Angels

ask blackboard chalk board chalkboardThey are, as it were, in yonder gilded vessel, untossed of tempest; but they have sympathy with us in this poor heavy-laden bark, tossed with tempest and not comforted. I see them there on yonder sea of glass mingled with fire. I hear their harpings, as incessantly their joy goes up in music to the throne of the Most High. But they do not look down with scorn on us poor denizens of this dusky planet. On the contrary, they delight to think of us as their brethren, as their fellow servants, as it will be the consummation of their happiness when we shall all be gathered to the church of the firstborn, that they shall make up the innumerable company of angels that surround the blood-washed throng.[1]

The word “angel” (both in Hebrew mal’ak and in Greek angelos) means “messenger.” Angels have several different functions for God.  Their functions seem to be dominated by delivering messages to people from God. “They are servants of the Word rather than objects of our gaze and devotion in their own right.”[2] Because of this predominant area of service we are acquainted with calling them, angels. However, they are also described as “sons of God” (Ps. 29:1; 89:7; Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Gen. 6).

ANGELIC ARMIES

Angels are described as the heavenly “hosts” or “armies of God. These armies are arranged by different ranks. We may want to start at the top with the “Angel of the LORD,” but these are likely references to the pre-incarnate Christ. This description of Christ as “the Angel of the LORD” uses the phrase in a broader sense to describe Jesus as the messenger of the Father. This is similar to the description of Jesus as “the Word.” Perhaps, Jesus also “the Angel of the LORD” because he stands in relation to the angels as he does to humanity. So, just as it is appropriate for Jesus to be called the “Son of Man,” it is appropriate for Jesus to be called “the Angel of the LORD” because he stands as their representative.

Joshua 5:14-15 records the message to Joshua from “the commander of the Lord’s army.” The leaders among the angels are Gabriel and Michael. Gabriel is a messenger to Daniel, Zechariah, Mary, and Joseph. Michaelis described as “one of the chief princes” (Dan. 10:13, 21). He saw to the care of God’s people in Daniel 12:1. Revelation 8:2 speaks of 7 angels who stand before God’s throne. Perhaps, they would be said to have a special position or higher rank.

ANGELS ARE CREATED BEINGS

Little is said about the creation of angels. We know that they were created because they are not divine and they are not to be worshiped. They were created at some point before the universe. Job 38:6-7 says, “What supports its foundations? Or who laid its cornerstone while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”[3] God charges his angels with “error” or “foolishness” (Job 4:18).

ANGELS WORSHIP GOD

The angels worship God day and night (Job 38:7; Psalm 103:20; 148:2; Is. 6; Rev. 5:11). Related to their worship of God is the angelic rejoicing at the conversion of the lost (Lk. 15:10).  Furthermore, part of their adoration of God is their learning about God’s system of salvation (Eph. 3:10; 1 Peter 1:12).

ANGELS SERVE GOD

This service is most notably done through the provision of messages from God. Angels are also God’s agents of destruction (Gen. 19:13; 2 Sam. 24:16; 2 Kings 19:35). Angels serve God by being agents of his providence (Heb. 1:14; Matt. 18:10).  Angels watch over believers (Ps. 34:7; 91:11). At the death of believers, the angels deliver their souls to Abraham’s side (Lk. 16:22).

Angels served Jesus at various times during his life on earth. They announced his birth to Mary and Joseph, the Shepherds, and the Wise Men. The angels ministered to Jesus after he defeated Satan’s temptations in the wilderness (Matt. 4:11). The angels encouraged Jesus in Gethsemane (Lk. 22:40-44). An angel rolled the stone away from the tomb at the resurrection (Matt. 28:2). Angels announced Jesus’ resurrection (Lk. 24:23).

In the book of Acts, angels served God by serving his people and purposes. The apostles were released from prison by an angel (Acts 5:19; 12:7-11). Philip was sent to the Ethiopian by an angel (Acts 8:26-28). An angel gave Herod a fatal illness (Acts 12:23). Paul trusted God’s care through an angel’s power in Acts 27:23-24.

Angels will be significant in God’s work at the end of time. Angels will return with Jesus to judge the world (Matt. 25:31). These angels will separate the saved from the lost (Matt. 13:41, 49).

FALLEN ANGELS

Fallen angels are especially enigmatic in their origin. Just as we have no detailed description of how angels were created, we also have no detailed description of how some angels fell. These fallen angels are described as “rulers” or “principalities” in “heavenly places” or “of the air” (Eph. 1:21; 3:10; Col. 1:16, 2:10; 1 Peter 3:22). They are not created evil. They chose evil by following Satan rather than God (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6).

Satan is the chief wicked angel. He is “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). He is the “god of this world” who blinds humanity (2 Cor. 4:4). He is the instigator of human rebellion (Gen. 3:1, 4; Matt. 25:41; Jn. 8:44; 2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Jn. 3:8; Rev. 12:9; 20:2, 10). Satan is the accuser of mankind before God—that is what Satan means (Rev. 12:10).

FALLEN ANGELS RESTRICTED AND AWAITING JUDGMENT

God has restricted or chained Satan and his followers (Matt. 12:29; Rev. 20:2). The fallen angels are described as imprisoned (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). Perhaps those “imprisoned” are those who are responsible for the sinful acts of Genesis 6:1-2.  God will judge the angelic host. We will, in some way, be involved in this sentence—1 Corinthians 6:3. The fallen angels will be cast into the eternal Hell (Rev. 20:10).

 

 

[1] C. H. Spurgeon, “Angelic Studies,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 16 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1870), 302.

[2] Michael Horton The Christian Faith (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011): 406.

[3] Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), Job 38:6–7.

 

Author: D. L. DeBord

I am a Christian who is blessed with a great family and I have been entrusted with the sacred work of preaching His Gospel. BA, MA, and M.Div. from Freed-Hardeman University. I am currently pursuing a PhD in Theology from Midwestern Seminary. Teaching, preaching, and training others to do the same.

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