I’ve seen a lot of drawings depicting angels as chubby little babies flying through the air. Other images show them as beautiful women with long, flowing hair and feathery wings. The Bible describes them quite differently. Interestingly, it never refers to them as female. Every reference is masculine. And sometimes they take very different forms. Take for instance Revelation 4:6-8 that gives a brief glimpse into worship in heaven, “Four living creatures covered with eyes in front and in back were around the throne on each side. The first living creature was like a lion; the second living creature was like an ox; the third living creature had a face like a man; and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings; they were covered with eyes around and inside. Day and night they never stop, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God, the Almighty, who was, who is, and who is to come” (CSB). They do have wings (though six, not two) and one does have the face of a man. That’s the closest they come to being cute and cuddly. I suspect any of us would be quite shocked to meet either one of these creatures face to face!
The angels who appeared to the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth probably took the form of men. But the shepherds didn’t simply sit and casually listen to the message. Luke 2:9 says, “they were filled with great fear.” This is one of those places where the translation doesn’t do it justice. They were absolutely terrified! They knew without a doubt they weren’t seeing another human like themselves. These guys literally glowed in the dark! In fact, they carried so much of God’s glory that the night suddenly shone like day. That would be enough to make the bravest man’s knees shake!
When God wants to get our attention, He finds a way of doing it. He can use supernatural means, like angels lighting up the sky, but generally He simply speaks to our heart. It might be a new insight from a Bible passage or a heartfelt confidence in an answer to prayer. But make no doubt. God will speak. We need to listen.