Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, December 1, 2019
Shavuah Tov *|FNAME|*,
Thank you Raymond Finney for another excellent RR submission. I (Rabbi Michael) really enjoyed reading this and highly recommend it to others.
Angels and Demons
INTRODUCTION: In a message given by Carlton Taylor on November 16 while Rabbi Weiner attended a Tikkun conference in Florida, he mentioned certain doctrinal similarities between Pharisees and present-day Believers. One shared doctrine is belief in angels and demons. In today’s RR, I (Raymond Finney) discuss some Biblical teachings about these beings.
ANGELS: “Angel,” translated from the Old Testament Hebrew malak or the New Testament Greek angelos, names a messenger or representative of God. God created everything in the Universe, including angels (see Psalm 148:2). Angels joyfully witnessed the creation of the world (see Job 38:7).
The purpose of angels was/is to promote and communicate the will of God. They act as intermediaries to bridge the gap between God and man. Angels have acted for God in different ways.
** Have spoken God’s messages to people in dreams (see Genesis 28:12; 31:11); spoken through animals (see Numbers 22:22); and spoken as a host, or large group (see 1 Kings 22:19; Psalm 103:21; Luke 2:13-14);
** Have interpreted dreams and visions (see Daniel 7:16; 10:5);
** Proclaimed a Messiah– Yeshua– who would come at a future date (see Malachi 2:7);
** Promised that Yeshua would return to earth (see Acts 1:10-11); and
** Served as guides and interpreters for the Apostle John in his vision of our future, and will announce God’s Tribulation judgments (see Revelation, multiple verses).
** Have the ability to appear in human form, when visiting earth. They are described as males (and Hebrew malak and Greek angelos are both masculine nouns). Even so, artists typically depict angels as women or small children, but we should not learn theology from artists.
** Were created with certain human features, including free will. This free will allowed some of them to rebel against God and follow Satan. This rebellion led to their expulsion from God’s presence. (See next section, “Demons.”)
You may read the term “Angel of the LORD” or “Angel of God.” Some persons interpret this “Messenger of God” to be the second Person in the Trinity, who is Yeshua. Other persons interpret this angel as a special messenger of God. Yeshua has apparently visited earth in human form before His birth in Bethlehem. Such a visit is called a “Christophany.”
The Bible is not specific on how many angels and demons were created, but, on earth alone, there must be a great number of such supernatural beings. For example:
** Angels: An army of angels was available for Yeshua’s protection (Matthew 26:53): [Yeshua said] “Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?”
** Demons: When Yeshua encountered the “man with an unclean spirit” in the country of the Gardarenes (Mark, chapter 5), Yeshua confronted the demons, and we learn (Mark 5:9): Then [Yeshua] asked him, “What is your name?” And he answered, saying, “My name is Legion; for we [demons] are many.”
** Clarification: At the time of Yeshua, a standard Roman army legion consisted of up to 6,000 soldiers (grouped in approximately 60 centuries, each century containing up to 100 soldiers; or, 60 x 100 = 6,000 legionnaires).
Of the numerous angels created by God, only three have their names recorded in the Bible:
** Gabriel: Gabriel is God’s messenger, the angel-messenger entrusted with delivering important messages to certain people.
** Michael: Michael is God’s warrior, the angel-warrior entrusted with defending God’s people against God’s enemies.
** Lucifer: Lucifer was greater than other angels. Beautiful and dazzling, he radiated light and glory and was covered with gold and sparkling jewels. (Read Ezekiel 28:12-14.) Lucifer worked closely with God. A generous God gave Lucifer the gift of free will. That is, Lucifer could think for himself and make his own decisions. This gift led to Lucifer’s downfall. He was filled with pride and jealousy. He thought that he should be a god to be worshiped by all creatures. Garnering the support of one-third of the angels in Heaven, he rebelled against God. He and his angel followers– whom we know as demons– were expelled from Heaven. We usually refer to Lucifer as Satan and other names. (See http://www.markbeast.com/satan/names-of-satan.htm for Satan’s many names.)
Hebrews, chapter 2 may be confusing, through such verses as Hebrews 2:9: But we see [Yeshua], who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. If Yeshua was co-Creator and participated in the creation of angels and man, how could He be “made a little lower than the angels?” Recall that Yeshua came as part Man (Son of Man) through the Virgin Mary and part God (Son of God), when He ministered on earth. During His earthly life, He suspended certain qualities of His divinity. He came to live among people to experience human life’s difficulties. He allowed Himself to be crucified (to be killed), giving up His immortality for three days. While on earth, He lived “a little lower than the angels.” He now lives in Heaven, and His divine nature (being far greater than the angels) is fully restored to Him.
When you read the Bible, you will find certain titles. Any time an
“-im” ending is applied to a Hebrew noun, that word becomes a plural noun. Know these two titles for angels:
** Cherub (plural: cherubim): A cherub is a winged angel. Cherubim were present as guards at the Garden of Eden to prevent the return of the expelled Adam and Eve. Cherubim will be present in Heaven, described as the four living creatures. Each living creature has the feature of a lion, or a calf, or a man, or a flying eagle (see Revelation 4:6-11). Scholars offer different opinions why these four characteristics are given to these angelic beings. The four living creatures glorify, honor, and thank God throughout eternity. Lucifer (Satan) was a cherub, before his expulsion from Heaven (see Ezekiel 28:12-15).
** Seraph (plural seraphim): Seraphim, winged angels with human voices, serve (attend) God (see Isaiah 6:1-7).
We are told not to neglect hospitality to strangers (see Hebrews 13:2). Some who have entertained strangers have unwittingly shown hospitality to angels. Such verse would indicate that angels are present among us on earth and resemble us. An angel on earth does not have wings or a halo. These artistic misconceptions come from a misunderstanding of Scriptures (wings) or copying the crown of sun rays from the Roman sun god Mithra (halo). Also, angels are not chubby little “cupids” lounging on fluffy clouds and playing harps.
Biblical examples are given of angelic protection of humans (“guardian angels”). Be careful in the spiritual world, though (see 1 John 4:1-3): Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that [Yeshua HaMashiach] has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that [Yeshua HaMashiach] has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. (Incidentally, the name “Antichrist,” from the Greek antichristos, is widely used today, but appears only four times in the Bible– 1 John 2:18, 2:22, 4:3; and 2 John 1:7. The Antichrist is called by several other names in Scriptures.)
Angels are created beings. It is inappropriate to pray to any angel, even a supposed “guardian angel.” God the Father alone answers prayers, through the intercession of Yeshua.
DEMONS: Demons are discussed rarely in the Old Testament. In New Testament Greek, daimonion is translated “demon,” and indicates an evil spirit or the messenger or minister of Satan.
A brief history of Satan follows:
** Isaiah 14:12-20: Lucifer (Satan) desired to be exalted (raised up, glorified) in Heaven– to be like the Most High God. God expelled him to begin his journey to his final destination, Sheol (Hell), where he will exist eternally in contempt and defeat.
** The expulsion of Satan is summarized in the Revelation, beginning with verse 12:1. This passage is reminiscent of the Genesis 3:15 prophecy. The Genesis passage, called the “protoevangelium,” is the first proclamation of the Gospel in the Bible. Returning to the Revelation, chapter 12 passage: the woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars probably represents Israel with the twelve patriarchs (probably not Mary, as some claim); her (Israel’s) Child is Yeshua; the great, fiery dragon is Satan; the third part of the stars of Heaven drawn by the dragon’s tail and cast to earth are the third part of the angels, who followed Satan and became demons; and the dragon standing before the Child, ready to devour Him, is the constant warfare of Satan against Yeshua, to attempt to defeat Him, even from the moment of Yeshua’s birth (Herod’s massacre of the innocents).
** Ezekiel 28:11-19: Satan (here called the king of Tyrus), was an anointed cherub, perfect in every way until he sinned against God. God cast him to earth (see preceding paragraph) to become an everlasting horror.
** Luke 10:18-19: Yeshua saw Satan fall from Heaven like lightning. Yeshua’s followers can have power over Satan.
Angels in Heaven also rebelled against God and followed their god, Satan, to his destruction:
** Jude 1:6: Evil angels followed Satan, and were cast from God’s presence; and
** Revelation 12:3-4, 9: Satan, who leads the world astray, was cast from Heaven, along with the angels who followed him. One-third of Heaven’s angels followed Satan.
We call the evil angels, who follow and do Satan’s bidding, demons. Angels and demons may have similar functions, but angels are blessed by God and demons are cursed by God.
The ultimate destination for Satan and his demonic angels is Hell (see 2 Peter 2:4). Although translated “Hell” in this passage, Peter used a Greek word for Hell in this verse that only appears once in the Bible– Tartarus. Some scholars hold that Tartarus (from Greek, Tartaros) is the deepest part of Hell, and, therefore, probably the worst part. The Greek noun Tartaros (English: Tartarus) probably means “something frightful.”
One demon serves as the king of the bottomless pit of death and despair (see Revelation 9:11). His name is Abaddon (in Hebrew) or Apollyon (in Greek). [Etymology: Hebrew Abaddon = “destruction.” Greek Apollyon = “destroyer.”]
YOUR CHOICE: You live in the midst of a spiritual world:
** The realm of angels: God’s messengers, angels, work with the Ruach HaKodesh to seek to cause you to do things that are righteous in God’s eyes. Any message from the Holy Spirit or an angel of God will never be the opposite of what is written in the Holy Bible.
** The realm of demons: Satan’s messengers, demons, work with Satan to seek to cause you to do things that are evil and sinful in God’s eyes. Any message from Satan or a demon will always be contrary to what is written in the Holy Bible.
The spiritual realm in which we live is one manifestation of an early prophecy (see Genesis 3:15). In this passage, the LORD God told Satan that there would be enmity (active hostility, opposition) between the offspring of the woman, which may be interpreted as Israel, by some (and my preference), or Mary, by others– Jews/ Christians/ Believers– and offspring of the serpent, or Satan– those who oppose and war against the children of God. When you, as a Believer, are mocked, harassed, or persecuted, take comfort in knowing that your faith is real and God is being attacked, not you personally. We have been warned of such hatred (John 15:18): [Yeshua said] “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.”
You must decide whether to follow God or Satan. Your eternal home– Heaven or Hell– depends upon your choice.
Yeshua taught that Hell was originally created for Satan and his angels, or demons (see Matthew 25:41). Because of sin, unrepentant men and women– those who have not overcome their sins by the blood of the Lamb Yeshua– will experience an eternal life of shame, loneliness, and suffering, being no better than Satan and his demons. Shalom and Maranatha.
Father: We realize that we live in a spiritual world. In this world, there is constant battle between good and evil. We pray we will only listen to the Ruach HaKodesh and your angelic messengers. When we follow Yeshua and the words in Your precious Bible, we know we please You. May we always seek to please only You, and never Satan. Amen.