Factually, angels exist on the pages of the Holy Bible and in Christian art but several questions about them still come up beyond myth and legend. A scripture expert has shared why he thinks the adventures of 19th-century missionary John Gibson Paton prove “angels are real” and often go unheeded by many people.
There are references to angels almost 300 times in the Bible, with appearances in the Old and New Testament alike. In Genesis, the Old Testament’s first book, God sends forth two angels to warn Lot of the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Also in the New Testament, an angel appears before the priest Zechariah to inform him his wife would bear a son named John – John the Baptist.
Even more renowned is an event in which the Gospels report that the Archangel Gabriel appeared before the virgin Mary to tell her she would give birth to Jesus.
According to Tom Meyer, a professor in Bible studies at Shasta Bible College and Graduate School in California, US, the Hebrew word for angel “malak” means someone who is dispatched as a deputy or messenger on behalf of God.
The word is often used in the Bible to describe prophets and priests as well as the nation of Israel itself.
Malak’s most famous use, however, is reserved for a class of heavenly beings God created separately from humans.
Angels: Reverand John Gibson Paton is said to have been protected by angels (Image source: GETTY)
Professor Meyer told Express.co.uk: “Of the many names used of God in the Bible, the title LORD of Hosts describes God as the commander in chief of an organized army of angels.
“The Angel of YHWH encamps or literally pitches his tent around those that fear God, like an army encamped around a city to defend it (Psalm 34:7).”
The Bible expert is of the belief that one such divine intercession occurred in the 19th century during a mission of the Protestant missionary John Gibson Paton (1824 to 1907) to the New Hebrides in the South Pacific Ocean.
The account is described in the book Angels: God’s Secret Agents, authored by the American evangelist Billy Graham.
As the story goes, a group of hostile natives attacked Reverand Paton’s mission headquarters one night only to be staved off by a host of angelic beings.
Reverand Paton and his wife Mary first visited the New Hebrides in November 1858 where they built a house at Port Resolution on the island of Tanna.
Reverand Paton was a protestant missionary to the New Hebrides (Image: GETTY)
Professor Meyer explained: “One fateful night, hostile natives surrounded his mission headquarters, intent on smoking the Paton’s out of their house and then killing them.
“John Paton and his wife prayed all during that terror-filled night that God would miraculously deliver them.
“When daylight finally came, they were amazed to see that the attackers had unaccountably left them alone.” A year after the incident, the tribe that perpetrated the attack is said to have converted to Christianity.
Reverend Paton then confronted the tribe’s chief to find out why they had never burned down his house.
Much to his surprise, the chief said the house was surrounded by hundreds of men in “shimmering garments” and with their swords drawn.
Professor Meyer said: “They seemed to circle the mission station so that the natives were afraid to attack. Only then did Mr. Paton realize that God had sent His angels to protect them.
“The chief agreed that there could be no other explanation.”
In Professor Meyer’s notion, the story testifies to the existence of angels as described in the Bible.
He added: “Because we cannot see angels or do not recognize what they are when we see them, we can become dull or unaware of the tremendous role they play in the course of human events. Angels are as real as you and me.”