Every religion has its own version of angel history, explaining their beliefs regarding the order of angels – from their organization, hierarchy and assignment of duties.
Although the most prominent and well known depiction of this hierarchy comes from Christian writings, they are in fact a gathering of information taken from a variety of religions predating the Christian era.
It is interesting that in the different religions of the world, although the orders of the angels, their duties and their names may vary somewhat, there is always three common denominators that all religions agree upon: Angels are messengers of God; they are here to guide and protect us; and that angels were created before human beings.
Here is a brief description of each of the angelic hierarchies according to Judaic-Christian beliefs:
The First Hierarchy of Angels
It is believed there are several hierarchies of angels that watch over us and the universe. The first order of angels (or First Sphere, as it is often called) is the angels that are closest to God. These fall into three categories according to the Old Testament:
This highest order of angels is the Heavenly Choir as mentioned in Isaiah 6:1-7. The name Seraphim means “the burning ones” and includes four angels that continuously sing praises to the Lord. It is said they burn so brightly, that no other angel can look upon them.
The Cherubim Angels
The chief task of the cherubs is protection. According to Genesis 3:24, they guard the way to the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. They also protect the throne of God (Ezekiel 28:14-16). Human society pictures the Cherubim as “baby angels” with wings.
The Thrones are angels of the Third Order who carry out the divine justice of the Lord. They are humble, which allows them to dispense justice with objectivity. They are also known by the titles of The Elders, Erelim or Ophanim. Paul of Tarsus wrote about this class of celestial beings in Colossians 1:16.
The Second Hierarchy (Sphere) of Angels
The second Sphere of angels also contains three ranks: Dominions, Virtues and Powers. This second order of angels includes those who regulate the duties of the angels in the Third Sphere, as well as overseeing that cosmic order is maintained. They also keep tabs on how “power” is distributed within our own physical world.
The top of the Second Sphere of angels is called the Dominions. They are tasked with regulating the duties of the lower angels and to watch over nations. They are said to be divinely beautiful beings with feathered wings… much like we picture angels to be. Rarely do they show themselves physically to humans.
Someone has to look after the order of the universe and this task falls to the Virtues. Their main duty is to supervise the movements of the heavenly bodies – the galaxies, planets, stars, moons, etc. They work to ensure that the cosmos remains in order.
Powers are considered warrior angels. Since they are assigned to deal with the distribution of power to the individuals of our world, they are also given the duty as the bearers of conscience. Since they are so involved with overseeing humankind in this way, the Powers are also considered the keepers of history.
The Third Hierarchy (Sphere) of Angels
The third sphere of angels includes Principalities, Archangels, and Angels. These are the celestial beings that tend to have the most direct dealings with humankind.
This level falls at the top of the third sphere and includes celestial beings that appear to work together with the Powers of the Second Sphere and provide a bridge of instructions between the Angels above them and the Archangels and Angels that follow. One of their main tasks is to bequeath blessings upon the material world and they work to inspire creative ideas and encourage the blossoming of talents, such as in the fields of art and science.
The word Archangel comes from the Greek word meaning Chief Angels. These are the Messengers of God and include angels that we are all familiar with: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Raguel, Sariel and Remiel.
These seven archangels are the guardian angels of nations and countries. They watch over mankind and are tasked with overseeing issues such as politics, military matters, healing and medicine, commerce and trade. They are also the angels whom we pray to when we are in need of help.
Archangels have never incarnated as physical beings (ie. they have not been born as babies, lived a life, then died a physical death), although people have related stories of brief encounters where these angels have manifested in human form in order to help.
Angels, as we know them, are considered “earth angels”. They are our guardian angels or spirit guides. These angels have all had one or more incarnations on earth, and therefore can more easily relate to human concerns, hopes, dreams and difficulties. Their task is to guide us on the life path that we have chosen to pursue by providing direction and subtle guidance when needed. They also help us to learn and understand the lessons that we have set for ourselves at the beginning of our physical incarnation here on earth.
As you can see, there’s a lot that goes on in the angelic realms to keep order in the universe and here on earth. From the highest order of angel – the Seraphim – to the Guardian angels that guide us, everything works in tandem, flowing in streams that direct our world and all the other worlds and celestial bodies in that vast expanse of space we gaze at each night.
So, be assured that you are not alone. There are many spiritual beings watching over you. Listen to their whispers of encouragement and guidance, and you’ll soon begin to walk the enlightening path that you were meant to take. One day, when our lessons here on earth have been well learned, we too will become the spirit guides of humankind.