I have always been intrigued and inspired by the image of angels. Sturdy wings spread across the sky, powerful eyes gazing at the heavens, fiery swords in hand; the image of the angel is certainly inspiring. I have learned I am not alone in this opinion.
According to an online article written by Pastor Philip Schroeder, mankind has been amazed by angels throughout history. He speculates, “Perhaps it is because they seem like a type of in-between creature, between us and God. Angels are created beings, used by God to do his work.”
Indeed, the word angel means messenger. That is one reason you do not see angels in the Bible helping people move luggage or other physical tasks like that–they are messengers of God. To be even more specific, the word angel in English is a fusion of the Old English word engel and the Old French angele. Both derive from the Latin word angelus, which in turn is from the Greek angelos, meaning “messenger,” according to Wikipedia.
In his article, Schroeder points out, “Almost every time an angel appears in Scripture, he is bearing a sword, a trumpet or a message.” Also, when they first appear to people, angels often preface their message with, “Don’t be afraid.” (Although many people believe angels are around to help and inspire us, seeing an angel standing in front of you would certainly be shocking, to say the least.)
Angels have inspired people so much there are thousands of Web sites and books filled with facts and research on angels. Some interesting facts about angels:
1) It appears angels do not have gender. Ignore what you see in Christmas specials starring female angels or movies like The Heavenly Kid (1985) in which 1950s greaser Lewis Smith is a guardian angel to a teenager played by Jason Gedrick. That’s right, Biblical angels are androgynous.
2) Guardian angels are assigned to specific people, while archangels look after the affairs of mankind as a whole.
3) The theological study of angels is known as angelology.
4) There are two angels named in the Bible, Gabriel and Michael.
5) In Hebrew tradition there are 10 archangels. Below is a list of the archangels, according to information from the site ofspiritandsoul.com.
- Metatron – Legend has it this angel is the angel closest to God.
- Raziel – Wisdom personified and Angel of Mysteries.
- Zaphkiel – Angel of Contemplation
- Zadkiel – Chief of the Dominions. Zadkiel is the Angel of Benevolence and Mercy and Justice.
- Samael – Samael is the adversary who represents the severity of God, a chief of the seraphim and leader of 12,000 angels of destruction. This angel is also known as the Angel of Death.
- Michael – Michael is one of those mentioned in the Bible. He is chief of the heavenly host, Angel of the Presence, Angel Of Righteousness, Angel of Mercy, Angel of Repentance.
- Haniel – Chief of the ‘brilliant beings of light’.
- Raphael – Angel of Healing, of the world and all mankind, Angel of Compassion and Love.
- Gabriel – The Prince of Justice and chief of the kerubim (chariots). Angel of Mercy, Angel of Vengeance, Angel of Death and Angel of Revelation.
- Sandalphon – Sandalphon is the twin brother of Metatron. He ensures that the prayers of the faithful ascend to God. He is the Guardian Angel of Earth and engaged in ceaseless combat with Samael, according to the site ofspiritandsoul.com.
I remember one of the first times I was inspired by the image of angels; it was at a Christmas play in the mid-1980s. I was about eight or nine years old, I believe. My great-grandma had invited my parents and me to attend a play at her church one evening.
As the play went on–I believe it was about the birth of Christ–an angel came floating down from the choir loft and hovered above the manager. Of course, it was not really an angel but a woman (probably a church member). And the actress did not hover, but she was likely suspended on cables. Still, the actress had on a flowing robe and enormous, white wings. It was an impressive site that has stuck with me for years.
I even remember my great-grandma asking me after the play what part I liked best; I said I liked the angel best. I was a little embarrassed to answer for some odd reason. (Kids feel the oddest things.) She assured me it was not strange and that she agreed the image of the angel was impressive. Thanks, Grandma.
Indeed, it appears I am not the only one who finds the image of angels inspiring.