CHAPTER 6: THE STUDY OF ANGELS AND DEMONS
1. NAMES OF ANGELS
The word "angel" itself simply means "messenger," in both the Old and New Testaments. God created the angels. Paul told us that "by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him" (Colossians 1:16).
We know that God created all angels before He created the heavens and the earth or man, since the angels were there at the creation (see Job 38:7). Angels do not reproduce as humans do (see Mark 12:25).
Angels are called "Spirits" (Hebrews 1:7, 14), and good angels are called "Holy¡¨ (Mark 8:38). They do not have corporeal bodies and are usually invisible to men. "Spirit has not flesh and bones¡¨ (Luke 24:39). Sometimes, however, angels have appeared to men in human form to do God's will (Genesis 19:1, 5; Hebrews 13:2). Angels are "Greater in power and might¡¨ than man. In rank man was made a little lower than the angels (Psalm 8:5). From Hebrews 2:9 it appears that angels are immortal, that is, they cannot die as men can. Angels are personal spirits created sinless by God for the purpose of serving Him.
2. CATEGORIES OF ANGELS
Various words are used for categories of angels. The archangel or chief angel is named Michael (Daniel 10:21; Jude 9; Revelation 12:7). His ministry was especially to Israel. The only other good angel who is named in Scripture is Gabriel (Daniel 8:16; Luke 1:19, 26). The seraphim or "burning ones" are mentioned only in Isaiah 6, where they are seen as guardians of the Holy Throne of God. The cherubim are first mentioned in Genesis 3:24, guarding the way to the tree of life. Their work is thus particularly associated with the righteousness of God. Images of cherubim are seen in the tabernacle (Exodus 25:!8), the temple of Solomon (1 Kings 6:23) and the temple of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 41:18). Neither the seraphim nor the cherubim are specifically called angels, but they are generally taken to be such.
3. CHARACTERISTICS OF ANGELS
The good angels are the ministers (servants) of God and His people. Like men, angels have intellect (2 Samuel 14:20; compare 1 Peter 1:12 and Exodus 25:22), sensibility (Mark 8:38; Luke 15:10) and will (Isaiah 14:13, 14). Because of these characteristics, and also their strength (Psalm 103:20) and great number (Matthew 18:10; Revelation 5:11, 12) they are able to help men as God directs.
4. MINISTRY OF ANGELS TO THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
With reference to Christ, the angels have had a widespread ministry. At the creation they praised Christ (compare Job 38:4-7 and John 1:3). They predicted Christ's forerunner (Luke 1:17) and the birth of the Savior Himself (Luke 1:30-38) and announced Christ's birth to the shepherds (Luke 2:10-12). At the temptation they ministered to our Lord (Matthew 4:11; Mark 1:13), and in Gethsemane they strengthened Him (Luke 22:43) and were ready to defend Him (Matthew 26:53). At the resurrection they rolled away the stone to let the witnesses enter the empty tomb (Matthew 28:2-4). The guarded the evidence of the resurrection (John 20:12, 13) and announced the resurrection (Luke 24:4-7) to Jesus' followers. In Acts 1:10, 11, angels predicted the second coming in similar fashion to the going of Christ by ascension. Now, during Christ's present session at God's right hand, the good angels take an interest in the gospel and rejoice in the salvation of sinners (1 Peter 1:12; Luke 15:10). They will be prominent at Christ's coming to reign and judge (Matthew 13:39, 41, 42, 49, 50; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; various chapters in Revelation).
5. MINISTRY OF ANGELS TO MEN AND NATIONS
Beside worshipping and serving God, angels also minister to men and nations. Michael is the special defender of Israel (Daniel 12:1) and will re-gather that nation at the second coming (Matthew 24:31). Daniel is a book with interesting facts of angel activity, especially as relating to the nations. The book of Acts has many instances of angels revealing, delivering and guiding the early Christians (Acts 1:9-11; 5:19, 20; 8:26-29; 10:3-6; 12:7-10). Today, according to Hebrews 1:14, they are ministering spirits for the saved. They desire to look on the godly order of the local church (1 Corinthians 11:10; 1 Timothy 5:21) and are the guardians of children (Matthew 18:10).
6. CHRISTIANS' ATTITUDE REGARDING THE ANGELS
Christians should speak respectfully of them and to take their existence seriously. Neither the extreme of worshipping angels (Colossians 2:18; Revelation 22:8-9) nor a flippant joking or unbelieving attitude regarding these servants of God should characterize an informed believer.
7. THE ORIGIN OF DEMONS
Demons or evil spirits were fallen angels loose on earth. Many angels, perhaps a third of them (Revelation 12:4), sided with Satan, shared in his sin and fell with him (Revelation 12:4, 9). As the devil (i.e. Satan) is not omniscient, omnipotent, or omnipresent, it is necessary for the Devil to use his fallen followers to gain his desired ends.
8. THE ROLE OF DEMONS IN AGAINST THE GOD'S PEOPLE
Some of those who fell with Satan are already bound in chains, awaiting their judgment (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). Others, however, are free to serve Satan's cause, possess men, cause sickness and torment men.
The demons, or unclean spirits, were especially active during our Lord's ministry on earth. Whoever denies the reality of these evil spirits denies the credibility of the Gospel accounts and the teachings of Christ. Mark 5 is a classic passage on demon possession. The fact that demons may cause mental derangement, desire to inhabit bodies of men and even animals, and have rational and personal characteristics is made clear here.
It should be noted that the unclean spirits are not "Devils. There is just one devil (i.e. Satan), where there are many demons. Demons may possess super-human power and give it to evil men (Deuteronomy 13:1-3; Matthew 24:24; Revelation 13:13-15). The gods of the heathen world, that is the evil spirits that work behind the idols, were and are demons in many cases (1 Corinthians 10:20).
9. DEMONS ARE NOT UNREAL
Christ cast out demons and gave His disciples power to cast them out (Matthew 4:24; 10:1; Acts 19:12). There is never any hint that these demons are unreal or were merely psychological fixations of those possessed. Actual conversations are recorded between Christ and the demons. Missionaries in certain parts of the world have reported well-authenticated cases of demon-possession today. "Civilized¡¨ nations are not free from this baneful influence either.
10. NO REDEMPTION FOR FALLEN ANGELS
There is no redemption for fallen angels (Hebrews 2:16), as there is for fallen man. It is likely that the angels knew what chances they were taking when they followed Lucifer, and they sinned in the face of greater light and privilege.
11. DEMONS WILL BE PUNISHED BY THE GOD FOREVER
The devil (i.e. Satan) himself will be cast out of heaven from access to God's presence to accuse the brethren (i.e. Christians) and will wreak havoc on earth during the Great Tribulation, especially against Israel (Revelation 12:13-17). During the millennium, Satan will be bound in the Abyss (Revelation 20:1-3). After the millennium he will lead a brief but frantic rebellion against the King's government and His people (Revelation 20:7-9), and will finally be thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone (Revelation 20:10). Here he will be tormented "day and night for ever and ever.¡¨
The angels that rebelled against a holy and righteous God along with the proud Lucifer will be judged and cast into the lake of fire that was prepared for the devil and his angels. There, along with all who rejected Christ and were followers of Satan (whether decent, religious, or immoral followers), they will suffer eternal punishment for their dreadful sin and guilt (Matthew 25:41).
12. GOD PROVIDED REDEMPTION FOR FALLEN MAN
It is a solemn and frightful future that no human being need face if he will only put his trust in Christ alone as his Redeemer. Truly, we should be thankful that God provided redemption for fallen man that we might have eternal life through faith in His Son!
13. BIBLIOGRAPHY FOR FURTHER STUDY
Gaebelein, A.C.-The Angels of God (New York: Our Hope).
Unger, Merrill F.-Biblical Demonology (Wheaton, Illinois: Scripture Press).
Harlow-Basic Bible Doctrines (Emmaus Bible College).
Kenneth C. Fleming-None Dare Say No-An Introduction to Missions (Emmaus Bible College).
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