Dr. David Jeremiah's Heaven Academy

What Do Angels Look Like?

What Do Angels Look Like?

By David Jeremiah

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Willowy women. Chubby–cheeked cherubs. Lost loved ones. Modern depictions of angels are comforting, but they are products of human imagination. Biblical descriptions of angels are radically different from these popular portrayals. Did you know that every time Scripture describes angels, it uses masculine terms? They are never depicted as women, children, or the dearly departed.

It might seem harmless to indulge our imagination, particularly if our goal is to comfort someone who is grieving. However, this way of thinking taints our understanding of a spiritual reality: angels are real. We can’t mold them to suit our preferences any more than we can change the stars in the sky. God’s Word mentions them over three hundred times. When we relegate angels to the world of fantasy, we lose sight of their purpose and power.

In 2 Chronicles 32:21, we read that “the Lord sent an angel, who annihilated all the fighting men and the commanders and officers in the camp of the Assyrian king.” Another passage quantifies the number of casualties at 185,000 (2 Kings 19:35). A single angel wiped out the most formidable army on earth in one night! Divorced from any credibility forever are the thoughts of plump baby “cherubs” or pale ladies with transparent wings traced in glitter across Christmas cards. No, real angels have been and are and shall forever be awesome warriors for God.

As spiritual beings, angels are real but without material substance as we think of it (Hebrews 1:14). They apparently have no physical nature, no breath or blood. If they occupy some form of permanent bodies, these would be spiritual bodies. In the Bible, they can take on human form, but their natural state is a spiritual form.

Let’s turn to some Scriptures that help us understand their physical characteristics.

Daniel 10:5–6

“I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz! His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude.”

Ezekiel 1:4–25

“Then I looked, and behold, a whirlwind was coming out of the north, a great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself; and brightness was all around it and radiating out of its midst like the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire. Also from within it came the likeness of four living creatures [cherubim]. And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man. Each one had four faces, and each one had four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the soles of calves’ feet. They sparkled like the color of burnished bronze. The hands of a man were under their wings on their four sides; and each of the four had faces and wings. Their wings touched one another. The creatures did not turn when they went, but each one went straight forward.

“As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side, each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had the face of an eagle. Thus were their faces. Their wings stretched upward; two wings of each one touched one another, and two covered their bodies. And each one went straight forward; they went wherever the spirit wanted to go, and they did not turn when they went.

“As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches going back and forth among the living creatures. The fire was bright, and out of the fire went lightning. And the living creatures ran back and forth, in appearance like a flash of lightning.

“Now as I looked at the living creatures, behold, a wheel was on the earth beside each living creature with its four faces. The appearance of the wheels and their workings was like the color of beryl, and all four had the same likeness. The appearance of their workings was, as it were, a wheel in the middle of a wheel. When they moved, they went toward any one of four directions; they did not turn aside when they went. As for their rims, they were so high they were awesome; and their rims were full of eyes, all around the four of them. When the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them; and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up. Wherever the spirit wanted to go, they went, because there the spirit went; and the wheels were lifted together with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. When those went, these went; when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up together with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.

“The likeness of the firmament above the heads of the living creatures was like the color of an awesome crystal, stretched out over their heads. And under the firmament their wings spread out straight, one toward another. Each one had two which covered one side, and each one had two which covered the other side of the body. When they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of many waters, like the voice of the Almighty, a tumult like the noise of an army; and when they stood still, they let down their wings. A voice came from above the firmament that was over their heads; whenever they stood, they let down their wings.”

Isaiah 6:1–3

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!’”

Hebrews 1:14

“Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?”

Luke 24:4

“And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments.”

Psalm 104:4

“[The Lord] makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire.”

Revelation 4:6–8

“In the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!’”

Revelation 7:1–3

“After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree. Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, ‘Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.’”

Revelation 18:21

“Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea.”

Even with the Bible’s vivid descriptions, it’s hard to envision what angels look like, but we can appreciate their role in God’s celestial kingdom—they are formidable soldiers who faithfully exercise the power God channels through them. I don’t know about you, but this gives me more comfort than quaint ideas about departed loved ones or chubby children. Heaven’s mighty warriors worship God, wage spiritual battles against the forces of evil, and serve God’s people according to His purposes.

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