THE ORIGIN OF ANGELS
December 1, 1997 Issue
by Alan Bonifay
Two installments on the subject of angels have already dealt with Guardian Angels, the definition of angels and misconceptions about them, and the fact that until judgment day, when the saved are given their home in Heaven, angels make up the family of God in Heaven. Now, looking again only to the scriptures to teach us, we wish to examine the origin of angels. This study will lead us also to a consideration of the origin of Satan and the demons.
ANGELS ARE CREATED BEINGS
Angels are created, not eternal, beings. The Apostle Paul, writing by inspiration to the saints in Colasse 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; cf. Eph 3:9; Heb 1:2; John 1:3).
When these words are considered there can be no doubt that angels are not by nature eternal beings, but in fact have their origin as part of Gods creation. But when did God create the angels? He probably did not do it in the six days of the creation of the universe. We base this contention upon the fact that everything created during those six days is carefully named, and yet we have no account of the creation of angels. As we try to determine just when the angels were created, considerations of another class of angels enter into the picture. We have not yet discussed these angels, but to study them now will help us with this question.
In addition to earthly messengers (angels) and celestial messengers, the angels we are really concerned with in this study, there are also infernal angels. These are evil angels who wait upon and serve the Devil. They are the demons. The book of Revelation reports the entrance of these angels into evil, so giving us an account of the origin of demons.
"And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon fought 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... Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the seal for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time." (Revelation 12:7-9, 12).
Jesus said in Luke 10:18, "I behold Satan as listening fall from heaven." This great war and the origination of demonhood must have occurred after the origin of all the angels, and after the creation of the earth (since Satan was cast into it at the end of the war), but anterior to Satans appearance on earth in the Garden of Eden. Clearly, Satan had, by the time of his appearance in Eden, already fallen "as lightening," having lost the war in heaven. Before the great war in heaven, before Adams last day in the Garden of Eden, angels were created. But did this creation of angels occur between the creation of the universe and the great war? Or was it during the creation of the universe? Or was it before the Genesis account? A final passage may help us to narrow down the period in which angels came into being, Job 38:4-7.
"Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? Or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? Or who laid the corner stone thereof, When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?"
The New International Version equates the phrase "sons of God" with angels in this passage. And as the LORD speaks to Job, the indication seems to be that angels were certainly created before the sixth day of creation, and with all probability on or before the first day. All of this information taken together seems to place the creation of the angels sometime before Genesis 1:1. And that is as close as we can determine. They are not eternal, but as far as we can tell, they were in existence prior to the creation of the universe.
But what about these evil angels we have discussed? Where did they come from? Did God create them as evil beings?
THE ORIGIN OF SATAN
As we consider the origin of Satan and his demons, we must look at some passages of scriptures from the prophets that are written in Apocalyptic Language. This symbolical form of writing was used by several of the Bible writers - Daniel, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and John the Revelator. The Book of Revelation is, in fact, called The Apocalypse, which means veiled or hidden until revealed. Apocalyptic writers used symbolical language to reveal truths to those to whom he addressed his work while at the same time keeping the message hidden from others. Persecutors of the truth could not understand the meaning, and so Apocalypic Language was a form of protection for the writer and the receivers. This language is used about Satan to describe other people, the intention being to show how they and their sins are like Satan and his sins. Isaiah, writing about the King of Babylon, actually reveals a great deal to us about Satan.
"How art thou fallen from heaven, 0 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 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. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit." (Isaiah 14:12-15).
Ezekiel 28:12-19 describes to us the high position once occupied by Satan, and even speaks of the perfectness of his ways until iniquity was found in him (verse 15) and he suffered the judgment of God. Ezekiel Apocalyptically gives us this picture as he describes the King of 1~re. These two passages teach us much about Satans character. Several New Testament passages also describe the origin of Satan and the demons. Paul wrote to Timothy about the qualifications of elders saying in I Timothy 3:36, "Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil." (emphasis mine - AWB). Jude 6 says, "...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." Peter also speaks of "the angels that sinned" and their judgment (2 Peter 2:4). The Scriptures teach that Satan was, when created, a great angel with much influence in heaven. It seems to be implied in Ezekiel and Isaiah that Satan was the first angel in creation, rank, and power. However, he became lifted up with pride, and rebelled against God by trying to raise himself to an even higher station than God had given him. In fact he actually sought to overthrow God. Consequently, he was cast down to earth with all the angels who followed him. Here we have the origin of Satan and his demons. They were not created evil, but through their own iniquity became so. When Satan was cast down to earth, it was then that the appeared in Eden to tempt man, and he continues his pernicious work as the deceiver of nations to this day.
It is well to note in all of this that the angels were under law. I John 3:4 says, "sin is the transgression of the law," and Paul said, "where no law is, there is no transgression," (Romans 4:15). And yet Peter, as we noted previously, spoke of "the angels that sinned," (2 Peter 2:4). We must conclude that the angels were indeed under law. Having once fallen under the power of darkness, those angels that sinned were forever condemned to Hell, which Jesus said was "prepared for the devil and his angels. In this, we note a tremendous difference between the way God has treated us and the way He treated the sinful angels. They never had a Savior. Once under the power of darkness, that is where they were consigned to stay forever. However, God has given to us a means of deliverance, and we should be eternally grateful for it.
"Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:" ( Colossians 1:13-14).
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, and as we consider the state of the latter, we are bound to thank God always for the hope we have through Jesus Christ. We intend in the next article to study the Nature of Angels.
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