In our current series we’ve been going through an old list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism published in 1648. Previously we started looking at God’s providence and saw that God’s providence is shown by his preservation, governance and ordering of his creation. Then we saw how God’s providence works for his own glory. This week I want to begin looking at God’s providence towards the angels, particularly his permitting some to fall and then be punished.
Firstly, we see that God by his providence permitted some of the angels to fall wilfully and irrecoverably into sin. We only have a little information on the fall of the angels but Jude, the brother of Jesus, says: ‘And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home’ (Jude 1:6). It is also possible that Isaiah 14:12-15 doesn’t just describe the King of Babylon, but due to its strong language may refer to the fall of Satan as well: ‘How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star [Lucifer in the KJV], son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit’ (Isaiah 14:12-15). We have no hint that this happened outside of God’s providence, i.e. he did not lose control of the angels so they fell.
Secondly, God’s providence brings about the punishment of those angels that have fallen into sin. The above verse from Jude also says: ‘And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home–these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day’ (Jude 1:6). Peter agrees by saying that God actively in his providencesends the sinful angels to hell: ‘For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment’ (2 Peter 2:4). And in the Revelation of John, we read about Satan’s end: ‘And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever’ (Revelation 20:10).
So do you recognise God’s providence extends to the fall of angels and their punishment? Or do you worship a different God?