Hierarchy & Ministry of God's Angels
Some sort of hierarchy of angelic beings is indicated in the Bible, although it doesn't give specific details. Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Lord of Hosts, the Chief Commander of All Angelic Beings. Colossians 1:16 says, "For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him." In Ephesians 6:12, we note that there are at least 4 rankings of fallen angels; it says "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. In 1 Peter 3: 22, we find another "different ranking" of the angelic hosts: "Jesus Christ . . . has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand with angels, authorities and powers in submission to Him." The hierarchy of angels may be ranked from highest to lowest into nine (9) orders or choirs.
SERAPHIMare the highest order of the Hierarchy of Angels. These angelic beings spend their time worshiping and praising God. The prophet Isaiah vividly describes them in his vision of God: "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!" (Isaiah 6:1-3).
CHERUBIMare the second highest order. The Bible depicts Cherubim as powerful and majestic angelic creatures who surround God's throne (see Ezekiel l :5 - l 4; 28: l 2). They are also depicted on the Ark of the Covenant as its Guardians. God sent them to guard Eden after the expulsion of Adam and Eve: "After He drove the man out, He placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life" (Genesis 3:24).
THRONESare the third ranking order of angels. They were also known as "Wheels" and "the Many-eyed Ones". These Angels were often believed to be deployed like charioteers around the Throne of God. They were described in Ezekiel 1:13-19 as having four wings and four faces. They sparkled like the color of burnished brass. They had the hands of a man under their wings. Their wings were joined one to the other and they did not turn when they traveled - they all went straight forward. They had four faces. They had the face of a man as well as three other faces on their helmets - that of a lion, an ox, and an eagle. They moved on wheels in the middle of wheels, blue-green in color. Above their heads "the likeness of the firmament," which was the color of crystal, and under this were their wings, two on each side of their bodies. The noise of their wings was "like the noise of great waters."
RULERSare the fourth ranking order of angels. This Order of Guardian Angels decide the success or failure of nations. Dominations have been described as wearing long albs, or gowns reaching to their feet, hitched with a golden belt and adorned with a green sole. They carry golden staffs in the right hand and the Seal of God in the left. At other times, they are said to hold an orb or a specter.
VIRTUESare the fifth ranking Order of Angels. They have been called "The Brilliant or Shining Ones." They were called the Angels of miracles, encouragement, and blessings, and were particularly involved with people struggling with their faith. Virtues have been said to be the chief bestowers of grace and valor. The two Angels at the Ascension of Jesus were traditionally believed to be from the Order of Virtues. Virtues were usually represented in a group.
POWERSare the sixth ranking Order of Angels. Powers have been credited as being the first Order of Angels created by God. responsible for maintaining the border between Heaven and Earth. Acting as a sort of elite guard, they constantly watch for demonic attack, and are the major line of defense and battle during heavenly warfare. It is their duty to protect the world from the infiltration of demons. They protect our souls from these evil beings and act as ministers of God who avenge evil in the world. It was also believed that at death, the Powers guided our transition to Heaven.
PRINCIPALITIES OR PRINCESare the seventh ranking Order of Angels. The Principalities were considered to be the guardians over the nations and the leaders of the world. They are assumed to be given more freedom to act than the lesser angels below them and are responsible for carrying out divine acts concerning their area of jurisdiction. It was from this Order that the Angel who aided David in his task of slaying Goliath was thought to have come. Finally, they are given to the task of managing the duties of the angels. Principalities have been described as being dressed in soldier's uniforms with golden girdles.
ARCHANGELSare eighth ranking order of angels. Archangel Michael is believed to be the highest ranking warring angel in God's heavenly host. He will play a special role in the end time: "For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever" (1 Thessalonians 4:16-1 7). As powerful as Michael is, he does keep to his proper domain (Jude 1:6) and does not over-exert his authority over his adversary, Lucifer: "But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!" (Jude l: 9). Ultimately, however, Scripture says that he will prevail over Satan (see Revelation 12: 79). Archangel Gabriel is a highest ranking messenger who brought special messages to God's people. In Scripture we find him bringing messages to: Daniel to reveal the future events to him (Daniel 8:16; 9:21); Zacharias regarding the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1 :19) and to Mary to announce the birth of Jesus (Luke l :30).
GUARDIAN ANGELSare the last order of angels. They are believed to be ministering angels sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation (Hebrews 1:14). Within the orders of angels, only archangels and angels (the lowest categories in the hierarchy) are traditionally said to interact with man and woman in the course of daily life. In some cases, the angel serves only as a messenger, but in others, the angel lingers in visible form, taking responsibility for the well-being of individuals in trouble, guarding them from harm, offering them sustenance, or leading them out of danger. Nowadays they are still busy ministering to us.
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