(Matthew 25:31; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; 1 Timothy 5:21; Revelation 14:10)
Heaven and eternity will surely hold some wonderful revelations for the believer in Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul said that he knew a man who was “caught up to the third heaven…into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which is not lawful [possibly] for a man to utter” (2 Cor. 12:2-4).
I am certain that one of the things which will capture our attention will be our introduction to God’s Holy Angels. The Holy Angels are called “His Angels” (Ps. 91:11; 148:2; Mt. 4:16; 13:41; 16:27; 24:31; Mk. 13:27; Lk. 4:10; Rev. 3:5). Some Scriptures call them “Angels of God” (Gen. 28:12; 32:1; Mk. 12:25; Lk. 12:8-9; 15:10; Jn. 1:51; Heb. 1:6), thus making clear their special relationship to the Creator. They belong to God!
Furthermore, because of this relationship, they are preserved in a state of holiness forever. Jesus Christ taught that the angels “do always behold the face of My Father which is in Heaven” (Mt. 18:10), and that the will of God is always done in Heaven (Mt. 6:10). Their communion and fellowship with God is unbroken (Lk. 1:19). They live forever and cannot die (Lk. 20:36).
The great company of angels is beyond number (Dan. 7:10; Ps. 68:17; Mt. 26:53; Heb. 12:22; Rev. 5:11), and they have as the central object of their devotion the Lord Jesus Christ. He is their “head” (Col. 2:10), and “all the angels of God worship Him” (Heb. 1:5-8; cf. Eph. 1:20-21; Col. 1:16).
Angels, like humanity, may be made up of different races, nationalities and languages. They apparently do not have the same function or equality. Please note the difference even in physical description as recorded in Ezekiel 1:6 and 41:18 (cf., Mt. 12:24, 26; 17:19-21; Mk. 5:9).
The highest order and most intelligent of all angel races seems to be the Cherubim (Gen. 3:24; Ex. 25:18-22; 2 Kgs. 19:15; Isa. 37:16; Ezek. 1:1-28; 10:1-20; 28:14-16; Ps. 18:9-10; 80:1; 99:1).
Out of their ranks were chosen the ruling dignitaries who are called archangels or “principalities” (Col. 1:16; Eph. 1:21). The Greek word ARCHA means the “highest dignitaries of state.”
Lucifer was a Cherubim and, no doubt, the chiefest among the ruling angelic hierarchy before his fall, being the elected (anointed) Cherub. Ezekiel 28:14 says, “I have set thee so” / I have appointed thee.
Michael seems to be the Divinely-appointed replacement for Lucifer since he is the only angel specifically identified as an archangel. All of the other elected angels seem to be under Michael’s commandership (Rev. 12:7-9; 1 Thess. 4:16; Jude 1:19). Daniel 10:13 says that Michael is “one of the chief princes,” implying that there are other archangels. The Apocryphal Book of Enoch 20:1-7 names seven archangels: (1) Raphael, (2) Uriel, (3) Zariel, (4) Raguel, (5) Ramiel, (6) Gabriel, and (7) Michael. If this is true, then the archangels would be the Chief Justice of Heaven’s Supreme Court.
The next order and rank of angels are the Seraphim (Isa. 6:2, 6; cf., Rev. 4:6-9; 5:8, 14). While the Cherubim seem to be primarily concerned with the administration of the affairs of state, the Seraphim seem to be primarily engaged in an ecclesiastical ministry. They minister continually in the heavenly sanctuary with acceptable worship and holy service. You might say that the Seraphim are the Heavenly Priests.
Now the Twenty-Four Elders appear to be the angelic Chief Priests among the heavenly courses of angelic priest (Rev. 15:8). The Twenty-four Elders (Rev. 4:4, 10: 5:5-6, 8, 11; 14:7, 11, 13; ll:16; 14:3; 19:2-4) comes from the Greek word PRESBUTEROS which is an official title such as Governor, President, Premier, Chancellor, or Chief Priest. In this case it is translated Elder.
Many Bible teachers believe the Twenty-four Elders to be a select group made up of twelve Old Testament and twelve New Testament saints. However, I believe that a careful investigation of Revelation 4 and 5, especially of Revelation 5:9-10, will reveal them to be angels. Check the Greek, which reads: “Thou wast slain and hath redeemed to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made them unto our God kings and priests: and they shall reign on the earth.” The Twenty-four Elders are speaking here, not of themselves as is commonly supposed, but, rather, of saved members of the human race.
I believe that King David used these Holy Angels and their function in the Heavenly Government of God (the Cherubim, the Seraphim, and the Twenty-four Elders) as a pattern, after which he fashioned everything about the earthly government of God. This is best understood when we remember that the earthly House of God and everything about it, was fashioned after the heavenly pattern (Heb. 8:5; 9:23; 1 Chron. 28:11-13). (For more information, see “A Critical Lexicon and Concordance,” by E.W. Bullinger, pg. 246, and “Theology Outlines,” by Floyd H. Barachman, pg. 90.)
As I see the Throne Room of God in Heaven (Rev. 7:11 and other Scriptures like Ezek. 1; Isa. 6; and Rev. 4), I see it suspended somewhere in space, the center of attention being the Throne of God. The Throne is both enshrouded and encircled by the beautiful, bright, rainbow-like cloud of God’s Shekinah Glory (Ezek. 1:24-28; Rev. 4:3). Closest to the Throne are the four mysterious Cherubim angels called “living creatures” and “beasts” (Ezek. 1:5; Rev. 4:8); the archangels. Directly in front of the Throne are the Twenty-four Elder Angels sitting on their thrones (Rev. 11:16; 4:4). Underneath the Throne stand the remaining company of Cherubim angels (Ezek. 1:26; 10:1, 20; 11:22). Over the Throne stand the Seraphim Angels who fill the halls of Heaven with worship (Isa. 6:2, 6). Finally, on the outskirts, completely surrounding the Throne, stand the great host of rank-and-file angels (Rev. 5:11; 7:11).
It is not difficult for me to see that the sons of Levi were apparently patterned after the Seraphim, to lead the congregation of Israel in daily worship (1 Chron. 23:26-32). Likewise, the four sons of Aaron (Eleazar, Ithamar, Nadab, and Abihu) are like the archangels (1 Chron. 24:1-3), the “four living creatures.” Then the Twenty-four Governors of the Sanctuary and House of God (1 Chron. 24:5-19) were, no doubt, patterned after the Twenty-four Elder Angels.
Next in line are the Throne Angels (Col. 1:16). This comes from the Greek word THRONOS, which means a high seat with a footstool. These angels are apparently angels who are filling positions of great authority or regal power.
Colossians 1:16 next mentions Dominion Angels. This comes from the Greek word EXOUSIA, which has to do with delegated authority. These angels apparently have certain authority delegated to them by the higher-ranking angels. Perhaps these angels are the: (1) Evangelizing Angels (Rev. 14:6); (2) Bible-teaching Angels (Acts 7:38, 53; Gal. 3:19; Zech. 1:9-11); (3) Guardian Angels (Heb. 1:145); (4) Judgment Angels (Rev. 7:1-2; 8:2; 9:1; 14:18; 2 Sam. 24:16; Rev. 16:5; Mt. 13:39, 49050); (5) Soldier Angels (Isa. 13:1-5); (6) Lawyer Angels (Dan. 4); (7) Conductor Angels (Lk. 16:22); (8) Servant Angels (1 Kgs. 19:5, 7; Mt. 4:11; Lk. 22:43). (9) Ambassador Angels (Fsn. 20:13—11:1); (10) Observing Angels (1 Cor. 11:10); (11) Sentry Angels (Rev. 21:12); and (12) Prophet Angels (Rev. 22:9).
Yes, angels teach us! What little we know of the angelic creation gives us a new sense of God’s greatness and resourcefulness.
Furthermore, it is awe-inspiring to know that these super beings have willingly devoted themselves to the execution of the Divine purpose without question or hesitation.
Then, finally, a knowledge of angels helps us conceive the boundlessness and glories of our future existence. The believer in Jesus Christ is, presently, positionally higher than angels (Eph. 1:3; 2:5-8; cf., 1:18-20). In eternity, however, every believer will be experientally higher than angels (Rev. 20:4, 6; Dan. 7:18; 2 Tim. 2:12, at which time the government of God will undergo a change. The elect angels will resign their offices (Rev. 4:10) and others, more worthy than they (by grace) will take their place (Heb. 2:5-8). We will even judge angels (1 Cor. 6:3; cf., Rev. 20:4; Dan. 7:9, 22)! There is a sense in which saved humanity will not only receive a body like the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:21), but we will be like the angels (Lk. 20:35-36).