The Signs of the Times


December 13, 1905

Ministering Spirits


There are many passages of Scripture which, in their tender adaptation to the needs of men, are God's own messages of comfort to His trusting children. A beautiful illustration of this occurs in the history of the apostle Peter. Peter was in prison, expecting to be brought forth the next day to death; he was sleeping at night “between two soldiers, bound with two chains; and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison, and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.” ST December 13, 1905, par. 1

Peter, suddenly awaking, was amazed at the brightness that flooded his dungeon, and the celestial beauty of the heavenly messenger. He understood not the scene, but he knew that he was free, and in his bewilderment and joy he would have gone forth from the prison unprotected from the cold night air. The angel of God, noting all the circumstances, said, with tender care for the apostle's needs, “Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals.” Peter mechanically obeyed; but so entranced was he with the revelation of the glory of heaven, that he did not think to take his cloak. Then the angel bade him, “Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.” ST December 13, 1905, par. 2

And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate which leadeth into the city; which opened to them of his own accord. And they went out, and passed through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.” The apostle found himself in the streets of Jerusalem alone. “And when Peter was come to himself, he said, “Now I know of a surety that the Lord hath sent His angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.” ST December 13, 1905, par. 3

Skeptics may sneer at the thought that a glorious angel from heaven should give attention to a matter so commonplace as caring for simple human needs, and may question the inspiration of the narrative. But in the wisdom of God these things are recorded in sacred history for the benefit, not of angels, but of men, that as they should be brought into trying places, they might find comfort in the thought that Heaven knows it all. Jesus declared to His disciples that not a sparrow falls to the ground without the notice of the heavenly Father, and if God keeps in mind the little birds, how much more will He care for those who through faith in Him may become heirs of eternal life. ST December 13, 1905, par. 4

O, if the human mind were to comprehend—in such a measure as the plan of redemption can be comprehended by human minds—the work of Jesus in taking upon Himself our nature, and what is to be accomplished for us by this marvelous condescension, the hearts of men and women would be melted with gratitude at the thought of God's great love, and in humility they would adore the divine wisdom that devised the mystery of grace. ST December 13, 1905, par. 5

Today angels of heaven are sent forth to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation. We know not now who they are; it is not yet made manifest who shall overcome and share the inheritance of the saints in light; but angels of heaven are passing throughout the length and breadth of the earth, seeking to comfort the sorrowing, to protect the imperilled, to win the hearts of men to Christ. Not one is neglected or passed by. God is no respecter of persons, and He has an equal care for all the souls He has created. ST December 13, 1905, par. 6

Heaven and earth are no wider apart today than when shepherds listened to the angels’ song. Humanity is still as much the object of Heaven's solicitude as when common men of common occupations met angels at noonday, and talked with the heavenly messengers in the vineyards and fields. To us in the common walks of life, heaven may be very near. Angels from the courts above will attend the steps of those who come and go at God's command. ST December 13, 1905, par. 7