ELDER NEIL PHELAN JR.
I BELIEVE IN ANGELS
"Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind" Col 2:18.
The fleshly mind will believe anything suggested to it by man or science. The mind void of spiritual principles will believe in U.F.O.s; in life on other planets; in cities at the bottom of the sea; in evolution; in reincarnation; to name a few. How else could the books, magazines and papers we see on the news rack sell the superstitions they print. And for all of the media and hype which support these ideas, there is not one thread of evidence to back a sentence of it up; but not so concerning angels! The inspired word of God abounds with eyewitness after eyewitness; experience after experience; evidence upon evidence; documenting the angelic host of heaven. Many of these writers lived thousands of years apart; came from different areas of the world; various walks of life; all to testify of their experience with heavenly creatures. What courtroom could deny such evidence? No, I don't believe in U.F.O.'s, life on other planets, cities at the bottom of the sea, in reincarnation, or evolution; but I do believe in angels.
If you believe in angels I want to tell you that you are in good company. Paul, a Pharisee, divided the council over the question of angels and the resurrection, knowing the Sadducees did not believe in either and the Pharisees believed in both "For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both"- Acts 23:8. Paul confessed both: the resurrection and angels. As Paul was mocked in that day, there are mockers today, and for that very purpose Paul encourages us to "Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind"-Col 2:18. Paul had seen angels.
The scriptures give us insight into at least three types of angels: the Cherubim; the Seraphim; and the unnamed variety referred to simply as angel. What must have been the splendor of the scene as the angel spoke to the shepherds and said "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people" and as the message was heralded concerning the birth of the Christ child, "suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men"-Luke 2:10,13,14. A multitude of angels in number and variety praised God for His good will toward men.
The Cherubim is an angel of great power and is observed in scripture as a protector, a defence or covering, or a guard to an opening. This creature is mentioned over forty times in scripture. God placed the Cherubim to guard the way to the tree of life after the fall of Adam "So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life"-Gen 3:24. The Cherubim is a winged angel for Ezekiel wrote "the sound of the cherubims' wings was heard even to the outer court, as the voice of the Almighty God when he speaketh"-Eze10:5. Yes, some angels do have wings!
Isaiah was blessed of God to behold seraphims. This creature was most awesome, possessing six wings. Isaiah is the only writer who specifically refers to this species of angel. Isaiah saw the seraphims above the throne of God "Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly." "Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar"-Isaiah 6:2,6.
The accounts of unspecified angels are numerous and common in scripture, both in the Old and New Testament. The definition of "messenger" fits their job and purpose as we observe them faithfully carrying out their orders from the most high, imparting some message to unsuspecting mortals. These angels have the ability to assume human form and are used many times in just this way. Abraham was visited by such in the plains of Mamre "And the Lord appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; and he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him"-Gen 18:1-2. At least two of these men are referred to as angels as Lot saw them approach the gate of Sodom "And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom" Gen 19:1a. As we read the experience of the angels in the wicked city of Sodom the ignorance of these people is recorded as they observed them as mere men "And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night?"
Angels are inhabitants of a spiritual realm unobserved by the natural eye except when they desire to be seen and heard. Angels are created beings for "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made" -John 1:3. As we have partially observed their purpose, we must acknowledge God's ultimate design in all created beings, even ourselves, a purpose and design which we share with the angelic host "for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created"-Rev 5:11b.
Another attribute in which we share with angels is that of individuality. Just as every person has a separate and distinct identity, so do angels. For this reason, they have names. We know of the names of at least two angels: Gabriel and Michael. These names appear in both the Old and New testament and are recorded by men who lived hundreds of years apart. For this reason, who could doubt the inspiration of scripture; who could doubt the validity of angels?! And as we observe the span of time between these writings, it would be logical to assume that angels do not age nor to they know death.
It was the angel Gabriel who appeared unto Zacharias bearing the message of the forthcoming birth of his son: John the Baptist "And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings"- Luke 1:19. It was Gabriel in whom God commissioned to speak unto Mary the wondrous message of her immaculate conception "And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel come in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women." Luke 1:26-28. Hundreds of years before this, Gabriel touched Daniel and gave him understanding from God "Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding" Dan 9:21-22. Oh, that we might be touched of angels!
The angel Michael is mentioned three times in the book of Daniel, once in the book of Jude and once in the book of Revelation. Michael is referred to as a prince "But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia"-Dan 10:13. Michael is a mighty warrior; a commander in chief, for every time we read of him we observe his valiant stand for the honor of God and the safety of God's elect "And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people" Dan 12:1a. He is involved in a spiritual battle unseen by the naked eye. This same angel is recorded in Rev 12:7 in heated conflict "And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels" -Rev 12:7.
Angels have no redeemer and their rebellion against the most high is eternal treason which separates them from their initial estate "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day"-Jude 6. This great judgement day is the day in which Jesus shall return to gather His sheep unto himself and say unto the fallen angels and the damned "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels" Mat 25:41. How thankful we should be that God remembered us in his covenant and sent His son to redeem us from the curse of our sins. Were it not for our redeemer, we would find ourselves in the same position as the fallen angels: having left our first estate and eternally separated from our Lord.
According to Paul, one who had personally seen angels, there are elect angels just as sure as there are elect people. Paul charged Timothy before God and angels "I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things"-I Tim 5:21a. Equally so, there are nonelect or fallen angels for "God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment"- II Pet 2:4.
It seems, by scriptural language, that angels do not procreate no more than the resurrected bodies of the elect "For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven" -Mark 12:25. Therefore there were a specific number of angels created of God just as surely as there is a specific number of the elect. Jesus died and redeemed a specific people in number and personal identity. If Jesus died for you, He knew you as personally and intimately as He knows every angel for He created us all.
The Bible does not give us an exact number of saints that were redeemed by Jesus, but rather refers to the elect as a multitude "ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands"; as numerous as the sand of the sea or the stars of the sky; equally so concerning angels. Their number is not revealed to men but we do know there are more than 72,000 angels for Jesus said "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?'-Mat 26:53. In that day, one legion of soldiers contained 6,000 men. Twelve legions of angels would contain 72,000 angels. I do not believe the company of men which came to take Jesus had even an inkling of understanding concerning the power at the disposal of the Son of God. There are many people today who are just as ignorant. The power of an angel is displayed in the days of King David, when "the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians and hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses"- II Kings 19:35. One angel destroyed 185,000 men in one night. By simple arithmetic we can logically assume that twelve legions of angels could easily destroy 12,920,000,000 men; that's twelve billion, nine hundred and twenty million. The earth's total population in 1987 was approximately 5 billion! Could Jesus have escaped the wicked men and avoided His death upon a cross? The answer is certain. His death was a willing and loving sacrifice for you and for me. Remember this the next time you desire to bend your powers for evil. We should not forget that Jesus is and was always "King of Kings and Lord or Lords" possessing all power in heaven and earth, and even in His humanity, this man possessed a more excellent name than angels and superseded angels in power and authority for He "being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?"-Heb 1:4-5. Yes, Jesus is King and Lord of all angels, possessing more power and sovereignty than 12 legions!
As we have observed, in a temporal sense, angels are greater in power than man but in an eternal sense, man will exercise the authority given to Him by God, even over angels "Know ye not that we shall judge angels?" I Cor 6:3a. The how and why is not given but Paul says "we shall".
We know of several other attributes of angels. Angels rejoice when a sinner repents for "there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth"-Luke 15:10. When a sinner repents the angels rejoice. Perhaps one reason is because there is no repentance observed in angels.
Another attribute of Angels is their desire to worship their creator. Angels enjoy a worshipful life in heaven and desire to worship with us as we look into "the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.-Peter 1:12. When the truth of God and the victory of Jesus Christ is proclaimed even the angels are edified. The proclamation of truth is a spiritual magnetism.
Angels are also attracted towards those who fear God. David declares that it is the nature of angels to hover about those that fear God for "The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them." To be rather graphic, a person who does not fear God has spiritual body odor. Angels avoid them. Angels are not objects of worship. John was rebuked, and properly so, by an angel in whom he attempted to worship "And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God"-Rev 22:8-9. Perhaps this was the very sin of the fallen angels: they wanted to be worshiped in the place of God.
Some might at first believe that our text, Col. 2:18, encourages the worshiping of angels in the same fashion that we worship God but the word "worshipping" in our text comes from the Greek word "threskeia", which indicates "ceremonial observance". This is quite different from the word "worshipping" as observed in Matthew 20:20 where James, John and their mother worship Jesus. Here, the word "worshipping" comes from the Greek word "proskuneo" which means "to fawn or crouch, to prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore)".
Jesus is referred to in scripture as an angel. Jesus was not created, for Jesus is co-eternal with the Father, but is referred to as an angel because of His message: Jesus preached his own gospel. This was the angel Paul served "For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve."-Acts 27:23. Jesus is the archangel whose voice of power and authority will rend the tomb and command the sleeping dust to obey His voice in the resurrection "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first" I Thes 4:16. This voice could be none other than the voice of the Son of God "for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice"-John 5:28.
John records his observance of angels time and time again in the book of Revelation. Peter was delivered from fetters and chains, and from prison by an angel (Acts 12:7-9). Cornelius saw an angel (Acts 10:3-7). We could go on and on of the eyewitness accounts of angels recorded in the Book of Books. For these reasons we should all confess: "I believe in angels."