Angels - Part I
Lucifer was an angel of highest rank. Some believe he was given more authority and strength than Gabriel or the archangel Michael. Lucifer was named “the shining one,” and he was the most beautiful angel that God ever created. In Ezekiel 28:12, God said of him, “You seal up the sum,” meaning that his beauty and wisdom were perfection. There is every indication, my husband notes, that Lucifer’s leadership had something to do with the worship of God. In the Old Testament, we hear God, out of the whirlwind ask Job, “Where were you …when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4, 7). This referred to the completed creation of Earth and the universe and the angelic celebration that followed.
It is possible that before his fall, Lucifer, also known as “son of the morning,” may have led the angels, the morning stars, in this musical celebration. To imagine the sound of it, you must remove from your mind the excellence of world-renowned choirs or orchestras. Think instead of the most beautiful voice you’ve ever heard—one that could only be described as angelic—and raise the volume a billion times.
A better description comes from Bible scholar Albert Barnes: “They joined in praise for so glorious a work as the creation of a new world. They saw that it was an event which was fitted to honor God. It was a new manifestation of His goodness and power; it was an enlargement of His empire; it was an exhibition of benevolence that claimed their gratitude. The expression in this verse is one of uncommon, perhaps of unequalled beauty.”
We have reason to believe that Lucifer was at the center of that angelic event, ordering tones and sounds in succession, in combination, and in temporal relationships to produce a composition with unity and continuity—the very definition of music. The Bible says of him, “the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created” (Ezek. 28:13).
If God had an inner circle at that time, Lucifer was surely on the inside. In fact, he ruled the earth, long before Adam and Eve ever set foot in the garden. But leading and ruling was not enough. Lucifer wanted more than to be with God. He wanted to be as God. Lifted up in pride, he led a revolution against his Creator, and a third of the angels fought—and failed—with him.
Isaiah 14:12 declares his defeat: “How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations!” My husband notes, “All the pain, suffering, misery, heartache, death, and deception which have ruled the nations from the very beginning can be laid at the doorstep of this revolution headed up by Satan.”
So this created being, which the Bible refers to as “Lucifer” and later as “Satan” is real. He is not a figment of someone’s imagination. He led a gargantuan revolution against God, which has now lasted for many thousands of years. But take heart, Satan’s days are numbered.
Besides Lucifer, all other angels in the Old Testament go unnamed until Daniel 8 where we learn of Gabriel. Through Daniel, we get a glimpse of the angel: “There stood before me as the appearance of a man.” He may have looked like a man, but when Gabriel came and stood by Daniel (Daniel, who had previously seen an angel shut the mouths of hungry lions), the prophet said he was afraid and fell on his face. Clearly Gabriel was different; his countenance and stature in full demonstration of his name which means, “God has shown Himself mighty.”
“And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God” (Lk. 1:19). Bible scholar Charles Ellicott said the imagery of this verse, “was drawn from the customs of an Eastern court, in which those who stood were the most honored ministers of the king, while others fell prostrate in silent homage.” Gabriel’s high rank and position are emphasized by the tasks he was sent to carry out: Relay to Daniel the restoration of Jerusalem, inform Zacharias that he would father the greatest prophet to ever live, and announce to Mary of Nazareth the coming birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Each of these people had a similar reaction to seeing Gabriel—fear. Daniel was afraid and fell on his face; fear “fell upon” Zacharias; and the angel told Mary to “fear not.” Some of this fear equaled the type of respect one has for a person of great authority.
High-ranking military officers, for example, command such respect, and when the president of the United States sends them, their uniforms represent the entire country and all of America’s strength. The angel Gabriel wore the presence of God, and he represented all of God’s glory, majesty, power, and righteousness. No wonder humans fell and feared.
Movies and television shows would have you see angels differently, portraying them in all shapes, sizes, and ages from chubby babies with wings to older ladies who are backlit to “glow” when God supposedly speaks through them. But that’s not how the Bible describes human reaction to angels.
“And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men” (Matt. 28:2-4).
According to Bible scholar John Gill, these “keepers” were Roman soldiers and veterans who were used to terrible sights in the field of battle; men of courage and fearless. But when they saw this angel descend from heaven and roll back the stone, Gill said, “they were seized with a panic and every limb of them shook and trembled at the sight of the angel for fear he was come as an executioner of divine vengeance upon them…Such was the glory and majesty in which he appeared, of which they had never seen the like before, that it had this effect upon them, and they became as dead men; they turned pale as dead men and had scarce any life or spirit left in them.”
God sent Gabriel to deliver messages of mercy and glad tidings, but the archangel Michael was a messenger of God’s wrath. The Jews have a saying, “Gabriel flew with two wings, but Michael with only one,” meaning that God is swift to send angels of peace and of joy (Gabriel), but messengers of God’s wrath and punishment (Michael) come slowly. Such is the love and mercy of God.
“And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people” (Dan. 12:1).
According to my husband, the phrase in this verse, “And at that time shall Michael stand up,” refers to the mighty archangel, Michael, who serves as the protector of Israel immediately under Jehovah. Michael, the only archangel named so in Scripture, has a special function as guardian angel of Israel.
“But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.” (Dan. 10:13).
In this verse, we see Michael coming to the aid of Gabriel in a conflict against a fallen angel appointed by Satan to control the Persian government. It appears, my husband notes, that Satan places an agent (fallen angel) in charge of every nation; and, if so, this may explain national hatreds and national movements. Similarly, God has His angelic agents operating in opposition to Satan’s—spiritual battles that will eventually conclude in war:
“And there was war in heaven (pertains to the “mystery of God” being finished [10:7]): Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels (this pertains to Satan and all the angels who followed him being cast out of heaven, which will take place at the midpoint of the great tribulation; why the Lord has allowed Satan and his minions to remain in heaven all of this time, we aren’t told; it is a mystery, but it will now be finished), and prevailed not (Satan will then be defeated; incidentally, it is not Satan who instigates this war, but rather the archangel Michael at the command of God); neither was their place found any more in heaven (joins with the close of the book of Revelation, where the Evil One has no more place on earth as well, but rather the place of torment forever and ever [20:10]). And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan (he is referred to as “the Great Dragon” because of his propensity to “steal, kill, and destroy” [Jn. 10:10]; he is the “old serpent” because in his first appearance in the Bible, he chose to work through a serpent; thereby, he is what the curse caused the serpent to be, wryly subtle, and treacherous), which deceives the whole world (deception is his greatest weapon; he deceives, and is himself deceived): he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him (pronounces the beginning of the end for this evil monster)” (Rev. 12:7-9) The Expositor's Study Bible.
1 Jimmy Swaggart Commentary, Luke, Chapter 1.
In the next issue of The Evangelist, we will explore the truth about guardian angels, whether or not Christians can command angels, and the significance of angels during Christ’s earthly ministry.