500 Bible passages tell us of angels and angelic creatures. God is a spirit and created spirits like Himself. Angels are incorruptible, because they are without matter, they are invisible, and whenever they have made themselves visible, it has been by assuming a human form.
All angelic beings are described as active, endowed with understanding and great intelligent, knowing things natural and spiritual; they have the power of will, are voluntary agents, and also display affection, love, mercy, and pity. They are “mighty”. (2 Th.1:7; Ps. 103:20) and the Lord spoke of “holy angels” (Lu. 9:26)
The existence and orders of angelic beings can only be seen in the Bible. Although the Holy Scripture does not consider them specifically, yet there are many incidental details that give us much information.
The prophet Micaiah, the only true prophet in the court of the evil King Ahab saw a great number of angels around the throne in heaven. (2 Chr. 18:18. Other scriptures; Da. 7:10, Mt 26:53, Lu. 2:13, & Re. 5:11, tell us that they are superior beings and very numerous.
Whenever we read of a multitude of angels we can be sure of some special event. As the great number who “shouted for joy” at creation. (Job 38:7) and the great multitude present at the Lord’s birth. 80,000 were near Jerusalem just before our Lord’s death, (Mt. 26:53) myriads are connected with the church in Hebrew 12, and many will take part in the future coming of the Monarch Saviour.
There are diverse ranks of angels; (Zec. 1:9-11; Da. 10:13; 12:1; Jude v.9; Ep. 1:21; Col. 1:16.) Seraphims are sons of flame, and described as burning, or noble. Cherubs or cherubims are keepers of Jehovah’s justice, as in the Garden of Eden. Gabriel was a messenger, and Michael is of the soldier rank, and is associated with military power. (Re. 12:7) it is probable that Gabriel is the chef messenger Angel. Although his name means worrier or man of God. We wonder if Lucifer, the son of the morning, or brightness, was the head of the cherubim rank of angels. The angels in Revelation chapters 2 and 3 are messengers to local churches. Later in the book of Revelation we see the cherubims (chapter 4) and the soldier angels are seen in the later chapters of the book.
They are called “morning stars” in Job 38. Perhaps because of the light of their knowledge and understanding or because of the brightness and glory of their nature. So Satan can transform himself into an angel of light. (Job 38:7; 2 Cor 11:14) They are also called Sons of God in the book of Job, not by grace and adoption, as the church, or by divine Son-ship, as our Lord Jesus. They are sons by creation, their wisdom, righteousness and holiness resemble the creator and resembled man before he fell by sin.
Why were angels created?
First, to praise God and to celebrate the glory of his perfections; “Praise ye him, all his angels.” (Ps 148:2) We find them joining with men, with the living creatures and elders ascribing blessing, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honour, power, and might unto God. And later, to the Lamb that was slain. (Rev 5:11-12; 7:11-12) They do the will of God in heaven and in earth, as the four spirits, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth, to do his will. They wait his instructions, and immediately go forth to execute them. (Zech 6:4-5)
Another reason for the creation of angels is to minister to the Son of God. At the incarnation Gabriel informed the virgin of His birth, later he encouraged Joseph to take her to wife, who thought to put her away, because of her pregnancy, and a third published the news of his birth to the shepherds, afterwards joining with a multitude, who in chorus celebrated the glory of the incarnation. For God gave orders to all the angelic host, to do homage to the son. “Let all the angels of God worship him” (Mt 1:19; Lk 1:30-35; 2:10-14; Heb 1:6)
Angels had the care and charge of Jesus at his birth and also for the preservation of his life in infancy. When Herod sought to kill all infants an angel directed Joseph to take the child and his mother into Egypt. Other escapes of Christ in later years, can also be ascribed to angels, since it is most certain, that God gave his angels charge over him, to keep him in all his ways; (Mt 2:13; Lk 4:29,30; Jn. 8:59; Ps 91:11) When he had fasted forty days and nights in the wilderness, they came to him, (Mt 4:11) and one of them attended him in the garden of Gethsemane, strengthening and comforting him, (Lk 22:43) they were present at his resurrection, declaring to the women that he was risen from the dead. (Mt 28:2; Lk 24:4) They accompanied him in his ascension to heaven. Possibly thousands of angels escorted the Lord through the region of the air, the territory of Satan. 2 remained, or returned to speak with the Apostles. The man Jesus entered into heaven in triumph; was received and given the Father’s throne. (Ps 68:17-18; Acts 1:10-11; 1 Tim 3:16)
A third reason for the creation of angels is their ministry to humanity. The Bible clearly states their care, both for the saints of the old covenant and for the church. All the people of God are under their charge, both in respect to things temporal and spiritual. It is not known how many difficulties and dangers from which we are preserved, in infancy, in childhood, in youth, as well as in later years. We read of them providing food, as for our Lord in the wilderness. They prepared manna, called angel’s food because prepared by angels. (Ps 78:25) Which was consistence every morning during the forty years travels. We also read of an angel preparing food for the prophet Elijah, and called upon him to arise and eat. (1 Kings 19:5-8)
By divine permission, Satan inflicted a disease on Job, so we conclude that angels can intervene and protect from diseases. We wonder if some cures wrought by men can maybe be ascribed to angels. This is in accordance with the scripture; “He shall deliver thee from the noisome pestilence, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling; for he shall give his angels charge over thee.” (Ps 91:3-11) Another case in point is the miraculous cure by the pool of Bethesda, for the healing virtue for all diseases was owing to the agitation of its waters by an angel. (Jn 5:4)
Angels direct and protect in journeys, as in the days of Abraham, when he sent his servant to Mesopotamia to find a wife for his son Isaac. God assured him that He would send an angel before him to direct and prosper him, which the servant found to be true. (Gen 24:7, 27, 48) Also Jacob, as he was travelling, was met by the angels of God, who divided themselves into two hosts for his guard. (Gen 32:2)
Guardian angels are prominent in helping Lot and his family before the destruction of Sodom. We read that the angels seized them by the hand, bringing them outside of the city, and directing them to flee to the hills. (Gen 19:15-17) The preservation of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the furnace of fire, and of Daniel in the lions’ den, is ascribed to angels. (Dan 3:28; 6:22) The opening of the doors of the prison where the apostles were, (Acts 5:19-20) as was the deliverance of Peter from prison. (Acts 12:7-10) So the 34th Psalm tell us: “The angel of the lord encamped round about them that fear him.” Angels are involved in the protection of the saints and watch over children. (Mt 18:10) Every child has a guardian angel, but we cannot presume that every individual has a particular guardian angel for their lifetime. The scriptures indicate that this ministry is to believers, to deliver his own from affliction and danger, and that angels do not think it below their dignity to minister to children and to the least among the saints. This protection however, is according to Sovereign will, for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said; “If he will save us, well, if he will not, we will still not bow.” (Dan 3:18) It seems that there was special protection when a specific purpose was involved, as with Daniel, David and others.
Angels are also comforters, comforting Christ when in Gethsemane, and Daniel, when in great fear, Dan 9:23, 10:11, 19 and the apostle Paul, when in a tempest. (Acts 27:23) We wonder if they comfort saints today, for if evil angels are capable of influencing the minds of men with the worldly and sinful activities of life, the elect angels are surely capable of showing the things of God to us. Angels intervene to relieve distress caused by unbelief, doubts, fears, and the temptations of sin. So they repel the temptations of Satan, for if they oppose and have conflicts with evil angels, we can conclude that they oppose evil spirits, when these tempt believers to sin.
Angels also assist or attend saints on their death beds, and watch for the moment when the soul exits the body, to carry the soul to heaven.
Their interest in the overall plan of God is one reason for their presence in church gatherings. (1 Cor 11:25) Peter tell us that they are interested in our Gospel preaching. (1 Peter 1:12) They know much concerning the works of God, but the Bible reveals things that angels do not know. As the day and hour of the coming kingdom, as Jesus said in Mt 24:36. They do not know who will be saved. ‘About to inherit salvation’ (Heb 1:14) is the entering into the kingdom and not the salvation of the soul.
They learned by the Bible written, or by the revelations of God to men. They also learn by observing the church, their presence is especially noted in 1 Corinthians 11 where submission is taught in symbol by the covering of the sister’s head. Many angels did not submit and were cast out of heaven as we will later see.
Submission is taught both by the woman and by their Lord, who submitted to the Father. The non-covered head of men in a church fellowship was different from what the angels saw in the old covenant, where the covered head was a sign of submission to God. We can imagine the astonishment of the angels when they saw the uncovered head of men praying in a church meeting.
Jesus in not only Lord of all, he is also head of all creation. The truth of Jesus as Lord, creator, and as the sacrifice was known to angels. But the truth of the man Jesus as head of a new creation, which is the church, is a new lesson to angels. Man lost his position as head of creation, which will only be re-established in the millennium and in the new earth. The Lord’s authority over all creation was made evident to the apostles. He is rightful head over all creation which certainly should cause all, (brethren and sisters) to “cover” their heads in his presence. But in church meetings the saved man represents Christ, and for that reason he has his head uncovered. The sister represents the bride of Christ, or the church, so she has her head covered.
These 2 lessons the angels learn; submission to God, and the man Jesus as head of a new creation.
A fourth reason for the creation of angels is revealing the mind of God to men. Their presence is noted at Mount Sinai when the law was given. It is said that the law was given by angels, and even said to be the word spoken by the angels. (Dan 32:2; Acts 7:59; Gal 3:19; Heb 2:2) They appeared to Gideon, (Judges 6:11, 12) to Samson (Judges 13:3) and in the days of the prophets, to tell the mind of God to men. (1 Kings 19:5; 2 Kings 6:17) Gabriel announced the gospel, telling the good news of the coming Christ, and salvation. (Lk 2:10,11) The same angel made known to Daniel the seasons of the Messiah’s coming; as well as many other things relating to the state of the church and people of God. (Dan 8:16-19; 9:21-27; 12:5-13) An angel was sent to the apostle John, to inform him of things that will come to pass before the end of the world. (Rev 1:1)
It is doubtful that Gabriel is the only messenger angel. In Daniel chapter 8 there is another un-named angel with him. “I heard a man’s voice which said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision.” (Dan 8:16) Daniel’s experience was not in his imagination for Gabriel touched him, (Dan 9:21) which is also written concerning John in Revelation chapter 1.
A fifth reason for the creation of angels is to execute judgement. Angels have destroyed cities and armies. (Gen 19:13; 2 Sam 24:16) seventy thousand men were killed in David’s day, and one hundred and forty five thousand Assyrians in one night in 2 Kings 19:35. The angel of death is seen in Exodus 12 and the destruction of Sodom in Genesis 19. Their power has been witnessed in the smiting of men with blindness, as the men of Sodom. Herod the king was smitten by an angel. (Acts 12:23) They can stop the mouths of lions, and will hold the four winds of the earth. (Rev 7:1)
The mighty power of angels will be seen when the great day of the Lord falls upon our world. Angels will administer the judgement of God, as written in Revelation chapters 5 to 19. They will then be present at the appearing of Christ in glory, which is named His own glory, the glory of His Father, and His angels. (2 Thess 1:7; Lk 9:26) They will gather many, from the four quarters of the world to be judged; as the sheep and the goats, (Mt 25:33) or as the wheat and the tares. (Mt 13:41)
And possibly angels will attend to our Lord during the millennium reign, as typified in the ascending and descending the ladder seen by Jacob. (Gen 28:12) Jesus himself spoke of the angels ascending and descending on the Son of man. (Jn 1:51)
First appearances of angels
We read that the angel of the Lord found Hagar by a fountain of water in the wilderness, telling her to return to Sarai and submit to her. He told Hagar that she was with child, he would be called Ishmael and that he would be a wild man. His hand would be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and that he would dwell in the presence of all his brethren. The angel of the Lord also promised to multiply the seed of Ishmael. This angel was our Lord Jesus as it was the angel himself who promised to multiply Ishmael’s seed. So our Lord told Hagar of the Arab people and knew that the Arabs would dwell with the Israelites. (Gen 16: 7-13) The manifestation of our Lord in pre-incarnation human form to Abraham is more obvious. (Gen 18:1–33) Abraham went out to meet his guests, he bowed to the ground, washed their feet and served them food. The other two ‘men’ were angels, and maybe the same as were present at the tomb and ascension of our Lord many years later. Abraham walked a distance with his departing guests (v. 16) and did not know that his guests were angels from heaven. (Heb 13:2)
If Abraham was to be the father of God’s people, the Lord will reveal himself as a God of patience and compassion. Abraham will better know God, and intercede for Lot and his family. Out of this experience Abraham was taught more of God’s wrath against sin, and also of Jehovah’s patience regarding a disobedient believer.
The two angels also visited Lot, who was a grieved resident of Sodom (2 Peter 2:7)) and who, with his family, was delivered from judgement. Which tells us that the ministry of guardian angels does not depend on our faithfulness to God. It rather depends on the overall plan of God in which we are involved.
The next encounter of angels was with Jacob. (Gen 28:12) Angels ascending and descending on a ladder set from earth to heaven was a dream, but then we read that he met the angels of God at Mahanaim. (Gen 32:1) These appearances to Abraham at Mamre, to Jacob at Peniel (Gen 32:24,30) and later to Joshua at Gilgal, (Josh 5:13,15) were manifestations of the Divine presence, foreshadowing’s of the incarnation, revelations before the “fullness of the time” of the Son of God. The “angel of his presence” (Is 63:9, Ex 23:20, 21; 32:34; 33:2, Num. 20:16) was probably also Jesus, who would be the Messiah and the guide of his people. But as we have already noted, other angels were with our Lord, telling us of the special ministry of some angels.
The Host of heaven
The host of heaven is the military wing of angels. The word hosts, in the plural, is often used, meaning that armies, and not only one army is described.
The stars are also described as hosts, (Jer 33:22, Heb 12:22) both “hosts” are mentioned in Neh 9:6. Angels are often associated with stars in the Bible. Job 38 links the stars with angels, also written in Revelation chapter 12 as we will note.
A sad chapter in the history of Israel is the worship of this host of heaven. In Jeremiah’s day they burned incense unto the host of heaven in Jerusalem, and poured out drink offerings unto other gods. (Jeremiah 19) Manasseh built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; He made altars for Baal, and worshipped the host of heaven, and served them. He even built altars for the host of heaven in the two courts of the temple. (2 Kings 21) There was restoration in King Josiah’s day. He commanded the high priest to bring out of the temple all the vessels that were made for Baal, and vessels of the host of heaven, which he burned outside Jerusalem, doing the same in all places round about Jerusalem that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, to the moon, to the planets, and to all the host of heaven. (2 Kings 23) This passage in 2 Kings, states that the worship of the creation is linked to the worship of angels.
This should not surprise us, as Lucifer sought to become the supreme ruler of the universe. The “anointed cherub” (Ezek 28:14) desired to be “like the most high.” (Is 14:14) Satan, and other angels with him have become associated with both the sky-images of astrology and the corresponding graven images of paganism. Paul warned that such idol-worship was, in reality, demon-worship (I Cor 10:20). It was this “host of heaven” which all devotees of the false religion worshipped, they rejected the true God of creation and put their faith in some aspect of creation. Such rebellion has come under God’s severe condemnation. (2 Kings 17:16-18; Rom 1:18-25) and will more so when our Lord returns to earth.
Present worship of angels
In effect, there is still relationship between astrology and the worship of angels. Many newspapers have an astrology page, read by many who are ignorant of the link to the worship of angels and demons. We are thankful that our world has been influenced by Christianity, and the kingdom of God. But our world has also been influenced by the kingdom of Satan. For this reason clairvoyance is known, and as Christianity has influenced the unbeliever, Satan’s religion has influenced many who do not associate the star fortune-telling to Satan adoration. Astrology in its different forms and all worship of nature (including humanism) is the false Gospel preached by the government of Satan today. The sky-images of astrology and the corresponding graven images of paganism is part of this false Gospel.
There is also the worship of the elect angels. Angels have been much admired, loved and esteemed. Their nature and their care for children has resulted in angel worship. This idolatry existed in Paul’s time. (Col 2:18) and today has resulted in the doctrine of babies becoming angels at death. The belief that the spirits of persons still around us after their death is another offshoot of this false teaching. As is the doctrine of an angel becoming Jesus at his birth. The elect angels rebuked idolatry in the days of Judges, (Judges 2:1-4) and rebuked John when he bowed before the angel. (Rev 22:8-9)
Gods or angels?
The Hebrew word Elohim, which is almost always translated “God” as in Genesis 1:1, is a plural noun with specific meaning, depending on context. The same word describes angels or false gods or even, as in Psalm 82, human judges who act as God’s representatives in judicial decisions affecting God’s people. The word of God had come in ancient times to these human judges of Israel, whom God Himself called “gods” and “sons of the most high.” However, we never read of the word of God coming to Jesus Christ, for the simple reason that He is the Word of God! As the Father sent His word into the world through human “gods,” so He finally sent His living Word into the world. The Lord Jesus was the word so He was God. (Jn 1:1) He had repeatedly demonstrated this fact in both word and deed, but His enemies still charged Him with blasphemy. The Lord quoted Psalm 82:6 in defense of His own claim to be the Son of God. (Jn 10:34-36) The final verse of Ps 82 is addressed not to human “gods” but to God Himself. “Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.” (Ps. 82:8) This statement can be directed to none other than the Son. “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son” (Jn 5:22), “whom He hath appointed heir of all things” (Heb 1:2)
False teachers today tell us that the “us” in the first chapters of Genesis includes angels, and that angels are included in the title “Elohim”. It is clear that angels were present at earth’s creation, but angels do not have creative powers, and they are not included in any mention of our Lord’s teaching on creation. Also, and most importantly, Jesus reveals that the “US” are three persons in the Godhead, and the three persons are describe by one name. (Mt. 28:18)
Sons of flame
Although the word Seraphim is only found in Isaiah chapter 6, the sons of flame are a reference to seraphims and are mentioned at least four more times in scripture. (Num 21:6-8; De 8:15; Is 14:29; 30:6)
We believe it no coincidence that a lake of fire was prepared for the sons of flame that sinned, but we also read of the torment of other angels and men who will be there. (Rev 20:11) Seraphims are closely associated to cherubims. They stand above the Lord, ready to minister to Him. (Isaiah 6, Revelation 4) The fiery serpents of Numbers 21 is the same word as seraphim, which may be fallen cherubims allowed by God to judge the children of Israel. Paul writes of the destruction of the flesh by Satan or demons in 1 Corinthians 5. Also, Satan appeared as a serpent in the Garden of Eden.
Angels vailing their faces is another point which we must consider. Angels beholding the face of God (Mt 18:10) tells us that Isaiah’s vision was associated with the altar and the Day of Atonement. For this reason the seraphims veiled their faces. John’s vision in Re. 4, gives no hint of angels veiling their faces. One aspect of the nature of Jehovah is his invisibility, (Ex 33:20, 23) yet in heaven angels behold the face of God. We conclude that although spirits cannot be seen, they can see each other. So angels can see the face of God. It is also written that we shall see His face. (Rev 22:4)
Jehovah told Moses that he could not see His face: ‘for no man can see me and live.’ (Ex 33:20) Sin will bar men from heaven, but sin is still present in every saved man, preventing him from looking upon the face of God. However we read of converted men looking on the face of Jesus in His glorified state, as Stephen and John. Unconverted men looked on his face, but could not after his resurrection. Saul of Tarsus could not see the face of Jesus, (Acts 9) and a great multitude will flee away, yet be forced to look upon Him when He sits on the Great White Throne. (Rev 20:11)
Cherubims are first mentioned in connection with the expulsion of our parents from Eden. (Gen. 3:24) There is no indication given of their shape or form. They are next mentioned when Moses was commanded to provide furniture for the tabernacle. (Ex 25:17-20; 26:1, 31) God promised to commune with Moses from between the cherubims. This expression was afterwards used to state the divine presence of Jehovah. (Num 7:89; Is 4:4; 37:16; Ps 80:1; 99:1) In Ezekiel’s vision they appear as living creatures, around the throne of God. (Ezek 1:10-25; 41:18-19)
Cherubims, seraphims and angels are found many times in the Bible, from which many paintings and sculptures have been made. But the imagination of men has strayed, to make baby angels and angels with long hair. Babies do not become angels but will rather have complete maturity in heaven, and every old person at death will be again in the prime of life in paradise. The face of Stephen was like the face of an angel. (Acts 6:15) Like the face of Moses, is probably the meaning. Men have made angels to look glorious, but the features of an angel’s face is unknown and is the imagination of the artist. Men with wings are seen in paintings, but there are no young men with wings in the Bible. And the young men that appeared in Abraham’s day and Mary’s day did not have long hair. 1 Cor 11:14 tells us that “it is a shame for men to have long hair” which means that neither angels, the disciples, nor our Lord had long hair. The Nazarite vow is associated with un-cut hair. (Numbers 6) Samson, John Baptist and others were never to drink wine or would touch a dead body, which are the requirements of this vow. Since our Lord did both, He was not into a Nasserite vow, nor were the Lord’s disciples or any angel.
The many cherubims on walls and on the veils of the tabernacle and temple seems to indicate that many special winged creatures live in heaven. But four were unseen and the special work of craftsmen. Two of which were placed at each end of the mercy seat, on the ark, with wings stretched upward, and their faces toward each other. These were seen in the tabernacle, and in the Temple, the Shekinah, or cloud of glory rested on them. Their eyes were toward the mercy-seat, looking for the blood sprinkled once a year. The promise of God “to meet between the cherubims” telling us that the only way back to God is by blood or death.
The faces of the other larger cherubims were toward the house or looking at the entrance of the oracle. We wonder why this is specifically mentioned. (2 Chron 3:13) Cherubims are associated with the throne of God so there was a watchfulness, as in the Garden of Eden. There was a guarding of the divine presence, an alertness when the veil was drawn aside once a year on the Great Day of Atonement.
Another thought is the Gospel preached to the world, so suggested by Mr. E. Smith in his book on features of Solomon’s temple. Their eyes were towards the temple entrance, or looking to the outside. “He is the propitiation for our sin, (the two cherubims looking on the mercy seat) and not for our only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (The two cherubims looking toward the outside, or toward the world) (1 Jn 2:2) Their eyes were towards the temple entrance, which was towards the east, so it may also be suggested that they were looking for the Lord. Ezekiel wrote that the Glory of the Lord will come back to Israel by way of the east gate. “The glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shone with his glory.” (Ezek 43:2)
Instruction for the tabernacle in the wilderness was so that the entrance was toward the east, towards the rising of the sun. We remember that the Lord planted a garden eastward in Eden (Gen 2:8) and that the two cherubims were placed at the east of the Garden. Also the blood, on the Day of Atonement, must be sprinkled upon the mercy seat eastward. (Lev 16:14) So the five meter high cherubims in the temple with their wings stretching from wall to wall were looking to the east. As if to expect the return of the Lord and king of Israel.
These four sculptured cherubims represented four live cherubims in heaven which are associated with the propitiation justice of Jehovah. Ezekiel, Isaiah, and John saw them, and identified them as very different beings from the ones seen by Mary, Zacharias, and the Apostles.
Both Ezekiel and John saw living creatures which had features of men and animals. It seems unlikely that creatures in heaven have animal faces. Scripture clearly indicate that angels can take body form at will, as the two angels in Genesis 19, and the two seen near the garden tomb. We suppose that cherubs also have this power, and that the animal features were a form taken to tell of a future event. The lion, calf, man, and eagle faces are associated with the Son of God. The cherubims are foretelling the event of the coming Christ, of the man from heaven. Ezekiel saw the Lord on the throne, (Ezek. 1) but did not understand the telling of the Son by the four cherubims. The Father was identified by John, who also identified the Son. (Rev 4) The book of Revelation is the revelation of the Son, not revealed to Ezekiel. God the Son is now revealed, as in his Gospel, John tells us that He was made flesh and lived among us. (Jn 1:1) The ox or calf is telling of his strength and service. Hosea said that the Lord will come to Israel in judgement, as a flying eagle. (Hos 8:1) Jesus will rule with a rod of iron or like a lion. In Ezekiel chapter 10 it is the face of a cherub, and not the face of an ox, maybe telling us that the cherub had changed his form. Some say that the face of a cherub typifies grace, which was revealed in the Lord Jesus. (Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ)
These features of our Lord were displayed when our Lord came, and will be more displayed in the glorious centuries of his reign. So it seems that cherubs had taken these forms to teach us of the coming Son, which is in accordance with the many types of the Old Testament, when the Father instructed his people as to the many offerings, which all referred to His Son.
It may also be well to note that Isiah is occupied with the sacrifice of the Son, so there is much written about the lamb. Ezekiel is the prophet of the coming king and is more occupied with features of His kingship. John, in his contemplation, tells of the Lamb and the Lion, and is occupied both with his pass sacrifice, and with his future reign.
But this and much more, we cannot fully comprehend. “Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?” (Job 11:7)
Chariots of God
Ps 18:10; 99:1 and 2 Sam 22:11 depict the Lord riding on a cherub. What Ezekiel saw in chapter 1 and chapter 10 of his book may be the wheels of chariots, and God in transit. Elijah was carried to heaven in a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, which were angels in another form. (2 Kings 2:11) Psalms 68 tells of chariots of God, of thousands of angels, and the Lord among them, so the term cherub or cherubim is associated with chariots of God. (1 Chron 28:18) The Lord also spoke of Lazarus taken to heaven by angels. (Lk 16:22)
We determine then that these chariots of Jehovah are expositions of God outside of heaven. God came to Israel, to dwell between the cherubims in the tabernacle, and later in the temple. John was taken to heaven (Revelation 4) but heaven came to Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1) so the cherubims in Ezekiel’s vision were earth visitors, coming from the north. Isaiah was maybe not sure if he was in heaven or not. His mind was filled with the temple and the Day of Atonement. Paul heard sounds and also writes of not knowing if he had died and went to heaven, or if his experience was a vision or a dream. (2 Corinthians 12) but young Ezekiel was by the river Chebar and saw heavenly visitors, or Jehovah in transit.
Angels in the New Testament
Angels are found many times in the N. T. ten times in the first two chapters of Hebrews alone and more than seventy time in the book of Revelation. The incarnation introduces a new era in the manifestations of angels. We have already noted their ministry to our Lord, at his birth, throughout his life, at his resurrection and ascension.
Gabriel appeared to the priest in Luke 1. The prayer for a son is about to be answered. Zacharias’s unbelief was a great sin, for he was standing at the very place where prayers were answered, at the Golden Altar. Gabriel knew much of this unborn son. He received this knowledge from standing in the presence of God. (Lk 1:19) We wonder if he knew of John’s going away from the temple and into the wilderness, and of his short life. Gabriel’s appearance to Mary was also with a measure of unbelief. (Lk 1:34) We wonder if Gabriel understood how the Spirit was going to operate this miracle of conception, and how this event would destroy this young woman’s reputation. Gabriel’s greeting was one of Joy. “Hail” (Lk 1:25) was the Hebrew greeting meaning joy. The joy in the presence of the angels (Lk 15) is the joy of the triune God, as expressed in the three part parable, but does not exclude the Joy of the angels. Their rejoicing in our salvation expresses their unselfishness as the personal joy of salvation can never be theirs. Another joy of angels may be in souls entering heaven. The spirits of the repentant and of the un-needing repentant, (infants, children, and the mentally handicapped enter heaven every day, and probably every hour.
In the New Testament our Lord introduces us to another kind of angel. Although taught in the Old Testament, demons or fallen angels united as a kingdom was not fully understood until the Lord’s teaching. A large number was formed into a kingdom, (Lk 11:18) and we remember the many demons that were driven out of the man, who told the Lord that his name was Legion. (Lk 8:30) Lucifer was a beautiful cherub, described as perfect ln his ways until he sinned by pride and rebellion. (Is 14:14; Ezek 28:12-17) He was afterwards called the dragon, the old serpent, the devil, Satan, (Rev 20; 2) the accuser of the brethren, (Rev 12:9) the prince of this world (Jn. 14:30) and the prince of the power of the air. (Eph. 2:2) His character is like a serpent. (Gen 3) He is like an angel of light, (2 Cor 11:14) and like a lion. (1 Peter 5:8) He entered Judas, and the betrayal followed. (Lk 22:3) He is fallen, (Lk 10:18, Is. 14:12) and he is cast out. (Jn. 12:31) He will be cast down, (Rev 12:9) and will be cast into the pit. (Rev 20:3) The Scriptures tell us of his Power, (2 Cor 4:3; Acts 26:18) his Palace, his People, and his Practices. (Mt 16:18, Lk 4:5; 11:21, and also of his fear. (Lk 8:12)
The fall of angels however, is not recorded in scripture. We would assume that Satan influenced their fall but every angel is created with a free will and, like man, cannot blame Satan for his fall into sin. Jude tells us; “they left their first estate” and that they are reserved unto judgement. They were originally holy beings of light, but by sinning they become beings of darkness. Whatever knowledge of God they had, and whatever their long experience, whatever knowledge they had of divine light, they are no longer in that light today but are in black despair and torments.
We are at War
“We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph 6:12)
These solemn words written by Paul to the Ephesians long ago, are very much relevant for us today. The principalities, powers, rulers of darkness and spiritual wickedness in high places is the kingdom referred to by our Lord in Lk 11. God had originally organized the angelic creation into a hierarchal structure, for the purpose of serving more efficiently. It seems that this organization was copied by Satan and is presently a hierarchy of evil. This power is present in our world today, keeping man in ignorance, keeping humanity blinded (2 Cor 4:4) and asleep in their sinful state. It has been always the goal of Satan and his kingdom to destroy the work of God. But we wonder if this has not intensified in our generation.A few years ago Japan was concerned with radiation effect because of the tsunami destroying their nuclear electric plant. We all saw the devastation of Chernobyl some years ago. The devastation of radiation was not known two centuries ago, but was very real. There is a greater unseen “radiation” affecting our world, and we are not ignorant of “Spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Satan has always opposed the work of God; in the Garden of Eden, in the choice of the nation of Israel, in the giving of the law and in the great plan of the church. But our generation may be the final push of this army of evil. Taking both parents out of the home, and exposing children to the evil on television and on the internet. This evil power has skillfully organized a fine-tuned mind altering machine not equaled in previous generations. We are sure that Satan and demons are the instigators of many organized evils, attacking all good and especially the saints. The case of Job proves this; his family, his health, and his livelihood was destroyed.
The same would happen to us but for the angels of the Lord protecting us. Demon possession of men in the days of our Lord reveals their power to torment the bodies, and the minds of men. They know of the lake of fire where their final punishment and torments will be, so said to Jesus; “Art thou come hither to torment us before our time?” (Mt 8:29) Also, demons who possessed the man in Mark 5 pleaded to be sent into the herd of swine. …better than the chain prison described by Jude. It seems that fallen angels cannot take, or change into a human form. This power was maybe lost at their fall. They now can only possess an existing body, that of a human or an animal.
The Lord said that there are various kinds of fallen angels, for when the disciples asked Him the reason why they could not cast out a certain demon, our Lord said; “this kind” (Mt 17:21) referring to demons of superior strength. The power of darkness is underlined in the garden of Gethsemane. (Lk 22:53) This power is greatly underestimated by the leaders of our world today, and maybe by a few believers. So the apostle warned of satanic attacks, and to put on the whole armor of God. (Eph 6:12-17) The protection of guardian angels is in collaboration with our Spirit given armor. Certainly angels, who are also spirits, are better equipped than humans for this conflict, but their work is greatly enhanced by intelligent believers who realize their responsibility. Indeed, it is the same in every sector of Christian life.
The New Testament also reveals the end of all fallen angels. Jesus speaks of everlasting fire prepared for them. It is a place of fire and brimstone where, with the devil, the beast and false prophet, they will be tormented day and night for ever. (Rev 20:10) They know of this sentence pronounced upon them, and James writes that they believe God and tremble. (James 2:19) These once pure and holy creatures, are now unholy and unclean. The devil, called the wicked one, and called wickedness itself was once in the presence of God. He, and all fallen angels, willeternally be without God. This will be their torment, but a place of eternal fire is also described, (Mt 25:41) which will also be the final abode of every Saviour rejecter, and every Saviour neglecter.
But why did God create angels who were going to sin? The Bible gives no specific answer, but four points are worthy of note.
First, God will never create a creature without a will. All intelligent creation, even animals, are created with a will to choose. The fact that many have made a wrong choice is a witness to this truth, which would not be if all creatures would always make a right choice.
Second: Israel’s sojourn in Egypt, which could have been avoided, was to show the glory of God to Pharaoh and to Egypt. The glory and power of God was, and will be more demonstrated because sin was permitted. Israel’s sojourn in Egypt was not the Lord’s will, but God permitted the four hundred years of slavery to show his power and judgement upon the false gods of Egypt. It is like God to change cursing into blessing and to make great blessing out of great calamity, as seen at Calvary.
Third: Certainly the Love of God, shown us in His keeping power, would be less evident if Satan and demons were not real. The love and keeping power of God is much more displayed when rescued from, and preserved from, a great enemy. And so we read; neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 8:38)
Fourth, and most importantly, all that God does and will do, involves his Son. All things were created by Him, and for Him. The visible and invisible, thrones, dominions, principalities, powers. Satan, with his angels stole away all, but Jesus has, and will, take back all. As it is written; “having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them.” (Col 2:15) Through death He destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. (Heb 2:14)
But there is a lapse of time between the victory won at the cross and control taken. We are in that time frame now. We read of a future period, when all rule, (or principality) and all authority or power will be put down. (1 Cor 15:24)
The War of Angels
Angels are mentioned more than seventy times in the last book in the Bible. In Revelation chapter 4 we read of worshiping cherubs, acclaiming holiness to God. Throughout this booklet we have mentioned the holiness of God and its association with angels and all angelic creatures. From Isaiah’s day to John’s day there is no change in the cry of the cherubims. The holiness of God is the same, expressed in three holies, which is to the Devine Persons in the Godhead. (Mt 28:18)
In Revelation chapter 12 we read of Michael the military archangel. (Dan 12; Jude 9) He is the commander of a very large army and his military commanding voice is underlined in 1 Thess 4:16. Our Lord Himself, and not Michael, will come for his church, but our Lord’s voice will be commanding, as the commanding voice of the archangel.
There will be war in heaven, when the hierarchy of evil will meet the original hierarchy of angels. Michael the warrior angel will face his arch enemy. These two powers have been in ‘cold war’ for centuries and will meet in a final conflict just before the Lord’s reign.
Isaiah wrote of this war of angels; “and it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth.” (Is 24:21) “And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll, and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falls from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree.” (Is 34:4)
A third part of the angels will be involved in this conflict. (Rev 12:4) If indeed the stars are angels, as other scripture seems to indicate. The dragon will draw them to battle against Michael and the elect angels.
There are many things about Angels we do not know. We assume that their creation was before the creation of the world, for if the church was in the mind of God before the foundation of the world, the angels created to minister to the church, must be before that time. The angels being present at creation may suggest that angels were created shortly before Geneses 1, and that the creation of the heavens, and of light, was for angels. For if angels are creatures of light it is conceivable that God created a habitation for them, and that the heavens with the many stars and planets were created for their pleasure.
As to their time of sin it may be shortly after creation, for we read that after the six days of creation, on the seventh day, “God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good”. Which could not have been said if the angels had already sinned.
Was the fall of angels than not long before the serpent’s encounter with Eve? The seraphim-cherub, who was a serpent like creature, beguiled Eve, and sin found in the angelic world was also forced into the human world. The words of Christ agree with this time frame, (Jn 8:44) for he called Satan; “a murderer from the beginning.” Which can mean from the beginning of the world, or creation.
However, other reliable Bible students believe that angels were created and sinned long before the creation recorded in Geneses 1.
But why no angel appearances today?
Many do not believe in angels because never seen. Angels were not seen for one thousand years after Eden, until Abraham’s day. The generation of Noah and previous generations knew nothing of angels. The four hundred years of Israel’s slavery in Egypt saw no angel, nor the days of exile at the close of the Old Testament. Angels existed though not seen, and we believe that after the early days of the church and up until today angels are present in heaven but are absent (in bodily form) on earth. They will be seen again when our Lord returns.
More scriptures about angels and angelic creatures.
Geneses 16:7-11; 21:17; 22:11,15; 24:7,40; 28:12; 31:11; 32:1; 48:16.
Exodus 3:2; 12:23; 14:19
Judges 5:23; 6:22; 13:21
1 Samuel 29:9.
2 Samuel 14:17, 20; 19:27; 24:16, 17.
1 Kings 13:18; 2 Kings 1:3, 15; 19:35
1 Chronicles 21:12-30
2 Chronicles 32:21
Psalms 35:5, 6
Isiah 37:36; 63:9
Daniel 3:28; 6:22
Zechariah 1:9-19; 2:3;3:1-6; 4:1-5; 5:5,10; 6:4-5; 12:8
Matthew 4:6, 11; 16:27; 22:30; 25:31; 26:53; 28:5
Mark 1:13, 8:38, 12:25, 13:27, 32
Luke 2:15, 4:10; 12:8, 9; 15:10; 16:22; 20:36; 24:23
John 1:51, 12:29, 20:12
Acts 5:19; 6:15; 7:30, 35, 38, 53; 8:26 10:3, 7, 22 11:13; 12:7-23; 23:8, 9; 27:23
1 Corinthians 4:9 6:3; 10:10; 11:10 13:1
2 Corinthians 11:14
Galatians 1:8 3:19 4:14
Hebrews 1:4-13; 2:2, 5, 7, 9, 16; 11:28; 13:2
1 Peter 3:22
2 Peter 2:11
Revelation 1:1,20; 2:1-18; 3:1,7,14; 5:2,11; 7:2; 8:2-12; 9:1-15; 10:1-10; 11:15; 12:7,9; 14:6-19; 15:1,6,7,8; 16:1-17 17:1-7; 18:1,21; 19:9,17; 20:1; 21:9-17 22:6,8,16.
Sources and other recommended readings:
The tabernacle, by Walter Scott.
Notes from the Newberry Bible
Body of Divinity, by John Gill
Lessons in Systematic Theology, by H. C. Thiessen
Solomon’s temple, by E. Smith.
Smith’s Bible dictionary.