Pastor Jeff Struecker

We are going to answer some questions today about angels and demons. We started a couple of weeks ago doing this “AMA”, ask me anything sermon series on the topic of angels and demons. 

We’re going to talk about timeline, and I just need to give you a disclaimer upfront. I’m going to do my best to answer some “when” questions, but here’s the truth: Some of you are going to go away frustrated today, because some of you were asking for, like, a day of the week, a month of the year, or exact second of the day kinds of questions. And no one on Earth can answer those kinds of questions. But I’m going to do my best to give you some answers to the “when things happened” questions. 

Before we even get into those questions, can I remind you of something about time, as you and I know it? Pay close attention, because everything that I say next is based on this statement. Time, for human beings, began when God breathed into Adam the breath of life. That’s the first second that the clock started ticking. That’s “Day One” of the calendar. 

Time, for human beings, will end when the New Jerusalem comes down from Heaven, when God resides on Earth with people forever. And because it’s eternity, because it’s forever, you can throw the calendar out the window because we can’t even keep track of that kind of time anymore. What I’m trying to say is, God doesn’t exist in time as you and I know it. Time is different for God.

For God, he has no beginning, and there’s no end, which means God sees everything all at the same time. He sees the beginning, the middle, and the end all at the same time, because God is not constrained by time like you and I are. 

Some of the questions that you asked, the time-related questions today, are impossible to answer because they’re heavenly questions, and time doesn’t work for God in Heaven like it works for you and me here on Earth. Day One is the day that God breathed into Adam the breath of life, and our first father became a living being. 

The last day of creation, the last day that we can really measure, is the day when eternity starts. And then there’s no measure to that. But in order to set up everything that I’m going to say today, I want to pose a question for you, and it’s really the chicken-and-egg question. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? I want to make this a theological question, though, because it’s a really, really important question. Today, as we’re going along, I want you to wrestle with this question, and I want you to personally come up with your answer to this question. You ready? Here it is:

Which came first, evil or Lucifer, the prince of the angels that rebelled against God in Heaven, that started sin and wickedness and evil as we know it?

In your mind right now, which of these two happened first? Did Lucifer begin evil, or did evil begin before Lucifer? It’s an important question, because here’s what I need you to understand. What God creates is pure and perfect. But in the case of angels and the case of humans, they were created in a way that they could rebel against God. -not that they would rebel against God, but created in a way that they could rebel against God. 

I’ve got a verse that will set up everything else that you’re going to hear from me. This is Jesus speaking. And by the way, Jesus, the Son of God, “God, the Son”, is going to tell people on Earth a little bit about his authority. And it comes from Luke chapter 10, verse 18. Here’s what Jesus says about Lucifer:

 Luke 10:18 He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like lightning.

Now, can I just break this down for a second for us? I want you to notice what Jesus said. “I was there when Satan fell,” and notice he used past tense verbs, meaning this happened a long time ago, but, “I was still around a long time ago. I watched this happen.” He’s talking about Lucifer, Satan, the Devil, whichever one of those names that you want to give to him today. And Jesus is telling us what happened. He was in Heaven. He was in God’s presence, and for whatever reason, Lucifer or Satan led a rebellion, and God cast him out of Heaven. And he fell from heaven like lightning. This past tense phrase that Jesus uses describes a little bit about timeline for us.

But here’s the deal: You all asked some doozies this week, and I’m going to do my best to try to answer these questions, because you asked me some questions about when stuff happened. And if I can just be honest with you, we’re going to look to the Bible and only to the Bible for these answers. But some of the questions that you asked, the Bible just doesn’t give us explicit answers. We can infer some things, but it’s not explicit. 

When were angels created?

The first question that you asked about timeline is, “When did all of this stuff happen? When did God create the angels?” And I want to remind us, a lot of what you and I have been taught is subconscious about angels and demons, meaning you learned it from the movies, or I heard a brilliant man make the statement this week: “Most of what I know about angels, I learned from my father, who learned from his father by looking at Renaissance art and some artist’s interpretation. My father took that as what it’s really like, and he taught me that’s what it’s really like… but it’s not really based on the Bible.”

I’m going to try to give you only Bible answers to this question, So when did this stuff happen? Well, I don’t know. There’s no date on the calendar that you can mark, because it happened using a different construct for time than you and I have. In the Bible, in the book of Job, toward the end of Job, Job has been suffering greatly. And Job has been declaring, “God is good,” even when he’s suffering. At the end of the book, God is going to now call Job to account, because Job’s been asking some really hard questions of God. And now God is going to ask some really hard questions of Job. 

And right in the middle of that conversation, I want you to hear what God says to Job about when he created stuff and who was around when he created stuff. This comes from Job 38, verses 4 through 7:

Job 38:4-7 Where were you when I established the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who fixed its dimensions? Certainly you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? What supports its foundations? Or who laid its cornerstone while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

By the way, almost every Bible scholar believes this is the oldest book in your Bible. This is the first book chronologically in the entire Bible. That phrase, sons of God, right here in this verse refers to what? Angels. God is saying, “Hey, while the morning stars were shouting because I was creating the crown jewel of the universe (Earth), the angels were also all together shouting for joy before the Earth was even created.

When did this stuff happen? When did God create angels? I don’t know the exact date, but I do know this from the book of Job: it happened before Adam was created. It happened before the Earth was created, because the sons of God are around when it happens, when God lays the foundation stone, and they shout for joy because of this beautiful Earth that God has created. We can’t tell exactly when this happened, which means you can’t circle a date on the calendar for this question. But it definitely happened sometime before you and I happened. That much is obvious from the Bible.

Is God still creating angels?

Question number two: “Is God still in the business of creating angels?” I like the fact that you recognize angels are a creation of God, meaning they really exist, and they only exist because God made them exist. The question that you’re asking is, Is God still in the business of creating angels, and my easy answer to this question is no. I get this explicitly from the Bible.

But there’s a caveat to that question. There’s an addendum to the answer to this question. See, Genesis chapter two tells us at the end of six days, God really did finish all of the creation. And we can infer from Genesis 2 not just the creation on Earth, but he finished all of his creation in Heaven, as well, which would include the angels. Genesis 2:1 says:

Genesis 2:1 So the heavens and the earth and everything in them were completed.

Do you see that it says “everything in the heavens”? This is saying by the end of Genesis 2:1, God is done creating angels as we know it. But now we have a problem.

For those of you who watched last week, you saw from Genesis chapter six that the angels created these hybrid human beings when the fallen angels (this is Jeff’s way of explaining it as clearly as I can), when the fallen angels that have already rebelled took human wives and made babies with them and you have this race of superhuman people that existed for a while. I don’t even believe that God allows angels, fallen angels, to take human wives anymore and have human babies, but the Bible is really telling us by the end of the sixth day, everything on Earth, it’s all been created. Everything in Heaven has all been created. 

How many angels exist? 

And by now you’re asking the question, “Who really cares, Jeff?” Well, it starts to get even better when we get to question number three, because question number three asks, “How many angels are there out there?” And I think the person who asked this question is asking for an exact number, like “Jeff, I want to the angel, the number of them out there.” Don’t forget the word angel refers to good angels and fallen angels, and who we would call demons today. My exact answer to this question is… a lot. How many is a lot? Well, I don’t know, but it’s a lot of angels, because in Revelation 5, we hear it’s a lot angels. Verse 11 says it this way:

Revelation 5:11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels around the throne, and also of the living creatures and of the elders. Their number was countless thousands, plus thousands of thousands.

It says countless thousands, like I-can’t-count-that-high thousands. In English, it would be like a bajillion, whatever that number is. Countless thousands, plus thousands upon thousands. There’s no record of how many angels we really have in the Bible. When Jesus is suffering and he’s on trial, he reminds the people that are accusing him, “Hey, don’t think that I couldn’t ask my Father, and he would send 12 times 12,000 angels, more than 144,000 angels to help me out if I just asked him to. But I’m not going to ask him.”

You want to know how many we’re talking about? Countless thousands upon thousands, at least more than 144,000. And by the way, I think that number is figurative, and what Jesus is saying is, “I could ask for as many angels as you can imagine, more than you can imagine. And they would show up in an instant if I asked for them.” How many angels are there? I have no way of knowing, but the Bible tells us there are a lot of angels that God created, and apparently he created them all before he created you and me.

What I’m trying to say by bringing Genesis six into this equation is, I’m pretty sure that angels are no longer creating half angels anymore. So, that number really is probably fixed now. Whatever that number is, it’s just a lot.

When did Satan fall?

The fourth and final question, and the most important question that somebody asks today (and they didn’t ask it in these words). In fact, I’m going to read the exact words of the question because I changed the words just a little bit, but they asked the question, “If God controls angels, why or how is it possible that Satan would fall? I changed the question to ask, “When did that happen?”

Remember back in Luke chapter 10 that I used right at the beginning? Jesus says, “I watched Satan fall from Heaven like lightning. And I was there when it happened.” And we can assume that this happened before God created the heavens and the Earth. The reason we can assume this is because by the time you get to Genesis 3, there’s already a serpent in the garden who is already doing his best to destroy your soul.

And the question that somebody asks is, “Hey, when did this happen?” And this gets to the essence of, did Satan or Lucifer introduce evil, or did evil come about, and it influenced Lucifer? Which of these happened first? You may be sitting there thinking to yourself right now, Who cares? The answer to this question is essential to your soul. 1 John 3:8 starts to answer the question a little bit:

1 John 3:8 The one who commits sin is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God was revealed for this purpose: to destroy the devil’s works.

You are Lucifer’s property. Now I want to explain the beginning of this verse, because he’s talking about somebody who lives in sin, you’re consumed by sin, and you sin because Lucifer has control of your soul. The one who commits sin is of the devil, for the devil has sinned. Do you see what it says in the Bible? “He has sinned from the beginning.” I’m assuming that what John is referring to here is before time began, as we know it, before God breathed into Adam the breath of life, Satan was already sinning, committing evil.

The Devil has sinned from the beginning, and the Son of God was revealed for this purpose to destroy the works of the Devil, literally to destroy sin. The reason why I’m harping on this question for us right now is because many people, I think they get confused. And not just confused, I’m just going to use this word; they’re deceived. Somebody told them a lie about sin, and that somebody is the father of all lies. Jesus refers to Satan, the Devil, as the father of all lies; all lies come from him because he is the creator, the original liar. 

And when we’re deceived, when somebody’s lied to us about sin, it ultimately looks like this: “Well, I may do some stuff wrong, but I’m a pretty good person on the inside.”

This week, I was sharing Jesus with somebody, and I was asking them if they were on their way to Heaven and how certain they were that they were on the way to Heaven. Their answer to me was basically, “Look, I’ve gone to church. I don’t anymore. I know who Jesus is, but I’m going to Heaven, and I’m convinced that I’m going to Heaven because I’m a pretty good person.”

I want you to hear something, not from me; I want you to hear something from a brilliant pastor and theologian, a guy by the name of Paul Tripp, because Paul Tripp answers this question. When people think, “Hey, I’m a pretty good person, right?” Paul said, “Sin is more than bad behavior; it’s the heart condition that leads to bad behavior.” In other words, what Paul Tripp is saying is, you sin because you have a sinful heart and until a sinful heart is fixed, you will continue to sin. There’s no way around it.

Which came first, sin or a wicked heart? Which came first, evil or Satan? A wicked heart comes before sin. Sin is the result of a wicked heart. And that’s really what we’re learning today as we study the fallen angels. You see, Paul Tripp said, “Here’s what happens: Two things happen when you’ve been deceived about sin and you start to think, ‘I’m a pretty good person.’ It’s evidence that you don’t understand sin.” He says, “First, what you do is you simply turn sin into just bad behavior.” (And by the way, if it was just bad behavior, I really want you to tell me why Jesus would leave Heaven, come to Earth and be willing to die for that? If that’s all sin is, why would that cost Jesus his life?) 

But Paul Tripp says it this way: “The second thing that it does is it makes us all want to make sin the result of something outside of us instead of something inside of us.” And come on, y’all. You’ve probably done this because I’ve done this. We start to rationalize our sin because of the circumstances around us. “It’s all of these things around me that have led me to do something wrong.” What we don’t tend to do very often is say, “There’s something really wrong inside of me, and the reason why I keep doing wrong is because there’s something wrong inside of me. And I got to get this wrong inside of me fixed before I start doing right.” 

See, what the Bible is telling us today is Lucifer, the originator of sin, has gripped the human heart, all human hearts. Psalm 51:5 says, “I was born in sin. It was in sin that my mother brought me from the grave. It was from my first breath, and it’s inside of me. I can’t fix it until somebody steps in and fixes it for me,” which is exactly why Jesus was willing to leave Heaven, come to Earth and be a sacrifice. 

It was because he knows, “Jeff, you can’t fix your heart. Sin is so wicked, it affects so much of you that you can’t fix this on your own. And by the way, let’s just say, Jeff, that you wanted to get to Heaven by being a pretty good person. Well, let me just make sure you understand what the measure is: 100% absolute moral perfection for a lifetime. That doesn’t mean just didn’t do anything wrong; it means never thought the wrong thought, never had a wrong attitude. That’s the standard if you’re going to try to get in on your own.” 

The reason why you and I do wrong is because there’s something wrong inside of us, and we need the gospel to change what’s wrong inside of us.

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