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One very encouraging fact has become clear to me as I've studied what the Bible has to say about angels. God doesn't send them because we deserve them. He sends them because we need help. Angels are literally messengers of God's mercy. Think again about Lot and his family, and you will see what I mean. Angels brought deliverance to them from the impending judgment and destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, even though they had of their own free will chosen to live in those evil cities (Genesis 19:1-26). Lot didn't really deserve the personal angelic escort that took him to safety, yet God sent one anyway.

In Your Moment of Need
We see a similar example in the account of Elijah given in 1 Kings, chapters 18 and 19. There, we find that Elijah had just experienced the power of God in a mighty way. God had poured out fire from heaven in answer to his prayers and enabled him to defeat 400 idolatrous prophets of Baal.

This, however, infuriated Queen Jezebel, so she threatened to kill Elijah. When he heard of it, Elijah was so terrified that he ran for his life and hid in the wilderness, where he quickly sank into a pit of depression, doubt and despair. The Bible says:

And he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat.

And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat 40 days and 40 nights unto Horeb the mount of God.
1 Kings 19:4-8

Think of it! Elijah had run away in doubt and fear on the heels of one of God's greatest displays of power. Certainly, at that moment, Elijah didn't deserve God's mercy. Nevertheless, God sent an angel, a messenger of mercy, to sustain him and encourage him.

Another interesting point to notice is that in this account, as in almost every other account in both the Old and New Testaments, the visitation of an angel came immediately at the moment of greatest need. It came right on time! God didn't wait around for the person in need to prove himself deserving of intervention; God moved quickly. Surely, He is rich in mercy and delights in demonstrating His love and compassion!

That is wonderful news for every Christian, because we all need the mercy of God. All of us make mistakes from time to time and need immediate help. And through the ministry of angels, that help can come to us right on time.

Angels in the Cockpit
One such incident happened to a man I'll call Henry. He was a pilot. And since I'm a pilot, I have been particularly fascinated by his story, which was recently published in a secular magazine. His story goes something like this:

Henry is a private pilot, and a few years ago he was able to acquire a small, single-engine airplane of his own. The small plane could seat four people, and it was perfect for Henry. It enabled him to fly more, which he loved to do, and log the hours necessary to keep his license current. Soon after Henry got his plane, he learned that one of his friends had a family member who was battling cancer. The family member lived in another city, and Henry's friend had to make a number of trips to that city to visit the ailing relative. Henry saw this as an opportunity to help his friend and increase his hours in the air, so he offered to fly his friend once or twice a week to the city where the relative lived.

On one particular day in which he was going to make the trip, Henry ended up behind schedule. He was late to the airport, so he rushed through his preflight preparations. In his haste, he decided not to have the airplane refueled. After all, they were only flying a short distance - from Greenville to Ashville. They had more than enough fuel to make it. The weather forecast for that day was not great, but it wasn't too bad, either, he told himself.

Unfortunately, however, once they were airborne, the weather became worse than what had been forecast. As a result, Henry had to make several changes in his flight plan as air traffic control steered them around storms. By the time they reached Ashville, Henry's fuel gauge was bouncing on empty. They were barely going to make it. As Henry prepared for landing, the voice of the tower crackled over the radio, "The Ashville field is closed due to fog. You need to return to Greenville or go to your alternate location."

A wave of dismay swept over Henry as he realized the extent of the mistake he had made. "I don't have enough fuel to do either," he said to the operator. "I have to land now!"

"All right, then," answered the operator, "you are cleared for an ILS approach at zero-zero." Henry had been given permission to make an instruments-only landing in near-zero visibility.

Now there was just one problem. With the fog increasing, Henry was uncertain of his location. He had become distracted. He had lost his bearings and wasn't set up correctly for an ILS approach. Even so, he knew he had to start down on a blind descent. He was certain he would miss the airport and run out of fuel if he didn't.

About 45 seconds into his descent, a new voice suddenly came rasping over the headset, "Pull up! Pull up!"

Quickly, Henry pulled up. As he did, he broke through the thick clouds and caught a glimpse of the ground. Not only had he missed the airport, but he was very low and over an interstate highway. There was a bridge directly in front of him. If he hadn't pulled up as commanded, he would have surely plowed into it.

As Henry drew a sharp breath, the new controller's voice came through the headset once again, "Follow my instructions, and we'll get you on the ground."

Gratefully, Henry responded. "Yes, thank you, and be aware that we are very short on fuel. We need to land very quickly."

The controller gave Henry the headings he needed to bring him back around again. He established Henry on a final approach and told him when to begin his descent. Then he gave Henry some course corrections coming down on final approach. They were exactly right. As the plane touched down, Henry caught a glimpse through the fog of the runway lights flashing by. He was squarely on the runway center line.

After Henry had landed and begun to taxi in to the terminal, he called the tower controller to thank him for his help, "I just want you to know that you saved our lives today!"

The tower controller sounded puzzled, "Say again?"

"I want to thank you," Henry repeated. "What you did today saved our lives."

"Sir, I lost contact with you when I told you the airport was closed," said the controller. "This is the first time I've talked with you since then."

After an hour or so on the telephone, it was verified that none of the approach controllers in the Ashville area had any kind of communication with Henry. When his story appeared in the magazine, it was entitled, "Angels in the Cockpit."1

Live by Faith
So often we get ourselves into situations where supernatural intervention is required. Usually, the reason we find ourselves in those situations is that, like Henry, we did something thoughtless or made a mistake. Aren't you glad we serve a God of mercy? I certainly am! It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness (Lam. 3:22,23).

Even though angel's assistance is a wonderful blessing, we aren't to live continually by the ministry of angels. The Bible says that the just shall live by faith (Heb. 10:38). That is God's highest way for us. We are what we believe. And what we believe needs to be cultivated along the lines of God's Word. For as he [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he, says Proverbs 23:7. And according to Mark 9:23, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

"But, Mac," you might be thinking, "if we are called to live by faith and faith brings the answer, why do we even need the ministry of angels?" Well, that is a good question. And the answer is that we need their ministry because learning to live by faith is a process. It isn't something you decide to do today and then become an expert at tomorrow.

Faith begins with a decision, but it develops through spiritual growth. Romans 10:17 tells us, Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. The Word has to be planted in you. It has to be watered. It has to be cultivated. Through that process, faith comes. That is why Galatians 6:9 says, Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. If we will keep on confessing the Word, meditating on the Word and acting on the Word, we will most certainly reap a harvest. When will we reap the harvest? In due season!

Sometimes, though, you will come up against a hard place in your life before your due season has arrived. You will encounter an emergency that you haven't yet developed the faith to handle. That is when you need God's immediate intervention. That is when you need a messenger of mercy to be involved in your circumstances. That is when you need a source of deliverance and provision other than your faith.

The ministry of angels has been given to us for just such times. They come as God's ministering spirits, sent forth on our behalf to enable us to escape those especially hard places in life.

Just as angels came to help Lot and his family, just as Elijah experienced the provision of God's mercy at the hand of a ministering spirit and just as the pilot was delivered from a fatal crash - that is the same kind of assistance that we can also expect as God's children. It is one of the ways God helps us while we are here on this earth, particularly as our faith deepens in Him. Thank God for His ministering spirits - angels!

Source: Angels At Your Service by Mac Hammond.
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers

Author Biography

Mac Hammond
Web site: Mac Hammond
Mac Hammond is the senior pastor of Living Word, a large and growing church in Brooklyn Park (a suburb of Minneapolis), Minnesota. He is the host of the Winner’s Minute, which is seen locally in the Minneapolis area on KMSP Channel 9 at 6:44 a.m. and 11:11 a.m. He is also the host of the Winner's Way broadcast and author of several internationally distributed books. Mac is broadly acclaimed for his ability to apply the principles of the Bible to practical situations and the challenges of daily living.

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