Angels

Posted: October 30, 2008 in Uncategorized

Dr. Grudem defines angels as follows: “Angels are created, spiritual beings with moral judgment and high intelligence, but without physical bodies.”

Angels are created spiritual beings.  The Hebrew Bible often refers to angels as the “host of heaven” (which, can, and should, be translated as “armies of heaven”) and passages such as Nehemiah 9:6 assert that God created this army Himself.  They apparently have free will because it appears as though some have fallen (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6, etc.).  They are intelligent beings (Matt. 28:5; Acts 12:6-11, et. al.) who worship God (Rev. 4:11 and 5:11) but apparently do not have physical bodies (Heb. 1:4; Luke 24:39).  In fact, the Bible implies that we cannot see them unless God wills it (Num. 22:31; 2 Kgs. 6:17, etc.).

The Bible uses many names to speak of angels, such as “sons of God” (Job 1:6; 2:1), “holy ones” (Ps. 89:5,7), etc. These names are not to be confused with other heavenly creatures (and apparently there are such critters), such as the Cherubim (Ps. 18:10 and Ezek. 10:1-22), Seraphim (Isa. 6:2-7) and the “living creatures” around God’s throne (Ezek. 1:5-14; Rev. 4:6-8).  Some scholars have argued that these are not different creatures but just different types of angels.  Perhaps.  There does appear to be at least rank and order among the angels (i.e., Michael is an “archangel” Jude 9). 

Angels apparently can only be one place at one time (read Dan. 10:12-14 carefully) but there does not appear to be a shortage of them as Deut. 33:2 speaks of “tens of thousands” of them.  While Scriptures asserts that these beings often offer protection (Ps. 91:11-12), there is no Biblical warrant for an individual having a specific “guardian angel.”  Sorry if that’s a bummer.

Jesus taught that angels do not marry (Matt. 22:30).  After all, they appear to busy to run errands for Mrs. Angel anyway.  Scripture teaches that they are powerful (Ps. 103:20) and, at least for now, rank above us lowly humans (Heb. 2:7).

“Okay, but what about those passages in the Old Testament where it looks as though God appears as an angel?” (Gen. 16:7ff; cf. 22:12; 31:11-13).  Some argue that this is actually Jesus taking on human form while others argue that the Angel has simply been given the same credentials as an envoy/ambassador so, for practical purposes, the sender/sendee are indistinguishable.  Who knows.

When were angels created? Dr. Grudem argues that God made them before the seventh day (see Gen. 2:1) but I think that’s a stretch. For example, see Job 38:6-7 where the angels are singing as God made the land (a reference to The Promised Land imo).  I think they were made in one day in Genesis 1:1 because I subscribe to Sailhamer’s Gap Theory but on this side of paradise, we simply don’t know.

What place do angels have in God’s purpose? It is interesting to note that angels are not described as being made in the “image and likeness of God” as we were made.  It is even more interesting to note that Christians will one day judge the angels (1 Cor. 6:3). Scripture also asserts that, unlike humans, angels do not have a recourse if they sin (2 Pet. 2:4). Weird.

So, in the end, what do we make of angels? They have served the purpose of reminding many of the reality of the unseen world (2 Kgs. 6:17) as well as modeling behavior (reflect on Matt. 6:10 and Isa. 6) and executing God’s plans (e.g., Luke 1:11-19; Acts 8:26; 10:3-8, 22; 27:23-24).  So, we should be aware of them but I hasten to add a word of caution–do not allow an “angel” to lead you away from Jesus.  Mark Driscoll stated in his series on Spiritual Warfare that he knew a girl who had a “guardian angel” that later urged her to stay away from Jesus.  Scripture teaches that Satan “disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). I know that sounds really strange to many of you but I trust that Driscoll is telling the truth.  Finally, Scripture makes it clear that one should never worship or pray to an angel (see Rev. 19:10) for there is only one mediator between God and man and He is Jesus, our Priest, Prophet and King.

Tomorrow, just in time for Halloween, we cover Satan and Demons.

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