Ok, in the light of Dr. Sharon Stone’s talk on Sunday, can we commission angels or do we ask God to?
This, you understand, is not a definitive study of “angelology”, it only deals with the question of where authority over angels resides; is it only God who commissions and commands angels directly, or can we do it too?
I’ll set some background first:
In many instances, beings perceived and recorded in Scripture as angels are really God himself appearing or speaking.
(See Gen Gen 48 15, 16)
A couple of useful references provide good background information:
1. Angels have duties towards God’s people
Hebrews 1 14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve (for) those who will inherit salvation?
2. Angels specially have duties to children, apparently all children.
Matthew 18 10 “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.”
Now, can we command angels?
We can know, if God reveals it to us, that an angel is going to help in a particular task (Gen 24 7).
I find no record in Scripture of human-initiated contact with angels themselves, though there are plenty of instances where humans ask many questions of angels who have already appeared to them, and Manoah asks God to send an angel a second time to explain more about what he and his wife had been instructed to do (Judg 13 8).
So it is not wrong for us to ask God to deploy angels for a particular situation. However, I find no instance of humans – even Jesus when he was on earth, commanding angels to perform a given task. Ps 103 20 says that it is God’s bidding which the angels obey (implying that if we want them to do something, we must ask Him.)
Jesus, when on earth, refused to leap from the Temple at his temptation by satan, as this action would have demanded that angels be deployed to halt his fall.
In Matt 26 53, Jesus explains that he has access to the command of angels, though he would have to call upon his Father to get that access. However, he points out that that would be against the will of God for his life, suggesting that while he was living as a human on earth, it was inappropriate for him to use the authority over angels which really belonged to his position as the second person of the Trinity in heaven.
However, when back in Glory, at the “end of the age” he “sends out His angels” (Matt 13 41 and Matt 24 31). And when that great day comes, we, like Jesus, will be given authority over the angels! (1 Cor 6 2)
Till then, it looks like we must ask God.
The only other reference which may be relevant is in Ephesians 1 20, 21 together with 2 6, which suggest that we, like Jesus, are seated at God’s right hand, far above all any other (spiritual) authority or power.
Some would point out that we are seated in the same place and therefore must have the same authority.
Others would warn that Eph 2 6 says we are IN Him, and while that gives us the same position as Him, there remains a difference in authority between Him and us. He is not seated at the right hand of God IN US, it is His position by right, and only ours by mercy.
I think this latter view has most biblical support.
(I would be most interested to hear from others who can give scriptural arguments for a contrary view. If it can be shown that we do have authority over angels directly, I would be seriously impressed!)
Understood BUT Psalm 103:20-21?
The original question was about whether we can give angels instructions directly to them, to follow what we think is the will of God.
THe Psalm you quote has David saying to the angels, “Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do His bidding, who obey His word. Praise the Lord, all His heavenly hosts, you His servants who do His will”.
Let’s look at this two ways.
The first is to examine whose wishes the angels respond to.
They are HIS angels.
They do HIS bidding.
They obey HIS word.
They are HIS heavenly hosts.
They do HIS will.
David never once says “MY” will.
The second is to look at what David says to them.
“Praise the Lord!”
It COULD look like an instruction.
OR it COULD look like an exhortation.
What’s the difference?
If I said, “Have something to eat”, the force of what I am saying would depend on the relationship I had with you.
If I were your Boss, I might be giving you an order to take your lunch hour right now rather than some other time. Your job is to obey. You have no choice. It’s an order!
If I were your Doctor, I might be giving you an instruction which you need to follow for the sake of your health. It’s still an order, but you get some choice about whether to comply with it or not. It’s a recommendation.
If I am your host, I might be encouraging you to take advantage of the
choice goodies I have for you. You get full rights to choose, you are just being encouraged to eat, or, in more ancient English, “exhorted” to eat. It’s an exhortation.
Taking point one into account, and taking into account that it is God’s will for the angels to praise Him in any case, and they DO have to obey his instructions, so David is onto a winner for angelic compliance—-
I think this counts as an exhortation, rather than an order. So David is NOT commissioning the angels, just adding his tiny voice to the instructions they already have, and are bound to follow anyway.
—And — of course —
the OTHER philosophical quandary you get into if you think we CAN commission angels —-
is WHAT IF WE ARE WRONG?
If I can instruct an angel to do my bidding on the grounds that I THINK God wants so and so to happen, what happens to the angel if I’m wrong?
It can’t possibly go against GOD’S will, can it? Not even if we tell it to.
So our instructions still only have the force of an “invitation” whereas God’s instructions are an “order”, of the kind that was envisaged in the original question as a “commission”.