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The Identity of the Angels

When you consider all of the heavenly hosts, we only know the name of a few of the angels. They remain anonymous / unnamed otherwise.

Michael is an archangel or chief prince. We read in Daniel 10:13,21, “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia… "However, I will tell you what is inscribed in the writing of truth. Yet there is no one who stands firmly with me against these [forces] except Michael your prince.” Then in Daniel 12:1, we see Michael again as we read, “Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands [guard] over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.” These finding correspond with the book of Revelation 12:7-8, where we learn, “And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven.”

One of the other names given to an angel in Scripture is Gabriel. In Luke 1:11-20, 26-38, we read how Gabriel played an important role surrounding the coming of Jesus and His forerunner and cousin John, “And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. Zacharias was troubled when he saw [the angel,] and fear gripped him. But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. "You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. "For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother's womb. "And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. "It is he who will go [as a forerunner] before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." Zacharias said to the angel, "How will I know this [for certain?] For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years." The angel answered and said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. "And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time." Then continuing in verse 26 “Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord [is] with you." But she was very perplexed at [this] statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end." Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. "And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. "For nothing will be impossible with God." And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.” Fascinating real life interactions with angels are recorded for us in the Bible surrounding the unfolding of the will of God. Notice again from these passages, that the angels dwell in the presence of God and they are sent when needed to do the bidding of God.

While many will say that there are a long list of names provided for other angels before God’s throne, they have to go to extra biblical, apocryphal writings like I Enoch to find these names. In that book there is a genealogy containing names like Raphael, Uriel, Remiel and Raguel amongst others provided there. Again this book dates into the 3rd century and is not a part of the canonical books of the Bible.

If we stick with the word of God, one angel that captures our attention throughout the OT, starting in Genesis 16:7-13, even though no name is specifically assigned to him, the angel is called “the angel of the Lord” and is referred to as the Lord, Himself in the midst of these accounts. In those verses we find where the angel of the Lord appeared to Hagar, Abraham and Sarah’s handmaiden. “Now the angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. He said, "Hagar, Sarai's maid, where have you come from and where are you going?" And she said, "I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai." Then the angel of the LORD said to her, "Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority." Moreover, the angel of the LORD said to her, "I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count." The angel of the LORD said to her further, "Behold, you are with child, And you will bear a son; And you shall call his name Ishmael, Because the LORD has given heed to your affliction. "He will be a wild donkey of a man, His hand [will be] against everyone, And everyone's hand [will be] against him; And he will live to the east of all his brothers." Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, "You are a God who sees"; for she said, "Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?" If you remember in our passage in Luke 1:11, the Bible refers to Gabriel as “an angel of the Lord”. In these passages, the Bible refers to “The angel of the Lord”.

In Gen. 22:11 we find, “But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." Then in Exodus 3:2 the angel of the Lord appears to Moses, “The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed.” In Exodus 14:19-21 we read, “The angel of God, who had been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them. So it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel; and there was the cloud along with the darkness, yet it gave light at night. Thus the one did not come near the other all night. Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD swept the sea [back] by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided.” Compare that text with I Cor. 10:1-4, where we learn that Christ was in the midst of the children of Israel, “For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and all ate the same spiritual food; 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.” Then in Judges 6:11-12, 20-21, we see, “Then the angel of the LORD came and sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press in order to save [it] from the Midianites. The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, "The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior." Then in verse 20 and beginning there, “The angel of God said to him, "Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth." And he did so. Then the angel of the LORD put out the end of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. Then the angel of the LORD vanished from his sight.”

These references to the Angel of the Lord could all be a Theophany or Christophany of the Lord Jesus Christ, before He became flesh and dwelt among us. This lends proof that Jesus was indeed with the Father before becoming flesh. Jesus was not an angel but could make an appearance in the form of the angel of the LORD. Consider other OT events. Who was the fourth man in the fire with Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego? It is recorded that He was one like a son of a god said the pagan leader! Christ? The identity of this other man was the angel of the Lord. Who wrestled with Jacob, before he became Israel? He is said to have wrestled with God. In Genesis 32:24-28, it is revealed, “Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob's thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. Then he said, "Let me go, for the dawn is breaking." But he said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." So he said to him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Jacob." He said, "Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed." Jesus seems to have made pre-incarnate appearances as the angel of His presence. Now let us look as one of the strongest evidences for the angel of the Lord.

During the appearance of three angels to Abraham, from the text we learn that two of the angels were indeed merely created angelic beings, but one of them was referred to as the Lord and accepted worship without rebuke. In Genesis 18 we read how the Lord appeared to Abram by the oaks of Mamre, but the text goes on to say that three men appeared there. These were angels appearing as men. In the context the Lord speaks with Abraham as one of these angelic beings. This is no doubt the angel of the LORD. Where this gets interesting is when Abraham bows before the angel of the Lord in reverence, and he is not rebuked for it. Abram and Sarah then prepare food for these angelic men and when one of them spoke during the meal, the text states that the LORD was speaking. It was here that the promise was made to Abraham that he would have a son with Sarah, his wife. It is also in this passage that God reveals to Abraham the plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. In the context two of the men walked away and head into Sodom and Gomorrah, while the text reaveals that Abraham remained with the LORD (the angel of the Lord). The text then states that the Lord departed. But in Genesis 19:1, we learn the real identity of these men, when the text reads, “Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom…” The men were angels. The third angel was the angel of the LORD. This discussion about the “angel of the LORD” is an entire study in itself and I urge you to explore this angel at greater length and depth on your own time. You will be blessed by the investment in the word of God.

The only other potential name of the angels that we know if of one the fallen angel Satan, who was also known as Lucifer. In Isaiah 14:12-15, the Bible records, “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning (Lucifer NKJV), son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! "But you said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north. 'I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.' "Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit.” This original prophecy is addressed to the king of Babylon, but reflects the original fall of Satan. He had an ego issue as in five, “I” statements he explains his plan to overthrow God as supreme ruler and to reign in His place. His plan was to ascend to heaven to raise his throne above the stars (angels) of God to sit on the mount of the assembly, above the heights of the clouds, to become like the Most High.

This once beautiful angel is described in comparison to the activities of the king of Tyre whose behavior resembled the original fall of this star of the morning or son of the dawn. In Ezekiel he said, “I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods…he was full of wisdom and perfect in beauty and was in Eden the garden of God. He was gifted and adorned with precious stones. Even after being created perfect and after God appointed him as a cherub [angel that covers] (which proves that God did not create evil, but evil was a choice) unrighteousness was found in him and he was cast out of heaven (mountain of God) to the earth (Ezek. 28:12-19).

Jesus described the fall in Luke 10:18-20, “And He said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.".

Victory is won over the wicked one in Christ. In Hebrews 2:14-18 we learn, “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. That is why the Apostle Paul said in Romans 16:20, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.”

No matter what you call the fallen angels, whether it be evil ones, devil, tempter, murderer, serpent of old, dragon, accuser, adversary, Beelzebub, Belial, ruler of this realm, god of this age, prince or power of the air, destroyer, etc. he is already defeated and knows that his time is short before utter ruin and destruction are his bitter end. Don’t be deceived by his craftiness and led away from the simplicity that is in Christ (II Cor. 11:3).

Some angels in the Bible are harder to identify by name. We are more familiar with the appointed titles or works of angels. One title given to angelic beings is “holy ones” and watchers (Daniel 4:13, 17, 23), ministering spirits (Heb. 1:14), mighty ones (Ps. 29:1), heavenly hosts/hosts of heaven (II Chron. 18:18), sons of God (Job 1:6), sons of the Mighty (Ps. 89:6), powers of heaven (Luke 21:26), among other names or ranks like thrones, dominions, or principalities (Rom. 8:38; I Cor. 15:24; Eph. 1:21; 3:10; 6:12; Col. 2:10, 15) etc. The name of the angel was not as important as the message that was to be spoken or the mission for which they were sent, so often they chose or were appointed to remain anonymous. When a name was requested of the angels, there response was, “Why do you ask my name?” (Genesis 32:29; Judges 13:17-18).

The main reason for this anonymity is based on the fact that the angels are not the primary central characters of God story of redemption. Angels are to see that we inherit the salvation that was foretold by God and that was made available through the coming of Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. The angels are merely heralds of this good news or gospel.

The Bible tells us that every time a sinner repents and salvation has been gained that it starts a celebration in heaven. Jesus said in Luke 15:10, “I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” The angels rejoice to see us respond to the gospel and enter into the salvation of Christ.

One day the angels of God will be summoned to carry away your spirit to the judgment throne of God. You will either hear, “Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joys of the Lord” or “Depart from Me, I never knew you” and then you will be cast into outer darkness away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.

The Lord Jesus humbled Himself and left heaven to come to this earth. For a while He was made a little lower than the angels in order to complete God’s will in laying down His life to die on the cross, after which he was exalted again into glory at the right hand of God to be our Savior. He has a name above all names and those that call on His name will be saved. We call on the name (authority) of Jesus when we surrender to Him and obey His will for our lives. Have you made Jesus the Lord of your life? Heed the gospel (good news), believe in Christ, repent of your sins and confess Him as Lord, being buried in baptism for the remission of all of your sins. You will then be raised to a new life, with the living hope that one day you will spend eternity with the Lord, all the saved who have gone on before us, and even with the holy angels of heaven.

Will you choose to follow the Lord today? Start a celebration in heaven by turning from your sin and start serving the Lord.

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