8-3 Angels and the Word of God
We have seen that 1 Kings 22 describes Angels being “sent out” to operationalize God’s word / will. Yet we also read of God’s word being sent out; He sent a word [of judgment] against Jacob (Is. 9:7); God sent His word and delivered them (Ps. 107:20). Angels were sent out to do those things; yet they are so closely identified with God’s word, because they exist to fulfil it. In this sense too, the Lord Jesus was “the word made flesh”; and we likewise should seek to be. In Jer. 23:18,22 we find prophets standing in the “council of the Lord” (RV) to receive His word; and yet this sounds very much like Angels standing in the court of Heaven to receive God’s word of command. Likewise note the parallel between an Angel sitting under an oak and a prophetess sitting under an oak (Jud. 4:5 RVmg.; 6:11). “The God of the spirits [Angels] of the prophets sent his Angel” to the prophet John (Rev. 22:6 RV); implying that as God had sent His Angel-Spirits to inspire the prophets, so now He did to John. Ps. 147:15,18 speak of the sending out of God’s word to melt snow and send rain; this must surely refer to the Angels being sent out from the court of Heaven to do these things. The way the “watcher and holy one” came down from Heaven is paralleled with the word of Divine command likewise coming down from Heaven (Dan. 4:23,31). The universe is not just ticking away on clockwork; the Angels are actively being sent out from Heaven to perform what may appear the most mundane and repetitious of things. Thus God sends out His Angels; He sends out His word; and He also sent out His prophets (Haggai- Hag. 1:12; Ezekiel- Ez. 3:5,6). God rose up and sent out His prophets (2 Kings 17:13; Jer. 7:25 and many others). He is described as doing this because those prophets likewise identified with the word and became part of their own message. So when God asks Isaiah whom He should send out, in a scene reminiscent of the Angelic court of Heaven in 1 Kings 22, Isaiah says “Send me” (Is. 6:8). He wanted to be part of God’s way and word. And with us too, we are all in that sense ‘apostles’, sent ones, in that the word we preach must be identified with us personally. For the Lord’s parable speaks of how the Father sends out His servants- us- to invite men and women in to the supper of His Kingdom (Mt. 22:14).
Watchers Of The Skies
The point has been made that the Angels watch over our response to the Word, as they do all aspects of our spiritual development. I here summarize the arguments:
Jeremiah 1:11,12 tells us that the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah saying "What seest Thou? And I said I see a rod of an almond tree. Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen; for I will hasten My word to perform it". The word translated 'hasten' means to watch over, and is very similar to the word for 'almond'. Almonds are associated with God's eyes; the bowls of the lampstands were almonds (Ex. 25:33,34). Zech. 4:2 talks about these almond bowls on the candlestick, and v. 10 interprets them as the "eyes of the LORD which run to and fro through the whole earth". 2 Chron. 16:9 talks about the Angels in the same way; "the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him". Similarly in Rev. 4:5 the lamps in the bowls of almond are equated with the "seven spirits (or Angels) of God". Rev. 5:6 equates the seven eyes with the seven spirits. Thus the almond rod which Jeremiah saw represented God's eyes or Angels who would watch over the word of God which Jeremiah was to speak to perform it.
Relating this idea to our guardian Angel, it seems not unreasonable to suggest that they who were used to inspire men with the word of God in the first place and who now watch over it's fulfilment in the world today, will especially look on us to see if that word is going to achieve it's main purpose of making us spiritual people, and that conversely they punish us if we disobey that word. Thus Daniel, who was relatively attune to the Angelic ways of working, said (Dan. 9:14) "Therefore hath the LORD (the Angel?) watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us. . for we obeyed not His voice", alluding back to God's command concerning the Angel which was to look after Israel "If thou shalt indeed obey His voice, and do all that I speak. . " (Ex. 23:22). Dan. 4:13,17 describe the Angels as watchers -i. e. watching over the execution of the word, and in order to fulfil it they (the watcher Angels) drove Nebuchadnezzar from men (v. 25) and they "commanded to leave the stumps of the tree" (v. 26).
Angels And Inspiration
There seems to be a strong implication that the Angels were involved with writing the Bible through their inspiration of men. So close is the connection between the word of God and of Angels that "the sound of the (Angel) cherubim. . . was heard . . . as the voice of the Almighty God when He speaketh" (Ez. 10:5). Zechariah stresses that the prophecies of the restoration were given by an Angel (1:9-14; 4:1,5; 5:5,10; 6:4,5; see 'Angels and the Restoration' for commentary on these). The true prophet is one who “has stood in the council of the Lord to perceive and hear His word” (Jer. 23:18,22); and yet these are exactly the words used of how the Angels stand in the council of Heaven and hear Yahweh’s word (1 Kings 22; Ps. 103:18-22). The Angels are therefore reflective of the situation on earth; as they stood before the Father’s throne to hear the word in the council of Heaven, they were representative of the prophet on earth whom they were used to inspire. As the prophets were gathered together before the thrones of the Kings of Israel and Judah, they were reflecting how the Angels in Heaven were assembled before the throne of Yahweh, on whose throne the human kings were ruling (1 Kings 22:10). The lying spirit / Angel which appeared before Yahweh’s throne would therefore have been reflected in Micaiah (:15). What we have here is the court of Heaven being reflected in the situation upon earth, seeing that each of the prophets was represented by an Angel in Heaven. There’s another example of this in Acs 10:3,22,25: an Angel ‘comes in’ to Cornelius and gives him hope of salvation, and then Peter ‘comes in’ to Cornelius and explains that hope in more concrete terms. Peter was acting out what his guardian Angel had prepared for him to do, just as Israel had to follow the leading of the guiding Angel in the wilderness.
We have mentioned that Rev. 4:5 equates the lamps of fire with the spirits. Ps. 104:4 likens the Angels to Spirits. The light which the lamps emitted maybe symbolizes the Word, a light to our path. The fact that the Law of Moses (and the whole Pentatuch? Consider Acts 7:38,53; Gal. 3:19; Heb. 2:2) was given by Angels is stressed by Paul- e. g. it was "the word spoken by Angels" (Heb. 2:2; see Acts 7:38 too). That the Angels ministered the Word in the past is picked up by Paul in 2 Cor. 3 when he says that because we have taken over the role of the Angels in this respect, we should teach the word boldly: "Who hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter but of the spirit. . seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech"(v. 6,12). The context refers to our preaching, that it should not be with the "enticing words of man's wisdom". Thus the Angel told John that he was of "thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep (lit. :guard, preserve from corruption) the sayings of this book" (Rev. 22:9). This shows that the Angel was a prophet. This title does not only mean one who foretells future events, but in Biblical usage refers more to one who ministers the word of God under inspiration; the Angel was therefore responsible for inspiring the Bible like the prophets (Old and New Testament ones) were. An Angel told Elijah to tell the messengers of Ahaziah that he was displeased that Ahaziah had enquired of Baalzebub: "Is there not a God in Israel?". This not only shows direct Angelic inspiration of the prophet Elijah, but the phrase "God in Israel" suggests the Angelic title 'The God of Israel', as if to say 'There is the Angel of Israel giving the inspired word; why seek to a pagan god?'. Note too how the Lord describes the Angels as “servants” (Mt. 22:13), using the common description of the prophets as Jehovah’s servants- as if He saw a close connection between Angels and prophets.
David also implies that his inspiration was directly from an Angel: "The God of Jacob. . . the Spirit of the Lord spake by me. . . the God of Israel said. . the Rock of Israel spake to me" (2 Sam. 23:1-3). These four descriptions of God are all Angelic phrases. The Angel which dwelt over the ark between the cherubim, with their Angelic connections, was firmly linked with "the ark of the testimony" (the word of God). "I (the Angel) will meet with thee. . . from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment" (Ex. 25:22). Amos 2 speaks as if the Angel raised up the prophets (cp. the Angel's words in Zech. 1:1-8; see Chapter 11): "I destroyed the Amorite before them (the work of the Angel-hornet). . . I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and led you forty years through the wilderness (all the work of the Angel). . . I raised up your sons for prophets" (v. 9-11)- another example of Angelic involvement in a man's calling and spirituality.
"The word spoken by Angels"
Another link between Angels and the spirit of prophecy is to be found in the way Nebuchadnezzar perceived that his dream had been given him by the Angelic “holy ones” (Dan. 4:13,17), and therefore he asks the prophet Daniel to interpret it for him because he knew that “the spirit of the holy gods is in thee” (Dan. 4:18). Note how the Angels have a special role in performing the miracle of preserving God's word intact. This latter work of the Angels is maybe referred to in Prov. 22:12 "The eyes (Angels) of the Lord preserve knowledge", which is now concentrated in the form of the written word. Psalm 68:11 shows how the Angels receive Words from God, which they obey by putting into practice (cp. Ps. 103:20,21 "ye ministers of His. . hearkening unto the voice of His word"); but they sometimes, as we have seen, cause men to be inspired by those words. Ps. 68 comments on the Exodus from Egypt. "The Lord gave the word; great was the company (the 'host'- a word often used about the Angels) of them that published it". This "great company" is defined in v. 17 as "the chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels". The association between the Angels and the prophesied word perhaps accounts for "be not forgetful to entertain strangers (i. e. the itinerant spirit gifted prophets, cp. 2 Jn. 10): for thereby some have entertained Angles unawares" (Heb. 13:2). A clearer equation of prophets and Angels is found by comparing 1 Pet. 1:10 and 12: "Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently. . . which things the Angels (also) desire to look into", referring to the Cherubim Angels peering down intently into the blood on the mercy seat, the "salvation" which the prophets searched after. In the parable of redemption contained in getting a wife for Isaac, the servant went to seek our Rebecca, representing the prophets going to take us out of the world to begin a wilderness journey to our new husband. He must surely represent the word taking us out of the world; yet he was led by an Angel (Gen. 24:7), suggesting the Angels work through the word they inspire to bring us out of the world. Other passages relevant to this theme of Angels giving the Word of God are Ex. 23:22; Num. 22:35; 23:17; 24:1,2; Heb. 2:2.
We are possibly intended to equate the word of God and the Angels in Gen. 15:1,4,5: "The word of the Lord came unto Abraham in a vision. . . and behold the word of the Lord came unto him. . . and He (definitely the Angel) brought him forth abroad". The association between Angels and inspiring men through visions is made explicit in Num. 12:5-8: "The Lord came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle (this is clearly the Angel). . . and He said. . . If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord (the Angel) will make Myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream . My servant Moses. . with him will I speak mouth to mouth (only an Angel could do this), even apparently, and not in dark speeches" (i. e. I won't give him the word of God by visions and dreams as I usually do to inspire men, but I will give him the word of God by direct speaking to him). Similarly Balaam could only go to Moab if he spoke the Angel's words (Num. 22:35), but he later calls these the "words of God. . the vision of the Almighty" (Num. 24:4). Note how an Angel is stressed as the source of Revelation in the Acts of the Apostles: 5:19; 8:26; 10:3,7,22; 11:13; 12:7-11; 27:23; whilst the Spirit is said to do the same in Acts 8:29,39; 10:19; 11:12,28; 16:7; 21:4, suggesting that Angels spiritually guided men and revealed God's will and word to them.
The limitations of the Angels should not make us doubt the infallibility and fundamental truth of the word they inspired. Ultimately God was behind the work of inspiration executed by His Angels. God describes the word which He inspires as coming into His mind (Jer. 19:5)- as if it occurs to Him, and then He inspires men with it. The Word being with God in the beginning and being fundamentally the mind of God Himself (Jn. 1:1,2; Heb. 11:1-3), such language of limitation must refer to the Angels. Things come into their mind or are revealed to them, which they then inspired men to write. The context in Jer. 19:3 is Angelic- "The Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel". It is a fundamental truth that the entire Bible is infallibly inspired, notwithstanding the means through which that inspiration worked. However, it may be that some parts of Scripture are extremely intensely inspired, and this would be understandable if Angels are associated with inspiration, and input their feelings too in some way; thus "The Spirit (Angel?) speaketh expressly. . " (1 Tim. 4:1), implying that Paul felt under especially intense inspiration in saying this. There are other examples of this: "The Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand" (an Angelic phrase; Is. 8:11). Why say this if Isaiah did not feel extraordinarily inspired to say this? Or Is. 5:9: "In mine ears said the Lord of Hosts (Angels). . . ".
The nature of God's word must be borne in mind when considering how the Angels fulfil it. We have seen in Chapter 7 that the flood was the result of God's commands to the Angels. "But the heavens and earth which are now by the same word are kept in store , reserved unto fire against the day of judgement" (2 Peter 3:7). Thus when God spoke to the Angels about the flood, His commandments then also included details of the judgements at the second coming. Thus there may be a degree to which the Angels have to interpret God's word first before acting upon it, or where they can only fulfil some aspects of it at any one time.
It may even be that the Bible or the "whole counsel of God" existed in written form in Heaven before it was revealed to men. The fact that there is a literal book of life with writing in it indicates that the Angels do use their capacity to read; and will we too in some form in the Kingdom? Daniel 10:21 is the key passage on this: "I (the Angel) will shew thee that which is noted in the Scripture of Truth: and there is none that holdeth with Me in these things but Michael your prince". In passing, does this imply that the only other Angel apart from Gabriel who had successfully "earnestly desired to look into" these things and understood was Michael, the Angel for Israel? This passage would seem to necessitate some written record in Heaven capable of interpretation by the Angels, the meaning of which was being given to Daniel- hence our great privilege, along with him, in being granted at least a partial understanding of these things.
Gabriel goes on to say "now will I shew you the truth" (11:2). "Thy word is truth" (John 17:17); does this again indicate that the actual Bible was in written form in Heaven before revelation to men? So the Angels hear God's word in Heaven, and sometimes inspire men to write some of these words down. In Rev. 1:1 it says that the Revelation came from Jesus originally (and from God before that), but was sent to us and signified by the Angel. Does it follow that the Angel was responsible for working out the symbology, the signifying (putting into sign language) of the book, under the infallible guidance of God and Jesus? If so, we can better understand how the Angels eagerly watch over our attempts to understand the word, and are in a position, as Gabriel with Daniel, to step in and assist us in our understanding of it- not least through the trials of life which they bring opening our eyes to it (cp. Job 36:15). However, we know that not all the Angels have this ability, but rather earnestly look into the things contained in the word; or alternatively, they are used by God to work out the symbology which they themselves do not fully understand.