October 2, 2019
Read Genesis 1:16-19, 26, 3:1, 14, 6:1-4, 11:1-9 - Deuteronomy 32:8-9 - Job 1:6, 38:4-7
Here we're stepping into the shoes of the ancient readers who would be thinking about the gods of their neighbors as they read this origin story. Did Yahweh do battle with them like the Babylonian origin story talks about? Is he an equal with these other gods? The other nations believed in river gods and sea gods and sun gods, etc. It was very common for ancient people to see the sun, moon, and stars as being or representing spiritual beings. Some of these spiritual beings seem to work in harmony with Yahweh (his divine council, or the sons of God), others seem to be in rebellion from Yahweh (gods of the nations and the satan). What's the origin story of these spiritual beings? If Yahweh created everything, including these gods, why do these nations around us worship gods that are not Yahweh?
1. Spiritual Beings
The core story lies in the fact that Yahweh wants to partner with other beings in how he rules the world. He wants to share his authority. The humans are called to this calling (Gen. 1:26) as are the spiritual beings (Gen. 1:16-19, Job 1:6). But some of these beings have rebelled and want to do things on their own terms, apart from Yahweh and his way. There is a parallel story running behind both the human and spiritual rebellion in the Bible (the same language is used in Genesis 3 for humanity's rebellion as is used in Genesis 6 for the sons of God -- they "saw" that something was "good" and they "took" it).
The Rebellions of Genesis 1-11:
- A rebel of the divine council lures humanity into rebellion (Gen. 2-4).
- More divine council members try to restore eternal life to humans by impregnating women (Gen. 6).
These distorted half-human, half-gods that resulted were said to be the ones who founded the mighty nations surrounding Israel, like Babylon (Nimrod in Gen. 10:8-12).
- More divine council members lure the empire of Babylon into rebellion, resulting in the nations who worship idol-gods (Gen. 10-11).
The building of Babylon in Genesis 11 functions to show human and spiritual rebels trying to elevate themselves back up to the heavens. After this rebellion, it is said that Yahweh gives the nations over to the rebel gods, but has kept one people group for himself (Deut. 4:16-20, 32:8-9).
These human and spiritual beings don't want to represent Yahweh's authority, they wanted to be Yahweh. So Yahweh gives them over to their own authority and we get to see how well that works out for them.
"Elohim" is the Hebrew word behind the generic word "god." It is used for both Yahweh and all other spiritual beings. The other "gods" we see in Scripture are just other spiritual beings, often in rebellion against the God who created them all.
3. Divine Council
The Divine Council or Sons of God are Yahweh's heavenly staff team that collaborate with Yahweh in running the world (Job 1:6-7, 38:4-7, Ps 89:5-7, 1 Kings 22:19-22). Some of them work with Yahweh, like his messengers (or "angels"), but others rebel against Yahweh and seek to do their own will. These rebels have been given limited authority on earth and are referred to in the story as the "gods."
There are two layers to the rebellion we see in the world: human rebels are being corrupted by the worship of the gods (the spiritual rebels). Just like the nations during Biblical times, we see many people even today worship or give their allegiance to the gods of money, sex, and military might.
4. The Satan and Demons
The Satans and demons are rebel spiritual beings who are pulling Yahweh's good world back into chaos. We get glimpses into seeing how they are at work behind the scenes, animating division and hatred between humans and tempting humanity to be divided against Yahweh himself. These evil powers (including the power of death / the grave) are said to be behind evil power structures (like kings and rulers), personal conflict (like Cain and Abel), and the weakness and disease of our bodies (Matt. 4:23-24).
Though Jesus was victorious over these evil powers on the cross, they have not yet been destroyed. In the meantime, we resist them by putting on the character traits of Jesus as if they were armor (Eph. 6:10-20) and by holding on to the good news that Jesus has conquered these evil powers, sin, and death itself. He will restore all of creation to the way it is meant to be, without evil and death.
The Bible Project - Spiritual Beings (Video Series)
Spiritual Beings Study Notes
Supernatural or Unseen Realm by Michael Heiser