Light and Glory of Angels


(This is an excerpt from the book Angels: Agents of Light, Love, and Power by Donald W. Parry.)

God’s angels are personages of light, glory, and beauty. The resurrected Moroni is an example of one who shines with great glory. Joseph Smith recorded: “I discovered a light appearing in my room, which continued to increase until the room was lighter than at noonday, when immediately a personage appeared. . . . He had on a loose robe of most exquisite whiteness. It was a whiteness beyond anything earthly I had ever seen; nor do I believe that any earthly thing could be made to appear so exceedingly white and brilliant. . . . Not only was his robe exceedingly white, but his whole person was glorious beyond description, and his countenance truly like lightning. The room was exceedingly light, but not so very bright as immediately around his person” (Joseph Smith–History 1:30–32).

Oliver Cowdery wrote a letter about Moroni’s visit to Joseph. In this letter, which was published in the Messenger and Advocate, Oliver described the brilliant light that accompanied the angel’s visit: “On a sudden a light like that of day, only of a purer and far more glorious appearance and brightness, burst into the room.— Indeed, to use [Joseph’s] own description, the first sight was as though the house was filled with consuming and unquenchable fire. This sudden appearance of a light so bright, as must naturally be expected, occasioned a shock or sensation, visible to the extremities of the body. It was, however, followed with a calmness and serenity of mind, and an overwhelming rapture of joy that surpassed understanding, and in a moment a personage stood before him.

“Notwithstanding the room was previously filled with light above the brightness of the sun, as I have before described, yet there seemed to be an additional glory surrounding or accompanying this personage, which shone with an increased degree of brilliancy, of which he was in the midst; and though his countenance was as lightning, yet it was of a pleasing, innocent and glorious appearance, so much so, that every fear was banished from the heart, and nothing but calmness pervaded the soul.”1 John the Baptist, like Moroni an angelic minister, was attended with magnificent light and glory when he appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. Joseph related, “While we were thus employed, praying, and calling upon the Lord, a messenger from heaven, descended in a cloud of light.”

In April conference of 2007, Elder L. Tom Perry spoke of Oliver Cowdery’s description of John’s visitation: “‘On a sudden, as from the midst of eternity, the voice of the Redeemer spake peace to us, while the vail was parted and the angel of God came down clothed with glory, and delivered the anxiously looked for message, and the keys of the gospel of repentance!—What joy! what wonder! what amazement! . . .’ (Messenger and Advocate, Oct. 1834, 15).” Beyond the accounts of the visits of Moroni and John the Baptist are numerous other accounts in both scripture and Church history of the light that may accompany God’s angels. Early in the morning on Resurrection Sunday, an angel removed the huge stone that covered the entrance to Jesus’s tomb. This angel had a “countenance . . . like lightning”: “The angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow” (Matthew 28:2–3). Doctrine and Covenants 20 similarly describes the countenance of an unnamed angel (perhaps Moroni) that ministered to Joseph Smith: “God ministered unto him by an holy angel, whose countenance was as lightning” (D&C 20:6).

The prophets often used symbolic language to express an angel’s light and glory. Ezekiel, for example, wrote of an angel that had an “appearance . . . like the appearance of brass” (Ezekiel 40:3). Ezekiel is employing a figure of speech that describes the messenger’s brightness, glory, and beauty—such as polished brass. In a similar way, John described the brilliant light and glory of a “mighty angel” (Revelation 10:1) with four symbolic expressions: cloud, rainbow, sun, and fire: “And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire” (Revelation 10:1). Two expressions exemplify this angel’s radiance and light: “a rainbow was upon his head” and “his face was as it were the sun.”


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