The Fire of the Angels

He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God
Daniel 3:25

You don’t want to meet angels.

annunciation1

Mary knew this.

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God
Luke 1:28-30

Generally, the less terrifying a being is, the less it needs ot tell you not to be afraid.

A disclaimer: the rest of this post is speculative on my part, trying to understand the role of fire in the Bible.  But whatever angels “looks like,” it seems fair they are bitter visualized as terrifying

cherubim

than as whatever this is supposed to be

victorian cherub

Angels are made of fire. They live in fire. They wield fire, and they disappear into fire.

When Paul mocks the followers of the Law as “angel worshipers” (Colossians 2:18), he is referring to the idea that the Burning Bush itself was an angel

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.

There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”

When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

And Moses said, “Here I am.”
Exodus 3:1-4

Eastern Christians sometimes believe that the burning bush was perhaps another form of messenger, a Woman transformed, Woman clothed with the sun

www-St-Takla-org-Moses-Prophet-05-Burning-Bush-Coptic

Moses — after receiving the Commandments — is “radiant,” or better, “radiated” (marked with radiation burns)

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them.
Exodus 34:29-31

Mary herself is now clothed with the sun, crowned with suns, fusion reactors of imaginable flame

And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
Revelations 12:1

woman of the apocalypse and red dragon

Angels wield swords of fire

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

the-lost-paradise_1897_franz_stuck-12513zo

During the Annunciation to Samson’s mother, the Angel reveals himself as he is confused in a holocaust of fire

Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “We would like you to stay until we prepare a young goat for you.”

The angel of the Lord replied, “Even though you detain me, I will not eat any of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, offer it to the Lord.” (Manoah did not realize that it was the angel of the Lord.)

Then Manoah inquired of the angel of the Lord, “What is your name, so that we may honor you when your word comes true?”

He replied, “Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding.” Then Manoah took a young goat, together with the grain offering, and sacrificed it on a rock to the Lord. And the Lord did an amazing thing while Manoah and his wife watched: As the flame blazed up from the altar toward heaven, the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame. Seeing this, Manoah and his wife fell with their faces to the ground. When the angel of the Lord did not show himself again to Manoah and his wife, Manoah realized that it was the angel of the Lord.
Judges 13:15-21

Anglo-Norman_woman_wearing_wimple_headdress

Even the poetic portions of the Hebrew Bible attest to this. From the Canaanites to the Muslims, all worshipers of El could agree that

The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment;
he stretches out the heavens like a tent
and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
He makes the clouds his chariot
and rides on the wings of the wind.
He makes winds his messengers,
flames of fire his servants.

Psalms 104:2-4

One way of viewing Christianity is that angels no longer separate us from the tree of life, but now their will see us through to eternal life

The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:

As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.
Catechism of the Catholic Church 1031

This purification, when it occurs after death, is known as purgatory. But St Paul speaks as if a similar (or same) process can happen during life too. He also uses the image of fire

If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
1 Corinthians 12:15

In both cases the source and nature of this fire seems to be the same: one is surrounded by angels.

When the day is easy, when we can see the blue sky and the warm sun, the LORD rides the clouds…

But may the righteous be glad
and rejoice before God;
may they be happy and joyful.
Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
extol Him who rides on the clouds;
rejoice before him—his name is the Lord
Psalms 68:4

But when it is dark, only fire will let us see with human eyes. When we can no longer see the LORD, His messengers will not be denied

By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.
Exodus 13:21-22

What sort of person sees a pillar of flame, and says “Yes, let’s go that way!”

pillar-of-flame

Perhaps the sort of person who hear this, and thinks, “Whatever the Spirit of Truth has to say, it must be something I should hear!”

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
John 16:12-13

The Spirit comes with flames.

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.
Acts 2:1-3

TonguesofFirebyathyGrimm©2012
The LORD with His host of Angels.

As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear
Matthew 13:40-43

9 thoughts on “The Fire of the Angels”

  1. “You don’t want to meet angels.”
    I don’t know. From your posting I can’t tell if you don’t want to meet angels or you don’t want to be in favor of your lord when you do meet them.
    Perhaps a conflict of interest?

  2. Hi Dan,
    Every few years my wife asks me if her advice to her son is the correct advice.
    She tells him that if he sees a light (from a nuclear explosion) he should expose himself to the light.
    In your jargon, it would be to meet an angel, instead of be in favor of your lord and suffer as a good Christian.
    I tell her that he should go with the angles.
    So I am thinking that you, perhaps, have a conflict of interest. In other words, do you go with the angles or do you seek favor in your Lord?
    Perhaps it is not as cut and dry as I believe it is.

  3. Peter and Moses got to speak to the LORD face to face, like a friend.

    The rest of us get poured blood and given flesh. And make do with His angels.

    Spelling lessons are the least of it…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *