Angels Demons and Satan
Do angels watch us? Do they really help us? How powerful is Satan? Can people be demon-possessed today? Can Christians? These and a multitude of related questions come to mind in quick succession when we begin to think about the world of angelic spirits.
“Angel – The word angel is applied in Scripture to an order of supernatural or heavenly beings whose business it is to act as God’s messengers to men, and as agents who carry out His will” – International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia
It is an unavoidable conclusion that there is a real spiritual battle taking place between God and Satan, between the forces of good and evil. A real war taking place today! – “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” – “Ephesians 6:12”.
I believe that rather than ignore that this battle exists, and I am aware that we don’t or neglect our study of this biblical topic, we need to regard this matter with the utmost importance.
“Know thy enemy” is an old expression and thus knowing the truth about angels and demons, versus what the world says about them, is essential to our walk of faith and to our spiritual victories each day.
The reason I have chosen to share on this specific topic is that I believe that a “proper and correct” understanding of the Holy Spirit Gift of “Discerning of Spirit” cannot really be fully understood without a knowledge of the “spirit realm” that we are at times in conflict with.
It is unfortunate that we as Christians allow ourselves to “romanticise” over very important areas of biblical doctrine in our spiritual walk, and when this is associated with a lack of “doctrinal, foundational and systematic” teaching it permits both error and misconceptions to enter which in turn cause all sorts of problems in spiritual growth.
Teaching on Angels is very scanty, I don’t believe that I can ever recall, even when doing my Bible School Training for 2 years ever hearing any systematic teaching on the topic. To add to this over the past decade and a half most of the teaching has been relegated to “Private Home Study through reading, the odd Teaching Seminar held centrally and by some renowned Christian icon or a brief time in a busy Church program”.
When Billy Graham wrote his book on the subject, he pointed out that: “When I decided to preach a sermon on angels, I found practically nothing in my library”.
The spiritual world and in particular the Angelic World are one such area that is full of romanticised ideas and concepts. In this study we are going to look at Angels both Electand Fallen and I hope profit from it. I don’t wish to “kill any sacred cows” or as it were “step on any spiritual toes” but it is my firm belief that the scriptures are correct when they say “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” –“John 8: 32”.
A common analogy is cited – The blind man trying to describe an elephant. “One feels the tail and reports that an elephant is thin and flexible. Another feels a leg and claims the animal is thick as a tree. Another touches its side and reports the elephant is like a wall”. All were feeling the Elephant but without a “full view” each had a twisted and miss-conceived perspective of the reality.
There is a vast spiritual world and we live in parallel to it, interacting every day and in a multitude of ways. For the most part the interaction goes totally un-noticed but at times it interjects into our lives or the lives of others and becomes especially prominent.
A mistake that some make is to imagine that Satan and his cohorts are little more than imps or gremlins, delighting in disruption and attempting merely to cause trouble for trouble’s sake. This is to seriously underestimate them, as well as to mythologize them and hence make them little more than things that go bump in the night.
It was J. Oswald Sanders who said, “the devil’s cleverest ruse is to make men believe that he does not exist” – “Satan is no myth – P8 Para 2”.
Likewise, Christians make a mistake if they are quick to blame every error, every problem in their lives on demon activity. The fact that you lost your job, or your car won’t start is very unlikely to be due to demons. Far more likely, it’s simply the consequence of living on a fallen planet. Likewise, when people are evil, it is not because they are demon possessed, it is because they are human beings and that is the nature of human beings.
I won’t pretend to know all the answers in respect of the topic. The Scriptures provide only so much detail on where angels came from and the beginning of their existence. It is also a fact that explanations from Scripture for the origin of Satan and the Demons can be difficult to understand and therefore are highly controversial.
It is true to say that due to the nature of God’s revelation, we simply do not have a complete account of the origin of angels and demons that will completely satisfy us, and the fullness of our knowledge will only be satisfied when we meet with them in glory.
Angels make an appearance on the biblical stage in both the Old and New Testaments and questions that we might pose such as: –
- Who are they?
- What are their jobs?
- Where did they come from?
Are difficult to satisfy because the Bible provides little detail in these respects.
Therefore, at the very beginning of our considerations together I am mindful that it is important that considering the brevity of information I must be careful in the conclusions drawn.
One thing is true though and that is that God’s word is designed to glorify and magnify God and bring people into a relationship with the Lord, not to emphasise the greatness of angels and demons.
While we should respect the existence of angels and demons, let us restrict our beliefs to what is actually revealed, not what is unrevealed “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law” – “Deuteronomy 29:29”.
The whole of creation i.e. the entire universe not just the planet earth is a creation of God and in Genesis we see the planet Earth which we inhabit being brought into being. Everything that God created was created perfect, unblemished, good and beautifully put together all was working in total unison and accord. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” – “Genesis 1:1” is what the Bible declares.
Creation is the basis and foundation of all divine revelation and resulting from it the basis and foundation of all ethical, moral and religious life. The creation that we read of from “Genesis 1: 2” is the “seed bed” of the increasing knowledge and revelation of God and His dealings with mankind, culminating in the final revelation of Christ the Son of God and the arrival of “holy writ the scriptures” which were breathed into being – “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” – “2 Timothy 3:16” – The NIV puts it this way – “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”
The overall revelation is that God is: –
- The Origin of all things.
- All things belong to Him.
- All things are subject to Him.
The creation of the “Universe” was a “free act” of a creator God, however, the coming of Jesus into the world was due to a “necessity” and a “necessary act of God”, because of fallen “planet earth”. In the Scriptures it speaks of Jesus in “1: John 1a” – “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched, this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.” also in “John 1: 1 – 2” – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made”
From these two scriptures (NIV Versions) and we could find many more we ascertain that Jesus has always been and was intimately involved in creation, in fact the Bible tells us that “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” this is further borne out by the following.
The 4th word in the Bible is “God,” Elohim in Hebrew. Elohim is God – “plural”. The phrase could be better portrayed as “In the beginning Gods created the heaven and the earth.” For an English-speaking person, this is confirmed in “Genesis 1:26 -, where the translators finally used plural pronouns to conform to the plural noun antecedent, Elohim – “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness”.
The translators recognised in verse 26 that Elohim – “God” – was speaking to somebody, and He was speaking to someone who was just like Him, which is why the word Us is used. They were forced into using a plural pronoun. “Let Us make man in Our image.” In fact, Elohim is used 66 times in a row at the beginning of the Bible before any other Hebrew word is translated into the English “God.” That occurs in “Genesis 6:5” when finally, another word is used for God – “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”.
Someone reading this beginning in Hebrew would have to be impressed that the author of this book was trying to get something across to the reader that “Gods” (plural) did everything – not an individual but a least two and of course we realise that it is “Three in One – God, The Word (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit”.
Elohim is used in the Old Testament 2,570 times, and every usage is plural—”Gods.” The verse uses the plural pronouns “Us” and “Our” to refer to their antecedent elohim. Divine personalities were working as one. They were equal in that they were God but not equal in authority, even as husband, wife, and child are equal in their humanity but not equal in authority. Jesus said it Himself: “My Father is greater than I” – “John 14:28”.
God is already a unit: “Hear, O Israel. The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” “Deuteronomy 6:4”. God is one but consists of more than one Person. When Jesus came, He proclaimed the gospel of the Kingdom of God. In doing this, He publicly announced the expansion of this unit to include others besides the Divine Beings already revealed.
A kingdom is synonymous with a nation. It consists of large numbers of people, but it, too, is one. Indeed, the church is called “a holy nation” in “I Peter 2:9”, and though it has many members worldwide, it is one church. Thus, Jesus announced that the Kingdom of God will consist of many more personalities. He also told us how we can become a part of it and how it will be accomplished. Through these means the project stated in “Genesis 1:26” takes a giant step toward fulfilment.
So then where do we start?
- The Origin of Angels – They are Created Beings
The Hebrew word for angel is “mala’ak” it occurs some 213 times in the Old Testamentin meaning it is equivalent to the Greek word, “angelos” from which the English word is obviously derived in the New Testament it is utilised 186 times. However, in both Hebrew and Greek, the term simply means “messenger” and was used for both God’s messengers as well as those of a King, Ruler or Prophet on Earth.
Angels are mentioned in 34 of the 66 books in the Bible. It is a misconception that angels are really an Old Testament subject. The truth is that while the world “angel” appears some 213 times in various forms in the Old Testament, in the New Testament its occurrence also very frequent – 186 times is the world “angel” in various forms used.
Both words refer simply to a messenger, and in some instances are applied to a human messenger such as a prophet or some other special servant of God. An example is found in “Haggai 1:13” – where we read of the Prophet it says – “Then spake Haggai the Lord’s messenger (mala’ak) in the Lord’s message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the Lord” Haggai the prophet is denoted by the word “malak”.
In the book of Malachi, the same word is used to refer to the priests in “Malachi 2:7”7“ – “For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth, for he is the messenger (mala’ak) of the Lord of hosts”. However, when these words are used in scripture, most of the time they refer to special messengers from God called “angels.” These are heavenly or celestial beings, and they are the focus of our study.
The scriptures do not make any attempt to prove the existence of angels but assumes this throughout and it repeatedly reveals their actions in both the spiritual and material world.
Angels have not always existed, now that will come as a surprise and perhaps a challenge to many, perhaps even here, but it is a fact of scripture that the entirety of the angelic world is a created being.
The scriptures teach us that the angels are indeed created, not eternal, beings. They were created, in all probability, by God prior to the creation account we find in Genesis chapter one. Satan and his angels, the demons, were also created by God, not as evil beings but the same as all the other angels. By their own sin they fell into eternal condemnation. And thus, we see the origin of all the angels and the origin of the evil angels.
The Apostle Paul, writing by inspiration to the saints in Colossae clearly taught the creation of angels saying, “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” – “Colossians 1:16“.
When the words of the Apostle Paul are considered there can be no doubt that angels are not by nature eternal beings, but in fact have their origin as part of God’s creative work. But when did God create the angels? He probably did not do it in the six days of the creation of the Earth. I base this contention upon the fact that everything created during those six days is carefully named and declared “good” also we have no account of the creation of angels during this period.
There is not an easy answer to the question, “What is the origin of Angels” “Nehemiah 9:6” says “You alone are Yahweh. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You gave life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you”.
This passage would seem to make clear that the only uncreated being is God; therefore, the angels are created beings. However, one will search in vain for any explicit biblical statement that God created them, or one that explains when they were created.
In Job 33:7 we read “When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” King James Version. The NIV puts it this way “while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?”. In the aforementioned scripture it speaks of the angels shouting for joy when God laid the foundation of the earth “Job 38:4-7“ The “sons of God” is a reference to angels.
Some commentators that I have reviewed feel strongly that they were created before the six days outlined in Genesis one (this is my personal opinion). Others however feel just as strongly that they were created on one of those six days, though there is no way of telling which one.
Unfortunately, the Bible is silent on the matter. Furthermore, the Bible never explains why an “Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent” God would ever need angels. Likewise, of course he equally doesn’t need us, either, or never really explains why he created human beings. Obviously, the reference would not be to man since he was created after the earth.
Angels were created prior to the beginning of time either time established during the creation record or as I personally believe before the universe came into being. Since angels were created and were present when God laid the foundation of planet Earth, it is reasonable to conclude that they were created prior to the creation of the planet. Exactly how long before the creation cannot be determined. It is a fact not revealed in the scriptures.
In addition to “mala’ak” – “angelos” and “messenger” three other terms are found in the Old Testament for angel and these are: –
- Seraphim (singular Seraph) simply means “flame”. It only shows up twice, both times in Isaiah, and both times in one chapter: “Isaiah 6:2 and 6”.
- Cherub this second term is considerably more common, it is these angels that are described as particularly unusual to look at; “Ezekiel 1:4-28” contains the most detailed description we have of them. Whether this is their normal appearance, it’s hard to say. They reappear in Revelation in virtually the same form. They appear most frequently, though, as a decoration used in the temple.
- Sons of God the third term that is generally thought to refer to angels is found in only a handful of places. It is usually, though not always translated as “the sons of God”. How to understand the term is a topic of great controversy, especially in “Genesis 6:1-4”, where the reader is told that the sons of God had sex with the daughters of men. “And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown”.
- The Nature & Attributes of Angels – They are Spiritual and Incorporeal Beings
There are 3 areas to view here: –
- They Are Spiritual & Incorporeal Beings.
- They Are Rational, Moral & Immortal Beings.
- They are Partly Good & Partly Evil.
They are Spiritual and Incorporeal Beings?
My belief in this matter is that they are both Incorporeal and Corporeal and most certainly that they are Spiritual. We are as human beings “Spiritual” but most certainly corporeal we are totally confined in our “fleshly bodies”, the Angelic Being however was created differently. They are most certainly spiritual, but likewise they are both Incorporeal and Corporeal simultaneously.
The nature of Angelic Beings is one that has been debated and disputed in many circles. The Jews and many of the early Christian Church Fathers considered that they had airy or fiery bodies, in the Middle Ages the Church concluded that they were pure spiritual beings. However, as time moved on theologians regarded these ideas as untenable and incompatible with the concept that they were “created beings” and for the following reasons: –
Incorporeal means without the nature of a body or substance. The concept relates to the notion that there is an incorporeal realm of existence, or “place”, that is distinct from the material universe. Incorporeal beings or objects are not made from matter in the way a physical, material being, or object exists. The notion that in-corporeality is even possible requires the belief that something can exist or effect the physical, matter or energy, without physically existing at the point of effect.
A ball can directly affect another ball by coming in direct contact with it and is visible because it reflects the light that directly reaches it. An incorporeal object or being could not perform these functions as it has no material construction with which to perform these functions and would thus not be visible or able to affect anything that is of a physical construction.
Angels do not have material bodies, as we know them. They are spirit-beings “Hebrews 1: 13 – 14” – “But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?”
Whether they are pure spirit, that is, without any substance altogether, or whether they have spiritual essence is not clear. Since they can only be in one place at a time and move from place to place “Job 1:6-7; 12; Daniel 10:10-14, 20-21”, some kind of angelic body is in my opinion likely.
Let’s look at what the Scriptures say in this respect.
Attributes of Angels
are not Omniscient
- Angels are wise but not omniscient. In “Exodus 12” and in particular “Verses 12 / 13”, the indication that is given is that the “Destroying Angel” was provided with a sign by which it would know how to tell the Hebrew houses from Egyptian houses.
- In “Matthew 24:36” we read “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only”. This is further evidence right from the mouth of the Lord Jesus of angels’ lack of omniscience.
- The Apostle Peter, speaking by inspiration in “I Peter 1: 11 &12”, says “Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. 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”.
are not Omnipresent
- Angels are capable of great speed, but they are not omnipresent. Angels had to travel places, such as the time they went to visit Abraham in “Genesis: 18” or when they attended Sodom and Gomorrah in “Genesis 19”.
relates an encounter he had with Gabriel in “Daniel 9:20-23” – “And whiles I
was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people
Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy
mountain of my God; Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel,
whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of
the evening oblation. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O
Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the
beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to
shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and
consider the vision”. In this
passage, the Bible says Gabriel had to fly swiftly. And this angel himself says
he came in obedience to a command.
- Also, in “Luke 1:19”, we find Gabriel speaking to Zechariah, and there he says clearly that he had been “sent.” – “And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings”
- Angels Have Independent Will’s – They are Rational, Moral and Immortal
- Angels have a will – they are not robots. In “Hebrews 1:6” we read “And let the angels of God worship him”. Likewise, in “Psalm 103:20” it speaks of angels “that do his commandments hearkening unto the voice of his word”.
- It is very clear that Satan was not one of these angels spoken off that hearkened unto the voice of God. Indeed, he exercised his own will. On no less than 5 occasions Satan says “I Will” prior to his fall “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. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” – “Isaiah 14:13,14“.
- Angels have an Inner Morality. Angels have a moral nature and as such they are both rewarded for obedience and likewise punished for disobedience. In “Matthew 25: 31″ we read “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory”. The Angels being spoken off are those that made a conscious decision to remain loyal to God and as such are now known as “Holy Angels” God as a reward for loyalty granted to them a gift, that of holiness. In addition to this many scholar believe that a “special gift” of perseverance has also been given to them by which they are confirmed in their position. Holiness cannot be earned; we know this from our own walk with Christ it is an imputed gift of God for those who are in Christ. “Mark 8:38 – Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels”.
- Angels are Personal Beings capable of Moral Choice. Personality is possessed by Angels they have the power of “speech, and are capable of independent action, they also possess the power to provide influence over human personalities. Angels are capable of rage and are equally sensitive to fear. The fact that they decided freely to abandon their abode with God and to willingly sin shows also that moral choices are in their abilities: – To see these areas one needs to look no further than: –
- “Acts 19: 15 & 16” – “And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?” “Jude 6” – “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day” – “2 Peter 2:4” – “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment” – “Luke 8:31” – “And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep” – “Matthew 8:28″ – When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not”
- Angels are Immortal they cannot Die.
- In “Luke 20: 34 to 36” we are given through the words of Jesus Himself the insight into the fact that angels are immortal He said – “And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage, but they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage. Neither can they die any more for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection”.
- God, who is immortal of himself, has conferred immortality on the angelic spirits; and though he could annihilate them, He will not; for even the evil spirits that rebelled against him, their substances, continue and do not perish; everlasting fire, eternal punishment, is prepared for the devil and his angels.
Excel in Strength and Power
- Angels “Excel in Strength and Power” in “Psalm 103:20” it says – “Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word”, but as we in the same manner as they are neither omniscient or omnipresent they are also by no means omnipotent – In “2 Thessalonians 1:7″ it speaks of Jesus and his mighty angels “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels” but angels only have the power that God gives to them.
- The angel for instance found in “2 Samuel 24:15-16” slew 70,000, a mighty act indeed “So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men, And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD was by the threshing place of Araunah the Jebusite”. However, he was simply acting as the agent of God.
The Bible gives us other examples also of angelic power.
- We see it at the Tomb of Jesus – “Matthew 28:2-4“
- The Release of Peter from Prison – “Acts 12:10“
- The Wicked City of Sodom – “Genesis 19”
- The Death of Herod – “Acts 12:23“
There are naturally many others but let us not doubt more one moment that angels have immense power, but equally, neither let us believe they are almighty. They are not, as the defeat of Satan, who defied God, clearly shows “Isaiah 14:12-15”.
They are called “mighty” angels” and are said to “excel in strength”. Their strength is great, and their power and authority under God very large, yet finite and limited.
They are not omnipotent, nor sovereign; they do not preside over the celestial bodies, move the planets, dispose of the ordinances of heaven; bind or loose their influences, and set their dominion in the earth. They do not have the power of the air, nor the command of the earth; the world is not in subjection to them.
They are capable indeed, under a divine influence, and by divine direction, help, and assistance, of doing great and marvellous things; such as holding the four winds of heaven; of quenching the violence of fire; and of stopping the mouths of lions; and of restraining other hurtful things.
They have great power over the bodies of men, to move them from place to place; as an evil spirit, by permission, carried Jesus, and set him upon the pinnacle of the temple; and as good spirit caught away Philip, and carried him to Azotus but whether “good or evil” God is still sovereign.
Further Biblical Examples: –
- The Angel of the Lord killed 185,000 Assyrians “2 Kings: 19:35”
- An angel delivered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fiery furnace “Daniel 3:24-28”
- An angel shut the mouths of lions “Daniel 6:22”
- An angel of the Lord freed the apostle Peter from prison “Acts 12:7-11”
- Angels may act through mighty operations of nature “Psalm 104:4 & Hebrews: 1:7”
- On Judgment Day, Jesus will come with His “mighty angels in flaming fire“ to punish all people who did not obey the gospel “2 Thessalonians: 1:6-9”.
Execute Judgement in The Heavenly Realm & On Planet Earth
- Angels execute the Judgements of God in the Heavenly Realm. Often in the Scriptures, angels are described as the executors of God’s judgments. In the spiritual realm, angels fought with Satan and his / Angelic followers now termed demons and cast them out of heaven “Revelation 12:7-9“ – “And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world, he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him”.
- Angels execute the Judgements of God in the Earthly Realm. On Earth also have angels been employed in the execution of God’s judgments. for instance, God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the story of which is recorded for us in “Genesis 19”, was carried out by the hand of angels. Likewise, God used an angel to punish Israel with pestilence in “2 Samuel 24:15-17” – So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men. And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, “It is enough stay now thine hand”. And the angel of the Lord was by the threshing place of Araunah the Jebusite. And David spake unto the Lord when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, “Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly but these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father’s house”.
The question that could readily come to mind is “Is the work of angels finished?”. It is patently obvious from Scripture that there is yet more for the angelic host to carry out and complete.
Scriptures is very clear in its teaching in this area. Obviously, the angels have not yet concluded all the work they will do in the execution of God’s judgments.
- Angels will accompany Jesus when He returns from Heaven “Matthew 16:27“ – “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works”. “Matthew 25:31” – “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory” and “2 Thessalonians 1:7“ – “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels”.
- Angels will gather people for the time of judgment. It is the angels who have the responsibility of gathering together God’s elect at that judgment “Matthew 24:31″ – “And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” also in “Revelation 7:13” – “And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?”.
- In explaining the parable of the tares of the field, Jesus said the harvest was the end of the world and that the angels would gather out all the wicked “and shall cast them into a furnace of fire. “Matthew 13:36-43” – “Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man. The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one. The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire, there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear”.
- Angels are Invisible
- Angels are invisible under normal and non-Holy Spirit aided times to human vision. In “Numbers 22:22-35” we are provided with the remarkable account of Balaam and his encounter with the angel of the Lord. Three times the beast upon which Balaam rode saw the angel, but Balaam was completely unaware of his presence until God opened his eyes in “verse 31 – Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face”.
- Equally remarkable is the account of Elisha in the city of Dothan. Elisha knew the hosts of Jehovah were there to deliver him from the army of the king of Syria, but Elisha’s servant was unable to see the deliverance that was imminent until the Lord opened his eyes – “And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha” – “2 Kings 6:17“
- The Psalmist and King David says, “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them” – “Psalm 34:9”.
The angelic world is unseen, and truly, without Divine assistance, angels are and would forever be invisible to mankind.
Where Did the Devil Come From?
Satan is first mentioned by “name” in “Job 1:6-7” – “One day the angels came to present themselves before Yahweh, and Satan also came with them. Yahweh said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered Yahweh, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it”. In this portion of scripture, the very first mention of Satan is seen. God asks where it is that Satan comes from; this is not because God was unaware, after all He is omniscient. It is rather a rhetorical question i.e. “what have you been doing lately?”.
In the story of Job, we discover that Satan is responsible for bringing misery and suffering to people. He is mentioned by this name of Satan in the Old Testament “1 Chronicles 21:1” we see him active in tempting a person to sin and also in “Zechariah 3:1-2”, where he is seen accusing the saints; and of course that is exactly what his name “Satan” means: “the accuser”.
In the Old Testament “Satan” is always preceded by a definite article. His name represents his designation and the designation of his character. It should therefore not be just accepted that Satan was his original designated name when first created by God. In fact, one could argue that it was an applied name because of his activities.
His actual first appearance in the Bible is generally assumed to be at the very beginning, in the form of a serpent, when he convinces Eve to doubt God’s goodness. If this serpent is indeed Satan (there is no explicit biblical indication that it is), but it is safe to believe it to be the case then Satan is responsible for creating all the misery that exists in our world today.
As an Angelic being he was created by God and all the “Demons & Spirits” etc whilst provided with these names are in reality “fallen angels”. Demons & Spirits are not a “sub species” that evolved or arrived at some other stage in time, they are part of the original number that God created in the eons before time began.
The Devil is super-human but not divine; he has great power but is not omnipotent; he wields influence on a large scale but is restricted and he is destined to be cast into the bottomless pit.
What is the Motivation of Satan and the Demonic Host?
I am going to quote from J. Oswald Sanders here and his book “Satan is no Myth -Published in 1975” because I cannot find a better way as a Bible student and Evangelist to express it: –
“What is the motivation of this host of demons? What inspires them to their hellish and destructive ministry?
Positively, it is loyalty to their chosen prince, whose kingdom and authority they aim to establish and extend. If all Christ’s followers worked as zealously for their King as the demons do for Satan, there would not be two billion evangelised people in the world! To achieve their objective, they carry on a truce less warfare in the interests of their master.
Negatively, their motivation springs from an implacable hatred of Christ. Their inflexible purpose is to destroy His church and disrupt His purposes.
They know Christ and are cognisant of His purposes for blessing mankind. Not without a desperate struggle will the massed powers of darkness yield control of a world that lies asleep in the arms of the evil one”.
Like the “Good Angels” the fallen angels are possessed of great power but unlike the “Good Angels” who are continually praising God and performing His bidding they are hell bent on cursing God and battling against Him and His Anointed. They are in constant revolt and seek to blind and mislead even God’s people.
Many are even now chained to hell and pits of darkness and as Calvin once said, “They drag their chains with them wherever they go”.
In arriving at the motivation of Satan and his helpers, a few thoughts should be brought together. Satan is aware of his ultimate fate, after all he has probably more understanding of it and a greater grasp of it than we do (apart from the reality of how God’s grace is outworked in our lives). He can read the Bible the same as the rest of us, and the news, for him, is significantly less than cheerful.
If we as human beings were aware that at some stage in the future an awful calamity would befall us, what would we do? The obvious answer is that we would try to avoid it. We would either try to be elsewhere when the calamity is supposed to occur or try to alter events sufficiently to avoid it. The calamity is the last judgement.
I would therefore suggest that the primary motivation for Satan (and the demons) is a desperate desire to avoid the last judgment. Therefore, whatever Satan or his cohorts do, it is and will be done in combination with asking themselves the question: –“how does this further my cause of avoiding God’s judgment in eternal Hell at the end of time?” It is highly unlikely therefore that Demons and Satan are likely to bother themselves with anything that does not contribute toward their cause.
Their cause is hopeless, we know it and they know it however this does not stop their struggle; after all, even condemned criminals tied to their chair in the gas chamber, will hold their breath and struggle against their bonds. I would imagine that there is a serious probability that the demons and Satan are no longer entirely sane, either, and that makes them that much more dangerous and nastier.
The hint that this is indeed the motivation of the demons and Satan comes in a couple of passages. In “1 Corinthians 2:8” the Apostle Paul writes and says that if they had known the consequences of killing Jesus, they never would have done so – “Which none of the princes of this world knew, for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory”.
There is significant irony here. Satan imagined that in killing Jesus (and one can see the importance he placed on this event, in that it is in Christ’s betrayal that we have the only reference to Satan himself taking possession of a person “Luke 22:3” – “Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve” and “John 13:27” – “And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly” obviously, he wanted to make sure the job got done right), he would thwart God’s plan; but rather than thwarting God’s plan, he fulfilled it and sealed his own doom.
Knowing that Jesus was a human being, Satan tried several methods to corrupt him: –
- First, in the temptation in the wilderness “Matthew 1, Luke 4, Mark 4” Satan knew that Jesus was key, and that if he could somehow disrupt God’s plan, then he could achieve his goal to be left alone in peace by God, never to suffer punishment.
- When the temptation failed, he then tried repeatedly to kill him, finally succeeding at Calvary.
- The Disciples, the Jewish Leaders, everyone, in fact, even Satan was just as oblivious to Jesus’ actual purpose in coming. In hindsight, it seems hard to fathom how everyone could have been in the dark; but that they were.
It’s a fact that throughout all the Church Age the belief in the existence of fallen angels’ “demons” has been believed and at various times battles have taken place in the form of “exorcism’s” and there has always been a distinct, disciplined and devoted group of prayer warriors. However, amid this and I mentioned right at the beginning of our study together that if we are not careful, we can “romanticise” unexplained doctrines and these then become “beliefs firmly held” as truth.
We are at times afraid of critique of ideas and purported doctrines lest we be seen as unbelievers and lacking in faith, but scripture tells us that we should be “firmly convinced” in our own minds. Challenging ideas and at times doctrines that we are taught is not unbelief. We should submit to the demands of Scripture and carefully submit to and assess what we are told and taught, and this is especially true of utterances via the Gifts of the Spirit.
The Bible tells us to “judge” not to condemn but to assess and measure against the “plumb line of revealed truth”.
In modern day thinking Spiritual Warfare is manifested in an overriding characteristic of aggression. It is denoted by Christians going on offensives.
It is characterised by: –
- Trying to name spirits
- Trying to find out where they live
- Trying like bailiffs to evict them
By this aggressiveness it is thought that unsaved souls can be released, and effective evangelism is achieved and an increase to the receptivity to the gospel is obtained virtually overnight. However, the opposite is true.
Three pertinent questions result from this attitude: –
- Is there in Scripture a precedent for naming supposed ruling spirits?
- Does utilising a name in a command stance provide greater or any power of a supposed spirit?
- Does the whole process give validity to its claim to unprecedented effectiveness in both evangelism and mission?
My position on all three of the above questions is no! I cannot see in scripture any validity for any of the questions. Strategic Low-Level Spiritual Warfare (SLSW) is a movement which began in 1990/1992 and was spurred on by the novels of Frank Peretti.
A Biblical and Effective Alternative
I believe that ideas purported by SLSW is indefensible, both in its basic components of territorial spirit and warfare prayer and thus if this is rejected what then is a biblical and effective alternative?
- Firstly, the Apostle Paul does not exhort the Ephesian Church to launch an offensive against Satan; instead he urges them merely (and I don’t utilise the word lightly) to stand firm in face of an attack. In “Ephesians 6:10-20”, the main thrust of Pauls argument in the passage is to stand firm. All that precedes builds toward the exhortation. “They are to be strong in the Lord and to put on the full armour of God so that they may be able to stand firm” – “Ephesians 6:10-11”. All that follows in his writings only serves to reinforce the exhortation.
- The rest of the paragraph elaborates the spiritual disciplines required to enable them to stand “Ephesians 6:14-18”. The preoccupation with subordinate details of armour and demons often distracts from the main point he is trying to make of “Stand firm”.
- Secondly, the biblical and effective way for world evangelisation as I understand the Word of God is not:
- New Methods
- New Principles
- New Ministries
It is to be found in prayer, faith and patience.
The concept of spiritual warfare true is found in both the Old and New Testaments. But nowhere is it suggested that believers must attack, bind, and defeat named local spiritual entities as the indispensable means of evangelism.
In “Jude 8-10” – “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee” and “2 Peter 2:10-12” – “But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord”.
We are directly instructed by the writer that believers are not to bring “reviling accusations against the devil” – New King James Version”.
Satan is indeed a formidable adversary “1 Peter 5:8” tells us – “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour”, yet Jesus conquered him on the cross “Colossians 2:15” – “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it”. One day Jesus will confine him in hell “Revelation 2:1-10”. In the meantime, we are called to oppose Satan, but not by identifying the names of his subordinates, reconstructing their hierarchy, or mapping their supposed jurisdictions.
The famous spiritual warfare passage in “Ephesians 6:10-18” portrays spiritual warfare as the believer’s defensive stance rather than prescribing a strategy for attacking and binding specific demons.
Paul states that we wrestle against “principalities and powers in the heavenlies” but how does Paul describe this wrestling? If Paul meant for believers to attack and destroy these heavenly adversaries, he surely would have indicated at that point in his writing that he practiced it and expected his churches to practice it in evangelism. But he didn’t. Indeed, as many have noted, Paul admonishes putting on the whole armour of God in order to “withstand in the evil day” In light of the “hosts of spiritual wickedness in heavenly places” Paul instructs: “Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day and have done all to stand, stand therefore” “Ephesians 6:13,14a”.
Among the spiritual weapons mentioned, the only possible offensive weapon is the “Sword of God’s word” even here, the word used for sword is “machaira” which was a short sword, more like a dagger that could be used for attack. The machaira had a very curved blade, which reminded a sickle. The cutting edge was situated on the inside part of the blade. The legends say that it has a length from about 18″ long with a width of 2.25″ weighing about 2Ibs 4oz in context, suggests personal defence.
The Roman soldier had two primary weapons a javelin for long range warfare, and a sword for close hand to hand combat. The word Paul uses for sword is machaira, which means short sword or dagger. In Greek machaira can be used in three primary ways which I think have important spiritual applications for the word of God.
A machaira could be used to perform surgery during, or after battle. Frequently when we are under spiritual attack, or just have been under attack we get wounded, and we need spiritual surgery. Paul says the sword of the Spirit is the word of God, God’s word is the most powerful surgical instrument in the universe.
In “Hebrews 4:12” the Bible once again likens the machaira to the word of God and says, “…piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, …and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” In this battle of life it is often very difficult to determine the difference between what God trying to lead us to do in our spirit, and what our mind, will, and emotions (soul) wants us to do. You see if it feels right (emotions), is logical (mind), and it’s what we want (will) it can be very hard to discern that we are about to make a mistake.
Enter the Word of God as we read, study, and meditate on the word of God what we want, think, and feel comes into sharp contrast with what God wants, thinks, and feels. We are then able to make Spirit led decisions that will prevent the enemy from gaining an advantage.
This verse also says that the word of God is a discerner of the thoughts, and intents of the heart. The heart is a terrible weakness for us in battle, because not only can it be deceived by Satan, but is in fact a deceiver itself “Jeremiah 17:9”. The word of God clearly helps us discern clearly if our thoughts, and motives are Biblical, and Spirit led. Before we make any major decisions, we should consult the word of God to make sure we are not being deceived.
The machaira could also be used to prepare a sacrifice for worship. The Bible says in “Romans 12:1-2” that we are to present our bodies as a living sacrifice. The only problem with a living sacrifice is that it has an irritating tendency to get off the altar. Do you find that to be true of yourself? You put your all on the altar during an invitation, or other special time, and seems like hours or days later you have completely hopped off the altar. Animals strangely enough didn’t seem to like being placed on a flaming altar they had to be put to death first with a sword or dagger. Our flesh to cannot stand the fiery altar of surrender, and consecration it must be put to death again, and again by the Word of God.
Hand to Hand Combat
When we are in close hand to hand spiritual warfare there is only one thing to do, use the Word of God. In “Matthew: 4” the Lord Jesus Christ is led into the desert to be tempted of the Devil, a time of intense hand to hand combat. What powerful weapon did Jesus pull out to battle this formidable ancient foe? Bazooka, RPG, 50 Calibre Desert Eagle? No! Jesus pulled out the most powerful weapon in the universe the Word of God. To every temptation He responded, “it is written” (He didn’t go on the attack He stood firm” when we are under attack that is our only weapon. We must soak ourselves in the Word of God so that it is available to us in the heat of battle. The Word of God correctly applied will put Satan on the run every time.
The “demolishing strongholds” passage of “2 Corinthians 10:4-5” is often used by writers and especially the SLSW clan. In this context, “strongholds” are clearly “arguments and imaginations: that challenge the knowledge of God.” The means of spiritual attack and advance in the New Testament is always the preaching and defence of the gospel message. The sword of God’s Word is obviously more effective in evangelism than the spiritual war games of identifying, binding, and destroying local demons. The sword of God’s Word is even “sharper than any two-edged sword”
What can I say in conclusion, I don’t want to labour any of the areas already made, although there is much more that I could share with you and I hope open for further consideration and thought?
What really matters is that we retain always a Biblical Perspective of the Spiritual Reality of Angels and Demons. As a Result, we will be Better Equipped for the Spiritual Battle that continues today and from before the Beginning of Time.