Angels are a different order of beings than humans. The Hebrew word for angel is mal’akh and the Greek word is angelos. The word means “messenger.” These heavenly beings are spirits and not physical beings (Hebrews 1:14) whereas humans are souls that possess physical bodies (Genesis 2:7). The Bible doesn’t tell us that they were created on God’s image like humans (Genesis 1:26-27).
Angels are not naturally visible to humans. When Elisha prayed that his servant would see the messengers of God, the young man’s eyes were opened and he was able to see an army of invisible angels surrounding the city (2 Kings 6:17).
What Do Angels Look Like?
The unfallen angels can take on human forms. In Genesis 18, Abraham was visited by three heavenly messengers who appeared like men (two were angels). Also, the two of these beings that appeared to Lot, Abraham’s nephew, looked like passing visitors to the city of Sodom (Genesis 19). These heavenly beings usually appear as males (Mark 16:5). Unlike popular belief, these beings in the Bible never appear as infants.
Some believe that all angels have wings, however, the Bible mentions only two types of angels that have wings – cherubim and seraphim. Cherubim are mentioned in Exodus 25:20 and Ezekiel 10 whereas Seraphim are mentioned in Isaiah 6.
The living creatures or Cherubim seen by Ezekiel are represented as having four wings (ch. 1:6) with two wings covering the body and two wings stretched upward (ch. 1:11). The statues over-shadowing the mercy seat on the Ark of the Covenant, both in the tabernacle and in Solomon’s Temple, were cherubim (Exodus 25:18; 1 Kings 6:23; 1 Samuel 4:4; 2 Samuel 22:11).
The prophet Isaiah saw Seraphim with six wings: two wings covering the face, in an attitude of homage and reverence before the throne of God, two wings covering the feet, and two used for flight (ch. 6:2). And he adds that they were singing in the temple, that was full of the glory of the Lord, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” (ch. 6:3).
These heavenly beings have the “appearance of lightning” as the ones appearing to the shepherds. Luke wrote, “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not” (Luke 2:8-15). Also, Matthew mentioned that the angel of the Lord that rolled back the stone from Jesus’ tomb “His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow” (Matthew 28:3; Luke 24:4).
Hebrew theology depicts angels (cherubs) as beings of celestial nature, having human form, though with wings. The Genesis account tells us that the Lord “placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24).
Evidence Outside the Bible
The heavenly angels are mentioned in the old Mesopotamian epic of Gilgamesh, who searched for the “herb of life,” or immortality. Of the area where the “herb of life” was to be found, the legend records that “scorpion men guard its gate, whose terror is fearful, whose beholding is death; their awesome glory throws down mountains.”
History records that ancient Assyrian palaces were protected by great winged colossi named kâribu, half bull and half man, possibly a heathen version of the Bible story where angels were guarding the Garden of Eden. Also, in Egyptian temples, there were different representations of cherubim type of angels, like humans, with their wings covering the alter of their gods.
In His service,