Angels — or, in the original Hebrew, malachim — are mentioned one-hundred ninety-six times in the Bible, one-hundred and three times in the Old Testament and ninety-three times in the New Testament. The branch of theology that deals with the study of angels is called angelology and has, historically, been more neglected than the other branches.
Hebrews chapter one has a lot to say about the relationship between God and his people, as well as between God and his angels. Angels are first mentioned in verse four, where it is stated that “[Jesus has] become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.” There are then mentioned, in verses 5 through 13, several comparisons between Jesus and the angels. In verse six, it is said that “all God’s angels worship [Jesus].”
Verse seven and verse fourteen are especially interesting when talking about angels. In verse seven, it is written that “He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.” In verse fourteen, it is written that angels are “ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation.”
From these passages, it is understood that angels are not physical beings like humans but are rather spiritual beings.
However, in Genesis chapter nineteen we see two angels that apparently look no different from any other human, as Lot, who sits waiting at the gate of the city, mistakes them for foreigners and welcomes them into their house. Also, when the crowd gathers outside Lot’s house, they ask “[w]here are the men who came to you tonight,” referring to them as humans and not as anything supernatural. From this, it can be understood that angels can assume human shape and form when God wills it.
Cherubim (Ezekiel 10) and Seraphim (Isaiah 6)
Cherubim first appear in Genesis when they are placed as guards of the garden of Eden after the Fall (Genesis 3:24). From then on, cherubim are primarily mentioned with regard to decorations or ornamentation.
They are mentioned with regard to the tabernacle, where it is commanded that the people of Israel “shall make two cherubim of gold . . . on the two ends of the mercy seat,” which is where the Lord will meet with Moses concerning his commandments for Israel (Exodus 25:18-20, 22). The tabernacle will have further cherubim as ornaments in the ten curtains for the tabernacle, that were blue, purple, and scarlet and had cherubim “skillfully worked into [them]” (Exodus 26:31). The Lord then keeps his word and speaks to Moses from between the two cherubim on the mercy seat (Numbers 7:89).
Deviating from the norm of describing cherubim simply as decorations, in Samuel 1 and 2, it is mentioned that the “Lord of hosts . . . is enthroned on the cherubim” (1 Samuel 4:4) or that He “sits enthroned” on the cherubim (2 Samuel 6:2).
In 1 Kings, cherubim are back as decorations, this time being carved of olivewood, overlaid with gold, and put in the house that King Solomon builds for the Lord (1 Kings 6:23, 25, 27–28). Solomon also carves “engraved figures of cherubim . . . in the inner and outer rooms” of the house (6:29) and on the doors (6:32, 35) and the panels of the doors (7:36), as well as on ten stands of bronze (7:29). The ark of the covenant is then brought into Solomon’s house for the Lord and placed “underneath the wings of the cherubim” (8:6) and the cherubim “spread out their wings” over the ark and “overshadowed [it] and its poles” (8:7).
The seraphim are mentioned in Isaiah chapter six verse two as having six wings. Two are used to cover their eyes, that they might not see the face of God and two are used to cover their feet, as they are on Holy ground. The seraphim continually praise the Lord, saying “Holy holy holy.”