THE SPIRITUAL WORLD – ITS NATURE
We are familiar with our physical world observed by our senses, but contrary to some false teaching, but we humans are much more than sensualists like countless other common creatures. There is another spiritual world which is the ultimate destination of every man and women. Observing men with their wonderful intellect and freedom of behavior we see much more than animalistic sensuality. Men are created and rise above all other creatures, for endowed with intellect and the freedom to do what we will, he is not trapped in a particular style of life and fixed behavior. For we live under laws many of which we ourselves have made, free to distinguish between and choose our preferences. Among all creatures on earth, we alone are endowed with the freedom to understand and choose either good or evil and man lives under laws which reward and punish those who freely make their choice. But there is so much more that elevates man to the heights! Before the physical world was created, God made the spiritual world, where life is endless and this is the destiny of those who heed God and is the abode of angels, who are spirits of fire dwell. This spiritual world is more important to men as it is much higher being vastly superior to the physical world. For God’s plan is to form men and women to become godlike in His own image and likeness.
God created the heavenly and spiritual world of angels for His own specific purpose and to serve Him in establishing his great plan for the whole created universe. Angels were created as intellectual and free beings able to respond or reject the Lord. Angels are not the object of the perfect plan of God but are His assistants who minister to men.. There is a misconception that angels are above and superior to man but this is not true, for they are assigned to assist men in their endeavors. St. Paul says this: “But to which of the angels did He say at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make your enemies the footstool of your feet? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation” (Heb. 1:13,14).
The nature of angels is spiritual and according to St. Paul’s words, their duty is to serve God and help to bring about the decisions of His will to guide those who shall be heirs of salvation. Angels are free and reasoning creatures able to contribute their part toward the final and most perfect work of God.
God created the spiritual world before the natural world that we see with our senses, and prior to the moral world which is the highest world being the world of God. Holy Scripture states: that God first created the world of the angels: “In the beginning God created heaven and earth” (Gen. 1:1). Scripture calls the spiritual world “heaven” as it is more splendid and superior to the natural world.
The angels are bodiless creatures who are not born nor subject to death or corruption and are bodiless creatures, with the freedom that enables them to choose between good and evil. They receive and fulfill the commandments of the Lord. As to the quantity of angels God is the only one who knows, but what we do know is that they are numberless being counted in thousands upon thousands. St. Paul mentions this: “But you are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels” (Heb. 12:22). Angels being free creatures are changeable and can make decisions and also experience joy or sorrow. They can accept truth and reject falsehood or the opposite if they so choose, for their decisive freedom is inviolable.
Angels only have limited knowledge from what God reveals to them; they do not have the ability to understand everything as Christ says: “But of that day and that hour no man knows, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father” (Mark 13:32). Angels are not subject to suffering as are humans and they are superior in this respect. Jesus refuted the Sadducees who denied the existence of angels, He taught that in the life to come, “the spirits of the righteous neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in Heaven” (Mat. 22:30).
No creature has always existed, as his existence began with his creation and immortality cannot apply to a creature. God alone is immortal and everything He created received its being from their Creator. Before creation existed there was only God, whose decision was to create the spiritual and physical world.
Angels may appear as being superior to man and they do not taste pain or death which humans endure. St. Paul said of this subject: “You made him” (Christ) “a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor . . . But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Heb. 2:7,9). Although angels do not know the future, they are interested in things that occur, as St. Peter wrote concerning angels: “Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us did they minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Spirit sent down from Heaven; which things the angels desire to look into” (1Pet.1:12).
Angels learn from the Church many deep mysteries of God for in the Church the will of God is made known. St. Paul speaks of this: “Unto me, who am the less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning has been hidden in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ; to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord . . . ” (Eph.3:8-11).
Angels are intelligent beings and always see the face of God and greatly rejoice over a repentant sinner, as Christ says: “ . . .In Heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father who is in Heaven” (Mat.18:10). “Likewise I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents” (Luke 15:10).
Angels are always among us in Church wherever it is gathered, at Divine Liturgy and Feast Days, at Vespers and Orthos, they are invisibly present doing their part by assisting the faithful. They minister and serve doing the will of the Father who instructs them. They are named angels because they are sent forth to serve those who seek to obtain salvation and eternal life.