Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Supernatural Friday: Angels--Non-Christian—Part 2

Since I will be out of town at Marscon, getting Part 2 of Supernatural Friday: Angel-Non-Christian now. Enjoy.

Angels are depicted in other religions too, not just the Christian ones. Christian angles came down from the Hebrew Bible. Like in Christian terms, the Hebrews also considered them messengers of God, or Yahweh. Descriptions of cherubim and seraphim (the chayot in Ezekiel's Merkabah vision and the Seraphim of Isaiah) in the Hebrew Bible have them with wings. However, while cherubim and seraphim have wings in the Bible, no angel is mentioned as having wings.

The term "angel" has also been expanded to various notions of spiritual beings found in many other religious traditions. Other roles of angels include protecting and guiding human beings, and carrying out God's tasks

The Bible uses the terms מלאך אלהים (mal'akh Elohim;; messenger of God), מלאך יהוה (mal'akh YHWH; messenger of the Lord), בני אלהים (b'nai Elohim; sons of God) and הקודשים (ha-qodeshim; the holy ones) to refer to beings traditionally interpreted as angels. Later texts use other terms, such as העליונים (ha'elyoneem; the upper ones).

Daniel is the first biblical figure who referred individual angels by name. Like Gabriel (God's primary messenger) in Daniel 9:21, and Michael (the holy fighter) in Daniel 10:13. These angels are part of Daniel's apocalyptic visions and are an important part of all apocalyptic literature.

Angels are best understood in contrast to demons—influenced by the ancient Persian religious tradition of Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrianism viewed the world as a battleground between forces of good and forces of evil, between light and darkness. One of these sons of God being "Satan/Lucifer", depicted in the Book of Job, besides other places.

In post-Biblical Judaism, certain angels took on particular significance, developing unique personalities and roles. Though these archangels were believed to rank among the heavenly host, there appeared to be no systematic hierarchy developed. Metatron is considered one of the highest of the angels in Merkabah and Kabbalist mysticism. He often serves as a scribe. Briefly mentioned in the Talmud, he figures prominently in Merkabah mystical texts. Michael serves as a warrior and advocate for Israel (Daniel 10:13). Gabriel is mentioned in the Book of Daniel (Daniel 8:15–17), the Book of Tobit, and briefly in the Talmud, as well as in many Merkabah mystical texts. Though no evidence in Judaism for the worship of angels, there is evidence for the invocation and sometimes even conjuration of angels.

According to Kabalah, there are four worlds and our world is the last world: the world of action (Assiyah). Angels exist in the worlds above as a 'task' of God, an extension of God to produce effects in this world. When angel completes its task, it ceases to exist. This is derived from the book of Genesis when Abraham meets with three angels and Lot meets two of them. The task of one of the angels was to inform Abraham of his coming child. The other two were to save Lot, and to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, too.

Angels and their tasks:

Malachim (translation: messengers), general word for angel.

Michael (translation: who is like God?), performs acts of justice and power.

Gabriel (translation: the strength of God), performs God's kindness.

Raphael (translation: God Heals), God's healing force.

Uriel (translation: God is my light), leads us to destiny.

Seraphim (translation: the burning ones), sing and praise God.

Malach HaMavet (translation: the angel of death).

Satan (translation: the adversary), brings people's sins before them in the heavenly court.

Chayot HaKodesh (translation: living beings).

Ophanim (translation: arbits) Guardians of the Throne of God.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) also view angels as the messengers of God. That angels were sent to mankind to deliver messages, minister to humanity, teach doctrines of salvation, call mankind to repentance, give priesthood keys, save individuals in perilous times, and guide humankind.

Latter Day Saints believe that angels are the spirits of humans who are deceased or who have yet to be born. Joseph Smith has taught that "there are no angels who minister to this earth but those that do belong or have belonged to it." Latter Day Saints also believe that Adam (the first man) became the archangel Michael, and that Gabriel had lived as Noah. Likewise the Angel Moroni first lived in a pre-Columbian American civilization as the 5th-century prophet-warrior named Moroni. Angels are typically depicted in Mormon art as having no wings, based on a quote from Joseph Smith that "An angel of God never has wings.”

Angels (Arabic: ملائكة , Malāʾikah; Turkish: Melek) are mentioned many times in the Qur'an and Hadith. Islam makes it clear on the nature of angels in that they are messengers of God, with no free will and only do what God orders them to do. One of these tasks is testing individuals by granting them abundant wealth and curing their illness. Believing in angels is one of the six Articles of Faith in Islam.

In his Book of Certitude Bahá’u’lláh, founder of the Bahá’í Faith, describes angels as people who ‘have consumed, with the fire of the love of God, all human traits and limitations’, and have ‘clothed themselves’ with angelic attributes and have become ‘endowed with the attributes of the spiritual’. He describes angels as the ‘confirmations of God and His celestial powers. Also as blessed beings who have severed all ties with this nether world. They have been released from the chains of self, and are revealers of God’s abounding grace. The Bahá’í writings also refer to the Concourse on High, an angelic host, and the Maid of Heaven of Bahá’u’lláh's vision.

Zoroastrianism says there are different angel-like figures. Each person has one guardian angel, called Fravashi. They patronize human beings and other creatures. Plus they also manifest God’s energy. The Amesha Spentas have often been regarded as angels. Although there is no direct reference to them conveying messages, they are also considered rather emanations of Ahura Mazda ("Wise Lord", God). They appear in an abstract fashion and then later became personalized, associated with diverse aspects of the divine creation.

Indian religions:
The Hindus’ deva is sometimes translated by Orientalists (erroneously) as "angel" (besides "god" or "deity"). But a deva is not an angel; actually it is personified a natural element with manifestation in physical realms.

References to angelic or divine deities in Sikhism are the focus on the liberation of the soul and ultimately joining with Waheguru in this religion. In early scriptures written by Guru Nanak Dev Ji, it points out that heavenly deities help in the judgment of the soul.

Azrael (as Azraa-eel) is named as the angel of death in the Guru Granth Sahib, the Holy Scripture and the final Guru of the Sikhs. So Dar and Raag Asa Sat Guru Nanak mentions clearly two beings as Chitar and Gupat, both of whom record the deeds of men. These Angels assigned with this Divine task by the Creator. Chitar records the deeds that are visible to all and Gupat records that which is hidden in thought or secret action. Their names themselves allude to the tasks which the All Mighty has bestowed upon them. They are often seen at the gates of heaven, dressed in the most adorned and decorated gowns, holding the records on the actions and feelings of the soul in the line for judgment.

In the Brahma Kumaris religion, every member becomes an angel of light (faristha in Hindi). Founder Dada Lekhraj is said to already become the perfect man and angel Brahma through practice of Raja Yoga.

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