Colossians 3:1–2 (ESV3 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Last time we learned of the fact that Jesus has ascended into Heaven and is currently enthroned next to His Father. We discovered together all Jesus has accomplished and all He is currently doing in Heaven.
Today, I want to look together at the current inhabitants of Heaven, namely the angels of Heaven…
In our days angels have in many ways have become an obsession with the world. Images of angels are plastered all over the place. The arts are obsessed with angels. People are obsessed with angel figurines, angel images on clothing and bumper stickers many claiming their guardian angel protects them etc. It’s much like the period called the Dark Ages. In those days there was an obsession with angels as well.
Angels in our culture found as glass figurines are nothing more than idols. They are worshipped and many have placed their faith in these created beings.
Today, I want to leave our world with it’s demonic attention given to idols called angels and see what they really are and where they are. Let’s look together at what the Bible says about the angels in Heaven…
1. Angels are very much identified with Heaven.
Genesis 21:17 (ESV)
17 And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is.
Genesis 22:10–11 (ESV)
10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”
Angels are sometimes called heavenly ones (Psalm 29:1)
Heavenly hosts (Luke 2:13)
When the angels finished their song to the shepherds, they went away back to Heaven (Luke 2:15).
It was an angel from Heaven that rolled away the stone from Jesus’ tomb (Matthew 28:2).
Jesus often spoke of the angels in heaven (Mark 12:25).
Matthew 18:10 (ESV)
10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.
The source of all angelic understanding is the Word of God, and it is surely our calling to understand the Word of God fully. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable” (2 Timothy 3:16). We may expect to receive great profit as we search out the Scriptures on the subject of angels.
A good understanding of the biblical doctrine of angels will enrich our lives and increase our thankfulness for salvation. May God open our eyes to this aspect of His creation and this aspect of our salvation. Martin Luther wrote, “The acknowledgment of angels is needful in the church. Therefore godly preachers should teach them logically. First, they should show what angels are, namely, spiritual creatures without bodies. Secondly, what manner of spirits they are, namely, good spirits and not evil; and here evil spirits must also be spoken of, not created evil by God, but made so by their rebellion against God, and their consequent fall. Thirdly, they must speak touching their function, which, as the epistle to the Hebrews shows, is to present a mirror of humility to godly Christians, in that such pure and perfect creatures as the angels do minister unto us, poor and wretched people, in household and temporal policy, and in religion” (Table Talk, pp. 278-279).
The Belgic Confession 1560
Article 12: The Creation of All Things
We believe that the Father, when it seemed good to him, created heaven and earth and all other creatures from nothing, by the Word—that is to say, by the Son.
God has given all creatures their being, form, and appearance and their various functions for serving their Creator.
Even now God also sustains and governs them all, according to his eternal providence and by his infinite power, that they may serve humanity, in order that humanity may serve God.
God has also created the angels good, that they might be messengers of God and serve the elect.
Some of them have fallen from the excellence in which God created them into eternal perdition; and the others have persisted and remained in their original state,
by the grace of God.
The devils and evil spirits are so corrupt that they are enemies of God and of everything good.
They lie in wait for the church and every member of it like thieves, with all their power, to destroy and spoil everything by their deceptions.
So then, by their own wickedness they are condemned to everlasting damnation, daily awaiting their torments.
For that reason we detest the error of the Sadducees, who deny that there are spirits and angels, and also the error of the Manicheans, who say that the devils originated by themselves, being evil by nature, without having been corrupted.
1. Basic Names for Angels Found in the Bible
Angel comes from the Greek angelos meaning messenger.
The OT Hebrew word translated as angel is malak, also meaning messenger.
Why would God need messengers? Because humans cannot behold His glory. Our God is a consuming fire.
A word or title for a large assembly of angels is often the word hosts or heavenly hosts.
In a few OT books, angels are referred to as Sons of God…
This title comes from the fact that angels originate from God and have a close relationship to God much like a father/son association.
Job 1:6 (ESV)
6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.
2. What Are Angels
A) Angels are creatures; they were created by God, and are not to be worshiped.
They are not eternal. And they are dependent. They have their being, not in themselves, but in God. The creation of angels is not recorded in the first chapters of Genesis. All those who believe in the literal meaning of Genesis 1 agree that angels were created on one of the six creation days. Some place their creation on day one, when God created the heavens and the earth. They point out that at this point the earth was without form and void, but not the heavens. Others are content to say that they were created prior to the fourth day, when God made the sun, moon, and stars, basing their view on Job 38:7.
Job 38:7 (ESV)
7 when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
It is enough for us to know that as creatures the angels were created during the creation week.
As creatures, angels have their own peculiar natures. They are not glorified human beings.
Hebrews 2:16 (ESV)
16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham.
Likewise, Hebrews 12:22 is careful to distinguish between the host of angels and the spirits of just men made perfect. They do not have flesh and blood, although God can give them bodily form. They are spirits, not in the sense that God is Spirit, but created spirits. God made His angels winds (Ps. 104).
Angels are greater than men in knowledge, but they do not know everything. A certain woman said to king David, “My lord is wise according to the wisdom of an angel, to know all things that are in the earth” (II Sam. 14), but we also read that of the day and hour when the Son of God returns, no one knoweth, not even the angels of heaven (Matt. 24:36). And Peter informs us that the angels desire to look into the things, which the prophets foretold, the things of salvation.
1 Peter 1:12 (ESV)
12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
The angels do not know all things. Nor are they almighty, though they are stronger than men. We read of angels being mighty in strength, of angels who have power, even the power of Christ, of their work in rolling the stone from the door of the tomb of Jesus and setting the apostles free from prison. But only God is omnipotent. So angels are created spirits, higher than men.
B) There are elect and non-elect angels
God’s eternal, double decree of predestination pertains to the angel world.
1 Timothy 5:21 (ESV)
21 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality.
And of the reprobate angels we
Jude 6 (ESV)
6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—
God elected some angels, and reprobated all the rest. The Belgic Confession states that the elect angels have, by the grace of God, remained steadfast and continued in their primitive state, while others have fallen from that excellency in which God had created them.
At this juncture several important points must be made. First, according to the decree of reprobation, a large number of angels fell into sin.
C) the death of Christ did not atone for the sins of angels.
He is not the Savior of angels. The holy angels do not need redemption and the fallen angels have fallen absolutely and cannot be restored. Yet, the Scriptures make clear that the work of Christ in His humiliation and in His exaltation does have significance for the angel world. Through His death, resurrection, and ascension to God’s right hand, Christ did unite all things in heaven and on earth. He makes all of God’s creation one, and He is Head over all exalted.
Colossians 1:19–20 (ESV)
19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
This passage states emphatically that through the blood of the cross Christ has reconciled all things unto God whether they be in heaven or on earth.
There was also war among the angels or war in heaven (Rev. 12). Although the elect angels did not sin, yet a certain stain or reproach did attach itself to the angel realm because of the rebellion of Satan and his demons. Christ arose as the Firstborn of every creature, so that in the cross of Christ every thing is reconciled to God and every aspect of the universe is brought into peace with God. The division in the angelic realm is healed. Christ is the new Head of the angels as well, and He has the pre-eminence everywhere for uniting all things in one under Himself.
3) When God created the angels He placed them in various orders or at different levels.
Angels differ as far as their glory and positions are concerned. We can call this the classification of angels.
Scripture speaks of the cherubim, which are the guardians of God’s throne, righteousness, and holiness; of the seraphim which stand above the cherubim, and lead the worship of God in heaven; of the archangels, one of which is Michael and perhaps another is Gabriel; angels entrusted with specific, great tasks by God. Paul speaks in Colossians 1 of further organization of angels when he writes of thrones, principalities, dominions, and powers, all of which were created by Christ and for Christ. One more angel is mentioned in the Old Testament, the Angel of the Lord. Really this is not a created angel, but he is the Christ as He appeared in the form of an angel before His incarnation through the virgin birth.
Angels are messengers from God in heaven to His church on earth, appearing at the most critical points in the history of salvation. After the Fall God placed at the east of Eden cherubim to keep the way of the tree of life, for fellowship with God was no longer through the tree but through Christ typified in bloody sacrifices. God delivered the Law to Moses at Sinai by the hands of angels. The birth of Jesus Christ was announced to Mary and to Joseph by Gabriel, after he had announced the birth of John the Baptist. An angel appeared to the frightened shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem speaking of the birth of the Savior; then, a multitude of the heavenly host taught the shepherds and us to sing, “Glory to God in the Highest.” After Jesus was baptized and had been tempted in the wilderness, angels came to Him and ministered unto Him. When Jesus groveled on the ground as a worm and not a man in the Garden, an angel came to Him to strengthen Him. At the empty tomb an angel spoke the resurrection gospel to the women, “He is not here, he is risen even as he said.” On the Mount of Olives an angel asked the staring disciples, “Why stand ye gazing up into heaven?” and promised that Christ would return in like manner. And when Jesus comes at the end of time He will come with His angels in great glory. So angels are messengers, sent to reveal the will of God and to comfort both Christ and His church.
Angels rejoice with God when even one sinner repents (Luke 15:10)
Angels will escort Jesus at His second coming (Matthew 16:27)
Hebrews 1:1–14 (ESV)
1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
5 For to which of the angels did God ever say,
“You are my Son,
today I have begotten you”?
“I will be to him a father,
and he shall be to me a son”?
6 And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says,
“Let all God’s angels worship him.”
7 Of the angels he says,
“He makes his angels winds,
and his ministers a flame of fire.”
8 But of the Son he says,
“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”
The Biblical Doctrine of Heaven