THE UNSEEN REALM... THE ANGELIC HOSTS
Biblical Research Monthly, March 1943
Dr. David L. Cooper
IN THE TWO FORMER installments of this series we have learned some few facts about the unseen, invisible, eternal God. We must hasten on to the consideration of the angelic host of which we read throughout the Scriptures.
IN JOB 38:1-7, we see several questions which the Almighty put to Job regarding the creation of the world. He ended this special list of queries with the following one:
Whereupon were 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?
Who are the "morning stars" mentioned in this quotation? Since this is Hebrew poetry, the fundamental principle of which is thought rhythm called Hebrew parallelism, we see that the "sons of God" are here spoken of under the symbolism of stars. But who are they? When we turn back to chapters 1 and 2 of this book, we see that the angelic hosts who are carrying out the divine will are thus designated.<<<< previous next >>>>
These angels, or sons of God, evidently were created before God spoke the universe into existence. This fact is clear from the passage quoted above. They were present and were thoroughly conscious, realizing the beginning of the unfolding of the divine plan of the ages. Hence, when the various universes came forth from the hand of God, these holy beings sang aloud and shouted for joy, delighting in the glories of God's beneficent and glorious plan.
As to how much time intervened between the creation of these angelic hosts and the Almighty's calling the universe into existence, one cannot say. If one were to hazard a guess on this point, one might say that probably the time was short; for they seem to be, as we shall presently see, the Almighty's assistants in carrying out His government of the universe; but the facts are not sufficiently conclusive to warrant dogmatism on this point.
There are various ranks and orders of angels. As proof of this statement, all that one has to do is to note the fact that there are cherubim, seraphim, and the great rank and file of heavenly beings. We also read of the Archangel Michael. Moreover, we learn of Gabriel who seems to have a special place in the great economy of God.
An examination of Ezekiel 1 and 2 shows that the cherubim are connected immediately with the throne of God. The prophet saw a vision coming out of the north. To him it seemed as if it were simply a great flame of fire; but out of the midst thereof came the appearance of cherubim, each of which had four wings. They also had four faces. Hence, when they wished to go in a given direction, they did not have to turn their heads or bodies but could move as desired. Above the heads of these cherubim was the firmament upon which was placed the throne of God. Beside each of them was a wheel that had wheels within wheels. Over them was "the cherub that covereth." It seems that this covering or anointed one had the supreme command over the other cherubim. In the tabernacle, and also in the temple which later displaced this primitive sanctuary, we see the cherubim which covered the mercy seat. There also were woven into the curtains of the most holy place pictures of cherubim. When man disobeyed God in Eden and was driven out from the presence of the Almighty, cherubim were placed to keep the way of the tree of life, lest man should partake thereof.
From all of this data one concludes that the cherubim hold a very high and exalted place in connection with the Almighty and in the execution of His government of the universe.
The vision which was granted to Isaiah, chapter 6, brings before us a picture of angelic beings whom he called seraphim. These creatures had six wings each. With two they covered their faces. With two they covered their feet, and with two they did fly. All the time they were singing, "Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory." In the fourth chapter of the Book of Revelation, we see four living creatures who are before the throne of God. These likewise have six wings each, and they are engaged in singing, both day and night, a similar note of praise--adoration to the Triune God. John in his message does not call these beings seraphim, but he simply speaks of them as living creatures (Unfortunately in the Common Version, they are called beasts, but this is the wrong translation; correctly rendered, the Greek word is "living creature.") These seraphim, these living creatures, are represented as singing a triple note of praise and glory to the Holy Trinity. It seems that in the beginning of the Tribulation they will have something to do with the starting of the first four judgments which are found in Revelation 6. From these facts one would gather that they assist the Lord in His administration of government--at least of the judgments which will come in the Tribulation.
In addition to the cherubim, the seraphim, and the Archangel Michael, there are vast hosts of angels whose name might properly be called "Legion", for they are many. Daniel, in chapter 7, spoke of ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands of them. John, in Revelation, likewise spoke of them as innumerable. Since the Lord is a God of order, it is quite likely that these hosts of intelligent created beings have creatures superior in authority placed over them to direct their activities.
One catches a glimpse of the throne of God in such passages as I Kings 22 and Job chapters 1 and 2. Another excellent picture of the court of heaven appears in Psalm 89.
An investigation of Job 1 and 2 reveals the fact that the various angels who appear before the throne of God are there to give an account of their ministrations at different places in the universe. This fact is in harmony with what we learn in Psalm 103:19f. Here we read that God's throne is established over everything else and that the angels are His ministers who do service for Him throughout the vast expanses of His domain. Some scholars have concluded from thoughts found here and there in the Scriptures that these angels have charge of the various heavenly bodies and cause the machinery of the universe to run smoothly according to the plan and purpose of God. On this point, however, we cannot be dogmatic, but we may be certain that all of the angels are usefully and profitably engaging in some service that glorifies and honors God and that assists Him in the administration of the government of the universe.
Not only do the heavenly hosts render this service, but, according to Hebrews 1:14, they are God's ministering spirits who serve those who are to inherit eternal salvation. We may not be able to understand all that these angels do for us at the present time but when we come before our Lord and see things as they are, we shall then learn that all of these heavenly beings are but servants who are doing the will of God and who are constantly engaged in some profitable labor in our behalf.
Because of the abuse of the doctrines regarding angels made by certain ones, many of us shrink from the idea that angels do render a service to us. The abuse of some scriptural teaching however should not cause us to deny anything that the Scriptures assert. Let us thank God for whatever service these angelic hosts render to us.
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem nineteen hundred years ago, that event was announced by a small band of angels to the shepherds who were keeping watch over their flocks in the field of Boaz, northeast of Bethlehem. When He makes His second advent into the world, all the angels will come with Him. This fact we learn in Hebrews 1:6. As stated before, Daniel saw the Almighty, the Ancient of Days, taking His seat upon the throne in heaven to pass judgment upon the Antichrist and all his lieutenants during the Tribulation--especially at the end. Great hosts of angels stand at attention in the presence of God when He thus pronounces judgment upon these wicked, evil men who will be satanically inspired against God and against His people. When however the Lord Jesus shall come, as stated above, in His glory, all the angels of God will appear with Him (See Matthew 25:31; also Revelation 5).
During the Millennial Era, and in the ages of eternity, we who are saved and suffer with Him shall be exalted to high positions of authority and power, and shall judge or control angels (Rom. 8:17; I Cor. 6:15).