The ministry of each of these groups is a feature of both Old and New Testaments. We need to pay close attention to what scripture says. Angels are never likened to little babies, chubby, winged, haloed and “Cute”. Demons are never likened unto devilish, awful appearing little creatures with forked tails. Satan is never seen as a horned creature with a pitchfork, even in a red suit. To the contrary, he is seen as an “angel of Light” (II Cor 11:14) and his ministers as “ministers of righteousness’ (vs.15). What says the scripture?
The word comes from the Greek angelos and that from the Hebrew word malak, meaning messenger. They are spirit beings, personal, immortal, very great in number (Heb 12:22, Psa. 68:1). They have a hierarchy of authority. There are archangels or chief angels (I Thesa. 4:16, Jude 9). One is named Michael (Jude 6) and is identified with the Nation of Israel. The Jehovah Witnesses cult think he was the pre-incarnation of Jesus, whom they call “a god” (there is no a in original text) but deny He is Almighty God. The only other named angel is Gabriel (Dan 8:16, 9:2, Luke 1:9, 26) who “stood in the presence of God”.
In addition there are the Cherubim and Seraphim. The Cherubim are first mentioned in the expulsion of man from Eden (Gen. 3:28) and represented artistically and symbolically in the tabernacle furnishings (Exod. 25:18, 26:1, 3). They are seen in the visions of God’s glory in Ezek 1:4-24, 10:1-19) and called “the cherubim of glory (Heb. 9:5), They seem to act as guardians of the holiness of God (I Kings 6:23, II Chor. 3:7-10). The Seraphim meaning, “burning” or fiery from the Hebrew seraph (to burn) have wings and fly (Isa. 6:68, 26). These angels give glory to God unceasingly (Rev. 5:11, Heb. 1:6) chanting, “Holy, Holy, Holy”.
Angels are identified with rivers, nations, kingdoms and even churches (Rev. 1:20). They have a close relationship with the history of God’s Kingdom (Matt. 13:39, 18:10, 22:10, 25:31, 26:33, Luke 5:10, 16:22). They are likened to “flames of fire” (Psa. 104:4), pouring out God’s judgments on sinful men and deliver the judgments of God on the world in the end times (Rev. 15:1-8). They strictly enforce God’s Law (Heb. 2:12). They are “destroying angels” of judgment (II Sam 24:16). They refuse worship (Rev. 19:10, 22:8-9) and their worship is heretical (Col. 2:18). They represent children as their guardians under God (Matt. 18:10), as a seeming priority. This intimates that every believer, even a local church has an angel assigned to each one, protecting (Psa. 134:7, Heb. 1:4, 12:24) guiding and strengthening them. Amazing!
They manifest themselves in various ways so you can “entertain angels unaware” (Heb. 13:2). They are interested in God’s dealings with humans, probably at times puzzled (I Pet. 1:22) at this time are higher than man (Psa. 8:5, Heb. 2:7-9) and have greater power (II Pet. 2:11). In eternity, believers will be higher and judge them (I Cor. 6:2-3). They have joy when one sinner repents and comes to the Lord Jesus (Luke 15:10). They are linked with authorities and powers (I Pet. 3:22). They are “mighty” but not equal with God in any way (II Thes. 1:7, Psa. 103:20). The angels will accompany Jesus when He returns to earth (I Thes. 4:16, Rev. 19:14).
“The angel of the Lord” is a term, which deserves special mention. Not every angel is like this one. He is recognized as a pre-incarnate manifestation the Son of God because He is addressed as Deity and has His attributes. In the same way Jesus was also a man and the messenger (angel) of the Lord. This is seen in Old Testament Scriptures like Exod. 14:19, 3:1, possibly Gen. 16:2, Judges 6:12,14, other instances. They are “Theophanies” (manifestations of God) in such passages as Gen. 18, where three men become one as Lord. Or two angels and God, these where called Metatron by Jewish sages.
Other angels are not heirs of God, or subject to salvation as sinners or know the joy of redeemed sinners. God is never called the Father of angels only the Father of believing saints. Once fallen as in the past they are beyond forgiveness or salvation.
This brings up the subject of “evil angels” (Psa. 78:44) who are the fallen angels of Isa 14:12-14, Rev. 12:3-4 and Jude 6. There is sometimes conflict between angel armies. Michael and his angels fight against the Dragon (Satan) and his angels (Rev. 12:7) these are the angels who “kept not their first estate” (II Pet. 2:4) drawn away by Satanic deceit (Rev. 12:4). They are “angels of darkness” (Dan. 10:11-14) who followed the Prince of darkness. They have become the core of the spiritual force of wickedness (Eph. 6:22). They are reserved for final judgment (II Pet. 2:4); along with their master Satan (Matt. 25:41), forever and ever (Rev. 12:7-9). His destiny is the lake of fire (Rev. 20:7-10).
His defection is a tragedy of pride. Once called Lucifer, “son of the morning”, foremost of the angelic hierarchy, he turned from God with five mighty “I wills” (Isa. 14:12-14). He wanted to replace God. Once blameless, resplendent in beauty and wisdom, “the anointed cherub” was expelled for the corruption of his power by pride (Ezek. 28:12-17). He then became known as the Devil, (accuser, slanderer) and Satan (adversary), He is the tempter in his ministry (Mat. 4:3, I Thess. 3:5). He is “the ruler of the world (Kosmos) (John 12:31, 14:30), Yes, “the god of this world” (age) (II Cor. 4:4). He is “ the father of lies”, or “the liar” (John 8:44) He is deceitful, often using “if” questions about God’s Word and then contradicting it (Gen. 3:1-4) He may assume the outward form of a serpent, and, is called “The Serpent” (Rev. 12:9, 12-15, 20:2). He was termed Beelzebub, prince of the demons (Matt. 12:24, Mark 3:20) the name coming from a Philistine deity. He is the symbolic dragon of Rev. 20:2 (see also Rev. 12:3-17, 13:2, 16:13).
Angelic Ministry to Believers
Believers scarcely realize the assistance provided by God’s angelic messengers.
1. They give strength when they are weak, afflicted, tempted, and discouraged. It was so with Moses who was promised that God’s angel would lead them in the Exodus (Exod. 23:23, Num. 20:16). It was so with Daniel (10:31, 9:22-23). It was so with Jacob (Gen. 32). It was so with the Lord Jesus when tempted.
2. They sustain believers as with Elijah when he fled from Jezebel (I Kings 19:6-8). They carry his people (Psa. 63:9).
3. They are instructors, guides in matters of the word, God’s will. One guided Philip to the Ethiopian church (Acts 8:26). They conveyed God’s prophetic revelations to many (Matt. 1:20-21) as well as Joseph, Zacharias (Luke 1:12-13) the shepherds (Luke 2:9-10) and others. Satan misapplied Psa. 91:11-12 which promises protection to tempt Jesus to use his power to publicly “show off” a miracle.
4. They deliver and protect in times of danger. In II Kings 6:14-18, the King of dram (Syria) sent horses, chariots and a great army to surround a city of Samaria where Elisha was (v. 14). The servant of Elisha feared these soldiers (v. 15). The prophet responded, “Do no fear for those who are for us (which were unseen) are greater than those against us.” He prayed, “Lord open his eyes”. Then the servant saw the mountain was full of horses and chariots all around Elisha (v. 17). Obviously, this was an angelic host. We also need to see the unseen hosts, which serve to protect us.
Ruth Bell Graham told of an incident in Shanghai bookstore where a mysterious stranger appeared and halted Japanese soldiers from seizing Christian book stocks. Everyone believed that this was an angel in the disguise of a Chinese gentleman. What else would have stopped these soldiers?
In his book on “Angels, God’s Secret Agents’, Billy Graham wrote:
"John G. Paton, a missionary in the New Hebrides Islands, tells a thrilling story involving the protective care of angels. Hostile natives surrounded his mission headquarters one night, intent on burning the Patons out and killing them. John Paton and his wife prayed all during that terror-filled night that God would deliver them. When daylight came they were amazed to see the attackers unaccountably leave. They thanked God for delivering them.
A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Jesus Christ, and Mr. Paton, remembering what had happened, asked the chief what had kept him and his men from burning down the house and killing them. The chief replied in surprise, “Who were all those men you had with you there?” The missionary answered, “There were no men there; just my wife and I.” The chief argued that they had seen many men standing guard-hundred of big men in shining garments with drawn swords in their hands. They seemed to circle the mission station so that the natives were afraid to attack. Only then did Mr. Paton realize that God had sent His angels to protect them. The chief agreed that there was no other explanation. God had sent a legion of angels to protect His servants."
Angels do not seem to preach the gospel. They are not redeemed sinners and can not properly proclaim the grace of God to such. That is our job. Nevertheless, they were sent to Zacharius and Elizabeth, parents of John the Baptist to announce the birth of him who was the Savior’s forerunner (Luke 1:13, 16). They spoke to many about the coming of her son, and to her cousin Elizabeth (Luke 1:47), as will as to Joseph (Matt. 1:21). They spoke to the shepherds (Luke 1:52-53). They spoke to Peter when Cornelius came (Acts 10), They can influence parents in raising Godly children as many notable missionaries and evangelists have testified.
In the life of Jesus they strengthened Him as the Son of Man when tempted and weak from fasting (Matt. 4:11). They did the same in the garden of Gethsemane (Luke 12:42). At her death he said that 12 legions of angels stood by to assist Him. One angel alone destroyed the entire Assyrian army on an occasion. They encouraged believers upon His departure in ascending to Heaven, “He will come again” (Acts 1:11).
They are agents of God’s judgment. They warned Abraham about the coming fate of Sodom (Gen. 18). They defended Israel against the Assyrian army (II Kings 19). They stood by to destroy Jerusalem of God’s command (I Chron. 21:1, II Sam. 24:16, 17). The killed Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:22). They administer death to these who reject Jesus finally (Matt. 13:50). They divide the saved from the lost when Jesus returns to earth (Matt 13:41). He will return with angels (II Thess. 1:14). They will gather his chosen ones (Matt. 25:31).
Angels watch believers to see how they keep God’s Word, even as they do (I Tim. 5:21). Even when martyred, believers are a “spectacle” to them (I Cor. 4:9). The church is an object lesson of the grace of God to sinners, once enemies (Eph. 3:10), of which they nothing experientially. When even one sinner repents on earth and bows the knee to the Lord Jesus they rejoice. Upon his death angels took the beggar to Abraham’s bosom (Heaven) and left the rich, self-indulgent man to hell.
Billy Graham tells the story of the death of D. L. Moody, famed 19th century evangelist the Graham of his day.
"When he was aware that death was at hand, he said, “Earth recedes, heaven opens before me.” It appeared as though he was dreaming. Then he said, “No, this is no dream . . . it is beautiful, it is like a trance. If this is death, it is sweet. There is no valley here. God is calling me, and I must go.”
After having been given up for dead, Moody revived to indicate that God had permitted him to see beyond that thin veil separating the seen from the unseen world. He had "been within the gates, and beyond the portals,” and had caught a glimpse of familiar faces whom he had “loved long since and lost awhile.” Then he could remember when he had proclaimed so vociferously earlier in his ministry, “some day you will read in the papers that D. L. Moody of East Northfield is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now. I shall have gone up higher, that is all - out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal; a death is called our “last enemy” (I Cor. 15:29) and the Lord will overcome it. Indeed He has by His sacrificial and substitutionary death.""
In dealing with Satanic forces, we must be mindful that we do not struggle against earthly powers or dangers alone. It is against “spiritual forces of wickedness in high places (Eph. 6:10). Therefore we are not to give way, give up or try to simply escape, but to resist him (I Pet. 5:1, James 4:7) and never give him an opportunity to undermine our life and testimony (Eph. 4:27).
Our future state will be that of the unmarried celibate; and we shall be “as the angels” (Matt. 22:10). From this we see that angels have no “seed”, despite some ideas to the contrary.
The ministry of angels is great, eternal, but always under God’s jurisdiction, just as we as His children should realize that we are also.
The Activity of Demons
What of these creatures? Demons are likely the ”evil angels” or fallen angels which have already been mentioned. The word comes from daimon (G) meaning devil. One title for Satan is the Devil, diablos, meaning accuser or slanderer. He is called “the prince of demons” under the name Beelzebub (Mark 3:2, Matt. 9:34, 12:24) indicating his leadership over them. In Acts 17:18 the Athenians thought Paul was setting forth-strange gods; (in Greek the word was demons). The man called Legion (Mark 5:9, 15, Luke 8:30) is the most notable example of a demon possessed man, having so many of them that he was named Legion after a Roman military unit containing 6,000 soldiers. Normally people with certain illnesses were thought always to be demon possessed which is not true in all cases. Yet some are (Matt. 12:22-28) John the Baptist was accused of being demon possessed (Matt. 11:18), for his accusers thought he spoke as a mad or crazy man. Certainly some kinds of mad and evil behavior come from this (serial killers, violent men) showing seemingly supernatural power or drives. The man called Legion went around naked, cutting himself and could not even be held by shackles.
Not all demonically controlled people exhibit this kind of demons. Some “ministers” are transformed as “ministers of righteousness” (II Cor. 11:15). In I Tim. 4:1 it speaks of “doctrines of demons”, associated with “seducing spirits” obviously, the demon as seducing spirit associated with false teachers. They, like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, appear beautiful “outward”, but are just “whited sepulchres”, full of dead mans’ bones”. They were spiritually dead ministers teaching falsehood to their unsuspecting flocks. So it is today, demonically controlled “Ministers” found heretical and Christ-denying cults. Many ministers in “Christian” pulpits and “Christian theological seminaries” propagate heretical teaching. They say, “There are no such things as demons”. It is difficult to see them as demonically controlled, but it may be so.
People may be demon-possessed, as Legion, on in his final days, Judas Iscariot and many others. We do not believe this can happen to a believer. This would be incompatible with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It can happen when maintaining a false profession of faith. More commonly, people can be demonically oppressed, as they would include believers who would be tormented, discouraged, afflicted and harassed.
There are armies of invisible spirit beings humans caught in the middle. There is “war in Heaven” (Rev. 12:26-27), highly placed conflict. People need to remember Eph. 6:12 “We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness in this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places”.
Nevertheless the victory is assured for good over evil. The forces of evil are destined for “everlasting chains of darkness (II Pet. 2:4). That is surely eternal punishment, not annihilation. Such being the case what manner of people ought we to be? (II Pet. 3:11). We should be looking for ‘the coming of the day of God’, when Jesus returns to earth in glory (v. 12). Are you looking? Are you preparing?