We are in the midst of a sermon series called ‘You Asked For It.’ People inside and outside of our church community have submitted questions and we are attempting to answer them all either on Sunday mornings, here on the blog or on Facebook. In this first #AskG4C blog post I want to tackle two questions on a supernatural theme:
1.Is the Angel of Death a demon?
There are two places to look when trying to understand who the angel of death is. There are well developed myths about angels of death, including names, in Jewish, Christian and Islamic circles. While many of these stories may be interesting this post will focus on what we can discover in the pages of the Bible. What does the Bible tell us?
There are a number of passages that refer to an angel of the Lord who is sent to kill people as an act of judgement. 2 Kings 19:35, 2 Chronicles 32:16, and Isaiah 37:36 all record an incident where the angel of the Lord strikes down 185,000 Assyrians lead by King Sennacherib. This is done as judgement on Sennacherib’s pride and blasphemy and in God’s commitment to defend His people Israel. In the New Testament the angel of the Lord strikes down King Herod (Acts 12:23) for taking the glory due only to God. In 2 Samuel 24:16 and 1 Chronicles 21:15 God sends an angel to destroy Jerusalem in judgment for the sin of King David but He relents and spares the city. During the Passover in Exodus 12:23 God uses ‘the destroyer’ to strike the firstborn of homes without the covering of the blood of a lamb. This title of the Destroyer is used again in 1 Corinthians 10:10 and Hebrews 11:28.
So the title, Angel of Death, is not used in the Bible but descriptions of angels who kill are recorded. It is important to note that these angels (sent ones) act on behalf of God and are obedient to His command. They do not kill randomly but in judgement of particular people and for particular reasons as determined by God. Demons, on the other hand, are fallen angels (2 Peter 2:4) that do not submit to God or His plans.
In short angels are not demons and have a variety of tasks, even some that challenge our image of cute angels sitting on clouds.
2.What does demon possession look like today?
The Bible has many accounts of people who are demonized. They exhibit a wide variety of manifestations including: unusual strength, convulsions, sickness (not all sickness is a result of demonic activity), self destructive behaviour, fortune telling and the demon speaking to name a few. The biblical accounts are connected by a theme of destruction. Through a variety of means demons seek the destruction of people spiritually, physically or emotionally. There is no indication in scripture that demonic activity has stopped but, other than in horror movies, most of us have never experienced these kinds of dramatic manifestations. A lack of personal experience does not mean that they do not still happen in our day. In speaking with Pastor Galicia, I was reminded that in many cultures around the world that are more attune to supernatural/spiritual things, obvious physical manifestations are more common, including foaming at the mouth and hearing demons speak through people.
While some of the super creepy occurrences may not be common in our culture, believers need to be aware that the devil and his demons also use deception and accusations to destroy believers and keep people from responding to Jesus’ offer of salvation. While being vigilant of these thing believers also have the promise that in Christ they have authority over demons and the evil one. James 4:7 instructs us to ‘resist the devil, and he will flee from you.’ What incredible authority! In Mark 16:17 Jesus tells us: ‘…these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons.’ Demons are a serious topic but one that does not need to install unnecessary fear into followers of Christ. Through the discernment that the Holy Spirit brings you; you can bring life to people as you cause the enemy to run.