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ANGELS OF GOD

(Tuesday, May 26, 2020)

1.0 INTRODUCTION

Angels appear in the Bible from the beginning to the end, from the Book of Genesis to the Book of Revelation. Moreover, Psalm 91:11, Matthew 18:10 and Acts 12:15 indicate humans have guardian angels. Guardians Angels are divine agents of God sent to protect and aid humans on earth in times of need. They are mentioned throughout the Bible, coming to the support of God’s people. 

2.0 WHO ARE ANGELS?

Angels are beings who have greater power and ability than humans. (2 Peter 2:​11) They exist in heaven, or the spirit realm, which is a level of existence higher than the physical universe. (1 Kings 8:​27; John 6:​38) Thus, they are also referred to as spirits.​ (1 Kings 22:21; Psalm 18:10). Angels are a separate creation of God, not resurrected humans. (Colossians 1:​16) People who are raised to life in heaven receive the gift of immortal life from God. (1 Corinthians 15:53, 54) They will have a status higher than the angels.​ (1 Corinthians 6:3)

God created the angels through Jesus, whom the Bible calls “the firstborn of all creation.” Describing how God used Jesus in creation, the Bible says: “By means of [Jesus] all other things were created in the heavens and on the earth, the things visible and the things invisible,” including the angels. (Colossians 1:​13-​17) Angels do not marry and reproduce. (Mark 12:25) Instead, each of these “sons of the true God” was individually created.​—Job 1:6. Angels were created in the distant past, before the earth existed. When God created the earth, the angels “began shouting in applause.”​ (Job 38:​4-7)

3.0 HOW MANY ANGELS ARE THERE? AND DO ANGELS HELP PEOPLE?

The Bible does not give an exact figure, but it does show that their number is vast. For example, a vision given to the apostle John included a glimpse of thousands and millions of angels.​ (Revelation 5:​11) Even today, God uses angels to help his faithful people. Angels are used by God as he directs his servants in the preaching of the good news of the Kingdom of God. (Revelation 14:​6, 7) This direction benefits both those preaching and those hearing the good news.​ (Acts 8:​26, 27) Angels help to keep the Christian congregation free of contamination by wicked people.​ (Matthew 13:49) Moreover, Angels guide and protect those who are faithful to God.​ (Psalm 34:7; 91:10, 11; Hebrews 1:​7, 14)

4.0 SOME EVIDENCES FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT

Angels are purely spiritual beings that do God’s will (Psalm 103:20, Matthew 26:53). In Old Testament we find that God stationed cherubim to protect the Garden of Eden after the fall of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:24. An angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in Exodus 3:2 to lead the Israelites from captivity in Egypt to the Promised Land. God sent an angel to punish King David and the Israelites, but stopped the angel from destroying Jerusalem after King David repented and offered sacrifice to the Lord in 2 Samuel 24. When Elijah fled Jezebel after his triumph on Mount Carmel, an angel brought him food, giving him strength to meet the Lord on Mount Horeb in First Kings 19. An angel restored the high priest Joshua in Zechariah 3. Sometimes angels take human form, as seen in the men who appeared to Abraham and Lot in Genesis 18-19, or Raphael who appeared in human form to Tobias.

5.0 SOME EVIDENCES FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT

In New Testament we find an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph three times in a dream to make Mary his wife, to take the Holy Family on the Flight to Egypt, and then to return to Nazareth (Matthew 1:18-2:23). Angels announce the birth of the Christ Child to the shepherds (Luke 2:14), minister to Christ after his temptation in the desert (Matthew 4:11), comfort Jesus in his agony in the garden (Luke 22:43), and proclaim his resurrection from the dead (John 20:12). Jesus Christ stated the angels of little ones continually behold the face of the Father (Matthew 18:10): this passage has been traditionally cited as biblical evidence of Guardian Angels. Angels will come with Christ on the Day of Judgement (Matthew 24:31), and the angels will separate the wicked from the just on the Last Day (Matthew 13:49), although they do not know the day of Judgement (Mark 13:32). Christ also said the children of the resurrection will be equal to the angels (Luke 20:34). God sent an angel to free the Apostle Peter after he was jailed by King Herod (Acts 12:7-11)

6.0 ARE THERE DIFFERENT RANKS AMONG ANGELS?

Yes. The angel greatest in both power and authority is Michael, the archangel. (Jude 9; Revelation 12:7) Seraphs are high-ranking angels who are stationed near Jehovah’s throne. (Isaiah 6:​2, 6) Cherubs form another high-ranking order of angels having special duties. For example, cherubs guarded the entrance to the garden of Eden after Adam and Eve were expelled.​ (Genesis 3:​23, 24)

The term archangel itself is not found in equivalent in the Hebrew Bible(the Old Testament), and in the Greek New Testament the term archangel only occurs in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and the Epistle of Jude 1:9, where it is used of Michael, who in Daniel 10:13 is called ‘one of the chief princes,’ and ‘the great prince’.

The idea of seven archangels is most explicitly stated in the deuterocanonical Book of Tobit when Raphael reveals himself, declaring: “I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who stand in the glorious presence of the Lord, ready to serve him” (Tobit 12:15), a phrase also recalled in Revelation 8:2–6 The other two archangels mentioned by name in the Bible are Michael and Gabriel. The four names of the other archangels come from tradition.

The earliest specific Christian references are in the late 5th to early 6th century: Pseudo-Dionysius gives them as Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Camael, Jophiel, and Zadkiel. Pope Gregory I lists them as Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel (or Anael), Simiel, Oriphiel, and Raguel. In most Protestant Christian oral traditions only Michael and Gabriel are referred to as “archangels”, which echoes the most mainstream Muslim view on the subject, whereas in the Roman Catholic Christian traditions Raphael is also included, resulting in a group of three.

6.1 Michael: Protector

Michael is mentioned three times in the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament), all in the Book of Daniel. The prophet Daniel experiences a vision after having undergone a period of fasting. Daniel 10:13-21 describes Daniel’s vision of an angel who identifies Michael as the protector of Israel. At Daniel 12:1, Daniel is informed that Michael will arise during the “time of the end”.

The Book of Revelation (12:7-9) describes a war in heaven in which Michael, being stronger, defeats Satan. After the conflict, Satan is thrown to earth along with the fallen angels, where he (“that ancient serpent called the devil”) still tries to “lead the whole world astray”.

In the Epistle of Jude 1:9, Michael is referred to as an “archangel” when he again confronts Satan. A reference to an “archangel” also appears in the First Epistle to the Thessalonians 4:16. This archangel who heralds the second coming of Christ is not named, but is often associated with Michael (among others).

Michael (Mikhail), is one of the two archangels mentioned in the Quran, alongside Jibrail (Gabriel). In the Quran, Michael is mentioned once only, in Sura 2:98: “Whoever is an enemy to God, and His angels and His messengers, and Jibrail and Mikhail! Then, God (Himself) is an enemy to the disbelievers. Some Muslims believe that the reference in Sura 11:69 is Michael, one of the three angels who visited Abraham.

In the Roman Catholic teachings, the archangel Michael has four main roles or offices:

His first role is the leader of the Army of God and the leader of heaven’s forces in their triumph over the powers of hell. He is viewed as the angelic model for the virtues of the spiritual warrior, with the conflict against evil at times viewed as the battle within.

The second and third roles of Michael in Catholic teachings deal with death. In his second role, Michael is the angel of death, carrying the souls of all the deceased to heaven. In this role Michael descends at the hour of death, and gives each soul the chance to redeem itself before passing; thus consternating the devil and his minions. In his third role, he weighs souls in his perfectly balanced scales. For this reason, Michael is often depicted holding scales.

In his fourth role, Michael, the special patron of the Chosen People in the Old Testament, is also the guardian of the Church; it was thus not unusual for the angel to be revered by the military orders of knights during the Middle Ages.

According to rabbinic Jewish tradition, Michael acted as the advocate of Israel, and sometimes had to fight with the princes of the other nations.

6.2 Gabriel: Messenger

In the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament), Gabriel appears to the prophet Daniel to explain his visions (Daniel 8:15–26, 9:21–27). The archangel appears in such other ancient Jewish writings as the Book of Enoch. Alongside archangel Michael, Gabriel is described as the guardian angel of Israel, defending this people against the angels of the other nations.

The Gospel of Luke relates the stories of the Annunciation, in which the angel Gabriel appears to Zechariah and the Virgin Mary, foretelling the births of John the Baptist and Jesus, respectively (Luke 1: 1-38).

Islam regards Gabriel as an archangel sent by God to various prophets, among them Muhammad. The first five verses of the 96th chapter of the Quran, the Clot, is believed by Muslims to have been the first verses revealed by Gabriel to Muhammad.

Jewish rabbis interpreted the “man in linen” as Gabriel in the Book of Daniel and the Book of Ezekiel. In the Book of Daniel, Gabriel is responsible for interpreting Daniel’s visions. Gabriel’s main function in Daniel is that of revealer, a role he continues in later literature. In the Book of Ezekiel, Gabriel is understood to be the angel that was sent to destroy Jerusalem.

6.3 Raphael: Healer

In Christianity, Raphael is generally associated with an unnamed angel mentioned in the Gospel of John, who stirs the water at the healing pool of Bethesda. Raphael is mentioned in the Book of Tobit, which is accepted as canonical by Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and some Anglicans.

In Islam, Raphael is the fourth major angel; and in the Muslim tradition, he is known as Isrāfīl. Though unnamed in the Quran, hadith identifies Israfil with the angel of Quran 6:73. Within Islamic eschatology, Israfil is traditionally attributed to a trumpet, which is poised at his lips, and when God so commands, he shall be ready to announce the Day of Resurrection.

The angels mentioned in the Torah, the older books of the Hebrew Bible, are without names. Shimon ben Lakish of Tiberias (AD 230–270), asserted that all the specific names for the angels were brought back by the Jews from Babylon, and modern commentators would tend to agree. According to the Babylonian Talmud, Raphael is identified as one of the three angels that appeared to Abraham in the oak grove of Mamre, in the region of Hebron. Michael, as the greatest, walked in the middle, with Gabriel to his right and Raphael to his left (Yoma 37a). All three angels were commanded to carry out a specific mission.

Raphael bound Azazel under a desert called Dudael according to Enoch 10:4–6. “Raphael, one of the holy angels, who is over the spirits of men.” (1 Enoch 20:7) When Enoch asked who the four figures were that he had seen: “And he said to me: ‘This first is Michael, the merciful and long-suffering: and the second, who is set over all the diseases and all the wounds of the children of men, is Raphael: and the third, who is set over all the powers, is Gabriel: and the fourth, who is set over the repentance unto hope of those who inherit eternal life, is named Phanuel.’ And these are the four angels of the Lord of Spirits and the four voices I heard in those days.” (Enoch 40:9)

After returning and healing the blind Tobit, Azarias makes himself known as “the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord” Tobit 12:15. Regarding the healing powers attributed to Raphael, there is his declaration to Tobit (Tobit, 12) that he was sent by the Lord to heal him of his blindness and to deliver Sarah, his future daughter-in-law, from the demon Asmodeus.

In the New Testament, only the archangels Gabriel and Michael are mentioned by name (Luke 1:9–26; Jude 1:9). Later manuscripts of John 5:1–4 refer to the pool of Bethesda, where the multitude of the infirm lay awaiting the moving of the water, for “an angel of the Lord descended at certain times into the pond; and the water was moved. And he that went down first into the pond after the motion of the water was made whole of whatsoever infirmity he lay under”. Because of the healing role assigned to Raphael, this particular angel is generally associated with the archangel.

Raphael is said to guard pilgrims on their journeys and is often depicted holding a staff.

6.4 Uriel: Repentance

Uriel is generally the fourth archangel is added to the named three, to represent the four cardinal points. Uriel is listed as the fourth angel in Christian Gnostics (under the name Phanuel), by Gregory the Great, and in the angelology of Pseudo-Dionysius. However, the Book of Enoch clearly distinguishes the two angels. Uriel means “God is my Light”, whereas Phanuel means “Turn to God”. Uriel is the third angel listed in the Testament of Solomon, the fourth being Sabrael.

Uriel appears in the Second Book of Esdrasfound in the Biblical apocrypha (called Esdras IV in the Vulgate) in which the prophet Ezra asks God a series of questions and Uriel is sent by God to instruct him.

The Book of Enoch, which presents itself as written by Enoch, mentions Uriel in many of its component books. In chapter IX, which is part of “The Book of the Watchers” (2nd century BCE), only four angels are mentioned by name. Those angels are Michael, Uriel, Raphael, and Gabriel (though some versions have a fifth angel: Suryal or Suriel). However, the later chapter XX lists the names and functions of seven angels. 

Uriel is often identified as a cherub and the angel of repentance. He “stands at the Gate of Eden with a fiery sword”, or as the angel who “watches over thunder and terror”. In the Apocalypse of Peter he appears as the angel of repentance, who is graphically represented as being as pitiless as any demon. In the Life of Adam and Eve, Uriel is regarded as the spirit (i.e., one of the cherubs) of the third chapter of Genesis. Stemming from medieval Jewish mystical traditions, Uriel is depicted as the destroyer of the hosts of Sennacherib. He checked the doors of Egypt for lamb’s blood during the plague. He also holds the key to the Pit during the End Times.

6.5 Camael

Camael’s name is also included in Pseudo-Dionysius’ 5th or 6th century AD, Corpus Areopagiticum as one of the seven Archangels alongwith Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Jophiel, and Zadkiel. Camael is not recognized by mainstream Christians, as was included in the Catholic Church in the Vatican’s ban on the veneration of angels not mentioned in the Bible in the Directory of Public Piety (2002).

He is claimed to be the leader of the forces that expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden holding a flaming sword. But in iconography he is often depicted holding a cup.

6.6 Jophiel : Wisdom

The Zohar lists Jophiel as a Great Angel Chief in charge of 53 legions who superintend Torah-readings on the Sabbath. Jophiel is said to be a companion to the angel Metatron.Jophiel is an Archangel of the Kabbalah (though some systems put Raziel in his place) and in several listings including that of the early medieval theologian Pseudo-Dionysus. The Calendarium Naturale Magicum Perpetuum lists Jophiel as the angel of the Sephira Chokhmah, as do the Key of Solomon variant “The Veritable Clavicles of Solomon,” and the Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses, both latter works derived from the Calendarium.

The angel is a non-canonical archangel of wisdom, understanding, and judgment. He is listed as one of the Seven Archangels in Pseudo Dionysian teachings.

6.7 Zadkiel : Righteousness

In rabbinic writings Zadkiel belongs to the order of Hashmallim (equated with the Dominations or Dominions), and considered by some sources to be chief of that order (others sources name Hashmal or Zacharael). In Maseket Azilut Zadkiel / Hesediel is listed as co-chief with Gabriel of the order of Shinanim.

Zadkiel is one of two standard bearers (along with Jophiel) who follow directly behind Michael as the head archangel enters battle.

As an angel of mercy, some texts claim that Zadkiel is the unnamed biblical Angel of the Lord who holds back Abraham to prevent the patriarch from sacrificing his son, and because of this is usually shown holding a dagger. Other texts cite Michael or Tadhiel or some other angel as the angel intended, while others interpret the Angel of the Lord as a theophany. In iconography, he is often depicted holding a knife or dagger.

7.0 CONCLUSION

Angels are mighty beings who offer praise and worship to God. However, God never intends for us to worship angels or pray to them. He alone is worthy of our worship (Revelation 4:11). And angels remind us of this truth. Angels obey God’s commands, not ours. (Psalm 103:20, 21) Even Jesus acknowledged that he would call on God for help, not directly on the angels.​ (Matthew 26:53 According to Scripture, Satan himself was the highest of all angels in heaven. But because of his great pride, desiring to be worshipped and set up above God, he was thrown out, and he took one-third of the angels with him (Ezekiel 28, Isaiah 14, Revelation 12).

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