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                                     Angels

     The Angel is a member of an order of heavenly beings who are superior to man in power and intelligence. By nature angels are spiritual beings. Their nature is superior to human nature and they have superhuman power and knowledge. The are not, however, all-powerful or all-knowing. The artistic portrayals of angels as winged beings are generally without basis in the Bible. Rarely is an angel so described in specific Scripture; exceptions, compare the cherubim and seraphim and the living creatures in Exodus, Ezekiel and Revelation.

 

 

 

                              The Position of Angels

        Angels were created by God and were present to rejoice when He created the world. In their original state they were holy, but before the creation of the world some of the angelic order rebelled against God and lost their exalted position. The leading angel in this revolt became the devil, also known as Satan. Another of the fallen angels is named Abaddon or Apollyon, 'the angel of the bottomless pit'. The lord or prince of these fallen angels is Satan. Fallen angels, or messengers, continue to serve Satan, but their power is limited. Judgment awaits them in the future. The fallen angels referred to in 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6 are possibly the beings referred to as 'sons of God' in Genesis 6:1-4.
      Two of the vast army of unfallen angels are named in the Bible. They are the archangels Michael and Gabriel. Michael seems to have the special task of caring for Israel, and Gabriel's role is seen in his communicating special messages to God's servants. The vast army of unfallen angels delight in praising the name of the Lord continually. Large number of them remain at God's side, ready to do His every command. Angels in God's presence include the cherubim, seraphim, and living creatures. Unfallen angels are known for their reverence for God and their obedience to His will. Angels represent God in making significant announcements of good news. On His behalf they also warn of coming dangers. In some cases they are God's agents in the destruction and judgment of evil. Of special importance in the Old Testament is the Angel of the Lord. This angel is depicted as a visible manifestation of God Himself. He has powers and characteristics that belong only to God, such as the power to forgive sins. His similarities to Jesus lead most scholars to conclude that He is the preincarnate Word present with God at the creation of the world.

 

 

                                    The Relation of Angels to Man  

       When visible to human beings, angels consistently appear in human form. Sometimes, however, their appearance inspires awe. Angels are never known to appear to wicked people--only to those whom the Bible views as good, such as Abraham, Moses, David, Daniel, Jesus, Peter, and Paul. They are charged with caring for God's people and serving them in times of need. They also guide and instruct good people. Sometimes their guidance comes to humans through dreams. Angels also protect the people of God. They meet a wide variety of human needs, including relieving hunger and thirst and overcoming loneliness and dread. They sometimes deliver the people of God from danger. Although angels themselves are not the subjects of salvation, angels are interested in the salvation of human beings. They were particularly active in the events surrounding the birth and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus spoke frequently of angels, both good and bad. Angels are quite real and clearly play a vital part in God's plan for the church reaching the world today.

 

 

                                       The Ministry of Angels

       The unseen realm is constantly described in the Bible as immediately present in our midst, not as a distant reality but as a present one. Angels are not occasionally present in the Bible--they are constantly manifest! The word 'angel' appears over 250 times in the pages of God's eternal Word, The Holy Bible! Angels are described not only for the things they have done, but as well the things they are assigned to do in our day. These invisible servants and warriors are brought to bear upon the present day lives of believing Christians.

 

 

                                    Fivefold Ministry of Angels

    Psalms 103:20-21 show God's five purposes for angels:
  1. To bless the Lord in worship and service
  2. To do His Word concerning activities on earth
  3. To heed the voice of God's word as it spoken through the saints on earth
  4. To minister on God's behalf
  5. To do God's pleasure at His direction

 

 

Appearance of Angels

       What do angels look like? The appearance of angels is correctly rendered 'very awesome'! Angels appear in different forms depending upon their order of creation. For example, God's messenger angel, Gabriel, has the appearance of a man (see Daniel 9:21). From Ezekiel 28:13-14 we learn that cherubim (plural for cherub) are exotic and beautiful--covered in precious stones. Ezekiel 1:23 tells us that cherubim have four wings, while seraphim have six wings--two that over the face, two that cover the feet, and two with which to fly.

Structure in the Angelic Realm

       There is an organized structure in the angelic realm. Profoundly influential in humanity's history, angels are involved according to their designated ranks. Though opinion differs as to the placement of angelic offices, it is clear that the angelic host are part of a highly organized world of angel beings. For example, Daniel 10:13 shows that warring angels have a chief prince, Michael, who is also called an archangel, that is, one who rules over others. Seraphim and cherubim seem to be of a slightly lower rank, just ahead of ministering spirits. However, it may also be that the seraphim and cherubim fill a leadership role in worship while Michael leads the warring angels. As to the dark angels, Ephesians 6:12 offers insight into the ranks of the evil angelic realm: principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places. From the information the Bible gives, we can see that the angelic realm is a distinctly structured society with different levels of authority or power endowed to each according to God's creative order.

Angels' Influence over Nations

      Some angels have influence over nations. Looking at Daniel 10:13, the ruling prince of Persia, an evil angel whose abode is in the heavenlies, attempted to keep the captive Israelites from returning to their homeland. This gives us insight into the powerful control such principalities and rulers of darkness may exercise over nations and national issues. In this same chapter, we see two other angelic princes who rule nations: Michael, one of the chief princes, who rules and guards the activities of Israel; and the prince of Greece who as it was prophesied would eventually come and take predominance over the prince of Persia then in control.

Angels as Messengers

      With God's Word as our source of information in Acts 8:26, we see that angels may be actively involved in assisting the advance of the church on earth through messages. Philip had evangelized in Jerusalem and Samaria, but it was a messenger angle3 who told him to got into the desert where he met the Ethiopian eunuch. Acts 10 also reveals angelic intervention on behalf of Cornelius, and the church was enlarged to include Gentiles. As with the supernatural gifts of the Spirit, angelic activity did not cease after the time of the apostles. Angels are still actively involved with building God's kingdom on earth. Nevertheless, wisdom teaches we would do well to heed Paul's warning: 'But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.' (Galatians 1:8) Any angelic message must be judged by God's eternal word of truth.

Guardian Angels

     From Psalms 91:11-12, we see each of us has our own private guardian angels. Dr. Billy Graham, observing the plural in this text, concluded that each believer must have at least two angels whose assigned duty it is to protect them. Psalm 91:4 speaks of God 'covering us with His feathers' and mentions that we are under His wings. Since God has no feathers or wings, some have suggested that these feathers and wings speak of our guardian angels' wings, which protectively cover us to keep us from falling, getting lost, or stumbling into unknown dangers in the unseen realm of the spirit.

Jesus and Angels

      In Revelation 1:1, Jesus was closely associated with angels. This verse reveals that He commissions His angels to do His bidding. An angel was used to announce Jesus' coming birth to the Virgin Mary and her fiancÚ, Joseph (see Luke1:26, Matthew 1:20). Angels also attended Jesus' birth and announced it to the shepherds. They protected Him from Herod's jealous wrath; and later in life, at the end of His forty-day fast, they ministered to Him and strengthened Him. During His agonizing struggle on the night in which He was betrayed, an angel strengthened Jesus in preparation for the Cross. These celestial creatures were present at Jesus' and ascension. Finally, Jesus will return 'in the glory of His Father with His angels' and we will meet them in the air!

Fallen Angels

       As well in Revelation 12:7,9, the Scriptures reveal both good angels and evil angels. The evil entities are those angels who rebelled with Lucifer and were cast out of heaven with him. Their minds and understanding have been covered with the horrible darkness of deception--the same tactic Satan still uses to lead his victims astray today. They were created in God's original order to do His will, as those angels who continue in obedience to His throne. But these 'did not keep their proper domain' (Jude 6) and are now agents of the Adversary, bound under his dark dominion and serving Satan's rebellious enterprises.

Ministering Spirits

        Surprisingly enough, there are more direct references to angels in the New Testament than in the Old Testament. A careful study will reveal that the New Testament activity of angels usually revolves around the ministry of Jesus and the establishment of His church on earth. They minister (Greek word used "diakonia"), referring to their 'serviceable labor, assistance.' They are ministering spirits, or heavenly assistants, who are continually active today in building the body of Christ--advancing the ministry of Jesus and the building of His church.

Seraphim

      The ministry of the seraphim is closely related to the throne and the praises of God. They are seen constantly glorifying God--extolling His nature and attributes, and apparently supervising heaven's worship. It is possible the seraphim are the praising angels of Psalm 148:2 though they are no specifically identified as such. Whereas cherubim are positioned beside and around the throne of God, the six-winged seraphim are seen as hovering above the throne as they minister in worship.

The Cherubim

       Cherubim are the created beings assigned to guard the throne of God, as described in Psalm 99:1, as well as the ark of the covenant and the mercy seat. Cherubim (plural for Cherub) guarded the Tree of Life to keep man from eating of it and therefore, living forever in his sins. Thus, contrary to popular belief, more than one angel guarded the entrance to Eden. The fullest description of cherubim is in Ezekiel 10, where they are closely related to the glory of God and have a part in its presence and its withdrawal, moving at the Almighty's direction.

Archangels

        The word 'archangel' means 'to be first in political rank or power', indicating that this is the highest rank of heavenly hosts. The only archangel specifically mentioned in the Scriptures is Michael. It is likely his shout we will hear at the Second Coming. Because Gabriel is prominent in the Bible and also because his name is derived from a root word meaning 'strength' or 'chief', which is characteristic of archangels, some believe or conclude that he is also an archangel. This, while probable, is not supported by Scripture, though it was popularized by the famous poet, John Milton. As well, many, scholars hold that Lucifer was an archangel before his fall. However, this only speculation based on the position and influence he held over the angels who fell with him.

Lucifer

      Satan was once a powerful angel called Lucifer, the leader of worship in heaven, who, in love with his own beauty, fell into pride and self-centerness. His rebellion manifests in five 'I will' statements addressed against God, see Isaiah 14:12-14. With five utterances he declares he will take the place of the Most High God. But God has the last word, in Isaiah 14:15-20: Satan, you will be thrown into hell; be gazed upon (made a spectacle of); be talked about and mocked or scorned; be cast out of your grave like a carcass; and be alone. God's last word on Satan is still applicable to any challenge he attempts to bring against any of the people of God.

[Excerpted: Pastor Jack Hayford and his Spirit-Filled Bible and associative Study ]

 

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