THE CREATION OF THE ANGELS
“Thou, even Thou, art Lord alone; Thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all things therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and Thou preserveth them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth Thee”. Nehemiah 9:6. See also John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:13-17.
“I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven sitting on His right hand and on His left”. 1 Kings 22:19. So the host of heaven includes angels, not just stars.
“Who maketh His angels spirits; His ministers a flame of fire.” Psalm 104:4.
“Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth…when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” Job 38:4,7. So angels were created on the first day of Genesis 1, before the foundation of the earth was laid.
THE NUMBER OF THE ANGELS
“Thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him”. Daniel 7:10. “And the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands”. Revelation 5:11.
THE RANKS OF THE ANGELS
“Angels, principalities and powers”. Romans 8:38.
“Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion”. Ephesians 1:23.
“Which is the Head of all principality and power”. Colossians 2:10.
“Angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto Him”. 1 Peter 3:22.
“I saw four and twenty elders sitting”. Revelation 4:4. The representatives before the throne of God of that which is spiritual on earth.
“And in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts (living creatures) full of eyes before and behind”. Revelation 4:6. The representatives before the throne of God of that which is natural upon earth. If these living creatures are the same as those described in Ezekiel chapter 1, then they seem to be the same as the cherubim of Ezekiel chapter 10. Compare Ezekiel 1:26 with 10:1.
“I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims”. Isaiah 6:1,2.
“I saw in the visions upon my bed, and behold a watcher and a holy one came down from heaven; he cried aloud, and said thus, ‘Hew down the tree…” Daniel 4:13,14.
Three angels are named; Lucifer, who fell, Michael the archangel, Jude 9, and Gabriel, who came to both Daniel and Mary, Daniel 9:21; Luke 1:26-38.
CHARACTERISTICS OF HOLY ANGELS
“Thou art good in my sight, as an angel of God”, 1 Samuel 29:9. “According to the wisdom of an angel of God”, 2 Samuel 14:20. “Though we, or an angel preach any other gospel”. So they speak with authority. Galatians 1:8. Glorious, so Stephen’s face shone like angel, Acts 6:15.
WHAT THEY ARE NOT
They have lesser name and office to Christ, Hebrews 1:4. They are not to be worshipped, and themselves refuse it, Colossians 2:18, Revelation 22:9. They cannot occupy the throne of God, Hebrews 1:13. They cannot be firstborn, Hebrews 1:5. They have not been given control of the millenial earth, Hebrews 2:5. They have no standing of themselves, as is seen in that the cherubim on the ark depend on the mercy-seat for stability, Exodus 25:17-19. They are called sons of God, just as Adam and believers are, Luke 3:38; Romans 8:14, but the latter are sons by God’s intervention, either in the first creation or the new creation, whereas Christ is the creator of all the angels, Colossians 1:16, and as such is equal with God. His sonship is of a different order, not simply a different degree. The devil knows this, for he tempted the Son of God, just as he tempted Adam the son of God, but he knew full well that Adam could not turn stones into bread, but the Son of God could, Luke 3:38; 4:3.
WHAT THEY ARE
They are worshippers. “The host of heaven worshippeth Thee”, Nehemiah 9:6. They ascribe holiness to God, “And one cried to another, and said, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts”, Isaiah 6:3. “They rest not day and night, saying, ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.'” Revelation 4:8. They give glory and honour and thanks to Him that sits on the throne, Revelation 4:9. They are sent forth to communicate the mind of God, (especially in Old Testament days), for the word angel means a messenger. They excel in strength, Psalm 103:20. They are greater in power and might than men, 2 Peter 2:11.
WHAT THEY DO
They are sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation, Hebrews 1:14. In the context, this means they have a preserving role in relation to Israelites who will eventually go into the kingdom of the Messiah. Note it is to minister for them, and not directly to them. They do God’s commandments, hearken to the voice of His word, bless the Lord, minister to Him, and do His pleasure, Psalm 103:20,21. They were active at the giving of the law at Sinai, Deuteronomy 33:2; Acts 7:53, Galatians 3:19. They learn the many-sided wisdom of God in His dealings with the church, Ephesians 3:10. They learn subjection through the sisters being covered when the word of God is being set forth, 1 Corinthians 11:10. This confirms to them that they were right not to rebel when Lucifer did. The subjection of the sisters reverses the insubjection of Eve when she was tempted. They are the spiritual counterpart of the earthly power of men in the nations of the world, Daniel 10:12-14. The angel for Israel is the archangel Michael, Daniel 12:1. Jude 9. They were used by God in judgement in the past, Genesis 19:13; 2 Samuel 24:14-17; 2 Kings 19:35. They will be used by God for judgement in the future, Matthew 13:37-42; Revelation 8:6-9:21. They watch to see how men conduct the affairs of state, Daniel 4:13, 17,23. They protect believers, Psalm 91:11, Psalm 34:7; Isaiah 63:9; Genesis 48:16; 2 Kings 6:15-17. They will accompany Christ when He comes to earth to reign, Matthew 16:27; 25:31; Jude 14. When they come with Christ, they will publicly acknowledge Him with Divine honours, Psalm 97:7; Hebrews 1:6. “And again, when He bringeth in the First begotten into the world, He saith, ‘And let all the angels of God worship Him'”
THE ORIGIN OF EVIL ANGELS
As to their creation, they were created at the same time as the rest of the angels. “Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day thou wast created”, Ezekiel 28:15. “Lucifer, son of the morning”, Isaiah 14:12. Perhaps the very first creature God made, hence the son or product of His first creatorial day. Hence his opposition to Christ as Firstborn.
Since this took place on the first day of Genesis 1, and on the sixth day God pronounced everything He had made to be very good, and then He rested on the seventh day, it seems clear that there were no evil angels up to this point, since they would have prevented God saying everything was good. A helpful book on the Gap Theory is “Unformed and Unfilled”, by Weston Fields.
There are two passages, Isaiah 14, and Ezekiel 28, which are thought to give some insight into Lucifer’s role in heaven before he fell, and the reason for that rebellion. That not everything which is said in these passages can be related to the devil is clear. Possibly the human features are those of a man possessed of Satan himself. There are two men called son of perdition in scripture, Judas Iscariot, John 17:12, and the Antichrist, 2 Thessalonians 2:3. It is said of Judas that Satan entered into him, 13:27, and the Lord described him as a devil, John 6:70.
LUCIFER’S POSITION BEFORE HE FELL. Ezekiel 28:12-19.
“Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty”. He was covered with precious stones, like the high priest’s breastplate was, suggesting Lucifer had a priestly role. The mention of tabrets and pipes remind us of the music of the temple services. Perhaps he had a role as leader of the praise of heaven. He was one of the cherubs who covered, or protected, the very throne of God.
THE FALL OF LUCIFER
“The Devil sinneth from the beginning”, 1 John 3:8. Since sin is lawlessness, there came a point at which Lucifer, (as his name was when he was unfallen), rebelled against the laws of God in heaven. “Iniquity was found in thee”, Ezekiel 28:15. “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven…I will be like the Most High”, Isaiah 14:13,14. “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty”, Ezekiel 28:17. It is said of elders that that are not to be novices in the things of God, “Lest, being lifted up in pride, they fall into the condemnation of the devil”, 1 Timothy 3:6.
The mystery as to why God allowed this to happen is beyond our grasp, except that we know that God “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will”, Ephesians 1:11, and He allowed sin, that He might ultimately be glorified in a greater way than if He had not. It is worth remembering that sin is essentially a negative thing, lawlessness, and is the withholding of the obedience that is due to God.
Having sinned, Lucifer now persuaded one third of the angels of heaven to rebel with him, “And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven”, Revelation 12:4. These now became “his angels”, Revelation 12:7; Matthew 25:41.
These angels are now known as demons, although the Authorised Version never uses this word. The word used of Satan is diabolus, or accuser, and this is different to the word daimion, a demon.
The scripture speaks of evil spirits, Luke 7:21, and unclean spirits, Luke 4:36. Scripture is also careful to distinguish between those who were possessed with demons, and those who were lunatic, Matthew 4:24. Whether the child in Matthew 17:15 was lunatic as well as being demon possessed is not clear. The father may have confused his condition with lunacy. Is this why the Lord appears to be so severe as He spoke to the man, and also why He referred to His presence amongst the nation, Matthew 17:17? His presence among them for so long should have enabled them to distinguish between the effects of the fall, and the effects of the working of Satan. They had seen Christ reverse both many times, as He healed the sick, and expelled demons.
WHAT EVIL SPIRITS CAN DO
They can accept the worship of men who bow down to idols, 1 Corinthians 10:19,20.
They can deceive men, if God allows it, 1 Kings 22:18-25.
They can possess men and women, and take over their personality, so that we find, for instance, that the man called Legion talks sometimes as himself, and at other times as a demon, Luke 8:26-31. We should not conclude, however, that all schizophrenics (those with a split-personality disorder), are indwelt by spirits. Sometimes a spirit caused physical disability such as deafness and dumbness, Mark 9:25; or infirmity, Luke 13:11,16. We should beware of suggesting that all illness or disability is because of demon possession, for it is not. Scripture carefully distinguishes between disease, torments, demon possession, lunacy, and palsy, Matthew 4:24. The Lord does not seem to have touched demoniacs until the demon was expelled, Mark 9:27, but He did lay His hands on the woman bowed down, Luke 13:13. It is not possible for a true believer to be possessed by a demon, since a believer is indwelt by the Spirit of God, and He cannot co-exist with a demon.
In the last days they will intensify their efforts to make men, and believers, believe lies, 1 Timothy 4:1-3, Matthew 24:24.
They will induce men to gather at Jerusalem to fight against Christ when He comes to earth, Revelation 16:12-16. That this is allowed by God is seen from Revelation 19:17-19, where it is an angel of God who does this.
THE NAMES OF LUCIFER NOW THAT HE IS FALLEN
Satan, which means the adversary, the opposer. He opposes all that is of God.
The Devil, which means the accuser. He is the accuser of the brethren, Revelation 12:10.
The old Serpent, the crafty one who led man astray at the beginning, and continues to do so, Revelation 12:9.
The prince of this world, John 12:31; 14:30. The one who seeks to subdue the world into obedience to himself.
The god of this world, 2 Corinthians 4:4, who blinds men’s mind as to the gospel.
The wicked one, who snatches the seed of the word of God away from men, so that they do not believe, Matthew 13:19. The whole world lieth in the Wicked One, 1 John 5:19, margin.
Beelzebub, the prince of the demons, Matthew 12:2, Luke 11:15, “the chief of the demons”. It is noticeable that Christ uses the title Beelzebub, but not the expression “prince of the demons”. In Mark 3:22,30, they go much further, and say that Christ was indwelt by Satan. This is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, the real power by which Christ acted, and as long as this sin is persisted in there is no forgiveness for it. This helps us in connection with Hebrews 6:4-6, with its emphasis on the work of the Spirit amongst them as a nation when Christ was here.
SATAN’S ACTIVITY IN THE PAST
He introduced sin into the world at the beginning. He indwelt a serpent for this purpose, an animal which may have been upright, (as is implied in the judgement that it now goes on its belly- if it did this before there would be no penalty), and also may have been winged like an angel. The winged serpent is often found in pagan connections. The judgement on the serpent went further than the animal, and extended to the one who used it for his wicked purposes. Genesis 3:14 refers to the literal serpent, as is seen by the comparison with other cattle, and verse 15 refers to Satan, the old Serpent. The seed of the woman is in the first instance Christ, but extends also to His people, as Romans 16:20 shows. From the judgement pronounced upon him, Satan deduced that there was one coming who would defeat him. Hence his attempts to destroy the line of the Messiah. These attempts include the following- The murder of Abel, Genesis 4. The corruption of the human race by sons of God begetting giants, Genesis 6 The taking of Sarah into Pharoah’s household, Genesis 12. The taking of Sarah into Abimilech’s household, Genesis 20. The murderous intent of Esau towards Jacob, Genesis 27. The decree about male children in Egypt, Exodus 1. The pursuit of Israel as they neared the Red Sea, Exodus 14. The idolatry which caused the Lord to threaten their extinction, Exodus 33. The challenge of Goliath, David being of the royal line, 1 Samuel 17. The attempts of Saul to kill David, 1 Samuel 18, 19. Athaliah destroying all the seed royal except Joash, 2 Kings 11. The making of the king’s seed into eunuchs, 2 Kings 21:16-18. The attempt by Haman to destroy the Jews, Esther 3. The attacks continued after the birth of Christ, with Herod slaying the children, Matthew2; the people of Nazareth seeking to throw Christ over the hill, Luke 4; the attempts to stone Him, John 8:59, 10:31.
HIS ACTIVITY IN THE WORLD IN THE PRESENT AND FUTURE
He blinds the minds of those who believe not, so they do not believe the gospel, 2 Corinthians 4:4.
As the prince of this world, he has the goal of giving power, a throne, and great authority to his man, the Man of Sin, so that he can replace Christ, God’s Man, Revelation 13:2.
As the god of this age, he aspires to the worship of the whole world, which he will achieve temporarily, Revelation 13:4. Part of his strategy is to use religion for his purposes, only to jettison it to attract worship only to himself, Revelation 17/18.
HIS ACTIVITY IN CONNECTION WITH BELIEVERS
We should remember that although Satan is a real and determined foe to believers, he is also a defeated foe, and as such cannot affect the eternal security of the believer, since Christ intercedes when he makes his attacks, Romans 8:34,35. “We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous”, 1 John 2:1. See also Luke 22:31,32.
Whilst he is a powerful foe, “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world”, 1 John 4:4. The indwelling Spirit of God is our guarantee against his evil devices.
Now that he has not succeeded in preventing Christ from coming, he seeks to prevent Christ being reproduced in His people, Ephesians 4:13-15. He does this by systematically promoting error in the minds of God’s people.
He can bring calamity upon men, even believers, if it is God’s will, Job 1:9-22.
He can infiltrate the assemblies with false brethren, who teach error and lead astray, Galatians 2:4; 2 Corinthians 11:26; 2 Peter 2:1; Jude 4. These brethren appear as if they are ministers of righteousness, but are Satan’s ministers, to deceive as happened before in Eden, 2 Corinthians 11.
He tempts God’s people, as He tempted Christ. We are assured, however, that no temptation is allowed to come our way without a way of escape being available, 1 Corinthians 10:13. We are to resist the Devil, and he will flee from us, as he fled from Christ in the wilderness temptation, Luke 4:13, James 4:7. The weapon Christ used was the same one we may use, namely the word of God. Satan succeeded with Eve by casting doubt on the word of God, “Hath God said”, and he will be defeated if we use the word of God against him.
As a raging lion, he goes about seeking whom he may devour, 1 Peter 5:8. The shepherds in the assembly should be alert to this, watch diligently over the flock, and not leave them to their own devices.
He seeks to prevent us from enjoying the rich inheritance we have in Christ. Just as the forces of darkness sought to prevent Israel from possessing their possessions in Canaan, (Jericho meaning “City of the moon”, the ruler of the darkness), so wicked spirit-powers seek to prevent us making advances into our spiritual inheritance, Ephesians 6:10-20.
He seeks to prevent us from having high thoughts of Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:3-6.
HIS FUTURE DOOM
Because of Calvary, Satan is a defeated foe. See Luke 11:19-23; John 16:11; Hebrews 2:14; Colossians 2:15. In the wisdom of God, however, he is allowed some exercise of power, in order that he may over-reach himself and be finally destroyed.
Having largely succeeded with the human race, and deluded them into worshipping himself as represented by Antichrist, 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, he will turn his attention to the angels of heaven. From Revelation 12:7 we learn that in the future there will be war in heaven, and Michael and his angels will fight with the dragon and his angels, and will prevail over them. We are not to think that this involves the weapons that men use. We read of spiritual conflict in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6, where the leading ideas are of reasonings and high thoughts which lead to disobedience to Christ. Perhaps we may say that the Devil will attempt to persuade the remaining holy angels to rebel against their Head, even Christ, (Colossians 2:10), and to disobey Him. If he were to be successful, then heaven and earth would be united in rebellion against God. He will be defeated, however, and will be cast down to earth, where he concentrates his efforts amongst men.
Having gathered men together to fight against Christ when He comes, He is quickly defeated, and an angel binds him in the abyss for a thousand years, Revelation 20:1-3. It is a sure sign that the Devil’s power is broken, in that an angel is all that is needed to bind him.
At the end of the millennial reign of Christ, he will be loosed for a season, and after having shown that he is still in rebellion, he is consigned, with his angels, to the Lake of Fire, Revelation 20:10; Matthew 25:41.
“Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet”. 1 Corinthians 15:24,25.