God’s messengers, harbingers, and sometimes mode of destruction. One thing is for sure, humankind hasn’t done them any favors in the accurate representation department.
I do realize that the naked baby with wings depiction stemmed from an art form, a style…but really. they see us, and hear us if they are around…what must they think? In scripture, they often announce themselves with, “fear not,” having to physically pick people up off the ground as the humans hit the dirt in shock and/or misplaced worship, they slew thousands of men, and were responsible for warding certain people and places, and for bringing news and callings to mankind…one being elected to bring a bit of important information to Mary herself.
2 Kings 19:35 And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. (To those keeping score, that’s 185,000 humans killed in one evening.) 2 Chronicles 32:21 And the LORD sent an angel, which cut off all the mighty men of valour, and the leaders and captains in the camp of the king of Assyria… etc…
The Cherubim are first introduced as set guardians to the entrance of Eden. Seraphim are introduced in Isaiah: Isaiah 6:2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. We know there are archangels as well, and we see them sent to battle; for example, Michael watches over Israel (Daniel 12:1).
We humans have a tendency to either elevate them to “gods” or make them infants. Often they are portrayed as actual females with long flowing hair and dresses, despite the fact that we don’t have a reference in scripture to actual female angels. It is important for us as believers to search scripture for accurate understanding on many issues, Angels included.
They are creations of God, as we are…they are also split into factions. Out of all the angels created, 1/3 fell with Satan, 2/3 stayed loyal to God. When we die, we don’t become angels as is sometimes portrayed; we are human, they are not, though we become like them in the absence of marriage in Heaven. It isn’t clear from scripture if we each have a guardian angel of our own, or if it is limited to the peoples of God in a general way. We do know that they are watching, and there is a certain level of threat hinted at in this: Matthew 18:10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
They can also be sent to ward us, and are joyful when we humans turn to God…when each one of us submitted to Him: Luke 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. They are God’s to command, and if we desire their protection, as always, we should go before the Father in prayer to make the request, we are to pray to Him and Him alone. All of this can seem a trifling matter since we are surrounded by these placid images of Angels…but they do exist and there is a spiritual realm around us that we cannot see.
2 Kings 6:15 And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? 16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
There have been some representations of Angels in modern media that have shown angels as warriors; I enjoyed the first installment of the movie series: The Prophecy very much. (Just so my readers know, they are very violent, and aren’t based off of scripture.) They portray them as powerful players in a war amongst themselves…of course a lot of it isn’t accurate (including the smear on Gabriel’s good name, and adding to scripture), but it is a refreshing switch from naked babies floating on clouds. In my next post about Angels I’ll take a look at Satan, and misconceptions about him as well. I’ll mention Frank Peretti’s Angel novels more in depth then too.
Just keep in mind that Angels are powerful servants of God Most High, they are warriors and messengers answering to the Throne itself…not chubby little kids with harps.