Monday, December 15, 2008

Scripture on the Fall of the Angels

Irecently answered the following question for my Church bulletin:

  • What is the “fall of the angels”? Is this in Scripture anywhere?
At the beginning of time the angels in heaven were given a choice: follow God or rebel against Him. That a resident of heaven would ever rebel against God is one of the great mysteries of our faith. At any rate, some of them decided to rebel and they were thus cast out of heaven by St. Michael and the faithful angels. This is “the fall of the angels” and the prince of the fallen angels is Satan. The scriptural witness to this is very interesting.

In Gen 3, we see that there already existed a spirit of evil who tempted man into pride. Thus, there must have been some type of fall among the angels that caused one of them to be evil. Job 4:18 says, “Even in his servants he puts no trust, and his angels he charges with error.” Traditionally, Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:12-19 are also seen as referring to the sin and resulting fall of the angels.

Jesus himself says, “I saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven” (Lk 10:18). Perhaps the most explicit reference is from the second letter of Peter, where it is written:
  • 2 Pet 2:4,9 For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of nether gloom to be kept until the judgment 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment.
We see from these verses that there was a fall among the angels. That their expulsion was lead by St. Michael is one of the most enduring Christian symbols. In Christian artwork, he is seen with a sword, trampling the devil underfoot. In Scripture he is always fighting against evil (cf. Dan 10:13,21; 12:1; Jude 1:9). His role in the fall is most clearly seen in the Book of Revelation:
  • Rev 12:7-9 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, 8 but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world--he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
That is why, as Catholics, we are fond of praying to St. Michael in moments of temptation or when we need protection from evil. Let us be more like the angels who announce the Lord’s coming and less like the angels who rebelled!

St. Michael the archangel … pray for us!

Pax Christi,

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