Brief History of Angels

When you hear the term “angel”, what image enters your mind? For hundreds of years, the western angel has been represented in art as a human with wings, usually adorned with a white robe and sometimes with armor and sword. The angel is depicted as an agent of God and as a force of divine justice sent to Earth to protect the righteous and deliver God’s word to humanity.

Today, angels are an important part of both western religion and popular culture. Angels feature prominently in books, television shows and films, in which they typically act as guardians to desperate characters (think Clarence in It’s a Wonderful Life) Angel Readings With Psychic Barbara People have even claimed to have seen real angels. The attributes of these mysterious beings vary – sometimes they’re described as looking like normal humans, sometimes as humans with a luminous glow, and sometimes as seeming completely otherworldly and alien.

But what exactly are angels? To fully understand the religious and spiritual concept of the angel, we must examine its beginnings and its historical evolution.

Messengers of the Lord

The first recorded instances of encounters with angels are found in the Hebrew Tanakh. The ancient Israelite authors of the Bible variously refer to “messengers of the Lord”, “the holy ones” and “sons of God” to describe divinely sent messengers from Heaven to Earth. Most commonly used is the Hebrew word malak, or messenger, from which the Greek angelos (also meaning messenger) and the English angel derive.

Just who were these messengers? Their primary function in the Old Testament is delivering messages from God to the prophets, but they also lead peoples and armies throughout the Torah and generally carry out God’s commands. Angels appear to Abraham, Moses and other prophets, sometimes speaking in first person on God’s behalf. This particular angel bears little resemblance to the modern western concept of the angel: the early books of the Bible do not identify individual angels or give them any clear characteristics apart from their roles as divine agents.

Angels, Archangels and Demons

After the exile of the Hebrews from the lands of Israel and Judah, the books of the Old Testament begin to refer to angels by name. The Book of Daniel features Gabriel, identified as the messenger of the Lord, and Michael, called a “prince” and the protector of the exiled Israelites. By the time Christianity emerged in the mid-1st century A.D., the roles of these angels had been firmly cemented. In the Gospels, Gabriel is the messenger who brings Mary news of the coming birth of Jesus, and Muslims identify Gabriel as the angel who delivered the verses of the Koran to Mohammed, the prophet of Islam. The Book of Revelation features Michael as the angelic leader of God’s army against the forces of Satan. Gabriel and Michael soon received the title of archangel and gained recognition in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches and in the Islamic tradition as identifiable angelic figures.

The perception of the angel had shifted. What was once a nameless, faceless agent of divine power was now a personified being with a clear place in Heaven. Both later Jewish and Catholic traditions constructed angelic hierarchies complete with ranks and associated duties. Angels could revolt against God’s power, however: Christian tradition holds that Satan was a highly ranked angel who tried to topple God and was cast into the underworld with his followers, who were henceforth known as the fallen angels and became the demons of Hell.

Islam also prominently features angels, whom the Koran asserts are made of pure light. However, in the Islamic tradition, the angels cannot disobey God. Muslims instead believe that Satan belongs to a second race of supernatural beings, djinn (from which the English term genie is derived) who are made of “smokeless fire” and have free will. Djinn are entirely different from angels and are believed by some Muslims to inhabit caves and abandoned buildings.

Watchers and Guardians

The modern concept of the angel as a guardian of humans also has its roots in Biblical tradition. Michael is identified as the protector of the nation of Israel in Daniel 10, and certain passages in the Gospels imply that individual people have angelic protectors who reside in Heaven.

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In Acts 12, the Apostle Peter, imprisoned by the authorities after the death of Jesus, is freed by an angel who guides him out of jail. This kind of angelic intervention in response to God’s command later became an established tradition in Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Islam. All three of these religious traditions assert that people have what amount to guardian angels who can help their assigned humans and lead them onto the correct path. The Catholic and Orthodox Churches both provide specialized prayers to one’s guardian angel for aid or intercession with God. The ancient Persian religion of Zoroastrianism also posits the existence of guardian angels.

Belief in angels spans thousands of years of human history. Today, billions of people who hold spiritual beliefs have faith in the existence of angels, and it’s entirely possible that you might have one by your side.

Interested in what angel messages may await you? Give Psychic Barbara. Barbara is a clairvoyant who works with angels. Give her a call at 1-866-407-7164.