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(1) Are Angels Real?
In his book Angels: God’s Secret Agents, Billy Graham says, “When I decided to preach a sermon on angels, I found practically nothing in my library. Upon investigation I soon discovered that little had been written on the subject in this century. This seemed a strange and ominous omission. Bookstores and libraries have shelves of books on demons, the occult and the devil.”1
Now most book stores are full of books about angels. Many of them are nothing but New Age mythology, and others divert attention away from Christ.
There have been many documented cases of things that can only be explained by the supernatural. Many attribute this to mind over matter, but a far more logical explanation is that unseen personalities with supernatural powers are at work. Some are good and some are evil, and both are working in today’s world.
In his book Dr. Graham says though he has never seen an angel, he has talked to and heard of people who have. He relates one story of an apparent angel coming to the aid of a lady in Philadelphia. On a cold snowy night a little girl came to Dr. S. W. Mitchell, a celebrated Philadelphia neurologist, and pleaded with him to go and help her mother who had become desperately ill. Dr. Mitchell went and was amazed to hear that the mother’s child had been dead for a month. He was even more perplexed when He saw the very shoes and coat worn by the little girl in a closet, warm and dry.
If this was an angel, then he (or she) was stretching the truth in telling Dr. Mitchell she was the mother’s child. Perhaps it was an angel—the little girl herself, and the Lord allowed her to return as a visible “ministering” spirita to seek help for her mother. Hebrews 13:1 tells us that “some have entertained angels” without realizing it.
In Ezekiel chapters 1 and 10 we have the “four living creatures,” called “Cherubims.” And they put on a brilliant display in the heavens. They would run like “a flash of lighting” and abruptly turn right or left, something that is impossible for any fast moving object to do.
There are those who think some “unidentified flying objects” (UFO’s) might be angels. There have been many documented cases that cannot be explained. Many scientists, who not so long ago denied the supernatural, now believe these may be intelligent beings from another world. Many pilots have reported seeing unexplained glowing objects in the sky, darting about as “a flash of lightning” and making turns that are impossible for any man-made object. And what’s more mysterious still, these things will appear and disappear in an instant, leaving absolutely no trace of ever having been there. Sometimes they will even show up on radar; at other times radar cannot detect them.
Some UFO’s could be the work of the fallen angels, and I would not rule out the “elect angels” putting on a display from time to time and even being mischievous at times.
(2) Angels Mode of Operation
The Lord appeared again to Abraham while he was living in the oak grove at Mamre. This is the way it happened: One hot summer afternoon as he was sitting in the opening of his tent, he suddenly noticed three men coming toward him. He sprang up and ran to meet them and welcomed them (Gen. 18:1-2, TLB).
These “three men” mentioned above were not men of flesh and blood. Two were angels, and it is generally believed that one was the Lord Himself. They were not men, they were only appearing in the image of men. The Bible is filled with accounts of angels appearing to men as men, and they are still doing it today (when God allows it).
It seems angels watch over the “elect,” and they are constantly fighting the fallen angels who are trying to kill us. Job tells us that God allows Satan and his angels to win at times, which may explain why many bad things happen to good people. Angels are not God, and they are not as perfect as many believe. According to Daniel 10, they can on occasions be overpowered by demons.
What Abraham saw may be the standard mode of operation in heaven. In other words, the image that angels use on earth may be the same one they use in heaven, and they are as tangible in heaven as they are on earth when appearing to men. Perhaps this is the way it was on earth before Adam and Eve sinned. Now they only appear on earth on rare occasions.
(3) When Were Angels Created?
Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding. . . . When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:4 ,7.)
The universe is a very large place. When we read of the millions of stars and the vast expanse of space and how long it takes light from the stars to reach us, it boggles the mind. Our world is a very tiny speck in the universe, but it is on this tiny planet that the issues of eternity will be settled.
Note that Job 38:4-7 tells us the “stars” and “the sons of God” were created sometime before God “laid the foundations of the earth.” I believe among these sons was Lucifer, who was renamed Satan. Apparently he was no longer considered one of God’s sons when he afflicted Job (see Job chapters 1 and 2).
There are but three angels named in the Bible: Lucifer, Michael, and Gabriel. Isaiah 14:12 calls Lucifer “son of the morning,” which suggest a brilliance and perfection. Many believe Ezekiel 28:11-19 is speaking of this same person, and he was the first created being and was above all the other angels. Ezekiel 28:12 tells us of one who was “full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.” He was “the anointed cherub” (verse 14). Verse 15 speaks of him as “perfect” in his ways from the day he was “created.”
(4) Why Were Angels Created?
I think the answer to the above question is simple and can be answered by asking one: Why do a husband and wife plan a child? They do so to have a living expression of themselves and to have someone to love and share their world with. They do not know how they will eventually turn out, but they take a calculated risk. Most children grow up to love and appreciate their parents, and Revelation 12:4 may indicate that two-thirds of the angels did the same. The verse speaks of Satan drawing one-third of the “stars of heaven.” Some believe this means that one-third of the angels followed Lucifer when he first sinned and two-thirds stayed with the Lord.
You may ask, Were all the angels created the same? In a sense, they probably were. They were all created equal in God’s sight and equally loved, but I believe He created each one with a different personality and different gifts, and their ways are just as varied as ours. We are all very unique and a special creation of God.
A more accurate title for the above topic would be, “Why Did God Create Sons?” In Job and Genesis 6, God speaks of His “sons,” which seem to be angels. The word angel means messenger. Some are the messengers of the Lord and some are now messengers of Satan, who was one of God’s sons. (When the New Testament speaks of the sons of God, it is speaking of the new sons of God whose spirits have been recreated by the Holy Spirit.)
(5) In His Image
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over . . . all the earth (Gen. 1:26).
The Godhead is made up of three persons, and the visible “image” of the Lord was the first thing created. Then it seems God created the angels in that image and later man in that same image, but different and with no supernatural powers. Psalm 8:5 tells us that man was made “a little lower than the angels.”
God created the spirit of angels and may have put those spirits into a celestial body made from heavenly material. Paul says just as there are earthly bodies, there are “celestial bodies.”b It was a supernatural body not subject to the laws of nature. They have powers we don’t possess and can materialize on earth when God allows it. Later, He formed a natural body out “of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath [the spirit] of life; and man became a living soul” (Gen. 2:7).
The Hebrew word for “breath” can be translated “spirit.” Sometimes soul and spirit can mean the same thing, but man is a triune being, composed of body, soul, and spirit (see Heb. 4:12, 1 Thess. 5:23).
Angels and men were created with certain characteristics of God. We have a personality, emotions, the ability to reason and make moral choices. We were also created with a similar but vastly different kind of body. God didn’t create the angels as some weird looking creatures. Ezekiel 28 tells us “the anointed cherub,” which was probably Lucifer, was beautiful, and the angels that appeared to men looked like men.
The Father and the Holy Spirit are Spirits without a body, and so was Jesus before His incarnation. This, however, did not rule out any of them taking on a material form whenever it pleased them. One appeared to Moses in such a powerful image that had Moses looked at Him face to face, he would have died.c On another occasion the Lord and two of His angels walked, talked, and ate with Abraham.d They did not have a human body, they only appeared in the “image” of one.
Colossians 1:16-17 tells us Christ created “all things . . . visible and invisible.” Verse 15 says He “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature.” Revelation 3:14 says He is “the beginning of the creation of God.” Since the Lord did take on an image and appeared to man in the Old Testament from time to time, it seems reasonable to me that this image was the very first thing He created.
If the “image” of Genesis 1:26 is only spiritual, then one could argue that the “image” of Colossians 1:15 is also spiritual and the spirit of Christ is “the firstborn of every creature,” which is not true. He is the Creator, not the created.
If God were satisfied with just spiritual things, He would have never created material things. He created the angels in His image, but He knew that man would be the crowning act of uniting the spirit with His material creation. He knew, before the world began, that He would one day actually become the Son of man, a man of flesh, bone, and blood. He also knew His body must die, then be raised a “perfected” body of flesh and bone, never to die again.e One day, just like the apostles, we will visibly see, audibly hear, and physically touch the image of God, Jesus Christ.
If the “image and likeness” of Genesis 1:26 has only a spiritual meaning and applies only to man, then why have all men sinned, but not all angels? You generally improve something the second time.
(6) Are Most Angels Good?
There is none good but one, that is, God (Mark 10:18).
It is generally assumed that two-thirds of the angels turned out perfect and have never sinned, but I believe Job 4:18 applies to all the angels: “Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his angels he charged with folly.” If two-thirds of the angels have always been perfect, one could argue that the spirit of an angel, like Michael, could be incarnated in a human being and die for the sins of man. This is what the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach. There is none good but God, and Jesus is God in the flesh.
It is also generally assumed that the phrase “image and likeness” of Genesis 1:26-27 has only a spiritual meaning. I believe it has both spiritual and material connotations. Some believe the phrase means we and the angels were made with God’s divine spiritual nature. But that could hardly be, “For all have sinned.”f David said, “Surely I have been a sinner from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”g The Lord is the only one to be born into this world with a perfect Spirit: the divine nature of God.
It seems all the angels were charged with “folly,” but only one-third turned against the Lord. Apparently most or all of the latter will never repent and change their ways.
(7) How Did Sin Begin?
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground . . . (Isa. 14:12).
In answer to the question: How did sin begin? it may have begun something like this: Lucifer became selfish and jealous of Michael. So he struck out against him and Michael pushed back. When the Lord asked what was going on, Michael said, “He started it!” Then Lucifer said, “No I didn’t, he did!”
Does this sound familiar?
Instead of taking correction, Lucifer began to hate the Lord. No doubt he began going around and making accusations, turning many against the Lord. Then one thing led to another, which led to an outright rebellion and war. “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against . . . that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Rev. 12:7, 9).
The angels are sometimes referred to as “stars.” Revelation 1:20 speaks of “seven stars,” which “are the angels of the seven churches.” Revelation 12:4 speaks of Satan drawing one-third “of the stars of heaven.” Most of Revelation 12 is yet to be fulfilled, but one Star Wars has already happened.
Lucifer is now called Satan or the devil, and he is forever accusing Michael and the elect angels; and they have been arguing for a long, long time. They even argued over the body of Moses. Jude 9 says, “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.”
The Persian Empire was No. 1 in the latter days of Daniel, and Satan ruled over it in the spiritual realm. Michael had to come to the rescue of an angel, which seems to have been Gabriel, who was on a mission to earth. The angel said to Daniel, “For twenty-one days the mighty Evil Spirit who overrules the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the top officers of the heavenly army, came to help me, so that I was able to break through these spirit rulers of Persia” (Dan. 10:13, TLB).
Shortly before the return of Christ there will be a world empire that will try to destroy the nation of Israel, and Satan will be ruling it in the person of the Antichrist. Daniel 12:1 describes Michael as “the great prince” who will fight for the children of Israel in a “time of trouble” like the world has never seen.
(8) When Did Sin Begin?
Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. . . . Thou art the anointed cherub . . . Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee (Ezek. 28:12-15).
Isaiah describes Lucifer as “son of the morning,” which suggests he was the first created spirit. It seems Ezekiel 28:11-19 is speaking of the same person, who was “perfect” until “iniquity” was found in him. I’m sure the Lord saw sin before His angels, but no doubt they came to see it also and agreed with the Lord: something needed to be done.
Adam and Eve were created without any “knowledge” of sin. When they sinned, the Lord said, “Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil” (Gen. 3:22). This verse and Genesis 2:9 tell us evil and the “knowledge” of it was present before man sinned. Sin did not begin with Eve. It started before the world began, and the Bible tells us God had a plan to deal with it. The death of Christ “was foreordained before the foundation of the world.”h In other words, sin and the “knowledge” of it was present before God even started the world, not after He finished it and put Adam and Eve in the garden. Revelation 13:8 speaks of those “whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”
Job 38:4-7 tells us “all” the angels shouted for joy when God created the earth. But this does not mean that sin had not already occurred and that God saw it. No doubt Lucifer was among the ones shouting, for it seems he was going to be given the earth to rule. In fact, he may have already caused a big mess and blew up part of the universe.
Sometime after the earth was created, Lucifer came out in the open and instigated a rebellion. But like all rebellions, the idea is born in the mind and heart long before it comes out in the open. The very fact that the Bible teaches that God had a plan to rid the world of sin before the world was created indicates that He already saw what many of his angels had become. They wanted to follow Lucifer instead of the Lord.
At some point Lucifer’s name was changed to Satan, the Devil. The angels that elected not to follow him are called “the elect angels,”i and “the holy angels.”j The rebellious ones are called evil angels, evil spirits, devils or demons. These demons and their leader, Satan, are here on earth in an effort to defeat God’s plan and destroy us. Paul refers to Satan as “the mighty prince of the power of the air, who is at work right now in the hearts of those who are against the Lord” (Eph. 2:2, TLB).
Another indication that sin occurred well before Adam and Eve is found in the very first two verses of the Bible. Genesis 1:1 tells us, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” But verse 2 says, “And the earth was without form, and void. . .” The word “was” in verse 2 can be translated “became.” Many believe the earth became desolate because of the fallen angels, then God reconstructed the earth in six days. (More about this later.)
(9) Who Is No. 1?
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit (Isa. 14:12-17.)
Colossians 1:15-17 and Revelations 3:14 indicate the first thing the Lord created was His “visible” image. Later, He “created” the spirit of Lucifer and apparently put that spirit in an image like His own. Lucifer was “full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.” He was also “perfect” in his “ways” until “iniquity” was found in him (see Ezek. 28:12-15).
No doubt the Lord had an enjoyable time teaching him His ways and showing him His creation. I believe the Lord was God’s visible Word to Lucifer, and He gave him great powers and wisdom. At some point Lucifer became greedy and proud. He wanted to be independent and began campaigning against the Lord, making false claims and accusations. He may have lied and told all the angels that he was God and many believed him, and the battle for the hearts and minds of the “sons of God” has been raging ever since.
Satan hates the Lord but loves the power that was given to him, and it must have been an enormous amount for him to think he could defeat the Lord. Perhaps he didn’t really believe his powers came from God but were inherent within himself, and he claimed to be God. The Antichrist will also claim to be God.k But Isaiah 14:12-17 tells us this “man” will be sent to “hell.”
The created spirits of God claiming to be “God” is an ancient error, and it is a predominant teaching in the New Age movement. Benjamin Creme, a leader in the movement, says, “You are God, I am God, everything is God.”2
The New Agers also teach another ancient error—reincarnation. Shirley MacLaine, the famous movie star, has done much to promote the New Age teaching. She is trying to reach the world with her gospel of man’s divinity, reincarnation, and the New Age about to come upon the human race. She says, “You must never worship anyone or anything other than self. For you are god . . .”3
The Bible uses the word “gods” in a derogatory way, speaking of idols and demons. I don’t doubt that many are just that.
(10) Why Does God Allow Evil to Continue?
When God created the angels, He gave them freedom and power and certain rights. God did not take this away when they first sinned. There is, however, a limit to what He will put up with. The Bible indicates there is a time limit on the activities of the fallen angels.
When Jesus was about to cast some evil spirits out of a man, the demons brought it to His attention that it was not time for Him to send them to hell. They said to Him, “Art thou come here to torment us before the time?” (Matt. 8:29.)
If God had banished the evil angels when iniquity was first found, there may have always been a lingering doubt as to the goodness and justice of God. Perhaps the Lord confronted Lucifer with his lies, and Lucifer called Him a liar—right in front of all the “sons of God.”
The integrity of God is still being questioned by millions today. If God is a God of love, they say, how could He allow so much suffering and misery? And how could a loving God condemn millions to hell who have never even heard the way of salvation?
The Bible tells us that God had a plan to deal with sin before the world was made. His plan would prove that “God is love.” In time it would prove to every created being who is the “father”of lies.l I believe this plan would give the “elect angels” the ability to see evil for what it is and reward them for not following Lucifer. They were given the gift of existence when they were created, but they would be given the very divine nature of God later. Perhaps this would even be offered to all the fallen angels if they would repent and turn back to the Lord.
This plan included the creation of the earth, which would be the testing ground for God’s Word. God would create the earth and give Lucifer a “throne” upon it,m even though God knew he was wicked. Out of the endless expanse of God’s wisdom, the most important issues of eternity would be settled on the little planet earth: Can we believe God’s Word, and who is Lord?
How would this plan work?
The earth would be given to Lucifer to rule. In time he would make his move and try to dethrone the Lord. The Bible tells us he wants to be No. 1. But the rebellion didn’t succeed. God took away Lucifer’s power and authority over the earth and may have imprisoned him and his angels in hell until Adam. Then He gave the earth to Adam, but the issue was far from being settled.
(11) Did God Know?
You may ask: Why would God have created such an angel like Lucifer, knowing he and many others would turn out evil? Did God create them evil?
No! God did not create them evil. He created them with freedom of choice: a free spirit with liberty, and they could choose to love and obey Him. Apparently He assumed they would. I don’t believe God created Lucifer or any other angel knowing in advance they would cause nothing but trouble and be doomed for eternal misery. This is implied in the statement, “Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou was created, till iniquity was found in thee” (Ezek. 28:15).
God could not create the angels with freedom of choice and then make them love Him.
You might say: God can do anything! That is true to a point. The Bible, however, makes it clear that He cannot make you love Him or anyone else. This gift you must desire by your own free will. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul says this is the greatest and most important gift. He says if you do not have it, you are “nothing.” And if you reject it, you will have nothing in the end.
When God created the angels, He did not make them as robots and program them to turn out good or evil. They were made with a free will. Lucifer was “perfect” in his ways until “iniquity was found” in him. God knows where Satan will end up by ages of observation, which began before the world began. His iniquity is still with him, and he will never change. This is how God could know in advance that he would do his thing in the garden, at the cross, during the tribulation, and at the end of this present world. When Christ returns Satan will be “bound” in hell for “a thousand years,”n but even this will not change his character.
I don’t believe God created any angel knowing he would be destined for eternal damnation. I once thought He may have had a plan just in case things turned out the way they did, and He may have; but I’m inclined to think that God was somewhat surprised and very disappointed at what happened. So He came up with a plan to either convert His “disobedient” sons who were forever causing trouble, or get rid of them for the good of all. The plan would be Love vs. hate, the Truth vs. the lie, and the victory was won at the cross.
Though God did not know how each angel would eventually turn out and end up, He knew “all” men would sin and come short of His glory.o He also knows who will repent. The Bible says God “knew” Jeremiah “before” he was even conceived.p Paul says that God loved Jacob but “hated” Esau, even before they were born.q It wasn’t that God really hated Esau. He hated what he was. God knew Jacob would turn back to Him, and his salvation was planned before he was born. In fact, Titus 1:2 says God promised us eternal life “before the world began.”
One definition of predestination in Webster’s Dictionary is: “The belief that God decided beforehand which souls were to be saved and which to be condemned.”4 The New Scofield Reference Bible, commenting on this, says, “The Biblical truth of predestination raises difficult intellectual problems, but these cannot be escaped by rejecting predestination and affirming foreknowledge.”
The standard Christian explanation for predestination is not a very good one. To say that God knew certain angels would turn out evil and spend eternity in hell, but He went ahead and created them anyway, does raise problems. And to think He did the same with man raises even more problems. I believe the explanation for predestination is simple and we will offer a solution to this age old mystery in the next chapter.
Scripture References [a] Heb. 1:14, [b] 1 Cor. 15:40, [c] Ex. 33:18-23, [d] Gen. 18, [e] Luke 13:32;
24:33-43, [f] Rom. 3:23, [g] Ps. 51:5, NIV, [h] 1Peter 1:20, [i] 1 Tim. 5:21, [j] Mark 8:38, [k] 2
Thess. 2:4, [l] John 8:44, [m] Isa. 14:13, [n] See Rev. 20, [o] Rom. 3:23, [p] Jer. 1:5, [q] See Rom.
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