God created a host of living creatures in Heaven that are part of the “spirit world.” So far, we’ve seen them referred to as morning stars, sons of God, archangels, cherubim, angels, and demons.
Another class of the Heavenly Host is the seraphim or seraphs. They are mentioned only twice in the Bible: Isa. 6:2 and 6. They are located “above” God’s throne and have six wings. They use two wings to fly, two wings to cover their face and two wings to cover their feet. Their song is “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory.” Their concern seems to be for the worship and holiness of God and His salvation of the elect.
Another class of Heavenly Host is the living creatures. There are four of them in the midst of and around the throne of God. They also have six wings and are covered with eyes in front and back. Each of the four living creatures mentioned in Rev. 4:6-9 looks like a different creation of God: lion, calf (ox in the NIV), man and eagle. Their song around the throne is “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” This worship and call to glorify God leads the 24 elders of Heaven to fall down and worship God. The four living creatures also hear the song of the 144,000 godly witnesses in Rev. 14:3.
The Bible uses the term the angel of the Lord or the angel of God dozens of times in the Old Testament. The term is never used in the New Testament. Many Bible teachers believe the term signifies a theophony; the appearance of God in physical form. The belief goes on to state that “the angel of the Lord” is Christ, the Son of God, prior to His birth to the Virgin Mary. The first place we see the angel of the Lord is Gen. 16. The angel found Hagar, the maidservant of Sarai, Abram’s wife, near a spring in the desert. Hagar was running away from Sarai. The angel of the Lord told Hagar to return to Sarai and submit to her. The angel said, “I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.” Here’s how Hagar responded to the angel of the Lord: “Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, ‘Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” (Gen. 16:13). The angel did not correct her. He accepted the title of “You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees” from Hagar. An angel of God’s Heavenly Host would never allow a human being to worship him or call him God. Hagar knew she was communicating directly with God.
More evidence is found several chapters later when the angel of God spoke again to Hagar. He had heard the crying of her son, Ishmael. The angel said, “Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation.” (Gen. 21:18) Angels do not personally make people into great nations. That is only the work of God. God promised Abraham that He would make him into a great nation. Look at Gen. 22:16-18. “Then the Angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said: ‘By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son— blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” Those are the words of God, not a created angel. Angels instructed people to obey God, not them.
The angel of God spoke to Jacob (Abraham’s grandson) in a dream:
“Then the Angel of God spoke to me in a dream, saying, ‘Jacob.’ And I said, ‘Here I am.’ And He said, ‘Lift your eyes now and see, all the rams which leap on the flocks are streaked, speckled, and gray-spotted; for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar and where you made a vow to Me. Now arise, get out of this land, and return to the land of your family”
The Angel of God called Himself the God of Bethel. No created angel of God would claim that. That could only be Christ! Jacob made his vow to God, not an angel.
Other evidences are Exodus 3:2-6, Exodus 14:9, Exodus 23:20-22, Judges 2:1-5, Judges 6:11-24, and Judges 13:17-22. In all of these examples the Angel of Lord is Christ Himself! The reason we don’t find the term “angel of the Lord” in the New Testament is because He came to earth and became a man, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Knowing that the Angel of the Lord in these scriptures is the pre-incarnate Christ gives us more insight into our Savior. It helps us better understand the warrior Christ of Revelation. As we study the Gospels, it becomes clear that Jesus Christ “who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (Phil. 2:6-8)
Angels and Christians
What do angels do for people who are saved? The Bible says they are “ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation” (Heb. 1:14). Here’s a good example. The Lord and two angels appeared to Abraham. They discussed the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham pleaded with God not to destroy the righteous with the unrighteous (Gen. 18:1-33). The two angels met with Lot, stayed in his home and ate with him. (Gen. 19:1-3) All the men of Sodom surrounded Lot’s house and demanded that Lot give them the two visitors (angels) so they could have sex with them. Lot tried to give the Sodomites his daughters for sex, but the men of Sodom wanted only the male visitors. (Gen. 19:4-9) The angels struck the Sodomites with blindness and helped Lot and his family escape the city. (Gen. 19:10-22) After Lot was safe, God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah with burning sulfur from heaven. Everyone was destroyed in the cities. (Gen. 19:24-29) Jude wrote that Sodom and Gomorrah served “as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.” (Jude 7)
Other examples of angelic power include one angel who drove out enemies of Israel from the promised land (Ex. 33:2), one angel who killed 70,000 disobedient Israelites (2 Sam. 24:15-17), one angel who killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers (2 Kings 19:35), one angel who shut the mouths of hungry lions and saved Daniel’s life (Dan. 6:22), and the powerful angels who appeared with Christ in blazing fire (2 Thess. 1:7). Some of the most vivid examples of angelic power are yet to come. The Book of Revelation mentions angels 80 times. That’s out of a total of about 300 in all the Bible. What they do for the elect of God and to the unsaved during the years of the Tribulation are beyond anything this world has experienced since the Flood.
Angels and Christ
First and foremost, angels ministered with and to Christ. Angels appeared to shepherds near Bethlehem to tell them the good news of Christ’s birth. A “great company” (plethos ) of the “heavenly host” (stratias ouraniou ) praising God appeared to the shepherds. It translates as “a fullness of the heavenly army” (Luke 2:13). We know this heavenly army was a group of angels because of verse 15: “When the angels had left them…” What they said to the shepherds was that God had sent them a Savior, Christ the Lord. He came to the people of earth as a baby. “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14).
Jesus Christ began His earthly ministry at the age of 30. After John the Baptist baptized Jesus, Christ went into the desert to face Satan’s tests. Satan quoted Psalm 91:11-12 about angelic protection as one part of his testing of Christ. When the temptation was over, angels did come to Christ and attended to His physical needs (Matt. 4:11 and Mark 1:13).
We also see angels at the end of Christ’s earthly ministry. When Peter tried to protect Jesus when soldiers arrested Him, Christ said, “Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt. 26:53) Jesus lived in Israel during Rome’s Early Empire. The average legion in the Roman Army numbered about 5,120 legionaries supported by about the same number of auxiliary troops. Some legions were as large as 15,000 troops. Jesus used a term the disciples would understand. If a legion of angels was approximately the same number as a Roman legion, Jesus said all He had to do was ask His Heavenly Father and He would provide Jesus with 120.00 – 180,000 angels to protect Him!
This demonstrates many things about the spirit world. There are thousands of angels ready at anytime to move in any direction God sends them. It also demonstrates Christ’s power and influence and His commitment to the salvation of the chosen. No one forced Jesus to die for our sins. He did it willingly and under His own power.
(The total number of angels is most likely in the tens of millions. The Apostle John wrote this about the number of angels he saw in Heaven:”Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand” (Rev.5:11). 10,000 x 10,000 = 100,000,000. And that’s on top of “thousands upon thousands.”)
Just prior to Christ’s arrest He was praying on the Mount of Olives. He prayed so hard that “His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:44) During Christ’s prayer “An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.” (Luke 22:43)
I must state the obvious. Jesus and the holy angels love each other. They care for one another. They’ve worked together for thousands of earth years and long before the creation of the world. They have a special and unique relationship. We can only imagine what the angels thought as they saw their Creator dying on the cross for the sins of human beings.
The Roman soldiers killed Christ on the cross. Then they placed guards in front of Christ’s tomb so that no one could steal His body. However, the guards did not expect a visit from the Heavenly Host! “There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men” (Matt. 28:2-4). The angel also explained to two women what happened to Jesus (Matt. 28:5-7).
Angels are involved in the great events of Christ’s life: the announcement of Christ’s earthly ministry, the birth of Christ, the temptation of Christ, the agony of Christ in the garden, the arrest and crucifixion of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, and the ascension of Christ back to heaven. After Christ ascended, the disciples saw “two men dressed in white.” The men told the disciples: “Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:10-12).
Angels and the Disciples
The angels of God continued their ministry to the disciples after Jesus ascended to heaven. They gave them direction and guidance (Acts 8:26; 10:1-8; 27:23-26). They delivered saints from prison (Acts 5:17-20; 12:6-10). They killed God’s enemies (Acts 12:21-23). They were even involved in the lives of people without those people knowing it (Heb. 13:2). Angels are our friends, too. We can thank God for them. Angels are superpowerful creatures capable of great acts of justice. The holy angels respond to the righteousness of God, while unholy angels react to the wickedness of Satan.
Angels and the Church
Each church mentioned in Revelation chapters 2 and 3 had a special guardian angel. Angels proclaim the glory and power of Christ throughout the Book. They send plagues upon the earth in chapters 5, 6 and 7. More angels bring about mass destruction on the planet and its inhabitants in chapters 8 and 9. We’ve already seen the great power of Michael and the Heavenly Host defeating Satan and the evil angels in chapter 12. The angels of God kill thousands of God’s enemies in chapter 14. They inflict more terrible plagues on earth and its inhabitants in chapters 15 through 19. An angel binds Satan and throws him into the Abyss for a thousand years in chapter 20. The power of God’s angels is beyond anything we can imagine!
These angels, this great and mighty Heavenly Host, minister to the needs of God’s people today. They minister directly to you and me. We should thank God for these great allies in our lives!
I’ll end this section about angels with one thought. The good angels have great power and position, but they don’t have something of great importance that we have. They do not know what it’s like to be lost, sinfilled and without hope. They do not know what it is to be dead in sin. They do not know the great spiritual awakening that comes from God’s forgiveness. They do not know the joy of “once I was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.” They don’t know the emotion of redemption. The angels look upon all this and are amazed! Peter said it well in his first letter, chapter 1, verses 3-12:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.”
Now that I know the spirit world exists, I am amazed by it. It is a real world that impacts with our world and our lives every day. I pray God will help you gain more insight into His plan for the physical and spirit world and that you might find great comfort in His protection and provision.