For those of you who are curious about Angels and Demons–where they come from, what are their roles, their fate, etc.–this little article may help introduce you to the Biblical worldview on the topic.
The study of angels and demons is one that has caught the interest of many people throughout history. The spirit world has been a mysterious place that people choose either to avoid, abhor, embrace, be intrigued by, be afraid of, or have a healthy or an unhealthy obsession over. There is a wealth of information of the spirit world in every culture, collected down through the ages that helps us in our study of these creatures. While this wealth of information is readily accessible, I cannot help but think there is a much greater wealth of knowledge that has not be given to us. In other words, while much is known, much is not. This could be the result of God’s wisdom in not disclosing too much information to us, for if we had too much knowledge of the spirit world then perhaps He knows that we would have an unhealthy preoccupation with it. However, He has seen fit to reveal to us the existence His heavenly servants whether it be through personal encounters or through His written word. From the Scriptures we learn of their existence, origin, and functions. Angels are seen serving God in His temple, proclaiming and delivering messages, executing God’s judgment, and tending to mankind. We also know that angles were created in perfection, but Satan drew a third of them to rebel and make an alliance of darkness against the Light. Satan and his demonic hordes have ever since been tirelessly working to destroy and triumph over God and His kingdom. Yet, we know this to be insanity at its finest, for how can a limited creature defeat an unlimited Creator?
While many people have valid first and second hand testimonies of interactions with angels and demons, the Scriptures remain as the primary source of authority in the study of these heavenly beings. Apart from God’s revelation we would know very little, if anything at all, about angels and demons. With that said, let us look to the Scriptures for studying the origin and roles of angels and demons, and their final judgment.
Angels and Demons – their origin and roles
The word “angel” simply means “messenger.” Angels are primarily messengers of God who communicate God’s message to mankind. This can be used of both spirits and men, but is predominantly reserved for referring to spirits. Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Gideon, Daniel, Ezekiel, Mary and others have all been visited by angels who brought a message from God. They were directly and simultaneously created by God some point in eternity (Ps. 148:2-5) with the purpose to serve God and tend to His purposes. They are spirits with no definitive form (Heb. 1:14), yet are somehow able to take on human appearance as seen in their visits to Abraham (Gen. 18), and while they rained judgment down on Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19). Psalm 8:4-6 and Hebrews 2:6-8 both teach that angels are of a higher rank than man. As a result, they excel us in power, wisdom, authority, and abilities. The Scriptures teach these ministers are ordered by rank within themselves. Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, writes that there are rulers, authorities, cosmic powers and spiritual forces, all of which denote rankings, even in the realm of darkness. There are three classes of angels that we know of: Archangels, Cherubim, and Seraphim. There may be more, but this what has been revealed. Despite their higher order, God has commissioned them to tend to the affairs of men.
The first mention of angels is found in Genesis 3:24 where God placed cherubim and the fiery sword that barred Adam and Eve from the garden and the tree of life after they ate from the forbidden tree. The word “cherub” is the singular form for a ranking angel; the word for “cherubim” is the Hebrew plural form. Cherubim are also seen symbolized in the ornaments in the Tabernacle, specifically fashioned in pure gold upon the Mercy Seat in the Holiest of holies (Ex. 25:18). They are also seen literally in Ezekiel’s vision simultaneously with God’s glorious presence (Ezek. 1; 10), which shows us that cherubim are responsible for guarding God’s majesty and Holiness. Cherubim are of the highest ranking among all the angels, with the possible exception of the Archangel. Michael, the guardian of Israel (Dan. 12:1), is the only one who is called an archangel (Jude 9). There may be more archangels, such as Gabriel, but Michael is the only one named as such.
There is one special Angel noted in the Scriptures and that is the Angel of the LORD. He is a Theophany of Jesus. A Theophany is a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus. He appeared on numerous occasions to Abraham (Gen. 18:1-2), Hagar (Gen 16:7), Moses (Ex. 3:2), Joshua (Jos. 5:13-14), and Gideon (Judges 6:12), and to many others. He revealed Himself to Joshua as “the commander of the army of the LORD.” He is without a doubt the most powerful and highest ranking angel there is.
There are angles also known as seraphim. These are seen in Isaiah 6 where they are flying with three sets of wings around the throne of God proclaiming, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts: the earth is full of His glory,” and again in Revelation 4:8. When Isaiah was fully aware of his own sinfulness, one of the seraphim grabbed a piece of coal from the altar of God and touched Isaiah’s lips, thus purifying him from his iniquities. Seraphim “express the holiness of God in that they proclaim that man must be cleansed of sin’s moral defilement before he can stand before God and serve Him.” Seraphim seem to act as priests in the temple of God, while Cherubim seem to act as deputies.
This is the state of the angels in their perfect, un-fallen condition. I mentioned earlier how Satan was able to convince a third of the myriads of angels to rebel with him, and they were consequently cast down from their glorified state to a cursed one. In this fallen condition, the angels are now known as fallen angles and demons. Jude says these angels did not remain in their God-ordained positions, but fell away to the darkness. Daniel saw this satanic figure who cast down some of the stars from heaven (Dan. 8:10). John the Apostle saw the great dragon and his angels cast down to the earth (Rev. 12:9). So it is portrayed throughout the Scriptures, that Lucifer, or Satan, and his followers were cast down out of their God-ordained positions.
Satan first appears in Genesis 3 as a serpent that deceived Eve in to disobeying God. In his pre-fallen state, Satan was called Lucifer, which means “son of the dawn” or “morning star,” as Isaiah called him (Isa. 14:12). Ezekiel reveals that Lucifer was an anointed cherub, served on God’s mountain, was blameless until he became prideful of his beauty and wisdom and was cast out of heaven because of it (Ezekiel 28: 14-17a). Isaiah 14:12-15 reveals his original sin “You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” Lucifer’s sin was increased because of his responsibility as a cherub to guard the holiness and majesty of God. He committed treason of the highest order. Since his fall, he was renamed Satan. He is known as the father of lies, a roaring lion seeking prey, the serpent, the dragon, the prince of the power of the air, the god of this age, the adversary, the evil one, the tempter, and much more. All sin has its roots in him; he wears a crown of death and rules the underworld.
As a result of Satan’s rebellion, we now are constantly involved in spiritual warfare. The Devil seeks to lead men’s souls down the path of death, while God seeks to lead mens’ souls up the path of life. Just as the angles are active in man’s redemption, demons are active in man’s damnation. “When a person enters the kingdom of God, the prince of darkness incurs an immediate loss and he then makes it his goal to trouble the new Christian at every opportunity. This engagement of Satan, his power, his works, or his demons is called spiritual warfare.” Demons are active in the affairs of men on a daily basis via spiritual warfare. They are responsible for much of the pain and suffering and disease in this world. They work through mankind’s sinfulness to achieve these goals. Demons like to persuade, influence, manipulate, and, if possible, possess individuals. They do this either directly or indirectly through the occult and other false religious systems, or by any other means. Left to ourselves, we are virtually helpless against these evil spirits who seek our destruction. However, because of God’s power and authority (see Job 1:12) we are not crushed.
The Final Judgment of Satan and Demons.
Thank God this battle will not rage on forever. There has been a time decreed by God when all of the suffering and pain and rebellion will be put to an end. Satan’s destruction was foretold by God at the very beginning of man’s fall in the Garden of Eden when He said Satan’s head would be crushed by the seed of the woman. Jesus, the seed of the woman, appeared that He might destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). This crushing was realized in the work of Christ at Calvary where He paid the penalty for our sins and resurrected from the dead. Thus He triumphed over all the powers of darkness, disarming them and putting them to open shame (Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14). The ultimate spiritual victory was accomplished on the cross of Christ; it is through the power of the cross Satan finds his defeat. However, he is still permitted by God to rule this earth as much as is granted to him. In doing so, his final judgment is postponed until a later date. Some angels are held in prison until that later date (2 Peter 2:4), while many others are free to roam the earth. Yet, Revelation 9 reveals that there are angels reserved in chains for a specific hour during the Tribulation. All this to say that God is in complete control of these demons until the very end.
The later judgment will be when Christ returns to establish His physical rule on earth. When Christ returns for the battle of Armageddon, the beast (antichrist) and his followers will be captured and thrown alive into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:19-21). An angel will descend from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain to seize the dragon (Satan) to bound him for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-3). During the thousand years Christ will reign on earth in perfect peace and justice. At the end of the thousand years Satan will be released to deceive the nations one last time. It is at this point when God finally casts him into the lake of fire where he will be tormented forever and ever (Rev. 20: 7-10).
In conclusion, angles, a direct creation of God, were created in perfection for God and His purposes. They have various roles (of which we have limited knowledge), differ in rank and function, and are commissioned to minister to mankind. Conversely, those angels who have fallen have been waging war with God and man since the dawn of time. However, they will meet their final judgment at the time appointed by God. If anyone doubts the existence of angels and their final judgment, all one has to do is refer to Christ as the final authority on the subject. Just as Christ validated Noah and the flood, Adam and Eve, Sodom and Gomorrah, and Jonah and the great fish, He gave testimony of the reality of angels and their ministry on several occasions. If Scripture testifies of the reality of these spiritual beings and Christ affirms their reality then we should readily accept their existence. The words of Gabriele Amorth are fitting to conclude: “Satan is our worst enemy, and he will remain so until the end of time. Therefore he uses all his intellect and power and an attempt to thwart the plans of God, who will the salvation of all. Our strength is the cross of Christ, his blood, his wounds, and obedience to his words and to his institution, the church.”
Amorth, Gabriele Fr. An Exorcist Tells His Story. (1999). Ignatius Press.
Easton, M. (24 Jun, 1996). Dictionaries: Angel. Retrieved from http://www.blueletterbible.org/search/Dictionary/viewTopic.cfm
Enns Paul. The Moody Handbook of Theology Revised and Expanded. (2008). Moody Publisher.
Holy Bible, The. English Standard Version. (2011). Crossway.
Martin, Walter Dr. The Kingdom of the Occult. (2008). Thomas Nelson, Inc.