Daily Meditations

Angels (Part I)

By Nabil Semaan


First of all, this event happened before the fall of man. The cause of the fall of some angels is that they rebelled against God. Their leader was one of the most beautiful Cherubim; he was gifted much more than the others in divine grace, according to the prophet Isaiah: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God, I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north, I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit” (Isaiah 14:12-15).

The prophet Ezekiel symbolizes the king of Tyre with the fallen Cherubim: “Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty, thou hast been in Eden the garden of God … Thou was perfect in thy ways from the day that thou has been created until iniquity was found in thee … therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God, and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire … I will cast thee to the ground” (Ezekiel 28:12-18). This fall was as fast as the lightning described by the Lord Jesus Himself in the Gospel of St. Luke: “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven” (Luke 10:18).

This fallen Cherubim attracted to him a number of angels of different ranks, some from the higher ranks, and he took them with him. They were expelled from paradise, so they wandered on earth. The Archangel Michael resisted the devil rebeller and his companions, and a war happened in heaven. “Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought with his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found anymore in heaven” (Revelation 12:7-8). As St. Ignatius Brianchaninov describes it, “The devil carried with him one third of the angels and threw them on earth.” Then, the Archangel Michael cried in a loud voice, “let us attend” in order not to fall with the devil and his angels. He did not dare to judge the devil, he just demanded attention and vigil once, and from that time the relation between the angels loyal to God got stronger by grace and they were not subject to evil. From that time, there is a strong war between the angels loyal to God and the devil and his angels. All the gifts that were for the demons were turned to evil. The devil was called “Satan,” a Hebrew word meaning “enemy,” which parallels the Greek word diabolis, which means “divider.” The word demon is Greek and means “the fallen angel.”

St. Ignatius Brianchaninov describes that, before the fall of Adam, the devil was wandering the sky having within him a feeling of great emptiness. God allowed him by His great compassion and mercy to enter the paradise of Eden in order to contemplate its beauty and give him a chance to repent. But he was jealous of Adam and Eve, and tried with all his force to cast them out of paradise, and succeeded in casting Adam and Eve out of paradise and even bringing them under his control. In that way the devil lost every hope of coming back to God.

From the instance of the fall of man, there is a great conflict within the human person between the angels of light and angels of darkness. The angels of light were sent by God to help the humans even from the era of the Old Testament. We see the Archangel Gabriel in charge of Israel when they left Egypt, Archangel Raphael helping Tobit, Michael sent to help Joshua the son of Nun, and arguing with the devil regarding the body of Moses. However, the devil was always trying to make humans sin, but without knowing he is doing the will of God, because every evil ends always with goodness. The devil, then, became an instrument of God’s trial to men.

Taken from Mystagogy: The Weblog of John Sanidopoulos, (http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2009/11/angels-according-to-orthodox-tradition.html).


16. St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, “Homily on Angels,” Periodical No. 14, Archangel Michael Monastery, Lebanon.