The fact of the existence and activity of Angels is everywhere assumed in the Scriptures. Both the Hebrew word mal'ah, and the Greek word angelos, translated "Angel," mean, literally, "messenger." Suggesting the idea of the office rather than the nature of the celestial being. Over 230 times in the Bible record we find Angels busily engaged in carrying out their office work. It is interesting to note that Angels were present at every crisis in the unfolding Panorama of the Ages.
There is a great deal revealed in the Bible about angels. They can appear in human form, (Genesis 19:5, 10, 16) they spoke as men, took men by the hand, even ate men's food, (Genesis 18:8; 19:3, 16) are capable of direct physical combat, (Death of the Firstborn in Egypt, Exodus 12; Sodom and Gomorrah, Genesis 19; 185,000 troops slaughtered, 2 Kings 19:35) some are the principal forces behind the world powers. (Daniel 10) They don't marry (in Heaven - Matthew 22:30), but are capable of producing offspring. (Genesis 6:1-2; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). They act as messengers of God (Genesis 16:7 - 10, Matthew 1:20-24). They can remain invisible to us if they wish (Numbers 22:22 - 35). They protect God's people (Psalm 34:7). They can perform mighty works and wonders (Judges 6:21 - 22). The Bible also reveals the startling fact that these unseen spiritual intelligences are divided into two distinct and innumerable hosts. The one, holy and active as "ministering spirits" of the Almighty--the other, servants of Satan, equally as active, but with evil intent to hinder and destroy that which is wrought of God in the world (cosmos).
THE CREATlON OF ANGELSGod's Word clearly teaches that Angels were the first and highest order of created things. It is assumed (Colossians 1:16-17; Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 148:1-5) that Angels were created simultaneously. That is, they constitute a created "host" in distinction from "a race". Each angel being a direct creation of God, not brought into being by propagation as in the human family. As immortal, infinite, spirit beings not subject to death or procreation, the angelic hosts, created a perfect and complete company, will remain numerically unchanged throughout their eternal existence.
While it is true that certain Angels violated the will of God and the purpose of their created existence, each one must, in the end, give account to his Creator for his own conduct (II Peter 2:4; Jude 6; Matthew 25:41; Ezekiel 28: 14-16).
How long after the creation of the celestial hosts God created the material universe, we do not know, But this we do know that Angels were present as heavenly choristers (Job 38:4-7) rejoicing at the marvel of the divine works. We do not read of these celestial spectators rejoicing over the creation of any other planet--Mars, Jupiter, Saturn--but the Earth. Perhaps the great Creator revealed to "the heavenly hosts" (who were to be so closely associated with this world) that this tiny planet was to be the center of the whole story of amazing Grace, the scene of their future and faithful concern as they were " sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation" (Hebrews 1:14).
THE FORM AND NATURE OF ANGELSThe most learned scholars are greatly divided on the subject of the embodiment or unembodiment of Angels. In other words, are Angels purely spirit, absolutely immaterial (not consisting of matter) and incorporeal (having no substance or parts) , as God is purely spirit? Or are they clothed in an indescribably refined fabric of material nature unknowable to us but suited to their being and purpose? The Apostle Paul speaks of celestial "bodies" and terrestrial "bodies. The glorified saints upon their arrival in heaven, we understand, will have "a spiritual body"; thus, it would appear that "spirits" have a determinate form which is adapted to the law of their being. When Jesus said "... a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have," He did not imply that spirits have no form at all, but rather that in whatever form they are enshrined it is different from the form His disciples were then looking upon--His own glorified humanity (Luke 24 : 37-39).
Though Angels were often sent as "messengers of God" to approach the sphere of human life, these "appearances" in no way proved the material substance of their form, since they were occasioned by God's sovereign will and purpose--to make Angels visible and understandable to the senses of men.
DO ANGELS HAVE WINGS?In the account of Daniel's supplication (Daniel 9: 21) it is recorded that an angel was "caused to fly swiftly," while other passages suggest the same idea of the flight of angels. The supposition that all angels have wings, as we think of wings, has been generally accepted largely because angels have been "pictured" with wings in the Art and Literature of centuries.
It is true that Cherubim and Seraphim are described as having wings, and the swiftness of angels' movements in executing the commands of "The Lord God of Hosts" is represented as "flying" on their missions. Because angels are unseen spirit-beings their means of flight must remain a mystery. We cannot know by what means of movement a "spirit" is dispatched upon its errand. Legions of angels would have descended from heaven to Gethsemane in an instant had Jesus prayed the Father. Thus we see the possibility of angelic activity far beyond our finite understanding.
THE NUMBER OF ANGELSSuch figures as "ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands" (Revelation 5:11), "an innumerable company [Greek, knyriads']" (Hebrews 12:22), "thousand thousands and ten thousand times ten thousand" (Daniel 7:10), "a multitude" (Luke 2:13), "legions" (Matthew 26:53), were not intended to give a definite or limited number of the heavenly hosts, but to convey a sense of immensity beyond all finite computation.
THE ABODE OF ANGELSIt is generally understood that the throne of God and the abode of angels is "in the heavens" (Psalm 103:19-21). In the Scriptures, however, the word "heaven" is used in so many ways that it is often difficult to visualize which Part of the heavenly sphere is designated. In Genesis 1:1 we read, " God created the heaven and the earth." In the Hebrew, "heaven" is in the plural form, "heavens," which somewhat clarifies the fact that at least three "heavens" are identified in the Scriptures. Paul tells us that he was caught up into "the third heaven" (11 Corinthians 12:2), which naturally presupposes a first and a second.
The location of the heaven of which Paul speaks is not revealed, but is generally accepted as the "heaven of heavens", where "He whom all heavens can not contain" reveals His Glory. It is also the abode of angels who behold the unveiled Glory of the Lord God Of Hosts--the heaven of the Redeemed, who will ever be with the Lord (Revelation 4:1-4).
Next, in descent, would be the starry, or stellar heavens, identified by such references as "the stars of heaven" (Genesis 26:4). "··· he made the stars also"--"... the firmament sheweth his handywork" (Genesis 1:16; Psalm 19:1).
Next, the atmospheric heavens of which such references are made as "birds of the heaven" (Matthew 18:20), "the clouds of heaven" (Matthew 24: 30), "the windows of heaven" (Genesis 7:11).
These distinctions are important to our study of Angelology. It is clear, from the Scriptures, that all angels were created good, clothed in form suited to their spirit-nature, and assigned to an habitation, or first-state, particularly their own in God's sovereign purpose. It is also clear that a great multitude of the angelic order left their first estate, and "the heavenly places," or lower heavens, stand for the unseen spiritual realm in which these fallen spirits now have temporary habitation.
THE CLASSlFlCATlON OF ANGELSThe Scriptures reveal various ranks or orders representing governmental authority or supremacy among the angelic hosts, as mentioned in Colossians 1:1-16, namely: Thrones (thronoi), Dominions (kuriotetes), Principalities (archai), Authorities (exousiai) and Powers (dunameis).
The Bible revelation regarding angels and the heavenly sphere of governmental rule and authority is greatly veiled, but even by the yardstick of earthly realities we may rightfully assume these denominations to be representative of great dignity and varying degrees of rank and station.
CHERUBIM AND SERAPHIMAnother order of exalted celestial beings is mentioned, apart from those of rank and authority listed above, namely: Cherubim and Seraphim. Some learned scholars believe that these name-words are merely symbols of God's attributes. The majority of expositors, however, maintain that they refer to exalted spirit-beings of the angelic order closely related to the throne and zealous of the majesty, the holiness and the unceasing worship of the Lord of Hosts.
Cherubim: We find the first appearance of cherubim in the Garden of Eden, where God had dispatched them to guard the way of "the Tree of Life" from fallen Adam (Genesis 3:24). Alexander Cruden defines "cherub" as one of an order of angels. Plural, properly "cherubim" ("cherubims" in the Authorized Version, Exodus 25:18-22). Upon the ark of the covenant golden replicas of cherubim were cast in one piece with the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies, where God dwelt in the midst of His people. Thus it is said, " . . thou that dwellest between the cherubims . . . (Psalm 80:1). The curtains of the Tabernacle and the veil of the Temple were embroidered with a pattern of cherubim (Exodus 26:1; II Chronicles 3:14). The walls, doors and the sanctuary were decorated with Carved cherubim overlaid with gold (I Kings 6:23-35).
The symbolical significance of the cherubim "ever before the people" may justify the thinking of many Bible scholars; namely, that the proper signification of the word "cherub" is "to cover, guard, protect." The cherubims "guarded" the way in Eden. Lucifer was appointed the "covering" cherub (evidently belonging to the order of cherubim). Their high and holy position, closely related to the Throne of Jehovah--even as the carved symbols of their presence, with out- stretched wings, in the Holy of Holies--suggested attendance and readiness to be dispatched from the throne of God as "guardians," "coverers," "defenders" of His absolute Holiness.
The "Living Creatures" mentioned in Ezekiel's visions of the Shekinah Glory of the Lord (chapters 1 and 10), are identical with the cherubim.
Seraphim: A plural word occurring only in Isaiah 6:1-7: Isaiah's vision of Jehovah. Like the cherubim, seraphim are seen attending on the Lord of Hosts as He is seated ". . . upon a throne, high and lifted up. . . ." The Hebrew word translated "burners" is of uncertain origin. Fire was often connected with the attendants of deity among many peoples, and it is probable that "burning" may lie at the base of the idea. One of the seraphim is seen in the vision as an agent of burning, or purifying the lips of the penitent Prophet, possibly bespeaking a ministry of purification and unceasing worship. Thus, these glorious beings are expressive of that holiness which demands "cleansing" before "serving." With what reverence we Should approach the Throne of Divine Majesty, when seraphim hide their faces and cover their feet in conscious humility and unceasing praise.
LUCIFER-MICHAEL-GABRIELThree celestial princes are named in the Scriptures: Lucifer ("son of the morning")--Michael (Hebrew, "who is like God")--Gabriel ("mighty one").
Lucifer: The most exalted of the angels, by creation and appointment, occupies the place of prominence in the Scriptures, second only to the Godhead. By his sin, the first created being to cross the will, the word and the purpose of the Creator, he became a devil--The Devil (ho diabolos). He appears about forty times throughout the Scriptures under different titles. (From the second panel of Chart No. 1 we shall begin our study of "Satanology.")
Michael: This distinguished angel is named five times (Daniel 10:13, 21; 12:1; Jude 9; Revelation 12:7). He is referred to as "standing" for Daniel's people, therefore he is regarded as the heavenly patron of Israel and the watchful guardian of God's people against both earthly and satanic foes.
In Daniel 10:13, Michael is called "one of the chief princes," a term which presupposes other princes in the angelic hierarchy. In Daniel 10 we find reference to "the prince of Persia" and "the prince of Grecia." These mighty angels, now fallen and corrupted, ap- pear to be subservient to Satan, who is called "the prince of demons," "the prince of the power of the air " "prince of this world [cosmos]. it is Michael who opposes Satan in a dispute concerning the body of Moses (Jude 9). It is Michael who leads the angelic army in heaven against "that old serpent, called the Devil," and his angels (Revelation 12:7).
In Jude 9, Michael is called "the archangel" (the Scriptures do not speak of the plural, "archangels"). It is generally believed that the unnamed archangel whose voice will be heard when Christ descends from heaven to meet His raptured Saints--is Michael (I Thessalonians 4:16). Thus, the rank of archangel is mentioned only twice, and is applied to the mighty prince of angels, Michael.
Gabriel: Gabriel is named four times (Daniel 8:16; 9:21; Luke 1:19; 1:26). He is not identified as an archangel, although the meaning of his name is "the mighty one. While Michael appears to be the messenger of Law and Judgment, Gabriel is the messenger of Mercy and Promise .
It was Gabriel who brought the message to Zachariah; announcing the birth of John the forerunner of the Messiah (Luke 1:19). It was Gabriel who brought the annunciation of the Saviour's Birth to Mary. It was Gabriel who was dispatched by God with the answer to the fervent prayers of Daniel, the bewildered, burdened Prophet. After being delayed by a contest with Satan's emissary, Gabriel brought a revelation of the most momentous import to the praying Prophet, disclosing to him a summary of all that was to come to his people, in the great prophecy of "The Seventy Weeks of Years" (Daniel 9:20-27).
Created: 23 - Jan - 1997.