All the Angels in the Bible

Chapter 2

The Creation and Home of Angels

A. Their Creation

    Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said: . . ."Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? . . . While the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?" (Job 38:1, 4, 7)

There is a class of beings who inhabit the expanse of the heavens. They are the angels of God; they are the tenants of the heavens. Would it be like God to have fashioned the boundless universe with no creatures to praise Him except mortal man?

    The Angels are living beings of the highest position and greatest consequence in the universe. They are more than mere powers emanating from God. Though in no way independent in the sense that they are self-originating, self-sustaining, or capable of self-annihilation, they are free moral beings and, in the past ages at least, held their own destiny within the power of their own choice. (Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, VII, p. 4–5)

William George, in his Commentary on Hebrews, states: "Angels as first created were after the image of God: The purest, holiest and readiest to do goodness of any creatures. . . . They are the most glorious of God's creatures." Daniel described an angel as a man dressed in fine linen, with a belt of fine gold around his waist. His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightening, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of many waters (Daniel 10:5–6).

Angels have the highest habitation of all creatures: far beyond the moon and sun are all the glorious hosts of the highest visible heaven. ". . . angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven" (Matthew 18:10). They have knowledge, prudence, purity, glory, power, speed, zeal and immortality.

Such is the excellence of these resplendent beings, created of a substance which is spiritual—the most excellent substance that any creature can have, and that which is nearest to the divine nature. When God spoke to Job out of the whirlwind, we find a hint as to the time when angels came into being.

    Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation?
    Tell me, if you understand.
    Who worked out its dimensions? Surely you know!
    Who stretched a measuring line across it?
    On what was its footing set,
    Or who laid out its cornerstone—
    While the mornings stars sang together
    and all the angels shouted for joy? (Job 38:4–7)

David declares that the angels were created by God:

    Praise Him, all His angels,
    Praise Him, all His heavenly hosts.
     . . . for he commanded and they were created. (Psalm 148:2, 5)

It is assumed from Colossians 1:16–17 that all angels were created simultaneously. In like manner, it is assumed that the creation of angels was completed at that time and that none will be added to their number. They are not subject to death or any form of extinction; therefore they do not decrease as they do not increase. The plan by which the human family is secured through propagation has no counterpart among the angels. Each angel, being a direct creation of God, stands in immediate and personal relation to the Creator. It is said by Christ, " . . . they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven" (Matthew 22:28–30, KJV). Thus it is concluded that there is no decrease or increase among these heavenly beings.

    As spirits, angels have a definite form of organization which is adapted to the law of their being. They are both finite and spacial. All this may be true though they are far removed from this mundane economy. They are able to approach the sphere of human life, but that fact in no way imposes upon them the conformity to human existence. The appearance of angels may be, as occasion demands, so like men that they pass as men. How else could some "entertain angels unawares" (Hebrews 13:2)? On the other hand, their appearance is sometimes in dazzling white and blazing glory (Matthew 28:2–4). When Christ declared, "A spirit does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have" (Luke 24:37–39), He did not imply that a spirit has no body at all, but, rather, that they do have bodies which in constitution are different from those of men. (Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, VII, p. 12)

The prophet Nehemiah writes, "You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, . . . You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you" (Nehemiah 9:6).

Originally, God existed alone in all the perfection and glory of His majesty. Before the appearance of any world, He surrounded Himself with a vast angelic host, spiritual beings far superior to man. Being pure spirit, the angels were and are invisible and immortal, but not immutable. When created, they were endowed with intellect, will and beauty, and power far above the human level. They all worshipped God in the excellence of His holiness, until the fall of Satan. While Scripture is sufficiently clear as to the existence of angels as creations of the Almighty, the time, order, place, and manner of the creation of the noblest and most exalted creatures of God are not revealed. Thus, opinions differ as to when and why they were brought into being.

Some Jewish writers held that they were created during the six days of creation of the world and that they are to be considered as included in the term "heaven" or "light." Rabbi Jochanan, quoting Psalm 104:3–4, affirmed that the angels were created on the second day. Rabbi Chanina, comparing Genesis 1:20 with Isaiah 40:26, says they were created on the fifth day. Another rabbi expressed the idea that only those angels created on the second day of creation continue forever. The others perish, like those created on the fifth day who sang their anthem to God's praise, then ceased to be. One Jewish writer declared, "Before the creation of the world, the blessed God created the shape of the holy angels, who were the beginning of all created beings and were derived from the glance of His glory." Another writer, misapplying Lamentations 3:23 ("They are new every morning"), remarked that "every day ministering angels are created out of the river Dinor, or 'fiery stream,' sing their anthem, then cease to exist" (Daniel 7:10). Supposedly, some angels are created from fire, others from water, others from wind. Rabbi Jochanan inferred that there is an angel created by every word that proceeds out of God's mouth.

Angels are not expressly mentioned in Moses' account of creation, yet they are implied in it. The heavens include all that are in them created by God, and among these must be the angels (Genesis 2:1). Among the hosts of heaven the angels are the principal part. They are expressly called "the heavenly host" and " the armies of heaven" (Luke 2:13). The angels must have been created with the heavens, seeing their nature is similar to the heavens and their habitation is in the heavens. It is our conviction, however, that the creation record was not designed to include a history of celestial beings, but to present a faithful account of the creation of the earth in connection with the rest of the solar system, and also of the origin and fall of man. The statement of Job indicates that the myriads of angels were created long before the creation of the world (38:4–7). With the appearance of the first and brightest productions of creative power, the holy angels—the sons of God, the morning stars of the creation—witnessed, adored and rejoiced with exultation. Angelic beings then, we confidently conclude, were created long before the formation of the earth. But just when in the mysterious revolutions of eternity they were called into existence is not a subject of divine revelation. That the angels were created by God and for His glory is, however, an unassailable fact of Scripture.

When created by God, all the angels were good. Some, however, fell from their celestial wisdom and position through the misuse of their liberty. God made nothing evil. The evil spirits were not created demons but became demons when by a free act they cut themselves off from their Creator. "The angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness . . . " (Jude 6). "For . . . God did not spare angels when they sinned . . . " (2 Peter 2:4). Rev. Thomas Timpson, for many years pastor of the Union Chapel, Lewisham, London, published in 1865 one of the most comprehensive studies on The Angels of God. On the creation of angels he has written:

    Many of the sacred writers, at least fifteen, have described these celestial beings, with the most perfect harmony of language, without a single discordant idea. Their descriptions, it may be observed, are extensively various, comprising many particulars and wholly independent of each other. All the several writers are also in this respect original. Not one is a copier, not one a plagiary; yet their representations are conversably consistent: the beings created by God are noble, sublime, dignified, beautiful, and lovely beyond anything found in the profound and finished writings of uninspired men.

* * *

    Angel spirits, by great God designed
    To be on earth the
    guardians of mankind;
    Invisible to mortal eyes they go,
    And mark our actions, good or bad below;
    The immortal eyes with watchful care preside,
    And thrice ten thousands round their charges glide.
    They can reward with glory or with gold;
    Such power Divine Permission bids them hold. ("Opera et Dies")

B. Their Home

    And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority, but abandoned their own home . . . (Jude 6)

Angels are not always on the move; they have a natural habitat, a proper home. Is space their home? The Judaica teaches that there are seven heavens:

    Velim—the curtain of night and day (Isaiah 40:22)

    Expanse—the firmament (Genesis 1:17)

    Aether—where the manna is made (Psalm 78:27)

    Habitation —where Michael stands at the altar (1 Kings 8:3)

    Dwelling Place—where the angels sing (Psalm 42:8)

    Fixed Residence—the dwelling place (1 Kings 8:39–49)

    Araboth—these are the souls of the righteous (Psalm 49:17)

The Bible mentions three heavens. "I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows" (2 Corinthians 12:2). These words, written by Paul to the great church he founded in the thriving city of Corinth, relate to a beatific vision he had had some "fourteen years ago." This would have been some time between his conversion on the road to Damascus and his first missionary journey from Antioch.

    In this vision Paul thinks of himself as passing beyond the lower sky, beyond the firmament of heaven, into a third yet higher heaven where the presence of God was manifest . . . We probably hear a far off echo of the derision with which the announcement was received by the jesting Greeks of Corinth and by St. Paul's personal rivals in the dialogue ascribed to Lucian and known as the Pifilopatis, in which Paul is represented as "the Galilean, bald, with eagle nose walking through the air to the third heaven" (H. E. Plumptree, Lang's Commentary, Vol. VII, p. 409).

Even learned Paul with his mastery of the majestic Greek language could not find words to describe the magnificence of this "third heaven." He said that, to keep him from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, " . . . there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me" (2 Corinthians 12:7). Where is the third heaven? How can we distinguish one heaven from another? Where do the angels dwell?

1. The First Heaven: Earth and Man

    Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth . . ." (Genesis 1:26)

Earth may be miserably small, but it is our home. Here we experience change and decay, war and peace, birth and death. It is not only land and sea; there is the air we breath, the fragile atmosphere that protects us from the blazing sun and provides the rain and snow to water the earth. It is a wonderful world. "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son . . . " (John 3:16). This world, our world of all nations, is "one precious in His sight."

Not only are we loved by God, we are ministered to by the angels. They visit us; they guide and guard us; and if we believe, they carry us into His presence.

This world is also tormented by Satan and his fallen angels. It is a world of light and darkness, of sin and salvation. As Frank Peretti states, it is a place of "present darkness." Here we take our stand against the devil's schemes, against the forces of evil in the heavenly realms. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12).

    A mighty fortress is our God,
    A bulwark never failing;
    Our helper He, amid the flood
    Of mortal ills prevailing.
    For still our ancient foe
    Doth seek to work us woe;
    His craft and power are great,
    And, armed with cruel hate,
    On earth is not his equal.

    Did we in our own strength confide,
    Our striving would be losing,
    Were not the right Man on our side,
    The Man of God's own choosing.
    Dost ask who that may be?
    Christ Jesus, it is He;
    Lord Sabaoth His name,
    From age to age the same,
    And He must win the battle.

    And though this world, with devils filled,
    Should threaten to undo us,
    We will not fear, for God hath willed
    His truth to triumph through us.
    The prince of darkness grim—
    We tremble not for him;
    His rage we can endure,
    For lo! his doom is sure,
    One little word shall fell him.

    That word above all earthly powers—
    No thanks to them—abideth;
    The Spirit and the gifts are ours
    Through Him who with us sideth.
    Let goods and kindred go,
    This mortal life also;
    The body they may kill;
    God's truth abideth still;
    His kingdom is forever!  (Martin Luther)

2. The Second Heaven: Space and Stars

    The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. (Isaiah 13:10)

The first known Christian scholar, Clement of Alexandria (155–220), who taught in the Catechetical School of Alexandria (ca. 190), believed "that the stars are angels," meaning no doubt that there are at least as many angels as there are stars. The great expanse of the universe we see on a clear star-lit night must be the second heaven. God's throne is above the stars. "I will raise my throne above the stars . . . " (Isaiah 14:13). Stars and angels seem to go together. At the birth of Jesus the star shone and the angels sang. John in the book of Revelation writes, "the seven stars are seven angels."

    Silent, one by one in the
    infinite meadows of heaven,
    Blossomed by the lovely stars,
    the forget-me-nots of angels.  (Longfellow)

It is also significant and not without meaning that the phrase "the host of heavens" means both the stars and the angelic hosts. The "Lord of Hosts" has also the same double meaning, for He is the Lord of the stars and the Lord of the angels. Our mind staggers and our heart is filled with awe as we listen to the wonders of astronomy. David said of God, "He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name" (Psalm 147:4). Most of the names have been lost, but over 100 are preserved through the Arabic and the Hebrew and are used by astronomers today:

    We have to remember that our written Scriptures began with Moses, say in 1490 B.C.: and thus, for more than 2,500 years, the revelation of the hope which God gave in Genesis 3:15 was preserved in the naming of the stars and their grouping in Signs and Constellations.

    These groupings are quite arbitrary. There is nothing in the positions of the stars to suggest the pictures originally drawn around them. The Signs and Constellations were first designed and named; then, the pictures were drawn around them respectively. Thus the truth was enshrined and written in the heavens, where no human hand could touch it. In later years, when Israel came into the possession of the written "Scriptures of truth," there was no longer any need for the more ancient writing in the heavens. Hence, the original teaching gradually faded away, and the heathen, out of the smattering they had heard by tradition, evolved their cosmogonies and mythologies. (Companion Bible, Part 1, Note 12)

In his book on stars astronomer Jay M. Pasachoft writes, "Light travels at 186,000 miles per second. . . . Light can travel the distance around the earth in a simple second . . . can travel from the sun in eight minutes. Yet it takes four years to travel from the nearest stars." (Guide to the Stars, p. 110). Job mentions the star Arcturas (Job 9:9 KJV). This star is thirty-six light years from the earth, which is 351,941,760,000 miles from the earth; yet we can see it, for it is twenty-five times the diameter of the sun. Camille Flammarion states:

    Then I understand that all the stars which have ever been observed in the sky, the millions of luminous points which constitute the Milky Way, the innumerable celestial bodies, suns of every magnitude and of every degree of brightness, solar systems, planets and satellites, which by millions and hundreds of millions succeed each other in the void around us, that whatever human tongues have designated by the name of universe, do not in the infinite represent more than an archipelago of celestial islands and not more than a city in a grand total of population, a town of greater or lesser importance. In this city of the limitless empire, in this town of a land without frontiers, our Sun and its system represents a single point, a single house among millions of other habitations. Is our solar system a palace or a hovel in this great city? Probably a hovel. And the earth? The Earth is a room in the solar mansion—a small dwelling, miserably small. (cited by Gaebelein, "The Angels of God," pp. 8–9)

From earliest times man has asked the question, "Is Earth the only inhabited planet?" The Bible, addressing this age-old problem, discloses that the angels have their abode among the stars, in the heavens—the second heaven. Their numbers are beyond human computation.

3. The Third Heaven: God and Glory

    I know a man in Christ [Paul] who . . . was caught up to the third heaven. (2 Corinthians 12:2)

This is the place of divine glory, the place of the blessed, seen by Moses, Ezekiel, Paul, John and Satan. "One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. The LORD said to Satan, 'Where have you come from?' Satan answered the LORD, 'From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it' " (Job 1:6).

Dr. A. Gaebelein, in his book Angels, states:

    In the Hebrew, heaven is the plural, "the heavens." The Bible speaks of three heavens, the third heaven is the heaven of heavens, the dwelling place of God, where His throne has always been. The tabernacle possessed by His earthly people, Israel, was a pattern of the heavens. Moses upon the mountain had looked into the vast heavens and saw the three heavens. He had no telescope. But God Himself showed to him the mysteries of the heavens. Then God admonished him when he was about to make tabernacle and said to His servant, "See that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mountain" (Hebrews viii:5). The tabernacle had three compartments, the outer court, the Holy part and the Holiest. Once a year the high priest entered this earthly place of worship to pass through the outer court, into the Holy part, and, finally, carrying the sacrificial blood, he entered into the Holiest to sprinkle the blood in Jehovah's holy presence. But Aaron was only a type of Him who is greater than Aaron, the true High Priest. Of Him, the true Priest, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, it is written that He passed through the heavens (Hebrews iv:14). "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us" (Hebrews ix:24). He passed through the heavens, the outer court, the heaven surrounding the earth; the holy part, the immense universes, with their immeasurable distance, and finally He entered the third heaven, that heaven astronomy knows exists, but which no telescope can ever reach.

The glory and majesty of God in the highest heaven was seen by the following people:

Moses, as he with the elders went up Mt. Sinai, saw during his six days " . . . the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear as the sky itself" (Exodus 24:9, 10).

Ezekiel saw "what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man . . . as if full of fire . . . and brilliant light surrounded him" (Ezekiel 1:26–27).

John, as he prayed in his cave on the Isle of Patmos, exclaimed, ". . . I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper . . . " (Revelation 4:2).

This dwelling place of the Most High, the third heaven, referred to by Paul (2 Corinthians 12:2) is the highest heaven. The faithful angels can go in a moment from their abode in the second heaven into the presence of God, their Creator, in the third heaven to praise Him and to obey His command to visit the dusty lanes of earth of the first heaven, to guard the people of the Way, to watch over our little children and to execute judgment on the wicked.

    Beyond the glittering starry globes,
    Far as the eternal hills,
    There all the boundless worlds, with light,
    Our great Redeemer fills.

    Legions of Angels, strong and fair,
    In countless armies shine;
    And swell his praise with golden harps,
    Attuned to songs divine.  (Gregg)

 

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