The Divine Assembly
Reading Michael Heiser’s The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible has opened my eyes to the spiritual warfare that runs throughout Scripture.
As Paul writes, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph 6:12, NIV)
In this Bible Study (first shared on 6.12.19), I aim to explain that, according to Scripture, there are other lesser, created, divine beings (a.k.a. “sons of God”, “angels”, “princes”, “rulers”, “principalities”, etc.) who are a part of God’s divine council. And, some have gone rogue.
As Heiser does in his book, I thought Psalm 82 was a great place to start. Below, please see the main points, a very informative, animated video on the Divine Council by the Bible Project, the slideshow, Hebrew text, author’s translation, and bibliography
- In Psalm 82, God (Elohim, singular) stands in the divine assembly of elohim (plural)– lesser, created, divine/spiritual beings
- At least some of these elohim are condemned by God for not exercising justice when governing the nations
- The elohim were supposed to govern justly concerning the poor, needy, fatherless, powerless – but they didn’t do their job. Therefore God says these disobedient elohim will die like mortals
- The Psalmist prays that the LORD manifests His justice over all the nations – for they’re all, ultimately, the LORD’s inheritance
- The nations had been delegated to other elohim while God took Israel as His special inheritance
- 8 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. (Dt 32:8, ESV). 9 But the LORD’s portion is his people, | Jacob his allotted heritage. (Dt 32:9, NIV)
- This took place at the Tower of Babel, which we will hopefully discuss next week…
To download this slide (and any others!), please visit the C4C DropBox.
82 1 מִזְמ֗וֹר לְאָ֫סָ֥ף אֱֽלֹהִ֗ים נִצָּ֥ב בַּעֲדַת־אֵ֑ל בְּקֶ֖רֶב אֱלֹהִ֣ים יִשְׁפֹּֽט׃
2 עַד־מָתַ֥י תִּשְׁפְּטוּ־עָ֑וֶל וּפְנֵ֥י רְ֝שָׁעִ֗ים תִּשְׂאוּ־סֶֽלָה׃
3 שִׁפְטוּ־דַ֥ל וְיָת֑וֹם עָנִ֖י וָרָ֣שׁ הַצְדִּֽיקוּ׃
4 פַּלְּטוּ־דַ֥ל וְאֶבְי֑וֹן מִיַּ֖ד רְשָׁעִ֣ים הַצִּֽילוּ׃
5 לֹ֤א יָֽדְע֨וּ׀ וְלֹ֥א יָבִ֗ינוּ בַּחֲשֵׁכָ֥ה יִתְהַלָּ֑כוּ יִ֝מּ֗וֹטוּ כָּל־מ֥וֹסְדֵי אָֽרֶץ׃
6 אֲֽנִי־אָ֭מַרְתִּי אֱלֹהִ֣ים אַתֶּ֑ם וּבְנֵ֖י עֶלְי֣וֹן כֻּלְּכֶֽם׃
7 אָ֭כֵן כְּאָדָ֣ם תְּמוּת֑וּן וּכְאַחַ֖ד הַשָּׂרִ֣ים תִּפֹּֽלוּ׃
8 קוּמָ֣ה אֱ֭לֹהִים שָׁפְטָ֣ה הָאָ֑רֶץ כִּֽי־אַתָּ֥ה תִ֝נְחַ֗ל בְּכָל־הַגּוֹיִֽם׃1
God [Elohim, singular] presides in the divine assembly | among the gods [elohim, plural] He judges: (Ps 82:1, AT). How long will you vindicate the unjust | and show partiality to the wicked? (Psalm 82:2, AT). Vindicate the lowly and the fatherless, | for the poor and oppressed do justice (Ps 82:3, AT). Rescue the lowly and the needy | from the hand of the wicked, deliver them (Ps 82:4). They do not know, they do not understand | they walk about in darkness | all the foundations of the earth are shaken (Ps 82:5, AT). I said, “You are gods | you are all sons of the Most High (Ps 82:6, AT). But in fact, like mortals you will die | and like any prince you will fall (Ps 82:7, AT). Arise, O God! Judge the earth, | for you will inherit all the nations (Ps 82:8, AT).
- Balz, Horst Robert, and Gerhard Schneider. Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1990–.
- Brown, Francis, Samuel Rolles Driver, and Charles Augustus Briggs. Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977.
- Broyles, Craig C. Psalms. Edited by W. Ward Gasque, Robert L. Hubbard Jr., and Robert K. Johnston. Understanding the Bible Commentary Series. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2012.
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- Heiser, Michael S. The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible. First Edition. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2015.
- Heiser, Michael S. “Jesus’ Quotation of Psalm 82:6 in John 10:34: A Different View of John‘s Theological Strategy.” Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) Regional Conference, 2012. http://www.thedivinecouncil.com/Heiser%20Psa82inJohn10%20RegSBL2011.pdf
- Jenni, Ernst, and Claus Westermann. Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1997.
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- Longman, Tremper, III. Psalms: An Introduction and Commentary. Edited by David G. Firth. Vol. 15–16. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 2014.
- Matthews, Victor Harold, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament. Electronic ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000.
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- Silva, Moisés, ed. New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014.
- Tanner, Beth. “Book Three of the Psalter: Psalms 73–89.” In The Book of Psalms, edited by E. J. Young, R. K. Harrison, and Robert L. Hubbard Jr. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2014.
- VanGemeren, Willem, ed. New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997.
- Walton, John H. Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary (Old Testament): The Minor Prophets, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs. Vol. 5. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009.