Why are there so little depictions of Archangel Michael in churches?

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me” Exodus 20:3-5

Statues and other artistic renderings of angels, in and of themselves, there is nothing wrong with these depictions of angels. God gave the instructions to Israel in Exodus 20 not to make any imagery because of Israels idolatrous past. They were to stay as far away from anything that could draw them back into idolatry.

How one views an image of an angel is what determines whether it is wrong. The only reason angelic imagery would be wrong is if a person idolizes them, prays to them, or worships them, which Israel did in Egypt, this God forbids (1 Samuel 12:21). We do not worship angels or angel figures. Only God is worthy of worship (Psalm 99:5; Luke 4:8), and we are to rely fully on Him alone (Psalm 9:10). The Bible speaks very strongly against religious imagery. As a result, Christians must be very careful to never allow an image, whether an angel figure, picture of Jesus, nativity scene, etc., to become a snare or distraction.

While there is nothing sinful in having figurines or images representing angels or any other creature as some form of decoration or illustration, we must not attribute to them any supernatural power or influence over our lives. No figurine can protect us from harm, bring us good luck, or impact us in any way. Such beliefs are mere superstition, which has no place in the life of a Christian. Related to superstition is idolatry, and idolatry is clearly forbidden in Scripture, and no one who practices it will enter the Kingdom of God (Revelation 21:27).

Also, it is wise to recognize that we do not know what actual angels look like. Angel figurines or illustrations are someone’s idea of what an angel might look like. In the occasions of angelic manifestations to men, they appear as men with no wings.. Most angels true physical appearance is hidden from mankind. The most profound descriptions of angels as with Cherubs, Seraphs, Wheels and Virtues in the biblical accounts are visions and NOT actual physical encounters. This is NOT to say that angels don't appear and talk to men, they do, on rare occasions, but to date, there are no accounts of the graphic physical appearances as Cherubs etc. to mankind.

Michael the archangel is described in the Bible, in the books of Daniel, Jude, and Revelation, as a warrior angel who engages in spiritual combat. The word archangel means “angel of the highest rank.” Most angels in the Bible are portrayed as messengers, but Michael is described in all three books as contending, fighting, or standing against evil spirits and principalities (Daniel 10:13; 21; Jude 1:9; Revelation 12:7). We do not have a full picture of any angel, and only two are named in the first Biblical Cannon (Gabriel is the other). Scripture only gives us hints of their movements during human events, but it is safe to say that Michael the archangel is a powerful being.

Despite his great power, Michael is still in total submission to the Lord. His dependence on the Lord’s power is seen in Jude 1:9. The righteous angels have a rank and are submissive to authority, and for this reason they are used as a picture of a wife’s submission to her husband (1 Corinthians 11:10). Taking into consideration the strength of Michael the archangel, his submission to God is all the more beautiful. If the submission of angels is an argument for woman’s submission, we can see that submission is never meant to take away a woman’s strength or purpose or value.

The prophet Daniel is told that Michael the archangel is “the great prince who protects your people” (Daniel 12:1). Daniel’s people are the Jews, and the fact that Michael “protects” them suggests that God has set various holy angels over various countries or people groups. The demons have a similar hierarchy (Daniel 10:20). The fact that Michael is a “great prince” indicates that he has authority in the spiritual realm. There are others—Daniel 10:13 says that Michael is “one of the chief princes.”

Michael has a prominent role in the events of the end times. Daniel was told by the angel of the Lord that, during the time of the end, Michael will “arise” and there would be a time of unsurpassed trouble—a reference to the Great Tribulation (Daniel 12:1). Israel is guaranteed protection during this time, which will be followed by a great resurrection of the dead—some to everlasting life and others to everlasting shame (Daniel 12:2). The rapture of the church will be accompanied by “the voice of the archangel” (1 Thessalonians 4:16); this could be a reference to Michael, but Scripture does not specifically name him here.

The last mention of Michael the archangel appears in Revelation 12:7. During the tribulation, “war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.”

Michael and the forces of heaven defeat the dragon (Satan), and the Devil is hurled to the earth. There, enraged, Satan “went off to wage war against . . . those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus” (Revelation 12:17).

There is a spiritual war being fought over the hearts and souls of mankind. Michael the archangel is a strong angelic prince who protects Israel and submissively serves God by doing battle against Satan. The Devil can do his worst, but “he is not strong enough” to conquer heaven’s forces (Revelation 12:8).

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© Tony - W.A.M