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The Trouble with Angels

The Trouble with Angels
By Jack Kinsella

Angels and angel stories pre-date the oldest Hebrew texts of the bible. The Sumerians, who pre-date ancient Egyptian society, was the most ancient civilization to depict winged humans in their carvings and statues.

The Sumerians tell the oldest known angel stories of “messengers of the gods” who would intervene between the “gods” and men. Angel stories permeate most ancient primitive cultures. Winged, angelic-like beings can be found within most all of their artwork and lore.

In Scripture, angels are presented as messengers. St Augustine, one of the early Church Fathers, wrote that angels are spirit-beings and that ‘angel’ is their designation of office, rather than their nature.

According to Augustine, therefore, anyone bearing a Divine message is an angel. The Greek and Hebrew words translated in Scripture as ‘angel’ means, ‘a messenger’.

Angel stories are not unique to Judeo-Christianity — the ‘prophet’ Mohammed claimed that an angel (Jabril, or Gabriel) dictated the Koran to him.

There are stories of angels in the ancient literature of Babylon, Persia, Greece, as well as references to angel-like spirit-beings within Eastern mystical religions like Buddhism and Hinduism.

Angels would seem, therefore, to exist independently from Christianity or Judaism. Every major religion has its own, unique form of angelic being. What makes them unique, however, is the role they play — all religions tend to describe them the same way.

They are more or less universally described as winged creatures of indeterminate sex and of indescribable beauty. They are capable of appearing both as a spirit and in corporeal form. Depending on the religious tradition, they range from being the gentle and benign to that of malignant creatures possessing great powers.

Uniquely then, it is possible for one to believe in the existence of angels without necessarily believing in either God or the Bible.

In some religious traditions, angels are viewed as gods in their own right — the Romans and Greeks had a pantheon of lesser gods; Mercury, (or Hermes) is depicted by the Greeks as Romans as the ‘winged messenger’ of Jupiter (or Zeus).

But where angels have really hit their stride is within the New Age. People are invited to get in touch with their ‘inner angel’ or their ‘angelic spirit guide’. Some teach we are all angels-in-waiting and that after we die, we become angels.

One hears that all the time, particularly from parents grieving the loss of a child. “She’s God’s little angel, now.”

The New Age tends to portray modern-day angels as ethereal, all-forgiving images of light.

“And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” (2nd Corinthians 11:14)

New Agers see angels as “doorways” into the spirit world.

A New Age mystic named Andrew Ramer writes his travels with an “angel” through many reincarnated lives, “the two of us working to bridge the physical and spiritual worlds.”

(His angel comments: “We angels cannot enter your world unless you open a window or a doorway for us.”)

New Age angelologists develop that ‘opening’ through a host of techniques that are intended to help people connect with a personal angel. Besides the usual angel workshops–attended by a surprising number of professionals and religious folk– there are angelic oracles, spiritual specialists, divination tools, angel cards (like horoscopes), karma cleansing and much more.

TIME Magazine’s Nancy Gibbs accidently hit the nail on the head, so to speak, in trying to explain why people would so readily embrace angels while rejecting the notion of a Personal Redeemer.

“For those who choke too easily on God and His rules, theologians observe, angels are the handy compromise, all fluff and meringue, kind, nonjudgmental. And they avail themselves to everyone, like aspirin.”

It doesn’t really take that much faith to believe in angels. Lots of people see them.

And that’s the trouble with angels.

Assessment

Almost all religious traditions have some form of angel. They almost all describe the same being. But the Bible is unique in that it explains who and what angels are. This tells us three things right off the bat. Angels are real. Angels are not religious. The Bible is true.

I’ll explain how I arrived at the last point from the first two. Speaking through the Prophet Isaiah, God hurled a challenge to the would-be gods of this world, naming the defining characteristic of Deity;

“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.” (Isaiah 46:9-10)

There are lots of ‘prophets’ — Nostradamus, St Malachy, the Mayan Indians, Edgar Cayce, etc., but their ‘prophecies’ are of the “I predict my dog will poop on the carpet” type.

Make the prediction, wait for conditions to fulfill it and shout, “Aha!”

I believe that Satan is real, but the Bible says he is but a finite, created being –an angel. He cannot predict the future. But he can manipulate conditions. (Like predicting a dog will poop on the carpet and then locking it in a house until it does.)

God tells the end from the beginning. That is, God starts at the end and then explains how it got that way. By way of illustration, anybody can predict the winner of the World Series — somebody does it every year.

It is a good guess based on statistical probabilities, not prophecy.

That’s how false prophecies, angelic, spirit guide, whatever, appear to come to pass. It is just the enemy playing the odds.

Imagine predicting the winner of the World Series and then predicting the details of every game throughout the season and how they interconnected to bring about the winning result.

Two thousand years before the invention of baseball.

Angels are real. Lost people see them all the time, so they are not religious manifestations. The Bible explains their end from the beginning.

Isaiah introduces Satan’s fall from heaven, starting at the point where he is judged at the end of time, then jumping back to the rebellion that took place before time began.

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!” For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north.” (Isaiah 14:12,13)

The first half of this morning’s discussion covered what angel’s aren’t. Now, let’s discuss what angels are.

Angels are the first of four distinct sentient, spiritual creations of God. The second is the natural, unregenerate seed of Adam, or Gentile (meaning, ‘one apart from God’).

The third unique spiritual creation of God is the seed of Abraham and Isaac, or the Jew. Until the selection of the seed of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob as a unique spiritual creation of God, there were only angels and Gentiles.

The fourth unique spiritual creation of God is the Christian, a new creature, neither Jew nor Gentile;

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2nd Corinthians 5:17)

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” (Galatians 6:15)

A Christian or a Jew cannot transform into a Gentile. They are different spiritual creatures. Neither could a Christian, a Jew or a Gentile transform into angels.

The Bible demonstrates how the angels harmonize with the rest of creation. Angels serve as messengers of God. Our relationship with angels is symbiotic and in harmony with creation.

The Bible tasks angels with serving mankind in this life, and then tasks mankind with judging angels in the next.

“Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of My Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)

“Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?” (1st Corinthians 6:3)

The Bible says that fallen mankind serves a secondary purpose in the instruction of angels;

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)

“Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. “ (1st Peter 1:12)

Fallen angels exist as adversaries of God, which then creates harmony in a created physical universe. Evil cannot exist apart from good. But without evil, there could be neither a measure of goodness nor a sense of appreciation for it.

They also exist to provide us with clear choices between good and evil;

“that Thou mightest be justified when Thou speakest, and be clear when Thou judgest.” (Psalms 51:4)

Angel worship is forbidden by Scripture. Divine angels never accept worship. But fallen angels live for it.

“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.” (2nd Corinthians 11:3-4)

And that’s also the trouble with angels.

Originally published: Novemeber 20, 2008.

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