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Mystic Messengers: Angels in the Bible

The Bible has a weird schizophrenic way of depicting angels. Sometimes they're bloody dealers of God's vengeance, sometimes they're the divine equivalent of a singing telegram. Well, all of that could probably be chalked up to the fact that God moves in mysterious ways, of course.

Looking for angels in the Bible is pretty easy. Angels show up in the Bible from Genesis onwards, as to be expected from God's favored messengers. The Old Testament has a cornucopia of these angel sightings. Angels of the Lord in the Old Testament were pretty much a mixed bag of encounters. Abraham, the patriarch of the Jewish nation, had quite a few encounters with angels: the angels who were on their way to destroy Sodom and Gommorah passed by his house and he managed to wrangle a deal out of them.

An angel also stopped Abraham from sacrificing his son Isaac to the Lord on Mount Moriah. Jacob, Abraham's grandson has the dubious honor of wrestling with an angel for an entire night. For his trouble, Jacob got renamed into Israel. An angel was next mentioned as the cause of the death of Egypt's first-born during the era of Moses' Exodus. The pillar of fire that guarded and guided the Israelites when they left Egypt has also been often interpreted as an angel.

Angelic intervention for the Israelites pretty much continues through the Old Testament. Several prophets like Ezekiel and Daniel recorded their encounters with them. An interesting fact is that Daniel is supposed to be the person who has had most contact with angels in the Old Testament, having been saved twice by them. An angel is also the main character of the Book of Tobias, where the angel Raphael goes out and pretty much does the Hollywood angel thing about a two thousand five hundred years early: he fixes the lives of Tobias, Tobit and Sarah, making everyone live happily ever after.

The New Testament isn't empty of angels either. Actually, the entire thing starts with an angel announcing someone was going to be born. In Luke's version, the message is to Zacharias, telling him that his son, John the Baptist was to be born. Later, Mary gets some happy news of her own. Joseph, Mary's husband encountered angels himself. Three times to be exact - the first, to convince him of his marriage; the second, a warning for him and his family to leave Egypt, and the last, to return to Israel.

And, of course, how can we forget all of the angels appearing in several versions of the Nativity. Angels also appeared through out Jesus' life. When he went into the desert to be tempted by the Devil, angels provided him with comfort and nourishment. An angel was waiting for the women at his tomb on the third day, telling them about his resurrection.

Angels also continually appeared after Jesus' ascension into heaven, providing his disciples with the occasional help. It should also be noted that the foundations of modern Angelology is partially based on the apostle Paul's letters to the Ephesians and the Colossians. And let's not forget about all of the angels showing up in the book of Revelations.

Angels can be seen through out the Bible doing God's work and it's all pretty impressive. So if you want to know any more about them, no need for all of those fancy angel books. Just open that old Bible and read.


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