Their Creation and Nature
Angels have become very popular in recent years. You’ll find them featured in countless books, movies, artwork and television shows. The popularity of angels shows that our culture has a great interest in spiritual things. But the way angels are portrayed also shows us that our culture doesn’t have a good understanding of what the Bible says about them.
When someone has a spiritual curiosity or hunger, but isn’t grounded in Scripture, it can lead to that person being deceived and led away from God instead of towards Him.
Misunderstanding angels is one way people can be deceived. For example, I once came across a website that, for a fee, will send you a personalized email from an angel. For a more significant fee you can talk to an angel via Instant Messenger!
Obviously there are many people willing to take advantage of those who are searching and we must guard against this by knowing what the Bible says. The way to satisfy spiritual cravings is through Christ and His Word. Any other road will lead you down the wrong path.
Angels are spiritual beings created by God to serve Him (Ps 148:1-5; Col 1:16). Calvin described angels as “heavenly spirits, whose obedience and ministry God employs to execute all the purposes which he has decreed,” while the writer of Hebrews described them as “ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation.” (Heb 1:14)
There are countless numbers of angels (Dan 7:10; Heb 12:22), though they do not reproduce (Matt 22:30). It’s possible that Matthew 18:10 hints that there are at least as many angels as there are humans who have lived throughout history.
Exactly when they were created is unknown, but they were present during the creation of the world, and shouted for joy when they witnessed God’s creative power. (Job 38:6-7)
Like humans, angels are personalities who display intelligence, emotion and freewill. But while humans are both spiritual and material beings (Jam 2:26) angels are only spirit. (Heb 1:14) They sometimes appear in the glory of the Lord (Luke 2:9), sometimes as men (Heb 13:2; Mar 16:5), and sometimes appear as strange forms (Isa 6; Ezk 1).
Angels are limited beings and are not omniscient (2 Pet 2:11). They desire to learn more about the gospel (1 Pet 1:12) and rejoice when a sinner repents. (Lk 15:10)
Also like humans angels have freewill and can choose to either follow God or rebel against Him. And rebel is just what one angel named Lucifer and his followers did.
War In Heaven
Lucifer, whose name means “light bearer” or “morning star”, is not God’s equal. Like all beings, he is merely a creation of God and must submit to His sovereignty. (Ps 148:1-5; Col 1:16)
Lucifer held an exalted position in heaven. He may have been a cherub. (Ezk 28:14) Cherubs are high-ranking angels whose ministry involves, in some way, guarding the Lord’s holiness. This position would have allowed Lucifer to possibly be closer to God than any other creature.
But Lucifer wasn’t satisfied with simply being in the presence of God’s throne. He became filled with pride (1 Tim 3:6) and desired a throne of his own, one exalted above God’s. (Isa 14:13) He wanted to be like the Most High (Isa 14:14).
Lucifer wasn’t alone in his quest to be his own god. He convinced one-third of the heavenly host to join him in his rebellion. (Rev 12:4) But God is omniscient (1 Jn 3:20) and omnipotent (Rev 1:8) no being can oppose Him. Lucifer’s war was lost before it even began. His fate is sealed. (Gen 3:15; Rev 20:10)
We tend to think that people reject God because they don’t know Him like we know Him. That if only they could experience the love and fulfillment we have experienced then they would embrace Him too. But that isn’t always true. Lucifer and his followers lived every moment before God yet they choose to hide their faces from Him.
Be it angels or humans, it isn’t enough to simply have knowledge of who God is, we must also be willing to come to Him on His terms and call Him our Lord. (Jam 2:19; Rom 6:16)
And so Lucifer and his followers turned against God. Angels who remained loyal to the Lord were the holy or elect angels (Matt 25:31;1 Tim 5:21) while those who choose to follow Satan became known as demons. (Matt 12:24)
Lucifer, the morning star, had fallen. Satan, the adversary, was born.
The Work Of Christ, Angels And Demons
Satan took his war against God to a new battlefront – the heart of man. He tempted Adam and Eve to sin (Gen 3:1) which led to man being spiritually separated from God. (Rom 6:23)
God responded to this attack by promising to send a Seed who would restore that tarnished relationship and crush Satan (Gen 3:15). Jesus Christ, God the Son, was that Seed. At His death on the cross Christ defeated Satan. (Heb 2:14) Man’s relationship with God was restored and the countdown to Satan’s final judgment began. (John 4:16; Rev 20)
As Satan’s time runs short he and his demons increase their activity. (Rev 12:12) These activities involve opposing the plan of God (Dan 10:13) and leading people away from Christ. (1 Cor 10:20) They appeal to man’s spiritual desires by disguising themselves as “angels of light” (2 Cor 11:14), seducing many with wicked doctrine, (1 Tim 4:1) and drawing them into a form of godliness which has no power to save. (2 Tim 3:5)
Demons can sometimes afflict people with various physical conditions (Matt 9:33; Mark 5:2-16) though it’s important to note that Scripture distinguishes between natural and demonic illness (Matt 4:24; Mrk 1:32). They attempt to delay the answers to godly prayer (Dan 10:13) and draw nations into war (Rev 16:14).
Demons attempt to snare believers in sin (1 Tim 3:7). When they sin Satan acts as their accuser (Rev 12:10).
But where Satan accuses, Christ serves as the believers advocate (1 Jhn 2:1). Where demons reject God, the holy angels worship Him (Psa 148:2; Heb 1:6). Where demons oppose the Lord, the holy angels serve Him (Psa 103:20). Where demons draw men away from Christ the holy angels rejoice when a sinner repents (Lk 15:10).
Holy Angels announce and execute judgment on God’s command (Rev 14:6-7; Rev 16:1). They appear to be involved somehow in bringing answers to prayer requests (Dan 10:12; Acts 12:5-10), though as mere servants of God they are never to be prayed to or worshiped. To do so would be a terrible sin. (Col 2:18)
Holy angels observe our world, taking special interest in Christ’s work on the cross. (1 Pet 1:12) No doubt they were amazed to see the Lord step out of glory and into our fallen world. They must have marveled at the thought of He who knew no sin becoming sin on our behalf. (2 Cor 5:21) Every day they witness His grace in the lives of believers and it cause them to praise His holy name. It should cause us, the recipients of His grace, to do no less.