Man's Best Friend: Angel in Furry Disguise?
Think your special dog or cat may be more than just a couch companion?
I occasionally receive questions from readers about angels and pets. In this month's column, I will address the following questions:
- Is there anything in the Bible that says angels appear as animals?
- Is it possible that my special dog or cat is really an angel God has assigned to me?
- Has an angel ever chased off attackers by suddenly appearing as vicious animals?
Here is what we do learn about angels from the Bible: God created angels as spirits. They cannot be seen by humans when they are in their natural spirit form, but sometimes good angels take on a visible shape to carry out God's commands. In the Old and New Testament, angels usually appeared as ordinary people. But sometimes angels were seen as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. At the resurrection of Jesus, an angel was even described as being like lightning, his clothes white as snow.
But does the Bible record any instance of angels becoming animals? Well, yes and no. St. John in the Apocalypse saw four angels in heaven around the throne of the Most High (Revelation 4:6-8). The first resembled a lion, the second looked like an ox, the third had the form of a man, and the fourth was like an eagle. Each of the angels had six wings, and the angels never ceased to cry day and night, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.” Do these verses reveal that some angels look like animals in heaven? Most Biblical scholars would answer no. These verses remind us that angels are spirit beings without bodies. When they do take on a body that humans can see, it is only for a brief time to accomplish a task God has assigned. The Book of Revelation is highly symbolic and we are not meant to take this scene literally. We can best understand these strange but majestic beings as an indication of the indescribable greatness of God and the mysteries of heaven. This would also be true of the cherubim described in Ezekiel 10:14.
There is only one time in the Bible when an angel appeared as an animal. That was when Satan took the form of a serpent to tempt Eve (Genesis 3:1-5). While the Bible never gives us another example of an angel taking the shape of an animal on earth, we do learn from this account that it is possible.