In our current series we’ve been going through an old list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism published in 1648. Previously we’ve been looking at God’s providence. Last week we saw examples of God’s providence towards the angels, particularly his permitting some to fall into sin and then be punished. This week I want to continue looking at God’s providence toward angels, but this time at how God established the rest of the other angels in holiness and service to him.

Although God allowed some angels to fall, many angels have been kept in their state of holiness by the providence of God. Thus we see that many angels are called ‘holy angels’ in passages like Mark 8:38, Luke 9:26 and Revelation 14:10. But is this holiness due to the providence of God or are these angels masters of their own holiness? The Bible teaches us that it is only by the providence of God that some angels remained holy while others fell. Paul writes to Timothy: ‘I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism’ (1 Timothy 5:21). From the context, we know that these angels Paul is speaking about must be the holy ones, not the unholy ones. But it is very interesting that Paul describes them as: ‘elect’. These angels have been ‘chosen’ by God to be his holy ones, and thus they are completely dependent on the providence of God.

What is the function of these angels as holy creatures? In his providence God uses his holy angels to serve him. Hebrews tells us this: ‘In speaking of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire’ (Hebrews 1:7). And a little later we see that these angels serve God by serving Christians: ‘Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?’ (Hebrews 1:14). What sort of things do the angels do in service of God? Many things. For example, sometimes they decimate the enemies of God’s people, e.g. ‘That night the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp.’ (2 Kings 19:35). Or they come with messages from God, e.g. ‘God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”‘ (Luke 1:26-28).

So do you recognise God’s providence extends to the holy service of God’s chosen angels? Or do you worship a different God?

Joel Radford.