ death, Satan strategized to seize possession of his corpse. Not only did God send Michael to resist and rebuke Satan, but after Satan departed, God Himself scooped up the remains of Moses, placing Israel’s greatest prophet in a private burial plot that remains a secret to this day (Deut. 34:6; Jude 9).
In a more dramatic face-to-face conflict, the prophet Daniel sought God for the interpretation of a strange vision he had received. However, the heavens were like cold brass. Daniel and his companions normally were a “one- day breakthrough” group—whether at the fiery furnace or the lions’ den, when they ended up in dangerous places with death breathing down their necks, there an instantaneous deliverance always occurred. In the Daniel 10 narrative, three weeks of prayer and fasting had not penetrated the barrier that blocked the understanding that Daniel was seeking.
The issue was not that God was too busy to hear Daniel’s prayer, or that God was testing him—He would just send the answer when He was good and ready. The problem was not found in the third heavenly realm, where God and angels join for heavenly counsels, nor was there some iniquity in Daniel’s heart that could hinder his prayer (Ps. 66:18), as Daniel was a godly man. The standstill was headquartered in the second heaven, above Babylon, where two strong spirits—a demonic prince of Persia and God’s special messenger (believed to be Gabriel)— were in a face-off where the powerful evil prince spirit attempted to restrain righteousness. His demonic interference seemed temporarily stronger, as it restrained God’s messenger in the upper heaven from breaking through the earth’s atmosphere. God observed this struggle of dueling angels and released His “secret weapon,” who was on standby, waiting to fly like a rocket to the scene of struggle: Michael the archangel.
Michael entered the cosmic wrestling match and, using his superior authority, seized control of the demonic prince of Persia, immediately releasing Gabriel, God’s messenger of revelation, to complete the assignment to which he was appointed.
As God’s angelic messenger suddenly entered Daniel’s prayer room, the prophet fell to the ground and the angel responded, “I have come for your words.” These words were Daniel’s prayer request to receive complete and perfect understanding of a mysterious vision (Dan. 10:1–2).
God’s original plan was to release this information to Daniel on the first day of his prayer. The angel told Daniel:
“Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come.” (Daniel 10:12–14 NKJV)
There are two occasions when the angel Gabriel is mentioned by name as bringing prophetic understanding concerning the future to Daniel. The first is in Daniel 8, in which Gabriel reveals the animal symbolism seen in Daniel’s vision and explains how each animal represents a future empire. A voice coming from the banks of the Ulai River tells Gabriel to “make this man to understand the vision” (Dan. 8:16).
In Gabriel’s second appearance, he was seen by Daniel after the Medes and Persians overtook Babylon in a secret invasion. Daniel was reading the scroll of Jeremiah, which predicted that the Jews would return from Babylon after seventy years (Jer. 25:11, 29:10). Daniel was boldly repenting for Israel’s sins and questioned if God would keep the promise of seventy years’ captivity and transition the Jews from Babylon back to Jerusalem. To his amazement, Gabriel revealed a previously unknown prophetic cycle that would involve, not seventy years, but seventy weeks. This revelation of a new time required Gabriel to explain the detailed division of the seventy weeks. We read:
Now while I was speaking, praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God, yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering. And he informed me and talked with me, and said, “O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand. At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you for you are greatly beloved; therefore, consider the matter, and understand the vision.” (Daniel 9:20–23 NKJV)
An interesting insight is in the sentence “At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you . . .” This phrase conceals a dynamic prayer revelation. The supplication, which alludes to Daniel’s prayer request, ascended from Babylon to God’s throne without any time delay or demonic resistance. God’s response was immediate and the phrase “the command went out” refers to God’s direct instruction to bring the answers Daniel was praying for. This indicates that God commands angels to bring certain messages and insights at specific times. Gabriel’s urgency to inform the prophet is noted as he began to “fly swiftly,” to Daniel’s prayer location in Babylon.
In the English translation of the King James Bible, the word “fly” is found twenty- two times, and five different Hebrew words are used. The common word means “to fly like a bird.” The word “fly” used in this Daniel reference is ya’aph and has a root that refers to being “wearisome, as by flight.” This word indicated that as God’s angels were moving toward Daniel, there was a conflict that would create a wearisome situation in the movement of the angel. Just as a human would become weary from nonstop battle day after day, the angel was in a literal wrestling match for three weeks in the heavenly realm.
The prophetic revelations that Gabriel released to Daniel in chapter 11 concerning the future are so precise and detailed that only God Himself could have aligned future events that came to pass in history. Why is Gabriel selected as God’s primary messenger to announce important revelations to specific individuals? The answer is found in an appearance of Gabriel from the New Testament.
Luke expounds on two narratives in which Gabriel is directly involved in explaining the conception of two sons: John the Baptist and Jesus. The first story unfolds at the Temple in Jerusalem, where the priest Zacharias is chosen to burn incense on the golden altar in the Holy Place, only to be interrupted by an unexpected visitor who is standing at the right side of the altar, which is traditionally the side reserved for God Himself. The angel says, “I am Gabriel that stands in the presence of God” (Luke 1:19). As Gabriel stands in God’s presence, he is aware of God’s plans, strategies, and prophetic purposes on earth. Gabriel knows the secrets of heaven, the mysteries of God, the strategies of angelic assignments determined in the heavenly counsels and reported those plans to men on earth throughout Biblical history. Gabriel knew that Zacharias and his wife had prayed for a son, and God had heard their prayer. Gabriel released the details: Zacharias would have a son named John (Luke 1:13), and the child would be filled with the Spirit from his mother’s womb, and he would minister in the spirit of Elijah to prepare the way for the Messiah (Luke 1:15–17).
Gabriel’s knowledge of this information was not “new” to him, as the Old Testament prophets had penned predictions of John’s mission in Isaiah 40:3: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord.” Four hundred years before John’s birth, Malachi wrote in Malachi 3:1 to reaffirm that God would send a messenger to prepare the way of the Lord. This was John the Baptist’s assignment. When the time did arrive, Gabriel was sent to the future parents to give the additional details known only to heaven.
Six months later, Gabriel’s most significant revelation was disclosed in the tiny town of Nazareth, a village community where some scholars believe perhaps thirty families lived. In a visit that would be recounted in every generation, till this day, Gabriel appeared to a teenage virgin named Mary. He indicated that she would supernaturally conceive the seed of God through the Holy Spirit’s power. Her son, Jesus, would be called the Son of God and become the world’s savior (Luke 1:31–33). The predictions spoken by Gabriel were fulfilled in detail through the ministry of John and Christ.
False Angels of Revelation
A firm warning should be noted here. Because the Jews in Paul’s day knew how significant the ministry of angels was in bringing God’s word to earth, Paul also gave believers cautionary advice when he wrote: “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8 NKJV).
Why would Paul warn of angels preaching another gospel? In context, his warning covered the danger of false prophets entering the church, introducing new revelations contrary to the pure Gospel of Christ. Some heretical doctrines in Paul’s day included the teaching that Jesus was an angel and not a man, that Christ was not the Son of God, or that He was only a mortal who had not preexisted with God. Hebrews 2:2 says, “For the word spoken by the angels was steadfast . . .” True angels will always agree with the revealed, written Word of God.
During the past 1,500 years, two noted religions have made claims to be birthed through spiritual revelations given by angels to their founders. The main challenge to these theories is that both of these religions teach certain doctrines or concepts that are contrary to the sacred Word of God.
The first is Islam, whose founder, Muhammad, alleged that the angel Gabriel appeared to him, bringing him new spiritual revelations for those living in Arabia. At first, Muhammad appeared to be friendly toward Jews and Christians, until they rejected his claim as a prophet. The sayings of Muhammad are written in Islam’s main book, the Quran. There are verses in the Quran that agree with the Scripture, such as Mary being a virgin and Jesus being conceived through divine means. Islam also accepts Jesus as a prophet. However, the significant difference between Biblical Christianity and Islam is that, according to the angel’s message in the Quran, Jesus is not the Son of God as “Allah (God) cannot begat a son.” Whatever possible angelic manifestation Muhammad received, the doctrine of Jesus not being the Son of God does not agree with the message of Gabriel, who appeared to Mary and declared that Jesus would be “called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). The answer most Muslims give to explain this contradiction is that the Jews and the Christians changed the Bible to make it read in agreement with their doctrine. There are numerous theological and historical differences in certain Islamic beliefs and the Scripture.
The second major religion, headquartered in the United States, claims that its sacred book, the Book of Mormon, was translated from gold plates hidden in the Hill Cumorah by an angel named Moroni in New York State. The angel allegedly led Joseph Smith to the concealed location, and Smith peered through two stones to interpret the ancient language on the plates identified as “reformed Egyptian,” now extinct. The message was printed in the Book of Mormon and claims that two groups of people migrated to America before the time of Christ and eventually extinguished each other in battle.
There are many good, moral Mormons who have a love for God. However, the question remains: Was the Book of Mormon inspired, or is it a man-made novel that was marketed as a divine revelation? There are numerous verses in the Book of Mormon that contradict proven Biblical doctrines, all of which have been exposed by knowledgeable evangelical scholars. Finally, the angel of revelation who supposedly appeared to Joseph Smith was not an angel of the Lord with some new revelation—I believe this is an example of what Paul alluded to when he warned believers not to heed the words of any angel who would bring a new or another gospel.
The Purpose for Any Revelation
Any angel sent from God never contradicts the Holy Scriptures. However, Paul taught that Satan can “transform himself as an angel of light,” thus converting his ministers into “ministers of righteousness.” The context here is Paul warning the church of false apostles and deceitful workers infiltrating the church at Corinth (see 2 Cor. 11:13–15).
The purpose of “angelic revelation,” especially in the New Testament, is often to bring either a warning of coming danger or some type of necessary instruction related to God’s will. For any believer, the most important path in our journey is where God’s perfect plan will lead us. In this dispensation, we are blessed to have the Holy Spirit working as our helper (Rom. 8:26), quickening our understanding toward God’s Will. The Word of God is His complete revelation to mankind, revealing future events and the plan of redemption through the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Angels were involved in the process and continue to be involved in ministering to the people of God.
HOW CAN WE DISCERN WHEN AN ANGEL IS IN A ROOM, OR WHEN WE ARE IN THE PRESENCE OF AN ANGEL?
There is a difference when the Holy Spirit is felt and when an angelic agent is in the room or the sanctuary. The presence of the Holy Spirit moves “out of your belly” (John 7:38), or within your inner spirit, flowing from inside to outside. When the woman from the Bible touched Christ in faith, the Lord said that someone touched Him because he felt “virtue” (literally power) leave his body. When you sense the Spirit of God, it will be inward first.
However, the presence of an angel of the Lord is always outward. You have the perception that you are being watched, that someone is in the room and you can’t see them, but you know they are there. Angels can be detected through the gift of “discerning of spirits” (1 Cor. 12:7–10). Most charismatics believe this gift is to discern the presence of demons possessing a person. This is part of the operation of the gift, but notice it is “spirits,” plural. This gift also enables the receiver to detect the presence of angelic beings.
In the Bible, when angels were seen, there was an overpowering presence of God and a holy reverence that often overwhelmed people, causing them to fall prostrate. During my lifetime I have experienced the presence of angels. Many people have asked what it was like and how I knew it was an angel.
First of all, the location in which the Divine Presence is sensed is important. The Holy Spirit lives within us and His activity moves inward to outward. When we pray in the Spirit, our (inward) spirit is praying (1 Cor. 14:14). As Christ taught, the river of life flows out of our “belly” or inward man (John 7:38). When an angel enters a room, the presence is around you and not just in you. The entire atmosphere shifts, and there is always a strong sense of the holiness of God.
In nearly every angelic visitation I’ve experienced, I began to cry and felt as though I should not move. Those who have known our ministry for years have on occasions been in a service where we know God had sent an angel into our presence. It is so evident that even those who are a bit more skeptical are seen trembling, weeping, or in awe. Some (such as my father) would describe it like invisible electricity in the air. I am sure this is because these spiritual agents have been in God’s presence and they carry it with them.
The second “change” I have always sensed is a peace that settles over the room and myself. If your spirit is troubled, there will be the most marvelous sense of peace that will “charge” the room. When this peace manifests, there is not a care in life that is stronger than what you feel. It is as though everything melts away.
The third point would be there is also a unique strength that replaces any fatigue or weakness of the mind, spirit, or flesh when the angelic presence departs. On several occasions I was so physically exhausted from ministering, that I was uncertain if I could carry on. Suddenly I felt that outward presence and knew an angel of God was visiting. Once the presence lifted, a new strength settled over me. There was mental clarity, spiritual renewal, and physical strength. I can assure you that when you are in the presence of the Divine, you will know, as it will be pleasantly different from anything you have experienced before.
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