A Scriptural introduction to angels

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Heaven

We have established in our previous study on the spiritual realm that a spiritual realm does exist and is Scriptural. In the next study we have shown that the spiritual realm does influence us. When we looked at the spiritual impact of the tower of Babel, we saw that there exists other lesser elohim in the spiritual realm that have influence over the nations mentioned in Genesis 10. Now we need to look a bit more into the other beings that exist in this spiritual realm.

When we look at all the different spiritual beings, we typically study three different areas of doctrine. It includes:

1. Angeology – Study of the angels of YHVH

2. Demonology – Study of the demons, evil spirits or fallen angels

3. Satanology – Study of ha satan – the accuser

In this study, we will put our attention on the firsts of these three topics. We will have a look at what the Scripture tells us about angels. In future studies, we will look at the other two areas of doctrine in more detail.

In order to understand exactly what an “angel” is, we need to turn to Scripture and see where they come from, what do they look like and also what they do. Let us start with the origin.

The creation of angels

Even though angels are heavenly beings, it it important to remember that they were also created by YHVH. All things in the spiritual and physical realms were created by YHVH. No matter what the scientists think today, nobody, except YHVH, can create from nothing. We see that David and Paul made this point very clear. David tells us that YHVH created all the hosts in heaven by simply speaking them into existence. This is the same way that is also recorded in Genesis 1.

Psalm 33:6
By the word of YHVH the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host.

Colossians 1:16
16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.

Now that we know that angels were also created by YHVH, it would be interesting to try and see when they were created. Nowhere in the Genesis 1 to 3 do we find any mention to angels being created. In the previous post on the spiritual realm we saw that heavenly beings existed before man was created.

Genesis 1:26
Then YHVH said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

We see that YHVH was speaking to the heavenly beings before man is created. Yet, when it comes to the act of creating man, the text reverts back to the singular. Only YHVH does the creation.

From the book of Job we have also learned that the angels were created before the foundations and the cornerstone of the world were laid.

Job 38:4–7
4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, 5 Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? 6 “On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, 7 When the morning stars sang together And all the sons of Elohim shouted for joy?

Thus, we know that YHVH created them before mankind was created. From several Scriptures we know that there exists a large number of heavenly beings.

Deuteronomy 33:2
He said, “YHVH came from Sinai, And dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, And He came from the midst of ten thousand holy ones; At His right hand there was flashing lightning for them.

2 Kings 6:17
Then Elisha prayed and said, “YHVH, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And YHVH opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

Psalm 68:17
The chariots of Elohim are myriads, thousands upon thousands; YHVH is among them as at Sinai, in holiness.

Matthew 26:53
“Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions (~72,000) of angels?

Revelation 5:11
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands,

We can see that the number of angels is huge. However, we know from the words of Y’Shua that angels do not marry, which implies that they do not reproduce.

Mark 12:25
“For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

Yet, if we look through the Scriptures above, we see no proof of their numbers shrinking. This is a proof that spiritual beings like angels cannot die or be destroyed.

Luke 20:34–36
34 Y’Shua said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35 but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; 36 for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of YHVH, being sons of the resurrection.

When some of the angels rebelled against YHVH, they were cast into hell. They did not die because of their sin.

2 Peter 2:4
For if YHVH did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment;

Now that we know how angels came into existence, how many were created and that they exist forever, let us see where they fit into the structure of YHVH’s creation.

The position of angels

Once again the Scriptures provide us with some good pointers as to where they fit into the creation. First of all we know that they are lower than YHVH because He is the one that created them. The creature is always lower than the Creator. Scripture also tells us that they are lower than Y’Shua. In Hebrews 1:3 – 2:3 we have a complete explanation as to why angels are inferior to the deity of Y’Shua.

Hebrews 1:3–4
3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.

Not only this, they are also inferior to Y’shua in His humanity.

Hebrews 2:4–5
4 YHVH also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will. 5 For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking.

They are superior to man as we see recorded in Hebrews.

Hebrews 2:6–7
6 But one has testified somewhere, saying, “What is man, that You remember him? Or the son of man, that You are concerned about him? 7 You have made him for a little while lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, And have appointed him over the works of Your hands;

The author of Hebrews is quoting from Psalm 8. A number of English Bible translations have the following in Psalm 8:

Psalm 8:4–5 (NASB)
4 What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? 5 Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty!

The challenge with this translation is that the name, YHVH, does not appear here, but the Hebrew word “elohim” is used. We know that the word in Hebrew can be singular or plural, depending on the verb. Seeing that in this case the word “elohim” is the object, the verb does not help us. But, if we look at the Beginning of the sentence, it is a really weird thing to do – state that something you created you made a little lower than yourself. Why say this? It is obvious. Thus, the alternative translation of “lower than the angels“, as seen in Hebrews, makes more sense. This is also confirmed by the Septuagint (Greek version of the Tanach.)

Psalm 8:5–6 (Lexham English Septuagint)
5 What is a person that you remember him? Or a son of a person that you observe him? 6 You made him something a little less than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor.

We find the same view in the writing of Peter. Peter makes it clear that angles have greater might and power than men.

2 Peter 2:11
whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before YHVH.

The nature of angels

Now that we know where angels fit into the order of YHVH’s creation, let us see if we can learn more about what the nature of an angel is. Scripture does not give us an exact and complete description, but does provide us with sufficient information to get a good general idea about their nature.

One of the books in the Bible that give us some description of the nature of angels, is the book of Daniel.

Daniel 9:20–22
20 Now while I was speaking and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before YHVH my Elohim in behalf of the holy mountain of my Elohim, 21 while I was still speaking in prayer, then the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision previously, came to me in my extreme weariness about the time of the evening offering. 22 He gave me instruction and talked with me and said, “O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you insight with understanding.

Daniel 10:10–14
10 Then behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11 He said to me, “O Daniel, man of high esteem, understand the words that I am about to tell you and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. 12 Then he said to me, “Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your Elohim, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. 13 “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia. 14 “Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet future.

From these two pieces of Scripture, it is clear that the angel mentioned here is not omnipresent (everywhere at the same time) nor is he omnipotent (has all power). This is proven by the fact that he had to come to Daniel and that he was withstood by another heavenly being. We see that even Michael, the arc-angel mentioned here, is also limited in his power.

Jude 9
But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “YHVH rebuke you!”

From the words of Y’Shua we also know that angels are not all knowing – omniscient.

Matthew 24:36
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

This is confirmed in the Apostolic Scriptures by both Paul and Peter.

Ephesians 3:10
so that the manifold wisdom of YHVH might now be made known through the assembly to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.

1 Peter 1:12
It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.

These verses show that angels are lower than YHVH because only He is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient.

Angels were also created with a free will. They can make choices. This is the reason that some of the angels chose against YHVH. We see this recorded in Jude. Here we read about the angels who chose not to remain in their own abode. Thus, they rebelled against YHVH, which is sin.

Jude 6
And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day,

2 Peter 2:4
For if YHVH did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment;

We know that angels are spiritual beings. This implies that they do not have flesh and blood as we do. This is what Y’Shua also mentioned when He spoke about His body after the resurrection.

Luke 24:39
“See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

This is the reason why many spiritual beings can reside in one place/person at the same time. They are not constrained by space. This is why it was possible for a legion of demons to be in one person. Although angels are spiritual beings, they can take on a human form. When angels appear, they appear in the form of a young man.

Their sphere

As we mentioned above, angels can take on a human form and appear in the physical world. The default abode of angels is in the heavens.

Matthew 18:10
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.

Mark 12:25
“For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

Luke 22:43
Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him.

In the book of Daniel we see, that they operate in this heavenly realm, by making war with other spiritual beings. Paul frequently refers to the authority and rulers in the heavenly places.

Ephesians 3:10
so that the manifold wisdom of YHVH might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.

However, in Scripture we also find references to these angels having an impact on the physical. In the book of Revelation we see that the actions that the angels will take in the future, will have an effect on earth.

Revelation 8:6–12
6 And the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound them. 7 The first sounded, and there came hail and fire, mixed with blood, and they were thrown to the earth; and a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up. 8 The second angel sounded, and something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea; and a third of the sea became blood, 9 and a third of the creatures which were in the sea and had life, died; and a third of the ships were destroyed. 10 The third angel sounded, and a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of waters. 11 The name of the star is called Wormwood; and a third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the waters, because they were made bitter. 12 The fourth angel sounded, and a third of the sun and a third of the moon and a third of the stars were struck, so that a third of them would be darkened and the day would not shine for a third of it, and the night in the same way.

Thus, we see that although the abode of angels is in the heavens, their spheres of influence include both the spiritual and physical realms.

The types of angels

In the Scriptures, angels are called by many different names. Does this imply something about the angels and their functions? By looking at all the words being used, it appears as if there are at least three different types of angels. It also seems that there exists some hierarchy between the three different types. The three different types are:

· Cherubim – Also known as Arc-Angels. – 1 Thes 4:16 ; Ezekiel 1:5-21; Rev 12:7

· Seraphim – Messengers from YHVH – Isa 6:1-7

· Watchers and Guardian Angels – Daniel 4:13,17

Cherubim

At the top of the hierarchy of angels we find the cherubim. Or as they are more commonly referred to – “arc-angels“. In the book of Daniel these angels are called “chief princes” (Dan 10:13). It is in the Greek that we get the connection to the word “arc-angel.” The Septuagint translated the word “prince” into the Greek word “archontōn.” In another Greek translation of Daniel, a text many scholars consider even older than the Septuagint currently in use, the prince of Persia and Israel’s prince, Michael, are both described with the Greek word “archōn” – ἄρχων. 1

This is also the same Greek word that Paul used when he described the “rulers of this age“, the rulers “in heavenly places” and also the “ruler of the authority of the air.”

1 Corinthians 2:6–8
6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; 7 but we speak YHVH’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which YHVH predestined before the ages to our glory; 8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified Elohim of glory;

Ephesians 2:2
in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.

Ephesians 3:10
so that the manifold wisdom of YHVH might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.

If we take a look at the word’s use in both the Septuagint and the Apostolic Scriptures, we see that the word is used in a physical and spiritual context. It can refer to leaders, commanders or officials on earth and to beings in the supernatural realm. The most common threat here is that it points to one in a position of leadership or has a ruling capacity. 2

The name for this class of angels is based on the Hebrew word כְּרוּב (kĕrûb, “cherub”) that is used 91 times in the Hebrew books of the Bible. These verses include:

· The cherubim placed at the entrance to garden of Eden

· The cherubim on the mercy seat of the Arc of the Covenant

· The cherubim in the temple of Solomon

· The vision of Ezekiel of the throne of YHVH

Ezekiel also refers to the cherubim as “living ones” (חַיָּה, ḥayyâ); in the Septuagint this term is translated with Greek ζῷον (zōon, “living being, animal”), and this term occurs repeatedly in Revelation to refer to divine beings (e.g., Rev 4:6–9).3

The most complete description we have of these spiritual beings, we can gather from the vision of Ezekiel in chapters 1 and 10.

Ezekiel 1:5–12
5 Within it there were figures resembling four living beings. And this was their appearance: they had human form. 6 Each of them had four faces and four wings. 7 Their legs were straight and their feet were like a calf’s hoof, and they gleamed like burnished bronze. 8 Under their wings on their four sides were human hands. As for the faces and wings of the four of them, 9 their wings touched one another; their faces did not turn when they moved, each went straight forward. 10 As for the form of their faces, each had the face of a man; all four had the face of a lion on the right and the face of a bull on the left, and all four had the face of an eagle. 11 Such were their faces. Their wings were spread out above; each had two touching another being, and two covering their bodies. 12 And each went straight forward; wherever the spirit was about to go, they would go, without turning as they went.

In Ezekiel 10, they are specifically named as Cherubim. We see the same type of description also recorded in the Book of Revelation.

Revelation 4:5–9
5 Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of YHVH; 6 and before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. 7 The first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle. 8 And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy is YHVH Elohim, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.” 9 And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever,

If we were to summarize their appearance from the two texts it would include:

· There is 4 cherubim around the throne – Eze 10:10, Rev 4:6

· They had human form – Ezekiel 1:5

· According to Ezekiel they have four wings – Ezekiel 1:6 but John stated they have 6 wings – Revelation 4:8

· They have four faces – man, lion on the right, bull on the left and behind the face of an eagle – Ezekiel 1:6. Revelation 4:7 states that each of the four had a different face. This discrepancy can be resolved if we think may have had a static view and could only see one face at a specific time.

· Their legs were straight and their feet were like a calf’s hoof – Ezekiel 1:7

· They have 4 hands on their sides under their wings – Ezekiel 1: 8

· They gleamed like burnished bronze – Ezekiel 1:7

· Each went straight forward – Ezekiel 1:9; 17

· ‎One wheel on the earth beside the living beings, for each of the four of them – Ezekiel 1:15

· The rims of the wheels, were full of eyes around and within – Eze 1:18 OR they were full of eyes front and back – Rev 4:8

From both we see that these cherubim are below and around the throne of YHVH and they praise YHVH day and night.

From Scripture we know two of these beings by name.

Daniel 10:13
“But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia.

Jude 9
But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “YHVH rebuke you!”

Daniel 8:16
And I heard the voice of a man between the banks of Ulai, and he called out and said, “Gabriel, give this man an understanding of the vision.”

Luke 1:19
The angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of YHVH, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.

Scripture mentions that there are four of these beings around the throne. In the apocrypa of the Tanakh, in books like Enoch and Tobit, we see the names of more of these arc-angels. They name a total of seven angels. Where exactly these names come from is not certain. Some Jewish scholars claim that the names come from Babylon.

“Israel took the names of the angels from the Babylonians during the period of the Exile, because Isaiah [vi. 6] speaks only of ‘one of the seraphim,’ without calling him by name; whereas Daniel names the angels Michael and Gabriel” (Yer. R. H. 56d) – Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish of Tiberias

His point is that none of the books written before the exile have a name for any of the heavenly beings. Only during and after the exile did books like Daniel start using names for angels. We also know from other content in the book of Enoch, that this book was edited/compiled during the second temple period.

In the rest of Scripture, it is clear that these cherubim seem to appear in the presence of YHVH, except in the case where they are sent to deliver specific messages, e.g. Daniel and Zacharias.

2 Samuel 22:11
“And He rode on a cherub and flew; And He appeared on the wings of the wind.

2 Kings 19:15
Hezekiah prayed before YHVH and said, “YHVH, the Elohim of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, You are the Elohim, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.

The main task of the cherubim is to praise YHVH day and night. They give glory, honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne (Rev 4.8).

Seraphim

The next class of angles is called “seraphim“.

Isaiah 6:1–2
1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw YHVH sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.

This word “seraphim” is the plural for “seraph.” These words come from the verb “sarap” that means “to burn.” But this is a special form of the verb “burn.”

The verb is much used and always is used for a literal burning. It is used, sparsely, for burning sacrifices (Lev 4:12), the destruction of cities (Josh 6:24), the burning of children in human sacrifice (Jer 7:13) and in a very few cases of execution (only Lev 20:14; 21:9, cf. Gen 38:24). The word is used for destructive burning not usually for ordinary kindling of a fire or for metaphorical matters like burning with anger. There are over fifteen other words in Hebrew meaning “burn.” The most used are qāṭar “burn incense or sacrifices”, bāʿar “consume.”4

The only reference we have specifically to seraphim is in Isaiah. He describes them as having 6 wings. The fact that they were able to speak to Isaiah implies that they have audible voices. Later, one of the seraphim flies to Isaiah with a coal in his hand. This means that the seraphim, like the cherubim, have hands.

We see from the description provided by Isaiah that the seraphim are above the throne of YHVH. This is in contrast to the cherubim that is pictured by Ezekiel and John as being below the throne. From their name, we may also assume that they appeared to be glowing.

The fact that Isaiah uses the plural, implies that he saw more than one. He does not state exactly how many of these he saw.

Watchers and Messengers

Then lastly, we have another class of angels that are identified by many different Hebrew words. These include:

· עִירʿir – meaning watcher (Dan 4:13,17)

· מַלְאָךְ malakh – messenger

· אַבִּירʾǎb·bîr – strong one (Psalm 78:25)

· קְדֹשִֽׁים׃qaddīšəm – set apart ones (Psalm 89:5)

· benê (hā)ʾĕlōhîm, benê ʾēlîm – sons of Elohim (Gen 6:1-2)

In the Greek these are referred to ἄγγελος angelos – translated as “angel.”

We can assume that these angels are lower in order than the previous two classes.

Angel of YHVH

We also have another very special instance of an angel. This “angel” is referred to as the “the angel of YHVH.” This phrase is found in the Hebrew Scriptures. This angel was sent whenever the people of YHVH, Israel, was threatened – either by men or spiritual beings. This angel appears a number of times in the Scriptures, but most of us tend to miss the significance of this. Let us look at one of the Scriptures. Before we do, a quick quiz: Who was it that appeared to Moses in the burning bush on Mount Horeb? Answer before continuing.

Exodus 3:1–6
1 Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of Elohim. 2 The angel of the YHVH appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. 3 So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” 4 When YHVH saw that he turned aside to look, Elohim called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 He said also, “I am the Elohim of your father, the Elohim of Abraham, the Elohim of Isaac, and the Elohim of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at Elohim.

Did you answer “the angel of YHVH” or YHVH? Both are correct, but only partially. The text in Exodus jumps from the one to the other while referring to the same “character” in the story. This is also confirmed in the Apostolic Scriptures.

Acts 7:30–31
30 “After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning thorn bush. 31 “When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he approached to look more closely, there came the voice of YHVH:

Thus, these pieces of Scripture see YHVH and the angel of YHVH as one and the same. Who else do we know that is one and the same as YHVH, that appears in the physical realm? Yes, that would be Y’Shua. Thus, if we study the term “the angel of YHVH” we will find what it is that Y’Shua did in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Look at what YHVH tells Moses about the angel that He would send before them in the exodus.

Exodus 23:20–23
20 “Behold, I am going to send an angel before you to guard you along the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. 21 “Be on your guard before him and obey his voice; do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not pardon your transgression, since My name is in him. 22 “But if you truly obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. 23 “For My angel will go before you and bring you in to the land of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will completely destroy them.

We see that the name of YHVH is in the angel and all the instructions of the angel is what YHVH said. Thus, YHVH speaks through this angel and the angel has the power of YHVH to decide who will be pardoned. On this point, also compare the following two verses to see who it was that led the people out of Egypt:

Leviticus 11:45
‘For I am YHVH who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your Elohim; thus you shall be holy, for I am holy.’ ”

Judges 2:1
Now the angel of YHVH came up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land which I have sworn to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you,

Now let us look at an even more interesting case. Who was it that helped the Israelites to conquer Jericho? Let us again look at the text and think a bit before continuing.

Joshua 5:13–15
13 Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” 14 He said, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of YHVH.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” 15 The captain of YHVH’s host said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

We have two clues in in this text that tells us exactly who this mysterious “captain of the host” is. The first clue is rather obvious in the answer he gives to Joshua. Who else told Moses to take off his sandals? What is more interesting is the phrase “”his sword drawn in his hand.” The Hebrew phrase only appears in the Scriptures in two other places. Let us look at them:

Numbers 22:23
When the donkey saw the angel of YHVH standing in the way with his drawn sword in his hand, the donkey turned off from the way and went into the field; but Balaam struck the donkey to turn her back into the way.

1 Chronicles 21:16
Then David lifted up his eyes and saw the angel of YHVH standing between earth and heaven, with his drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, covered with sackcloth, fell on their faces.

From these verses we see all the references pointing back to the angel of YHVH.

One last case to show how the writers of the Biblical books saw the Angel of YHVH as YHVH. This example comes from the book of Judges when Gideon is called to save the people. Notice how the writer jumps between YHVH and “the angel of YHVH.”

Judges 6:11–14
11 Then the angel of YHVH came and sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press in order to save it from the Midianites. 12 The angel of YHVH appeared to him and said to him, “YHVH is with you, O valiant warrior.” 13 Then Gideon said to him, “O my lord, if YHVH is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not YHVH bring us up from Egypt?’ But now YHVH has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” 14 YHVH looked at him and said, “Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?” 15 He said to Him, “YHVH, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.” 16 But YHVH said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.” 17 So Gideon said to Him, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who speak with me. 18 “Please do not depart from here, until I come back to You, and bring out my offering and lay it before You.” And He said, “I will remain until you return.” 19 Then Gideon went in and prepared a young goat and unleavened bread from an ephah of flour; he put the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot, and brought them out to him under the oak and presented them. 20 The angel of Elohim said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And he did so. 21 Then the angel of YHVH put out the end of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. Then the angel of YHVH vanished from his sight.

What is the purpose of this “angel of YHVH” in the Hebrew Scriptures. The best verse to illustrate this can be found in the Psalms.

Psalm 34:7–9
7 The angel of YHVH encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them. 8 O taste and see that YHVH is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! 9 O fear YHVH, you His saints; For to those who fear Him there is no want.

We see that He will encamp around us and rescue us.

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All of this proves to us that the idea of the Son of YHVH appearing on earth to men, is not a new thought or idea in the Apostolic Scriptures. The appearance of YHVH in another form is well recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures.

How do angels appear?

We now know how the angel of YHVH appears to mankind. How do other angels appear to mankind in the Scriptures? They actually have a couple of ways that we can find references to Scripture.

1. In a dream (Gen 28:12)

2. In visions (Daniel 10:5 , Zechariah 1:9 , Revelation 4 )

3. Visible as a single appearance ( Matt 1:20 ; Matt 28:3 )

What is interesting is that in all these appearances these angels appear as young men. We do not have any record in Scripture of an angel appearing to a person as a woman, child or old wise man. We have already seen that angels do not marry, and thus if they all appear as male, it makes sense that they do not procreate.

The physical appearances of angels are more widely recorded in the Apostolic Scriptures than in the Tanakh. When they do appear, they mainly cause an emotion of fear with the people they appear to.

Daniel 10:7–8
7 Now I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, while the men who were with me did not see the vision; nevertheless, a great dread fell on them, and they ran away to hide themselves. 8 So I was left alone and saw this great vision; yet no strength was left in me, for my natural color turned to a deathly pallor, and I retained no strength.

Luke 1:11–12
11 And an angel of YHVH appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. 12 Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him.

Matthew 28:2–5
2 And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of YHVH descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. 3 And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. 5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Y’Shua who has been crucified.

What is also interesting from the last verse is that the angel is able to move a heavy stone. He is also capable of speaking to the woman, and they hear his voice. It was not a voice that appeared to them in a vision. It was an actual voice they heard as if another person was speaking to them. In the same way, when Y’Shua was tempted in the wilderness after an extended fast, the angels came and ministered to Him.

Mark 1:13
And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him.

When the apostles were in prison, it was an angel that opened the doors for them. The angel also spoke to them and told them what they needed to do next.

Acts 5:19–20
19 But during the night an angel of YHVH opened the gates of the prison, and taking them out he said, 20 “Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.”

In the case of Peter, the angel struck him in the side in order to wake him. The two guards were not awakened by the angel.

Acts 12:7
And behold, an angel of YHVH suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter’s side and woke him up, saying, “Get up quickly.” And his chains fell off his hands.

We also have the two incidents in the book of Daniel where people are protected by the angels. In the case of the three friends of Daniel, no action of the angel is mentioned. Purely the presence of the angel was enough to protect them from the fire.

Daniel 3:25
He said, “Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!”

When Daniel was placed in the lions den, the lions’ mouths were shut. The text does not tell us specifically who it was that shut their mouths. It could have been YHVH or His angel.

Daniel 6:21–22
21 Then Daniel spoke to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 “My Elohim sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths and they have not harmed me, inasmuch as I was found innocent before Him; and also toward you, O king, I have committed no crime.”

We also cannot determine from the text if it was “the angel of YHVH”, the physical manifestation of YHVH, or an angel. All we know is that Daniel was provided with an angel that kept him safe in the midst of hungry lions.

Even though they are able to interact with the physical world, we know that they do not have human bodies like we do.

Luke 24:39
“See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

The special appearances of angels

In the Scripture, we also find two special events where the angels were present. The first event was at the creation of the earth. From the book of Job we learn that the angels were present when the foundations of the earth was laid.

Job 38:4–7
4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, 5 Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? 6 “On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, 7 When the morning stars sang together And all the sons of Elohim shouted for joy?

When man was created, the angels were already in the presence of YHVH.

Genesis 1:26
26 Then Elohim said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

The second event is not as well known as the first. From the Apostolic Scriptures we have three witnesses that tell us that the angels were present when the law was given to Moses and the people. They were present as members of YHVH’s divine council.

Acts 7:52–53
52 “Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; 53 you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it.”

Hebrews 2:2–4
2 For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, 3 how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, 4 God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.

Galatians 3:19
Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made

Where did these authors come up with this idea. It is not written in Exodus or Deuteronomy. Once again, we need to go back to another line of source texts to find the reason for these three statements. We return to the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Tanakh, for our clue. We need to look at what Moses told the people what happened at Mount Sinai. He does this in Deut 33:1-4.

The traditional text, based on the Masoretic text will be something like the NASB translates it:

Deuteronomy 33:1–4
1 Now this is the blessing with which Moses the man of Elohim blessed the sons of Israel before his death. 2 He said, “YHVH came from Sinai, And dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, And He came from the midst of ten thousand holy ones; At His right hand there was flashing lightning for them. 3 “Indeed, He loves the people; All Your holy ones are in Your hand, And they followed in Your steps; Everyone receives of Your words. 4 “Moses charged us with a law, A possession for the assembly of Jacob.

Now, let us compare that with a Septuagint English translation of these verses. We will be using the Lexham translation for this.

Deuteronomy 33:1–4
1 And this is the blessing that Moses, the man of Elohim, blessed the children of Israel before his death. 2 And he said: “YHVH came from Sinai and displayed himself to us from Seir and made haste from Mount Paran together with myriads of Kadesh, from his right, angels with him. 3 And he spared his people, and all those who have been sanctified beneath your hands, even these who are beneath you, and it received of his words 4 a law, which Moses commanded you, an inheritance of the congregations of Jacob.

In the Septuagint, we have the statement that the angels were with YHVH at mount Sinai in verse 2. This translation states that the angels were on the right and of YHVH when the law was spoken. They were there to witness, as members of YHVH’s council, this part of the covenant that YHVH made with the people. For more on the Sinai covenant, please refer to our previous article: What exactly is the Sinai Covenant? This point also illustrates for us that the authors of the Apostolic scriptures were familiar with the Greek translation of the Tanakh, and it was not simply that the editors of the books copied the existing translation into their Greek documents.

What do angels do?

In all the Scriptures quoted above, we have seen that angels are sent to earth for many reasons. We have also seen that they do not need to be in the physical realm in order to have an impact in our lives. Some of the main tasks these angels fulfill are:

1. Convey messages – this is the reason they are mostly called messengers. In most cases these messages are prophetic in nature.

2. Guard and support believers – like in the case of Daniel, his friends and the Apostles, angels are sent to protect believers in difficult situations. In the case of Elijah (1 Kings 9:5-7) and Y’Shua their physical needs were provided for by angels.

3. Witness events – they were present when the earth was created, man was formed and the Torah was given to His people

4. Praise YHVH – the throne of YHVH is surrounded by angels that praise Him continually. The mercy seat on the ark also consists of two angels.

5. Guard the entry to the garden – after sin entered the world, two angels were appointed to guard the entry to the garden of Eden where YHVH dwelt with the sinless man.

6. Deliver judgement – In some cases the angels will also execute the judgement of YHVH, for example

a. The death of the Egyptian first born – Exodus 12:23

b. The people died because David had held a census – 2 Samuel 24:17

In future they will also be part of the judgement on earth. In the book of Revelation we see that the angels first, hold back the wind and then the seven angels will sound the trumpets that bring the judgement to the earth.

Revelation 7:1–3
1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, so that no wind would blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree. 2 And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living Elohim; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, 3 saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our Elohim on their foreheads.”

Revelation 8:2–3
2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before YHVH, and seven trumpets were given to them. 3 Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne.

Conclusion

We have seen in this study that the heavenly realm contains spiritual beings that serve YHVH. Although these beings reside in the spiritual realm, they can operate and appear in the physical realm as well. When they do, they execute the will of YHVH. They have been created at the beginning, before the creation of earth, with a free will. Because they have a free will, they have the potential to sin. Some of the angels did take this choice. We will later investigate this topic in more detail.

There is no record of angels dying or being destroyed. We have no record of their creation and it is not certain if they were all created at the same time or in a number of events. We do know from Scripture that there exists a large number of angels. These angels are lower that YHVH and Y’shua but higher than man. Within the spiritual realm there is a hierarchy of angels with the cherubim (arc-angels) being the highest.

These angels will play a role in the future judgement of the world. We are told that we should be careful how we treat strangers, because they may be angels.

Hebrews 13:2
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

References

1. Heiser, M. S. (2015). The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, First Edition. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

2. Arndt, W., Danker, F.W. & Bauer, W., 2000. A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature.

3. D. Mangum, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, & R. Hurst (Eds.), Lexham Theological Wordbook. Divine Beings. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press. 2014

4. Harris, R. L. (1999). 2292 שָׂרַף. R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer Jr., & B. K. Waltke (Eds.), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (electronic ed., p. 884). Chicago: Moody Press.

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Comments (2)

  • Tayo Fasan

    |

    Hello
    Thanks for the efforts to divide scriptures.
    But I can see a calls of angels is left out here.

    I can see Cherub wch is represented in

    Psalms 103:20
    Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.

    I can see Seraphs which is also represent in

    Psalms 103:21
    Bless ye the Lord, all ye his hosts;
    ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure.

    But I can’t see the last class of angels wch are detailed in Ps 103 :20

    Psalms 103:22
    Bless the Lord, all his works
    in all places of his dominion:

    These last class of angels are those whom Paul refered To as principality, and power, and might, and dominion in Eph. 1:21 or thrones, or dominions, or principalities and powers in Col. 1:16

    Ephesians 1:21
    Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named (I.e. cherub and serious- Heb. 1:7b & 7c respectively), not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:

    Colossians 1:16
    For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

    I found grace to write about tge strata of angels some years back after sitting for some decades under a servant of God that carries an apostolic grace and I can share what I wrote with you if you don’t mind.

    Reply

  • Y'Shua is YHVH | Set Apart People

    |

    […] Throughout the Tanakh we find references to “the Angel of YHVH” and we find Him speaking in the first person as if He is YHVH. We have looked this topic in a previous article on angels. […]

    Reply

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