Angels have always seemed mysterious creatures to the fallen human race. We read in Hebrews 1:14 that they are, “Ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation”. In other words, they are spirits sent to serve believers. The word “shall” is an accurate translation; it is a clear future. This has led some to believe that angels are sent to serve, not only believers, but those who are not yet believers, but will believe on Christ as Lord and Saviour before they leave this world. It is not possible as yet to settle this argument, but most take it to mean simply that angels are sent to serve believers; those who are now believers and are already heirs of salvation, and will ultimately enter into the full enjoyment of that inheritance when they get to heaven.
What are angels? What nature of beings are they? They are able to appear in bodily form, but they do not have bodies. They are spirits, and are the highest order of beings in God’s creation. They are not limited in terms of physical travel in the way we are. This is not as a result of their having wings, but because they are spirits. Granted they sometimes appear as having wings, for example, in Isaiah 6:2, but wings are not a defining characteristic of angels. The appearance they take is simply what suits the situation. They are higher creatures than man who was made, “a little lower than the angels”, Psalm 8:5. There are two classes of angels, seraphim (literally, ‘burning ones’), and cherubim. We do not have much information about them. What there is is not, as yet, very clear.
What about the origin of Angels? They were created before man, but there was a major difference between their creation and the creation of man. It is very important that we understand this difference. At risk of over-simplification, but with a desire to make this matter easier to understand let us look on the human race as a pyramid, and the angelic host as on a huge shelf. The human race was created as one original couple, Adam and Eve. From them, the whole human race came by generation, and is still being generated, increasing the population of the world, continually. On the other hand, the whole family of angels were created at the same time. They were individually created. There is no multiplication of angels. There are no relationships among them like fathers, mothers, brothers or sisters, etc. The do not intermarry, they do not reproduce their own kind.
There is one other thing thing that we must mention at this point. On the pages of the Old Testament, a different kind of being appears, usually called The Angel of the Lord. We must learn to recognise this being. There is much for us to gain. He speaks for God, and he speaks as God, often in the one conversation. This is the One who wrestled with Jacob (Genesis 22), and the one who visited Hagar in her deep distress, after she and her child were expelled from the household of Abraham as insisted on by Sarah, Abraham’s wife ( Genesis 21). The more we meet this Angel of the Lord on the pages of the Old Testament, the more convinced we become that this is none other that God the Son appearing as a man, long before He actually became a man in the person of the God/man, the Lord Jesus Christ. We will return to this topic next week, if the Lord will.