How Old Are the Angels?

dan delzell opinion page

Hollywood has been known to make movies about aliens. Pretty far out stuff. But what if it really happened, not with a make-believe alien, but with a real angel? And imagine conducting research on the angel in an attempt to figure out its age. Needless to say, that number would be impossible to ascertain.

Even though angels are created beings, they were created before "time" began. The angels were already present when God made the earth.

The Lord asked Job, "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone - while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?" (Job 38:4-7)

The angels were created as immortal beings. They are ageless and eternal. And so their beginning was like the heavens and the earth in that sense. This is perhaps one reason the earth and the universe appear to be so old. It is impossible for us to pinpoint exactly when God created the earth or the angels.

The word "vintage" refers to "a period in which something was made or was begun." In considering the "age" of angels, we come to realize that angels reflect the earth's vintage. Angels, like the heavens and the earth, were made during the same vast period of eternity past.

How much "time" elapsed between when God created the angels, and when he created the heavens and the earth? Only God knows. We don't have enough information to make that determination. Likewise, how much "time" elapsed between when God created the heavens and the earth, and when the first day ended? Once again, only God knows, and He chose not to be that specific in Genesis.

At some point, Lucifer and a third of the angels rebelled against God and fell from their lofty position. (Rev. 12:3-9) This is how Ezekiel describes Satan's downfall:

"This is what the Sovereign Lord says: 'You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to earth." (Ezekiel 28:12-17)

This passage identifies Satan as a created being who was thrown to earth because he sinned against God. Jesus was obviously there when it happened.

Christ said, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven." (Luke 10:18)

Isaiah records Lucifer's fall this way:

"How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, (Lucifer) son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.' But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit." (Isaiah 14:12-15)

While he was created in perfection in eternity past, Satan's future doom is sealed in eternity future.

"And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever." (Revelation 20:10)

Notice the interesting reference to "day and night" in hell, as if to stress how slowly time will seem to pass in hell. That is, if you can accurately speak of "time passing" in hell. Either way, it will definitely be a place of ongoing agony and misery, and it will never end.

How the mighty have fallen. Lucifer and the other angels who went astray could have remained in a place of joy and contentment. But they chose to rebel and go their own way. Their sins were the first offenses ever committed against God. Those angels certainly weren't "programmed" to sin, any more than Adam and Eve were programmed to sin. It came down to free will as they chose to turn against their Creator. And then Satan tempted Adam and Eve to disobey God's clear instructions to them.

A majority of the angels will spend eternity in heaven, while a third of the angels will spend eternity in hell.

Jude tells us, "And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home - these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day." (Jude 1:6)

And Peter writes, "For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment." (2 Peter 2:4)

Perhaps this accounted for some of the "darkness" in Genesis 1:2. "Darkness was over the surface of the deep." Who knows? Only God knows exactly when those rogue angels were expelled from paradise.

Meanwhile, the rest of God's angels remained faithful to their Creator. And they continue to enjoy all the benefits that come with serving on God's team. One of the things they do is watch over believers. These good angels are "ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation." (Hebrews 1:14)

St. John's vision of heaven includes this beautiful description:

"Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: 'Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!'" (Revelation 5:11,12)

These angels created in eternity past will spend eternity future worshipping their Creator. Christ of course was already there "in the beginning." (John 1:1)

"So He became as much superior to the angels as the name He has inherited is superior to theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, 'You are my Son; today I have become your Father'? Or again, 'I will be His Father, and He will be my Son'? And again, when God brings His firstborn into the world, He says, 'Let all God's angels worship Him.' In speaking of the angels He says, 'He makes His angels winds, His servants flames of fire.' But about the Son He says, 'Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.'" (Hebrews 1:4-8)

The angels were created to bring glory and praise to their Creator forever. And those angels who chose to remain faithful to God are so thankful they did not follow the agenda of Lucifer, who wasn't satisfied to worship his Creator. He wanted more, and he will definitely be receiving a whole lot more than he bargained for back when he first lusted for the throne. It was this fantasy that fueled his rebellion, but "the lake of burning sulfur" (Rev. 20:10) is going be anything but a fantasy for him.

Jesus compared the eternal nature of angels to that of believers going to heaven.

"They can no longer die, for they are like the angels." (Luke 20:36)

Just think of being unable to die. Of course no one in heaven ever wants to die, and that desire for immortality will be fulfilled for all believers. Everyone in hell on the other hand wants to die, but is unable to pull it off. It's impossible to extinguish your immortal soul.

Jesus didn't say that believers will "become angels," but that we will be "like the angels." We will have our new body, our resurrection body. And it will be a body that is incapable of perishing.

"For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality." (1 Cor. 15:53)

Angels are supernatural beings, just like man is a supernatural creation of God. And the fact that God loves man even though we have sinned against Him is a testament to the everlasting goodness of God.

"What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet." (Hebrews 2:6-8)

And so men and angels continue to interact. They can see us today, but we cannot see them. It's probably better for us that we don't see them. Whenever someone in the Bible saw an angel, it tended to generate much fear.

We naturally fear what we don't understand. But if we are open to learning from Scripture about the nature of angels, we will be one step closer to understanding God's open-ended creation, and how angels reflect the earth's vintage.

Anyone who longs to discover the age of the earth would be wise to remember the angels. The day you figure out their age will be the day you begin to apprehend the mystery of the earth's age.

(This article is taken from "Open-Ended Creationism," a Kindle ebook by Dan Delzell.)

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Wellspring Church in Papillion, Neb. He is a regular contributor to The Christian Post.

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