Hebrews 13:2 “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
The topic of angels has been one that has drawn interest from people the world over. From Michael and Gabriel to Lucifer, angels have had a prominent position in human history.
Almost every major religion has angels central to their theme. There have been several focal shifts in history due to angelic intrusion as well as belief systems that attribute supernatural intervention to angelic intercession. Some people think when a loved one dies, they are transformed into an angel, others think statutes of angels will come alive in last days events.
I prefer to look at the biblical model of angelic intervention and draw conclusions from that. The theories run wild and Hollywood has certainly done it’s work to distort angelic works and demonic influence.
Bad Theory #1. People become angels when they die.
We can look at creation and see when mankind was formed.
Genesis 2:7 “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”
In the time of mankind’s beginning, angels were already on the scene, matter of fact they had been around long enough to go through a major shakeup. Satan had already been cast from his position of honor into a place of dishonor as well as all the angels that fell with him.
People who are dead in Christ now are awaiting a heavenly body that will be given them once the church is fully united. They aren’t ministering as angels, they would of had to take on a completely different form if that were the case.
2 Corinthians 5:4 “For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life”
1 Corinthians 15:54 “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come to pass: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
Angels are completely different created beings. They have different functions, roles, positions in human culture and how they are directed by God. We also see that fallen angels are what we commonly refer to as demons.
Bad Theory #2 Satan is as powerful as God.
Lucifer, an archangel of God was at one time beautiful, he had been in a position of authority and this position led to him becoming prideful, so he decided he wanted to be in God’s position…..that didn’t go well for him.
Isaiah 14:12-14 “How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the ground, O destroyer of nations. You said in your heart: “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God. I will sit on the mount of assembly, in the far reaches of the north. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”
So, because of Lucifer’s rebellion, he and a 1/3 of the angels of whom he deceived were cast out of Heaven and committed to dishonor until their appointed hour of destruction.
Isaiah 14:15-17 “But you will be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit. Those who see you will stare; they will ponder your fate: “Is this the man who shook the earth and made the kingdoms tremble, who turned the world into a desert and destroyed its cities, who refused to let the captives return to their homes?”
First, we see Satan using others to deceive, corrupt, and tempt into wickedness. Just as he used the serpent in the garden of Eden, he uses false teachers and prophets to do his bidding now.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15 “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.”
The first report of a “fallen angel” was Satan in the garden, manifesting through the serpent. This serpent deceived Eve into thinking she could disobey God by eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and become like God. Adam wasn’t deceived, he simply disobeyed and ate of it because Eve had eaten. This sinful moment in history has lead to all of the corruption we see in Creation today.
Bad Theory #3: There is an epic battle between good and evil.
Satan’s has done everything he could to destroy God’s creation. From attempting to corrupt the lineage of the Messiah by mating with women before the flood, to killing off all the children at Jesus’ birth, to tempting Jesus in the wilderness, or corrupting as many people as he can in human history, he has gone out of his way to ruin God’s creation.
Luke 4:2 “where he was tempted by the devil
for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry”
We likewise observe Satan as an accuser of God’s people.
Revelation 12:10 “Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.”
Satan is not sitting in Hell in a red jumpsuit with a pitchfork in his hand but is going before the angel of the Lord bringing accusation and likewise roaming the earth to see who he may devour.
Zechariah 3:1 “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him.”
1 Peter 5:8 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
The good news is, Satan has a calling card, he has maintained the same patterns for millennia and his servants resemble their master. If you want to know whether someone is of Satan or of God, see what comes from their countenance and their teaching. What fruit do they bear, is it of the flesh or of the Spirit?
2 Corinthians 2:11 “lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.”
We can be wise to his devices, we can be prepared but we must know our adversary. It is through immersion into God’s truth that corruption and falsity become so evident.
2 Corinthians 4:4 “whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”
Further good news has been made known to us…there is a battle for your souls but the battle has already been won! Jesus has removed the power of Satan. To those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, His authority has been given to us.
Bad theory #4: Satan can do whatever he wants.
James 4:7 “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
Yes, the authority we have in Christ makes Satan and his demons subject to His people. Far too many ills in society have been attributed to Satan, not to diminish his influence in human culture because it has been devastating but we forget to take into account our sinful nature and in that we have only to blame ourselves. We have been equipped to fight against Satan, we must use the resources God has given us.
Ephesians 6:16 “above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”
The future of Satan is eternal destruction. He will be given a prominent role in the shaking of the nations in the last days. To those who have rejected Christ, the vulnerability to his enticement and temptation will be too much to bear. These deceived will rise up against the throne of Christ Himself…it is then they will see where real power and authority in Heaven and Earth lies.
Revelation 20:9-10 “They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
As for Satan’s minions, there is a demonic hoard who does his bidding….
These fallen angels have been involved in all forms of blasphemy against God. They have been known to oppress people through spiritual attack and temptation, possess people who have dabbled in the occult and invited them in, they have walked on the earth during the early antediluvian days and bred offspring with women, they have been known to bring torture upon the occupants of Hell, many are chained up in Sheol awaiting for judgement and in several instances God Himself has used demons and Satan to do His bidding…
Some examples of God using the enemy for His purposes include:
2 Corinthians 12:7 “by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.”
Judges 9:23 “God sent a spirit of ill will between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech”
1 Samuel 16:14 “But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the LORD troubled him.”
Job 1:12 “And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.”
When I look at scriptures like these, where the Lord uses the enemy to either bring judgement or testing in His people or those in rebellion, it actually gives me great comfort.
Not only is God sovereignly in control, Satan and the demons are not allowed to progress beyond the limits of God’s allowance.
1. Satan cannot take someone’s life prematurely, only God has numbered our days. Job 1:12
2. Demons are subject to God’s authority in His people. Ephesians 6:11
3. There is no epic battle between good and evil. The Lord has already won the war. The shaking of the nations is God’s intent now, sifting out those who are His and those who are of the world. 1 Corinthians 15:57; Matthew 25:32
John 12:31 “Now judgment is upon this world; now the prince of this world will be cast out.”
The final place of existence for Satan, the demons, and all who reject Christ is the Lake of Fire, it will be a place of torment, guilt, and shame.
Revelation 20:10 “And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
20:15 “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
Now, the role of God’s faithful servants….
Hebrews 1:14 “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?”
As we look at the role of angels in God’s Kingdom, we see them functioning in many roles of service, help, protection, in judgement, in declaration, as guardians, and as ministers before the throne of God.
Their strength is unmatched, their determination is undeterred, their praise of God is glorious, and their presence will be there with the saints in glory.
The angel Gabriel was the one the Lord entrusted to speak to Mary and proclaim to her the Lord’s plan to conceive the Messiah and through her the Savior of all mankind.
Luke 1:26 “Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”
We see that God used an angel to roll back the stone in front of Jesus’ tomb to prove He was not there. There were angels that appeared to the disciples who had been looking for Jesus’ body and declared to them “He is not here, He is risen!”
We see angel’s rescuing the apostle’s from prison in Acts 5, God sending angels to shut the lions mouths when Daniel was in danger in Daniel 6; We hear of a great army of angels that appeared to Elisha’s servant who doubted God’s providence in 2 Kings 6. We hear of angels fighting through demonically controlled regions to bring news to Daniel in Daniel 10, Balaam’s donkey saw an angel of God’s judgement guarding the passageway and turned back to prevent his death in Numbers 22, and the stories go on into modern day accounts.
The Angel of the Lord vs. An angel of the Lord
Isaiah 37:36 “Then the angel of the LORD went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses—all dead.”
The term “Angel of the Lord”, is one that has been seen at many junctures in history. The term is one representative of God Himself in some places and an angel sent by God in others. In Genesis 16, when the “Angel of the Lord”, appears to Sari and Hagar, we hear their response:
Genesis 16:13 “So Hagar gave this name to the LORD who had spoken to her: “You are the God who sees me, for she said, “Here I have seen the One who sees me!”
So we see that this Angel is not a created ministering spirit but actually Jesus pre-incarnate.
We see many occurrences of the Lord appearing in this form, it seems the reference to Him as an angel is more according to the form He presents Himself in rather than literally an Angel. He appeared to Joshua in Joshua 5:13, He appeared to Abraham in Genesis 18, to Joseph in Matthew 1:18, to Gideon in Judges 6, to Hagar in Genesis 22, and to Moses in Exodus 2 as a flame of fire, each reference is The Angel of the Lord.
Now we see other references to “angels of the Lord”, who were not God, the difference is how he is described. There was an angel of the Lord who appeared during Jesus’ birth and proclaimed it to the shepherds, and there is the angel of the Lord as we see being worshipped and called God. It is these fine points of difference that can either lead one to worship God or have a false ideology of angels.
Jehovah’s Witnesses claim Jesus was just Michael the archangel. The problem with this narrative is that angel’s don’t receive worship that is meant for God. When the Angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, his response was one of worship and the Lord consequently received it.
Revelation 19:10 “Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God. Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
**When the Angel of the Lord appears to someone and they know it was God, God receives the worship. When an angel of the Lord appears to someone and they begin to worship, the angel knows to not accept the worship that is only due God alone.
Judges 13:21-22 “When the Angel of the Lord appeared no more to Manoah and his wife, then Manoah knew that He was the Angel of the Lord. And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, because we have seen God!”
Michael the archangel is an angel of the Lord who was described as having prominence in retrieving the body of Moses, battling Satan and other fallen angels and he will have a prominent position in casting Satan from the face of the earth in the last days.
Revelation 12:7-10 “Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.”
We see angelic intervention at the beginning of Creation and at the end of Creation. Angels are real but we must keep in mind their position. We are not to worship them, they are servants, they faithfully direct all worship to the Lord God almighty and so should we. We have a prominent place in God’s Kingdom as well, when looking at Hebrews we see a distinction.
Hebrews 1:7 “And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.”
Since Jesus bridged the gap between man and God, we have access to God’s throne through Him now. I’m sure angels are prevalent today, we just don’t see them interacting directly with people as they used to….there’s a reason for that.
Hebrews 1:1-4 “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.”
Jesus is not an angel, never was an angel, and never will be an angel. Angels are ministering spirits, Jesus is the One they are ministering to. Angels bring judgement, they bring blessing, and they bring worship, they are unique in the service of God and we can thank them one day for the help they brought—–at the direction of our God. This is the key, angels receive God’s orders and obey them. When the Angel of the Lord appeared with two other angels to Abraham, they revealed God’s intent to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Only the two ministering spirits continued into the evil city, the Angel of the Lord returned to Heaven.
We should always remember that our strength, our help, and our worship should be directed to the Lord who created all things and keeps us by His power. The Lord is faithful and to Him only will every knee bow and tongue confess that He is God.