Carried by Angels

An interesting line occurs near the end of Hamlet, as Shakespeare has Horatio saying these words as Hamlet dies: “...Good night, sweet prince, / And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!” (5.2.361-2). Shakespear’s idea of angels being near when an individual dies does not conflict with what we learn from the Scriptures regarding the death of a faithful Christian.

“And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died and was buried” (Lk. 16:22). Most are familiar with the story of the rich man and Lazarus which is found in Luke 16. During his life, Lazarus, a beggar, was in a very pitiful situation. His body was full of sores, and he was carried to the gate of a rich man’s home so that he might get some crumbs which fell from his table. Lazarus was so helpless that he could not even stop the dogs from licking his sores. In contrast, the rich man was clothed in “purple and fine linen” and “feasted lavishly” (NRSV) every day. Both men died and went to the Hadean realm (v. 23, Acts 2:27). The rich man went to “torment” or “tartarus” (v.23a, II Pet. 2:4, Jude 6), and Lazarus went to“Abraham’s bosom” (v. 23b) which is also called “paradise” (Lk. 23:43).

How did Lazarus get to Abraham’s bosom? Verse 22 says that he was carried there by angels. The facts of this story are to be believed, and thus, we can say that all righteous people who die will be carried to Abraham’s bosom by angels. There is no reason to conclude otherwise. This is of significance as it demonstrates God’s tender love and care for his children and it ought to comfort us.

Even Christians are sometimes anxious about death as the unknown can cause apprehension. We can be reassured, however, when we realize that the angels of God will be present when we die to carry us to Abraham’s bosom. We, as faithful Christians, will close our eyes in death, and then, in a sense, open them in the reassuring presence of angels who will carry us to Paradise.

Many have had to deal with the hardship of their loved ones passing away. It may have been a mother, a father, a sister, a brother, or perhaps a close friend. Many may have actually been with a loved one when he or she passed away. For those who remain, there is comfort in knowing that when the faithful Christian dies, he is in the presence of angels.

Consider the following illustration. There is usually a point when parents will leave their child with a baby sitter for an evening so that they can go out by themselves. Conscientious parents will not just leave their child with anyone. If that person is someone whom they can trust, like their parents or a close friend, they know that their child is in good hands, and they can leave the child with full confidence. When loved ones who are faithful Christians leave this life, we know that they are in good hands. They will be transported by angels; their destination will be Paradise (and ultimately heaven); they go in good hands. As with the fact of the resurrection, we ought to “comfort one another with these words” (I Thess. 4:18), perhaps with thoughts of “flights of angels” conveying our loved ones to their rest.

By Mike Johnson

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