Questions abound regarding the mysterious life and work of angels and demons. Do people have a guardian angel? Can demons possess a Christian? Are angels and demons really fighting all around us? Answers to these questions abound in our culture . . . but in this message Stephen gives us the answers from the source that matters: Scripture.
“Legends, Fables & Biblical Origins”
When we began our study of angels, demons and other flying creatures, I made mention that interest in angels and demons and other spirit or flying creatures is not new and unique to this generation.
By the fourth century, praying to angels had so infiltrated and enamored the church, that a special church council was convened that, among other things, passed a resolution forbidding praying to angels.
The truth is, human nature wants something it can feel close to and even see – and we all know that God can’t be seen by mortal eyes and so often He doesn’t seem readily available and close by – so angels are the next best thing.
The Apocryphal Book of Tobit introduces an angel named Raphael, who “calls himself one of the seven holy angels who present the prayers of the saints and enter into the presence of the glory of the Holy One. (By the way, this book was written 200 years before Christ by an unknown Jewish author). It’s gotta be good right? It’s so old – it even predates the incarnation of Christ!
Let me pause and say something. Old isn’t necessarily right. (unless it’s old parents talking to their children – then old is right).
What I mean is this. Just because the Japanese have been involved in ancestral worship for a few thousand years and the Chinese have governed their lives around veneration for presumed patterns of negative and positive harmony flowing through nature and the body (yin yang), doesn’t mean it is anything other than pagan superstitions founded on the belief that divinity flows through everything and deceased relatives can open heaven.
Just because the Indians predated the Europeans in North America doesn’t mean that the Zodiac is the key to the heavens or that worship of Mother earth and the belief that animals are animated spirits. It’s ancient, but that doesn’t mean it’s purer and closer to the truth.
Ancient is not synonymous with wisdom.
It may just be old lies.
Satan predates all offenses against monotheism – the worship of the One and only True and Living God.
Satan is really old – in fact, he is the original liar.
Today, we have nothing but the repackaging in different forms and methods and beliefs, old lies.
This legend is a good example. Let me go back to the Book of Tobit – where I was before I was interrupted.
Tobit was a Jew of exceptional piety who lived among the exiles in Nineveh. Among his other labors of charity, Tobit took it upon himself to bury the body of any slain Jew he happened to come upon . One night, his son Tobias told him that a fellow Jew had been strangled and left in the open marketplace. Tobit immediately went to take care of the situation. That night, because touching the corpse had made him unclean, he slept outside. At this point, Tobit fell victim to a tragic turn of events when bird dropping fell into his eyes and he went blind. (Isn’t this a great legend) Meanwhile, a young Jewish woman in Ecbatana named Sarah had troubles enough of her own. Seven times she had married, and every time the jealous demon Asmodeus had come and killed her new husband on their honeymoon night just before they could consummate their marriage. Her reputation was in ruins (I can’t imagine). She didn’t know what to do so in desperation she prayed for deliverance and the angel Raphael stepped in. It just so happened that Tobit – the blind guy – had business in Ecbatana – Tobias, his handsome young son was sent there to collect the money. On the way, Raphael, disguised as a human, volunteered to escort Tobias. On the way to Ecbatana, they camped by the Tigris River and a fish jumped up from the river and tried to swallow Tobias. Raphael told Tobias to catch this man eating fish, which he somehow accomplished. Raphael then instructed him to cut out and keep the heart, liver and gall. In Ecbatana, Raphael introduced Tobias to Sarah and told him she was just the girl for him. Tobias, however, had heard how she had been a somewhat fatal attraction for seven other men and politely refused. But Raphael persuaded him that she really was a wonderful girl and that Tobias could deal with the jealous demon quite easily. All he needed to do was take some hot ashes of incense into the bridal chamber and lay them on the heart and liver of the fish and the demon would flee. The marriage was arranged and, sure enough, Asmodeus came down to do away with Tobias. When he arrived, he smelled the bruning fish heart and liver – fairly pungent by this time, he fled to Egypt where an angel bound him. This delighted Sarah’s father, who had already dug grave number eight. Tobias picked up the money he’d come for, came back to Ninevey where, using the fish gall on his father’s eyes, healed Tobit’s blindness. Thus Raphael earned the reputation as one of the angel greats.
On Father’s day, Dad’s you now have a new bedtime story that’ll put ‘em right to sleep – of course the lights will have to stay on throughout the house.
By the third century AD, the “Testament of Solomon” combined mysticism, Judaism and Christianity together and created a popular legend around the wisest man who ever lived – Solomon.
The story goes like this. The demon Ornias, was sucking on the thumb of a little boy who was the son of the construction foreman over Solomon’s temple construction project. (this one might not be a very good bedtime story) As the boy began to languish and lose weight, Solomon prayed for help and the archangel Michael came to give him a ring that would allow him to bind all demons. With the power of this ring, Solomon trapped and interrogated the demon Ornias. He found out that Ornias dwelt in Aquarius. He could transform himself into a man or into a winged creature or into a lion. Through his interrogation, Solomon learned the names, astrological signs and powers of the demons and also the names of the angels who can defeat them.
Onoskelis – a female demon who strangled men. Solomon captured her and made her forever sit at a weavers shuttle and make things.
A demon named Oropel who gives people sore throats but flees when the angel Raphael is invoked.
Soubelti is a demon who causes shivering and numbness but retreats at the name of Rizoel.
And this interesting character named Anathreth who goes around giving people gas (laugh - I’m not making this up). He will desist and leave you alone when you repeat Arara, Arare; Arara, Arare.
Legends quoted in Angels and the New Spirituality, Duane A. Garrett; Broadman and Holman Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1995; chapter five
You might try that the next time you get indigestion . . . and if it works I don’t want to know about it!
The legend ends with Solomon falling in love with Abishag the idolater and he sacrifices locust blood in order to win her love; God gets upset and Solomon loses control over all the demons and they are loosed again in the world. . .of course they are.
In the days of the Apostle Paul, current mixtures of paganism and Judaism had concocted all sorts of fanciful stories.
Like the legend of Metraton – the ascended spirit of Enoch who had since become an angel and was responsible for directing millions of angels.
In fact, when the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered – several scrolls were discovered as well that detailed supposed deeper teaching. Secret knowledge that involved sacred days in the calendar and, of course, details about the angels and spirit power.
Some of these early writers believed the ultimate discovery was to find a way to enable their souls to pierce the heavenly barrier and escape earth and angels were an important part of helping spirits ascend. In fact, they viewed Jesus Christ as simply an ascended master who had arrived. It’s interesting that 2,000 years later, the New Age religion views Jesus Christ exactly the same way.
Again – it’s ancient stuff thousands of years old – but in reality, it’s just old lies.
Paul saw all of these as myths and empty philosophies – no spirit master or angel wisdom helps the soul ascend to the next level of consciousness.
I believe that not only is the modern world filled with superstition and legends treated as doctrine; but the church equally has fallen into a form of dualism – that everything around you is a battle between good spirits and evil spirits and humans are unfortunately caught in the middle, helpless and somewhat hopeless unless the angels are stronger and more numerous than the demons.
Demons are attached to everything bad and angels, everything good.
This sort of dualism has swept into the church.
Just turn on the television and watch a televangelist bind some invisible demon with an incantational prayer; watch him heal someone by casting out the demon of cancer or the demon of high blood pressure.
I watched one program where the pastor gathered all the master card and visa balance sheets from people all around the country – they were piled in the church auditorium where he proceeded to bind the demon of debt and set those people free.
What does that mean?! They don’t have to pay next month?!
It is as superstitious as the 2 century belief that a demon causes indigestion.
In Colossians Paul exhorted the believers in 2:6-10 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7. having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. 8. See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. 9. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10. and in Him you have been made complete . . .
In other words, you don’t need secret knowledge to be made free in Christ. You don’t need the help of angels against demons to make it through life. You don’t need to be released from the demon of poverty. “In Him you have been made complete.”
The word Paul uses refers to the completeness of the believer whose needs are fully met through the exalted Lord.
The problem in the Christian life is not that we need secret keys to get more of Christ – we have all of Christ. The problem is He does not have all of us through our stubbornness and selfishness.
And if we have a problem with Master Card, it isn’t because of a demon – it’s because of materialism – it’s not the devils fault – it’s our fault.
All this blame going to the demons has a wonderful way of letting us off the hook.
Well, I want to talk about demons in a later study – not tonight.
Let’s forge some Biblical sense from all the nonsense.
Let’s start by going back to the time of creation - First of all - angels had a moment of origin
Psalm 148:2-5Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts! 3.
Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all stars of light . . . 5. Let them
praise the name of the Lord, for He commanded and they were
John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2. He was in the beginning with God. 3. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
Colossian 1:13 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
These passages inform us that all the angels were created by Jesus Christ – the Divine agent in creation.
We learn secondly from Job 38:7 that the angels were created before anything else was – so they saw the wonder of all the rest of creation as it occurred.
Job 38:4. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding, 5. Who set its measurements?
Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? “On what were its
bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, 7. When the morning stars
sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
This is a reference to the angels shouting for joy and singing as a response to the creative acts of God.
I was asked one question as to whether or not angels have souls.
We’re not specifically told . . . however the angels exhibit the activities of what we normally attribute to the soul.
That is: mind, emotions and will.
Thus, angels exhibit the attribute of mind or intelligence
In I Peter 1:12 we’re told that they are fascinated with the doctrine of our salvation and desire to learn about redemption.
This lets us know that angels may be brilliant but they are not omniscient – they cannot read your mind – they do not know the future unless God has revealed it to them.
But they are incredibly brilliant – and they’ve had several thousand years to grow even smarter.
In Ezekiel 28 God told Satan, “Your heart was lifted up because of your
beauty; You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor.”
The angels were also created with emotions – another property of the soul.
- They were filled with joy at God’s creative acts (Job 38:7)
- They worship God with awe and humility (Isaiah 6:3)
- They recognize the deity of Christ and worship the Lamb, ascribing to Him, blessing and honor and glory and power. (Revelation 5:13)
- They rejoice when a sinner comes to faith in Christ (Luke 15:10)
They are not some sort of robotic beings who without thought or feeling.
Third, angels were created with a will.
They have what theologians call self-determination – that is, they can choose from various courses of action and seek to carry one out. They were created to know and understand and obey the will of God intelligently and faithfully.
In fact, when you look at the record of Lucifer’s fall, which we’ll do in more detail later, 5 times Lucifer said, “I will . . . ”
Isaiah 14:13. But you said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, I will sit on the mount of assembly, I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.
I will, I will, I will, I will, I will.
On that basis, he chose to defect and millions of angels with him.
Their choice to defect confirmed their judgment, and, according to Matthew 25, they all are already guaranteed an eternal future in hell.
Luke 20:36 informs us that once created, the angels, both holy and fallen will never cease to exist – they are immortal.
Can a demon or an angel be saved? No. Angels do not repent and are not redeemed.
Hebrews 2:14 makes it clear that redemption is for humanity, not angelic beings.
The angels who chose to follow after God – more than 2/3rds of them were likewise confirmed in holiness – not redeemed, but confirmed in holiness.
When did this choice take place in the world of angelic beings.
When did the great rebellion occur?
We’re not told when, exactly, but putting together the clues you arrive at this:
Clue #1) Angels were created before Genesis chapter 1, Job told us.
Clue #2) Satan was present in the Garden of Eden to tempt Eve in Genesis chapter 3.
Thus, angels either chose to rebel or follow God sometime between the 6 days of creation and Genesis chapter 3- or somewhere during Genesis chapter 2.
Now if you can figure out how much time is in Genesis chapter 2 – or to put it another way, how long Adam and Eve lived in the garden of Eden – you’ll have your answer.
The legend of Enoch by the way has the answer – it says that Adam and Eve were only able to hold on to the garden of Eden for 5 hours.
The legend is fanciful of course. According to Genesis chapter 2 Adam had enough time to name all the animal species, realize he was missing his other half, have major surgery and a rib removed, a wedding ceremony with a woman he named Eve and then time left over to get talked into eating some fruit he should have never eaten.
For all of that, more than 5 hours for sure. (takes my wife 5 hours sometimes to get me to take out the trash).
We can say this with certainty - Angels made their choice prior to the fall of man.
If we can learn anything from the angels it is that they serve God with great passion.
The fallen angels hate God with passion; the holy angels love Him and serve Him with great passion.
If the angels had a missions statement it would be, “Serving God With Passion”
1) Angels serve with privileges
Imagine what they see – imagine what they know – so close to the throne and the things of God.
2) The angels serve with purpose.
Let me give you three –
First, angels exalt the character of God.
Revelation 5:11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, 12. saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” 13. And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” 14. And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.”
Second, angels execute the will of God.
We’ll look at that later in the series
Third, angels enforce the judgment of God.
- By chastising believers (2 Samuel 24)
- By punishing unbelievers (Genesis 19) – God used them in the condemnation of Sodom and Gomorrah)
- By destroying earth’s resources (The Book of Revelation reveals the incredible power of angels as they destroy much of planet earth during the great tribulation)
- Finally, by casting unbelieving humanity, after the final judgment, into the lake of fire (Matthew 13:49 and Revelation 20:15)
Matthew 13:49 gives us a preview of the end of the Kingdom – So it will be at the end of the age; the angels shall come forth, and take out the wicked from among the righteous, and will cast them into the furnace where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Revelation 20:15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
What a horrifying moment as the history of time ends and eternity begins. When the Great White Throne of God thunders the words, “Guilty” and all the unredeemed kneel and proclaim – You are Lord! We know believe You are Lord – Every tongue cries out, “We believe it now!”
And the angels swoop down upon billions of unredeemed, from all time, and pick them up and throw them into hell.
Three things need to be remembered as you attempt to make sense from the nonsense:
- To depend on the activity of angels is to dilute the power of God.
The Apostle Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippian 4:13)
He wrote to the Corinthian believers his personal testimony as he penned, “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, 10)
- To elevate the role of angels, diminishes our relationship with Christ.
The Bible says, “Looking unto Jesus,(aphoraw – to concentrate on Jesus Christ) – He is the author and finisher of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2)
Jesus said, “If I be lifted up I will draw all men unto me.”
- The believer’s responsibility is not to determine which stories are true, but to rightly divide the word of truth.
Dorothy Maclean and her colleagues apparently had spectacular success with their gardens in Scotland – they wrote a book about their alleged secret – and it was that she had learned to communicate with the angels of her plants. “She would get centered on her higher self through meditation and then address a question to the angle of a particular species of plant.” She found that “the being behind the garden pea held the design of all pea plants in a sort of inner energy stream of divinity.”
I know this can’t be true! There no such thing as an angel of garden peas – well, if an angel is responsible for peas – it would be a fallen angel!
That one’s easy.
The truth is, we’re not told to be expert students of legends. We are told to Study to show ourselves approved unto God, workmen that need never be ashamed rightly diving the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
And the next verse is so interesting in light of our study, “But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness and their talking will spread like gangrene.” (2 Timothy 2:16)
Avoid empty chatter – the word literally means empty sounds – chatter is interesting, but empty. Like the chatter of Tobias and Sarah; the chatter of the Testament of Solomon and the Books of Enoch. Interesting, but empty.
Stay close to this Book of Divine origin – study it – and in so doing, not only will you discover the truth, but you will also be protected against all sorts of legends and myths.
God hasn’t told us everything about this unseen world of angels and demons and other flying creatures, but He has told us everything . . . everything we need to know!
Next Lord’s day, we’ll take a closer look at what God has said about how angels interact with human beings.