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Sermon No: 75367-M3-CH5-7 - Angels



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SERMON TOPIC: M3-CH5-7 - Angels

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 14 August 2020

Topic Groups: ANGELS, COLLEGE, SONS OF GOD

Sermon synopsis: The description of cherubim as they appear in heaven is very different to the way they are portrayed in art. Ezekiel’s description of the living creatures (Chayot) he later calls cherubim is very similar to John’s description of the living creatures (Zoa in Greek), except that the beings John saw had 6 wings. (Rev 4:6-8)

Based on the description in Ezekiel each of them had four wings, two wings covering its body and the other stretched out straight, one toward another. Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands.
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ANGELS

CHAPTER 10: ORIGIN OF ANGELS

ORIGIN OF ANGELS

Angels were created by God.

Ps 148:2-5 (NIV) Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts… Let them praise the name of the Lord, for at his command they were created…

This was done in the person of Christ.

Col 1:16 (NIV) For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

Angels were present when God created the world.

Job 38:1-7 (NIV) …“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?… while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?”

There are millions of angels. John hears “the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads * and thousands of thousands” (Rev 5:11, ESV). Thousands of thousands = millions. Myriads = ten thousand. The largest number named in Ancient Greek was the myriad myriad or hundred millions.

They were created to live for eternity and do not die.

Luke 20:36 (NIV) “… and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels.”

They are direct creations of God. Unlike humans, they do not need to marry or procreate to sustain their numbers.

Matt 22:30 (NIV) “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.”

CHAPTER 11: CHARACTERISTICS OF ANGELS

CHARACTERISTICS

Do angels eat? Psalm 78:24-25 speaks of manna as “the grain of heaven” and “the bread of the angels”. When angels appear as men to Abraham, they share a meal (Gen 18:8).

Do angels have their own language? 1 Cor 1:13 refers to “the tongues of men and of angels”.

Do angels sleep? The living creatures “do not rest day or night, saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy…’” (Rev 4:8).

Are there any female angels?

The Bible normally refers to angels as masculine but some interpret the two-winged women in Zechariah 5 as female angels.

Zech 5:9 (ESV) Then I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, two women coming forward! The wind was in their wings. They had wings like the wings of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between earth and heaven.

Angels sing, shout for joy, feel longing, and show many emotions. They worship God in heaven.

Ps 148:2 (NIV) Praise him, all his angels… [cf. Rev 7:11, Neh 9:6]

They rejoice and sing when they witness the creation of the world (Job 38:7). They praise God when the Messiah is born.

Luke 2:13-14 (NIV) Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest…”

POWER OF ANGELS

Angels are powerful.

In Rev 19:17 an angel stands in the sun.

In 2 Kings 19:35 an angel put to death 185,000 Assyrians.

An angel single-handedly rolls away the large stone at Jesus’ tomb (Matt 28:2).

They have the ability to fly.

Gabriel comes to Daniel “in swift flight” (Daniel 9:21).

In Rev 14:6 John sees an angel “flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim”.

They have supernatural power.

They strike men of Sodom blind (Gen 19:11)

The angel who appears to Manoah ascends in the flames of the altar fire (Judg 13:19-20).

Gabriel makes Zechariah mute (Luke 1:19-20)

An angel consumes food with fire for Gideon (Judg 6:20-21).

They can appear and disappear at will.

After speaking to Gideon “the angel of the LORD disappeared” (Judg 6:21).

Peter’s chains fall off and the gate opens by itself when an angel frees him from prison (Acts 12:7-10).

THEIR NATURE

Angels take an interest in the affairs of men and are curious about salvation.

1 Pet 1:12 (NIV) … those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

They rejoice at our salvation.

Luke 15:10 (NIV) “… there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

APPEARANCE

Angels are spiritual beings. As spirit beings, they do not have physical bodies.

Psalm 104:4 (NKJV) Who makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire.

Jesus said that “a spirit does not have flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39). Thus angels have spiritual bodies but can manifest themselves as pillars of fire and cloud as a fire within a bush.

Angels can be awesome in appearance. We read of one of the angels at Jesus’ tomb:

Matt 28:3-4 (NIV) His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

In his vision at the Tigris, Daniel describes the angel (presumably Gabriel) as “a man dressed in linen, with a belt of the finest gold around his waist. His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude” (10:5-6, NIV).

John describes the appearance of a “mighty angel” as follows:

Rev 10:1-3 (NIV) Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, and he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion.

CHAYOT / ZOA

The description of cherubim as they appear in heaven is very different to the way they are portrayed in art.

Ezekiel’s description of the living creatures (Chayot) he later calls cherubim is very similar to John’s description of the living creatures (Zoa in Greek), except that the beings John saw had 6 wings. (Rev 4:6-8)

Based on the description in Ezekiel each of them had four wings, two wings covering its body and the other stretched out straight, one toward another. Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands.

They had a human likeness. Each had four faces, a human and eagle face, the face of a lion on the right side, the face of an ox on the left side.

Their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches moving to and fro. And the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning.

Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf’s foot. And they sparkled like burnished bronze.

Each one of them went straight forward, without turning as they went. And the living creatures darted to and fro, like the appearance of a flash of lightning.

But when angels appear on earth they are often just described as men e.g. the angel/s that appeared to Abraham (Gen 18:2), Lot (Gen 19:5), Manoah’s wife (Judges 13:10), Mary Magdalene and her friends (Luke 17:4).

They assume human form presumably so that they do not stand out:

Heb 13:2 (NIV) Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

GABRIEL

But when Gabriel appears to people, even as a man he is clearly awesome in appearance, as he tells both Mary and Zechariah “Do not be afraid.”

When Daniel sees Gabriel he writes, “As he came near the place where I was standing, I was terrified and fell prostrate” (8:17).

SERAPHIM

When Isaiah sees the Lord on his heavenly throne, he says, “Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.” (Isa 6:1-2, ESV) They give praise before God’s throne (6:3).

Most Christians will recognise the term “seraph” (plural is seraphim) as referring to a class of angelic beings, distinct from the cherubim.

But what many are unaware of—and will no doubt be surprised by—is that the word “seraph” is an equivalent of the word “serpent” or the term “fiery serpent” in Hebrew. The identical word “saraph” is rendered as either serpent or seraph in English, depending on the context in the OT.

Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions comments on the word “saraph” as follows.

serpent, fiery serpent: poisonous serpent ...

seraph, seraphim: majestic beings with 6 wings, human hands or voices in attendance upon God

The words “seraph” or the plural “seraphim” are used a few times in the OT (Num 21:6-8, Deut 8:15, Isa 6:2-6, 14:29, 30:6). But while in Isaiah the term is obviously used to describe a type of celestial being or angel, the other 5 usages refer to actual serpents.

This might come as a shock to those under the mistaken impression that angels are always humanoid with a set of wings, as they are stereotypically portrayed in most medieval (and modern) paintings and iconography.

In contrast to our culture, seraphim were understood by the Hebrews as being similar to shining fiery serpents in appearance.

Was the serpent of Genesis 3, in reality, a seraph?

ANGELS

CHAPTER 12: DIFFERENT KINDS OF ANGELS

CLASSES OF ANGELS

A number of supernatural creatures subordinate to God appear through the Hebrew Bible including:

Malachim (messenger)

Bene Elohim (Sons of God) or Irinim (Aramaic for Watchers)

Cherubim (Mighty Ones)

Sarim (Princes)

Seraphim (Fiery Ones)

Chayot (Living Creatures)

Ofanim (Wheels)

In the Greek NT we read of:

Angelos (messenger), Zoa (living creatures)

Cheroubin (transliteration of Hebrew “cherubim” )

Archangelos (archangel), Archai (rulers) – possibly an equivalent of the archangel.

Exousiai (authorities), Thronoi (thrones), Kyriotetes (dominions), Dunamis (powers)

Kosmokrator (the “cosmic powers” over this present darkness)

Pneumata (spirits)

CHERUBIM

While they are often depicted in art as chubby babies, cherub actually means “mighty one”.

In the earthly Temple, which was “a copy and shadow of what is in heaven” (Heb 8:5, NIV), models of the cherubim were symbolic guardians of the Holy of Holies. (1 Ki 6:23-28 )

God “is enthroned between the cherubim” (1 Sam 4:4). The Ark of the Covenant was representative of the throne room in heaven and “Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat” (Heb 9:5, ESV).

The cherubim on the Ark were placed on either end of God’s mercy seat. (Exod 25:19-20)

CHERUB = JOB DESCRIPTION

Identifying the serpent (Satan) in Eden with the serpentine seraph raises the issue that in a passage most believe applies to Satan, Ezekiel identifies him as “the anointed cherub who covers.” (28:14)

But cherubim are presented as guardians; they guarded the Garden of Eden after the Fall (Gen 3:24), and two sculpted cherubim were set as covering guardians on each side of the Ark of the Covenant. Thus “cherub” may be a job description rather than an angelic class descriptor. Indeed, all terms like cherub, guardian, malach (messenger) and irinim (watcher) are descriptive of functions – not angelic classes.

This would mean that any type of angel could theoretically be a cherub. A seraph, for instance, could be a cherub, and Satan may be both a seraph and former cherub (throne guardian). In similar fashion, Gabriel is called both a malach (messenger) and irinim (watcher).

Likewise the Chayot are called cherubim (guardians). The Chayot or living creatures are a class of heavenly beings described in the first and tenth chapters of the Book of Ezekiel. But Ezekiel’s vision of the four living creatures in Ezekiel chapter 1 are later identified as cherubim in chapter 10 who are God's throne bearers.

OPHANIM

Ezekiel 10:9-17 describes a nested wheel “within a wheel” covered with eyes, which is not part of the cherubim but somehow seemed linked to them. “And when the cherubim went, the wheels went beside them… for the spirit of the living creatures was in them”.

Known as the Ophanim, one of the Dead Sea scrolls (4Q405) construes them as angels in their own right; while late sections of the Book of Enoch (61:10, 71:7) also portray them as a separate class of celestial beings.

MALACH YAHWEH

Perhaps the most ambiguous creature is the Malach Yahweh (“angel of the LORD”), which may be a visible manifestation of God himself (in the person of the pre-incarnate Christ) rather than a separate entity acting on his behalf. In Gen 31:11–13, “the angel of God” says, “I am the God of Bethel.” In Gen 22:11-12 “the angel of Yahweh” says to Abraham “Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son.” In Ex 3:2–6 “the angel of Yahweh” appears to Moses and then “Yahweh” says “I am the God of your father.” In Judg 6:11 “the angel of Yahweh” appeared to Gideon, but in v14 “Yahweh turned to him and said…”

HIERARCHY

Some attempt to classify angels based on the NT references to principalities, powers, rulers, authorities, thrones and dominions (Eph 6:12, 1:21; Col 1:16, Rom 8:38). But again these are simply descriptive terms and not likely to be a reference to some sort of angelic ranks.

The only clear Biblical reference to angelic hierarchy is the term archangel. An archangel is a superior or higher-ranking angel. The word “archangel” derives from the Greek arche (ruler or source) and angelos (messenger).

Only one angel is identified in the NT as an archangel, namely Michael (Jude 9).

However in the OT, Daniel 12:1 calls Michael the “the great prince” which is a similar term.

As he is also called “one of the chief princes” (Daniel 10:13) this seems to imply there are other archangels.

The idea of 7 archangels is found in some early Jewish literature. E.g. the Book of Tobit refers to “the seven angels who stand in the glorious presence of the Lord, ready to serve him” (12:15).

SEVEN ARCHANGELS

While not taught explicitly in canonical Scripture this is consistent with what we see in Revelation:

Rev 8:2 (ESV) “Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.”

Rev 1:4 (ESV) … Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne [cf. Rev 4:5;5:6]

The Book of Enoch mentions seven angels who appear to be chief angels wielding great authority. These angels listed in 1 Enoch 20:1-8 are (1) Michael, (2) Gabriel, (3) Raphael, (4) Uriel, (5) Raguel, (6) Sarakiel and (7) Remiel.

Only 2 of these angels are mentioned by name in Protestant canonical scripture – Michael and Gabriel.

God says of his angel sent to lead Israel that “my Name is in him” (Ex 23:20).

All of the archangels have God’s name (El) in their name.

Micha-el “Who is like God”

Gabri-el “God is my strength”

Rapha-el “God heals”

Uri-el “Fire of God”

Ragu-el “Friend of God”

Saraki-el “Prince of God”

Remi-el “Thunder of God”

WARRIOR ANGELS

There are warrior angels.

Jesus said he could call on “twelve legions of angels” to assist him (Matt 26:52). At that time a Roman legion consisted of 6,000 soldiers so he was referring to 72,000 angels.

Michael appears to be the mightiest angel and assists the angel engaged in combat with a fallen angel (Prince of Persia) en route to Daniel (Daniel 10:12-13).

Michael leads the heavenly forces.

Rev 12:7 (NIV) And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.

COMMANDER OF THE ARMY

Thus the heavenly being Joshua encountered, who identifies himself as the “commander of the army of the Lord” (Joshua 5:13-15) is believed by some to be Michael.

Others believe that this might be a theophany - a visible appearance of God in the person of Jesus.

But the being identifies himself as the “commander” of the Lord’s army, not as the Lord Himself.

In the view equating him with Michael, Joshua’s bowing is seen as an act of reverence rather than worship.

Despite his power Michael is humble and respects authority.

Jude 9 (NIV) But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

GABRIEL

Gabriel stands in God’s presence (Lk 1:19) and functions as a messenger angel, particularly in the area of prophetic revelation.

He explains the vision of the ram and goat to Daniel (8:15-16) and gives him the prophecy of the 70 weeks (9:21-24).

He predicted Jesus’ birth to Mary (Lk 1:26-32).

He prophesied John’s birth to Zechariah (Lk 1:11-13). When Zechariah doubted his word, Gabriel took away his ability to speak until the child was born (Luke 1:20).

CHAPTER 13: FUNCTION OF ANGELS

MINISTRY OF ANGELS

Angels minister to God’s people.

Heb 1:14 (NIV) Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

An angel provides Elijah with some baked bread and a jar of water so that he is strengthened on his journey (1 Kings 19).

An angel assists Hagar and reveals a well of water when her son is about to perish in the wilderness (Gen 21).

MINISTRY OF ANGELS

Gabriel strengthens Daniel by simply touching him (Dan 10:10).

After Jesus was tempted in the wilderness “the devil left him, and angels came and attended him” (Matt 4:11, NIV).

When Jesus was in distress in the Garden of Gethsemane “an angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him” (Luke 22:43, NIV).

Angels assist the righteous in their passage after death.

Luke 16:22 (ESV) “The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side.”

MALACHIM

One of the primary functions of angels in Scripture is to deliver messages from God.

Ps 103:20 (NIV) Praise the LORD, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.

Both malach (Hebrew) and angelos (Greek) mean messenger.

E.g. the angel proclaims the birth of the Messiah to the Bethlehem shepherds.

Thus malach and angelos are not titles, but functions.

INSIGHT

Angels are wise and intelligent, can discern good and evil and give insight and understanding.

2 Sam 14:17 (NIV) “… for my lord the king is like an angel of God in discerning good and evil…”

They offer prophetic insight. Hagar, Manoah, Gideon, Zechariah and Mary all have predictive prophecies given to them by angels.

Daniel 9:22 (NIV) He instructed me and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding.”

GUIDANCE

They offer godly guidance to:

Abraham – when he is about to offer Isaac, an angel calls to him saying, “Do not lay a hand on the boy” (Gen 22). He later tells his servant that God “will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son” (Gen 24).

Hagar – she is instructed by an angel to “Go back to your mistress and submit to her” along with the promise to greatly increase her descendants (Gen 16:9-10).

Jacob - regarding breeding his flocks (Gen 31:11-12).

Joseph has his mind set at ease regarding his upcoming marriage to Mary and is told “do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (Matt 1:19-24).

Assistance in evangelising:

Philip the evangelist – is sent by an angel to witness to the Ethiopian eunuch. (Acts 8:26)

Cornelius is instructed by an angel to send men to Joppa to bring back Peter in order to have the gospel preached to them. (Acts 10)

PROTECTION

Do we have guardian angels? Jesus said of children:

“See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” (Matt 18:10, NIV)

While the Bible doesn’t say that everyone has a personal guardian angel, it suggests that angels are involved with the protection of Christians.

Ps 34:7 (NIV) The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.

They guard and deliver God’s people.

Ps 91:11-12 (NIV) For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

E.g. Two angels rescue Lot and his family at the destruction of Sodom (Gen 19:15-16).

Daniel tells Darius “My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight...” (Daniel 6:22, NIV)

Lydia Christensen (later Prince) was a Danish teacher called by God to Jerusalem in 1928. When riots broke out between Jews and Arabs in 1929, she had to run through no-go areas to fetch water, as it had been cut off due to the fighting. Struggling to get over the barricades because she was carrying a child, suddenly – out of nowhere – a man came to her rescue, assisting her the rest of the way. On completing her mission she turned to thank him but he had simply vanished. She was convinced that the mystery helper was an angel. *

We have Biblical precedents where:

Peter is miraculously freed from prison and led to safety by an angel who subsequently disappears (Acts 12:7).

Similarly when the apostles are arrested and put in jail “during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out” (Acts 5:18-19).

An angel promises Paul that all the people on the ship with him would have their lives spared. (Acts 27:23-24)

John G. Paton was a pioneer missionary in the New Hebrides Islands. One night hostile natives surrounded Paton’s hut, intent on burning it and killing him and his wife. The missionaries prayed for deliverance all night and when daylight came were relieved to see that the attackers were gone. A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted and Paton asked him why they had left that night. The chief responded by asking who all the men were that had been there.

Paton replied that only he and his wife had been there. The chief insisted that they had seen many men with drawn swords encircling the hut so the natives had been afraid to attack. Only then did Paton realize that God had sent angels to protect them. *

There is of course also a Biblical precedent for this. An invisible angelic host protect Elisha from the Syrian army sent to capture him. (2 Kings 5:15-17)

Joseph is warned by an angel in a dream to flee to Egypt to protect his family from Herod (Matt 2:13). He is later told when it is safe to return (Matt 2:19-20).

Barnabas Fund reports that in Nigeria, Boko Haram terrorists recently captured 76 Muslim-background believers who had turned to Christ.

But a story of tragedy reportedly turned into a supernatural rescue for 72 of those Nigerian Christians who were facing a Boko Haram firing squad. Four leaders of the Christians were told to renounce their faith in Jesus and revert to Islam. When the men refused, they were executed in front of their families. Then the wives of the four men were told to renounce their faith or their children would be executed.

That’s when something remarkable happened. The children in the group said the Lord Jesus appeared to them that night and told them “All would be well,” according to sources with the Barnabas Fund. They were told not to fear, that He would protect them, and that they should not renounce Him but stay strong knowing that “He is the way, the truth, and the life.” The next morning, the terrorists lined the children against a wall and told the four mothers they could save their kids if they would only renounce Jesus Christ and return to Islam.

The mothers refused. As the soldiers prepared to fire, something happened. They dropped their rifles and started to grab at their heads, screaming and shouting “Snakes! Snakes!” Some of the soldiers ran off, and others dropped dead where they stood, according to the Barnabas Fund. After one soldier had dropped his weapon in fear, one captive attempted to pick up the rifle in order to fire at the fleeing terrorists. He stopped when a four-year-old child told him about angels who were protecting them.

“You don’t need to do that. Can you not see the men in white fighting for us?” The lives of all 72 Christians were spared and they were relocated to a safer region of Nigeria. When the Barnabas Fund’s contact asked the group's pastor why he thought Jesus appeared to them and not to others, he gave this answer: “He does not need to. You have over 200 versions of Scripture and many people able to explain the Bible to you... These people do not.” *

EXECUTE JUDGEMENT

Angels execute judgment.

God sends “a company of destroying angels” to effect the judgments of the Ten Plagues (Ps 78:49).

An angel is ready to execute Balaam, but he is saved by his donkey avoiding the threat (Num 22).

An angel strikes down 70,000 in Israel after David’s census (2 Sam 24:16).

An angel destroys 185,000 in the Assyrian camp (2 Kings 19:35).

An angel of the Lord strikes down Herod Agrippa I because of his pride (Acts 12:23).

The seven angels around God’s throne administer the trumpet and bowl judgments in Revelation.

The angels gather the wicked for judgment at the end of the age (Matt 13:49).

BENE ELOHIM

The “sons of God” (Heb: Bene Elohim) refers to angels.

Job 1:6 (NIV) One day the angels [bene ha-elohim] came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. [cf. Job 2:1]

The angels who fell in Genesis 6 were Bene Elohim

Gen 6:4 (NIV) … the sons of God [bene ha-elohim] went to the daughters of humans and had children by them …

BAR ELAHIN

Bene Elohim (Sons of God) are angels. A closely related Aramaic expression “bar elahin” occurs in Daniel 3:25 – where it is used to describe the heavenly being who protects Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace.

WATCHERS

A lot of the Qumran literature, identifies the Bene Elohim of Genesis 6 as Watchers – a class of angels the Book of Daniel refers to.

Daniel 4:13 (ESV) “… behold, a watcher, a holy one, came down from heaven.” [cf. 4:17; 4:23]

Once again, “Watcher” is a job description or function. They are sent to earth to “watch” and protect humans.

The Bible indicates that angels patrol the earth and give feedback to God.

Zech 1:10-11 (ESV) So the man who was standing among the myrtle trees answered, ‘These are they whom the LORD has sent to patrol the earth.’ And they answered the angel of the LORD who was standing among the myrtle trees, and said, ‘We have patrolled the earth, and behold, all the earth remains at rest.’

The angels seen by Jacob ascending and descending the ladder (or to use a modern term – portal) appear to be heavenly messengers both coming to earth on errands and going back to heaven to report.

The angels seen by Jacob ascending and descending the ladder (or to use a modern term – portal) appear to be heavenly messengers both coming to earth on errands and going back to heaven to report.

Gen 28:12-13 (ESV) And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the LORD stood above it …

ANGELS & MEN

They observed Jesus’ ministry.

1 Tim 3:16 (NIV) Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels…

Through the church, God reveals his wisdom to them.

Eph 3:10 (ESV) so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers (arché) and authorities (exousia) in the heavenly places.

COVENANT MEDIATORS

Angels assisted in the delivery of the Law to Moses.

Gal 3:19 (NIV) … The law was given through angels…

Acts 7:53 (NIV) “… the law that was put into effect through angels…”

Acts 7:38 (NIV) “He was in the assembly in the desert, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai..” [cf. Heb 2:2-3)

RULING THE NATIONS

After Babel and the division of the nations by language, God allocated 70 angels to oversee the affairs of the nations.

Deut 32:8 (ESV) When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.

English translations based on the Masoretic text read “sons of Israel” instead of “sons of God” but the Septuagint and Dead Sea scrolls support this rendering.

ISRAEL’S PRINCE

Hence we read of angels called the “Prince of Persia” and “Prince of Greece” in the Book of Daniel.

Michael would become God’s appointed protector of Israel.

Dan 12:12 (NIV) “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise…”

This is why when the celestial woman in Revelation 12 (who represents Israel) is under threat from the dragon (Satan) Michael leads his angels in battle against Satan and his angels.

Gabriel tells Daniel: “ “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand … your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia…” (Daniel 10:12-13, ESV)

ISRAEL’S PRINCE

Gabriel later leaves Daniel to engage in further heavenly battles, saying “But now I will return to fight against the prince of Persia; and when I go out, behold, the prince of Greece will come … (Daniel 10:20, ESV)

The term “host of heaven” clearly applies to the sons of God in the Divine Council.

1 Kings 22:19 (NASB) Micaiah said, “… I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing on His right and on His left.”

THE HOST OF HEAVEN

It seems that the 70 ruling “sons of God” (with the exception of Michael) were corrupted and became worshipped as the gods of the nations around the ancient Hebrews: Marduk, Molech, Chemosh, Baal, Asherah, Dagon, and the rest.

Daniel 10:21 (ESV) “there is none who contends by my side against these except Michael, your prince.”

This explains the origins of the pantheon of “gods” worshipped by the pagans.

It is these “host of heaven” who are wrongfully worshipped as gods.

Jer 19:13 (NASB) “… the houses of the kings of Judah will be defiled … because of all the houses on whose rooftops they burned sacrifices to all the heavenly host and poured out drink offerings to other gods.”

These 70 sons of God or “host of heaven” are most likely the same rulers, powers, principalities and spiritual forces in the heavenly places that Paul repeatedly refers to.

These “principalities” constantly hover over the rulers of the nations to which they are assigned, to influence their thoughts, their plans, so that these leaders will take action to fulfil Satan’s plans.

Eph 6:12 (ESV) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers (arché), against the authorities (exousia), against the cosmic powers (kosmokratór) over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces (pneumatikos) of evil in the heavenly places.

THE PRINCE OF THIS WORLD

Satan has usurped leadership over the nations (and hence the Divine Council).

Jesus calls him “the prince of this world” (John 12:30-31, 16:11). The “whole world is under the control of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). He is “that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who “leads the whole world astray” (Rev 12:9). (Eph 2:2) He is ‘the god of this age’ who is currently blinding unbelievers (2 Cor 4:4). Until the end of the Tribulation Satan is still “deceiving the nations” (Rev 20:3).

Satan is “the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.”

Luke 4:5-6 (NIV) The devil … showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendour; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.”

JUDGEMENT

Angels must not be worshiped (Col 2:18). Twice John attempts to worship an angel (Rev 19:10;22:8-9) but in both cases the angel redirects the worship to God. Jesus refuses to worship Satan (Luke 4).

But the nations would ultimately revere these angelic Watchers as gods and follow and serve them, rather than the high God. Because of this, God will judge the nations and the fallen angels they worship:

Isa 24:21 (ESV) On that day the LORD will punish the host of heaven, in heaven…

DIVINE COUNCIL

Yahweh (aka Jehovah), translated in most English versions as LORD (in capitals to distinguish it from Adonai) convenes the Divine Council. He presides as judge, oversees the proceedings and is the ultimate authority.

We see the Divine Council congregating in the Book of Job 1-2, Zech 3:1-2 and 1 Chron 18:18-21.

Satan’s role in the council is that of prosecutor or accuser. Originally in Hebrew, ha-satan was a descriptive title meaning “the accuser”.

Satan accused Job in the Divine Council.

Job 1:6-11 (ESV) Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. The LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”

Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has … ? But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.

Satan also accused the high priest Joshua before God:

Zech 3:1-2 (ESV) Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?”

AN ADVOCATE

In fact, Satan accuses all God’s followers until the middle of the Tribulation.

Rev 12:10 (NIV) … For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.

But we have an advocate in the Divine Council:

1 John 2:1 (ESV) My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

Illustrations from:

http:// www.freebibleimages.org

Jim Padgett, courtesy of https:// commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/ Bible_Illustrations_contributed_by_Sweet_Publishing

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from:

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Other Scripture quotations taken from:

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

The New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.




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