Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Biblical History of Angels

The Bible includes only twenty-six specific historical encounters with angels, ten in the Old Testament, sixteen in the New. This covers about 2,100 years from ca. 2015 BC to ca. AD 95. The appearances began with Abraham (Genesis 18) and continued until the time of John’s prophetic visions in Revelation.
God created all the angels (Neh. 9:6; Ps. 148:2–5; Col. 1:16). Job 38:7 states that the angels sang during the creation, indicating that they were created at the outset. Satan’s fall (Ezek. 28:15) and the demons’ rebellion (Rev. 12:4) would have occurred after Genesis 2 (the seventh day of creation) but before Genesis 3 (Eve’s deception and Adam’s disobedience). After the garden debacle, God placed cherubim at the east end of the garden to guard the way to the tree of life (Gen. 3:24).
Ten specific Old Testament historical encounters occurred over about 1,500 years (ca. 2025–ca. 480 BC), from the time of Abraham (Genesis 18) to the days of Zechariah. These events involved patriarchs and prophets:
1. Genesis 18:1–19:22: Abraham, Lot, and Sodom (ca. 2025 BC)
2. Genesis 28:1–17: Jacob’s dream (ca. 1950 BC)
3. Genesis 32:1–2: Jacob at Mahanaim (ca. 1950 BC)
4. 1 Kings 19:5: Elijah (ca. 860 BC)
5. Isaiah 6:1–4: Isaiah and the throne of God (ca. 740 BC)
6. Daniel 8:13–27: Daniel and Gabriel (ca. 551 BC)
7. Daniel 9:20–27: Daniel and Gabriel (ca. 538 BC)
8. Daniel 10:10–21: Daniel and an angel (ca. 536 BC)
9. Daniel 12:5–13: Daniel and angels (ca. 522 BC)
10. Zechariah 1:9–6:5 (twelve times): Zechariah and the angel who spoke to him (ca. 480 BC)
At least sixteen specific New Testament historical encounters with angels occurred over about one hundred years (ca. 5 BC–ca. AD 95), from the time of Christ’s birth to the days of John’s prophetic visions in Revelation. (Most English versions of the Bible omit “an angel of the Lord … stirred the water” in John 5:4 because it is not included in the oldest and best New Testament manuscripts.) These events surrounded the Gospels, Acts, and Revelation:
1. Luke 1:8–23: Zechariah (ca. 5 BC)
2. Luke 1:26–38: Mary and Gabriel (ca. 5 BC)
3. Matthew 1:18–24: Joseph (ca. 5 BC)
4. Luke 2:8–20: Shepherds (ca. 5 BC)
5. Matthew 2:13–15: Joseph (ca. 5 BC)
6. Matthew 2:19–23: Joseph (ca. 4 BC)
7. Matthew 4:11: Jesus (ca. AD 27)
8. Luke 22:43: Jesus (ca. AD 30)
9. Matthew 28:1–10; Luke 24:1–12; John 20:11–18: Tomb encounters (ca. AD 30)
10. Acts 1:10–11: Apostles (ca. AD 30)
11. Acts 5:19: Apostles (ca. AD 31)
12. Acts 8:26: Philip (ca. AD 32)
13. Acts 10:3–8, 22; 11:13: Cornelius (ca. AD 36)
14. Acts 12:7–11: Peter (ca. AD 44) 15. Acts 27:23–26: Paul (ca. AD 58)
16. Revelation 1–22: John (ca. AD 95)
These documented visits do not negate the possibility of other encounters that the canonical text does not record. It does mean that these infrequent Old Testament and New Testament events would be representative of any other visits. Thus, they would be reserved for very significant events and limited to very important people of God.
Revelation 6–19 chronicles an overview of notable events that will unfold over the seven years of Daniel’s seventieth week, especially the last three and one-half years. At the end of that time, Christ will come from heaven to earth with his angels in order to conquer the world and set up his one-thousand-year kingdom on earth (Matt. 13:39, 41, 49; 16:27; 24:31; 25:31; Mark 8:38; 2 Thess. 1:7).
Revelation 20 briefly explains Christ’s millennial kingdom, including the angelic incarceration of Satan (20:1–3), Christ’s reign (20:4–7), Satan’s release at the end for eternal punishment (20:7–10), and the final judgment of all unbelievers at the great white throne judgment (20:11–15; cf. Luke 12:8–9). Revelation 21–22 provides a summary of the basics involved with the new heaven and new earth, New Jerusalem, and eternity future, including angels at the city gates (Rev. 21:12).