Pastor of Iglesia Conexiones, and author of Biblical Prayer for Today's Believers: Transform Your Prayer Life (available on Amazon).
The Annunciation: The Angel Gabriel
1. God's Invisible Creation
Through His Word (the Son, Jesus Christ), the Father created everything that exists on earth and in heaven, everything that is visible and invisible (Colossians 1:16). The visible is the material universe of time and space, and everything in it; the invisible refers to the spiritual realm, a realm that transcends matter, time, and space (Job 9:11, 2 Kings 6:17).
Thus, the Bible reveals that the physical realm is not everything God created: God also created a spiritual realm that influeces and governs the physical realm. For this reason, the Bible speaks of thrones, dominions, rulers (principalities), and authorities (powers): these beings influece and govern over the physical realm, as the Lord has delegated unto them. Some can influence the weather (Revelation 7:1 and 8:12), others protect God's people (Daniel 12:1, Revelation 12:7), and others make themselves visible to interact with humans (Luke 1:11, Luke 2:9, Hebrews 13:2).
The point is that God's creation extends beyond our three-dimensional universe. It encompasses a realm (maybe even multiple realms) about which we know very little. Nevertheless, it has pleased the Lord to let us know that this realm does exist, for oftentimes it exerts a great influence over our world and even our lives.
Nevertheless, in regards to this realm and these beings, we have clear commadments from God:
Lord God, you alone are worthy of worship. All things exist because you have created them, and you created all these things for your glory. Help us, Lord, to be faithful in worshipping you alone. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
2. When Did God Create The Angels?
Exodus 20:11 declares that God created the heavens, the earth, the seas, and everything in them in six days. Obviously, this is a reference to Genesis 1, where the heavens are not the spirit realm where angels dwell, but the heavens we see with the naked eye and through telescopes: for there is no mention of angels and spirits in Genesis 1. Therefore, I disagree with the belief that the angels were created sometime during the six days of Genesis 1.
In fact, we read in Job 38:7 that the morning stars sang together, and that the sons of God shouted for joy when God laid the foundation of the Earth (an event that logically transpired during Genesis 1:1). These morning stars and these sons of God are clearly spirits, or angels (just like Hebrews 1:4 and Psalm 104:4 call them winds and flames of fire). Note that Psalm 104:4 appears at first to be saying that God turns the winds into his messengers and the flames of fire into his servants, but it is actually comparig his servants and minsiters to winds and flames of fire just as Hebrews 1:4 indicates, because the same Psalm tells us that God uses light as garment and that He walks in the wings of the wind (or spirit): in other words, these natural phenomena in Psalm 104 are allusions to the spiritual realm.
Thus, the Scriptures do not tell us when exactly God created the angels. It plausible, however, that God created them sometime before He created the Earth, even space and time themselves. What is important for us to understand, however, is that all spirits (all angels) were created by God, and therefore the Bible refers to them as the sons of God (Job 1:6).
Angels are God's creation, just as human beings (Psalm 8:5 and Hebrews 2:7). But the time of their creation is not identified in the Scriptures. It seems logical, however, that He created them sometime before He laid the foundations of the Earth: so when we talk about angels, we are talking about very ancient beings who have been around since before God created the Earth.
Questions to ponder
- How are angels similar to humans? How are angels different from human? How are humans inferior to angels?
- If all angels were created by God, what does this say about them? How are they similar to God, and how are they different from God?
- The Scritpures use several words to refer to angels: winds, flames of fire, morning stars, and sons of God. How are these titles similar? How are they different?
3. Angels Are God's Servants
In Psalm 104:4, the psalmist wrote that God turns the winds and the flames of fire into his messengers and ministers (servants). The author of Hebrews, though he no doubt realized that Psalm 104 uses poetic language, interprets this verse as an allusion to angels and spirits. Thus, in Hebrews 1:7, Psalm 104:4 is quoted to tell us that angels are indeed messengers and servants of God, and that they are subordinate to God's Son, Jesus Christ.
Therefore, in Hebrews 1:14, we are reminded that angels are ministering spirits whom God sent to minister for the benefit of those who will be saved. Angels are servants of God, and God uses them to serve those who will inherit salvation.
The main way in which God uses angels in the Bible is to communicate His message to His human servants. God, for example, used them to reveal the Law "of Moses" (Hebrews 2:2) and prophecy (Daniel 9:20-22). God also used angels to announce the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:11) and the birth of Christ (Luke 1:26-28).
In some other instances, God uses angels to asssist His human servants facing difficult situations (Genesis 19:15-16, Daniel 6:22, Acts 12:11). Indeed, the Bible tells us that God sends some of His angels to protect those who believe in Him (Psalm 34:6-7, Psalm 91:11, Matthew 18:10).
Oh, God of Heaven and Earth, God of all flesh, and God of all spirits, you alone are worthy of worship and service: for you are above all, and there is none like you. Thank-you for regarding us (who are but dust), and using the spirits who see you and serve you to assist us in your name when we are in danger. Thank-you for using them to reveal your word to the saints of old. Just as they live to serve you, so Lord do I endeavor to live to serve you. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
4. General Notes on Angels
Angels Are Powerful, but Limited
In my previous posts, I explained that God created angels through Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1-3), that He probably created them sometime before Genesis 1:1, and that they are His servants, through whom He has given revelation and assisted humans who believe in Him.
The implication these doctrines is that angels, though very powerful beings, are nonetheless finite beings. They are not all-powerful, they are not all-knowing, and they are not omnipresent. They owe their origin and their continued existence to God, like everything else does.
Angels Appear in Various Ways
Moreover, angels can appear to human beings in person (Genesis 19:1, Acts 12:7), in visions (Daniel 8:16-17, Acts 10:3), or in dreams (Genesis 31:11, Matthew 2:19). Throughout the Scriptures, they appear as men (Genesis 18:2, Luke 24:4), only in Zechariah do we find angels appear as women (Zechariah 5:9). Nevertheless, angels do not practice marriage (Matthew 22:30).
Angels Look Human
Sometimes, when angels appear, they are not immediately distinguishable from humans (Genesis 18:2, Judges 6:22, Judges 13:6, Judges 13:16, Hebrews 13:2), but in other instances they are immediately distinguishable (Luke 1:11-12, Luke 28:3).
Angels Have Names
The two angels identified by name in the Scriptures are the archangel Michael (Daniel 10:13, 10:21, 12:1; Jude 1:9; Revelation 12:7), and the angel Gabriel (Daniel 8:16, 9:21; Luke 1:19, 1:26).
Angels Have Ranks
- Angel - In both Hebrew and Greek, the word angel means messenger
- Prince, or Archangel - Both titles are used for Michael
- Thrones - (Colossians 1:16)
- Dominions - (Colossians 1:16)
- Principalities (Ephesians 3:10, 6:12)
- Powers (Colossians 2:15)
Armies at War
5. The Role of The Cherubim
Cherubim are the first angelic beings to be mentioned in the Bible. In Genesis 3:24, we read that God put in the east of the garden cherubim and a flaming sword to keep the way of the tree of life from humanity.
At God's command, figures of the cherubim were also made to be over the mercy seat on the ark of the covenant (Exodus 25:19-22), and patters of the cherubim were made to be on the curtains and the veil of the tabernacle of congregation (Exodus 26:1, 31).
Solomon's temple also had figures of the cherubim in the holy of holies, on the walls, and on the doors (1 Kings 6:22 29, 32).
Thus, appart from being symbols of great mystery and beauty, the cherubim appear to be consistenly acting as guards. They seem to guard and protect what is holy and what God has set out of reach: the Tree of Life, God's presence, and God's throne.
In the tabernacle and in the temple, their representations may have served not only as decorations, but also as warnings to anyone who woud dare trespass (had any human being attempted to access the tree of life, surely he would have been killed with the flaming sword).
But this may lead us to ask ourselves whether God needs security guards. Could it be that God is vulnerable to His creation? Of course, the answer to this quesiton is no: God is self-sufficient, and no creation of His represents any challenge or danger to Him.
A good example of this can be found in Exodus 19:12. God didn't command that those who approached Sinai be killed because He was in any way vulnerable to them. His point was that they needed to respect and obey Him because He is most holy and most high.
In the same way, it seems to me that God does not only trascend human beings, but He also trascends all spirits (Psalm 113:6). He is not only high above humanity, but He is also high above every spirit being He has created.
Oh, Lord God, how high and holy you are! There is none like you. You are above all men, and you are above all spirits. I recognize that my duty is to love you, obey you, and adore you. To serve you, Lord, to know you, and to enjoy your love and your goodness, are the greatest good in this life and in eternity. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
© 2020 Marcelo Carcach