This morning we are continuing our study on "God’s Holy Angels." We have already looked at their existence, definitions, number and nature. Today we are going to look at their classification. But before we look at their classification, I want to focus your attention on one special angel in the Bible who is called "the Angel of the LORD" or "the Angel of Jehovah."
The Angel of the LORD
The appearances of the Angel of the LORD "are unique to the Old Testament. His first appearance is to Abraham, and His last appearance occurs in Zechariah" (John MacArthur, God, Satan and Angels, p.145).
To Hagar - Gen.16:7-13
To Moses - Exod.3:1-4,6
To Gideon - Judges 6:11-13
To Manoah - Judges 13:21-22
"In four separate incidents the Angel of the LORD is equated with God" (Ibid., MacArthur, p.146).
Zech.1:12-13 - "Then the Angel of the LORD answered and said, ’O LORD of hosts, how long will You not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which You were angry these seventy years?’ And the LORD answered the angel who talked to me, with good and comforting words."
C. Fred Dickason,
"The title Elohim (’the mighty one’) was used of both the true God and the gods of the heathen. But the title Jehovah (Heb. Yaweh) was reserved for the God of Israel, the eternally self- existent One who made heaven and earth and who entered into covenant relationship with His people. The angels in general are called ’the sons of God’ (bene elohim), but never ’the sons of Jehovah’ (malak yaweh), we may suspect that he was more than an angel, perhaps Jehovah Himself" (Angels: Elect and Evil, p.78).
He is God as Noted from the Previous Scriptures
Specifically, He is the Lord Jesus Christ in a Preincarnation Appearance which is called a Theopany or better a Christophany.
"The ministry of the Angel of the LORD in the Old Testament parallels the ministry of Jesus Christ in the New Testament" (Ibid., MacArthur, p.147).
He Revealed God’s Word
John 1:18 - "No one has seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him."
He Called Leaders like Moses, Gideon, and Samson into God’s Service Just as Christ Called His Disciples
Moses - Exod.3:7-10
Gideon - Judges 6:14 - "Then the LORD turned to him and said, ’Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?’"
Judges 13:5 - "For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines."
Judges 13:24-25 - "So the woman bore a son and called his name Samson; and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him. And the Spirit of the LORD began to move upon him at Maheneh Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol."
Mat.10:1-4 - Jesus commissions the twelve
He delivered His People through Moses, Gideon, and Samson Just as Christ Delieved His People through the Work on the Cross.
From the Egyptians - Exod.14:19-20 - "And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. So it came between the camp the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night."
1 Cor.10:1-4 - "Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ."
From the Midianites - Judges 7:22 - "When the thee hundred blew the trumpets, the LORD set every man’s sword against his companion throughout the whole camp; and the army fled to Beth Acaia, toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel Meholah, by Tabbath."
He Protected His People - Ps.34:7 - "The Angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them."
He Interceded for Israel. Similarly Christ is our Intercessor.
Zech.1:12 - "Then the Angel of the LORD answered and said, ’O LORD of hosts, how long will You not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which You were angry these seventy years?’"
Heb.7:25 - "Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them."
He Confirmed the Covenant with Abraham and Christ Sealed the New Covenant with His Blood.
Mat.26:28 - "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."
He Comforted Hagar, which is Reminisent of How Jesus Comforts Us.
Mat.11:28-30 - "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
The Classification of Angels
"Cherubim are ’of the highest order or class created with indescribable powers and beauty...their main purpose and activity might be summarized in this way: they are proclaimers and protectors of God’s gracious presence, His sovereignty, and holiness’" (Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology, quoting C. Fred Dickason, p.290).
The word "cherubims" occurs 56 times in the OT; 1 time in the NT
The word "cherub" occurs 21 times in the OT alone
Their Physical Appearance (Ezek.1:1-28; 10:20; 28:13-15)
Their Appearance in the Tabernacle and Temple
They were on the mercy seat on the ark of the covenant - Exod.25:17-20
They were pictured on the ten curtains in the tabernacle - Exod.26:1
They were pictured on the veil inside the tabernacle - Exod.26:31
They were as images inside the inner sanctuary in Solomon’s temple - 1 Kings 6:23-28
They were carved on the walls inside Solomon’s temple - 1 Kings 6:29
They were carved on the doors to the inner sanctuary in Solomon’s temple - 1 Kings 6:35
They guarded the way to the tree of life in the garden of Eden - Gen.3:24 - "So He drove out the man; and He placed Cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life."
They were associated with God’s presence - Exod.25:22 - "And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel."
They are associated with the holiness and glory of God by virtue of their appearance inside the tabernacle and temple.
On the mercy seat to the ark of the covenant - Exod.25:17-20
On the curtains in the tabernacle - Ex.26:1
On the veil in the tabernacle - Ex.26:31
As images inside the inner sanctuary in Solomon’s temple - 1 Kings 6:23-28
On the walls of Solomon’s temple - 1 Kings 6:29
On the doors leading into the inner sanctuary of Solomon’s temple - 1 Kings 6:35
"seraphims" lit. "burning one" (Ibid., Enns, p.290).
It occurs 2 times in the Bible
Their Appearance (Isa.6:2,6)
They are stationed above God’s throne (v.2)
Their were more than one (v.2)
They had six wings (v.2)
They proclaimed God’s holiness (v.3)
They purged Isaiah’s sin (vv.6-7)
The Occurrence of the Archangel
The word is used 2 times in the Bible
In its occurrence the angel is identified as "Michael" which means "who is like God?" (Ibid., Enns, p.289).
The Ranking of the Archangel
He is called "one of the chief princes" in Dan.10:13 - "But the Pince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princews, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia."
He is called "the great prince" in Dan.12:1 - "As that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and their shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time."
The Functions of the Archangel
He protects God’s people - Dan.12:1
He summons God’s people at the rapture of the church - 1 Thess.4:16
The Angel Gabriel
He is Mentioned 4 Times in the Scriptures
His Name Means "Warrior of God" or "Man of God" (Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon)
He interpreted visions - Dan.8:15-16
He announced the birth of John the Baptist - Luke 1:11-19
He announced the birth of Christ - Luke 1:26-37
The Ministry of Angels
"The cherubim have a ministry to God in defending the holiness of God; seraphim have a ministry to God in surrounding the throne of God as they attend to His holiness" (Ibid., Enns, p.290).
They Proclaim God’s Holiness
Isa.6:3 - "And one cried to another and said, ’Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!’"
Rev.4:8 - "The four and living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: ’Holy, holy, holy, LORD God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!’"
They Give "Glory and Honor and Thanks" to God (Rev.4:9-11; 5:11-13)
They Deliver God’s Messages to His People - Ps.103:20 - "Bless the LORD, you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of His word."
An angel informed Daniel about the future of Israel - Dan.9:21- 22
An angel predicted the birth of John the Baptist - Luke 1:11-20
An angel predicted the birth of Christ to Mary - Luke 1:26-33
An angel announced the birth of Christ to shepherds - Luke 2:8- 11
Angels announced the resurrection of Christ - Mat.28:5-7
An Angel Protected Him During His Infancy - Mat.2:13 - "Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, ’Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him."
Angels Ministered to Him following His Temptation in the Wilderness - Mat.4:11 - "Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him."
An Angel Strengthened Him as He Wrestled in Prayer in Anticipation of His Crucifixion - Luke 22:43 - "Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him."
Angels Attended His Ascension Back to the Father - Acts 1:9- 10 - "Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel."
Angels will Return with Christ to Gather the Elect - Mat.24:30- 31 - "Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to another."
Heb.1:14 - "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation."
"ministering" Gr.leitourgika, "does not convey the idea of slavery, but of official functioning. They have been duly commissioned and sent forth with the responsibility of aiding believers" (Ibid., Homer quoted by Enns, p.291).
The Angel of the LORD protected David when he was forced to flee to the Philistines - Ps.34:7 - "The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them."
An angel released the apostles from prison - Acts 5:17-20 - "Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation, and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison. But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, ’Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.’"
An angel brought physical nourishment for Elijah - 1 Kings 19:1-8
An angel told Philip to go to the desert and speak to an Ethiopian man about Jesus - Acts 8:26-39
An angel told Cornelius to send for Peter that he might hear about Jesus - Acts 10:3,22
An angel told Paul that he would arrive safely to Rome to bear witness of Jesus - Acts 27:23-27
Assistance in Answers to Prayer
Peter’s release from prison by an angel seems to be connected to prayer - Acts 12:1-11
Daniel’s understanding of Israel’s future was given to him by an angel after he prayed - Dan.9:20-27
Carry Believers Home
Billy Graham wrote, "Hundreds of accounts record the heavenly escort of angels at death. When my maternal grandmother died, for instance, the room seemed to fill with a heavenly light. She sat up in bed and almost laughingly said, ’I see Jesus...and I see the angels’" (p.152).
Luke 16:22 - "So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried."
"How do angels operate in the lives of unbelievers? Only one way--they are God’s executioners" (Ibid., MacArthur, p.174).
They were Involved in the Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah - Gen.19
They Brought Judgment on Egypt as Executioners of the Egyptian First-Born - Exod.12:23,29
One angel killed 185,000 Assyrian Soldiers in Answer to the Prayer of Hezekiah - 2 Kings 19:14-20,35
An angel killed Herod for not Giving Glory to God - Acts 12:21-23
In the Future God’s Holy Angels will Participate in the Execution of Unbelievers - 2 Thess.1:7-9