City of Angels – God’s gracious warriors and guides

The film City of Angels (1998) presents a most intriguing and unusual portrayal of angels, which in some ways lines up neatly with the Bible (though not entirely). They are far-removed from most Hollywood and Christmas card offerings, of cherub-like babes who float about on clouds. And the concept that “every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings” (from It’s a Wonderful Life) is no where to be found (thankfully). These angels are not humans who have graduated to a higher plane. Rather they are God’s unique created beings, strong warriors, men in black (coats), who carefully observe humans and work together for good. Their most important task is to calmly escort recently departed souls to the ‘hereafter’.
Like the angels we discussed last week (Angels long to understand the story of grace) they long to understand why humans think and act the way they do. The main character, Angel Seth (Nicolas Cage) is even willing to make himself human (an irreversible act, an unbiblical concept!) in order to experience the range of human emotions. Now I’m not going to give much away about the plot, or the whole impossible angel-human romance between Cage and Meg Ryan. And while I’m not sure whether angels help all humanity, or just God’s children, I do love many things this film suggests about them. The angels in this film:
* watch over us, standing closeby or keeping a watchful eye on the city from billboards and rooftops.
* move among the living, hearing their conversations.
* hear people’s thoughts – and especially enjoy hanging out in libraries so they can enjoy the literature humans are reading.
* don’t fully understand why humans act and feel the way they do, having never been human.
* calm people’s raging emotions which could cause harm or distress to others, often by a simple hand on the shoulder.
* can choose to allow themselves to be seen by people (though generally they are unseen. I wonder if this why people in real life are able to “entertain angels unaware“? Hebrews 13:2)
* gather together on the beach at dawn and dusk, to listen to heavenly music. (I would love this one to be true, but it is perhaps just creative licence.)
* experience the beauty of creation that humans rarely stop to enjoy or even notice.

Whether these features are completely accurate or not, it is comforting to be reminded that God is concerned for and constantly watching over his creation, protecting and guiding us so that his purposes might be realised. His angels are not wimps, but powerful agents who do his bidding. And they celebrate when God’s purposes are achieved.
From His Word we know that there are five things that make the angels in Heaven rejoice:
The first was when God said, “Let there be light.” (Job 38:7)
The second was on the night of the Lord’s birth. (Luke 2:13-14)
The third is whenever a sinner gives His heart to the Lord. (Luke 15:7,10)
The 4th is when the Church arrives in Heaven. (Rev. 5:11-12)
And the fifth is when the Lord defeats His enemies on Earth and returns to reign. (Rev. 19:6-7)
Comparing it to those other events, you can see how important the salvation of each believer is to our God.

Praise be to God for the provision of His men in black – or white.

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4 thoughts on “City of Angels – God’s gracious warriors and guides

  1. You certainly did draw the most positive elements from the film. For me, though, the negative you cited outweighs them. There is so much confused thinking about angels that a movie like this only stands to foster that in the future. I actually once had a conversation with a seminary-trained military chaplain who believed in the people becoming angels myth. And, sadly, I don’t think my biblical explanation liberated him from his error. At least, as you pointed out, this movie doesn’t reinforce that misperception.


    • Fair enough. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. At least it might prove to be a discussion starter with regards to the true nature of these mysterious beings.
      Do you think angels have a used by date? They aren’t immortal, are they?


  2. Pingback: Angels long to understand the story of Grace | A Needed Word

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