Angels of evil?
"Are they (the angels of God) not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve,
for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?" (Heb
These words suggest that there are no morally evil angels;
they all seem to be on God's side.
Then who are the sinful, false adversaries mentioned here and
there in the Bible? Very often they are human devils/satans (eg Act 5:3,5; Rev
2:9,13; 3:9; Mat 16:23; Joh 6:70), and it would appear -- for that matter --
that sin and death in the world are ultimately traceable to the actions of
humans, specifically Adam and Eve, from the very beginning (Gen 3, of course,
and Rom 5 esp):
"Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and
so death spread to all men because all men sinned... Yet death reigned from Adam
to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam,
who was a type of the one who was to come... many died through one man's
trespass... For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation...
because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man... one man's
trespass led to condemnation for all men... by one man's disobedience many were
made sinners... sin reigned in death..."
But strictly human devils/satans do not appear to answer all
issues satisfactorily. The problem of evil in the world still poses awkward
questions. So we turn to other passages...
"I form light and create darkness, I make weal and create woe, I am the LORD,
who do all these things" (Isa 45:7). (This is the RSV; for "woe" NIV has
"disaster" and KJV has "evil" -- suggesting the various translators were a
little uncertain about how to deal with this verse.)
Here is a stark truth about the world, with its earthquakes,
tornadoes, pestilences, and famines, which people by and large refuse to face up
to: that this is God's world and He is fully in control of what happens in it,
the "bad" ("evil") as well as the good. May I suggest that a well-balanced
philosophy or world view will accept this, the bad, as happening not because the
Almighty God, the One God, is slumbering or indifferent, but because He and He
alone originates and controls all such things for the fulfillment of His purpose
and for the ultimate good of the human race. The "evils" are only "evil" because
that is how men with limited understanding see them. With God there is no
ultimate "evil". By Divine teaching we see things in their correct perspective,
but it still requires personal faith to believe, in opposition to our natural
feelings, that a righteous and just and loving God is really responsible for
floods, famines, earthquakes, and the like.
"Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does evil befall a
city, unless the LORD has done it?" (Amo
But the Bible is full of "evils" brought by the power and
wisdom of God:
So... how does God control all the "evils" which are so much a
part of all human experience?
- Jonah's storm and Jonah's gourd;
- Egypt's seven years of plenty and then
- Elijah's drought;
- The earthquake at
Can God truly be in charge of... can He truly be the Monarch
of a universe in which dwells a superhuman Devil/Satan who continues for long
ages to be in open rebellion against the authority of God? All human experience
seems to declare that this Devil, if he really exists, is winning all along the
line; he is more almighty than THE Almighty... but how can this be?
Mark Twain was once asked whom he would most like to meet. He
promptly answered, "The Devil... because any person who can absolutely dominate
95% of the world's population... AND the other 5% about half the time... is
surely the most impressive Being in all of the universe."
As Calvin (of comic strip fame) asked his playmate Hobbes the
tiger: "Do you believe in the Devil? You know, a supreme evil being dedicated to
the temptation, corruption, and destruction of man?" To which a puzzled Hobbes
replied: "I'm not sure man needs the help." (The frustrated Calvin's last word:
"You just can't talk to animals about these things.")
A second point, so to speak, is to insist that the overall
control of God in the "bad" as well as the good, is committed to the
administration of angels, "his hosts, his ministers that do his will" (Psa
"For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to
come, of which we are speaking" (Heb 2:5)... which implies that the present
"world", with all the evils which it endures -- plagues, wars, and a thousand
other dire calamities -- IS under the control of the angels.
"Let US make man in our image, after our likeness" (Gen 1:26).
This can't be Jesus as a person... we are surely all agreed on that. Certainly
the most satisfying explanation of these words is that in the beginning, man was
designed to be physically in the likeness of angels; hence the clear examples in
the Bible of angels being mistaken for men (Gen 18:1,2; Jos 5:13; Mark
The association of angels with the creation may also be read
in such places as Job 38:4-7. Surely in many other places in the Bible which
describe God's control over the natural world, this control is really the
hands-on work of the angels, His "elohim" (mighty ones).
The concept of good and "evil" in the world of Nature and
human experience leads logically and inevitably to the conclusion that the vast
unseen array of God's ministers (Jesus spoke of 12 "legions", tens of thousands,
of angels!) include both angels of good and angels of "evil".
Now we shall consider these angels of "evil".
These passages at least (and there are a number of others)
make a case for a dichotomy of sorts in the legions of God's angels. Some are
protecting spirits, guiding and guarding in unseen ways: "angels of good".
Others are destroying spirits, punishing and trying men: "angels of evil". But
ALL are angels who do the will of God. There are no "wicked, sinful angels of
God"; wickedness is a trait exclusively the property of man. As Hobbes said,
"I'm not sure man needs the help!"
- "For the LORD will pass through to slay the Egyptians; and when he sees the
blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over [the
Hebrew means something like "hover over, to protect": Isa 31:5, sw] the door,
and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to slay you" (Exo 12:23).
Here, in one verse, there is a protecting angel and a destroying angel, both
working God's will.
- Evidently this same angel, or another like him, was
sent out -- by God! -- against Israel in the wilderness: "Do not grumble, as
some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer" (1Co 10:10).
- Psa 78
looks back to the plagues brought on Egypt... blood, lice, flies, frogs,
locusts, hail, etc. Then in v 49 we read: "He let loose on them his fierce
anger, wrath, indignation, and distress, a company of destroying angels." (The
KJV has "evil angels", and the RV "angels of evil"). Notice that it is not
possible to read here "wicked or sinful or morally evil angels", because they
were doing God's work against Pharaoh and the land of Egypt.
- Acts 12 also
has a protecting angel and a destroying angel at work at Passover time again (vv
3,4). Peter, in prison, was freed by an angel (vv 7...), and then Herod his
persecutor was struck down by an angel (v 23).
- At still another Passover,
Jerusalem was protected, and the Assyrian army was destroyed (Isa 37:36;
- In 1Ki 22:19... the downfall of Ahab is described as the result of
angelic influence over the false prophets in whom the king trusted.
also the "evil spirit FROM THE LORD" which troubled Saul (1Sa 16:14).
angelic destruction in Jerusalem in the time of David was stopped by the command
of the LORD (2Sa 24:16).