I have to say….when I first heard Pastor David Curtis preach on the “bene-elohim”, “giants” and “watchers” from his perspective on Genesis chapter six, at the 2015 Berean Bible Conference, I was frustrated. Not only did it sound ludicrous, it is out of line with the Biblical narrative. I have heard various people express frustration with these teachings, all the while surely commending Pastor Curtis on his willingness and boldness to even begin to look into these things.
At the forefront of this review series I want to express humility in regards to this topic. Far too much confusion has crept into contemporary Christendom regarding spirituality and spiritual things. This confusion is found all throughout church history – simple for a lack of Hebraic understanding. The Book of Enoch, which is not found in the current Bible we know and appreciate, was once a writing accepted by the historic church. This is a writing that seeks to express the prophecies that were uttered and know by Enoch and is even mentioned in the book of Jude (see, Jude 1:14). This writing was eventually rejected as an essential within the Biblical books, and also noted as possibly leading to confusion (historical accuracy, understanding, and so forth).
Is their value in studying the ‘Book of Enoch’? Sure! However, it should be approached with caution and an extreme intellectual humility and desire to study out Ancient Near Eastern literature. It’s important to note that we as a contemporary culture only unearthed Ancient Near Eastern literature and understanding around the time of 1950’s (along with discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls).
Another important point to start with is stressing the value of a basic understanding of the ‘Biblical Narrative’. What is the Bible detailing from Genesis to Revelation, as would have been understood by the original writer and the original audience? Keeping that in mind when entertaining different teachings is important.
It was with all of this in mind that I was baffled to see and read the most recent Fulfilled! Magazine wherein ‘Yahweh’s Heavenly Council’ written and detailed by Mr. Jeffrey T. McCormack was on the cover! Yikes!
For the remainder of demonstrating my understanding on this topic and prayerfully bringing some clarity with Scriptural context, I will focus on Jeff’s article. I do have a couple articles available on the internet about “Satan”, and am looking to publish a book with a more detailed look at ‘Spiritual things’ both “of above” and those things deemed “wicked” in or by 2017. Look for the book titled, “Wicked: A Biblical Look at Life Outside the Kingdom”. Email me at ChristianityGoneWild@Yahoo.com for more information on the articles and the book.
In this “Introductory Look”, Jeff says “For those with eyes to see it, the divine council is also clearly present in Scripture…”. I would agree, and I believe I will demonstrate that, however my position will clearly stand in contrast to Mr. McCormack’s perspective as outlined in the article. I also invited my church into this “review” this past Sunday, and we began a small group discussion around Jeff’s article – just to make sure I am not alone in my “seeing clearly”, however differently, than what Mr. McCormack puts forth as ‘clear’.
GOVERNING CORPORATE BODY
Jeff writes, “While Scripture is clear that God is one (Deuteronomy 6:4), it also speaks in terms of a cosmic worldview that includes a body of divine beings. This body comprises a sort of governmental bueracracy that works alongside of and in counsel with Yawheh. The idea of Yahweh having a governing body around Him may sound strange to us today, but it was not so to the ancient Hebrews, nor the early Church who gave us the Scriptures”.
Well, he was surely right about how strange this would sound to many Christians today. Right at the beginning of our church discussion on Sunday about the article, many congregants expressed confusion in regards to why Yahweh would need or take counsel from His created beings. Seems to run against His Sovereignty and the whole “what can the clay creation say to the potter” analogy.
In some respect, and again expressing my humility, I see validity to what Jeff is proposing with the ‘governing body’ details. However…I would see this as what we understand to to be the Trinity (noting and disagreeing with Jeff’s statement regarding the Hebrews understanding it, rather they understood it better than us). The ‘Scriptural Narrative’ from Old Covenant to New Covenant seems to highlight how God desired to live among His people who would manifest His kingdom – these would be His ‘bodily government’. Let’s take a look.
Jeff says that this ‘governing body’ or ‘heavenly council’ is composed of “angelic beings” which “are referred to by different names”. ‘Sons’ of God’ or in the Hebrew, ‘Bene-Elohim’ being one of those names. He goes on to cite Job 1:6 & 2:1, as well as Genesis 6:1-2.
An important note about the term ‘Elohim’ is that it is a plural term, what many understand as a clear indication of the Trinitarian Godhead, however the same phrase would be used to speak of plural gods. I will make the case for a different use of ‘bene-elohim’ in Job as in Genesis herein.
The ‘Book of Job’ is said to be the oldest writing contained within our Bible. These Ancient Near Eastern story depicts the struggles of a man who aims to live appreciate, worshipful and faithful to God. The seemingly parabolic tale starts with a scene of accusation – the sons of God along with Satan come into the presence of the Lord and desire to put Job to the test.
“So…who are the “sons of God”? In Deuteronomy 14:1, Moses is continuing his discourse of the Law and refers to the Israelites as “sons of the Lord”. In Isaiah 43:6 we are reading about the restoration of Israel wherein the Lord calls those being called back His sons and daughters. And if it is not yet clear, in Hosea 1:10 when the Lord is giving Hosea this prophecy to “number the sons of Israel” He speaks of the restoration as calling them “sons of the living God”.
Ok, so “the sons of God” are coming to present themselves to the Lord? How was this done? And why? Turn to Deuteronomy 19:15-20. “If a malicious witness rises up AGAINST a man to ACCUSE him of wrong doing, then both the men who have a dispute shall STAND BEFORE THE LORD, before the priests and the judges who will be in office in those days….purge the EVIL from among you”.
“… we see EVIL spoken of in regards to accusations and wrongdoing, right? In this text- what did it mean to stand before the Lord? To stand before the priests and judges, right? Interesting, right?
This might blow your mind right here…The Hebrew term שָׂטָן which is translated as Satan means “acccuser, one who stands against, an adversary”. So in the text of Deuteronomy 19:15-20 the “Satan” would have been that person who brought a charge of wrongdoing against you….An accuser was coming with the sons of God (whatever people group those who came before the Lord as ‘priests’ were called during the time of Job) as they were entering into the presence of the priests- now that makes sense as to why God began to explain to this accuser about Job being righteous.” (1)
Nothing in the context of Job’s story points to a story about ‘angelic beings’ existing on another plane of reality. Rather….the ‘sons of God’ here seem to be the people who were honoring the one true God and coming into His presence.
The ‘Book of Genesis’ has always created controversy and stir, surely nothing different about our generation. Beginning with the creation of all things, and then placing Adam and Eve in His presence, we read the downward-spirally narrative of Adam’s lineage up to the point of Jacob/ Israel blessing his sons, the tribes of Israel regarding the “last days”.
In the midst of that narrative we come upon Genesis 6:1-4, which is precipitated with a detailing of the lineage of Adam (making the text much akin to the ancient toledoth cuneiforms of the Ancient Near East) and followed by Noah’s flood. Again, as I demonstrated with the ‘Book of Job’, nowhere in the text, unless one has a highly proactive imagination (which admittedly the people of that time did), do we find the need to read into this story a tale of ‘angelic beings’ on another plane of reality.
Rather…the context of these ‘sons of the gods’ (noting a different demonstration of the term ‘elohim’ here similar to its’ usage in Deuteronomy 32:17) intermingling with the daughters of Adam (which in our translations is often translated ‘men’) is a continuation of the sins of Adam’s lineage. The descendants of Adam (women) began to mate with the idol-worshiping pagans and in and before this time – the Nephilim (giant like people, a description of the people of the land of Canaan) were in the land.
I’ll end this ‘part-one’ of this review noting the importance of the knowing and understanding the Biblical Narrative from Genesis to Revelation. Once we grasp that story – many of the details become clear. I like to call that ‘clarity with context’. Nothing in the Biblical narrative invites the need for a rather confusing and silly look at Hebraic Spirituality to be inserted into our Bibles, instead we find a long drawn-out narrative of man’s innate idolatry demonstrated through Israel.
In Service to Him,
Pastor Michael Miano