The Truth About Angels
Becoming acquainted with someone usually includes learning something about that one’s family. It is the same with coming to know Jehovah God. More is involved than simply learning his name. We must also come to know something about his “family” in heaven. (Compare Ephesians 3:14, 15.) The Bible calls the angels God’s “sons.” (Job 1:6) Considering their significant role in the Bible, we should want to know more about them to understand their place in God’s purpose.
A NEW subculture is developing. Not only are more people saying that they believe in angels; an increasing number are claiming to have been touched by them in some way. When 500 Americans were asked, “Have you ever personally felt an angelic presence in your life?” almost a third answered yes. Surprising too is the number of youths who profess belief in angels—according to one poll in the United States, a full 76 percent! Evidently, people are interested in angels. But how does the current thinking about angels measure up to Bible truth?
Soft-Pedaling Satan’s Role
When speaking of angels, we should not ignore the wicked angels, heavenly creatures who the Bible says rebelled against God. Foremost of these is Satan. A popular book called Ask Your Angels suggests that Satan is merely “an aspect of God” who helps humans strengthen their “spiritual muscles” through constant temptation. Despite Satan’s “loving intentions,” the authors state, he has over the centuries become mistakenly identified with evil. They add that Satan and Jesus, “while not exactly complementary to each other, are at least on the same side, integral parts of the same whole.” These are astonishing assertions, but what does the Bible say?
The Bible makes it clear that Satan is not “an aspect of God” but an enemy of God. (Luke 10:18, 19; Romans 16:20) He defies Jehovah’s sovereignty, and his intentions toward humans are hardly “loving.” He heartlessly vents his wrath on God’s earthly servants. He accuses them before God day and night!a (Revelation 12:10, 12, 15-17) Satan is intent on corrupting them at any cost. His merciless persecution of the righteous man Job exposed his callous attitude toward human suffering.—Job 1:13-19; 2:7, 8.
Far from being “on the same side,” Satan and Jesus are diametrically opposed to each other. Why, it was undoubtedly Satan who induced Herod to decree a mass infanticide—all in an effort to do away with the young child Jesus! (Matthew 2:16-18) And Satan’s relentless attacks continued right up until Jesus’ death. (Luke 4:1-13; John 13:27) Thus, rather than being “integral parts of the same whole,” Jesus and Satan are complete opposites. Bible prophecy shows that their enmity is inevitable. (Genesis 3:15) Fittingly, it is the resurrected Jesus who will destroy Satan in God’s due time.—Revelation 1:18; 20:1, 10.
Prayers to Whom?
Some advocates of the angel movement recommend meditation and other techniques in order to communicate with angels. “A sincere request for contact with any member of the celestial family will not go unheeded,” says one book. “Ask and you shall be answered.” Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael are among the angels the book recommends for consultation.b
However, Jesus taught his followers to pray to God, not to angels. (Matthew 6:9, 10) Similarly, Paul wrote: “In everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6) In their prayers, therefore, Christians do not approach anyone except Jehovah, and they do so in the name of Jesus Christ.c—John 14:6, 13, 14.
According to Eileen Elias Freeman, who presides over the AngelWatch Network, “angels transcend every religion, every philosophy, every creed. In fact, angels have no religion as we know it.”
The Bible, however, makes it clear that faithful angels do have a religion; they worship the true God, Jehovah, who tolerates no rivalry from other gods. (Deuteronomy 5:6, 7; Revelation 7:11) Thus, such an angel described himself to the apostle John as “a fellow slave” of those who obey God’s commands. (Revelation 19:10) Nowhere in the Bible do we read of faithful angels upholding any other form of worship. They give Jehovah exclusive devotion.—Exodus 20:4, 5.
“The Father of the Lie”
Many so-called angelic encounters involve communication with the dead. “I had the feeling that my uncle had found a way to reach me and let me know that he was happy at last,” says a woman named Elise after receiving what she felt was a sign. Terri similarly remembers a dear friend who died. “A week after the funeral,” she says, “he came to me in what I thought was a dream. He told me I should not mourn his departure, because he was happy and at peace.”
But the Bible states that the dead “are conscious of nothing at all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5) It also says that when a person dies, “in that day his thoughts do perish.” (Psalm 146:4) Satan, however, is “the father of the lie.” (John 8:44) He is the one who originated the falsehood that the human soul survives death. (Compare Ezekiel 18:4.) Many people today believe this, which suits Satan’s purpose, for it negates the need for faith in the resurrection—a fundamental doctrine of Christianity. (John 5:28, 29) So, inquiring of the dead or seemingly receiving messages from them is yet another facet of the angel movement that is not approved by God.
Approach to Angels or to Demons?
Much of the current angel movement dabbles in the occult. Consider Marcia’s experience. “From September to December 1986,” she says, “I began to receive messages from ‘beyond the third dimension.’ I saw apparitions and had incredible ‘past life’ dreams. I contacted friends who had died and had many other psychic experiences in which I knew things about people I had just met. I also became blessed with the gift of automatic writing and transmitted messages from discarnates. Some, whom I have never met in their earthly lives, would deliver messages to others through me.”
The use of divination as a means to “communicate” with angels is not uncommon. One source outrightly encourages its readers to employ rune stones, tarot cards, I Ching coins, palmistry, and astrology. “Allow your inner knowing self to lead you to the right oracle,” the authors write, “and trust that an angel will meet you there.”
According to the Bible, however, whatever ‘meets you there’ certainly is not one of God’s angels. Why? Because divination stands in open defiance of God, and true worshipers—in heaven and on earth—have nothing to do with it. Why, in Israel divination was a capital offense! “Everybody doing these things is something detestable to Jehovah,” the Law stated.—Deuteronomy 13:1-5; 18:10-12.
“An Angel of Light”
It should not surprise us that the Devil can make divination appear beneficial, even angelic. The Bible says that Satan “keeps transforming himself into an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14) He can even fabricate portents and then make them come true, deceiving onlookers into thinking that the omen is from God. (Compare Matthew 7:21-23; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12.) But all of Satan’s works—no matter how virtuous or how sinister they may appear—serve one of two purposes: to turn people against Jehovah or simply to blind their minds so that ‘the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ might not shine through.’ (2 Corinthians 4:3, 4) This latter method of deception is often the most effective.
Consider the Bible account of a servant girl in the first century. Her predictions brought much gain to her masters. For many days she followed the disciples, saying: “These men are slaves of the Most High God, who are publishing to you the way of salvation.” Her words were true. Yet, the account tells us that she was possessed, not by an angel, but by “a demon of divination.” Eventually, Paul “turned and said to the spirit: ‘I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.’ And it came out that very hour.”—Acts 16:16-18.
Why did Paul expel this spirit? After all, it provided much income to the masters of the demon-possessed girl. With supernatural powers, the servant girl may have told farmers when to plant, maidens when to marry, and miners where to look for gold. Why, this spirit even moved the girl to speak some words of truth, publicly praising the disciples!
Nevertheless, it was “a demon of divination.” As such, it had no right to make proclamations about Jehovah and his provision for salvation. Its complimentary speech, perhaps uttered to lend credence to the servant girl’s predictions, distracted onlookers from Christ’s true followers. With good reason, Paul warned the Corinthians: “You cannot be partaking of ‘the table of Jehovah’ and the table of demons.” (1 Corinthians 10:21) Not surprisingly, first-century Christians destroyed all their books that were associated with divination.—Acts 19:19.
An “Angel Flying in Midheaven”
As we have seen, the Bible exposes much of the current angel movement as being closely aligned with God’s Adversary, Satan the Devil. Does this mean that holy angels are not involved in human affairs? On the contrary, they are now performing a powerful work on earth. What is it? To answer, we must look to the Bible book of Revelation. The angels are mentioned more times in this book than in any other book of the Bible.
At Revelation 14:6, 7, we read the apostle John’s record of a prophetic vision he received: “I saw another angel flying in midheaven, and he had everlasting good news to declare as glad tidings to those who dwell on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people, saying in a loud voice: ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of the judgment by him has arrived, and so worship the One who made the heaven and the earth and sea and fountains of waters.’”
This scripture highlights the foremost work of the angels today. They are involved in a high-priority assignment—that of declaring the good news of God’s Kingdom. It was with regard to this work that Jesus promised his followers: “I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 28:18-20) How is Jesus with his followers? One way is by providing them with angelic help so that this monumental work might be accomplished.
Jehovah’s Witnesses spend more than a billion hours annually preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom. While performing this work, they see evidence of angelic direction. In their door-to-door ministry, it has often occurred that they contact individuals who had just been praying for someone to help them understand God’s purposes. Angelic guidance, along with the Witnesses’ own initiative, has resulted in hundreds of thousands coming to a knowledge of Jehovah each year!
Are you listening to the angel flying in midheaven? When Jehovah’s Witnesses call, why not discuss more fully with them this angelic message?
a The words “Satan” and “Devil” mean “resister” and “slanderer.”
b While Michael and Gabriel are mentioned in the Bible, the names of Raphael and Uriel appear in the Apocryphal books, which are not part of the Bible canon.
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WHO ARE THE ANGELS?
CONTRARY to what many believe, angels are not the departed souls of humans who have died. The Bible plainly states that the dead “are conscious of nothing at all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5) Where, then, did the angels come from? The Bible indicates that they were individually created by God before the founding of the earth. (Job 38:4-7) The size of God’s heavenly family may be hundreds of millions, perhaps billions or more! Some angels joined Satan in his rebellion.—Daniel 7:10; Revelation 5:11; 12:7-9.
Since Jehovah is a God of order, it is not surprising that his vast angelic family is organized.—1 Corinthians 14:33.
• Angels (meaning “messengers”) are agents and deputies of Jehovah. They carry out the divine will, whether it involves deliverance of God’s people or the annihilation of the wicked.—Genesis 19:1-26.
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Are you listening to the angel flying in midheaven?