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The CELESTIAL ORDER of the UNIVERSE - (Part 3) - The Princes & Archangels - Ministering Spirits & Angelic Guardians
The THIRD CHOIR - ARMY of the LORD and the HEAVENLY HOST
". . . SENT OUT TO SERVE for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation."
The final piece of the above verse (Hebrews 1:14 ESV) is the best way to summarize this entire article series on the topic of angels and the Celestial Hierarchy. Other than what we have already shown in the context of the organization of Heaven and the elements within the spiritual realm itself, the primary purpose of all these things is for the worship and glorification of the Lord God. Next to that, it is the sole purpose of these celestial beings (angels) and their hierarchy to serve God, and more specifically to serve God's will in regards to their assistance in ministering to human beings for the "sake of our obtaining salvation". After all, that is God's plan... to help as many of us as possible learn what is necessary to make an informed, educated, and "free will" choice, that will alllow us to inherit His Kingdom on Earth and ultimately return home to Him, "our Father in art Heaven".
So far, we have primarily described the events that have pertained to the early ages in the creation of the universe and the infancy of the world we live in. We have also briefly covered other prophetic future events yet to come. The remainder of this article will fill in the rest of the historical information and also detail modern-day relevance, as we finish describing the day-to-day "working classes" of the angels and their function in the universe. We will also look more into the role that angels play in regards to spiritual warfare because this element is much greater than most people probably even imagine. We will uncover these various aspects (including both angels and demons) and describe how they are involved in the lives of both the saved and lost. By understanding these facts, we can better understand the conflicts we ourselves regularly engage in.
"For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist." (Colossians 1:16-17 KJV)
The GOVERNMENT of GOD
God clearly establishes His system of government both in Heaven and on the Earth. The Celestial Hierarchy of the angels is just one aspect of this. They are the medium by which God rules and orchestrates His Kingdom throughout the whole universe. By setting Himself up through the Son (Christ), God also reigns over His Kingdom on Earth and provides the key to our redemption. The angels are likewise the Lord's administrative tools in which most matters concerning human beings are dealt with. Their earthly purpose is to assist humankind as the will of God so designates.
And again, when God brings his firstborn [ Jesus Christ ] into the world, he says, "Let all God’s angels worship him." In speaking of the angels he says, "He makes his angels spirits, and his servants flames of fire." But about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom."...
...He also says, "In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands...
...Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
(Hebrews 1:6-7,10,14 NKJ)
The beings of the Highest Heavens seem to be "God's Intelligence Agency" (Ray Stedman) - with their all-seeing eyes and ability to move quickly in all directions. They have a central role in God's government and in the administration of universal affiars with their classes and structures as hinted to in scripture. Great and mighty angels have been given charge in the unfolding of God's will throughout our history. They have assisted in humankind's survival, bestowed blessings unto God's chosen people and brought His judgments onto the unrighteous. The elect angels will also participate in bringing the wrath of God into the world at the end of the present age as described in the last book of the New Testament (Revelation).
As we have mentioned, angels seem to have control over the forces of nature and human events in their role as instruments of God. This does not mean that human beings are mere puppets being tossed about in some galactic game played by "the gods" (which is exactly how most pagan mythologies portray it), or are completely controlled by the unseen activities of these mighty beings from the spiritual realm. However, the Bible does emphasize that we cannot completely understand what is happening in our world (or what has happened over history), without first understanding the government and activities of God and the hierarchy and role of the angels.
God has designed that His Heavenly government along with the physical church, should be a kind of "invisible" government on earth and act as the underlying support system for the visible world governments. This would make possible a climate of benevolent law and order, the rule of true justice and peace, and would hold in restraint the evil forces of tyranny, anarchy and murder (See: Mat 5:13-14; Phil 2:14-15; 1 Tim 2:1-2). This is made possible through the efforts of both godly people and the forces of the spiritual realm. The Apostle Paul states that there is a Celestial Hierarchy which appears to include angels with power over certain cities, nations and even planets and stars.
The existence of this "invisible" governemt system is likewise confirmed in passages from the Old Testament such as with Daniel's prophetic encounters in the spirit. It is further shown that the spiritual relam now works in aspects of both good and evil. God created a countless number of angelic spirits, with some that now serve in a capacity towards evil. These angels became the "fallen ones" and are now known as demons, deceiving spirits, familiar spirits, and unclean spirits. Their forces operate in all forms that are contrary to God's government and plan for the salvation of human beings.On the basis of what is said in scripture, it is quite likely that more frequent manifestations of angels will become common amongst people in the coming future. As our world continues to collapse, forces from the spiritual realm will break through more frequently into our universe of space and time.
"And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke." (Joel 2:28-30 KJV)
The following information is STRICTLY FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY and not for the intent or use of delving into spiritism or the supernatural, which we highly recommend against. The purpose of this article series is to reflect more on the fact that the INVISIBLE REALM OF THE SPIRIT really does exist; that there are forces constantly at work within this parallel dimension that have a direct bearing on what transpires in the material universe, including but not limited to interacting with human lives and the outcome of mortal events. We cannot overemphasize caution in preparing both prayerfully and mindfully when studying these topics (Ephesians 6:10-18) ; in being fully equipped with the Armor of God against all manner of spiritual warfare that may be invited.
The CELESTIAL ORDER and HIERARCHY of the ANGLES (Summary Listing)
*Several other Models for the "Celestial Order" have been proposed but we will be using the following for the purpose of consistency and simplification in this article series. Mainly to note are the "Classes" or "Orders" of Angels, their description, roles and responsibilities are more comparatively uniform in most models.
First Sphere of Heaven (Attendants to the Throne of God):
Seraphim - (Greek: "Saraph")
Cherubim - (Greek: "Kĕruwb")
Ophanim - the "Wheels" or "Galgallin"
+The Thrones - The Elders or "Er'el-im" (Greek: "Thronos")
*This "Angelic Choir" and its Classes are covered more thoroughly in the PART 1 of this Series.
Second Sphere of Heaven (Heavenly Governors):
Dominions - (Greek:"Kyriotetai")
Virtues - also the "Mights" (Greek: "Dynamai")
Powers - (Greek: "Exusiai")
*This "Angelic Choir" and its Classes are covered more thoroughly in the PART 2 of this Series.
Third Sphere of Heaven (Divine Soldiers and Messengers):
Principalities - (Greek: "Archai")
Archangels - (Greek: "Archangeloi")
Angels - (Greek: "Angeloi")
Third Sphere of Heaven (Divine Soldiers and Messengers):
Angels are awesome, brilliant, glorified creatures that originate from the spiritual realm and are created with the full sanction and Glory of God. They are extremely agile and powerful beings.
"Who makes his angels winds, and his servants flames of fire..." (Hebrews 1:7 NKJ)
Angels are endowed with great wisdom and have certain knowledge of earthly events.
"To fetch about this form of speech hath thy servant Joab done this thing: and my lord is wise, according to the wisdom of an angel of God, to know all things that are in the earth."
(2 Samuel 14:20 KJV)
Being sent from God, angels are always correct in their judgment and dispensation of the same. They are typically referred to in connection with their special missions for example: the "angel which hath redeemed," "a messenger," "the angel that destroyed," "angel of his presence saved them," (Gen 48:16; Job 33:23; II Sam 24:16; Isaiah 63:9; Psalm 78:49). When members of the Celestial Hierarchy are regarded in their more comprehensive aspects, then a distinction can be further made between the Cherubim, Heavenly Princes, Archangels, the Heavenly Host, and so forth.
Angels have revealed themselves as the medium of God's power and will. All angels are immortal celestial beings of the spiritual realm so therefore have a spirit-based substance or embodiment. They can however appear in the physical universe and assume a variety of apparent forms based on how they wish to portray themselves.
"Then the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, "What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?" (Numbers 22:28 NKJ)
Angels have made themselves known to individuals as well as to whole nations of people, in order to announce events, either good or bad, which may pertain specifically to those people. Angels do not always show themselves in all of their full glory because their sheer pressence is too much to bear for most people to witness first hand.
"I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude." (Daniel 10:5-6 NIV)
When Angels are not serving directly as warriors or divine messengers, their duties are typically of a beneficial nature towards human beings.
"And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven. Man did eat angels' food: he sent them meat to the full." (Psalm 78:24-25 KJV)
(Greek: "Archai") - also translated as "Princedoms" and "Rulers". These angels are the "Guardians of the Nations", with the prevailing idea that each godly nation has a heavenly guardian angel or prince. Likewise, "fallen angels" of equal status would similarly have authority over heathen nations or groups of people. These celestial beings appear to collaborate in their duty with the Powers (Authorities) and their responsibilities are also said to encompass overseeing groups of people where they bequeath blessings in the material world. Principalities are designated as the educators and guardians of the realm of the Earth and are said to inspire many things such as the arts and sciences.
The Principalities (lat. principatus) rarely make themselves known to human beings, but have been depicted as divinely beautiful humans with a pair of feathered wings, much like the common representation of angels. It is believed that these angelic princes may be distinguished from other members in the celestial order as wearing a crown and wielding orbs of light fastened to the heads of their sceptres or on the pommel of their swords.
"Then the angel of the LORD put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the LORD departed out of his sight." (Judges 6:21 KJV)
Many of the Principalities operate in a capcaity that works directly with specific groups (and nations) of people here in the world. Also to note, is that some of the "Archangels" are also referred to as "Princes of Heaven" in other textual references and have been allegedly granted a much higher elect position than what their angelic order in this hierarchy model typically refers to. As in the case of the Archangel Michael "The Great Prince", is given as the Principality who watches over the people of Israel and is likewise the "Prince of the Archangels". Only Michael and Gabriel are mentioned by name in the scripture of the Holy Bible, whereas the other names have their origins in the apocryphal books and other Jewish Rabbinic texts.
So he said, "Do you know why I have come to you? Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come; but first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (No one supports me against them except Michael, your prince). (Daniel 10:20 NIV)
In the above verse, historically there was not a physical war occurring at that time in the lands of Persia, nor were there any military forces from Greece in the region. The angel that was sent to deliver a prophetic vision to Daniel, was temporarily detained (Dan 10:13) by a "Principality" (a mighty "fallen angel") with power over Persia, when the Archangel Prince Michael intervened, which the angel was then going to return and help fighting because another evil princedom (a "Principality" over Greece) was likewise coming to assist the first demonic ruler.
The above verse is probably one of the best scriptural references that displays the actual warfare that occurs invisibly all the time in the spiritual realm. It also shows the incredible power, the type of angelic order, and the earthly status of the celestial beings involved.
Another good example is in the mention of the seven angels and the seven churches of Asia in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 1:11), referring to: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.
"The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches..." (Revelation 1:20)
REF: the prince of... (Daniel 10:13,20); except Michael your prince (Dan 10:21); Michael shall stand up, The great prince (Dan 12:1); nor angels nor principalities (Rom 8:38); far above all principality (Eph 1:21); principalities and powers in the heavenly places (Eph 3:10); For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood (Eph 6:12); all things were created that are in heaven (Col 1:16); head of all principality (Col 2:10); Having disarmed principalities (Col 2:15); seven stars and seven angels (Rev 1:11,20); Michael and his angels (Rev 12:7)
(Greek: "Archangeloi") - being defined as "archangel" coming from the Greek term meaning "chief angel", and the translation of the Hebrew (rav-mal'ákh). It derives from the Greek words: "archō", meaning to be "first in rank or power"; and "aggělos" which translates as "messenger". This suggests that "archangel" is a term meaning an angel of the highest rank. Archangels are found in a number of religious traditions, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Zoroastrian teachings of ancient Persia.
Michael is the only angel that the Bible names expressly as "the archangel". In the Book of Daniel he is also referred to as "one of the chief princes". The word "prince" here is the ancient Hebrew word "sar", which means: "a head person (of any rank or class), a chief, a general etc.", and Michael is given as the "The Great Prince" who stands for the people of Israel.
Michael (Dan 10:13; Dan 10:21; Dan 12:1; Jude 1:9; Rev 12:7) and Gabriel (Dan 8:16; Dan 9:21; Gospel of Luke) are both named in the scripture of the Holy Bible and are thus considered by Jews and Christians as archangels, but there is no direct literal support for the assumption of the later in Gabriel's case. Gabriel is however considered "the heralder" of heaven who delivers phophetic visions and is always used to announce important divine events, such as the birth of John the Baptist to his father Zechariah (Luke 1:13-19), and proclaiming the immaculate conception of Jesus Christ (Luke 1:26-38).
REF: voice of an archangel (1Th 4:16); Michael the archangel (Jude 1:9)
The apocryphal Book of Tobit ("Tobias") mentions Raphael, who is also considered by some to be an archangel. The Book of Tobit is recognized in the Catholic and Orthodox versions of the Bible and is considered Deuterocanonical (constituting a second canon). These three archangels are venerated as saints in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches for the reason that they were "already created of saintly status" by the Lord God in Heaven. In the Book of Tobit, Raphael says to Tobias that he was "one of the seven who stand before the Lord", and it is generally believed that Michael and Gabriel are two of the other six. The Book of Tobit is also read by Anglicans and Lutherans, but not by Reformed Christians or Baptists.
A fourth archangel mentioned is Uriel whose name literally means "Fire of God" or "Light of God." This archangel plays a prominent role in the apocryphal books accepted by Russian Orthodox Christians and some Anglicans. The Second Book of Esdras (fourth Books of Esdras in the Latin Vulgate). In the book he unveils seven prophecies to the prophet Ezra, after whom the book is named. He also plays a role in the apocryphal Book of Enoch, which is considered canonical only by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
Another possible interpretation of these seven listed archangels, is that they are a unique and elect class of elevated archangels (specifically assigned over human matters) that all serve as "Heavenly Princes" and answer directly to the Throne of God. Since Michael is directly referred to in scripture as "The Great Prince", he is also considered to be the highest Heavenly Prince or "Prince of the Archangels".
It is possible in some texts to make a distinction between archangel (with a lower-case a) and Archangel (with an uppercase A). The former denotes the Angelic Choir of the Second Sphere (arch-angels in the sense of being just above the order or class of angels that is just named "angels"), while the latter may denote the highest of all the angels (i.e.; Arch-angels in the sense of being above all angels of any Choir, as in the seven highest Heavenly Princes; Michael therefore becoming the most elect, once Satan fell from favor with God). It is also speculated that these seven archangels may also be the "seven spirits" of God that stand before the throne as described in the Book of Enoch, and in the Book of Revelation.
Otherwise, "archangels" (as the standard angelic order of the Second Sphere) as listed in the Pseudo-Dionysius model for the Celestial Hierarchy are said to be the guardian angels of nations and countries being concerned with the issues and events surrounding these, including politics, military matters, commerce and trade. Archangels are magnificent and formidable beings of great stature and will usually operate directly under the supervision of the Principalities and act as "chiefs" over the legions of Heavenly Host that are assigned to them.
And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship (the Lord God - NOT the archangel), and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant? And the captain of the LORD's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so. (Joshua 5:13-15 KJV)
(Greek: "Angeloi") - The angels, (Hebrew: "mal'akhim") or "messengers", are the lowest order of the angelic beings listed from the Celestial Hierarchy, and are the most well known from all scriptural accounts. Angels are the messengers of God as listed in the Hebrew Bible, (translating as "mal'ak" sgl.), and are found in the New Testament of the Christian Bible as well as the Islamic Quran. Early Christians inherited many of the Jewish understandings of angels, being characterized as creatures of good, spirits of love, and messengers of the Lord God. The term "angel" has also been expanded to various notions of spiritual beings found in many other religious traditions.
"If there is a messenger for him, A mediator, one among a thousand, To show man His uprightness,..." (Job 33:23 NKJ)
Angels are the class of celestial beings that deal mostly with the affairs of all living things in the world. Within the category of the angels itself, there are many different types with a wide variety of functions. Angels are most frequently represented throughout scripture as a body of spiritual beings that serve as intermediaries between God and human beings.
Other roles of angels include carrying out God's many tasks in the world. The Lord uses His angels to physically provide for His people. Sometimes angels give guidance so God's people so they will know what He wants us to do. Angels that minister to us can include powerful encouragement. Angels can provide supernatural protection and have been known to even rescue people in danger.
Regular angels typically do not manifest themselves into the material universe as in the popular notions of classical art and litterature, as they do not necessarily appear displaying wings or other unique features. The Hebrew term "ishim" has also been used to denote angelic beings (however being treated as a different class than the "messengers" in Jewish Angelology) but it's translations best describe how these angels have traditionally appeared to Biblical characters as "souls of fire", "manlike beings" and having to deal with "prophecy".
"And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him..." (Genesis 18:2 KJV)
Most of the accountings of angels in scripture refer to them merely as "men" or as "strangers", such as in the stories of Abraham and Lot for example, just to list a few. Angels are known to usually "blend in" for the most part and can mingle in crowds of human beings without really being noticed if they so choose and likewise may even be mistaken for ordinary men.
"Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it." (Hebrews 13:2)
Angels appear as men but are also generally referred to as being "asexual" or "epicene" in their nature (having neither gender). They have brilliant bodies full of God's glory and when they turn down their radiance, it is more like they are extremely beautiful perfect specimens, which probably also accounts for why the hedonistic citizens of Sodom were so anxious to "have their way" with Lot's guests.
Angels are not only sent as messengers or the bringers of prophetic visions, but they will also perform other vital functions in their service to the will of God. In the case and story of Sodom for example, the angels were first sent to evaluate the situation, speaking with Abraham and then finally sparing Lot's family from the coming wrath of God. In other cases, angels are even used to challenge us before bestowing a blessing (Jacob vs. the Angel-Gen 32) or to test our overall faith in the Lord (the trials of Job).
The angels also constitute the majority of the ranks in the "Heavenly Host" who are the multitude of celestial beings that make up the armies of Heaven, and are sometimes referred to as Heavenly "saints". Many times in scripture they have been recorded as the protectors of Israel, defeating their enemies on the battlefield, and are likewise portrayed as the avenging armies of the Lord Jesus Christ during His epic return at the "second coming" and establishment of His millennial Kingdom on the Earth.
"...Thus the LORD my God will come, And all the saints with You." (Zechariah 14:5 NKJ)
REF: reassurance (Gen 16:7,9); prophecy (Gen 16:10,11)(Gen 21:17); Abraham's visitors (Gen 18:2); Lot flees Sodom (Gen 19:1-29); Abraham's blessing (Gen 22:11,15); send His angel before you (Gen 24:7); prosperity (Gen 24:40); Jacob's dream (Gen 28:12); Jacob vs. the Angel (Gen 32:24)(Hosea 12:4); redemption (Gen 48:16); escort (Exd 23:20); provoke him not (Ex 23:21); guardian warrior (Exd 23:23); escort (Exd 32:34); guardian warrior (Exd 33:2); rescue (Num 20:16); Balaam, the Donkey, and the Angel (Num 22:22-27,31); Army of the LORD (Joshua 5:13-15); destruction of Jericho (Joshua 6); the sun is stopped (Joshua 10:12-14); curse the inhabitants of Meroz (Judges 5:23); like an angel (1Sam 29:9)(2Sam 19:27); wisdom of an angel (2Sam 14:17-20); destroyer angel (2Sam 24:16-17); lying man (1Kings 13:18); provision (1Kings 19:5-7); hosts of heaven (1Kings 22:19); Elijah and fire from Heaven (2Kings 1:3-14); 185,000 Assyrians killed (2Kings 19:35)(Isa 37:36); destroyer of Jerusalem (1Ch 21:12-30); cut down every mighty man (2Ch 32:21); mediator (Job 33:23); mindful of man (Psalm 8:4); protection (Psalm 34:7); pursue them (Psalm 35:5-6); angels of destruction (Psalm 78:49); guard you (Psalm 91:11); excel in strength (Psalm 103:20); healed affliction (Isa 63:9); in the furnace (Dan 3:25-28); watchers (Dan 4:13-23); in the lions' den (Dan 6:22); 100 million stood before him (Dan 7:10); man clothed in linen, above the waters (Dan 10:6); tribulation prophecy (Zec 1:9-2:3); prophetic message (Zec 4:1-5;5:5,10;6:4-5); saints (Zec 14:5); Joseph's dream (Mat 1:20,24); flee to Egypt (Mat 2:13); Herod is dead (Mat 2:19); send forth his angels (Mat 13:41); in heaven their angels (Mat 18:10); legions of angels (Mat 26:53); Angel at Christ's tomb (Mat 28:2); angels and the shepherds (Luke 2:9-15); heavenly host (Luke 2:13); JESUS, the name given (Luke 2:21); presence of the angels (Luke 15:10); Jesus in Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:43); two men stood by them in shining garments (Luke 24:4); stirred up the pool (John 5:4); angel spoken to Him (John 12:29); opened the prison doors (Acts 5:19); Stephen's face like an angel (Acts 6:15); gave Philip directions (Acts 8:26); Philip's vision (Acts 10:,3,7,22); angel standing in his house (Acts 11:13); Peter is freed from prison (Acts 12:7-15); King Herod killed and eaten by worms (Acts 12:23); denial of the Sadducees (Acts 23:8-9); reassures Paul (Acts 27:23); the love of God (Rom 8:38); nature of angels (Heb 2:16); ministering spirits (Heb 1:14); innumerable company (Heb 12:22); entertain angels (Hebs 13:2); angels and authorities (I Peter 3:22); fallen angels (Jude 1:6); revelation to John (Rev 1:1); war in heaven (Rev 12); Book of Revelation.
Do we have "Guardian Angels"? This has been another heavily debated question and is held as a common belief by many people. Although the scripture in the Holy Bible does not give a definitive answer to this, the Lord Jesus did say, "See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven." (Matthew 18:10 NIV), and (Psalm 91:11) reassures us that: "For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways."
Other references in Biblical scripture also show that angels serve in a guardianship capacity for various situations (Gen 24:7; Exd 23:20; Exd 23:23; Exd 32:34; Exd 33:2; Num 20:16; 2Kings 19:35; 2Ch 32:21).
"The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them." (Psalm 34:7 KJV)
We also know from the earlier parts of this article that higher ranking angelic beings have been assigned in a supervisory role to watch over groups of people and entire nations. It would be reasonable to conclude that the lower ranked angels in their charge are sent on specific missions that deal directly with individuals. There are certain instances where they have been shown to protect a specific person for example (Dan 3:25-28; Dan 6:22; Mat 2:13; Acts 5:19; Acts 12:7-15; Acts 27:23).
"They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone." (Psalm 91:12)
Now whether these accounts verify the existence of actual "Guardian Angels" that are specifically assigned to each godly person on a regular and permanent basis is hard to say. There is however obvious evidence that the Lord God does watch over and protect His people.
The ANGEL of THE LORD
One special angelic being that makes a number of appearances in the Old Testament is "The Angel of the Lord". This reference is believed by many Biblical scholars and most Christian theologians to be a "theophany" (a manifestation or appearance of God), or even specifically as an appearance of the "Son of God" (Emmanuel) prior to His incarnation in the flesh and birth at Bethlehem (Jesus Christ).
In one story during the Babylonian exile, the Hebrews (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego) who stood up to the idolatrous practices of the king were saved by the Lord's Angel when they were sentenced to death in the fires of the furnace.
"Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God." (Daniel 3:24-25 KJV)
In this instance, the Babylonian King is so taken by this angelic manifestation that he actually refers to the angel as the "Son of God" (capitalized). This is a unique occurrence in Biblical scripture and it is unlike other verses where the more common association for "sons of God" are taken as referring to other angelic beings.
There are mixed Christian opinions as to the significance and use of these terms in scripture as it becomes relative to the specific situation and how the term is actually listed. For instance in some translations, the word "angel" is capitalized in some verses where it is not in others. Also, the Old Testament instances use "the" with "angel of the Lord" as the introductory definitive article, versus in the New Testament "an" angel of the lord is used instead. This is implying a greater degree of literary importance in the former verses with the capitalized and attentive forms, which may mean to infer the pre-incarnate manifestation of Christ, whereas the others are meant to denote a prominent greater angel of a specific function or duty that has been "sent directly from God" in contrast.
Also, the term "Angel of the Lord" occurs 65 times in the Hebrew Bible (always singular), whereas another term the "Angel of God" is listed 12 times. Early Jewish translators were careful to also distinguish between these terms, for example in the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) by rendering the Hebrew "mal'ak Yĕhovah" (Yahweh) for "Angel of the Lord" and "mal'ak 'elohiym" for the "Angel of God", which further separates these distinctions. Here are the some of the examples found in scripture for comparison (using the New King James version):
"the Angel of the LORD"
REF: Hagar the maidservant (Gen 16:7,9); mother of Ishmael (Gen 16:10,11); the lad Ishmel (Gen 21:17); burning bush (Exd 3:2-4)(Acts 7:30,35,38); Balaam, the Donkey, and the Angel (Num 22:22-35); never break My covenant with you (Judges 2:1-4); blessing of Gideon (Judges 6:11-12); fortelling of Samson's birth (Judges 13); admonishment of Joshua (Zec 3:1-6); be like God (Zec 12:8).
"the angel of the LORD"
REF: curse the inhabitants of Meroz (Judges 5:23); destroyer angel (2Sam 24:16); brings provisions (1 Kings 19:5-7); Elijah and fire from Heaven (2Ki 1:3-14); killed 185,000 Assyrians (2Ki 19:35)(Isa 37:36); destroyer of Jerusalem (1Ch 21:12-30).
"the angel of God"
REF: called to Hagar (Gen 21:17); spoke to Jacob (Gen 31:11); went before the camp of Israel, pillar of fire and cloud (Exd 14:19); Gideon's offering (Judges 6:20-22); Manoah and his wife (Jdg 13:6,9); you are as good (1Sam 29:9); now be comforting (2Sam 14:17); wisdom of (2Sam 14:20); like the angel of God (2Sam 19:27) .
"His" Angel (Son of God; or God)
Jacob (Israel) wrestles with God (Genesis 32:24-30); the Son of God, in the furnace (Daniel 3:25); His Angel that delivered His servants who trusted Him (Daniel 3:28).
"an" angel of the Lord (or God)*
REF: opened the prison doors (Acts 5:19); gave Philip directions (Acts 8:26); speaks to Cornelius (Acts 10:3); received me as (Gal 4:14) *Also to note, that these variations are only found in the New Testament (after Christ's life and physical incarnation) indicating a different type of angelic manifestation than the Old Testament appearances.
MAN'S POSITION in the GOVERNMENT of GOD
The Holy Bible gives us only glimpses of angelic involvement, allowing us to understand these spiritual things but warns us not get sidetracked in our worship or attention to God. The tendency of "fallen" humanity is to honor what immediately gratifies us. The key point to remember however, is that these powerful celestial beings (ANGELS) are "sent to serve those who will inherit salvation", under the direction and by the authority of God, NOT as a result of our calling upon the angels by name or praying to them directly. This is idolatry and even the angels know this fact!
Then Jacob asked [ the angel ], saying, "Tell me Your name, I pray." And He [ the angel ] said, "Why is it that you ask about My name?" (Genesis 32:29 NKJ)
DO NOT be fooled by anyone or any teaching otherwise to the contrary, whether it be a more in depth and mystical understanding of the scripture, a revised concept of existing Biblical knowledge, or simply a more "enlightened" school of thought that tends to elaborate on "old school" religious teachings with a more modern and humanitarian approach. These are just some of the many clever deceptions that the Lord God's adversary would want us all to believe or consider.
At this I fell at his feet to worship him [ the angel ]. But he said to me, "Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus."
(Revelation 19:10 NIV)
In the scripture of the Holy Bible there is a definitive system that has been established by the Lord God for His administration of all things. According to the Bible, there are two levels of creation: one physical and one (the more important) spiritual. These two realms were more "tightly linked" before the fall of human beings and though there is still a connection between these two realms, it is less than it was in former times. Both spiritual and material domains of reality have become flawed, since the days of creation, and an active evil force is now present in both realms. Scientific observations of the physical world have been, are now, and will be, affected by happenings in the spiritual world. Although we may not necessarily see all of these causes, the effects will be there none-the-less.
The fall of man is accompanied by the "curse" placed on nature as described in (Genesis 3):
"Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field."
The effect of this curse has reduced the fruitfulness and fertility of the Earth, and the decreased vitality of nature now allows the more "opportunistic" weeds and "thorns" to compete more successfully with the crops and fruits that are useful to human beings and animals. Additional "curses" which are the consequences of human evil are also later described as the Biblical story unfolds over the dawn of human history. For example, when God spoke to Cain:
"What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength; you shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth." (Genesis 4:11-12)
Adam's original sin cost him his position as God's "Divine Manager" and steward over the whole Earth. God had originally granted this to Adam at the time of his creation (Genesis 1:26-28). Man's lost dominion is further described in the opening chapters from the Book of Hebrews (Chapters 1 and 2). Here we see Jesus Christ presented as the head of a "New Kingdom" of mankind that will place human beings back in the dominant position over God's creation.
5- For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels.
6- But one testified in a certain place, saying: “What is man that You are mindful of him, Or the son of man that You take care of him?
7- You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, And set him over the works of Your hands.
8- You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him.
9- But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.
10- For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
Verse five above also contains a very interesting and important hidden clue about how God governs the spiritual and material universes. The age "which is to come" is NOT ruled by the angels (it is ruled by MAN). Therefore, the underlying implication here is that the present age which we currently live in, IS RULED BY THE ANGELS (both the "fallen ones" and those on God's behalf) and is subject to angelic governance accordingly. This is further reinforced by F.F. Bruce's supporting view in citing the rendering of (Deuteronomy 32:8 NLT):
"When the Most High assigned lands to the nations, when he divided up the human race, he established the boundaries of the peoples according to the number in his heavenly court."
The Apostle Paul, speaks of the "coming ages" (Ephesians 2:7), which indicates that at least two more ages lie ahead for mankind in the future. These would be the restored Davidic Kingdom (the millennium Kingdom of Christ) and the following age of the "New Heavens and the New Earth" (which are eternal). Therefore if we also look at (Hebrews 1:11-12), which emphasizes the changes that the material creation will experience, the "world to come" mentioned in the second chapter of Hebrews refers to the coming Kingdom of Christ on Earth.
Additional reference should also be made to (Daniel 10:20), which cites some of the celestial beings as "the prince of Persia" and "the prince of Greece" and Daniel's mention of Michael as "The Great Prince" who champions the people of Israel. This concept would explain why the chief of the fallen angels (Satan) is referred to as "the god of this world" and is permitted the temporary domain that he currently has over the Earth.
When the Lord Jesus Christ returns and the new age begins, the curse will be lifted from nature (the Earth) and rulership will be once again restored to mankind as it was in the beginning (Garden of Eden). Then too, the Devil (Satan) will be bound and cast into the "bottomless pit" for a thousand years (Rev 20:2-3) during the millennial reign of Christ.
"We were made a little lower than the angels, but then crowned with glory and honor (in the image and likeness of God), and everything has been put under our feet (authority and power ruling over the Earth)."
"Yet, says this writer in what must be the understatement of the ages, we do not see everything subject to him (God). No, there are many things fallen humans cannot control: the weather, the seasons, the instincts of animals, the tides, our own passions, international events, natural disasters, and on and on. The increasing pollution of the planet, the spread of famines and wars, the toll taken by drugs, accidents and disease, all tell the story of a lost destiny..." (Hebrews - by Ray C. Stedman, The IVCP New Testament Commentary Series, IVCP Press, Downers Grove IL, 1992).
Whichever way the above statements are read, it is clear that our intended destiny was one of power and authority over all the conditions and creatures of the Earth. If this was in fact our original commission from the moment of God's creation, what relevance should this shed on what our responsibility is in caring for this planet and its creatures?
We are not being given dominion over this world for its creatures to serve us. Instead, we are given the authority to nurture and develop this world to its fullest extent as intended by the fruitful mind of our Lord God and creator. Our position as human beings in the Government of God is to serve through knowledge and loving care, in the form of servant-leadership which the Lord Jesus Christ himself manifested when he came.
As relating to the angels in the divine grand scheme of things, we should follow their example:
"He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire... Are they not all ministering spirits SENT OUT TO SERVE for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?"
(Hebrews 1:7,14 ESV)
CELESTIAL ORDER of the UNIVERSE - (Read our Full 3-PART Article Series)
- The Hierarchy of HEAVEN and The Divine Order - (PART 1)
AN*GEL*OL*O*GY [eyn-juh-lol-uh-jee] -noun: a doctrine or theory concerning angels. An "angel" is a supernatural being found in the texts of several religions and the folklore of many cultures.
- The Lordships - Mighty Angels & Authorities - (PART 2)
In scripture we are presented with another world, a world of the Spirit. It is world that exists beyond our normal physical senses. It is an invisible world, one which includes angels, both good and evil.
- The Princes & Archangels - Ministering Spirits & Angelic Guardians - (PART 3)
Angelology and the Celestial Hierarchy (References)
- SUMMA THEOLOGICA: Prima Pars - by Thomas Aquinas
(Online copy of the Summa Thelogica) - Discusses sacred doctrine, the One God, the Blessed Trinity, the Creation, the Angels, the Six Days, Man, and the Government of Creatures in Heaven and Earth.
- The Celestial Hierarchy - by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (5th century)
(Online copy of the entire manuscript ready for viewing).
- Jewish Enclyclopedia Online - Angelology
In one form or another, belief in angels appears in the earliest stages of Jewish history. It continues to live in the spiritual world of the Jews and those professing the religions that sprang from Abrahamic roots; such as Christianity and Islam.
- F. F. Bruce - (Frederick Fyvie Bruce 1910-1990)
- Biblical scholar and one of the founders of the modern evangelical understanding of the Bible. His work New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? is considered a classic in the discipline of Christian apologetics.
- Ray C. Steadman - (Raymond Charles Stedman 1917-1992)
- was an evangelical Christian pastor (Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto, California), and Biblical author.
*Final NOTE Regarding Angels
The angelic beings were created to serve ONLY God. They likewise were not created to prompt servitude from mankind but instead are ordained to service mankind by way of following God's will for us in the universe. We ARE NOT TO WORSHIP OR CALL ON ANGELS BY NAME and they are not to encourage us to do the same either.
"For by him [ God ] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:" (Colossians 1:16 KJV)
"Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also." (1 John 2:22-23 NKJ)
"The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons." (1 Timothy 4:1 NIV)
"Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world."
(1 John 4:1-3 NIV)
TOP 7 - Well Recommended Books on this Topic
- by Billy Graham - The book goes into a detailed explanation of all the known aspects of the existence and activities of angels. He shows the power of the angels to both destroy and to bless. Dr. Graham has taken a scholarly approach to the subject with sound theological ideas and appropriate scripture references that are supported by good Biblical reasoning. He shows that angels are not just random agents within the scope of Christianity, but enforcers of God's will.
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