The show Lucifer begins with a major yet subtle assumption regarding angels that has far-reaching effects. Angels in the Bible are often depicted as servants of God, carrying out specific tasks such as guarding the Garden of Eden from Adam and Eve’s return, stepping in to avert a sacrifice (Isaac’s), destroying wicked cities (Sodom and Gomorrah), heralding births (Samson, John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and others), among other tasks. But are they simply automatons carrying out God’s will?
Lucifer has this idea at its heart; Lucifer was thrust into the position of watching over Hell, despite not wanting to do so. It would be easy to say that Lucifer, as a fallen angel, is not bound by the normal rules, yet how do we explain Amenadiel’s actions? He wouldn’t have the same freedom since he’s still working directly for God. The show is free to use artistic license to neatly sidestep such problems to make the show entertaining. However, the mythology found in the Bible is less flexible, but has some interesting things to say about angels.
The above examples represent a good chunk of the role of angels in the Old and New Testament, but, for the most part, the angels don’t act on their own, as they are sent directly by God. However, if we examine Genesis 6, just before Noah’s flood, we come across a couple of curious verses: “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children to them. These were the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown” (Genesis 6:4).
The language here is interesting. First, “the sons of God” are not defined. It also appears in verse one, but also without explanation in the text. The only thing we can go off is the rest of verse four, where it talks about “daughters of humans.” We have to conclude that the sons of God are different from humans. By process of elimination, we’re left with angels, as a cherubim was set to guard Eden back in Genesis 3:24.
Okay, so the sons of God have to be angels—but this doesn’t bring us any closer to understanding if they have free will. Well, in their interactions with the daughters of humans, they fathered children. The Nephilim are sexually compatible with people, according to this verse, which suggests personal stakes. Moreover, if we skip back a little bit, we see that “the sons of God saw that they were fair” (Genesis 6:2). It’s subtle, but also huge. The angels have expressed a desire. They find women attractive. After the expression of that desire, they follow through on it by cuing up the Barry White for some intense romance.
The expression and fulfillment of desire is the basis of free will. The same kind of language has been used previously where “[Eve] saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired” (Genesis 3:6). Just as Eve expressed a desire, so do these sons of God express and follow through on a desire.
Let’s examine a little further, as we have to ask the question: Does God approve of what the angels are doing? According to the verse, the Nephilim are “the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown,” but is this necessarily approval? Thus far, God does not view violence as a good thing. Cain was cursed for murdering his brother, so warriors wouldn’t find favor from God.
In the next verse, immediately after mentioning the Nephilim, God condemns humanity because “every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). This is not exactly a ringing endorsement of any people on the earth, Nephilim included. Further, in verse 11, “the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence.” We have a direct reference to violence as one of the sources of evil that condemns the earth to a flood. Warriors, even those who bear the blood of angels, are not favorable in God’s eyes.
So, if God does not approve of what the angels are doing, and there are hints that the Nephilim might be a contributing factor to the flood, then they must be able to act independently of God’s will, exactly as humanity can. Therefore, they must have free will. The very concept of Lucifer as a fallen angel requires that angels be able to go against God’s edicts. This does not mean they are free from the consequences of their actions (much as Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden), but this important concept permeates the cosmology of the Old and New Testament and is the foundation of the television drama.
It’s exciting to see this concept play out as Amenadiel has been using his free will in some not-so-nice ways to manipulate Lucifer and humanity, as well as developing (and exercising) his desires with Mazikeen. Where will the will of these angels take us next?
Make sure to check back every week, as I will be exploring the mythology behind each episode of Season 2 of Lucifer!
Andy Adams is an adjunct professor of English at various colleges in the Phoenix area. He has an affectation for fedoras as they complement his villainous goatee. He’s been known to poke his head onto Twitter @A3Writer, but he’s never been big into birds. He blogs at A3writer.com about writing, teaching, and the conquest of fictional worlds—they’re more fun than the real world.
Read all posts by Andy Adams for Criminal Element.