I’m in one of my teaching moods today. With Christmas behind us and so much talk about angels and their role in the story of the birth of Christ, I decided it was time to devote a post to the subject of angelology. If course, the Bible is full of stories about angels. For example, we know that Jesus could have commanded His legions of angels when He was in the desert after His baptism experience – that’s the story about His temptations from Satan. And I already mentioned that angels were a very important and noteworthy part of the story concerning the birth of Christ – remember the angels in fields approaching the shepherds with the news of the birth of Christ?
And John, the apostle and disciple of Jesus, wrote about seeing angels when he caught a glimpse of heaven when John wrote the book of Revelation. And there are literally hundreds of examples of angels in the Bible. In fact, angels are so important in the theological world that seminaries actually devote coursework to their study. It is one of at least six basic theology disciplines that are required study – and it’s called “angelology” – from two words; angel, which you already know, and “ology” which means “the study of” – hence – angelology.
There are also other studies in theology – the study of God; Christology – the study of Christ; and many other facets of study surrounding the major topics of the Bible. There is even a course on “demonology” – the study of demons and Satan. Sotierology is the study of salvation and there is even pneumatology – (pneuma means breath or spirit) so this is the study of the Holy Spirit. The whole topic of theology is really very interesting. Until you really get into it, one would never think that there is so much to learn about the different areas of study in the Bible. And none of us will ever even come close to knowing it all this side of heaven.
The reason that I wanted to write about angels today, though, was to set the record straight. Scripturally, there are at least two different types of angels mentioned in the Bible – cherubim, who have four wings and seraphim, having six wings. There many be different orders of angels as well, but we don’t know if and how many wings they may have. The point of all this is that angels are presumed to be the first created creatures in the creation story.
We know that Satan was a fallen angel and he tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden so he must have predated their creation by God. And we know that there is free will so obviously Satan and his fallen angels chose to go a different route than worshipping God. They eventually will end up in eternal separation from God.
But one thing is for sure – and that is that people do not become angels when they die. The reason that I mention this is that there have been a number of times recently when I have read comments such as “heaven has another angel” when someone dies. Or so and so “finally got their wings in heaven.” This just isn’t the case. Angels were created by God for many different ministries – including worship of God, protection of people, God’s messengers and a host of other responsibilities that God has entrusted to them.
They were created to be a little higher than people when we are alive and to serve us later in heaven. There is no other reference in the Scripture to creatures quite like angels. But people are people – created in the image of God – and angels are angels – created by God but not in the image of God. And people don’t become angels any more than angels become people. So the next time that you hear somebody say that heaven “has another angel” when someone passes away, you’ll know it just isn’t true. Assuming the person is a Christ follower, though, they well might be served by angels. And that should be a comforting thought – we know that one of the ministries of angels is to escort believers to heaven.
The verse for tonight comes from the apostle John and his visions in Revelation. We are told, in Revelation 22:8-9, “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!” Great words to recognize that angels and we are to worship God.
My encouragement this evening is to affirm that there are angels all around to assist God and help us in times of need. My prayer is that you will recognize the love of God through the ministry of the angels at the request of God. Furthermore that you will someday meet those angels and will worship God Almighty alongside them. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…