Angels have their means of travel.
We have previously established that:
- GOD designed creation to function in a specific way.
- In the beginning, GOD created two realms: earth (land) and heaven (everything above land).
- GOD created fundamental properties or natural laws that govern how life works.
- As this is true of life on earth, so it is with life in heaven.
As we previously discussed, humans have our means of traveling, such as:
- Riding an animal
- Leveraging technology (peddling a bicycle; riding in a car or train; flying in an airplane)
We can use these methods to travel because they work within the parameters of the properties GOD set forth on earth.
If I try to fly all by myself, that isn’t going to work because that would be inconsistent with the properties GOD set up on earth. However, I can leverage these properties (including lift and drag) to fly with assistance, such as a hang glider.
As heavenly creatures, angels have their own set of abilities and limitations that work by leveraging their individual GOD-given capabilities alongside the fundamental properties GOD set forth for heaven. Scripture reveals some of these abilities, such as the ability to appear and disappear to human sight. But there is much about the heavenly realm that we do not know or understand.
One thing Scripture does reveal about angels is that they have their means of travel and that those means are subject to limitations just as humanity’s travel is.
Consider some of what Scripture says about angels’ travel.
We previously established how GOD showed Jacob a gateway to heaven where angels were ascending and descending upon some form of ladder.
It seems that, while on earth, angels are/were generally expected to be undetected by humans, except for specific purposes. We know that angels are often described as men in Scripture and that they had the capability of sexual relationships with human women (per Genesis 6).
Therefore, it seems that, in general, while on earth, angels may have been expected to subject themselves to travel like humans, so as to be undetected. When angels (and GOD) appeared to Abraham, they were apparently walking, because Abraham offered to wash their feet and cool themselves off, and they arose from the meal and Abraham accompanied them towards Sodom (Genesis 18:1-8, 16; 19:1-2). Satan also said he had been walking about on the earth (Job 1:6-7).
And it seems that, while not on earth, angels can travel at speeds far beyond what humans are currently capable of. In Daniel 9:20-23, while Daniel was praying, GOD sent the angel Gabriel to Daniel. And Gabriel arrived while Daniel was still praying (see Daniel 9:20-23). That’s pretty fast!
And at Jesus’ birth, angels stood by the shepherds to announce the arrival of the Christ and subsequently traveled at fast speeds back into heaven (Luke 2:9, 13-15).
We also know that angels could impede other angels’ travel. In Daniel 10, we read:
7 I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men with me did not see the vision; but a great astonishment fell upon them, and they fled in fear. 8 So I was left alone and saw this great vision, but no strength remained in me; for my splendor was turned into corruption, and I retained no strength. 9 Yet I heard the sound of his words; and when I heard him, I was deeply troubled with my face on the ground.
10 Suddenly, a hand touched me and raised me up on my knees. 11 He said to me, “O Daniel, a man of desires, understand the words I speak to you and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.” So when he spoke this word to me, I stood trembling. 12 Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day you set your heart to understand and to afflict yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I came because of your words. 13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom withstood me twenty-one days, and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; for I was left there with the ruler of the Persian kingdom. 14 Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the last days, for the vision is for days yet to come.”Daniel 10:7-14 OSB
In the above passage, an angel appeared to Daniel to explain a scary vision Daniel had seen. But the angel had been delayed 3 week until a chief prince (probably the archangel) named Michael came to help. The prince of the Persian kingdom was resisting this angel. The prince of the Persian kingdom was another angel—one who had been assigned by GOD at Babel to oversee the Persian nation.
While we may not understand much today about angelic travel, this is the key takeaway:
There are specific means by which angels travel. Because this/these means work(s), if humans had the right ability, tools, awareness, and/or insight, we could understand (at least at some level) how angelic travel works. Because it does work … somehow.
It’s easy for us to fall into this trap of thinking that Heaven is some non-bodily spiritual world like another realm entirely. But that is inconsistent with what Scripture teaches. Heaven is everything above earth. Heaven, angels and other heavenly beings are as real and as much a part of the one and only universal creation as anything we interact with on earth. Realizing this truth can reshape our thinking and our insight into how life works, both on earth and in heaven.