My God has sent his angel, and has shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me…
My God hath sent his angel (ver. 22). "Are they not all ministering spirits?" (Hebrews 1:14). The text in Daniel suggests the whole doctrine of angel-ministration. That imperilled life guarded by a sentinel from heaven is no solitary spectacle. It has many parallels. There had been the ministration of angels before, as there has been a thousand times since. We cannot help looking upon the scene with memories charged with all that has been revealed of the relation of that higher world to the world of men. It was a remarkable instance of a universal fact in the experience of the Church of God - a fact not limited to particular ages, but existing from the beginning to the end of time. We suppose that the angel in this case may have been invisible to Daniel; Daniel having simply inferred his presence; and further, that the action of the angel may not have been strictly supernatural. The occasional supremacy of man over savage beasts may be an illustration of the dominance of the angel. The subject, then, is - The ministration of angels.
I. THEIR EXISTENCE. Say there are angels; and some would receive the statement with scepticism. But the evidence is:
1. The analogy of the case. The interdependence of material worlds points to a similar interdependence of moral worlds. The commerce of earth to a commerce between the varied worlds of God.
2. The craving of the human mind. There is a craving for the knowledge of creatures higher than ourselves. The craving universal. It points to an objective satisfaction.
3. The testimony of Scripture. Previous argument, only presumptive; this conclusive. Fulness of Scripture on the subject.
II. THEIR NATURE.
1. They are spiritual. "Are they not all spirits (πνεύματα)?"
2. But "clothed upon with some organization. Of a material kind, for it may become an object of sense; men may see the angel-form. Note:
(1) Angels appear in the human form. But:
(2) Glorified. (Daniel 10:6.)
(3) Men after the resurrection are to become like the angels. (Luke 20:36.)
We may infer that the organism of angels is well adapted to second the life abiding in it. Incorruptible, for the angel never dies; fit servant of high intelligence; offers no obstruction to their mighty power; no impediment to their swiftness; beautiful with immortal youth. The angels, like ourselves, are capable of everlasting intellectual and moral progress.
III. THEIR PUBLIC LIFE. Its essential characteristic is given in the question, Are they not all liturgic (λειτουργικὰ)?" But what is the meaning? We must go to Athens, the home of the Greek tongue, for the answer. A few words, then, on:
1. The Greek liturgy. It was a public service - a ministration of the citizens to the commonwealth. Certain citizens were bound to contribute money, labour, time, towards making Athens splendid at home, triumphant abroad. Such a contribution was a "liturgy;" it stood for the public service of the Athenian people.
2. The Hebrew liturgy. The word was transferred from things Greek to designate the public ministration of the priests in the temple. As the liturgy of the Athenians was for the glory of the Athenian commonwealth, so the liturgy of Hebrew priests was for the glory of the Hebrew commonwealth - a ministration to its awful King.
3. The heavenly liturgy. Here thought ascends to a higher state, to a grander temple, in which angels contribute to the public service. Their wealth, energy, time, are given for the glory of the Eternal, and for the majesty of his kingdom. "Are they not all liturgic? Do they not minister to God in the exalted service of the heavenly temple? Are they not employed in the administration of the celestial government? Do not ' thousand thousands minister to him, and ten thousand times ten stand before him '?" "The chariots of God are twenty thousand,"
IV. THEIR APOSTOLIC CHARACTER. "Are they not all... sent forth?" Where he appoints, they go. Describe their coming and going as recorded in Scripture. But all this mysterious appearing and disappearing was not at all of their own self-moved will; they were "sent forth." They came on embassage, and the love that sent them was the Lord of angels and ours.
V. THEIR MINISTRATION. They are "sent forth" to bring us help, to aid the otherwise helpess. Look at this:
1. Negatively. Their main object is not any of the following, though angels have been commissioned for them all.
(1) To glorify some great event; e.g. the incarnation.
(2) To answer prayer. (Daniel 9:21.)
(3) To terrify enemies. (Matthew 26:53.)
(4) To destroy the doomed; e.g. the Assyrian army.
(5) To advance their own knowledge. (1 Peter 1:12; Ephesians 3:10.)
2. Positively. To bring help. The lesson for us - not to live in the light that shines from superiors, not to enjoy the company of equals, but to minister to those below. (Why not include in this lesson from the angels, our duty of ministration to races of life below man?)
VI. THEIR RELATION TO REDEMPTION AND THE REDEEMED.
1. Their general attitude.
(1) With reference to redemption generally. The attitude is one of anxious interest, which was typified in the aspect of the cherubim over the ark, "towards the mercy-seat shall the faces," etc.; and declared in the New Testament (1 Peter 1:12).
(2) With reference to the redeemed particularly. Interested are they in the beginnings and developments of regenerated life (Luke 15:7, 10; 1 Corinthians 4:9).
2. Their critical services. Angels are prominent through all the great epochs of Divine revelation - in the patriarchal, legal, and prophetical dispensations. Keep watch and ward about the Person of Christ. (The annunciation to Zechariah, to Mary; the anthem at the birth; one in Gethsemane, twelve legions in waiting; two at the sepulchre.) They were active at the founding of the Church; are now agents in providence; will add to the glory of the last assize.
3. Their combined action. Militant action, we may call it. Much in the Bible to imply that the angels are ever exerting, on behalf of the saved, a moral influence, equal in extent, though opposite in kind and greater in degree, to that exerted by evil spirits. They are not idle spectators of the long-drawn-out moral conflict of this earth.
4. Their individual ministration. (See John 1:51; Matthew 18:10; Psalm 34:7; Psalm 91:12; 2 Kings 6:17; Daniel 6:22; Acts 27:23.) (The "Angel-god" passages not referred to, because his appearances were those of the Lord Jesus.)
1. The majesty of their King. Christ the Lord. Such a retinue.
2. The greatness of the object of angel solicitude. Salvation.
3. The brightness of the Christian prospect. "Equal unto the angels." - R.
Parallel VersesKJV: My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.