Last week, our summer series on Angels of the Realm began. If you’d like to start from the beginning, click here for the introduction.
Every culture down through the ages has been drawn to the supernatural like moths to a flame. Belief systems, books, movies, poetry, and art have been inspired, influenced, and created by those fascinated by angels. In the mid-1200s, the Dominican friar and Catholic priest, Thomas Aquinas wrote the Summa Theologica. Considered to be one of the most influential works of Western literature, Part 1, the Prima Pars, contains his views on angels. The Italian poet, Dante Alighieri took a different approach by envisioning all of the supernatural world in his work, The Divine Comedy. The first American book on angels, Angelographia, was written in 1696 by Increase Mather, a Puritan minister and Harvard president. In this discourse, he explored an angel’s nature and warned against the idolization of angels. Also, the English poet, John Milton heavily influenced society’s view of angels with his epic poem, Paradise Lost. In more contemporary times, young adult author, Cassandra Clarke has fictionalized angels in her series, The Mortal Instruments while Christian author, Frank Peretti introduced his readers to the realities of spiritual warfare with his Darkness series. References to angels are also found in sacred as well as secular music from the many hymns sung in church to those sung with the radio commuting to work.
However, the greatest influence in the modern age is undoubtedly the entertainment industry. The film, The Preacher’s Wife taught that angels have an instruction book they follow and they are waiting in a long line for a chance to return to earth to help solve a problem. The 1996 film , Michael suggested that angels smell like cookies, don’t bathe, and smoke cigarettes. On the small screen, television shows like Highway to Heaven and Touched by an Angel portray angels intersecting people’s lives to help them. While the television series, Supernatural, follows the adventures of a brother duo assisted by angels in their fight to keep other people safe from demons.
All of these influences, in addition to many more examples, can lead to confusion concerning a biblical understanding about angels. The danger not only exists today among churchgoers but has also been a problem down through the church age. Paul addressed this problem in his letter to the church at Colosse in Colossians 2.
“Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and 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. He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews grows as God causes it to grow.” Colossians 2:18,19
Many years ago, I began to explore scripture and find answers to my own questions. Some were answered and others I realize will only be revealed in heaven. The difference between what the Bible says and what the world has taught is broad. I hope we will develop a biblical view and replace a world view of the supernatural.
The first occurrence of the word angel in the Bible appears in Genesis 16. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for angel is mal’ak. By definition, mal’ak means messenger and is a masculine noun which is likely the basis for angels being referred to as males. The English word for angel comes from the Greek, angelos. Of the over 300 mentions of the word angel in scripture, the majority of depictions is as a messenger for God.
On Mondays during our summer series, I will focus on various truths about angels from scripture in the hopes of establishing a better biblical understanding. I hope that you will discover the answers to some of your questions about angels, discern the need for knowledge and wisdom in this present age, and also develop a deeper appreciation for the Lord.
To learn more about angels and dive into scripture a little deeper this week, click here for the first week lesson plan. I’m also providing a place for us to talk and share about what we’re learning in a Facebook group. If you’d like to be a part of this group, please provide me with your email and I’ll send you an invite.