In the mid-1970s, America was experimenting with spirituality after years of scientific rationalism. Naturally, there were many books about the demonic and the devil, but when he tried to find something about good angels for a sermon, there was no book on angels, not even a Christian one. So he wrote this book.
The Bible mentions angels 300 times, and Graham categorizes the verses into chapters based on what they describe about angels. The first chapters talk about angels’ nature. They are created beings like us, but who have great power. They are normally invisible to humans (possibly because we are tempted to worship them, based on the what people in the Bible tend to do), but can take human form when required. Based on the stories Graham tells (and ones I have heard), this is usually someone who leads people to safety and then cannot be found immediately afterwards. There is one story by Lord Dowding, who was Air Chief Marshall during the Battle of Britain in WWII. He said that sometimes RAF pilots would be shot and killed, but the planes continued fighting, and sometimes other pilots would see someone operating the controls.
Despite being much less powerful than angels are now, the book of Hebrews says that Man is created above angels, because Man is made in the image of God. Graham speculates that this is possibly why the devil rebelled against God. According to Genesis, God says that everything is good after He creates it, including Man, so presumably Satan had not yet rebelled, and did so sometime during the Garden of Eden period. When he did rebel, he took up to one third of the angels with him.
Angels are ministering servants, and many seem to spend their time interacting in human affairs, generally by fighting the demons, who are also interacting with humans. Some angels, like Gabriel, seem assigned to bring messages to humans. Others, fight against demonic forces, such as the archangel Michael, who is the prince of the prophet Daniel’s people and who fought against the prince of Persia. The cherubim and seraphim seem to minister to God, as they are seen in the temple and accompanying God in prophetic visions of God’s glory. Still other angels seem to be assigned to protect believers—there are many stories of missionaries who were in danger, and either some stranger protected them with his presence, or unknown people, often in shining clothes, were guarding the building. Regardless of the task, angels never call attention to themselves, but always do things in a way that brings glory to God.
In addition to ministering to believers, angels also administer God’s judgment. Angels protect Lot and destroy Sodom. A destroying angel kills the firstborn of Egypt, and (possibly the same angel) kills people in Jerusalem because David numbers the fighting men of Israel. Angels will throw demons and unbelievers into the lake of fire. They also escort believers to Heaven, if the story told by Jesus about the beggar Lazarus is normative (Luke 16).
One thing angels do not do is tell the gospel. Graham speculates that perhaps this is because, having never been in need of salvation, they do not know the joy or the depth of God’s love experientially. Whatever the reason, angels announce the coming of Christ, and they direct people to talk to people (an angel directs Philip to the Ethiopian eunuch, for example), but they do not share the gospel themselves. This seems to be reserved for Man.
Graham also discusses demons, who are fallen angels. Unlike Man, who can be saved from his sins, demons cannot be redeemed. The reason for this is not given in the Bible, but Graham thinks that it is because Man sins because of temptation, while the demons sinned without anyone tempting them. Satan and his demons are currently active on the earth, trying to destroy the image of God in mankind. They are defeated, though, and living on borrowed time. At some point God will judge demons and unbelievers and throw them into the lake of fire.
Angels is a pretty comprehensive exploration of what the Bible says about angels. It is well organized and reasonably thorough. The latter half loses steam a little and starts repeating a bit. Also, Graham starts to take every opportunity to preach salvation in the latter half. While this is not surprising from an evangelist, I read the book to learn about angels, not for salvation, so it is actually a distraction.
I was a little disappointed that Graham mostly restricts himself to the Bible. Having read the Bible for many years, I am already familiar with most of the points he makes. I would have liked a few more stories in addition to the Bible verses to illustrate angels in the present. To be fair, he gives a few good stories, particularly at the beginning and the end. It seems to me, though, that this is a topic that benefits both from Graham’s excellent groundedness in the Bible, and from the illumination of quality stories from Christian experience.
I would recommend this book to non-Christians or Christians who have limited familiarity with the Bible, as it is very grounded and biblically based, as well as being fairly comprehensive. Christians with a deep understanding of the Bible, or with direct experience of angels, may find it less helpful.