The main character of the movie “The Prophecy” (1995) says: “Angels in heaven carry a scary weapon even today”. That are supposed to be words of the Paul the Apostle but an attentive reader of the Bible would notice right away he didn’t say it there or in any other place in the Bible. The closest words to this fragment are found in “Jewish Legends” of Louis Ginzberg from 1909 where we read: “Angels, scary and merciless, they carry a scary gun”. Even though the quote was made up for the need of the movie, the idea it invokes wasn’t.
The thought of angels carrying guns in heaven is a reminiscence of the message about a prehistoric riot in heaven. The Bible makes allusion to this even several times, sometimes more, sometimes less clear but you can always sense that it’s about something real. Putting those allusions together – if all are correctly identified – and interpreting them we can have a few interesting conclusions. I won’t number all of them, there will be an occasion for this. I just want to illustrate a thought with only one referencer.
I took notice of Eliphaz’s words from the Book of Job 15,15 when I was studying: “Behold, God puts no trust in his holy ones, and the heavens are not pure in his sight”. I asked Alfred Tschirschnitz; PhD for help in explaining those words. I got a list of German theologists’ opinions written with microscopic letters as an answer a week later. I lost it somewhere. But I remember there was nothing that would in any way make this words clearer.
Today I think that they’re an allusion of angel’s fall into sin. And there arises a question, when was it? I have analyzed text of the Bible in the cultural and religious context for a few years and I’m under the impression that all allusions of the cosmic fall into the sin in some way invoke Mesopotamian, Canaanite or even Greek scriptures (2nd Epistle of Peter). In other words, all ancient texts that seem to mention this event, do it in a similar way. Of course the literary vesture, names of characters and the order of events is different but it shouldn’t surprise and it can be explained by the process of acculturation. The fall of angels took place in prehistory in all texts – before creating humans.
There’s really not much information in the Old Testament about what was before creating the world – it comes from the sobriety of old-testamentary authors and theirs desire to cut speculations. There’s even less about angels and what have they done before creating human. We can read one of few information in the Book of Job 38,7 where we read that sons of God watched with fascination how God was creating the world. All other information touch the time after the creation. The most known fragment – Gen 6,4 – is also the least understood. But if we read the text and heavenly world in the right way, there’s a clear description of the fall into sin which infected earth.
The fall of angels or in fact a riot of gods against the highest god in texts of neighbouring cultures took place before creating the world and it seems it was a requirement to make it happen. Images of angels chained in dungeons come from those texts. In the other hand when the Old Testament mentions imprisoned angels – and if it names them at all – calls them Refaim – sheol’s shadows.
We can also look at his problem from the theological perspective. The fact that angels had the possibility of choice is the probably reason of the fall. Free will led them to the fall, just like in case of people. But people got their chance to redeem by Jesus Christ, did angels also got it? Does anyone – except Origen – ever considered it? Maybe Paul the Apostle wrote something about it in the Letter to Romans 8,19-22:
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”
In the end, perhaps the text about angels carrying scary gun in heaven isn’t so made-up, after all the Bible mentions angels carrying swords (Gen 3,24; Nb 22,23; 1Cor 21,30) and also the fact that armies of angels wage wars in heaven (Rev 12,7). I however surely think that if God doesn’t trust his angels, we should be even more careful if any of them reveals to us.