AUDIO VERSION: YouTube Podbean
1. ARE HUMANS SUPERIOR OR INFERIOR TO ANGELIC BEINGS?
Humans have always had an unhealthy obsession with angelic beings. We also insist that if God creates a variety of things, He must view some of those things as better than others. Well, no, this isn’t how God thinks. What is better, color or sound? What is more appealing: the sight of a beautiful sunset or the aroma of your favorite food when you’re super hungry? To God, multiple things can have equal value, even if those things are vastly different. But we humans have a fixation with comparing and ranking. When we’re presented with two things, we feel compelled to label one as better than the other.
In the Bible, we find humans making some absurd statements about angels which are not at all grounded in truth. For example, in Psalm 8, David is marveling at how awesome Yahweh is. He says:
What is man that You remember him, the son of man that You look after him? You made him a little lower than the angels and crowned him with glory and honor; You made him lord over the works of Your hands; You put everything under his feet. (Ps. 8:4-6)
We know that David sincerely loved God, but his theology is a bit off here. He is right to praise the magnificent Yahweh for being such an involved and attentive Creator. But this bit about us being created just a little lower than the angels is an unfounded statement. David knows next to nothing about angelic beings, so he is hardly in a position to start drawing comparisons. Since it’s clear to us that angels have abilities we don’t possess, it’s only natural that we view them as superior beings. For example, angels can flit back and forth between various dimensions. Since we can’t, we assume angels are better than us. But is this really a fair assumption? Since when do we humans get to set up the ultimate standard for all created things to be measured by? Demons can read minds, we can’t. Does this make demons superior to us? Only if you first decide that reading thoughts is a desirable thing.
It’s important that we understand certain differences between angelic beings and us without then running amuck with general conclusions about how angels and humans compare to each other. David is not in a position to pass out ranks, and his statement that Yahweh has made humans lord over this creation is utterly absurd. Go swimming in a crocodile infested river and try to exercise your God given dominion over those beasts. See how far you get with holding them back with your great authority. The reality is that we do not come anywhere close to ruling over this creation. It’s more like this creation was designed to be a human killing machine. From stinging insects to ocean riptides, from scorching deserts to deadly hailstorms, this place is hardly human friendly. If we don’t find ways to shield ourselves from the natural elements in this world, those elements will kill us off. So no, we’re really not in charge down here. God is.
We need to remember that the psalms are Jewish poetry, and poetry is emotion driven. As is typical of poets, David is using extreme language to express intense emotions. He thinks Yahweh is awesome to even give us the time of day. He thinks Yahweh is fabulous to set human beings apart as His most prized element of this creation. David’s praise of Yahweh is well-deserved, but we need to avoid taking his statements as literal facts.
So then, when it comes to our general design, are we superior or inferior to angelic beings? We’re neither. We’re just different. Comparing humans to angels is like comparing a sandwich to a block of cement. They are two very different things which were created to serve two very different purposes.
2. WILL HUMANS JUDGE ANGELS IN ETERNITY?
By the time we get to the New Testament, the Jewish obsession with angelic beings has run amuck. The apostle Paul was a Pharisee. His fellow Jews viewed him as a highly respected and highly educated expert on Scriptures. He was like one of the big name Bible scholars that we have in the Church today—the kind of man who could write his own commentary on Scripture and everyone would just believe what he said simply because he was the one saying it. Today we continue the idolatry of Paul. We say that his words are the very words of God—an utterly obnoxious statement, but there it is. Paul can’t be wrong: this is what you’re taught in church. You’re told to question other teachers because they might lie to you. But you must never question the New Testament writers, because for some magical reason they were incapable of error. This is how foolish we are in the Church today.
Now Paul’s personal obsession with angelic beings is glaringly clear. He promotes Satan as the ruler of this earthly realm. He teaches us to try and duke it out with demons ourselves by putting on that magical “armor of God.” The man is delusional. Paul’s ego wants us to be “co-heirs with Christ” in eternity (Rom. 8:17)—ruling side by side with our glorious Creators. In his dreams. We won’t see the day that God says to us, “Hey there, half-speck, you look like you’ve got the chops to do some Divine ruling. Why don’t you come up here and share My throne with Me?”
When you listen to the teaching of Paul, you’re listening to an ego that is out of control. Not only did Paul reject the Divinity of Christ, he also demonstrated a serious lack of submission to Yahweh which he demonstrates by constantly bossing God about in his prayers (see The Great Offense of Paul & Learning from the Prayers of Paul).
In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul is trying to get the rebellious believers in Corinth to stop suing each other over every little thing. As is typical for Paul, he feels free to just make up a bunch of guff about how things work in order to give his argument more merit.
If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers! (1 Cor. 6:1-6)
We can appreciate Paul’s frustration with how petty these believers are acting, but these authoritative statements he slips in about us judging the world and angels are utterly absurd. It is our three Creators we will answer to in eternity, not other Christians. In the Gospels, Jesus frequently described Himself and Yahweh as judging people in eternity. Jesus promoted Himself as the One who would decide who even qualified to get into Heaven—a very shocking idea for Old Covenant Jews to digest. Jesus also exalted Yahweh as a judging Authority. Nowhere does Jesus talk about conferring with other humans to help Him make His judgments. And this business about humans judging angels—what was Paul smoking when he came up with that one? This is nothing more than egotistical dreaming. In the first place, there is no basis on which to claim that angelic beings are scheduled for some mass judgment in eternity. Instead, we know that judgement has already been passed on them—that’s why God teaches us to view them as two separate groups. Demons are angels who have already been eternally condemned by God. If God has already condemned someone, what more is there to say?
There is no basis for claiming we are going to be put in some superior position over angels in Heaven. On the contrary, Jesus describes angels as being the ones who separate out wicked humans from the righteous per His command (Matt. 13:49, Matt. 24:31). Jesus describes angels being present and witnessing God’s judgment of us in eternity (Lk. 12:8-9). In Revelation, angels are depicted as carrying out God’s orders to help and harm humans on earth. It is angels who pour out the various bowls of God’s wrath.
So then, are we going to judge angels or other humans in eternity? Absolutely not. We will each be judged directly by our Creators.
Does God view us as being in charge of this world? Not hardly. Demons aren’t in charge, either. Throughout the Bible, our Creators teach us to view Them as the only Ones who are reigning over this place. They will not share Their Authority with anyone. We need to be guarded against Paul sucking us into his ego driven fantasies. We are powerless, limited specks. We don’t have authority over anything, but we are dearly loved by the Ones who created us, and that should be more than enough to satisfy us.
3. DO WE EACH HAVE OUR OWN GUARDIAN ANGEL ASSIGNED TO US BY GOD?
No, we do not. The concept of personal guardian angels was invented by humans to justify the worship of beings other than God. There is no discussion of guardian angels in the Bible. Instead we find descriptions of angels interacting with humans for the purpose of carrying out specific commands from God.
God is ragingly jealous. He orders us not to seek out relationships with supernatural beings other than Himself. He teaches us to credit Him alone for helping and providing for us in life. God detests it when we give other creatures the glory for the things that He has done. Notice how Daniel described what happened to him in the lion’s den:
“My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before Him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” (Dan. 6:22)
Daniel rightly credits Yahweh as the One responsible for his rescue, with angels being described as mere middlemen. It would have been even better if Daniel had dropped the reference to angels altogether, because God is jealous and He wants all the focus to be on Him. Now did Daniel really know that angels were involved in his salvation from lions? Probably not. Far more likely Daniel just assumed the involvement of angels. We find both Old and New Testament Jews assuming the involvement of angels in their lives even when no direct evidence of angelic activity is available. Why is this? Because like us today, those believers were far too enamored with angelic beings. God Himself wasn’t good enough for them. They had to have their angels. Now certainly there were times when angels appeared to humans in visual form, but to take those few encounters and decide that angels must be involved in every aspect of life is ridiculous.
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 18:10)
Here’s a favorite verse that the angel worshipers love to quote. But to understand this verse, we need to consider context. The New Testament Jews were already steeped in an idolatrous obsession with angels. Clearly they had decided that children were linked with angels, just as they had decided that it takes body and soul three days to separate from each other after death. Instead of correcting these delusions, Jesus used them to further His own agenda. In this case, He says that if Jewish adults really think children have angelic representatives in Heaven (which they do not), then how do those adults justify shunning children in spiritual matters? The idea here is that the Jewish adults should be afraid of angels reporting their wrong behavior to Yahweh, thus getting them in trouble with God. Clearly for this logic to work, Jesus had to be speaking to people who were totally out of touch with the idea that God sees everything that they do, and He hardly needs to rely on angels to keep Him up to speed with the activities on earth. Yet this is how deluded the Jews had become. They had reduced God to a less than sovereign Being and exalted angels as far more influential than they actually are.
For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. (Ps. 91:11)
A psalm is a poem. We need to recognize that psalm writers used exaggeratory language to vent intense emotions. When we sing “I can’t live without you” in our radio songs today, is it a literal truth? No, it’s an expression of sentiment. In the same way, this bit about God commanding His angels to take care of our every need is just human ego talking. Sure, we’d like to think God makes His angelic creation revolve around us, but the reality is that He does not. The angels revolve around God, and He is the One they serve, not us.
Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? (Heb. 1:14)
Here’s more baloney which suggests that the primary function of angels is to minister and serve Christians (since Christians are the only ones who will inherit salvation under the New Covenant). So now angels are our personal servants? Can we get anymore pompous than this?
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. (Heb. 13:2)
According to this writer, why are we supposed to be kind to our fellow humans? So that we won’t miss a chance to win the favor of angels. What kind of motivation is this? Why should we care what angelic creatures think of us? Our Creators command us to love others out of a desire to honor Them, not so that we might be viewed favorably by angels. This instruction is only going to motivate people who already think angels are better them. Clearly the Jewish audience that the book of Hebrews was written to would find the idea of entertaining angels very exciting because they were steeped in angel worship. We certainly don’t want to follow their rotten example. Our Gods are jealous. It is never appropriate for us to be talking about displeasing and pleasing angels as if that is some kind of goal. We are supposed to be focusing on our Gods.
The term “guardian angel” isn’t found anywhere in the Bible. What we do find is clear teaching that the Holy Spirit dwells within every Christian. So if you have God Almighty living inside of you, how can you possibly argue that you need the protection of angels? What are we saying to Him when we make up this rot about having some angel personally protecting us in life? We’re saying, “Holy Spirit, You might be God, but You just aren’t good enough for me. I’d rather put my trust in a created being.” Nice. And of course once we subscribe to the theory of guardian angels, we start praying to them and giving them the credit for guiding us in life. “My guardian angel protected me from getting into that accident on the road.” No, actually your God protected you. And your God is jealous. He hates it when you carry around your stupid angel pin and hang up your stupid angel art in your home. When you go around saying, “My angel did this” and “My angel did that”, God gets the message loud and clear: He’s just yesterday’s news to you. It doesn’t matter that He died on a cross to save your hide from Hell. It doesn’t matter that He created you and that He is currently sustaining your very existence. It doesn’t matter that He’s heaping countless blessings on your ungrateful little head every day. Nope, with you, it’s all about your precious angel. You wouldn’t know an angel if you tripped over one, but listen to how you talk about how comforting it is to know that your angel is looking out for you. Oh, and then you pass your delusions on to your child and teach him to practice your idolatry with you so that God can now listen to the two of you insulting Him with your angel talk. Wonderful.
As serious Christians, we need to stop with the angels. As far as you are concerned, the existence of angels is utterly irrelevant. You have God, and He is more than enough.
4. DO HUMANS TURN INTO ANGELS WHEN THEY DIE?
No, they do not. Humans are still humans when they die, they do not morph into another kind of creature. God has countless projects going on simultaneously. Humans and angels are just two of them. Angels have their own story with God, we have ours.
5. WHAT DO ANGELS LOOK LIKE?
We have no idea what angelic creatures actually look like in their natural state. We do know that they are able to present themselves in a variety of forms. Often in the Bible, people describe encountering angels who look very human and who are wearing styles of clothing which match the current fashions in the culture of the person they are talking to. Why do we picture angels as wearing tunics today? Because they’re often described as wearing tunics in the Bible. What we forget to remember is that in the Bible tunics were all the rage for humans as well. Today pants have replaced tunics in many societies. If angels show up in such societies, would they also wear pants? Probably.
We humans are very nervous creatures and we’re easily frightened. If you were eating lunch somewhere and your friend suddenly appeared out of thin air, you’d be very scared–not because you didn’t recognize your friend, but because of the shocking way that she arrived at your table. When angels suddenly show up to people on earth, they have to deal with the same kind of shock. We’re easily scared by some strange being suddenly appearing in front of us, and we’re scared by non-human entities. Why are angels always telling people “Do not be afraid”? Because the people are already afraid. Our nervous nature makes it hard for angels to get us to focus on the business at hand. If they come to us in some humanoid form, it helps reduce our anxiety, but we’re still freezing up, falling down, and passing out in front of them.
In the Bible, when God gives people visions of the supernatural realm He often depicts angels in very different forms. They often appear as strange, multi-headed creatures which remind us more of animals than people. Why such a difference? This is likely God’s way of emphasizing to the viewer that He is showing them non-earthly things. Should we assume these visions are literal? No, because once again, we find Heaven to be suspiciously similar to earth.
In the Bible, God is always talking to humans who live in monarchical societies, which means they are used to their leaders sitting on fancy thrones. God then presents Himself as being on a throne. If the rulers in Bible times all sat on beanbags, God would have undoubtedly depicted Himself as sitting on a beanbag.
On earth, we wear clothes because we are ashamed of our naked states and to protect ourselves from the elements. So why is God always wearing clothes in Heaven? Is He ashamed of His nakedness, too? Is He trying to keep the chill off? No, God is not a physical being. He is simply appearing to us in forms we can relate to. As soon as we are dealing with supernatural beings and non-earthly dimensions, we should assume that what we’re seeing is not an accurate depiction of how things actually are. To date, human beings have experienced angelic creatures appearing to them in a wide variety of forms. Because of this, we must conclude that we know nothing about what angelic creatures look like in their natural state.