MBS073 ANGELOLOGY: THE DOCTRINE OF THE ELECT ANGELS
By Dr Arnold Fruchtenbaum
Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.Ephesians 6:11–12
This Messianic Bible Study is a study on the angels of God, that is, on what the Bible teaches about good angels, those angels who did not fall. Theologically, this area of study is known as Angelology or the Doctrine of Angels. There are three main divisions of Angelology.
First, Angelology Proper, which is the Doctrine of Unfallen Angels.
Secondly, Satanology, which is the Doctrine of Satan. And thirdly, Demonology, which is the Doctrine of Fallen Angels.
This study is not concerned with either Satanology or Demonology, but only with Angelology Proper or the Doctrine of Unfallen Angels.
There are a number of wrong views regarding angels. For instance, it has been taught that angels are merely transient emanations from God or permanent emanations from God. It has also been taught that angels are glorified human beings; that is, when a believer dies and goes to Heaven, he becomes an angel. Among unbelievers, a common teaching is that angels do not exist. They believe that Yeshua (Jesus) mentioned angels just to accommodate Himself to the popular thinking of His day, but that He Himself knew better.
Unfallen angels are given two specific titles in Scripture. They are called the elect angels (1 Tim. 5:21), which means they were elected not to fall and have been confirmed in their holiness. After God created Adam and Eve, He subjected them to a test in the Garden to see if they would obey or disobey. In the same way, after God created the angels, He then subjected them to a test to see if they would be obedient or disobedient. One-third of the angels chose to be disobedient to God and followed Satan in his fall; those angels became demons. But two-thirds of the angels chose not to follow Satan, and they have been confirmed in their holiness. “Confirmed holiness” means is that they are no longer capable of falling; the period of testing and probation is over, and they are no longer capable of sinning. When believers receive their resurrection bodies, they will also be confirmed in their holiness; and, in their resurrection bodies, they will not be capable of sinning either. God, Himself has always been confirmed in His holiness; He is incapable of sinning. These unfallen angels are no longer capable of sinning, so they are called elect angels.
The second title for unfallen angels is holy angels, to contrast them with fallen angels who are wicked and unholy (Mk. 8:38; Lk. 9:26).
I. THE EXISTENCE OF ANGELS
Does the Bible really teach that angels exist? Angels are mentioned in Scripture 273 times, in 33 of the 66 books, which means that half of the books of the Bible mention angels.
In the Old Testament, angels are mentioned 108 times in 18 books: Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Job, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, and Zechariah. It should be noted that in the Old Testament, angels are not only mentioned in the apocalyptic type books, but also in the prophetical, historical, and poetical books.
In the New Testament, angels are mentioned a total of 165 times in 15 books: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 1 and 2 Peter, Jude, and Revelation. As with the Old Testament, all types of New Testament literature mention the existence of angels. It is obvious that Scripture clearly teaches the existence of angels, from the first book, Genesis, to the last book, Revelation. Angels are not only mentioned in the older primitive books, but also in the later books; the mention of angels is scattered throughout the Scripture. In other words, the mention of angels is not peculiar to just one author, nor is it peculiar to visionary authors only.
Furthermore, Jesus Himself clearly taught the existence of angels and referred to them in every Gospel (Matt. 13:39, 41, 49; Mk. 12:25; Lk. 12:8–9; Jn. 1:51). If He taught the existence of angels, what options do believers have in light of the Messiah’s teaching? There are five options.
First: that Yeshua was deceived. Though angels do not really exist, He taught the existence of angels and believed in the existence of angels. This, of course, would mean that He was deceived. There are some people who do believe this.
Secondly: that Jesus was being deceptive. Jesus Himself did not believe in angels and He knew that angels did not exist; so then, He was merely being deceptive. Some people have taught this as well.
Thirdly: that Jesus was merely accommodating Himself. The concept of “accommodation” teaches that Yeshua knew better. He was not trying to be deceptive, but He was simply accommodating His teachings to the common beliefs of that day so the people would understand the main truths of what He was saying. Perhaps this seems a little better than saying He was deceptive, but actually, it comes out the same way in the end. This was an attempt to be more euphemistic.
Fourthly: that Yeshua never mentioned the existence of angels and did not teach the existence of angels; the writers of the Gospels put these words into His mouth. Therefore, it was not Yeshua who was deceptive, but the writers of the Gospels. But if the Gospels cannot be trusted when they quote Yeshua on angels, how can they be trusted when they quote Him on anything?
The only valid option is the fifth one: that Jesus really did believe in the existence of angels and, therefore, taught their existence, because angels do exist.
II. THE NAMES OF ANGELS
The Bible uses several names for these celestial beings.
The first name is the most common one used: angel. The word for angel in both Hebrew and Greek means the same thing, “a messenger,” and it is used for human messengers (Gen. 32:3) and divine messengers (Gen. 32:1). When it is used of a divine messenger, it refers to an angel. This name emphasizes the office and function. The office is that of a messenger, and the function is that of service. The term angel is the general term used for all celestial beings. It is used for both lower and higher celestial beings, but the most common reference is to the lower celestial beings. It is a descriptive title of an office or function of serving (Heb. 1:7).
A second name is the sons of God. This is strictly an Old Testament name. The Hebrew is bnei elohim. In the Old Testament, the term, sons of God, is always plural and always refers to angels (Gen. 6:2, 4; Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7).
A third name is the sons of the mighty or the sons of the mighty one. This is similar to the sons of God because God is the mighty one (Ps. 29:1; 89:6).
A fourth name is that of the holy ones, which emphases their unfallen state as opposed to the angels who fell and became demons (Ps. 89:5, 7; Dan. 4:13, 17; 8:13).
A fifth name is watcher, which emphasizes their function of observing. They are observers to see whether God’s will is being carried out. They are watching to make sure that, indeed, it is (Dan. 4:13, 17).
The sixth name is watchmen, which also emphases their function of observation. Whereas watcher emphasizes purely the aspect of observation to see if God’s will is being carried out, watchmen also carry the concept of guarding. These are watchmen in that they are watching over a situation as guardians (Is. 62:6).
The seventh name is, spirits, for angels, are spirit beings (Heb. 1:14).
The eighth name is stars. With the exception of Numbers 24:17, whenever the word star is used symbolically, it is always a symbol for angel (Job 38:7; Rev. 1:20; 9:1; 12:4).
A ninth name is ministers. This name emphasizes the fact that angels are ministers of God, carrying out His will (Ps. 103:21; 104:4; Heb. 1:7).
A tenth name for angels is host, an English translation of the Hebrew word that means “army.” The host comprises the heavenly army of God. This is why God is often referred to as Jehovah of hosts or the Lord of hosts, for He is the Lord of this angelic army (1 Kg. 22:19; Ps. 103:20–21; 148:2).
An eleventh name for angels is chariots, emphasizing their speed in carrying out the will of the Lord (2 Kg. 6:16–17; Ps. 68:17; Zech. 6:1–8).
The twelfth name for angels is elohim, a word that means “god.” It is used of the one true God and the many false gods. It is also used of angels because angels are the representatives of God and have God’s delegated authority to speak in His name. Because they speak authoritatively in God’s name, they are referred to as elohim. This is seen by comparing Psalm 8:5 with Hebrews 2:7.
III. THE CREATION OF ANGELS
Concerning the creation of angels, four things should be mentioned.
A. The Fact of Their Creation
The first thing is the fact of their creation. The fact that angels were created is taught in Colossians 1:16, where three things are discovered. First, all angels were created simultaneously; God did not create some angels at one point and more angels at another point. Secondly, then, the number of angels does not increase, as God is not continually creating new angels. And thirdly, neither does the number of angels decrease. Angels, once they are created, exist forever; they cannot be destroyed.
B. The Timing of Their Creation
The second thing about the creation of angels is its timing. According to Job 38:4–7, angels were already in existence when God created the heavens and the earth in Genesis 1:1. So angels were created prior to the creation of the material universe. The existence of angels precedes the universe by some unknown amount of time. Therefore, they also precede man by some unknown amount of time. It is not known how long before Genesis 1:1 they were created, but that, indeed, they were.
C. Their Power of Contrary Choice
The third thing about the creation of angels is their state when they were created: they were created holy, with the power of contrary choice (Mk. 8:38; Jude 6). The power of contrary choice meant the ability to choose contrary to their nature. They had the ability to make an unholy choice, which one-third of them eventually did and became demons. The other two-thirds later became confirmed in their holiness and, therefore, could no longer choose to sin, they no longer have the power of contrary choice.
D. Their Position
The fourth thing about the creation of angels is their position. Two things should be noted: first, they are inferior to the Messiah as to His deity (Heb. 1:4–2:3), and they are also inferior to Him in His humanity (Heb. 2:5–8). They are inferior to the God-Man, the Lord Yeshua the Messiah. Secondly, they are superior to common man because they are higher beings than man (Ps. 8:4–5; Heb. 2:5–7; 2 Pet. 2:11).
IV. THE NUMBER OF ANGELS
How many angels are there? There are several passages of Scripture that give hints concerning the number of angels. Deuteronomy 33:2 mentions ten thousands of angels; 2 Kings 6:17: a whole mountain … full of angels; Psalm 68:17: twenty thousand angels plus thousands upon thousands; Daniel 7:10: thousands of thousands and ten thousand times ten thousand; Matthew 26:53: twelve legions of angels, a legion consists of three thousand to six thousand individuals; Luke 2:13: a multitude of the heavenly host; Revelation 5:11: ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.
The best answer as to how many angels there are is the one given in Hebrews 12:22: innumerable hosts of angels. How many angels are there? They are innumerable, myriads and myriads. Because of the concept of guardianship, there are always at least as many angels as there are human beings on the face of the earth. This could also very well mean that there are as many angels as there are humans that will ever exist or that have existed, in combination or in totality.
V. THE ABODE, SPHERE, AND APPEARANCE OF ANGELS
In this area of study, three things should be discussed: the angelic abode, the angelic sphere, and the appearance of angels.
A. The Angelic Abode
Where do angels abide? The angelic abode is Heaven. That is where they live according to Matthew 18:10: in heaven their angels; Matthew 24:36: the angels of heaven; Mark 12:25: angels in heaven; Mark 13:32: the angels in heaven; Luke 22:43: an angel from heaven; Galatians 1:8: an angel from heaven; 2 Thessalonians 1:7: from heaven with the angels; Jude 6: angels had a proper habitation, and that habitation was Heaven. Throughout the Scriptures, they are referred to as the hosts of heaven. Obviously, the angelic abode is Heaven.
B. The Angelic Sphere
The “angelic sphere” means their area of operation. While they live in Heaven, they operate in more than just the sphere of Heaven. They operate in two other spheres.
One sphere is the heavens (Eph. 3:10). “Heavens” is what is now normally referred to as outer space or the second heaven.
The second sphere of operation is the earth. Angels are God’s ministers to accomplish His will on the earth. As a result, they have special ministries and functions on earth. Some examples of the special control on earth include Revelation 8:1–2, which mentions the seven angels that stand before God in Heaven. When they blow a trumpet, great physical things will happen on earth. Revelation 14:8 speaks of the angel who has the power over fire. Revelation 16:5 speaks of the angel who has power over the waters. All these verses show that the second sphere of angels is the earth. So while they do have a function in their abode in Heaven, the third heaven, their sphere is not limited to Heaven. They also operate in the sphere of outer space and in the sphere of the earth.
C. The Appearance of Angels
The third area to discuss is the appearance of angels. The Scriptures contain records of angels appearing to people. Concerning the appearance of angels, three things should be mentioned.
1. Their Visibility
First, the means of visibility. There were three main ways angels appeared. Sometimes they appeared in a dream as was true of Jacob when he saw angels … ascending and descending upon a ladder between heaven and earth (Gen. 28:12). A second way angels appeared to humans was in visions. A vision opened up and certain people saw angels in these visions; such as Daniel, Zechariah, and the Apostle John in the Book of Revelation. A third and more common way angels became visible was by simple appearance, by suddenly manifesting themselves, just as the angels appeared at the tomb of Jesus.
2. Their Form
The second thing about the appearance of angels is their form: angels always appeared as young men (Gen. 18:1–2, 16, 22; 19:1–22; Mk. 16:5; Lk. 24:4; Acts 1:10–11). Nowhere in the Scriptures do angels appear in the form of women, children, such as cupids, or old men.
3. Their Effect
The third thing about the appearance of angels is their effect. The main effect the appearance of angels caused was fear (Dan. 10:4–9; Mat. 28:2–6; Lk. 1:11–12, 26–30; 2:9).
VI. THE PERSONALITY OF ANGELS
Some teach that angels are not personal beings, that they are merely emanations, powers, or rays, but they are not real, personal beings. However, the three main attributes of personality, are intellect, emotion, and will. That which possesses intellect, emotion, and will, all three, is a personality. Humans are personalities because humans have all three attributes. If it can be shown that angels have these three attributes, it thus proves the personality of angels.
A. Their Intellect
First, angels have intellect. 2 Samuel 14:20 speaks of the wisdom of an angel and, certainly, to have wisdom means to have intellect. In Psalm 148:2, angels have the ability to praise, another characteristic that requires intellect. In Matthew 24:36, angels have the ability to know things, and this, too, demands intellect. And in Matthew 28:5, they have the ability to communicate, which requires intellect. In Ephesians 3:10, they learn from God’s program for the Church, and the fact that they are learning shows that they have intellect. 1 Peter 1:12 states that there are things angels desire to look at and, again, such a desire is a result of intellect.
B. Their Emotion
Secondly, angels have emotion. Job 38:7 and Luke 15:10 speak of angels having the emotion of joy. If they have joy, these beings must have emotion.
C. Their Will
Thirdly, angels have will. In Luke 2:13, the angels praise God, exercising their will. In Hebrews 1:6, they worship God, also an exercise of the will. Finally, in Jude 6, some angels chose to leave their proper habitation, which was an exercise of will.
We can be absolutely certain that angels have intellect, emotion, and will. Therefore, they are personalities and not mere emanations.
VII. THE NATURE OF ANGELS
The nature of angels will be dealt with in four categories.
A. The Creation of Angels
First, angels are created beings (Col. 1:16). Because angels are by nature created beings, they have the limitations of “creaturehood.” A created being is a creature, and a creature can never have all the powers, attributes, and abilities of the Creator. So, while they are far superior to humans, they are greatly inferior to God.
For example, angels are not omnipresent; they are limited in space (Dan. 9:21–23; 10:10–14). Angels are not omnipotent; they are not all-powerful but are limited in strength, even though they are powerful and mighty (Dan. 10:10–14; 2 Pet. 2:11). For this reason, Michael the Archangel needed divine assistance (Jude 9). Angels are not omniscient either; they are not all-knowing but are limited in knowledge. In Matthew 24:36, they do not know when the Messiah is going to return. In Ephesians 3:10 and 1 Peter 1:11–12, there is a limitation in their knowledge, which is why they continue learning. Someone who is omniscient has no need to learn anything because he knows all things.
B. The Bodies of Angels
The second category concerning the nature of angels is to discuss the angelic body. According to Hebrews 1:14, angels are spirit beings, and this means that they are immaterial. However, they do have corporeality; they are not ghosts. However, this corporeality does not consist of flesh and bones (Lk. 24:39). The angelic body is composed of a spirit body, but angels can appear in bodily form (Gen. 18–19; Mat. 1:20; Lk. 1:11; Jn. 20:12; Heb. 13:2). Because angels are spirit beings and immaterial, they are generally not visible. But because they do have some kind of corporeality, they are able to appear in bodily form. When they do appear in bodily form, they always appear as young men.
Another thing about the angelic body is that it is not limited to human concepts of space. According to Luke 8:30, a legion of angelic spirit-bodies could exist in a very limited space, the space, even, of one man.
Another thing about the angelic body is that they do not reproduce after their kind (Mk. 12:25). Since angels are always male and there are no female angels, they are not able to marry and produce more angels. But this does not mean that angels are sexless. The Greek does have a neuter form, but does not use the neuter form for angels; it always uses the masculine noun and the masculine pronoun. In the case of Genesis 6 when some fallen angels intermarried with human women, they were able to produce a grotesque race. But what they produced were not angels after their kind, since the angelic body is not reproducible.
C. The Company of Angels
The third thing about the nature of angels is that they are a “company” and not a race. The concept of race implies the ability to reproduce after one’s kind with particular racial characteristics. As we have already seen, angels do not reproduce themselves after their kind; thus, they are not considered a race, but a company (Heb. 12:22). As a company, three things should be noted: first, they are distinct from humans (Ps. 8:4–5); secondly, angels are higher beings than humans (Heb. 2:7; 2 Pet. 2:11); and thirdly, good angels or elect angels do not marry (Lk. 20:34–36).
D. The Attributes of Angels
The fourth category concerning the nature of angels is to discuss their attributes, and four main features can be mentioned.
1. Their Holiness
First, angels are holy (Lk. 9:26). Holiness in their case means they are no longer capable of sinning because they have been confirmed in their holiness; angels cannot fall as they once could.
2. Their Power
A second attribute of angels is that they are powerful and mighty. In this area, they are superior to any man who has ever lived. Psalm 103:20 speaks of angels as being mighty in strength. In Matthew 28:2, only one angel was needed to roll away the stone from the tomb of Yeshua, though normally, several men would have been needed to move such a stone. One angel opened the prison doors in Acts 5:19. In Acts 12:7, an angel was able to snap Peter’s chains off in prison. An angel was able to smite Agrippa with a disease that would take his life in Acts 12:23. Angels are referred to by the term powers in Ephesians 1:21; 3:10, and Colossians 1:16. 2 Thessalonians 1:7 speaks of the angels of his power, and 2 Peter 2:11 refers to the power of angels. So the second key attribute of angels is that they are powerful.
3. Their Immortality
A third attribute is that they are immortal; unlike humans, they are not capable of dying. From their state of creation, they have the attribute of immortality (Lk. 20:35–36).
4. Forbidden to be Worshipped
Fourthly, they are not divine. This is important as it is forbidden to worship angels because they are not divine (Col. 2:18; Rev. 19:10; 22:8–9).
VIII. THE ORGANIZATION OF ANGELS
Angels are very well organized. There are eight titles that show a tremendous degree of organization in the angelic sphere of existence.
A. Titles that Show Degrees of Organization
The titles show categories of organization and degrees of organization. There are eight such titles.
The first title is thrones. Those angels who are on these thrones sit in the immediate presence of God (Col. 1:16).
The second title is that of dominions, which emphasizes the concept of rulership. This category of angels rules in some specific area (Eph. 1:21; Col. 1:16). It includes higher angels ruling over lower angels.
A third title is that of principalities. This emphasizes the concept of rulership in the category of governing; principalities govern. Those angels who are principalities are viewed as rulers of nations. While dominions apparently concern higher angels ruling lower angels, principalities are rulers of nations (Eph. 3:10; Col. 1:16).
A fourth title is that of authorities, which means to exercise supremacy (Eph. 1:21; 1 Pet. 3:22).
The fifth title is powers, which emphasizes imperial responsibilities (Eph. 1:21; 3:10; Col. 1:16; 1 Pet. 3:22).
The sixth title is hosts, the Hebrew word for “army.” This title emphasizes their military organization (1 Sam. 1:11; 1 Kg. 22:19).
A seventh title is legions. Legions, like hosts, emphasizes military organization. While the term hosts emphasize the military organization as a whole, the legion is one division within the host, comprising anywhere from three thousand to six thousand angels (Mat. 26:53).
8. Chief Prince
The eighth title is chief prince or great prince. The chief prince is an angel who heads up and rules over a nation (Dan. 10:13; 12:1).
B. The Order of Celestial Beings
There are three specific orders of celestial beings: angels, seraphim and cherubim.
The order that has been discussed primarily in this study is the first basic order of celestial beings, the lowest order, the order of angels. Much of what has already been discussed has been specifically of this particular order. Sometimes, the term angels are used for all orders of celestial beings, as all celestial beings are angelic beings. Most frequently, however, the term angel applies to the lowest of the three orders. In appearance, these beings look like young men and they do not have wings, as they are so often portrayed.
There are two angels known by name throughout the Scriptures. The first one is Michael the archangel. The name Michael means, “who is like God,” and archangel means “chief angel.” This means that Michael is the one in authority over all other angels. He is not in authority over the seraphim and cherubim, but he is in authority over the lowest order, that of the angels.
The concept of archangel is reflected in two other names used for Michael. First, in Daniel 10:13, he is called the first prince. There are many princes, but he is the first prince, the one in authority over all the others. Secondly, in Daniel 12:1, he is called the great prince. There is only one great prince and that is the archangel. Great prince and first prince basically mean the same thing and are his two Hebrew titles. The Greek title is archangel, which emphasizes Michael as being lord over all the common angels (Rev. 12:7).
Michael’s position means that he has specific responsibilities. As the archangel, he has all the other angels under his authority (Rev. 12:7). Just as demons are under the authority of Satan, good angels of this category are under the authority of Michael because of his position as archangel. As the archangel, his responsibility is to exercise rule and authority over the other angels; the responsibility of the good angels is to submit to the authority of Michael.
Michael is also given the name chief prince. The term, chief prince, applies to angels who have authority over specific nations. As the chief prince, Michael is responsible for the nation of Israel, and that is why it was Michael who protected the body of Moses in Jude 9. In Daniel 10:13–21, Michael made certain that Daniel received the necessary revelation concerning Israel’s future. In Daniel 12:1, Michael will protect Israel during the Great Tribulation and, indeed, the reason Israel will survive the Tribulation is because of Michael’s work. Other future things Michael will do include the announcing of the Rapture (1 Thes. 4:16); and, in the middle of the Tribulation, Michael will cast Satan out from his present third abode in the atmospheric heavens to his fourth abode on the earth (Rev. 12:7–12).
The second angel named in the Scriptures is Gabriel. In Hebrew, the name Gabriel means “the mighty one of God.”
Gabriel’s main work is to be a messenger of revelation, bringing revelation from God to man. In Daniel 8:15–27, he made the revelation concerning Israel in the end days. He revealed the Seventy Sevens and the timing of the First Coming of the Messiah in Daniel 9:20–27. In Luke 1:11–20, he revealed to Zacharias the coming birth of John the Baptist. And, in Luke 1:26–38, he revealed to Mary the coming birth of Jesus.
Like Michael, Gabriel will also have work to do in the future. Luke 1:19 states that Gabriel is one of the angels who will stand in the presence of God. In Revelation 8:2, there are seven such angels, which means that Gabriel is one of the seven who stand in the very presence of God, and who will pour out the trumpet judgments of Revelation 8 and 9.
c. Other Angels
The Bible also mentions other individual angels who are not named but states what they do. For example, in Revelation 8:2, there are seven angels standing before the presence of God, one of whom is Gabriel, but the other six are not known. Revelation 15 and 16 mentions seven other angels who will have the seven bowl judgments. The other angels referred to include the four angels of the four winds (Rev. 7:1–4), the angel of fire (Rev. 14:8) and the angel of the waters (Rev. 16:5).
The second order of celestial beings is the seraphim, though these are not spoken of very frequently in the Scriptures. In fact, they are spoken of in only two books: Isaiah and Revelation. Seraphim is the plural form of the Hebrew word seraph which means “a burning one,” and the very same word is translated serpent elsewhere in the Old Testament (Num. 21:8; Is. 14:29; 30:6).
a. In the Book of Isaiah
From Isaiah 6:2–3 and Isaiah 6–7, four things can be learned about the seraphim. First, they are around and also surround the throne of God. Secondly, they are characterized as having six wings. While angels have no wings, seraphim have six wings or three pairs of two wings. Each pair has a different purpose and function. The first pair of wings is for the purpose of covering their feet; the second pair, for covering their face; the third pair, for flying. Thirdly, they praise God to each other continuously, saying over and over again: Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. The fourth thing that can be learned about seraphim is that a seraph purifies the sin of Isaiah. When the seraph takes the hot coal from the altar of sacrifice in Heaven in verse 6 and places it upon the lips of Isaiah, his sins are cleansed (v. 7). This is as much as can be learned about seraphim from the Old Testament.
b. In the Book of Revelation
The rest of what can be learned is in the New Testament in the Book of Revelation where seraphim are mentioned in eight different passages.
The first passage is Revelation 4:6–11. From this passage, seven things can be learned about the seraphim. First, they are round about God’s throne. Secondly, in verse 6, they are full of eyes in front and back, symbolizing that they are able to see far beyond the human realm in order to be able to carry out God’s providence. Thirdly, in verse 8, seraphim have six wings.
Fourthly, in verse 7, seraphim do not all look exactly the same; while all have six wings, the main, common characteristic of a seraph is that they do have different facial characteristics. There are four categories of seraphim based upon four different facial characteristics: lion-like, calf-like, man or human-like, and eagle-like.
Fifth, in verse 8, they are full of eyes round about and within. Earlier it was mentioned that they are full of eyes in front and back, now it is stated that they are full of eyes all the way around, including the sides and also within.
Sixth, they continuously praise God and say the same words recorded in Isaiah with a slight variation. Verses 8 and 9 states that they continually praise God by saying:
Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come. And when the living creatures shall give glory and honor and thanks to him that sits on the throne, to him that lives for ever and ever.Revelation 4:8
And seventh, in verses 10–11, whenever they say: Holy, holy, holy, this is a signal to the twenty-four elders that they, too, must now worship the One who sits upon the throne. In this context, the One sitting upon the throne is God the Father.
The second passage is Revelation 5:6 where it is learned that they also surround the Lamb, the God the Son. Seraphim, on one hand, surround God the Father, but they also surround God the Son.
The third passage is Revelation 5:8–10, and 14. The seraphim will worship the Lamb in the future when the Lamb takes the seven-sealed scroll. With the breaking of the seals, the Tribulation begins. As the Lamb takes this scroll with the seven seals, the seraphim will worship the Lamb.
The fourth passage is Revelation 6:1, 3, 5, and 7. A seraph announces a specific seal judgment. The first seraph announces the first seal judgment; the second seraph announces the second seal-judgment; the third seraph announces the third seal-judgment; the fourth seraph announces the fourth seal-judgment. Of the seven seal-judgments, the first four will be announced by seraphim.
The fifth passage is Revelation 7:11–12. In this passage, seraphim will be praising God for those who are saved during the Great Tribulation. In this chapter, the 144,000 Jews will be saved and myriads and myriads of Gentiles will also be saved. Seraphim will be praising God for that.
The sixth passage is Revelation 14:3. The seraphim are going to witness the song of the 144,000 Jews in the Messianic Kingdom.
The seventh passage is Revelation 15:7. A seraph will give the seven bowl-judgments to the seven angels. The bowl-judgments of Revelation 15 and 16 are by far the most severe of the Tribulation judgments, and it will be a seraph who will hand these seven bowl-judgments to the seven angels so that these judgments can be poured out upon the earth.
And the eighth passage is Revelation 19:4–5 where seraphim lead in the worship of God.
From the Isaiah and Revelation passages, eight major truths can be deduced concerning the second order of angels.
First, they are characterized by unceasing worship of God. They worship both God the Father and God the Son.
Secondly, they are characterized by humility. This is visibly pictured by the fact that two wings are used to cover their feet and two wings are used to cover their face, for they are standing in the very presence of God and surrounding the throne of God the Father.
Thirdly, they also have a ministry of the purification of God’s servants so they, too, can worship and serve the Lord. This is pictured in Isaiah 6:6–7 when the seraph purified the lips of Isaiah the Prophet.
Fourthly, they lead in worship in Heaven. When they say: Holy, holy, holy, all the other inhabitants of Heaven; such as, the twenty-four elders, also begin to worship God.
Fifth, their primary concern is to emphasize the holiness and worship of God.
Sixth, they praise and proclaim the holiness of God. They do this each time in a threefold way by repeating the word holy three times. That may very well be because of the Triunity: Holy, holy, holy, as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all holy.
Seventh, they proclaim that men need to be cleansed. This cleansing comes by means of the Altar where the shedding of blood took place. Since cleansing is always by means of blood, today, it is by means of the blood of the Messiah.
And, eighth, seraphim will be used for many of the Tribulation judgments. God will use seraphim to pour out His wrath on the earth.
The third and highest order of celestial beings is the cherub or cherubim. The Hebrew word translated cherub has the root meaning “to guard” or “to cover.” It is used a total of ninety-one times: twenty-seven times it is in the singular; sixty-four times it is in the plural. Of these ninety-one times, ninety occur in the Old Testament. Only once is it found in the New Testament (Heb. 9:5).
a. The Scriptures
In Genesis 3:24, the Cherubim guarded the entrance into the Garden of Eden so that Adam and Eve could not get back in. In Exodus 25:18–22, cherubim covered the mercy-seat. In Exodus 26:1, figures of cherubim were embroidered into the curtains of the Tabernacle. In Exodus 37:7–9, the cherubim covered the mercy-seat. In 1 Samuel 4:4 and 2 Samuel 6:2, God is pictured as sitting above the cherubim. According to 2 Samuel 22:11, Yeshua the Messiah will be riding a cherub at His Second Coming. In 1 Kings 6:23–28; 7:29 and 36, cherubim are made for the Holy of Holies of the Solomonic Temple. These cherubim each have two wings. In 1 Kings 8:6–7, cherubim covered the Ark of the Covenant in the Temple. 2 Kings 19:15 and 1 Chronicles 13:6 state that God sits above the cherubim. In 1 Chronicles 28:18, they covered the ark of the covenant. In 2 Chronicles 3:7, cherubim were graved on the walls of the Temple. In 2 Chronicles 3:10–14, three things are learned: first, there were images of cherubim in the Holy of Holies; secondly, they each had two wings; and thirdly, they were also embroidered into the veil itself, the veil, which separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place. In 2 Chronicles 5:7–8, they covered the Ark of the Covenant. In Psalm 18:10, it is stated that Yeshua the Messiah will be riding a cherub at the Second Coming. In Psalm 80:1; Psalm 99:1 and in Isaiah 37:16, God sits above the cherubim.
The book that gives the most details concerning cherubim is the Book of Ezekiel, which explains just how God sits above the cherubim. Ezekiel 1:5–28 gives a rather extensive description of cherubim. First, their basic likeness [is that] of a man (v. 5). Secondly, each one has four different faces (v. 6): a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle (v. 10). In this area, they resemble the seraphim. Thirdly, each has four wings (v. 6), two on each side of the body. Fourthly, their feet are absolutely straight (v. 7). Fifth, the soles of their feet are like the sole of a calf’s foot (v. 7). Sixth, they sparkle like burnished brass (v. 7). Seventh, they have the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides (v. 8). Eighth, they appear in four ways: first, like burnished brass; secondly, like burning coals of fire; thirdly, like torches; and, fourthly, fire is in their midst (v. 13). Ninth, they travel with the speed of a flash of lightning (v. 14). Tenth, the noise of their wings [is like many] waters, like the voice of God, like the noise of a tremendous army (v. 24). Eleventh, they are connected or closely associated with the Shechinah Glory (vv. 26–28).
In Ezekiel 10:1–22, the cherubim were involved in the departure of the Shechinah Glory.
In Ezekiel 28:14–16, it states that Satan was a cherub when he was created. In fact, he was the anointed cherub. Just as Michael was the archangel, the one in authority over all the other angels, Satan was the arch-cherub, the one in authority over all the other cherubim. Since the cherubim are the highest order, and with Satan’s being the arch-cherub, this made him of a higher category than Michael.
The last place cherubim are mentioned in the Old Testament is in Ezekiel 41:18–20, 25. This passage speaks of something future. Concerning the future, three things are stated about the cherubim. First, the figures of the cherubim will be engraved on the walls of the Millennial Temple. Secondly, these cherubim will have two faces: one face is that of a man; the other face is that of a young lion. Thirdly, they will also be engraved on the doors of the Millennial Temple.
In the New Testament, the only place cherubim are mentioned is in Hebrews 9:5 in keeping with the teaching of the Old Testament that cherubim overshadowed the mercy-seat of the Tabernacle.
From these passages, seven major truths can be deduced about the cherubim.
First, there are three different types or categories of cherubim: first, those who have only one face and two wings; secondly, those who have two faces and two wings; and thirdly, those who have four faces and four wings. It is never stated exactly which kind of cherub Satan is, but we know that he is in one of these three categories.
Secondly, these beings are closely related to the throne of God in that they are the ones who carry the throne according to Ezekiel 1. Whereas the seraphim surround the throne, the cherubim actually carry the throne and also cover it from above. Because the cherubim bear and carry the throne of God, this is the reason why it is stated that God is the One who sits above the cherubim. The cherubim, then, are closely related to the throne of God; this closer proximity to the throne itself is the reason they are of a higher order than the seraphim.
Thirdly, they are very closely related to the Shechinah Glory. To a great extent, they reflect the Shechinah Glory. They were involved in the departure of the Shechinah Glory from Israel in 586 b.c. before the Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians.
Fourthly, the cherubim are closely related to God’s presence. This is closely tied into the Shechinah Glory connection, the Shechinah Glory being the visible manifestation of God’s presence. Cherubim are very closely related to the presence of God.
Fifth, they are concerned with God’s justice and might. While the seraphim were concerned with the worship and holiness of God, the cherubim are concerned with the justice, power, and might of God.
Sixth, they defend God’s holy character and presence which is the reason why they need their might.
And seventh, they have the ability to carry out swiftly God’s will among the nations.
IX. THE WORKS OF ANGELS
In discussing the work of angels, seven different categories need to be discussed.
A. The Work of Angels in Relationship to God
One category of the work of angels concerns their work in relationship to God. In this category, there are four specific ministries. First, they are employed in the worship of God, and they actively worship God (Ps. 29:1–2; 103:20; 148:2; Is. 6:3; Heb. 1:6; Rev. 4:8–11; 5:8–13). Secondly, they execute God’s will; God’s will is often carried out by means of angels (Ps. 103:20; Heb. 1:7). Thirdly, angels rejoice in the work of God; when God created the heavens and earth, the angels shouted for joy (Job 38:7), and when God saves an individual, there is joy among the angels (Lk. 15:10). Fourthly, they execute God’s judgments; angels were used to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:1–22); they were used in connection with the tenth plague in Egypt (Ex. 12:23), and they were used in connection with the pestilence in Israel (1 Chr. 21:15).
B. The Work of Angels as Agents of Revelation
A second category of the work of angels is that they are agents of revelation. The Law of Moses did not come to Moses directly but was mediated to Moses by means of angels. This is hinted at in Deuteronomy 33:2 and clearly stated in Acts 7:53, Galatians 3:19, and Hebrews 2:2. Furthermore, while Daniel often received his revelation directly from God, some of his material; such as Daniel 8:1–12:13 came by means of angels. The same thing is true of Zechariah. Zechariah’s book is fourteen chapters long, but the first six of these chapters (Zech. 1:7–6:15) came by means of angels. The Book of Revelation, written by the Apostle John, was mediated and revealed to him by means of an angel (Rev. 1:1; 10:1–11; 17:1; 19:9–10; 21:9; 22:16).
C. The Work of Angels in the Life of the Messiah
A third category is how angels worked in the life of the Messiah. Angels were used in five specific periods in the life of the Messiah.
1. In the Messiah’s Birth
The first period was the time of His birth. It was an angel who predicted the birth of the Messiah to Mary (Lk. 1:26–38) and to Joseph (Matt. 1:20–21). Angels were used to announcing the birth of the Messiah to the Jewish shepherds outside Bethlehem (Lk. 2:8–15). It was an angel who warned Joseph to flee Bethlehem (Matt. 2:13), and an angel told Joseph to leave Egypt and return to Israel (Mat. 2:19–20).
2. In the Messiah’s Ministry
The second period was during the ministry of Jesus. Psalm 91:1–12 predicted that angels would be used throughout the ministry of the Messiah. Paul affirmed this in a general statement in 1 Timothy 3:16, when he said that the Messiah was seen of angels throughout His ministry. When Jesus was tempted, angels were used to minister to Him in His temptations (Mat. 4:11; Mk. 1:13). Also throughout His ministry, angels were ascending and descending upon the Son of man (Jn. 1:51). They ministered to Jesus during His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane as well (Lk. 22:43). Finally, according to Matthew 26:53, there were more than twelve legions of angels ready to defend Him at His trial if He needed them for any purpose, which, of course, He did not.
3. In the Messiah’s Resurrection
The third period of His life when angels were used was in connection with the Resurrection. It was an angel who rolled away the stone from the tomb (Matt. 28:2). Angels were used to announce the Resurrection to the women who came to the tomb (Matt. 28:1–7; Mk. 16:5–7; Lk. 24:4–7; Jn. 20:12–13).
4. In the Messiah’s Ascension
The fourth-period angels were used in the life of the Messiah was at the Ascension. After He ascended, angels announced that this same Yeshua, who was then departing, would come again in like manner (Acts 1:10–11). The phrase in like manner means that just as He left in the clouds of Heaven, He will someday return in the clouds of Heaven.
5. In the Messiah’s Second Coming
The fifth period is still future. Angels will come with Him in the clouds of Heaven at His Second Coming (Matt. 16:27; 24:31; 25:31; 2 Thes. 1:7). Thus, angels will be involved in the life of the Messiah even in the future.
D. The Work of Angels Among the Nations
The fourth category concerns the work of angels among the nations. Here, two things should be mentioned.
First, angelic beings function in the capacity of “cosmo-crats,” which means “world rulers” or “rulers of nations.” For example, in Daniel 10:13, a leading angelic being was the prince of the kingdom of Persia. Michael the Archangel not only has authority over the other angels but also happens to be the chief prince over Israel (Dan. 10:21; 12:1).
Secondly, angels are also closely associated with human rulers over specific nations. For example, Isaiah 14:3–20 speaks about Babylon: verses 3–11 speak of the human king of Babylon; verses 12–14 speak of Satan; verses 15–20 once again speak of the king of Babylon. The same thing is true of Ezekiel 28:1–19, which speaks about Tyre: verses 1–10 speak of the human prince of Tyre; verses 11–19 are addressed to Satan as the king of Tyre. Because both fallen and unfallen angelic beings are used as cosmo-crats or world rulers, they carry out God’s will among the nations. Many things that happen among nations are due to these angelic beings. Quite frequently, the reason nations go to war against one another is because they have been moved to do so by these cosmo-cratic angelic beings.
E. The Work of Angels Among Unbelievers
The fifth category of the work of angels is their work among unbelievers, and three facets should be noted.
1. Angels Announce Impending Judgment
First, angels announce impending judgment. This was done historically in Genesis 19:12–13 when angels announced the coming destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. In the future, they will do so again as they announce the terrible bowl judgments (Rev. 14:6–7).
2. Angels Inflict Punishment
Secondly, they inflict punishment. Angels were used to inflict punishment in the past; for example, it was an angel who carried out the tenth plague upon the firstborn sons of the Egyptians (Ex. 12:23). Other examples are found in 2 Samuel 24:16 and Ezekiel 9:1–8. A New Testament example is Acts 12:23 when an angel was used here to smite Herod Agrippa with a fatal disease.
What they have done in the past, they will also do in the future; angels will inflict punishment in the Tribulation (Rev. 8:1–2, 6; 16:1).
3. Angels Will Act as Reapers
Thirdly, at the end of the Tribulation, angels will be used to act as “reapers.” As reapers, they will separate believers from unbelievers (Matt. 13:39–42, 49–50).
F. The Work of Angels in Relationship to Believers
The sixth category is the work of angels in relationship to believers, and the Bible has a great deal to teach on this subject. From the many passages of Scripture that speak of the work of angels in relationship to believers, ten things should be mentioned.
1. To Believers’ Salvation
First, these good angels rejoice when one is saved. While fallen angels do not rejoice when one is saved, the elect, holy angels do rejoice at one’s salvation (Lk. 15:10).
2. To Believers’ Guardianship
Secondly, in relationship to believers, angels have a guardianship; they carry out general protective care. Psalm 34:7 and Psalm 91:11 teach that nothing can happen to a believer outside of God’s will because of the general protective care of angels. These verses do not teach that nothing bad can happen to believers, but that nothing can happen outside of God’s will. When bad things happen to a believer, it is not because the angels were failing at their job, but that this was God’s will.
Matthew 18:10 teaches that all children have guardian angels. Hebrews 1:14 states that every believer has a guardian angel as well. In fact, as soon as one is saved, he has a guardian angel “assigned” to him.
3. To Believers’ Safety
Thirdly, angels are often used to save or rescue believers from specific situations. For example, in Genesis 19:1–22, angels were used to rescue Lot. In Genesis 32:1–2, angels were used to aid Jacob. In 1 Kings 19:5–6, an angel was used to feed Elijah the Prophet. Angels protected Elijah in 2 Kings 6:17. In Daniel 3:24–28, an angel protected the three friends of Daniel in the fiery furnace. And in Daniel 6:22, an angel shut the mouths of the lions so that no harm came to Daniel the Prophet. In Acts 5:17–20, an angel rescued the apostles. Finally, an angel rescued Peter in Acts 12:6–11.
4. To Believers’ Guidance
The fourth work of angels in relationship to believers is that they also guide believers into truth and actions. For example, in Matthew 1:20–21, an angel instructed Joseph to believe Mary’s story; that she really was a virgin, even though she was pregnant. An angel brought Philip to a situation where he could witness to the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26. In Acts 10:3–8, an angel instructed Cornelius to send for Peter so that he might preach the gospel to him. The same point is reaffirmed in Acts 11:13–14. In Acts 27:23–24, an angel guided Paul as well.
5. To Believers’ Prayers
The fifth work of angels in relationship to believers is in to answer prayer; sometimes prayers are answered by means of angels. In the case of Daniel, for example, this happened twice; in Daniel 9:20–23 and 10:12–13, an angel was used to answer the prophet’s prayer for more revelation.
In the New Testament, groups of saints were praying for Peter’s release from prison. In answer to their prayers, an angel was used to rescue the apostle (Acts 12:1–19).
6. To Believers’ Encouragement
The sixth work of angels in relationship to believers is one of encouragement (Acts 5:18–20; 27:23–25).
7. To Believers’ Death
The seventh work of angels in relationship to believers is to carry the soul to its abode in Heaven when a believer dies (Lk. 16:22).
8. To the Ministry of Observation
The eighth work of angels is to serve as spectators of believers. Angels have the ministry of observation of believers to see how they are acting and responding. For example, in Luke 12:8–9, the faith of a believer is confessed before the angels. Later, angels observe when one is saved (Lk. 15:10). Angels also observe the sufferings of believers (1 Cor. 4:9). In 1 Corinthians 11:10, angels observe whether or not women are obedient to wear the head covering in the church. In 1 Timothy 5:21, angels are present when believers make a commitment to the Lord. And angels observe and look into God’s work of salvation according to 1 Peter 1:10–12.
9. To the Local Churches
The ninth work of angels in relationship to believers is that they serve as guardians over local churches. Not only do individual believers have guardian angels, but every local church has a guardian angel. This is seen in Revelation 2 and 3, where each letter is addressed to the angel of this or that church.
10. To the Believers’ Proper Attitude Toward Angels
The tenth and final work is: What should the believer’s relationship be toward angels in light of the nine previous works? Four things should be noted. First, believers are allowed to wonder and be amazed at the angels’ ability and work, just as Daniel was (Dan. 8:16–17; 10:1–9). Secondly, believers can appreciate their ministry (Heb. 1:14). Thirdly, believers are forbidden to worship angels (Col. 2:18; Rev. 19:10; 22:9). Fourthly, in the future, believers will judge angels (1 Cor. 6:3). Believers will not judge the good angels, of course, but the fallen angels at the Great White Throne Judgment.
G. The Work of Angels in the Future
The seventh category of the work of angels in relationship to believers is their work in the future. This work can be subdivided into four divisions.
1. In the Tribulation
The first division is their work in the Tribulation, which is comprised of seven specific works.
The first specific work of angels in the Tribulation will be to cause damage after the 144,000 Jews have been sealed according to Revelation 7:1–3. It is necessary to seal these 144,000 Jews because this sealing will protect them from any harm whatsoever. Once they are sealed, the angels will be used to cause damage upon the earth as part of God’s divine judgment.
Secondly, seven angels will be used to pour out the seven trumpet judgments (Rev. 8:1–9:21; 11:15–19).
Thirdly, in the middle of the Tribulation, the good angels will be used to cast Satan and the fallen angels out of their present abode in the atmospheric heavens to be confined to the earth for the rest of the Tribulation (Rev. 12:7–12).
Fourthly, angels will make certain mid-tribulational announcements (Rev. 14:6–20).
Fifth, just as angels were used in the Tribulation to pour out the trumpet judgments, so angels will also be used to pour out the bowl judgments (Rev. 15:7–16:21).
Sixth, in the Tribulation, an angel will be used to pass the sentence of destruction upon the City of Babylon (Rev. 18:1–3; 21–24).
The seventh specific work of angels in the Tribulation will be to call the nations to Armageddon so that God can pour out His judgments upon these nations (Rev. 19:17–18).
2. In the Second Coming
The second division of their work in the future is in relationship to the Second Coming, and two things should be noted concerning this.
First, the good angels will return with Yeshua at the Second Coming (Matt. 16:27; 24:31; 25:31; 2 Thes. 1:7).
And secondly, also at the Second Coming, angels will separate believers from unbelievers (Mat. 13:39–42, 49–50).
3. In the Messianic Kingdom
The third division of the work of angels in relationship to the future is their work in conjunction with the Messianic Kingdom. Two major truths are taught.
First, it will be a common angel who will be given the authority to bind Satan in the abyss for 1,000 years (Rev. 20:1–3). The mighty, anointed cherub is going to be humbled by the fact that he will be bound by an unnamed angel of the lowest order.
Secondly, angels will be used to regather the Jews back into the Land (Mat. 24:31). For the first time in their history, the Jewish people will be able to enjoy all the Promised Land.
4. In the Eternal Order
The fourth division of the work of angels in the future is in relationship to the Eternal State and the Eternal Order. According to Revelation 21:12, the angels will serve as guardians of the city gates. The New Jerusalem, which will be the eternal abode of all believers of all time, will have twelve gates, three on each side of the city. Each gate will be made of a huge pearl and each will be guarded by an angel.
X. THE DESTINY OF ANGELS
The last thing to discuss briefly is the destiny of angels. Hebrews 12:22 teaches that the destiny of all the good angels is the same as all the saints of all time: the New Jerusalem. All the elect, holy angels, those who did not fall with Satan, will have their eternal destiny in the New Jerusalem. In Hebrews 12:22, the writer says that believers have come to the city which has the innumerable hosts of angels; thus, the destiny of all believers and all unfallen angels is one and the same.
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