I read a fascinating book recently that has changed how I look at the entire scope of Scripture. That’s a tall order because most of us gain a certain bias through the teachings we’ve had via sermons we’ve heard and various studies in which we’ve engaged. My Biblical view is and remains one that looks to the fulfillment of all things. I view the world through the lens of Scripture, but it’s one with an entirely prophetic bias.
This has not changed; what has changed is that I’ve gained a larger scope of this prophetic worldview. In this, my view of spiritual warfare has broadened immensely. I’m seeing things in Scripture that before I simply passed by. This is giving me an even greater appreciation for the wonder of God and the supernatural aspect of His kingdom.
The book I read is The Unseen Realm by Dr. Michael S. Heiser. It’s a fairly weighty book with copious footnotes. Dr. Heiser has also written a condensed version of this book called Supernatural, whose intent is to make the ideas and concepts more accessible to the general lay public. I’m currently reading that as well to reinforce the ideas and understanding I gained through the larger book.
This message isn’t intended to provide a review of The Unseen Realm. That would take many such articles. What I will say is that Dr. Heiser presents a view into God’s unseen realm through his discussion of what is known as the Divine Council. Because the ramifications of the council extend throughout Scripture, it’s extremely important to understand that it exists and from it have come numerous references and implications in God’s Word that the vast majority of readers completely overlook.
The term “the sons of God” is a direct reference to this council. These are the “benai Elohim” in Hebrew, also seen in the Bible as “the morning stars” and “the hosts of heaven.” These are part of God’s family, the divine branch. We see the sons of God in Job 1:6 and again in Job 2:1 where the angels present themselves before God. These passages give us a glimpse into heaven with the gathering of these divine beings:
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.
Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord.
In Deuteronomy 32:8-9 we see them again. Many commentators want to assign this passage to the sons of Israel; this is how many Bible translations read. But if you look at the footnotes, you’ll see the correct translation from the Septuagint that it should be “the sons of God.” (Note: I’m using the ESV translation in all the Bible passages referenced.)
When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,
when he divided mankind,
he fixed the borders of the peoples
according to the number of the sons of God.
But the Lord’s portion is his people,
Jacob his allotted heritage.
There’s much to unpack in this passage, which I won’t do at this time other than this: Here, God is telling us that this is a Romans 1:24 moment in the Old Testament:
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves
Mankind had an opportunity to follow the God of gods, Elohim of the elohim, but it chose not to and disobeyed once more at the Tower of Babel incident. Thus, God assigned man to the not-so-tender mercies of these other divine beings that He set over the nations, but Israel He reserved for Himself.
My point is to show that the benai Elohim are mentioned throughout the Old Testament. It is also relevant to note that the term is used in the New Testament referring to those who have become believers in Jesus Christ. Humanity is the other branch of God’s family, one that will itself become divine some day when believers receive their glorified bodies and we become like Jesus just as 1 John 3:2 tells us:
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
The connections between the Old and New Testaments are fascinating and worthy of discussion at another time.
In Psalm 82, one which is frequently misunderstood, we see in verse 1:
God has taken his place in the divine council;
in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
In this psalm God condemns these gods, these elohim, who have become corrupted in their oversight of the nations that was assigned in Deuteronomy 32. In Psalm 82:6 God says to these beings:
I said, “You are gods,
sons of the Most High, all of you;
nevertheless, like men you shall die,
and fall like any prince.”
These gods, these divine beings set over the nations became corrupted through their free will, just as man did. As a result, He has sentenced them to death. If God was speaking to Israel, to its rulers, why would He tell men that they would die like men? These are Divine Council members who have rebelled against Him.
This brings me to John 10:34-39 where Jesus is speaking to the Jews:
Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.
The most common approach is for commentators to say this means that Psalm 82 and Jesus’ statement are referring to the Pharisees and other religious rulers. I don’t think so. Jesus is here saying that if He called the divine beings gods, how much more is He God—as the Son of God—than these entities who sit in God’s presence? He is God’s actual Son, more than a created being like these others.
It’s for this and other such supposedly blasphemous statements that the Jews wanted to seize and stone Jesus. We’ve seen numerous instances before where He had to literally disappear from within their midst; here He does it again. In a sense, this is a kind of Rapture that happened to Jesus in multiple instances because it wasn’t yet His time. You’d think they would have gotten a clue.
Jesus is more than a benai Elohim, a son of God; He is THE Son of God, the Name above all names. What are some of these names? Satan, Chemosh, Molech, Ashtoreth, Rimmon—all Divine Council members in heaven who rebelled because of their belief that they were equal to or greater than the One true God, the Lord of lords. All these were lords over their earthly domains, all given territory as we see in Deuteronomy 32, but they will go down to Sheol and die like mere men (Psalm 82:6).
Have you ever considered these Bible passages in this light? It’s eye-opening and astounding. It provides a more comprehensive understanding about the Bible’s great theme of redemption. It rounds it out our entire view of Scripture and, I think, even brings revelation.
The spiritual warfare playing out around us is a result of these rebellious divine beings, ones like the Princes of Persia and of Greece seen in Daniel 10:13,20:
The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia.
Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? But now I will return to fight against the prince of Persia; and when I go out, behold, the prince of Greece will come. But I will tell you what is inscribed in the book of truth: there is none who contends by my side against these except Michael, your prince.
Look again at the incredible statement that the angel who has come to Daniel tells him in Daniel 10:21:
But I will tell you what is inscribed in the book of truth: there is none who contends by my side against these except Michael, your prince.
Michael alone is on God’s side as archangel over Israel, God’s Promised land—the land and the people that He took for Himself. Apparently, there were no other divine rulers over the nations at that time who were loyal to God; they had all turned away. Is it any wonder the people in the nations worshiped these other gods?
Here’s a thought for our present time: If the corruption of these divine beings who are the princes over the nations of the world has worsened; if every divine ruler over every nation has decided to lift himself up to fight against the God of Israel and the God of all true believers, Jesus Christ, is there any question as to why the world is what it is today? Truly, this cosmic-geographical battle will only intensify and become horrendous during the Tribulation.
Only when Jesus returns to slay the unbelievers of the nations who gather against Him at Armageddon will these rebellious divine rulers likely see their end. The Bible doesn’t clearly tell us how this will work. Perhaps Isaiah 34:1-4 gives us a glimpse:
Draw near, O nations, to hear,
and give attention, O peoples!
Let the earth hear, and all that fills it;
the world, and all that comes from it.
For the Lord is enraged against all the nations,
and furious against all their host;
he has devoted them to destruction, has given them over for slaughter.
Their slain shall be cast out,
and the stench of their corpses shall rise;
the mountains shall flow with their blood.
All the host of heaven shall rot away,
and the skies roll up like a scroll.
All their host shall fall,
as leaves fall from the vine,
like leaves falling from the fig tree.
This appears to be another passage that speaks both to the natural realm and the spiritual one. To be devoted to destruction by God is for Him to completely annihilate. As the nation’s armies, or hosts, are devoured at the breath of Christ when He returns, this may also be indicating that this is the point at which the corrupt divine rulers over these nations are also done away with and Psalm 82:6 applies.
Will they be thrown into the abyss along with Satan prior to the Millennium? Or will God allow them to stick around until Satan’s final rebellion when he’s cast into the Lake of Fire? I can make arguments for both.
The certainty is that the White Throne Judgment is their final end, as it is for Satan and all unbelievers. God will bring His ultimate plan of redemption to a conclusion at that time. Sin and evil will be no more. How glorious will be that day!