Of the final scene of the judgment the prophet Daniel, while an exile in Babylon, writes: “A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court [judgment] was seated, and the books were opened.” Daniel 7:10
In this most important of all court scenes, the Judge is represented as having more than a million angels as His assistants, while more than a hundred million are court attendants. The books containing the records of the lives of men are opened, the court is convened, and the judgment is set.
John, in vision on the lonely Patmos, adds important features to this imposing scene: “And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and the books were opened. … And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.” Revelation 20:12
At the great judgment day the record books of heaven will be opened, and the future of all will be decided according to what has been written therein by the recording angels.
Of the righteous as they near the end of this world’s history, we read, “Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for them who feared the Lord and who meditate on His name.” Malachi 3:16
This book of remembrance was written by those heavenly messengers who ministered before Him. It has been shown from the Scriptures that angels are ever present with men; that they minister to the people of God, and deliver them from evil. They behold all the actions of men; they hear every idle word that is spoken. They take notice of everything that will come into judgment. The conclusion is natural, and seems almost unavoidable, that the angels make the record of these things; that the books of human action are written by them. This belief is so generally accepted that the term, “recording angel,” has become proverbial.
Not only do the angels act as guardians and protectors to the servants of God, but they also execute judgments upon the wicked and disobedient.
When Balaam, the sinning prophet, started on his journey to the land of Moab to curse Israel, God’s anger was kindled against him, and the angel of the Lord met him, “and took his stand in the way as an adversary against him. … Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way with his drawn sword in his hand.” Numbers 22:22, 31
Yet so blinded by avarice was Balaam that he still went on his journey, and was finally among the slain in the overthrow of Moab when they fought against Israel. (See Joshua 13:22.)
When David sinned in numbering Israel, it is recorded that “God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it. … Then David lifted his eyes and saw the angel of the Lord standing between the earth and the heaven, having in his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem.” 1 Chronicles 21:15, 16
The eyes of David were opened, and he saw the messenger of destruction. By humility, confession of sin, and strong cries to God the plague was stayed, and the sword of the avenging angel was sheathed.
When Sodom became so wicked that its very presence could no longer be tolerated, two angels came to Lot with the message, “For we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it.” Genesis 19:13
When Sennacherib, king of Assyria, came against Israel and Jerusalem with an immense army, Hezekiah, king of Judah, cried to the Lord, “Then the Lord sent an angel who cut down every mighty man of valor … .” 2 Chronicles 32:21. And that night the angel slew 185,000 of the blasphemous host. (See 2 Kings 19:35.)
Coming to our own time, we are led to believe, in the language of another, “that the sudden judgments which frequently overtake evildoers are executed upon them by the angels of God.” Jehovah has not withdrawn His hand from the affairs of the world. The earth today is “filled with violence,” and is far worse than in the days of the visitations of old. Is it not reasonable, therefore, to suppose that God’s methods have not changed, and that His mighty angels have a part to act in some of the punishments of individuals in this life, as well as in the reverses which overtake some of the wicked nations?
Of the great harvest of the world, our Saviour speaks in His parable recorded in Matthew 13:37–39: “ ‘He who sows the good seed is the Son of man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age [world], and the reapers are the angels.’ ”
By these angels the good seed is brought into the garner, but the wicked, represented as tares, will be cast into the furnace of the great burning day.
Just prior to the second coming of Christ seven awful plagues will be sent upon the wicked. (See Revelation 15:1.) These are to be poured out by seven angels selected for that purpose.
When the work of the gospel is finished, our Saviour will come again to this earth to take His faithful people to Himself. On this glorious mission He will be accompanied by all the holy angels. (See Matthew 25:31; 2 Thessalonians 1:7–10.)
Of this glad day the apostle Paul writes, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17. This gathering of the saints will be made by the angels. (See Matthew 24:30, 31.)
As the archangel in midheaven sounds the trump of God, the earth trembles, the graves are opened, and the sleeping saints arise, clothed with immortality. The same angel who has watched over that humble saint through life, and has marked his final resting place, now stands by his grave; and as the child of God comes up from his dusty bed, he clasps him in his arms, and bears him away in triumph to their coming Lord. O glorious scene! Victory to the saints! Joyful triumph to the Son of God! And the angels share in the glory and the joy. They have borne an important part in the work of redemption, and they rejoice in its final success.
Past, Present, and Future, James Edson White, Southern Publishing Association, ©1909, 84–92.