7. Angelic Control: Angels And Creation
Angels And The World
It would seem that the natural creation may see the Angels when they are invisible to us- thus Balaam's donkey saw the Angel standing in the way and was too frightened by the realness of it to go further. This was to teach Balaam that he ought to have seen the Angelic presence at work without having his eyes specially opened to see the Angel, in the same way as the ass didn't need it's eyes opened to see the Angel.
The Angels are often portrayed as the controllers of the natural elements- e. g. in Moses' song of thanks for the deliverance at the Red Sea, he seems very conscious of the fact that God was manifest in the Angel, and He thanks Him for "Blowing with (His) wind (cp. "who maketh His Angels spirits/ winds"), the sea covered them" (Ex. 15:10). The other allusions in the Song to the Angel are:
v. 2 "I will prepare Him an habitation"- alluding to the fact that the Angel was going to prepare them a habitation in the land, and perhaps also referring to the building of the tabernacle for the Angel to live in.
v. 2 "my father's God"- alluding to Jacob talking of the God (the Angel, as Jacob meant-see earlier) which preserved him
v. 7 "Thou sentest forth Thy wrath"- the Angel physically sent forth
v. 13 "Thou in Thy mercy hast led forth the people . . guided them unto Thy holy habitation"- the language of the Angel in Is. 63 relating how He led and guided them to the land, and also of the promise to send an Angel with them to do this.
Individual animals may be commanded by the Angels to bring about His purpose- Amos 9 is an example of this . "Though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence (this is the language of Angelic limitation- all things are known to God without His searching for them): and though they be hid from My sight (i. e. God's Angel-eyes) in the bottom of the sea, thence will I command the serpent and it shall bite them" (v. 3)- in the same way as the Angel commanded Balaam's donkey. The Angelic context is set by the following:
v. 1 "The Lord standing upon the altar"- cp. the Angel of Lk. 1:11 and other Angels appearing by altars
v. 5 "God of Hosts" (Angels)
v. 8 "the eyes (Angels) of the Lord".
1 Kings 22 describes the Angels being sent out from the court of Heaven to do God’s word. So when we read of God sending lions (2 Kings 17:25,26), sending wild beasts and famine (Lev. 26:22; Ez. 5:17; Dt. 32:24), sending locusts (Joel 2:25), it would seem that Angels are sent forth from God’s throne in order to command animals to obey God’s word. And moreover, He sends an evil spirit between men (Jud. 9:23) and stubborn hearts are also sent from God (Ps. 81:13). The same Angels who are sent to control the animals can also therefore work to give men certain attitudes of mind.
The language of Job 38 about God's relationship to His creation is hard to understand seeing that God Himself is all powerful and of ultimate knowledge- e. g. v. 16 says that God "walked in the search of the depth"; He came to understand the breadth of the earth (v. 18), looked inside snowflakes to see their wonder (v. 22). The Angels being in control of the natural creation no doubt "earnestly desire to look into" such things. The Angels having created the natural world, it is understandable that they should continue to have close links with it. It appears that there is an active, two-way inter-relationship between the Angels and their creation; thus the Elohim rejoice because of wine (Judges 9:13) and other things whose creation they superintended. Ps. 148 lends support to this notion. Verse 2 speaks of all the Angels praising God, and then goes on to describe the Heavens, fire, storm, hail etc. doing likewise; perhaps implying that each of those things has an Angel controlling it, which is what really gives God praise. Otherwise, how can such inanimate objects praise God?
God’s amazing control of events in the natural world is surely through Angelic influence. God gives the lightning- often associated with Angels- a specific charge [as He does to His Angels] that it “strike the mark” (Job 36:32 RV).
Angels And Creation
In the same way as the Angels are so closely associated with their charges that they are identified with them (see Chapter 8), so the Angels are described as the things in the natural world which they have created. At least two passages make this point, after careful reflection upon them:
- Ps. 8:5,6 is quoted in Heb. 2:7 to prove Christ's superiority over the Angels: "Thou hast made him a little lower than the Angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands (an Angelic phrase); Thou hast put all things under his feet". "All things" often includes Angels in its context in New Testament usage. The works of God's Angel-hands in the natural creation have been put under Christ's feet, but the purpose of the quotation in Heb2 is to show that the Angels have been put under Christ's feet. Heb. 2:11 takes the point further by saying that as the Angels are identified so exactly with that they have created, so Christ was identified with His new creation, even to the extent of having an identical nature to them.
- The quotation of Ps. 102 in Heb. 1 can appear to pose major problems for our belief in the humanity of Christ and that the world will never be destroyed. "And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundations of the earth; and the heavens are the work of thy hands: they shall perish, but Thou remainest, and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail". The context in Hebrews is again Christ's superiority over the Angels; however, the context in Ps. 102 is of Christ on the cross thinking of the eternity of God, how that "of old", "in the beginning" (clearly alluding back to the beginning of the natural creation in Gen. 1), God created the Heavens and earth by His Angel-hands. But "they shall perish. . wax old like a garment. . as a vesture shalt thou change them" (Ps. 102:26). This language is similar to that used elsewhere about the ending of the Angel-oriented Mosaic Law (e. g. Heb. 8:13). Thus the literal Heavens and earth will not perish, but the Angelic system that created them will do. Thus both the natural creation and the Mosaic system are identified exactly with the Angels that created them.
The flood makes a good case study of Angelic control of the natural world. Jude 14 quotes Enoch's prophecy of the flood as saying that it would be associated with the Lord coming with "ten thousands of His saints" (Angels- cp. Dan. 7). The fact that Angels were used to cause the flood is found written between the lines of the Genesis account. The "windows of Heaven" being opened must refer to Angelic activity, as Job describes God calling for the wind and lightening to obey Him, and they come to Him and obey. This language must be about animate beings- i. e. the Angels responsible for these elements of nature. Gen. 8:1 says God remembered Noah- the language of limitation, as God Himself cannot forget or need to bring things to memory. We have suggested that this language of limitation be always applied to the Angels; thus it would seem they were in charge of the flood. "God (the Angel co-ordinating the flood?) made a wind (an Angel- "Who maketh His Angels spirits"- 'spirit' is the same word as 'winds') to pass over the earth. . and the waters returned from off the earth, in going and returning (A. V. mg. )". This last phrase is used elsewhere about the Angels as God's eyes roaming around the earth on His missions, and also there is the connection with the ideas already discussed of the Angels constantly going to and fro between God and the earth and around the earth.
Isaiah 63:10 describes the work of the Holy Spirit Angel with regard to punishing Israel in language which hints at the flood: "It repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth (land), and it grieved Him at His heart" connects with "They rebelled, and vexed His Holy Spirit (cp. grieved at the heart): therefore He was turned to be their enemy (cp. "repented"), and He fought against them". 2 Peter 3:6,7; Mt. 24:37 and Dan. 9:26 (an impressive trio) say that the flood is a type of God's judgement of the earth at the second coming- and we know that Jesus will come with His Angels with Him to do this, in the same way as the Angels were prominent in this earlier "coming" of the Lord at the flood.
The idea of every little thing in life and the world being controlled by Angels contradicts the notion that God has set this world in motion according to certain natural laws, and that things continue without His direct intervention- as if the whole system is run by clockwork which God initially wound up. Intervention in this system by God has been called 'the hand of providence'. However, these ideas surely contradict the clear Biblical teaching that every movement in the natural creation is consciously controlled by God through His Angels, thus needing an energetic input from Him through His Spirit for every action to occur. Consider the following:
- "Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feedeth them" (Mt. 6:26)- God consciously feeds the birds with their every mouthful.
- "If God so clothe the grass of the field. . . shall He not much more clothe you?" (Mt. 6:30). The blessings God gives us do not come by clockwork- we thankfully recognize they are individual acts of mercy towards us. Perhaps our sometimes 'clockwork' prayers are an indication that we think God's blessings of food etc. are clockwork too?. In the same way, God individually and consciously cares for each blade of grass. Fundamentally, they do not grow as a result of chemical combination or photosynthesis, but due to the conscious care of God using such processes.
- One sparrow "shall not fall on the ground without (the knowledge of) your Father" (Mt. 10:29). God is aware of the death of each bird- He does not allow animals to die due to their natural decay (the clockwork mechanism) without Him being actively involved in and conscious of their death. Again, Jesus shows how God's knowledge and participation in the things of the natural creation must imply an even greater awareness of us. "The very hairs of your head are all numbered. . . ye are of more value than many sparrows" (Mt. 10:30,31).
- God "maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust" (Mt. 5:45). God consciously makes the sun rise each day (Job 38:12)- it isn't part of a kind of perpetual motion machine. Hence the force of His promises in the prophets that in the same way as He consciously maintains the solar system, so He will maintain Israel.
- Ps. 90:3 implies that each person dies as a result of a conscious, specific command from God; not just because of natural processes.
- Ps. 104 is full of such examples: "He watereth the hills. . causeth the grass to grow. . maketh darkness (consciously, each night). . . the young lions. . . seek their meat from God. . . sendest forth Thy Spirit (Angel), they are created" (not just by the reproductive system).
- Consider too Job 38:32; 39:27; Amos 9:6; Is. 40:7; Prov. 11:1.