Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Archangels

The only two angels named in the protestant Bible are Michael and Gabriel. The book of Jude mentions "the archangel Michael" (1:19), and that there is a fixed number of top ranking angels is clear according to Daniel, who wrote of “Michael, one of the chief [arch] princes [angels]" (Dan. 10:13). Now, compare the following verses:

Before (enopion) the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God (Rev 4:5).

I saw the seven angels who stand before (enopion) God, and to them were given seven trumpets (Rev 8:2). 

Michael and the other "chief princes" are indicated in Revelation 8:2, as "the seven angels who stand before God." With a similar terminology, 

Luke 1:19 states, "The angel answered, 'I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God.' " 

 These are apparently associated with "the seven spirits of God" who are "before the throne" (Rev. 4:5). Notice that both the seven spirits and the seven angels stand "before" God or his throne. The word before is "enopion" in Greek and means "in the face of:--before, in the presence (sight) of". That angels are also called "spirits" is clear in Hebrews 1:14, "Are not all angels ministering spirits?" Moreover, i n Revelation 5:6, the seven spirits are called the "seven horns" of the Lamb. This can be compared to the seven angels of chapter 8, for "to them were given seven trumpets" (Rev 8:2). Although horn instruments are different than brass trumpets, a pattern is indicated. That the seven trumpets connect to the seven Archangels can clearly be seen in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, "The Lord himself will come down from heaven with...the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God." The return of Jesus, which shall be announced with a trumpet, is likewise associated with the voice of the archangel. 

While there is only one Holy Spirit (cf. Jn. 16:13, 1Co. 12:11), the main symbol of Revelation is the seven branched Menorah Lampstand, symbolizing the seven attributes of the Holy Spirit (cf. Zech 4, Isa. 11, Rev. 4:5). From the stand, the seven Archangels branch off to each operate in a specific function corresponding to God's sevenfold charactor. In the book of Tobit, contained in the ancient Greek Septuagint (LXX) and Catholic canons of the Bible, the angel Raphael is named as one of these seven angels before God's throne:

I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels, which present the prayers of the saints, and which go in and out before the glory of the Holy One (Tobit 12:14-15).
Raphael is mentioned as one of the seven archangels who are "before the glory of the Holy One". Notice the word "before." This verifies what is indicated in Revelation 4:5 and 8:2, i.e., that the seven spirits are the seven angels BEFORE the throne. That angels can be associates with the Holy Spirit is indicated where Paul stated: “I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things" (1 Tim. 5:21). Instead of saying the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (cf. Matt. 28:19), Paul places the angels after Jesus. This very order is also repeated in Revelation 1:4-5, where the "seven spirits before his throne" are apparently interchangeable with the Holy Spirit. I believe this is because the one and the same Spirit branches out to reveal God's charactor through the seven archangels.

Now, many women lost in the New Age movement have worshiped angels, equating them right along with Buddha and pagan Hindu idols. Instead of doing this, these women ought to have taken their love of angels and went to India, like Mother Teresa, and helped to replace all Hindu idolatry with the beautiful actuality of the angels of heaven. But the Bible strictly forbids this saying:
Do not let anyone who delights in…the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions (Col. 2:18).
Many "new agers" are quick to go into great detail about angels, all the while, admitting they do not even believe in Jesus Christ. Thus, this caution can be seen clearly where after “the angel” spoke to John the Revelator, he wrote:
At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God!” (Rev. 19:10).
As our fellow servants, they serve as some of the best examples of service to the Heavenly Father. Moreover, Jesus “became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs” (Heb. 1:4). Jesus, the King of angels, sends them forth as servants under his command.

Although the Bible indicates that these are archangels, they are by no means to be exalted. Rather, they are to be understood as different attributes of the Holy Spirit. We are to understand this mystery only as it enhances our understanding of the LORD God Almighty. It is true that the book of Revelation emphasizes what is "before the throne", but it is also written, "Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it" (Rev. 20:11). The value of a mere menorah is to be found in its ability to, in many ways, represent our love that we are to have for who is on the throne of heaven and upon the throne of our hearts.