OF ANGELS AND DEMONS
The Bible testifies throughout of the existence of angels and demons.
Angels are messengers. Angels are spirts. They can be messengers of God (Luke 1:11, 1:19) if they are clean, or messengers of Satan (2 Corinthians 12:7) if they are unclean (Matthew 8:16).
Of God’s messengers, Lot’s encounter in Sodom tells us something of their character. They sometimes walk the earth looking like people. (Genesis 19) There were angels at Jesus’ tomb on His day of resurrection to announce that Christ had arisen. (John 20:12). They also looked and were dressed like men (Luke 24:4).
To underscore this tendency of angels to appear as men, the book of Hebrews gives us reason to always show kindness to strangers:
“Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:1-2)
They number in the uncountable multitudes (Daniel 7:10). They create the glory cloud that surrounds God’s holy throne (Deuteronomy 33:2, Psalm 68:17).
There are more clean spirits than unclean spirits: Two-to-one. One-third of the heavenly host fell from heaven along with Satan (Revelation 12:4). In order to convict someone of bearing false witness — such as Satan, the great deceiver, and his minions — two honest witnesses must be produced to testify against the single false witness (Deuteronomy 19:15). Perhaps this was true for the heavenly host, as well.
In this way, there would always be two angels to testify against every one demon, no matter how many Satan tried to produce.
THE ON-GOING ROLE OF ANGELS IN TODAY’S NEW TESTAMENT ERA
Since the writing of Revelation and the closing of the Biblical canon, it seems that the intervention of angels in history has either been subdued or attributed to God directly (miracles). It’s not clear what their role in the New Covenant era is.
It doesn’t seem out of line to think that they may still manifest themselves in the form of people to deliver God’s messages, though ever since the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on God’s people at Pentecost (Acts 2) all Christians have now become priests and prophets. We do not have need to rely so heavily on external intervention and direction because the Holy Spirit dwells in all of God’s elect.
But that doesn’t change the truth that all of God’s angels do His bidding. You can think of God’s angels like His hands: by Jesus Christ, all things consist (Colossians 1:17).
Newton thought of the regularity and predictableness of our universe in terms of fixed “laws” that his deistic god, the Clockmaker and Grand Architect, established and set into effect before he left the cosmos forever — eternally “hands off”. He wound the clock of the cosmos, and now it runs by predictable laws.
This is still a common thought today, but it is a non-Biblical way to view the workings of the world.
Since all things are held together by Christ, every movement and fact that comes to pass in this universe is done so upon God’s explicit command. We can understand His predictability because He gave us minds, having being made in His image, to interpret what we have traditionally called “laws of nature” using abstract concepts like mathematics.
NATURE DOES NOT HAVE A WILL OF ITS OWN
John Calvin attributed all such movement to angelic motion; every movement, from that of animals, people, trees, to the trajectories of rain clouds, is brought to pass by the work of God’s “hands” — his angels.
What Newton thought of as “natural laws,” is really the work of angels, acting directly at the command of God in His predictable manner — except for when He directly intervenes.
To attribute any kind of “sentience” to nature is to descend into modern Baalism. “Nature” does not possess some will of its own apart from God. There are no “forces of nature.” To impute nature with such motivation is to worship creation, which is idolatry.
This tendency is what demons take advantage of. It is generally helpful shorthand to use terms as “forces of nature,” or “laws of nature” when the society is Christian and understands that these phrases are really just references to God’s direct, personal, providential hand at sustaining all of creation.
But when the society grows arrogant in its hubris and falls away ethically from the God of creation, it forgets the underlying basis for its success. Its anchor in reality is uprooted and its ship of morality and rationality begins to drift, just as the Lord promised:
“And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.
“Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God…
…Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 8:10-20)
This essay will continue in Part 4, where we begin with a discussion of the character of angels and demons.