As it was in the days of Kirtland so shall it be in the days before people find themselves going off the deep end again. There is a lot of talk about angels, seeing angels, and "angelic" experiences. Some are believable and legitimate. Others are right out of a scene from Star Wars with the accompanying Lucas Arts Special Effects. The challenge we face is discerning reality from illusion and the holy from the profane.
The word angel is translated from the Hebrew word malak (angels (pl.) or malakim (pl.). The word means messenger. It does not necessarily mean a supernatural being although what we would consider a higher or supernatural being can be a messenger (malak). In scripture, the word can also be applied to mortal men who are sent by God with a message to deliver to his people. In Hebrew eyes a messenger could be Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Moses, Samuel, Samuel the Lamanite, King Benjamin, Nephi, they guy down the street, your mother, or anyone delivering a true message from God.
If we use this scriptural definition then an angel or malak can be anyone who is sent by God with a message for us whether they be immortal or mortal. This may disappoint some because our tradition is to imagine a 12 foot tall heavenly being that glows like a 500 watt light bulb and who causes the earth to shake when he speaks. This should help us to understand that the importance of receiving an angel is not in the glorious encounter (although that can take your breath away) but in the message itself-- and it is in the message that we must focus and discern.
So with that broader definition in mind, it may open our eyes to see that God may be sending many messengers to us in our everyday lives. But of course our desire is also to be administered to by those messengers on a higher level on Jacob's ladder so that we through their assistance may ascend the next step. So how is this done?
In Moroni 7:30 we are given a key to the ministration of angels, "For behold, they are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness."
Over the years, I have heard just about every theory in Mormonism to explain this scripture each getting more and more complex with every explanation because people just can't seem to figure out why Angels have ceased to minister as in the ancient days. The complex doctrinal theories fall apart when compared to simplicity of the Hebrew scriptures. So let's take a look at Moroni 7:30 with our Israelite glasses on.
For behold - Listen and comprehend
they are subject unto him - true angels are servants of Christ
to minister according to the word of his command - they deliver their message in accordance with Christ's instructions
showing themselves unto them of
strong faith - those whose minds and actions demonstrate trust and loyalty to God
firm (decisive) mind (will, intent)
in every form of godliness - In Hebrew godliness is equated with keeping God's commandments.
So if we put it all together in our modern vernacular it might read something like this:
Listen and comprehend, true Messengers are servants of Christ who are subordinate to the decrees and instructions of Christ, to deliver their message in accordance to Christ's Laws (Torah- Instructions), manifesting themselves to those whose mind and actions demonstrate trust and loyalty to God and who have a decisive will or intent to keep God's commandments.
In other words: Angels come to teach the words of Christ to those who place their trust in and are loyal to him and whose goal is to fulfill his commandments in their every day lives.
We see the same principle in other places:
"And wo be unto the children of men if this be the case; for there shall be none that doeth good among you, no not one. For if there be one among you that doeth good, he shall work by the power and gifts of God." (Moroni 10:25)
To do good in an Hebraic mindset is that which leads us to fulfill God's commandments. That which is evil is that which leads us away from fulfilling God's commandments. So no one can fulfill God's commandments except he is empowered by the grace/power, and gifts (manifestations or fruits) of God.
To back up this point we also see this same principle:
"Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived; and that ye may not be deceived seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given;
For verily I say unto you, they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do; that all may be benefited that seek or that ask of me, that ask and not for a sign that they may consume it upon their lusts." (D&C 46:8-9)
The Principle Being Communicated
The principle that is being communicated is that the reason that Angels appear, or that Gifts are given, or that revelations are given is not to dazzle you with special effects, satisfy your vain curiosity, or give you the warm fuzzies. They are given for the express purpose of fulfilling and helping you to fulfill God's commandments (his laws and instructions). They are to give you instructions consistent with his laws that will lead you from a state of covenant alienation to covenant oneness with Christ.
If a messenger or angel comes, or miracles are worked, and amazing signs are given, but they lead you away from fulfilling God's laws and commandments then you may know of a certainty those things were not from God.
A GREAT PROMISE:
Understanding this principle is of great importance because it leads us to one of the Greatest promises from God given in the Book of Mormon:
"And after that he came men also were saved by faith in his name; and by faith, they become the sons of God. And as surely as Christ liveth he spake these words unto our fathers, saying: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you." (Moroni 7:26)
The concept of taking upon the name, asking in the name, calling upon the name is very foreign to our culture. We have been taught to believe that it is literally the vocal expression of saying "in the name of Jesus Christ" and while this is the outward expression of this principle the Hebrew understanding of establishing God's name has to do with representing him accurately and you establishing his righteous dominion and kingdom in your home and the world around you. (A lot more could said on this.)
In a Hebrew Mind, God in Moroni 7:26 is promising that whatever you ask of God that will establish or help you to fulfill his commandments and decrees with loyalty to him believing that you will receive- it will be done!
Like a righteous King he gives liberally to all those who seek assistance in keeping and enacting his commandments in their lives. It is not a promise to fulfill our lusts for wealth, status, power, etc, but a promise that if we are seeking to fulfill his commandments we may ask for his enabling power and instructions through Angels, Gifts of the Spirit, and frankly all that the Father has to go out and then take action to live and establish his Kingdom (laws, instructions, decrees, judgments, etc) on this earth and in our own lives---EVEN TO THE ASKING AND BECOMING HIS SONS AND DAUGHTERS THROUGH CHRIST!
What better promise OR gift could you ask for?