The Orthodox Faith

 

For St Paul Orthodox Youth Society - Brisbane

By Fr. John Abdel-Karim

March 2009

 

11- THE CREATION OF THE SPIRITUAL WORLD

The angels, demons, and the souls of men constitute the known spiritual world that God has created. We do not know whether there exist other creatures in the spiritual world. We should certainly not forget that God, too, belongs to the spiritual world, as the Holy Scriptures say. "God is a Spirit and those that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" (John, 4:24), but God is not part of creation. Here we shall write about angels and demons. We shall write about the soul of man when we discuss the creation of man.

 

Angels are beings--insubstantial, spiritual, immortal, and self-governed--that serve God and protect mankind. They are divided into nine ranks:

Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones

Dominions, Powers, Authorities

Principalities, Archangels, Angels

They were created before the creation of the material world, but we do not know exactly when. We infer this from what God said to Job. He said, "When the stars appeared, all My angels praised Me with a great voice" (Job, 38:7). The Fathers of the Church agree with this opinion and teaching.

 

From the above passage from the Holy Scriptures, we know that angels are creatures created by God, and St. Paul also writes about this that through Jesus Christ "were all things created that are in Heaven, and that are in Earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers" (Colossians, 1:16). In this passage, St. Paul includes as creatures of God four of the nine ranks of angels.

 

The task of angels is to serve God, to praise Him, and to glorify Him. Many passages of the Holy Scriptures bear witness to this. We are mentioning only one here, which is sufficient: Isaiah tells us that he saw the seraphim around the throne of God glorifying Him and singing, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is filled with His glory" (Isaiah, 6:3).

That is the primary task of angels. In their relationship to men, angels bring to them God's messages. So the Holy Scriptures tell us: the Angel Raphael brought messages to Tobias; Archangel Michael, to Joshua, the son of Nun; Archangel Gabriel, to Zacharias and to the Virgin Mary.These are the angels whose names we know.

 

However, we should not believe that there are only three angels. No one knows the numbers of the angels. There are, however, many. This is seen by the fact that on the night of the birth of Christ, "Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hot, praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke, 2:12-14). The teaching of our Church is firm that we have "an angel of Peace, a faithful guide, protector of our souls and bodies." And so, therefore, our angels protect us, guide us, rejoice when we repent, bring us, as messengers, God's messages. Each one of us has a personal angel. Although angels are spiritual beings and constantly in motion, they are not present everywhere. The same angel, that is to say, cannot be in two places at the same time. Only God is present everywhere. Angels are sent by God, in accordance with His Will.

 

Angels were created free. One, Lucifer, abusing his freedom, said, "I will ascend to Heaven, above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will make myself like the Most-High" (Isaiah, 14:13-14). He said this and attempted it. "I will ascend to Heaven. I will set my throne above the clouds. I will become the same as God." Many other angels followed him in his attempt. We do not know how many. God punished them. From the righteous spirits that they had been, they became evil. That is to say, they became demons. Satans. They became entrenched in this condition. They will be forever miserable as demons. They are unable to change. However, as we shall see later on in another section, although God punished the man who disobeyed Him, and gave him a second opportunity to be saved by sending Christ to save mankind, He did not offer the demons a second chance. Why not? That is unknown. Perhaps because the demons had decided on their own to oppose the Will of God. Man himself also exercised his free will, but he had been tempted by the satanic serpent. Maybe that is why God gave him a second chance to be saved.

 

The demons work to tempt people. They feel guilty and seek others to share their guilt. They cannot tempt God. Nor can they tempt the angels, because angels are eternally entrenched as righteous spirits. Therefore, they turn to mankind. They tempt them. They lure them. They want to lead them to eternal hell. But if people have faith in God, the demons cannot succeed in their attempts. God does not permit this.

 

Some say that there are no demons. Satan is merely the personification of evil to them. It is a shame that there are people, especially Christians, who are unaware of the Holy Scriptures, which so clearly tell us about demoniacs, and how Christ drove out horrible demons. All such people have to do is to remember the legion of demons that was driven into the swine.

 

Let us pray

All Holy God, Who made the spiritual world, You created angels to praise You and to help us. You punished the rebels and they became demons, spirits of darkness. You create our souls, which belong to the spiritual world. Send each one of us a guardian angel. Do not allow us to fall into sin. Guide us to repentance and to a return to You. Grant us peace and serenity in our earthly life. Make us worthy of Your Heavenly Kingdom.