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Seeing Angels: How to Recognize and Interact with Your Heavenly Messengers
by Joshua Mills
Learn More | Meet Joshua Mills
Angels in Your Life
For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.
Angels are real. I have angels assigned to my life, and you do too! Every believer has angels commissioned to them, to perform certain specific tasks to which they are called. Some angels bring healing, while others deliver important messages, and, as we can see throughout the Scriptures, there are many angels committed to the protection and deliverance of God’s people. (See, for example, Psalm 34:7.) The most important thing to remember is that there are specific angels assigned to you. Whether you’ve noticed them or not doesn’t change this reality. From the beginning of history, the activity of angels has been documented within the Word of God, and every place where an angel is mentioned in the Bible represents an area of your own life where an angel is available to work for you!
In this first chapter, I want you to see the various classifications of angels that are recorded in the Bible. I’ve also provided an appendix filled with Scripture to enhance your understanding of this topic. I want you to have the confidence to know that angels are present with you, that they have been sent by God, and that they are waiting for you to engage with them, today and every day!
The Hebrew word translated as angel in the Bible is mal’ak (Strong’s H4397), which means “messenger from God,” “ambassador,” or “to dispatch as a deputy.” The Greek word aggelos carries a similar meaning, denoting a “messenger” or “sent one.” Although you may not always see your angels, according to God’s Word, you can be sure that your angels always see you! They are heavenly messengers being sent to positively affect your life. They surround you constantly, whether you’re aware of their presence or not. Most of us have only been taught about the physical realm that surrounds us in time and space, but there is a much wider spiritual realm that penetrates the natural world with the vibrations of the eternal. The existence of angels reminds us that a reality exists far beyond that which we can see in the natural, and one of the reasons I have written this book is to help you become more aware of these angelic beings. Yes, beings, plural. The Scriptures say that you have more than one of them: “For he shall give His angels charge over you”!
When I was very young, I used to play with my angels in the backyard, swinging with them on the playset and singing songs with them. I even remember watching angels flying in circles above my head in church, gliding through the air with ease beneath the ceiling of the sanctuary during our Sunday morning services. They were dressed in what seemed to be white, flowing gowns, and they radiated the most brilliant light as they flew gracefully through the air.
There were usually more than one of them, and I find it interesting that when the Scriptures speak of angels, they are often mentioned in groups. Angels seem to love to work together to accomplish God’s purposes in the earth. In large numbers and by many names, we can see various angels mentioned in the Bible. They have been called:
- The armies of heaven (Revelation 19:14)
- Chariots of fire (2 Kings 6:17; see also Psalm 68:17; Zechariah 6:1–5)
- Heavenly hosts (Psalms 103:21, 148:2; Luke 2:13)
- Holy ones (Psalm 89:5 and 7)
- An innumerable company (Hebrews 12:22)
- Sons of God (Job 1:6 and 2:1)
- Stars (Job 38:7; Revelation 12:4)
- Watchers (Daniel 4:13, 17)
When we read these descriptive names of God’s angels, such as “chariots of fire,” “heavenly hosts,” and “stars,” immediately, we think of bright shining lights, and that would be true. Someone has said, “Angels are to God what sunbeams are to the sun.” This is correct in the sense that angels come from God and are an extension of Him, and in the sense that they release His heavenly radiance in the earth. However, I don’t want you to be confused about angels, so I feel the need to clarify certain truths up front, in order to help you get your mind properly focused on what I’m referring to in this book.
Who Is “the Angel of the Lord”?
One of the things that has puzzled biblical scholars and theologians for centuries is the use of the term “the angel of the Lord” throughout the Scriptures. On a few occasions in the Old Testament, this could have been Jesus Himself, appearing in Spirit form. This is called a theophany, a manifestation or appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ. This would explain the angel’s authority to forgive sins (see Exodus 23:21), judge the earth (see Genesis 18:25), and receive worship from both Moses and Joshua (see Exodus 3:2–5; Joshua 5:14–15), for these are things that only God can do. We should, however, be careful to understand that this does not mean that Jesus is merely an angel. He is higher than the angels (see Hebrews 1:4), He is the one and only Son of God (see Hebrews 1:1–5), the angels worship Him (see Hebrews 1:6–7), and whereas angels are created heavenly beings (see Psalm 148:1–6), we know that Jesus has existed for all of eternity (see John 1:1–14).
We also see the angel of the Lord appearing in New Testament times. A good example is when the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph, foretelling the birth of Christ:
But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, you son of David, fear not to take to you Mary your wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and you shall call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins.
This angel’s identity is not completely revealed in that passage, but Luke wrote about the angel Gabriel visiting Zacharias and Mary. (See Luke 1:11–20, 26–37.) On two other occasions when the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph, Jesus had already been born. It wouldn’t make sense to think that Jesus could be both the young child and the angel at the same time. In other New Testament Scriptures, the angel of the Lord helped Peter to escape from prison (see Acts 12:7) and struck down King Herod (see Acts 12:23). While we can conclude with certainty that in some instances, the angel of the Lord was God Himself, in most other occurrences, this angel was merely another of the ministering spirits sent forth from the Lord.
The late famed evangelist Billy Graham wrote:
in some cases in the Old Testament, God Himself appeared in human form as an angel. This reinforces the idea of the relationship between God and His angels. Nevertheless, in almost all of the cases where angelic personages appear, they are God’s created angelic beings and not God Himself.2
What we do know for certain is that the same angels of the Lord who moved and ministered in the lives of the ancients are still a part of the heavenly host, and they are ready to minister to us and for us today.
All of God’s Angels Praise Him
The angels we will be looking at in this book are not God, and God is not an angel. Angels are created beings. (See Colossians 1:16.) God created them even before He created the earth, for the Scriptures tell us that the angels sang at creation:
Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if you have understanding. Who has laid the measures thereof, if you know? or who has stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
Angels were created to sing God’s praises, so we should never worship an angel. Instead, we should join with them in giving all glory to God Almighty Himself.
The angels I was aware of as a child were always giving glory to God. When they appeared in our backyard, we spent hours singing together. My singing was sometimes so loud that our next-door neighbor commented about it to my mother, saying that he rather enjoyed the sound of my music filling his yard. This happened on more than one occasion.
The Wings of Angels
As I watched angels flying beneath the ceiling of the church sanctuary, it seemed as though even their flight was somehow an expression of praise. I don’t remember seeing wings on those particular angels, but that didn’t seem to hinder them from soaring about in a supernatural way. Some angels have wings, while others do not. Some have two wings, some have four wings (see Ezekiel 1:6), and some have six wings. Those extra wings cover their face, hands, and feet. (See Isaiah 6:2.)
When I was a child, one of my guardian angels had what appeared to be oversized butterfly-type wings that glowed with a blueish hue. I’ve seen angels that had large and broad wings like an eagle and others that had thin, delicate wings that appeared to be a part of their garments in some way. Last summer when I was preaching in Virginia, I saw an angel appear amongst the people there. His entire being seemed to be dancing with a mother-of-pearl shimmer, his wings being an integral part of him.
The wings of some cherubim are awesome in appearance because they have eyes within those wings. The closest thing on earth I could compare this to would be a peacock feather, but even that doesn’t give you the full picture. I first saw a flash of these creatures with their wings and their eyes many years ago, while ministering at the home Bible study of my friends Earl and Lynda Stroud in Genoa, Illinois. There were only a handful of us gathered together that night in their basement, but the Bible promises us, “where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). Without Jesus, there is no glory; with Jesus, there is glory everywhere, and when the glory comes, it brings a realm of seeing. I could see that the feathers were the eyes, and the eyes were the feathers, layer upon layer.
Holy Angels Reflect God’s Glory
Angels carry the life essence of God and reflect His glory. They do not bring glory to themselves, but, rather, direct all glory to Jesus. For example, consider the mighty angelic creatures that Ezekiel saw. Although they were a mysterious form of spiritual being, the Bible tells us clearly that they had four faces:
As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle. (Ezekiel 1:10)
- “The face of a man” reflects the person of Jesus, who was the Word made flesh and became man for our sake. (See John 1:14.)
- “The face of a lion” reveals the kingly authority of Jesus, the Lion of Judah that roars with victory. (See Numbers 24:9; Revelation 5:5.)
- “The face of an ox” represents ultimate sacrifice. During Old Testament times, the ox was the most costly of sacrifices. Jesus came to earth as a servant, to sacrifice Himself, so that we might find eternal life through Him. (See Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:43).
- “The face of an eagle” radiates the prophetic revelation that Jesus Christ has risen to the highest heights with resurrection glory, taking dominion over all spiritual principalities and powers. (See Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 2:15.)
When we look upon these mighty angelic creatures, all we can see is the revelation of Jesus Christ. All of God’s heavenly beings were created to bring Him glory!
Are Angels Male or Female?
An angel is a pure spirit, in that it has no matter. Angels are spirit beings with personal spirit bodies. If they choose to manifest in physical form, they can do so, but they are not limited by that physical form. Most often, in the Scriptures, we see angels mentioned as being male, but, again, since they are spirit beings, according to Scripture, they are without gender.
Gender is a biological function, and since angels do not have a biological function, there is no reason for them to have a specific gender identity. (See Matthew 22:30.) It is possible for an angel to manifest in either male or female form, and the way God allows them to present themselves often speaks of their spiritual assignment on earth. In general, the male gender is associated with aggression, strength, and authority, whereas the female gender is associated with nurture, love, and wisdom.
The grammatical gender of the Hebrew word ruach (which means “spirit”) is feminine. So is the feminine word shekinah in rabbinic literature, which indicates “the visible glory of God.” The book of Proverbs references a spirit that many biblical scholars refer to as “Lady Wisdom” (see Proverbs 1:20–22; 8:1–9:3), and we see the two female angels in Zechariah 5:9, who are working for God. So, from this biblical evidence, we can conclude that there are both male and female representations in the spirit world, which needs to be understood metaphorically rather than physically, because, again, spirit beings are pure spirit.
Different Types of Angels Mentioned in the Bible
When these heavenly beings circle around God’s throne, I can tell you that they have greater vision of His majesty than anything we could ever imagine. And I believe that’s part of the reason they come when we worship: to help us understand just how holy, magnificent, and awesome the Lord is! Actually, if we look at all the angels that God has created in the glory realms, we can glean a vision of the way things work.
In the history of Christianity, several theologians have set out to understand the celestial hierarchy by focusing on four specific passages of Scripture3 in order to develop an arrangement of three spheres, each one containing three orders of angels. Although the biblical canon is relatively silent on this subject, we know for sure that these heavenly beings differ in power, some having authority that others don’t possess. There are certainly ranks of angels, and I think the idea is worth noting here as we set out to explore the different types of angels mentioned specifically within the pages of the Bible. If you’ve read my book Moving in Glory Realms, you’ll recognize that each one of these celestial spheres corresponds with both a spiritual realm and a heavenly realm.
Three Celestial Spheres and the Nine Orders of Angels
After he finished the sacrifice for sins, the Son took his honored place high in the heavens right alongside God, far higher than any angel in rank and rule. Did God ever say to an angel, “You’re my Son; today I celebrate you” or “I’m his Father, he’s my Son”? When he presents his honored Son to the world, he says, “All angels must worship him.”
- (Hebrews 1:3–6 MSG)
(the Highest Heaven: the Third Heaven Dimension)
- Seraphim – Psalm 104:4; Isaiah 6:1–7
- Cherubim – Genesis 3:24; Exodus 25:18–21; Ezekiel 10:14
- Thrones – Ezekiel 10:17; Daniel 7:9; Colossians 1:16
Second Celestial Sphere
(the Cosmic Heaven: the Second Heaven Dimension)
- Dominions – Ephesians 1:21; Colossians 1:16
- Virtues – Ephesians 1:21
- Powers – Ephesians 3:10, 6:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:7
Third Celestial Sphere
(the Lower Heaven – the First Heaven Dimension)
- Principalities – Ephesians 1:21, 3:10
- Archangels – Jude 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:16
- Ministering Spirits – Psalm 34:7; Luke 22:43; Hebrews 1:14, 13:2
One thing you’ll notice about my chart above is that I always include Jesus in any conversation about angels because He is God, and everything directs back to Him. We must make sure that we keep things in proper perspective, especially when dealing with spiritual realities. Jesus is higher than all the angels—higher in power, authority, and lordship. He is Lord over all!
Let’s continue to examine the various orders of angels that God has created, to understand their interaction with the earth and their intended purpose for existence.
The Scriptures speak about a class of angels called seraphim. They are filled with fire and blazing light. Seraph is the singular, while seraphim is the plural. Their name means “the burning ones.” Bright light emanates from them so that no one can look upon them. They have six wings, with two covering their feet, two covering their face, and two utilized for flight. It was a seraph that touched Isaiah’s lips with a burning coal from the altar, cleansing him from sin. The seraphim serve as attendants and caretakers at God’s throne and are involved in continuous worship, singing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts!”
Cherubim, another type of angel, are God’s celestial attendants. Cherub is the singular, while cherubim is the plural. Their name means “the fullness of wisdom.” They are an order of angels with wings that guard the holiness of God’s light and His glory. The living creatures from Revelation, with four faces and four wings, are in this order of angels. Usually man-like in appearance, the cherubim are double-winged protectors of God’s throne. The image of this angel was placed upon the ark of the covenant as a symbolic representation of their being guardians of the glory.
These angels represent the steadfast love of God and the dynamic interaction of His holy purposes. Ophanim, which appear as flaming, moving wheels covered with eyes, are connected to this celestial order. They are living symbols of God’s judgment, power, and authority.
Dominions are angels of leadership. They govern the universe and are ministers of divine order. Dominions are known for delivering God’s justice into unjust situations, and also for showing mercy toward human beings. They regulate the duties of lower-ranking angels, making known the commands of God.
This name virtue is more commonly translated as “heavenly authorities.” According to the dictionary, the word authority means “the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience,” and that’s exactly what these angels do. The virtues work to encourage people and point them toward making wise choices, choices of faith.
These are warrior angels who wage war against demonic powers. They are in a continuous battle against the forces of evil in the second-heaven dimension, holding back wicked enemy strategies, attacks, and assignments plotted against you.
These angels are assigned to watch over and care for specific communities, regional states, and kingdoms. Often, they are associated with transitions in power and are charged with fulfilling the divine ministry within the borders of a set region. These are the angels who preside over nations and are said to inspire many things, such as art, science, and culture.
Principalities are physically differentiated from other angels by the crowns they wear and the scepters they carry. Sometimes, they are dressed in the garments of the nations they represent. In describing them, the apostle Paul used the terms “rule and authority” in Ephesians 1:21 (NIV) and "rulers and authorities” in Ephesians 3:10 (NIV).
These are the chief angels who are assigned to communicate and carry out God’s specific plans for mankind. Michael and Gabriel are the only archangels mentioned by name in the Bible. However, because the Scriptures tell us that Gabriel stands in the presence of God (see Luke 1:19), it is believed that the other angels mentioned in Revelations 8:2 could also be archangels. Some Christian traditions go so far as to recognize the other five by specific names.4 But this is just speculation, since our biblical canon doesn’t provide this specific information.
Some have taught that it is important to call on the name of an archangel when needing assistance. This is a wrong teaching that can lead to error and a form of angel worship. The apostle Paul warned us specifically against this in Colossians 2:18: “Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshiping of angels.” Instead, always call on the name of Jesus Christ, knowing that through Him, God has given His angels charge over you!
Ministering spirits are the angels we interact with the most. They are the angels who work continually in the material world, abiding within the first heaven and carrying out God’s orders among us. Our guardian angels—angels of protection, support, deliverance, miracles, and healing—are among this classification. (See Luke 22:43; Hebrews 1:14, 13:2.)
Each class of angelic being is different from the other, and they all serve their own individual purposes in the eternal plan of God. As you prepare to begin Seeing Angels, I want you to make the following declaration with me. Say it out loud, and allow the words of it to begin resonating within your spirit:
I can see angels in the Bible, because God has given them a place, plan, and purpose in the Scriptures!
I can also see angels in my life, because God has given them a place, a plan, and a purpose for me!
The angels follow God’s precepts, as they point me toward Jesus Christ!
I follow God’s precepts, as I point others toward Jesus Christ!
As I begin Seeing Angels, I will keep my focus on all that God has commanded me to do!
You may want to copy this declaration and put it where you can see it every day. Make this bold statement on a daily basis!
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