God’s “chariots” number “...tens of thousands and thousands of thousands” (Psalm 68:17a), driven by angels (all created by God) numbering “...thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand” (Dan. 7:10b; Rev. 5:11a). Literally translated, the phrase “myriads of myriads” is used here, indicating a virtually unlimited, almost countless number of angels. The activities of all angels, good or bad, are commanded or allowed by God.
Satan spearheads the war of evil against good—in the heavenlies and on earth. However, since he can be in only one place at a time (unlike the Holy Spirit, Who is everywhere at once—Psalm 139:7), God has granted him permission to utilize a host of spiritual beings to do his work. Evil spiritual entities are quite real, initially created to be officials of good (as was Lucifer/Satan) but which were deceived by Satan (just as we are deceived by him) to turn away from good and to embrace evil instead.
Not being omniscient, omnipotent, nor omnipresent, as God is, Satan cannot know about nor control every activity of each angel who has chosen to do evil. Thus, his kingdom is one in which internal corruption and lust for personal gain among the fallen angels cause many of Satan’s plans and undertakings to fail, as these angels often do what they feel will benefit themselves with little regard for Satan or other evil angels. (This, of course, is common among humans as well.) Jesus aptly stated, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined...” (Matt. 12:25a).
The Bible appears to show that Satan has induced one-third of the angels (sometimes referred to as “stars”—Judg. 5:20a) to lose their citizenship in heaven (Rev. 12:3,4a), as he himself did (Ezek. 28:16b,17b—see “heavenly citizenship revoked”: C-7, P-I), although they still have retained the privilege of accessing heaven (Job 1:6, 2:1). At the midpoint of the future 70th Week, however, they (along with Satan) permanently will be thrown out of and banned from heaven by all the good angels, led by the archangel Michael (Rev. 12:7-9—see “middle of the 70th Week”: C-12, P-III, S-1). And they will, with Satan, be engaged in the final, climactic wars involving mankind upon the earth.
Numerous times in Scripture, the term, “the Angel (or angel) of the Lord (or of God),” is mentioned. Although never identified by name, one’s first guess might be that this entity is God’s primary archangel, Michael. I do not feel this is the case, however. This special “Angel,” in fact, is pre-eminent to all ordinary angels because He actually possesses important attributes and qualities of God Almighty.
When Abraham was about to slay his son, Isaac, after God had commanded him to do so (see “Abraham’s complete trust in God”: C-2, P-II),
...the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son” (Gen. 22:11,12).
In this dialogue, the person speaking to Abraham is referred to three different ways: as “the angel of the Lord,” as “God,” and as “me.” Furthermore, this individual “...called out to [Abraham] from heaven....” Later,
The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son,...” (Gen. 22:15,16).
Plainly, the Angel of the Lord is the Lord God. He, in fact, swore by Himself because there is no greater power than God by which to take an oath (Heb. 6:13).
In a dream, the Angel of God appeared to Jacob (Gen. 31:11a). The Angel told him, “I am the God of Bethel...” (31:13a), thus attesting to the deity of this Angel. At a later time, when Jacob (or Israel—32:28a) was blessing his son (Joseph) and two grandsons (Ephraim and Manasseh), he said,
...May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my Shepherd all my life to this day, the Angel who has delivered me from all harm—may he bless these boys (Gen. 48:15,16a).
Here, Jacob not only equated “the Angel” with God but also with his “Shepherd,” another name for the Messiah (Isa. 40:11a; Jer. 31:10c; Ezek. 34:12-16). Jesus, the Messiah, was the Good Shepherd (John 10:11a,14a) until His death, is the Great Shepherd (Heb. 13:20) since His resurrection, and will be the Chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4a) after His Second (physical) Advent.
In another account, when Moses came to Mount Horeb, “...the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush” (Exo. 3:2a). When Moses approached to get a closer look, “...God called to him from within the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’” (3:4b). “Then he said, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’ At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God” (Exo. 3:6). Now, no one has ever seen God the Father except God the Son (John 1:18); so the entity in the burning bush could not have been God the Father. Therefore, I believe it only could have been the physical manifestation of the Father throughout eternity, Yeshua haMashiach, Jesus Christ, the Son.
At another time, “When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, ‘The Lord is with you, mighty warrior’” (Judg. 6:12). After Gideon asked Him a question, “The Lord turned to him and said, ‘Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?’” (6:14). Later, Gideon even brought an offering to the Angel (6:18,19). Again, it is apparent that the “angel of the Lord” and “the Lord” are one and the same, because Gideon used both of these titles when speaking to this person. Plus, only the Lord God would send Gideon on a special mission and would accept an offering from Gideon.
Finally, the Angel of the Lord appeared to a barren woman, the wife of Manoah, and told her she would conceive and have a son (Judg. 13:2,3). On another day, when the Angel appeared again, Manoah asked Him if He was the one who had talked to his wife; the Angel replied, “I am” (13:11)—a title of God (see “YHWH or Yahweh, the ‘I AM’”: C-2, P-I) and of Jesus (see “the ‘I AM’”: C-6, P-III). Manoah, as Gideon, then burned an offering to the Lord/Angel (13:19a). “And the Lord did an amazing thing while Manoah and his wife watched: As the flame blazed up from the altar toward heaven, the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame. Seeing this, Manoah and his wife fell with their faces to the ground” (13:19b,20). The couple knew they had seen God as evidenced by Manoah’s statement, “We are doomed to die!...We have seen God!” (13:22). Yes, indeed they had seen God; and, had they seen the Father, they would have died. However, the one they saw was the Son, Jesus, the incarnate God. (Incidentally, the son of Manoah and his wife was the mighty Samson—13:24a—who was a judge over Israel for 20 years—16:31c).
Isaiah used another term to describe this angel:
[The Lord] said, “Surely they are my people, sons who will not be false to me”; and so he became their Savior. In all their distress, he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old (Isa. 63:8,9).
The “angel of his presence” can be none other than the “Angel of the Lord,” who became Israel’s (and the world’s) Savior and Redeemer.
An angel, like a man, has a body, though a spiritual, invisible one (which can, at will, be made tangible and visible). Remember that Jesus is the “embodiment” of God (see “spirit, soul, body”: C-6, P-I; and “eyes, ears, arms, hands, fingers, feet, and body of God”: C-6, P-III). If He is capable of human incarnation, then it surely would seem plausible for Him also to take on, at will, the form of an angel—the Angel of the Lord—who would do the Father’s Will just as He did while He was a man on earth. Just a few other biblical passages indicating that this Angel was God are Gen. 16:7-13; Exo. 13:21, 14:19a,24, 23:20-23a; and Num. 22:21-38.
During John’s spectacular, revealing end-time vision, he saw a
...mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, and he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke (Rev. 10:1-3).
I believe this “mighty angel” also is none other than Jesus, the Almighty, the Angel of the Lord.
First of all, Jesus is seen elsewhere as coming with a cloud or on clouds (Matt. 24:30b; 1 Ths. 4:17a; Rev. 14:14). When Peter, James, and John saw Jesus transfigured, “His face shone like the sun....” (Matt. 17:2b). John also later saw that “His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance” (Rev. 1:16b) in another vision. I believe that Ezekiel, when he saw “...a figure like that of a man” (Ezek. 1:26b), saw the incarnate Jesus who, from waist down, “...looked like fire” (1:27b). He also had a radiance around Him like a rainbow (1:28), which I view as a symbol of Jesus (see “rainbow symbolic of Jesus”: C-6, P-V). And I believe that Daniel also saw Jesus in the form of an angel with “His body...like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude” (Dan. 10:6). John also described “...the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze” (Rev. 2:18). Furthermore, Jesus’ walking on the water (Matt. 14:25) may have been a foreshadowing of His planting one foot on the water in John’s end-time vision.
The “little scroll” Jesus had in His hand is the same one He had before He began removing the seven seals (Rev. 5:5c-7—seeC-12, P-I, C-12, P-II, C-12, P-III, and C-12, P-IV). Of course, with all seven of the seals opened and most of the scroll unraveled, this scroll would be only a fraction of its original size—thus, the description “little scroll.”
His shout was “...like the roar of a lion” because He is “...the Lion of the tribe of Judah...” (Rev. 5:5b). And this same “angel” later told John, “...I will give power to my two witnesses...” (11:3a). Only Jesus (God) could give this special Power, and these two witnesses will attest to Jesus’ Second Coming (see “the two witnesses”: C-12, P-III, S-1).
Previously, John had seen a manifestation of the seven-fold Spirit before God’s throne (Rev. 4:5bc) and on the Lamb, Jesus (5:6b). And John the Baptist said, of Jesus, “For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God; to him God gives the Spirit without limit” (John 3:34). Therefore, it is no surprise that when this “mighty angel” shouted, besides sounding like a lion, His voice would sound like the “...voices of seven thunders...” (Rev. 10:3b), which is the voice of the Holy Spirit. With the evidence in this and in the previous section (“the Angel of the Lord”), there is no doubt in my mind that Jesus can appear in any form—including an angel—in which He so chooses. (See also a mighty angel.)
Hundreds of years B.C., Daniel predicted that a fierce, “stern-faced” king would arise and cause desolation of the sanctuary (that is, the Jerusalem temple), cause astounding devastation, and “...take his stand against the Prince of princes”; however, this king would “...be destroyed, but not by human power” (Dan. 8:13,23-25). About four hundred years later, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, eighth king of the Seleucid or Syrian Empire, was this king; and these exact things occurred (see “Antiochus IV Epiphanes”: C-11, P-II). This evil king had come up against the Prince of princes, who was not a human power, and lost (8:25bc), being struck by a horrible, incurable disease by God (2 Macc. 9:5,9 in the Apocrypha).
Sometime later, the angel Gabriel described to Daniel the same Prince, but at a time further in the future. The Prince is called various things in different translations: “Anointed One,” “Messiah,” and “Prince” (Dan. 9:25a). This Messiah or Prince would be “cut off”; that is, He would be killed violently (Dan. 9:26a; Isa. 53:8c—see “Messiah killed; time count stopped”: C-11, P-II).
At some point thereafter, the people of a certain ruler (a ruler who later would come) would “...destroy the city and the sanctuary” (Dan. 9:26b). The Romans demolished Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D. The Romans would be the people within an empire which would have a future ruler—“...the ruler who will come...” (9:26b)—who “...will confirm a covenant with many [Israelites and Arabs]...,” later break the covenant, set up abominations in the temple, cause another desolation, and come to his end (9:27—see “the 70th Week covenant,” “abomination, desolation, and distress,” and “Antichrist’s purposes and end”: C-11, P-III).
Unlike the destruction of Antiochus Epiphanes by the Prince of princes, it would appear at first glance (with the occurrence of a similar sequence of events) that this Prince would be killed at some point prior to being able to overcome the ruler—a ruler through whom desolation and abominations again would come to Jerusalem and the temple. Death, however, would not have a permanent effect on the Prince, also referred to as the “Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6c), the “Prince [or Author] of life” (Acts 3:15a), and a “Prince and a Savior” (5:31). In fact, he will return, ultimately, as the “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16) to overcome the evil ruler (beast), as well as “...the kings of the earth and their armies...” (19:19-21), who will come against Jerusalem and the temple—for the last time. This Prince of princes, King of kings, and Lord of lords is none other than Jesus Christ, the Faithful and True (1:1a, 19:11a).
Michael is “...the great prince who protects [Israel]...” (Dan. 12:1a). He always has stood behind and supernaturally supported Israel against its enemies. Whenever Israel has been victorious over its enemies (as in Exo. 17:8-13; Num. 21:1-3; Deut. 7:1,2; Josh. 6:1-21), I believe it can be assumed that Michael played a major role in helping the Israelites. Although Michael’s protection is not stated specifically in the aforementioned passages, I feel it may be inferred (Dan. 10:13b,21b, 12:1a). It may be that Michael commands a third of all the angels, which are God’s “angelic warriors.”
Moreover, anyone who has studied wars in modern times, directly or indirectly involving Israel (1948, 1967, 1973, 1982, and 1991), should be able to tell that Israel’s victories and/or protection against numerically greater odds cannot be chalked up to “luck,” nor wholly to a very experienced and highly effective fighting force. I think it is due to divine protection by God (through Jesus and Michael) of the people He has chosen (Isa. 44:1,2) to bring the Gospel message of salvation to the world.
Gabriel seems to be God’s chief messenger angel. Although he is not specifically called a “prince,” I believe he may be considered to be such. It may be that Gabriel commands a third of all the angels, which are God’s “angelic messengers.”
Whenever Gabriel is mentioned in the Bible, he has brought messages. Gabriel came to Daniel and explained, in detail, future events to him (Dan. 8:16-26, 9:21-27). It was Gabriel who appeared to Zechariah to tell him that his barren wife, Elizabeth, would conceive and bare a son, John (the Baptist) to prepare the Jewish people for the coming of the Lord (Luke 1:11-19). And Gabriel also was sent by God to the virgin Mary to inform her that, by the Power of the Holy Spirit, she would conceive and give birth to a son, Jesus, the Son of God (1:26-35). I believe Michael and Gabriel are “principal” or “ruling” angels (see “rulers (principalities) and authorities” in the next segment).
An extremely important statement by Paul, concerning the spirit world, is this:
...[O]ur struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers [principalities], against the authorities, against the powers [rulers] of this dark world and against the spiritual forces [hosts] of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph. 6:12).
There may be wide speculation as to the meanings of these terms as applied to the evil spirit world. However, I would interpret the aforementioned references by Paul as follows:
Rank and Order
|rulers (principalities)||evil angels who are the principal or chief rulers of highest rank and order in the dark kingdom, doing the will of Satan (the top-ranking evil archangel) and of God|
|authorities||evil angels who answer to and execute the orders of the chief rulers (principalities), of Satan, and of God|
|powers of this dark world||demonic rulers within the world who answer to the authorities, chief rulers (principalities), Satan, and God|
|spiritual forces||the remaining host of evil spirits and powers in the heavenlies who answer to the authorities, chief rulers, Satan, and God|
Various Bible translations contain differing names for the beings in this spirit hierarchy. I find that the Modern Language and the New International versions tend to contain the most accurate translations (from the Greek).
I consider rulers (or principalities) and authorities to be angels (good or evil) who apparently have their own spirit, immaterial “bodies” which they sometimes reveal to people in the physical realm (Gen. 19:1a; Rev. 9:11). Since they have no need to occupy (possess) human or animal bodies, their major activity tends to be in the heavenly domains (heaven, the universe, and the atmosphere).
A certain evil angel, who probably is a “principal angel,” is mentioned in the Bible. This angel presently abides in the Abyss (a bottomless pit) but will emerge at some point during the last few years of this age to lead an army of “locust demons” onto the earth to torment its inhabitants for five months (Rev. 9:2-11—see “demon forces”: “interpretations”: C-12, P-IV, S-2; and “Abyss”: “references to hell”: C-14, P-I). The king of this demonic army is Abbadon (in Hebrew) or Apollyon (in Greek). “Abbadon” means “Destruction” (Job 26:6b, 28:22, 31:12a; Psalm 88:11; Prov. 15:11a); thus, this angel is known as the Destroyer.
As such, it is possible that this is the “destroyer angel” whom God commanded to kill the firstborn of each Egyptian house, not protected by the blood of the Passover lamb, but to pass over each Hebrew family’s house which had the blood in the doorway (see “Pesach or Passover”: C-4, P-I):
When the Lord goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer [angel] to enter your houses and strike you down (Exo. 12:23).
During their wilderness journeys, the children of Israel complained and grumbled (murmured) many times. At one time, God became so angry with the grumbling that he allowed a plague to destroy 14,700 people (Num. 16:41-49). According to Paul, the grumblers “...were killed by the destroying angel” (1 Cor. 10:10).
Also, when David had an unwarranted census taken of Israel, angering God (2 Sam. 24:1; 1 Chr. 21:1,2—see “incitement of David”: C-7, P-II), an angel was sent by God to destroy Jerusalem (2 Sam. 24:16; 1 Chr. 21:15a). Again this was, I suspect, the “destroyer angel.”
Certain “powers of this dark world” are what I would consider demons—evil angels who seem to restrict their activities mainly to the world rather than to the heavenly realm (although there are exceptions). Literally translated from the Greek, these are “world rulers” or “overlords.” The remaining “spiritual forces” are unspecified hosts of evil spiritual powers inhabiting the heavenlies. They also may engage in activities on the earth.
Although I believe that demons generally have their own spirit “bodies,” I suspect that some lower-ranking demons may not. They may need to inhabit (possess) the bodies of humans or animals to be “complete” or to gratify fully their base, depraved obsessions and desires (Mark 5:2-5,11-13, 9:17,18,20,26a). Some demons presently may not be able to escape the earthly realm at all—“grounded” spirits, as it were—being completely restricted to activity in the world (Matt. 12:43) and having no access to heaven. Demons commonly and loosely are ascribed the term, “evil spirits,” although all bad angels and demons, in fact, are evil spirits.
Moses indicated that some of the children of Israel “...sacrificed to demons...” (Deut. 32:17a). This was because they “...forgot the God who gave [them] birth” (32:18b). David said, “They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons” (Psalm 106:37).
It would seem that all the great (evil) “heavenly powers” (dunameis or “heavenly bodies”—Matt. 24:29d; Luke 21:26b), who will be ejected from heaven at the midpoint of the 70th Week, will be “shaken” down to earth at a later point (see “supernatural signs on the earth”: C-12, P-III, S-2), understandably creating great apprehension and dismay among the people of the world (Luke 21:26a).
In the Old Testament, sons of God referred to angels (Job 1:6a, 2:1a, 38:7). The first time this phrase is mentioned is concerning certain evil angels. As people began to multiply on the earth,
...the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. ...
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also [after the Flood]—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown (Gen. 6:2,4).
I believe that these “sons of God” were angels who had offspring with human females, though many scholars disagree. Those who disagree point out that Jesus, addressing a question concerning marriage after the Resurrection, said, “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven” (Matt. 22:30). In fact, I agree with this; however, the angels who did have offspring by human women are no longer in heaven, nor were they at the time Jesus made this statement. Also, angels do not procreate with each other (thus there always has been a constant number of angels).
The punishment of this subset of evil angels was that they were placed in chains and sent to Tartarus, a section of hell (see “Abyss”: “references to hell”: C-14, P-I), to be held for the Day of Judgment. Jude said,
And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home [in heaven, to keep company with women on earth instead]—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day (Jude 6).
Peter said that “...God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell [Tartarus], putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment” (2 Pet. 2:4). Also, these angels are described by Peter as “...spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built” (1 Pet. 3:19b,20a).
Nephilim, which were giants, apparently were the offspring of the evil angels and human women. Other examples of giants were the Anakites (Num. 13:33; Deut. 2:10b,11a,21a), the Emites (2:10a,11b), and the Zamzummites (2:20b). Goliath, the Philistine whom David killed with a stone from a slingshot (1 Sam. 17:48-50), was a giant over nine feet tall (17:4). King Og, a Rephaite giant, had an iron bed “...more than thirteen feet long and six feet wide” (Deut. 3:11ab). In my opinion, it is likely that the evil angels and their part-human descendants were the very “gods” and “half-gods” described in ancient mythology, being described as “...heroes of old, men of renown” (Gen. 6:4b).
Why did angels mate with human women? In a statement by God to Satan, He indicated that a certain descenddnt of Eve would “crush [his] head” (Gen. 3:15c). Therefore, Satan sent certain angels to contaminate the genetic purity of the human race, lessening the chance that this descendant of Eve would be born and thereby enabling Satan to keep control of this planet indefinitely, or maybe even permanently. Though the first wave of giants was destroyed by the Great Flood, angels again procreated with women after the Flood. This second wave of giants settled the land in and around Israel, and the children of Israel entering the land constantly were having to fight them off.
Moses sent twelve men to explore the land of Canaan (Num. 13:1-25). However, when they returned, most of the men
...spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, ‘The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there.... We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them’ (Num. 13:32,33).
Fortunately, two men (Joshua and Caleb) had abundant faith that God would destroy their giant enemies (Num. 14:6-9) and were the only two of the original generation of Hebrew refugees to go into the desert that were allowed by God to enter the promised land (14:24,30—see “faithful exceptions”: C-2, P-III).
Evil “princes” evidently have been assigned persuasive jurisdiction and authority over certain geographical areas of the world (see “spirits ruling over certain cities in the USA,” “religious spiritual battles,” and “spritual battle over Jerusalem,”: C-10, P-I). These princes may be principal rulers, authorities, and/or world rulers. Satan commands (with God’s authorization and permission) the entire organization of evil spirits around the world, which is why he is called “...the ruler of the kingdom of the air...” (Eph. 2:2b) and the “...prince of this world...” (John 16:11).
Two other evil spiritual princes are mentioned in the Book of Daniel: the “...prince of the Persian kingdom...” (Dan. 10:13a) and the “...prince of Greece...” (10:20c). They are evil angels or demons who had great influence upon the leaders of these two ancient empires. For instance, the spiritual prince of Persia (10:20b) had a persuasive effect over three human Persian kings (11:2a): Cambyses, pseudo-Smerdis (Gaumata), and Darius I.
Possibly another evil spiritual prince is named in the Book of Jeremiah: “I will punish Bel in Babylon and make him spew out what he has swallowed. The nations will no longer stream to him. And the wall of Babylon will fall” (Jer. 51:44). Bel may well have been the spiritual ruler over ancient Babylon, as well as continue to be the spiritual ruler over Iraq today.
Proceed to Chapter 8, Part II
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Copyright © 1998– by Ted M. Montgomery, O.D. Most rights reserved.