Updated: Sep 22
Video from The Bible Project
Did you know that angels in the Bible don’t have wings? Or that cherubim are not cute, chubby babies? In this video, we explore the biblical portrayals of these spiritual beings to understand just who they are and what role they play in the story of the Bible.
In our last post we discussed the Divine Council in scriptures and how God holds session with his divine council and how he lays down biblical limits for angelic authority and advice.
One of the best examples in Scripture of God convening his Divine Council is 1 Kings 22:19–23, when he asks how the wicked king Ahab might be defeated.
19 And Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left; 20 and the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another. 21 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, saying, ‘I will entice him.’ 22 And the Lord said to him, ‘By what means?’ And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be ha lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.’ 23 Now therefore behold, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the Lord has declared disaster for you.”
In his book Angels Dr. Michael Heiser concludes that the “text presents us with a clear instance where God has sovereignly decided to act but allows his lesser, intelligent servants to participate in how his decision is carried out. God wasn’t searching for ideas, as though he couldn’t conceive of a plan. He allowed those who serve him the latitude to propose options.”
In his overview of the study of angels between the period of Exile and the ministry of Christ, Heiser dispels two popular myths. First of all he shows that Second Temple Jewish writers, ( to include the translators of the Septuagint - the Greek Old Testament) and the Qumran community that wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls, did not/would not eliminate the language of angels as sons of god for fear of promoting polytheism. Their writings show an understanding that Yahweh is the only True/real/actual God yet that he is surrounded by a divine council of supernatural lesser beings (whom he created) who are often called gods (by men). Second, he shows that the Dead Sea Scrolls do not promote a dualistic vision of good and evil as equal/ opposite forces, but of angelic/spiritual warfare between beings created by the omnipotent and benevolent Yahweh.
“Angels” is a title for messenger. Some angels are referred to by names in the bible: Michael, Lucifer, Gabriel for example.
Angels are described as exacting God’s vengeance in the apocalyptic book of Revelation, but in the rest of the New Testament, they are usually seen as ministering to believers.
Angels are spiritual messengers; they have no wings as do the Cherubim. They also perform other task like rescuing people. We have the names of some Angels like Gabriel whose name means “God is my power” and Michael whose name means “who is like God”. Angels are images of God’s power and are not to be worshipped.
Cherubim are first seen in the Bible as guards outside of Eden after the Fall to prevent Adam and Eve from reentering. We later see them represent within the Tabernacle as being in God’s presence. They guard the sacred space and are above God’s throne.
Revelation 4:6-9 also seems to be describing cherubim who serve the purpose of magnifying the holiness and power of God. In addition to praising God, they also serve as a visible reminder of the majesty and glory of God and His abiding presence with His people.
These spiritual entities are used by God to guide and help his people, you, and I as he brings his Kingdom into fruition.