Category Archives: Angels in the Bible

Angels in the Bible: Jesus and His Legions

Caravaggio's Taking of Christ, 1598

Caravaggio’s Taking of Christ, 1598

Jesus avoids a smackdown as the Roman soldiers grab Him.  He says, in

Matthew 26:53

“Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?”

Angels are God’s army.  They can protect Him and they can fight for Him as He wills.  They can also protect us and fight for us as He wills.

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Angels in the Bible: Guardian Angels for Children

Jesus mentioned guardian angels when talking about children.

Guardian angel, by Pietro da Cortona, 1656

Guardian angel, by Pietro da Cortona, 1656

Matthew 18:10

“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.”

This tells me that guardian angels are connected to God even while they are protecting us.  Isn’t that comforting?

Archangel Gabriel Looks Like Barry White

Gabriel

The Angel Gabriel, gilt bronze, late 15th-early 16th century by anonymous Netherlandish

Did you know that the Archangel Gabriel resembles Barry White?  Think I’m kidding?  Read this passage in the book of Daniel and let me know what you think.

Daniel 10:5-6

I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz! His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude.

C’mon, the burnished bronze skin, eyes like torches, and a voice like a multitude?  I’m just sayin’.  Who does that remind you of?

A Convocation of Angels Plus Satan–Awkward!

Zuccaro drawing

Angels and Putti in the Clouds, chalk and graphite drawing, 1566, by Federico Zuccaro

Don’t you hate it when a miserable guest shows up and ruins a party?  That’s how the angels at the convocation in heaven (described in Job passage, below) must have felt when Satan barged into the meeting.  I’m amazed that God gave the devil an ear, but He did.  I have to figure, if Satan is our adversary, then he appears before God in a heavenly courtroom quite often to accuse us of our sins.  Of course, the ruling is always the same: Jesus died to forgive that sin–case closed!

Job 1:6-7

“Now there was a day when the sons of God (angels) came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’ So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it’.” 

Angels in the Bible: Feeding Elijah

Dream of Elijah painting

The Dream of Elijah painting by Philippe de Champaigne, 1650-55

When I think of angelic food, my mind goes to angel-food cake and ambrosia, that whipped-cream-based, marshmallow-laden fruit salad from my youth. Do you know what angels actually show up with when feeding people in the Bible? Barley cakes and water.  Now, I know if I were starving in the desert, I would probably prefer barley cakes and water to angel-food cake, but still. Seriously though, this passage tells me that angels can physically manifest food and water or at least manifest themselves long enough to cook/and or transport food and water to a specific, earthly location.

I Kings 19:58

Then as Elijah lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” Then Elijah looked and there by his head was a cake baked on coals and a jar of water. So he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came back the second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat because the journey is too great for you.” So Elijah arose and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb (Sinai), the mountain of God.

Supernatural Orders of Angels (and Demons)

Guido Reni painting

Painting of the Archangel Michael stepping on Satan’s head by Guido Reni, 1636. Notice the wings on Satan.

There is a very strict hierarchy in heaven. God is very big on order. I don’t blame Him. The military loves it, too. Order is very efficient. A careful reading of the bible reveals that there is an angelic order. Many scholars who are much smarter than me have come up with official lists of angel ranks and titles. I don’t necessarily agree with all of the lists because I’m contrary like that. And because the bible isn’t totally explicit about angelic order, I can get away with making my own list that will serve the novel I’m writing.

1)  God – God has to be #1. I know He’s not an angel, but He is in charge of all the angels, and He created all the angels. So He gets to be #1. He sends angels to earth to fight, to deliver messages, to be His eyes and ears, and to protect the humans. He is worshipped by angels in the throne room. Once each day he takes a meeting with His Seraphim to hear reports of what’s going on down on earth. (I bet nobody’s texting during those meetings.)

2)  Archangels – These guys are 18 feet tall and very majestic with a bright, glowing appearance. Their voice is like many waters, whatever that means. It sounds like a Native American way to describe Barry White’s voice. Their waists are girded with gold. Their bodies are like beryl. Their arms and feet are like burnished bronze. They are so shiny. Their faces flash like lightning and their eyes are like torches of fire. No wonder people who encounter them fall flat on their faces. Archangels deliver messages from God. They also fight demons and lead the other holy angels. Names of archangels: Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael, Raguel, Saraqael, and Remiel.

3)  Seraphim – They are stationed in the throne room. They have six wings and cover their faces before God. They fly to and fro across the earth making sure the Guardian angels are doing okay and calling in extra forces when needed. They have been known to wear a white linen ephod (old-testament way of describing a muumuu) with a golden sash running from shoulder to waist.

4)  Cherubim – These are not fat babies. Sorry to disillusion you. These are angels in the shape of really unusual creatures. They have four wings and wheels within wheels beneath their feet. These wheels may or may not be attached to the Cherubim physically but they propel the angels somehow. They act as God’s chariot. They have eyes all over their bodies: on their backs, wings, and even their wheels. Perhaps that is a symbol of how much they see and perceive. They carry flaming swords. They fight spiritual battles with the demons on behalf of God for the sake of the humans. They are God’s army. In the books of Revelation and Ezekial they are referred to as the four living beings with four-sided faces (eagle, calf, lion, and man). The four different faces may be symbolic of their character traits (swift, servile, powerful, and intelligent). They move like flashes of lightning. Satan is a Cherub which means that he is outranked by Seraphim and Archangels. That’s good news.

5)  Thrones or Ophanim – These angels are assigned to do nothing but worship God constantly. How nice! They probably have wings, but they may not. They are stationed in the throne room of heaven, a nice place to spend eternity. Do I sound jealous? Because I’m a little bit jealous.

6)  Dominions – These angels are the guardians of the humans. We more commonly refer to them as Guardian angels. They look like men and have been known to wear white linen ephods or tunics (the muumuu thing). They have two wings. Their faces glow like topaz. They keep believers’ feet from stumbling, protect them from harm, help them resist the devil and his temptations, and comfort the humans. Sometimes they physically intervene, but not often.

7) Authorities – These are the government-worker angels of heaven, taking care of running the place. I don’t know if they have wings or not. The bible doesn’t explicitly say. For the purpose of my novel, I’m giving all of the angels wings so that they are easily identified by the audience. You’re welcome.

8, 9, & 10) Principalities & Powers & Rulers – These are the fallen angels who work for Satan. I’m not clear on their order. They may be ranked according to their angel status. Since Satan is a Cherub, I have to assume that none of the Seraphim or Archangels rebelled or else we would have a different lead enemy. Some of the demons take the form of dragons. Others look like locusts with women’s heads. Some names of fallen angels have been written in the apocryphal Book of Enoch:  Samyaza (aka Shemyazaz), Araqiel, Râmêêl, Kokabiel, Tamiel, Dânêl, Chazaqiel, Baraqiel, Asael, Armaros, Batariel, Bezaliel, Ananiel, Zaqiel, Shamsiel, Satariel, Turiel, Yomiel, and Sariel. They’re a mouthful, aren’t they? No wonder they never caught on. The name Rameel (aka Azazel) is used to refer to Satan.

For more reading on this subject, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_angelic_hierarchy

Angels in the Bible: Balaam and His Not-So-Dumb Ass

Rembrandt painting

Painting by Rembrandt van Rijn, Balaam and His Ass, 1626

So this old-testament dude named Balaam practiced prophesy, divination, and magic. You can imagine how God felt about those last two things. (Not good.) When Israel’s enemy asked Balaam to come over and curse Israel, God told Balaam not to go. Balaam went anyway. To be fair, they were offering him A LOT of money. He rode along on a donkey until the Angel of the Lord (which could be the incarnate form of Jesus before He came to earth) stood in his way. Balaam couldn’t see the angel with a drawn sword, but Balaam’s donkey could. Balaam’s ass protested the treatment it was given. Let’s go to the passage for the rest of the story:

Numbers 22:31-33

Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes and he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand; and Balaam bowed his head and fell flat on his face. And the Angel of the Lord said to him, ‘Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to stand against you, because your way is perverse before Me. The donkey saw Me and turned aside from Me these three times. If she had not turned aside from Me, surely I would also have killed you by now and let her live.’

Egg on Balamm’s face, right? After this encounter he shaped up, blessed Israel, and became a decent prophet. Hey, we all have our learning curve.