And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings.” (Luke 1:19)
I Am Gabriel
Angels are the messengers of God found throughout the Bible. The first time an angel is spoken is when Hagar is in the wilderness after running away from the cruelty of Sarah. God sent the Angel of the Lord to comfort her and instruct her to return to Abraham, where she would have a son, Ishmael. The angel would appear a second time to Hagar when she and Ishmael are cast out, showing them a place to get water. When Jacob left home after receiving the blessing of his father Jacob, he had a dream of angels ascending and descending a ladder reaching into heaven. An angel appeared to Jacob when he dwelt in Haran and told him to return home. Moses saw the burning bush, and the angel of the Lord spoke to him. When the Hebrews were crossing the Red Sea, an angel of the Lord stood between them and the ensuing Egyptian army. God promised to send His angel before Israel to defeat their enemies and guide them to the promised land.
An angel of the Lord stood before Balaam as he sat on his donkey. In the early days of Israel, during the period of Judges, an angel of the Lord spoke to all the children of Israel, warning them not to make a covenant with the people of Canaan. Gideon was threshing out wheat when the angel of the Lord enlisted him in the work of being a judge over Israel. The birth of Samson was announced by the angel of the Lord to the wife of Manoah. God’s judgment for David’s sin of numbering Israel was carried out by an angel with a plague killing seventy thousand men. David saw the angel, and so did Ornan the Jebusite. Elijah the prophet, was sustained by the care of an angel. An angel of the Lord killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand men. Angels delivered Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah from the burning furnace and Daniel from the lions’ den. An angel talked with the prophet Zechariah.
During the ministry of Jesus, an angel would stir the waters of the pool called Bethesda. After the stirring of the water, whoever stepped in first was made well of whatever disease he had. An angel of the Lord released the twelve apostles after being arrested, telling them to go and preach the words of life. An angel gave Philip and Cornelius instructions. When Herod killed James the apostle and arrested Peter, an angel delivered Peter from prison. Paul was comforted by the presence of an angel.
The Bible is filled with stories of angels doing the work of the Lord. There are many misconceptions about angels that persist despite what the Bible says. Angels are never referred to as women but only as men. None of the angels who appeared to men are said to have wings. The angels in Ezekiel are mentioned with wings, but these are in a vision in the heavenly realm. The Ark of the Covenant had cherubim spread out and covered the mercy seat with their wings. Angels were messengers of God to carry out His will. Two angels are named in scripture: Michael, the archangel, and Gabriel. The scriptures never refer to Gabriel as an archangel. Gabriel appeared to three people in scripture: Daniel, Zacharias, and Mary.
Twice in the story of Daniel, Gabriel appears to explain the vision of the ram and the goat and to give assurance of the seventy-week prophecy. Gabriel appeared on the right side of the altar of incense and announced to the priest Zacharias that he and Elizabeth would have a son in their old age. Gabriel tells Zacharias to name the child John. When the birth of Jesus was announced, Gabriel came to Mary, while Matthew only says an angel of the Lord appeared to him. Six months after the appearance to Zacharias, Gabriel was sent by God to tell Mary she would have a son and she would call his name Jesus. Gabriel was an angel tasked with bringing good and comforting news, while Michael the archangel seems to be the angel of wrath and war. The most poignant scene of scripture is when the Son of God was bowed down in great sorrow in the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Father sent an angel to strengthen (invigorate) Jesus. God sends a comforter to comfort His Son. Gabriel stood in the presence of God. Thank God for Gabriel.