ANGELS – Part 5
By Tommy Thornhill
Angels are messengers of God. In the OT they revealed the Law Acts 7:53; Gal.3:19, the promise to Abraham Gen.18, delivered messages from God to various prophets, kings, judges, patriarchs, people. In the NT, they delivered messages to Zacharias, Mary, Joseph, Philip, Cornelius. One message they never delivered was the message of salvation to man, even though they, at times, brought sinner and preacher together so the preacher could deliver the message as in the case the Ethiopian Eunuch Acts 8:26f and Cornelius Acts 10. Later they appeared to the apostle John on the isle of Patmos to deliver the message of the book of Revelation Rev.1:1; 22:16.
They were used by God to protect His people Ps.34:7; Dan.12:1; Jacob Gen.48:16; Israel Ex.23; 20-23; Elijah 1.Kgs.19:5-9; Elisha 2.Kgs.6:16-17. ”Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” The three Hebrew children Dan.3; Daniel in the lions’ den Dan.6. Mary and Joseph Matt.2:13; the apostles more than once Acts 5, 12, 27. This knowledge should give us comfort since our warfare is spiritual Eph.6:11-12. So we need to open our eyes to see that God protects those who are His Eph.1:16-19; 2.Kgs.6:16; Ps.34:7.
They escort saints at death Lk.16:22. Does this mean there are guardian angels? Some think so when they read Heb.1:14; Matt.18:10; Acts 12:5. I don’t know the answer, but I don’t need to know. I still believe in angels. If we have guardian angels I am not aware of it. But I do know that God cares about His people and even though I may suffer in this life, God will not allow me to suffer more than I can bear 2.Tim.2:19.
Angels are said to be witnesses and harvesters, onlookers who watch what we do 1.Cor.4:9; Heb.12:1. We confess Jesus Christ before them Lk.12:8-9. They harvest souls Matt.13:37-43, 49-50; 25:30-ff; 2.Thes.1:7-9.
I have spent considerable space to discuss what the work of angels is, now let me point out WHAT IS NOT the work of angels. These things have been mentioned briefly in the past, but just for emphasis let us notice them once more. From the scriptures we can know for certain God did not create angels to be worshiped Col.2:18; Rev.22:8-9. Even though human beings are made lower than the angels, they are not subject to angels. “For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels” Heb.2:6. And it is clear that God never assigned angels the responsibility of preaching the gospel message of salvation to the world. He left this task for men Matt.28:19-20; Mk.16:15; 2.Cor.4:7. While angels are not utilized by God to proclaim the gospel, they certainly rejoice when people hear and obey and return to God Lk.15:9-10. They hear their confessions Lk.12:8. Angels will be present at the judgment to observe, but not to be judges. Their presence will in no way relieve humans of their personal responsibility to stand before the judgment seat of God and answer for their deeds 2.Cor.5:10.
The conclusions I have drawn in these lessons are mine. While I have given scriptural references to support my conclusions, I do not claim my conclusions are the final word. I believe they are right, but since I am not infallible, I could be wrong. This is the reason I encourage everyone to study the scriptures for themselves and form their own convictions based on their study of the subject. The scriptures simply give a guideline for research.
Having stated the above I am now going to venture to deal with a question that intrigues people. Where did the devil and his angels come from? Please don’t take my conclusions as the definitive answer, but they are my thoughts based on what I have gleaned in my study through the years on the subject. The scriptures simply give a guideline for research.
Through the years I have heard different ideas, and some of them border on the absurd and ridiculous. Let me emphasize the fact the Bible DOES NOT REVEAL TO US how angels or Satan came into existence. It simply reveals their existence, just as it does with the existence of God. Since He did not deem it necessary, we are simply expected to accept by faith (confident trust that it is so), not only that God exists and is eternal, but that angels and the devil are not eternal.
While the Bible does not tell us of the devil’s origin, it does tell us that he is a real being. He is not a myth. He is not a figment of one’s imagination, or invention of men. I know for certain that the Bible describes the devil or Satan as a real being, possessing personal characteristics, names and nouns. We are not told where he came from but are told he suddenly appears for the first time in the Garden of Eden. The Bible records three direct appearances of the devil in the Bible Gen.3; Job 1; Matt.4.
He is first introduced to man, recorded in Gen.3 when he appears to Adam and Eve in the form of a serpent, and introduces sin into the world. Later, in Job 1:6-12; 2:1-7 the devil is among the “sons of God” (angels) as they appear before God. He is called “Satan,” and his intent is to cause Job to sin against God. In Rev.12 the apostle John describes Satan’s appearance in heaven as “the dragon and his angels” fighting against Michael and his angels. He is called “the dragon” v.7, and in v.9 as “the serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan who deceives the whole world.” Besides being known as the serpent Gen.3:1, Satan Job 1:6, the Devil and the Dragon Rev.12:3, 7, 9, he is also known as Beelzebub Matt.12:24, Beliah 2.Cor.6:15, the Wicked one Matt. 13:39; the god of this world 2.Cor. 4:4, the prince of the power of the air Eph.2:2; the prince of this world Jn.12:31.
Just as God exists as the personal God who is perfect good Matt.19:17, the devil also exists as a personal being who is all evil Matt.13:39. The devil (Satan) is evil for he is a liar and murderer Jn.8:44, God’s adversary (Satan), the accuser (devil), accusing man to God and accusing God to man. The devil is not equal to God. He is subject to God, so his power is limited Job. 1:12; 2:6; 1.Pet.5:8-9; Jas.4:7; Lk.22:31. His miracles are not true miracles. They are lying wonders 2.Thes.2:9; Rev.13:13-14. God allows him to exist to deceive people who don’t want to believe, and to test the faithfulness of those who believe and seek to follow God 2.Cor.2:11; 11:3, 13-14; Eph.4:14, 27.
So, at the present time, God and the devil co-exist as does good and evil. But God and good existed before the devil and sin, and God and good will continue to exist when the devil is destroyed. But the question remains. Did God create the devil to be evil? Did evil make the devil, or did the devil make evil? (I plan to deal with this in the next issue).