The Archangels Michael and Gabriel
Angels were created as messengers of God. The Scriptures reveal that God created nine orders of angels; Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominations, Principalities, Powers, Virtues, Archangels, and Angels. From this order come the familiar seven Archangels which include Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Raguel, Sariel, and the fallen Lucifer.
Before outlining the roles of the two that have been the most prominent with man in the divine plan of the universe, it is necessary to mention him who has been the source of evil in our world with whom others, divine and mortal, have had to contend with through the centuries since the dawn of man. Lucifer, whose ambitions were a distortion of Gods plan, is known to us as the fallen angel and is called by many names; these are Satan, Belial, Bellzebub and the Devil. He was an outcast since his expulsion from Paradise. This force of evil has been a thorn in the side of mankind and in all probability, responsible for the miseries which Christianity has been striving to eliminate throughout the world.
The Archangel Michael is the outstanding figure in the eyes of the Orthodox Church. He is depicted, in many houses of worship, by an icon always on the extreme left of the iconostasis, where he is pictured as a guardian of Paradise from whence Adam and Eve were evicted. In some icons he is seen with a flaming sword as a symbol of the righteousness that called for the casting out of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden after they had fallen victim to Satan who appeared to them in the form of a serpent.
Among other things, it was the Archangel Michael who was sent by God to cancel the command of God Himself, that Abraham sacrifice the life of his own son Isaac. Archangel Michael was also the messenger who warned Lot to flee from the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Archangel Michaels involvement with mankind is shown in other ways, including his protection of Jacob from the wrath of his brother Esau over a matter of inheritance. The Scriptures also tell us that it was Michael who battled with the Devil for the soul of Moses after the founder of the Israel nation passed away. The Devil staked his claim on the soul of the great Moses, on the basis that Moses had killed an Egyptian prior to the Exodus. But the defence of the monumental figure of the Bible by Michael, saved the soul of Moses from the clutches of Satan. We are further told that it was Michael who stood by Joshua during his first encounter with his enemies in the land of Canaan.
Mentioned in the New Testament numerous times, in which his lofty position is recognised, many miracles are attributed to the handiwork of Michael. The main one is the changing of the course of a river at a place called Chonais in Asia Minor. Michaels many miracles are commemorated by the church on September 6 of each calendar year.
At the other end of the iconostasis in the Orthodox Churches, the Icon of St. Gabriel is depicted, seeming like twin sentinel with Michael over all mankind. Gabriels name is synonymous with redemption, particularly since he was chosen to be sent by God to bring the electrifying news to the Virgin Mary that she was about to become the mother of God. What happened later changed the course of history and brought the promise of the deliverance of man through Jesus Christ. On the left is the symbol of guilt, on the right, the symbol of salvation and between those can be seen the inspiring spiritual greats who have woven an enduring fabric to clothe all mankind and to keep him from exposures that are life threatening.
Few are aware of the assignments of the lesser known and not so often mentioned saints, aside from Michael and Gabriel and the fallen Lucifer. Very little mention is made of the others but much could be made out of their responsibilities as ordained by God through painstaking study of Scriptures, which the average reader overlooks because of what is considered more interesting or engrossing. Gabriel is principally mentioned in the Book of Daniel but there are others who have been mentioned who could do with considerably more attention.
Too little is said of Raguel, who is in charge of the spirits of humans but Sariel, whose duties are not defined, whose role as avenger upon the world of lights is somewhat confusing. However there is a clear definition of Uriels role as leader, of angelic hosts who guard the underworld (Sheol).
Together this holy group is honoured with a feast day on November 8.
SOURCE : Orthodox Saints - Volume 4 - George Poulos
The Dismissal Hymn - Fourth Tone
O Leaders of the Heavenly Hosts, unworthy as we are, we implore you that by your prayers you will encircle us with the protection of your wings of unseen glory; guard us who bend low before you and fervently cry: Release us from dangers, O Marshals of the Powers Above.
Τ§ν ορανίων στρατι§ν EΑρχιστράτηγοι, δυσωπομεν μOς ½μεsς οj Pνάξιοι, lνα ταsς μ§ν δεήσεσι τειχίσητε ½μOς, σκέπη τ§ν πτερύγων τyς Pΰλου μ§ν δόξης, φρουροντες ½μOς προσπίπτοντας, dκτεν§ς καr βο§ντας· dκ τ§ν κινδύνων λυτρώσασθε ½μOς, ©ς Ταξιάρχαι τ§ν Tνω Δυνάμεων.