Angels Among Us
When sacred scripture refers to the heavens, it doesn't just mean the starry sky. It also means the abode of the angels and the saints. The first words of the Bible, "God created the heavens and the earth", are intended to remind us of mans last end, and our future destiny. So just as a side note here, when we die, we don't become angels. If we die in a state of grace and friendship with God, we're referred to as saints. The angels are spiritual beings created by God. They have an intellect and they have a will, but they don't have a body. And this is just an important side note because I often hear from people that when they lose, a loved one, when somebody dies, they say something along the lines of: "Well, now we know that there's another angel in heaven." You and I don't become angels. God-willing, we're going to become Saints that are in Heaven. So the spiritual world consists of God and his angels and the heavens where they dwell.
God’s Word has so much to say about angels—both good angels and demons (which are evil angels)—that all I can do in this time allotted to us is to give you the basic framework and major points of emphasis the Bible makes about them. But this study will give you enough information to help you be aware of the critical role that these supernatural, spirit beings play in God’s plan both in history and eternity. Angels have been popular in Hollywood movies and in our culture for some time. At the same time the demonic world has become a popular theme in television and films. Just go to any theater in October, and you will see movie after movie displayed about these evil beings. Halloween movies may seem like silly, even childish story-telling intended to simply scare, but good angels and bad angels (demons) are real, and they have a lot more significance than we actually give them. And much of what we read and watch about angels is really fluff compared to what the Bible teaches. What I want to do is discuss in greater detail the role of angels in our lives as we consider their origin, activities, and future. While all angels had the same origin in eternity past as God’s creation, good and bad angels today work in opposition to each other in the world. So let’s look at how angels impact us, how to understand them better, and how to even utilize the gifts and services they provide on God’s behalf.
It’s also important to say that we can’t talk about angels—good and rebellious—without getting into the issue of spiritual warfare, which will be part of our focus. This answers the question, “Why do I need to know about angels?” They are fighting against each other, and you are the prize they’re fighting for!
Let’s begin by looking at the origin of the angelic world. In Colossians 1:16, Paul wrote: “For by Christ, (that is, by means of; or in Christ), all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.” This verse makes it clear that the angelic realm was not created as an end in itself. The myriads of angels that God created were made to fulfill His divine purposes. When were angels created? We don’t know exactly when, but it was before the creation of the earth and mankind. During His answer to the patriarch Job, God asked this question: “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
… When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4,7). The sons of God were the angels, who formed a choir and sang in celebration at creation. We know these are the angels because back in Job 1:6, the “sons of God” came to report to God on His throne, and Satan was among them. As we’ll see, Satan was the greatest of the angels before his rebellion and judgment. As created beings, angels are not to be worshiped in and of themselves, in the narrow sense that the word worship is used today.
The word “worship” has undergone a change in meaning in English.
It comes from the Old English weorthscipe, which means the condition of being worthy of honor, respect, or dignity. To worship in the older, larger sense is to ascribe honor, worth, or excellence to someone, whether a sage, a magistrate, or God.
For many centuries, the term worship simply meant showing respect or honor, and an example of this usage survives in contemporary English. British subjects refer to their magistrates as “Your Worship,” although Americans would say “Your Honor.” This doesn’t mean that British subjects worship their magistrates as gods; it means they are giving them the honor appropriate to their office, not the honor appropriate to God.
In Scripture, the term “worship” was similarly broad in meaning, but in the early Christian centuries, theologians began to differentiate between different types of honor in order to make more clear which is due to God and which is not.
As the terminology of Christian theology developed, the Greek term latria came to be used to refer to the honor that is due to God alone, and the term dulia came to refer to the honor that is due to human beings, especially the saints. Scripture indicates that honor is due to these individuals (Matthew 10:41b)
So when the apostle John fell down to worship the angel who had shown him great things, the angel said, “Do not do that." Not because John was worshiping the angel in the way that was due only to God, he was showing respect and honor to the Angel. He considered himself "a little lower then the Angel" But the angel would have none of that because the Angel considered himself "a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God” (Revelation 22:9).
The angels were created to worship, glorify, adore, and serve God. That’s where Satan got into trouble, because he wanted to be worshiped as God rather than serve God (Isaiah 14:12–14). Many verses in the Bible reveal the motivation and purpose of the angels. According to Psalm 148:2, the angels find their delight in praising God. The writer of Hebrews said of angels, “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” (1:14). Even though angels take on human appearance and become visible on occasion, they are spirit beings who do not have flesh and blood. Hebrews 13:2 says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” When necessary, God will direct one of His invisible angels to become visible in the life of a believer in order to accomplish a divinely ordained purpose. This happened to Abraham and Sarah when “three men” (Genesis 18:2) showed up at the door of their tent one day to announce that Sarah would have a son at the age of ninety. The custom of the day was to be hospitable to strangers, and Abraham went all out for them. He may have done this because he was a kind and godly person, or because he sensed that these were special visitors. He probably did it for both reasons. One of the men was God Himself, most likely Jesus in a preincarnate appearance, because His promise to Abraham was personal: “I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son” (18:10). The other two “men” were actually angels whom God had sent to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah (18:20–22; 19:1). Abraham entertained these strangers without knowing that they came bearing the provision of God for the miracle that Sarah and he needed—the ability to conceive well past the age of childbearing (Romans 4:18–21). Angels are also spirit beings, and the same is true of demons—who are fallen angels. In Ephesians 6:12, Paul describes these fallen angels as “spiritual forces of wickedness”: “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”