In 1981, Willie Nelson released a song entitled “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground.” It told of a reckless woman whom Nelson delivered from a tumultuous lifestyle. Men are known for referring to their lovers as angels. Such may be good for romance, but it can make us miss the Bible’s truth concerning the angelic world. Consider four things Scripture teaches us about angels.
They have a secondary rank to humans.
Peter spoke of the way in which they “long to catch a glimpse of these things” (1 Peter 1:12). Angels earnestly desire to participate in God’s plan of redemption. Humans are made in the image of God; as a result, they have a unique capacity to relate to God. A spirit to spirit connection with the Lord is not possible for either the animal or angelic kingdom. Man alone has been made a “little less than God” (Psalm 8:5). As humans, we should be glad about this truth and pursue a relationship with Him!
They are asexual.
Though male names are given to two of them in Scripture (see Luke 1:26 and Jude 9), angels are not depicted as being either male or female. Genders are only given to animals (Genesis 2:18-21) and humans (Genesis 1:27-28) for the purposes of procreation and the establishment of society. Romantic depictions of chubby childlike angels are misguided; so are the Hollywood-like portrayals of beautiful womanly angelic beings. Jesus taught that angels are asexual. When interrogated concerning whether or not humans can be married in heaven, He said, “In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:29-30). We have a unique capacity to relate to others and to enjoy the marriage covenant. We should be glad, and pursue healthy relationships!
Some have rebelled against God.
They were led by a cherubim named Lucifer (Ezekiel 28:14). His chief aim was to supplant God. He wanted to steal the glory, honor, and worship that is due to the Lord alone (Isaiah 14:12-14). Now this cherubim is known as the Devil. His cohorts are now known as demons. They continually work to undermine the Lord’s agenda (1 Peter 5:8 and Ephesians 6:12). Though we can’t see it, there is an invisible war raging about us. The Devil and his demons strive for the souls of men and women (2 Corinthians 4:4). They continually work to deceive mankind and to discredit God. Such truth should make us spiritually sober. It should cause us to live careful lives of vigilance which focus on Christ.
They are not a form of deity.
I’ll never forget the first church crisis I experienced as a young pastor. I was informed that a Sunday School teacher was encouraging his class to pray to angels. He had buried a statue of the archangel Michael in his front yard, and he and his wife were regularly offering supplications to it. Such false worship is nothing new. Scripture contains numerous accounts of angel idolatry (Ephesians 1:20-21 and 3:10; and Colossians 2:18). Interestingly, when people attempt to worship a real angel in Scripture, the angel refuses to receive it (Revelation 19:10 and 22:8-9). We aren’t to worship angels. Our worship is to be directed to God alone (Exodus 20:3-4).
Dr. Patrick Latham