The Angel Malachi: Of Angels and Men
Q. New Covenant teachings say that the term "angel" can equally be applied to men as to supernatural messengers. If this is so, what kind of men in the Church may be referred to as "angels"? And why don't we have "angels" in the Church today?
A. It is interesting that the last book of the Old Testament was written by an "angel" called Malachi. The correct pronunciation of this Hebrew word is Mâlâkhî which literally translates as "my angel" or "my messenger". The Hebrew word mâl'àkh, like the Arabic equivalent malak, like the Greek anghelos from which the English name "angel" is derived, signifies a "messenger", one commissioned with a message or news to deliver to somebody.
When God gives a name to His prophets there is no accident. Names of God's servants were not chosen anciently because they sounded nice or because an uncle or aunt had the same name. They were chosen because of their prophetic content.
Malachi the messenger or angel was called to deliver a prophetic message. One of the most important ones, because it is messianic, runs as follows:
Almost without exception this passage has been interpreted by Christians to refer to two messengers -- John the Baptist as the first messenger (or angel) "preparing the way" and the Lord Jesus Christ as the second "messenger (or angel) of the covenant". It is so used by the Gospel writers thus but in a modified form:
"See, I [God] will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me [God]. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you [the people of Israel] desire, will come," says the Lord Almighty" (Malachi 3:1, NIV)
Is it an accident that the prophet who is announcing two messengers of God, one of whom happens to be God-in-the-flesh, is also called a "messenger"? Malachi, John the Baptist and Jesus are all called "messengers" or "angels". All three are prophets. Which leads us to the truth that prophets are angels.
"I [God] will send my messenger [John the Baptist] ahead of you [Jesus], who will prepare your [Jesus'] way before you [Jesus]" (Matt.11:10, NIV).
I think it is unfortunate that the Greek word for messenger -- "angel" -- has become fastened onto our English vocabulary. For most people an angel is a supernatural being with wings. What has happened is that human messengers or prophets have become confused with messengers on short-term assignments from heaven, whether spirit-beings or resurrected personages. A whole mythology has developed about "angels" over the millennia which has not only separated them from mortal human beings but put wings on their backs also!
It really is time to demythologise angels and to understand the connection between human angels (prophets/messengers) and heavenly angels (spirits/ resurrected personages), for they are of the same origin. How else could angels have had intercourse with human women and created a race of giants? Why didn't their babies have wings? (There is alot of mythology attached to this also which we could examine another time).
I am all in favour of dropping the Greek word "angel" because of the confusion and superstition it creates in men's minds. We even use the term "angel" to refer to a child who is sweet and innocent, or a person who is particularly kind and helpful. But this is an example of the evolution of our language in a direction that perverts the original meaning. For most people an "angel" is fat, tubby little child hovering in a cloud playing a harp. But who would describe John the Baptist, who wore animal skins, ate locusts and honey, and breathed God's judgment on a wicked generation as an "angel"? Yet that is exactly what he was! So a change in vocabulary, especially amongst Christians, is long over due.
In any case, supernatural beings who are God's messengers already have proper names like cherubim and sepharim which ought to be used where appropriate. Todays earthly angels are called messengers, of which there are several kinds: patriarchs, prophets, apostles, evangelists, and pastors (for the latter, see Rev.2:1 as one of several examples), with a good case for calling all true Christians who bring the message of salvation by this name.
As an illustration of how this one word (angel) virtually sent one of our Church members out of the Church in a downward spiral of disbelief, I will share with you one of the revelations of the New Covenant.
In Section 340 of the old Covenants & Commandments (PWNC 900814) it reads: "I send the angel of the Covenants & Commandments to seal up this record, even my servant Enoch" (v.9). In the Olive Branch or New Covenants & Commandments we added the explanatory word "messenger" after "angel" and "teacher, the Presiding Patriarch" after "Enoch" in parentheses to show how it is that God veils truths from the unbelieving eye. In the eyes of the former Church member the idea that the Presiding Patriarch, whom he knew quite well as a person, could somehow be equated with an "angel" or even "Enoch" was just too much for him. And yet John the Baptist was also called an "angel" and associated with the prophet Elijah, leading many unenlightened people to suppose that he was the reincarnation of that great prophet. Ironically this man has himself been personally called by God to be an "angel", in this instance an evangelist.
One of the greatest enemies of the Bible is human tradition and superstition which attaches meanings to words which were never there originally. It has taken nearly a century for Christians to accept that prophets are as much a part of the modern Church as the New Testament one. People change slowly, alas. But sometimes they are forced to change quickly, when mighty angel-prophets like Jesus come on the scene, and call men and women to repentance. Then they either believed or turned against him.
We do not have time to allow people the luxury of slowly "evolving" towards acceptance of the truth. The New Covenant Church comes with a bold message which it delivers without compromise. We are a church of angels -- we are far from "angelic" -- but we have an urgent message to deliver. And today is the day of decision.
This page was created on 16 October 1997
Last updated on 26 February 1998
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