What Do Angels Look Like?

Is it possible that angels are not as sweet-looking as we humans portray them? Then again, does it matter?

Q: I heard or read somewhere that angels are not the beautiful beings depicted in art. Even though they have beautiful souls and heavenly missions, physically they are ugly, repulsive creatures that you really would not want to see. Do you believe there is any truth to this?

A: The Bible records many awesome appearances of angelic beings that might incline one to believe that at least some of the heavenly messengers are not the beautiful entities depicted in art or in the accounts of the men and women who have reported angelic encounters. The "living creatures" described by Ezekiel and identified as cherubim, guardians of the throne of God, certainly border on the grotesque as judged by contemporary human standards.

As the Old Testament prophet beheld them, each had four faces, that of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle. Regardless of whether Ezekiel actually saw four separate visages on a single head or was simply using metaphorical language to describe a single face that reflected the attributes of human, lion, ox, and eagle, the cherubim in the prophet's vision would have had us trembling in fear and, yes, revulsion.

The figures seen by Ezekiel are suggestive of the lamassu, the ancient Mesopotamian spiritual guardians, which are described as rather grotesque creatures that often appear as lions or bulls with human faces and large wings. Such images were often placed at the entrances of temples to ward off evil. Although from our perspective and acculturation, we may consider the lamassu to be ugly monstrous beings, the people of Mesopotamia cherished them as accessible guardian spirits and didn`t seem to mind their appearance in the slightest.

The prophet Daniel probably felt he was in no position to complain about the looks of the angel who may have spared him from death in the lions' den. While we have no physical description of the angel who kept the great beasts at bay, Daniel did perceive a heavenly messenger shortly afterward at the Tigris River. This being wore linen and a solid gold belt and had a face like lightning, eyes like flaming fires, and a voice like the roar of a crowd. That angel, too, might well cause us to scatter in fear and hide, just as Daniel's companions did.

How would we really know when an angel appears to us? Read more on page 2 >>

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Brad and Sherry Steiger
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