Let's focus on just one aspect, and the core can be put simply. We think angels are cool. Angels think God is cool. Angels think our salvation is astonishing.
The first point hardly needs proving. Billy Graham wrote a book about angels, Amy Grant wrote a song about angels. Christmas carols have more angels than Carter's has little liver pills. (If you get that last reference, boy are you old.)
Artists have represented angels often, but almost always clearly wrongly so. The effeminate—indeed, often female!—angels of the painters are dead wrong in almost every respect. Angels are never certainly depicted as female in the Bible, and virtually always depicted as definitely masculine. Not merely masculine, but awesome and fear-inspiring. Artists' angels look as if they're about to say "There, there." Real angels usually have to start out with saying, "Okay, now--try not to die!"
We think angels are pretty cool.
But angels are mostly interested in God. Usually, they're seen functioning as their title indicates: as God's messengers. We observe them characteristically running errands, carrying messages, sent on missions.
But what is more, consider such scenes as Isaiah 6, where sinless seraphim cover their faces and feet, and are overwhelmed with the holiness and glory of God. Or consider the angelic beings in Revelation 4, who "day and night ...never cease to say, 'Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!'" Evidently that is their sole reason for being, to give forth a ceaseless river of praise.
But let's focus a little more on what fascinates angels. Both Testaments indicate that angels are particularly fascinated with our redemption.
Consider Exodus 25:18—"And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat." Isn't it interesting that they are not described? It is as if Moses says, "Okay, you know what cherubim look like, right? So, make two of them, and...." Wouldn't it be fun to know what they knew, and how they knew what they knew it?
But if that were important, God would have given the details. A crucial rule of interpretation is to make much of what God makes of, and the converse. So what is of interpretive importance to us that the cherubim's appearance is not of interpretive importance to us, or else they would have been described. God tells us what matters about them. What matters about them is that they are of hammered gold, they are at the two ends of the mercy seat, and
[t]he cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be (Exodus 25:20)
So what are the cherubim looking at, as they face inward? They are depicted, by command of God, as forever fixedly looking at the mercy seat, the kapporeth, the solid gold lid to the chest of the covenant. What is the significance of this lid? Yahweh appears there, and atonement is made there, on the great and highest holy day (Leviticus 16, especially vv. 14-15). This locus is the focus. The angels' two objects of fascination are closely tied to it: Yahweh, and believers' blood-bought redemption. The turning away of Yahweh's wrath by means of blood atonement absorbs them fully, as they are depicted as frozen in rapt attention towards that spot.
Does Peter possibly have this in mind as he writes? The apostle tantalizingly remarks, as it were in passing, that angels intensely desire to bend over and sneak a peek into the truths of the Gospel that we preach (1 Peter 1:12). It is an object of great interest and perhaps curiosity to them.
Think of it: angels know nothing of redemption themselves, except as spectators. Some of their number fell into rebellion, and not one of that company will be redeemed. The others stood fast with the Triune God, and not one of them needs redemption. Angels experience nothing of redemption. They either have no chance of it, or they have no need of it.
That Yahweh Himself would undertake to set His love on rebels, would design an intricate tapestry of pointers to that redemption, would come in person to effect that redemption-- these are great mysteries to the angels.
Reflect just a moment longer. Can we even imagine the vantage-point of the angelic mind? Thousands of years old, unclouded by sin, mighty in power and great in knowledge—what couldn't they study, if they wished to, within God's will? Planets, suns, comets, meteors, processes we can only imagine; all these are tomes available at their library for their casual checkout.
But what draws angels and holds them is the drama of redemption.And here we can't but tarry a moment longer to reflect on how much smarter we are, today, than the angels. We know that the Gospel isn't interesting enough to draw and keep people. We needs skits, shows, tricks, dramas, dances, special effects. Entertainment! We must play to the MTV attention-span, Sunday after Sunday. We must structure our whole church to accommodate an entirely alien set of interests and priorities.
Great thing we're so much smarter than they, isn't it?