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A Revelation Special Feature: Angels

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Posted on CCPC's website 2022

The study Index page.

"The footprints of an Angel are love. And where there is love, miraculous things can happen."
- "Angels In the Outfield", Al the Angel, 1994 Disney Productions, see below.

And, perhaps another quote, one that isn't quite so misty eyed:

    "And God sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem. But as the angel was doing so, the LORD saw it and was grieved because of the calamity and said to the angel who was destroying the people, "Enough! Withdraw your hand." The angel of the LORD was then standing at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. David looked up and saw the angel of the LORD standing between heaven and earth, with a drawn sword in his hand extended over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell facedown. David said to God, "Was it not I who ordered the fighting men to be counted? I am the one who has sinned and done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? O LORD my God, let your hand fall upon me and my family, but do not let this plague remain on your people."
- 1 Chronicles 21: 15 - 17
     Angels figure prominently in The Apocalypse. As we have seen from our study, their job descriptions include playing in the 'brass section' (ch 8), several of them are described as “strong” or “mighty” (the one at the end of ch 5, the one in ch 10, etc), others are 'holding back the winds' (ch 7), others have the keys to the pit or bowls of wrath, and at least one was a tour guide for John. None of them, at least as far as we can tell by looking at the original Greek text, play baseball.

     Let's look at some of what we know about them from Scripture, then we'll look at some historic images and ideas.

Psalm 8 and Hebrews 2 (which is quoting it) calls man 'a little lower than heavenly beings (angels)', we'll come back to that verse after while.

Matthew 22 and Mark 12 tell us angels do not marry.

Job 1 lets us know that the angels present themselves before God.

Jacobs's Ladder in Genesis 28 and the passage in 31 suggests they can be sent into human dreams. Unless it was actually a vision and not a dream.

Another angel in dreams is in Matthew 1 and 2. This one was definitely a messenger.

They occur singularly, most notably in Numbers 22 (Balaam's ass), on a specific mission to a single person (Acts 8). Or, as above in Chronicles, or on the night of the Exodus, against an entire city or country, or as a general “ministering spirit” as in Hebrews 1 and was seen with Christ in the Garden in the Gospels in the passage we'll look at later....
.... or work as a travel agent for a wandering apostle.

“Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared.
Exodus 23:20-21

Or they can be en masse... Jacob's ladder, the angelic choir in Luke 2 and elsewhere announcing the birth of Christ, and a few of the heavenly scenes in Revelation. Christ referred to twelve legions of angels, Matthew 26. A Legion of Rome at that time was 4200 men. Even if it was a figurative reference, there is no reason to think either way, He was talking about 50,400 angels. Since one angel could annihilate a city or destroy an entire army (2 Chronicles 32) imagine the power in five modern military divisions of them!

They are clothed in bright white in the Gospels at the empty tomb. And as with lightning in Acts.

They worship God as is stated in Psalm 103: 20 -
"All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: 'Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!'"
- Revelation 7: 11 - 12

And they can stand for an individual church, Revelation 2 and 3 "Unto the angel of the church of...", which we have also stated in our study MAY have also been the evangelist of the local church. It works out about the same either way.

     So they are messengers, soldiers, guardians (Psalm 91: 10 - 12. Later quoted by Satan to Christ), and caretakers (Matthew and Luke 4). And later we'll see that a few are Archangels.

     As well as the famous 'angels unawares' that drop by to see how believers treat unexpected guests in Hebrews 13.

     Above All: Angels are NOT to be worshiped, which is stated directly in Colossians 2: 18 and then reiterated by an angel in Revelation:

"I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, "Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!"
- Revelation 22: 8 - 9

     Which brings us back to our first quote from the movie.
     In the 1951 original version of the film, a young orphan girl who is a dedicated Pittsburgh Pirates fan has been praying to the Archangel Gabriel for the team to play better. Which is basically the same plot as the 1994 film, except in the remake, the kid prays to God. Then the angels show up to “play ball”.
     While it is a very attractive idea, it's not exactly what is meant by the Biblical idea of a Guardian Angel from Psalm 34: 7 and 91: 11
     This is seen in the Gospels in Luke 22:43 ESV “And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.”

     Nowhere in scripture are humans told to pray to anybody and anything but GOD, and if you are a Christian, to do so in Christ's name. For an example of humans worshiping or praying to an Archangel, check out the Shrines to Saint Michael below, one of which comes complete with a suggested prayer.

And now the issues we didn't mention, we'll end with a big one (that we can't answer).

     The First Issue: Angels as identified in Scripture in either Testament are Exclusively either a neutral term or the male pronoun in the original languages.
     There is one section of scripture which those who people who like to stir things up cite, even though it is a vision, in a minor prophet, and had its own significance to him at the time. It is there, it is what it says, but, it stands alone.

“Then lift I vp mine eyes, and looked, & behold, there came out two women, and the winde was in their wings (for they had wings like the wings of a storke) and they lift vp the Ephah (basket) betweene the earth and the heauen.”
Zechariah 5:9 (1611 KJV)
     Whatever they were, the word in Hebrew was “nasim” which is the plural word for 'woman' and they did carry out a mission for God, even if that mission was in a vision.
     Does this one verse prove anything? Not really, but if somebody wants to hang their opinion on it, they're welcome to.

     A related question: Aside from the vision in Zechariah, when did angels undergo a sex change?

     That one will take some more answering.
     The earliest known 'winged humans' that look like what the modern world thinks of as an angel may come from the area known as Mesopotamia from about 1900 BC. It is a winged nude female figure holding items in her upraised hands, except she has the feet of a theropod dinosaur, such as an Allosaurus, complete with dew claws on her calves.
     This is also the area where you see the Annunaki with their various attributes and features, and wings.
     Moving west into Greece and a few hundred years this way, the 'winged people' on the Tower of the Winds in Athens were all male. As were the wind deities they represented. As well as beings like Hermes (Mercury).
     An actual 'winged human' that reportedly came to a bad end was Icarus whose wings melted. Although everybody tends to forget that his father, Daedalus, made it to freedom from their prison with his own wings because he didn't 'fly too close to the sun'.

     How about we look at some of the major works of Western Christian art?
     We're not counting works depicting named angels such as Gabriel or Micheal, those are always depicted as male, if not the most macho of males.
     Speaking of non-macho angels, we'll let the anonymous spear holder in Bernini's work “the Ecstasy of St Teresa”, completed 1652, stand for all of those. While the angelic figure is 'pretty', whether it is a male or a female is less than obvious. As for the image of the saint, well, let's just say you can see the historic visionary nun in the work, but the statue is a lot more pleasant to look at than the real woman herself was as based on a famous portrait of her.

     Now for the paintings:
     Painted in 1432 by the Van Eyck brothers, the angels at the center of the Adoration of the Lamb altarpiece have a feminine look to them, but they are not that obviously female.

     Michelangelo's “Last Judgement” (the Vatican spells it with the center 'e') on the Altar Wall of the Sistine Chapel. It took the artist four years to paint the massive work with its 300 individual figures, he finished it in 1541. There are both male and female figures in the it but the angels we see, most notably the group with the trumpets just below the central figure of Christ, are all male, more on them in a minute. What's more the demons escorting the damned to hell, are male as well.
     While we're in the chapel, we'll look up and check out his epic image of “The Creation of Adam” (painted about 1510) and focus on those accompanying God in His cloud. While we see Eve encircled with God's left arm, the angels (cherubs) around the Creator are all male.
     Painted at the same time as Michelangelo was working on the ceiling next door, Raphael included an army of cherubs above and below the scene, who are all male, but there are groups of angels on each side of the throne and while some of them appear to be male, or androgynous, there's a couple of them on the viewer's upper left that appear to be feminine if not female.
     The angels on the Baldacchino in the main section of the Vatican, cast in 1630 by Bernini, are, huge, and somewhat androgynous, but at least a couple of them lean to the female side of the spectrum.
     Other images, such as those on the ceiling of the Painted Hall at the Greenwich Naval Hospital, London, finished 1726 includes figures whose sex is vague at best.

     Then when you turn the calendar over to the 1800s it seems most depictions of standard issue angels, not the named Archangels from Scripture but the rank and file angels, and especially those with Guardian Angel on their time sheet, took a turn to the feminine side of the equation.
     Several famous images influenced the public idea of what an angel looks like, and in many of them, the angel looks more like Roma Downey from the TV show “Touched by an Angel” than they did AL from the “... outfield”.
     One of the earliest on this theme is the Cortona guardian angel from 1656 with a feminine angel pointing the way to heaven for a young child (whose own sex is somewhat ambiguous).
     The next in the sequence of original paintings of a female guardian angel is by an artist named Plockhorst in 1884 with an angel hovering behind two young children, a boy and a girl, who are gathering flowers along the edge of a cliff. In the painting it is obvious that the children are totally unaware of their danger as the girl is looking at flowers and the boy is distracted by a butterfly. The protecting angel behind them is unmistakably female, complete with blush on her cheeks and red lips.
     The idea of the beautiful guardian angel was taken to the logical extreme in 1900 by an unknown German artist who did the painting of the two barefoot kids crossing a dilapidated bridge over a raging river. The beautiful angel with flowing red hair has her full attention on the children, and appears to be ready to reach down and carry them to safety. While we do not know who painted the original for a postcard company, and it has long since been lost, innumerable copies and lithographs of it have been made, and almost everybody's grandmother or Sunday School classroom had one hanging on the wall. The urban legend that you can find three skulls in her hair and the face of a demon behind her is nonsense.

     And another aspect of this is something of a disservice art has done for believers. With the possible exception of Christopher Lloyd's “AL” in the movie, and perhaps a few others, angels, and for that matter the apostles and everybody else associated with these events are all well built, nicely groomed, and otherwise pretty. As we see in works like the Calling of Peter and Andrew by Raphael and even Da Vinchi's Last Supper.
     We'll go further down this path later in our feature on Witchcraft as seen in the Apocalypse. To prepare for that, go watch the 1939 classic “Wizard of Oz”. But we'll close this section by saying that, at least according to the Bible, Good is not always beautiful, and evil isn't necessarily ugly. So your “angels unaware” might be somebody with bad teeth and old clothes instead of looking like Miss Downey in the show. And, for that matter, Michael Landon from the series “Highway to Heaven”, whose producers seem to have forgotten that Clarence from “It's A Wonderful Life” had already been an intervening angel who was anything but pretty, even with a ringing bell.

     We'll skip things like the images of angels on greeting cards and T-shirts, suffice it to say that you'd be hard pressed to find a male angel, guardian or otherwise, most of them, again, look like “Monica” from her TV series.

     In transition to the next section we'll restate something that was pointed out during the chapter study with the seven trumpets. That scene in Revelation is the only known time an angel plays a trumpet. So when you see angels with a horn as a Christmas decoration, such as a Swedish “Angel Chime” with its burning candles, just mention to those who are staring at it that the angels with trumpets are not proclaiming the Birth of the Savior, but the End of the World, and enjoy their reaction.

And the Second issue: FALLEN Angels.

     Isaiah 14: 12 - 15. "fallen from heaven", but not described as an "angel", and this one ends up in the pit.

     Jude tells us that some angels left their first estate 'heaven'.

"5 Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord at one time delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day."
     Now we'll drop back and read this one: Genesis 6:1-22 ESV
“When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown. The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
NOTE: these angels do NOT include Lucifer/Satan himself who is not in chains, but roaming the Earth and causing trouble.

     There is the famous quote from Christ from Luke 10 beginning in verse 18 about Satan's fall, and then He confirms that things won't go nicely for him and his followers later.
     Some of which is echoed in 1 Enoch 18 and 19, and even in the Book Of Jubilees chapter 10.
     It is in 1 Enoch 6 and following where the story of the beautiful daughters of men and certain wandering angels is fleshed out all the way through chapter 54 (all puns at no extra charge).
     It is also Enoch (ch 56) that puts some context to the mention in Revelation 9 of four angels imprisoned in an abyss under the Euphrates river, possibly in the gloomy darkness with chains as mentioned in 2 Peter 2.

Oh, Yes, a question from just over there, yes....
what about 'arch'- angels?

     Jude describes part of an Archangel's job:
“But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!'”

     In Daniel 10 and 12, Micheal is identified as "a prince" and "a great prince", but never as an Angel or Archangel.
     In Revelation 12: 7, Micheal is not said to be an angel, only that he commands other angels, as does the "dragon" with whom he fights.
     The apocryphal book that had the greatest influence and is cited the most in the New Testament has a list of archangels that lists the usual suspects, and a couple more, and their areas of special attention: “Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, Uriel, Saraqael, Raguel, and Remie” 1 Enoch 20. And, some would say the bad guy.
     But at the end of the day, other than the fact that they exist, and are evidently something special, we don't know a lot about them.

Other natural and supernatural things with wings:

     We borrowed part of this from's feature on dragons, link to the rest below:
     Most dragons have been depicted as having that serpentine neck and body that we previously mentioned. Also, as with King Ghidorah from the Godzilla movies, most had wings, many had spikes along their necks and backs, and some even had horns or antler like protrusions from their heads. The majority had four legs and wings, something not seen in nature, which... .... hold on.
     Yes, that's right. There are NO animals which naturally have Four separate legs and wings. Think of Pegasus, the usual image of a angels or fairies, or the standard issue dragon. Four feet (or arms and legs) and wings. Right?

     Insects have six legs and four wings, even a few very rare types of butterfly that appear to have four legs with their wings really have six legs. Bats and birds have legs, but their arms are their wings. The 'wings' of a flying squirrel is simply skinned stretched between their front and back legs, not individual wings, as with a rather interesting lizard. Even the pterosaurs had their front legs, or arms, incorporated into their wings. There are no four legged creatures with a separate set of wings. And as far as we can tell, even counting the dinosaurs, there never has been.
(end of the borrowed section)

     In Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4 we see some 'angel'-type beings with six wings, and evidently arms and legs, which brings the appendage count to 10, like the insects, but we'll stop there and move on.

Now... where were we?

     Ahh, yes, other historical representation of what we think of as an angel (humanoid with wings).

     The Sumerian 'deities' called the Annunaki are usually depicted as humanoid beings with wings. Some of them had bird heads, but many were human-ish. Another is a female figure from that period called 'the queen of the night' with wings that we mentioned earlier. And then there was the sky god Anu (an).
     Others include the Greek tower of the winds with the various winged beings around the top.
     We also see the Egyptian and Zoroastrian representation of their supreme being as the sun disk with wings. But is in some cases seen as a human figure with wings, or outlined by a halo of the sun.
     Whenever an ancient wanted to show somebody flying, such as the messenger Hermes / Mercury, they were shown with wings.

     Should we mention Quetzalcoatl, the famous feathered serpent, of the New World? Nah, we'll just move on.

Now: “Do believers become angels with a halo and wings and a harp and all that?
     When Moses and Elijah appeared with Christ in the Transfiguration, no mention of them with extra appendages or headgear is in the passage.
     The same is true in Revelation, when John sees the martyrs and the other believers in Heaven they are described as martyrs and other believers, not angels, and wings are never mentioned. And when 'the Woman' in a later chapter needs to flee, she is given wings to do so.
     So you can skip the flying lessons.
     The only place we can find in Scripture where they thought somebody was 'an angel' was in Acts 12. And in that context, the original Greek word “angelos” could be rendered 'messenger' and would be something of a “crisis apparition” which is a known and recognized paranormal event when somebody who is in extreme and imminent mortal danger sends a 'message' to their loved ones. See link below.
     The faithful of God are separate from Angels, the Church is labeled “heirs with Christ”, their reward is different from the angelic beings, no matter where those 'angels' get their mail. Salvation is of the Grace of GOD to Mankind, not to the angels.

AND NOW, we end with:
     “When were Angels (and demons and ...whatevers...) Created?”

     Short answer first: “We don't know”.

     And now the longer answer, that says the same thing, but with some other information and a bit of speculation along with it. We'll start with the book of Hebrews 2 quoting Psalm 8 describing man as created a “little lower than the angels”.
     That passage implies that the 'angels' were already around before the sixth day of creation from Genesis 1.
     Christ says he watched Satan fall from heaven in Luke 10, but He doesn't say when that was. Again, we can reasonably conclude that the revolt in heaven was sometime before man was made, especially as the bad guy was active and able to stop by the Garden to talk to Eve. And with him, was all his teammates of, now fallen, angels.
     We see more about these guys in Enoch 6 through chapter 8 where he discusses 'the Watchers' who are fallen angels, and some who, evidently, aren't totally evil. Perhaps they had a bit of remorse for their actions, whatever. In any case, the ones that get involved with humans, come to a bad end.
     But again, the story in Enoch seems to present the case that the angels existed before humans. But there is no indication that, sometime after a coffee break on the third day the Angels were created. There IS, however, speculation that when God created the 'lights in the firmament' that that is what was done. The text does not support that idea.

     As to the speculation of the order of their creation, and whether or not it was a one time deal and every angel/demon that ever existed were made all at once. Or, perhaps, the heavenly brass section is created just before they come out to pick up their instruments, and then after they play their role in the final drama they vanish. Here and Now, We Can NOT Know, and indeed, it does not matter.

     There, we've had some three thousand words about angels. Which is more than they are discussed in the Bible when you come down to it.
     And what have we learned? We'll look at the historical evidence first, then check on the Bible, which is where this all began.
     As far as we can tell, regular humans have been depicting 'irregular' humans with wings since civilization began. The wings are used to indicate everything from authority or power to perhaps even the ability to either fly, or to travel really fast, to simply highlight the fact that the individual wearing them was something special.
     Perhaps the wings indicate that maybe somebody actually saw an angelic being. There's no way to know.

     Angels are created beings, of limited power, who work for GOD.
     Some are apparently in charge of other angels, or have a dedicated area of responsibility, and are called archangels.
     They are not to be worshiped, or prayed to as they are servants of God, see link below for an example regarding Michael the Archangel.
     The angels can act as stormtroopers on orders from God, or, on the other hand, can instruct humans, deliver messages, give comfort, or even perform as a night light such as in the Exodus.

     And they don't play baseball.

     While we're at it, we've seen that the majority of demonic beings are all under the general heading of 'fallen angels', who work for the 'bad guy', and will share in a special fate reserved for him, as seen in The Apocalypse.

     So, yes, angels as they appear as co-stars in Revelation and elsewhere in the Bible. But the focus is to be on The Creator, not on the creation, and that includes angels.
     We need to remember that.

End “Angel's in the Study” Special Feature

“In truth, I would easily carry one candle to Saint Michael and one to the dragon.”
- Michel de Montaigne (1533 - 1592)

Links to outside references. All links working as of day of posting.

Saint Michael Shrine and Prayer:

Shrine of St Michael and the Archangels, Manila

Old and New Testaments available: Greek language study pages

Christian Classics Ethereal Library: The Book of Enoch

Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses: The Anunnaki

Tower of the Winds, Athens, Greece

Covers “crisis apparitions”: “Types of Experiences We Study”

The Urartu civilization, Iran

More on them:

Zoroastrian information page

Some of the paintings at the Vatican Museums

More information and a few images from the 1951: “Angels in the Outfield”

And a thoughtful look at the 1994 remake


From the Desk's Mystery Series:
“Godzilla, and friends, and (while we're at it) Dragons as well”

An article about another sort of spirit: "...but are they real?"

The Desk's Non-Fiction Articles

The study Index page.

NOTE: The Bible Study Lesson presented above is posted as a reference document to begin a conversation of the topic. And that's it. Please accept it at such.

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