The Divine Council: The God of Gods
Angelic Rebellion Lesson #05
November 29, 2020
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.
“Our Father, we’re so thankful that we have Your Word. The more we read it, the more we study it, the more significant and real it becomes to us. And Father, we know that it is through the ministry of God the Holy Spirit that we are able to understand it, that we are able to come to see how it relates to our lives because it changes the way we think about reality.
“Father, this morning, as we study, we’re talking about a reality that is beyond our senses, that is beyond our experience, beyond our reason, as we’re coming to understand who You are and some things about the angelic hosts that You created and their revolt against You and how that impacts us.
“Father, open our eyes to the truth, expand our understanding of who You are, that we may think more accurately, more biblically about You and about the angelic revolution and about the warfare in which we are engaged. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
This morning we’re going to review some of the things that I have been covering and that we’ve been talking about and add new material to it. Part of this is I’m responding to some questions, but also as I engage in my study of this particular topic, I’ll start off thinking this is where I’m going to get this morning, and then I start looking at some other scriptures and the Lord impresses me with other things that I perhaps need to expand on a little bit, and that is the kind of thing that occurred with me this morning.
So, we are continuing our study on the Divine Council and the angelic rebellion. We’re going to be looking at the God of gods, and the term “the sons of God and the nations,” if we get there. We may not get to Deuteronomy 32. We will get to parts of it this morning, but we may not get to the key, when we get to verses 8 and 9 well see it’s a significant passage for understanding things that are going on in the world around us.
Some years ago a man by the name of J.B. Phillips wrote a small book that I was required to read, actually in about three different courses at different times in different places. The name of the book was Your God is Too Small. Probably most of you have not read that. It’s just probably 60 or 70 pages, just a small book, but the title pretty much says it all. It’s that most of us have grown to a certain point in our understanding of who God is, and we don’t seem to really grow much more than that.
God is infinite. God is eternal. In all of His attributes He is infinite. He is the unique God. We use the word “holy,” which we have come to understand that it really means the idea of set apart, one-of-a-kind, unique, distinct, that there is nothing like God. His thoughts are not our thoughts, His ways are not our ways, and we can only probe so much.
We can never understand God exhaustively, but we can understand what He has revealed to us about Him truly. We can have a true and accurate, though finite, limited, understanding of God.
But we have to constantly get into the Scriptures. Sometimes we’re challenged by certain passages and certain things that are going on, because it doesn’t quite fit our preconceived notions.
The same thing is true when we talk about the Angelic Revolt. Many of us have studied that many different times and maybe under some different pastors over the years, but what we’re looking at now, in my opinion, sort of opens things up a little more, and it’s going to take us into some areas of understanding that perhaps have not been explored very much. It’s important to understand who God is and what has been revealed in the Scriptures.
We began a couple of weeks ago looking at Psalm 82. Psalm 82:1 begins, “God stands in the congregation of the mighty; He judges among the gods.”
As I pointed out in our two previous lessons in this series, it’s important to understand this word that’s translated “God,” either uppercase or lowercase, and that is the word ’Elohim. It is used in the sense of God; that is, the eternal, infinite creator God of the Scriptures who is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, who is immutable, and who is absolute truth, veracity. That is the beginning God.
That God—’Elohim “stands in the congregation” not of the mighty, as we studied, but in the congregation of ’El. ’El is the short form of that word ’Elohim, which we’re going to look at a little more in just a minute. It’s the short form for ’Elohim, and so it is saying this is ’El’s assembly. So it’s talking about this assembly as God’s assembly.
I’ve translated Psalm 82:1 this way, that “’Elohim stands in ’El’s assembly or ’El’s congregation; and He judges among the ’elohim”—and here it’s translated lowercase because it’s describing the angels. This is a convocation of angels that regularly meets or assembles in the presence of God.
We’ve studied that before. We’ve looked at passages in Job 1 and Job 2, 1 Kings 22, and we understand that, even though we don’t understand it. We have been taught that, we know that’s what it says. But just what in the world is going on there? We don’t know or we don’t understand very clearly. We will get to 1 Kings 22. That’s what I thought I would teach this morning, but I’m going to go back. I want us to think about God a little more and our understanding of who He is, because this helps us to understand the nature of this whole revolt among the angels.
First of all, we’re looking at the meanings of this word ’Elohim. In its core root meaning the word ’El has the sense of power or might. So, it is understood that this refers to God in terms of His omnipotence. He is the Mighty One. There many times in Scripture He’s referred to as the Mighty One, or the angels are referred to as the Bene ’Elim, which is just a short form for ’Elohim. There’s ’Elohim, ’Eloah, ’El, ’Elim. These are all various forms of what we are more familiar with, the word ’Elohim.
The word ’El is the singular. The word ’Elohim with the “im” ending is the plural equivalent to our English “s.” So sometimes ’Elohim is translated as a singular. Sometimes it’s translated as a plural.
In Genesis 1:26 God says, “Let Us—’Elohim says—make man in Our image according to Our likeness.”
Then Genesis 1:27 says, “… He—singular pronoun—He created them male and female.” So that tells us that on one hand you have this plural noun, but it’s referred to with a singular pronoun.
Now I believe, though it is not considered scholarly acceptable, this refers to the Trinity. I have always resisted that they want to make it a plural of majesty, but you don’t really find other examples of words like that. I think that the plural pronoun here in Genesis 1 and some other places really testifies to the fact that there is a plurality in the unity of the Godhead.
Psalm 50:1 begins using these terms, “The Mighty One—and that is the word ’El—God”—and that’s ’Elohim. So you go from the singular to the plural talking about the same person.
“The Mighty One—’Elohim Yahweh.” So, this is a sentence that is filled with significance. He’s described as ’El, then He is described as ’Elohim, and then His personal name is used—Yahweh, sometimes thought of as Jehovah. But Jehovah is sort of an invented word that came from a medieval monk who looked at the Hebrew—remember Hebrew wasn’t originally written with vowels, and so the name of God is written YHWH, or more technically correct, the “W” in Hebrew is pronounced like a “V,” and that’s always a crazy debate in seminary.
When I went to seminary none of the professors pronounced it as a “V,” but you go to Israel and they all pronounce it with a “V” and they’re speaking Hebrew. They’re native Hebrew speakers, so scholarship gets really funky on weird stuff. Anyway …
He is ’Elohim Yahweh, which specifies which ’Elohim He is, when we understand that ’elohim also can refer to the angels. There are a lot of lowercase ’elohim.
He “has spoken and called the earth from the rising of the sun to its going down.”
What we have seen, as we have studied this, is that there are several ways in which this is used. It is used to refer to what we could refer to as false gods or idols, but the Bible never attributes the adjective “false” to the word “gods.” They are just called gods. God says in the first commandment “Thou shalt have no other ’Elohim before Me.” He doesn’t say, “Thou shalt not have any false gods before Me. That’s not part of the concept. So ’elohim clearly refers to some creatures other than Yahweh ’Elohim.
Second, in most of the instances in the Old Testament it refers to the true God, Yahweh ’Elohim, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
In some passages, it refers to an angel. I think there are more passages where it should be translated as angel than what we find, but that is because a lot of what I’ve been teaching hasn’t been really made clear, and it’s a highly debated topic in the realm of scholarship.
But in Psalm 8:5 we are told, “For You have made him a little—referring to man—a little lower than the ’elohim.”
There are a few translations that will say “You made him a little lower than God,” but in the Septuagint translation, they understood that this was referring to angels.
The Septuagint is the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. The legend is that there were 70 rabbis in Alexandria, Egypt, who needed to translate the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek because none of the Jews there could speak Hebrew anymore, but they were fluent in Greek. The 70 rabbis allegedly translated the Pentateuch in 70 days without any disagreement among them, but that’s mostly legend. But that’s why it is referred to as the LXX, the Roman numeral for 70. We just refer to it as the LXX.
When they translated Psalm 8:5 from Hebrew into Greek, one of the characteristics of the Septuagint is they will paraphrase at times, or instead of a strict translation they will make it a little more dynamic, and they translated it “You will make him a little lower than the AGGELOS—than the angels.”
In Hebrews 2:7, when the writer of Hebrews quoted that, he quoted it from the Septuagint, and under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit that tells us that this is an accurate translation. So ’elohim can refer to angels.
It can refer to the spirit of a dead person. When the witch of Endor called Samuel up out from the grave in her attempt to let Saul speak to Samuel, who was already dead, she is shocked because something happened that didn’t ever happen, and she saw this—it’s usually translated a ghost or spirit—but the Hebrew word is ’elohim, so she saw this ’elohim.
Then in Deuteronomy 32:17 it refers to a demon.
So, what do all these different ideas have in common? What they all have in common is the idea of a creature who is not a physical material creature, does not inhabit or dwell in the plane of existence that we do, and either belongs to a different dimension or lives in what is generally referred to as in the heavenlies, using Paul’s term that we find so many times in Ephesians. It refers to creatures who live in this other dimension, in this other arena that we will just call heavenlies.
One way in which it is suggested, and I think correctly, is that this refers to heavenly creatures, creatures who dwell in Heaven. They’re not material, they’re immaterial, and they are of spirit and not of flesh and blood.
Deuteronomy 32:17, Deuteronomy 32 is a vital passage that we will refer to several times this morning, says, “They—that is the Israelites—sacrificed to demons”—the Hebrew shedim. That’s a correct translation. They sacrificed to demons.
When they went to these high places where they were worshiping idols like Baal and Asherah, they would sacrifice to demons. God is saying that’s exactly what you’re doing. You’re sacrificing to demons. There is a spiritual reality behind that dead piece of stone or wood or whatever, and that’s a demon. Demons are associated with that. We will see a verse in a few minutes where the Apostle Paul says the same thing in 1 Corinthians 8.
But in Deuteronomy 32:17 it says they “sacrificed to demons, not to God, to gods—to ’elohim.”
In that phrase it is parallel. They are sacrificing to demons who are then called ’elohim. So, ’elohim can be translated angel, it can be translated demon, it can be translated God (uppercase) or god (lowercase), and that’s how it’s translated here, “to gods—to ’elohim—they did not know.”
In the New King James Version they italicize words that don’t reflect something in the original, and here that’s italicized, but it’s wrong. It is in the original.
“… to new gods—’elohim—new arrivals that your fathers did not fear.”
So, what we learn from this is that in the Bible, the ’Elohim of Israel (notice I uppercased the “E”), the ’Elohim of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is the unique, one-of-a-kind, eternal, infinite, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent unique ’Elohim. That’s who that describes.
We see that again and again the Bible talks about Yhwh as the unique, the holy God ’Elohim, but also the Old Testament speaks of many gods ’elohim who are finite. They are not eternal, infinite, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient.
They are finite. They are creatures. They had a beginning, and they will have an end when they go to the Lake of Fire (the fallen angels). The others had a point in time where they began (the holy angels), and they will live forever.
So, we conclude from this that ’elohim must not be assumed to be a word that means deity or divine. Now I keep repeating this because that’s really hard for all of us to get that out of our head, because we’ve all thought, every time we see ’elohim that means something that’s God or divine, but it doesn’t mean that. That is an oversimplification of the term.
Therefore, ’elohim must not be assumed to mean a deity, but one who inhabits this different dimension, a spiritual home in the heavenlies.
One question that came up from one person here and somebody online, so I guess I didn’t make myself clear, but I thought that I’ve trained y’all to think in terms of context enough to where I didn’t have to qualify every jot and tittle of my statement. The issue that I was addressing is the misconception that Satan is now in the Lake of Fire.
We see this in Paradise Lost, in numerous films and movies and stories. We have a line from John Milton’s Paradise Lost, “I would rather rule in hell than serve in heaven.” So, people have the idea that that’s the domicile of Satan.
In that context, I said, “No, Satan isn’t sent to the Lake of Fire until the future. He is first confined to the Abyss, a part of Tartarus, in Revelation 20 during the thousand years of the Millennial Kingdom, and then he will be released. He leads another revolt against God, and then he is consigned to the Lake of Fire for all eternity. That’s when it becomes his home.”
Right now his domicile is still in Heaven. So, a couple of you asked, “Isn’t he going about the earth like a roaring lion?” Yes, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about his domicile, not where he travels to. Where’s his home? Where does he live? He’s still in Heaven. The fall of Satan has not yet occurred. We use that term to refer to Satan’s sin just like we do to Adam’s original sin, but in Satan’s fall, he wasn’t cast out of Heaven.
What I was pointing out was that in contrast to the belief that Satan is now in the Lake of Fire, Satan is in Heaven. That’s his domicile. We see him coming to the earth to roam the earth like a roaring lion. That’s mentioned in Job 1:7, Job 2:2, and also 1 Peter 5:8.
In Revelation 12:7 we read, “And there was war in heaven.” This is the future. This is at the midpoint of the seven-year Tribulation. This is right after the abomination of desolation, right after the Antichrist suffers a head wound and miraculously is raised from the dead. This is going to shape what happens during the last 3-1/2 years of the Tribulation.
“And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war.”
The dragon is identified in the context as that serpent of old, the devil.
It is at that time that Satan and his angels, Revelation 12:8, “were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven.” That’s in the future. That didn’t happen in the past.
Revelation 12:9, “And the great dragon was thrown down—the serpent—who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels thrown down with him.”
The reason he uses the past tense “was” is because John is relating his vision. He’s seen this visioning, he’s saying this is what was there in the vision, but it’s talking about conceptually at the midpoint of the Tribulation.
Until then there is this revolt that has occurred among the sons of God. I will get back to when that occurred and the original sin of Satan and the issues in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 as we go along.
But right now, what I want to focus on is what the Bible teaches us about the uniqueness of God. If anything, what we are studying today ought to give you a greater appreciation of who God is, how He operates in Heaven with these rebellious creatures.
I don’t know what your concept of the angelic revolt has been, and when you think about the fact that somehow the human race is related to that, and there is a trial going on in relationship to human history, and we’re part of the evidence for God’s grace and God’s goodness. But this is going to reshape how you think about it a little bit. It’s not going to change it from like an apple to an orange, but it’s going to make it a lot more robust than you’ve ever thought of it before, I hope.
So first, we have to understand this aspect of God, the uniqueness of God in the sense of the uniqueness of Yahweh as ’Elohim. He is holy. Qadash is the Hebrew verb; Qadosh is the noun, and this word means “set apart.” We’ve gone over this so many times. The instruments, the vessels in the tabernacle and the temple, and the furniture, all is anointed. It is said to be set apart to the service of God, and that’s because it’s not used for everyday things. It is distinctively used for the worship of God.
When God says He is holy and we are to be holy, He is not saying, “I’m morally perfect and you need to be morally perfect also.” Moral perfection is a secondary or tertiary idea that is often associated with qadosh, but it is not the core meaning of the word. When God says, “I am distinct and unique, you be distinct and unique also.” That means we are to live our lives set apart to Him and living differently from everyone else. That would involve living a more righteous lifestyle, but that is not the core meaning of the word. We are to be distinct. So, we have this emphasis on the uniqueness of God—that there is none like Him.
In Deuteronomy 6:4, which is called the Shema because the first word here in the Hebrew is shema. This is like the benchmark verse for Judaism. This is what Jews believe. They recite this Shema over and over again in the Hebrew, “Shema, Israel: Yahweh ’eloheinu Yahweh ’ehad.”
That word ’ehad at the end means one, and this has been a big debate over the years. Do they have a unitary monotheism? Is that how it’s translated? That’s how many of them interpret that. But even the 1985 Tanakh, that’s the Jewish Publication Society’s more modern translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, translates it as “the Lord alone,” because they recognize that the context of Deuteronomy 4 is the prohibition against worshiping other gods, the prohibition against idolatry. This isn’t a verse about monotheism. This is a verse about the exclusiveness of the worship of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and they are not to worship these other gods.
Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: Yahweh ’eloheinu—or ’Elohim is the root noun there—the Lord Yahweh is one—the Lord alone.”
Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the Yahweh your ’Elohim with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”
It is clear that Yahweh is an ’Elohim. He is not the only ’Elohim though, as we are seeing. That is going to help you, if you can get your mental fingers around this, kind of understand this whole angelic war a little differently.
Deuteronomy 3:24. Remember in Deuteronomy, Moses is giving his parting shot to the nation before he is taken to be with the Lord. This is his last message, and he is reminding them basically of what is in the Law and what God has done and why it is important.
In Deuteronomy 3:24 he says to God, “O Adonay Yahweh—Adonay means Lord or Master, Sovereign God—You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your mighty hand.”
So he’s reflecting upon the fact that he has seen God use His omnipotence to deliver the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and to provide their food and their water and their sustenance all through these 40 years in the wilderness. God has demonstrated who He is.
Then Moses says, it’s a rhetorical question, “for what ’elohim is there in heaven or on earth who can do anything like Your works and Your mighty deeds?”
He understands there are other ’elohim, but they can’t do what Yahweh our ’Elohim does.
This isn’t polytheism. Remember, the core meaning of ’elohim is not a divine creature, but all these creatures that inhabit the heavenlies. It refers to Samuel coming out of the grave as a spirit, it refers to angels in Hebrew 2:7 and Psalm 8:5. So be aware that among these heavenly creatures, One stands out as unique and distinct because He is the unique creator God of everything and of all of the ’elohim.
In Exodus 8:10, this is Moses confronting Pharaoh, and so Pharaoh says, “You can come back tomorrow,” and Moses says, “Let it be according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like Yahweh our ’Elohim.”
He is emphasizing the fact that Yahweh is distinct and unique.
Back to Deuteronomy 4:35 Moses says, “To you it was shown, that you might know that Yahweh Himself is ’Elohim; there is none beside Him.”
He is unique and distinct. Even though He is called this sort of generic name, ’Elohim, He is not like any of the other ’elohim. There is none beside Him.
Exodus 15:11, “Who is like You, O Yahweh, among the ’Elohim?”
Now you’re thinking about that in a way you’ve never thought about the meaning of that verse before. “Among the ’Elohim,” the ’elohim there refers to the angelic creatures who to us appear to be mighty and powerful and are deified in false religions, and Moses is saying, “Who is like You? There is none like you among the ’elohim.”
“Who is like You, glorious in holiness—in Your uniqueness. You’re one-of-a-kind.”
Deuteronomy 32:17, a verse I’ve already mentioned once, “They sacrificed—that is, the Jews had sacrificed to demons when they rebelled, wanted Aaron to build the golden calf, and he called this calf wrongly, ‘This is the god who rescued you from Egypt.’—They sacrificed to demons, not to ’Elohim, THE God—to gods—lowercase, these other ’elohim—they did not know, to new gods, new arrivals that your fathers did not fear.”
In 1 Corinthians 10:19–20, Paul affirms the same reality, that behind the idols are demons. They’re not just nice statues that we go see when we’re on a tour and we see these various statues of the Greek and Roman gods.
Paul says, “What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons.”
If went to Athens in the third century BC or any time before Christ, and you said, “You know, you guys are sacrificing to demons.” They’d say, “No I’m not, I’m sacrificing to Apollo or I’m sacrificing to Athena, I’m sacrificing to Zeus.” But the reality is those gods of the Greek pantheon, the Roman pantheon, the Canaanite pantheon, all these various polytheistic religions all have demons behind those so-called gods.
He says, “the things they sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.”
He is telling them not to participate in any of the rituals or any of the things that are going on in these various temples, even though that’s the big cultural thing and that’s where they celebrate their holidays, and that’s where they go party with all their neighbors and friends. He said that’s having fellowship with demons.
Back to the Old Testament, in Judges 10:13, “Yet you have forsaken Me—God is speaking—and served other ’elohim. Therefore I will deliver you no more.”
This is when Israel went out many times, in the Book of Judges, in disobedience and got involved in idol worship.
God says in Judges 10:14, “Go and cry out to the ’elohim which you have chosen; let them deliver you in your time of distress.”
See, they can’t do anything. Only God is unique and distinct and omnipotent and omnipresent and omniscient.
Jeremiah uses it the same way. He says, “Then they will answer—that is, his opponents—‘Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God—Yahweh ’Elohim,—and worshiped other gods and served them.’ ”
They’re worshiping other ’elohim, these fallen angels who are manifesting themselves as idols and false gods.
Again, going to the New Testament with Paul in 1 Corinthians 8:4, “Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world,” We as believers know what’s going on. That idol is nothing, has no power over us, is not significant. He doesn’t really do anything—“and that there is no other God—he uses the Greek word THEOS for God in the same way that I’m talking about ’Elohim in the Old Testament—and that there is no other God—THEOS—but one.”1 Corinthians 8:5, “For even if there are so-called gods (THEOI), that’s the plural, so we would lowercase it—whether in heaven or on earth—and then he affirms it—(as there are many gods (THEOI) and many lords).”
1 Corinthians 8:6, “yet for us—as believers—there is one (THEOS) one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we live.”
So, all through the Scriptures we have the distinctiveness of Yahweh as the one-of-a-kind unique ’Elohim, but there are other ’elohim that are not created, they’re not the Creator, they don’t create, they are not omniscient, omnipotent, or omnipresent, they’re not immutable, they’re not perfectly righteous. None of those things.
Second, we see this continued idea. There’s no ’Elohim like Yhwh.
Here’s a fun and interesting passage. There is a lot here in this passage in Isaiah, Isaiah 44:6–8.
Isaiah 44:6, “Thus says Yahweh, the King of Israel ...”
We understand the Trinity. God is a triune God. He is a triune ’Elohim. No other ’elohim is a triune ’Elohim.
Who is speaking here? It has to be God the Father, because the Second Person in this verse is His Redeemer, Yahweh Sabaoth. That’s the Second Person of the Trinity. That is the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ whose mission is redemption.
“Thus says Yahweh, the King of Israel—He’s the One speaking and He says— ‘I am the First and I am the Last—that’s quoted again and added to in the Book of Revelation “I am the First and the Last—the Beginning and the End, indicating He’s eternal—Besides Me there is no ’Elohim”—He is asserting His uniqueness, that these others that are called ’elohim, that’s fine, but they are not in the same class I am in, but we all exist in the heavenly realm.
He goes on to say in in Isaiah 44:7, “And who can proclaim as I do? Then let him declare it—He’s challenging the false gods here, and he says—and set it in order for Me, since I appointed the ancient people. And the things that are coming and shall come, let them show these to them.”
Isaiah 44:8, “Do not fear, nor be afraid; Have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are My witnesses. Is there an ’Elohim besides Me?—No. None can compare—Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one.”
That’s an interesting thing. We have studied this many times over the years, as we’ve gone through the various psalms, and this reference to God as the Rock. But here what we see in the context of this study, that He is using that phrase “Rock” in a way that is parallel to the fact that He is this unique ’Elohim.
What we need to do at this point is go back to Deuteronomy 32, where several times God is referred to as a Rock in some fascinating statements.
So, Yahweh ’Elohim is a Rock unlike any other rock. “Rock,” it seems, is a term that is used to describe gods. Let’s see what happens here. The metaphor emphasizes stability. This is not a rock like you pick up and can throw at somebody. This is a rock like in a rocky escarpment.
If you been to Atlanta, you can go to Stone Mountain. The second largest granite dome like that is located in Texas, north of Fredericksburg. It’s called Enchanted Rock. Great place to go. That’s the kind of rocks that we’re talking about in this passage. Not a rock that you can pick up and throw, but a huge rocky escarpment that’s unshakable, immovable, that’s always there, it’s dependable.
Deuteronomy 32:4, “He is the Rock, His work is perfect—this Hebrew word means the idea of something that is perfect in the sense of complete or whole, and it is really a reference to God’s integrity. He is a Rock. His work has an integrity to a perfection—for all His ways are justice.”
Now that’s a great term in today’s argument over social justice, which is neither social nor just. It is the word mishpat, and it talks about justice. The only way you can have justice is if you start with the character of God. Otherwise, you’re just trying to figure it out from everything in the universe that’s changeable.
So, all His ways, not some of His ways, but all of His ways are justice.
Deuteronomy 32:4, “… a God of truth.”
This is the word ’emunah. Sometimes it has the idea of faithfulness.
The context is important there. The root of this word is where we get the word “Amen,” which means, I believe, has something to do with faith in something that is dependable. One form of the word is used to refer to the rock foundation underneath the pillars of the temple that were unshakable and immovable, that would hold up the temple.
That is what’s being compared here. God’s ways are truth. Truth is that which is dependable. It’s unshakable. It is absolute and without injustice.
This is just the negative, that there is no injustice with God. There is an absolute standard and He always conforms to it, and He is therefore “Righteous—that is the word tzaddiq. It means to stay in a straight line—and He is up right—and that just has the idea, in modern English you’d say ‘God is straight. He’s always straight with us. He never deviates. He is always straight.’ ”
This is a beautiful picture of God as the Rock.
We see it again in Deuteronomy 32:15, “But Jeshurun—that is a term that described Israel as walking with God. But now He is saying—But Jeshurun—who was supposed to be walking with God—grew fat and kicked—he failed the prosperity test—you grew fat, you grew thick, you are obese! Then he—that is, Israel—forsook God (’Elohim) who made him, and scornfully esteemed the Rock of his salvation.”
Deuteronomy 32:18, “Of the Rock who begot you, you are unmindful, and have forgotten the ’Elohim who fathered you.”
So we see this connection between ’Elohim and the Rock.
In Deuteronomy 32:30, “How could one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock ...”
Here’s the situation. You’ve got a battle going on between the army of Israel and one of the Canaanite armies. What Moses is asking here in a rhetorical question, how could one person have victory over and chase a thousand, or two defeat 10,000, unless their rock, and I think this should be lowercase here because it’s not talking about Yahweh Rock. It is talking about the false gods and referring to them as a rock. Rock is almost like a synonym in these contexts for God.
So he is saying in Deuteronomy 32:30, “… unless their gods had sold them out—and he says—and Yahweh had surrendered them?”
Deuteronomy 32:31, “For their rock—that is, the Canaanite pagan rock—is not like our Rock—again, the distinctiveness of Yahweh—even our enemies themselves being judges.”
This whole idea is echoed in David’s psalm of deliverance in 2 Samuel 22:3, 32, and 47.
2 Samuel 22:3, “My God, my Rock, I take refuge in Him; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence.”
The idea of ’Elohim as a Rock incorporates protection, power. The horn, the power of deliverance, His omnipotence again. He is a shield. He protects us. He’s a stronghold in refuge. We hide in Him and He takes care of us.
2 Samuel 22:32, “For who is God, except Yahweh?—again, the uniqueness, distinctiveness of Yahweh among the ’elohim—For who is ’Elohim except Yahweh? And who is a rock, except our God?”
2 Samuel 22:47, “Yahweh lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let God be exalted, the Rock of my salvation!”
He’s dependable. He’s faithful. He never changes.
Again and again we see this emphasis that Yahweh ’Elohim is thus unlike any other ’Elohim, and He is their Sovereign Creator.
Notice this phrase. We have four verses where we had the phrase “God of gods.” Isn’t that an interesting phrase? He is the ’Elohim of ’elohim. I bet you just never thought about it like that.
Deuteronomy 10:17, “For Yahweh your God is the ’Elohim of ’elohim—He is distinct among all the ’elohim—Lord of lords, the great ’Elohim, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe.”
Then in Joshua 22:22, “Yahweh ’Elohim of ’elohim, the Lord ’Elohim of ’elohim, He knows, and let Israel itself know—if it is in rebellion, or if in treachery against the Lord, do not save us this day.”
So Joshua refers to Him as the ’Elohim of ’elohim.
The psalmist in Psalm 136:2 says, “Oh, give thanks to the ’Elohim of ’elohim.”
Daniel 11:36. This is in reference to the end times and the Antichrist, “Then the king—that is the Antichrist—the king shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the ’Elohim of ’elohim, and shall prosper—that’s talking about the Antichrist in the first half of the Tribulation—till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done.”
All of that should shape our thinking about God. That in the heavens there’s this enumerable group of angels, myriads upon myriads. A third of them have followed Satan in his revolt against the God of gods.
Now we have to ask ourselves the question, how does this function? How does God the ’Elohim rule over the Council of ’El, Psalm 82:1? We will get there, but we have to see the dynamic that’s going on in Heaven, and how God rules even over these rebellious angels, for they can do nothing unless God gives them permission.
The problem we have today, and we will get into this more when we get into Deuteronomy 32 next time, is that within the charismatic Pentecostal camp in the ’70s, actually it goes back before then, but it really reached a new sort of focus in the ’70s and ’80s. I did a lot of study on this when I was in my doctoral program.
It is part of the Vineyard Movement founded by a guy named John Wimber and Peter Wagner, and that gave rise to the Spiritual Warfare book [written by Dr. Dean and Dr. Thomas Ice] because I had written a book review on one of these novels by Frank Peretti called This Present Darkness. There are a lot of half-truths the way they treat the angels and the demonic, and Peter Wagner came out with this book called Territorial Spirits, which is about half right and half wrong, which makes it all wrong.
We’re going to have to look at this because we have to see how the Bible does accurately go into this, but that’s sort of the background of how Spiritual Warfare came about. I wrote that book review and the publisher, the president of Harvest House, contacted Tommy Ice and me and said, “Hey, you guys just published this book review. Can you turn it into a book in six months?” It’s a miracle that ever came out.
But this is what we’re involved in as believers. We’re in this spiritual warfare, and that gives us the framework for understanding it. That’s where we’re headed eventually as we work through the Old Testament.
I want you to think sometime about how many times you see angels mentioned in the Old Testament. You just see little pictures here and there, but it’s not a huge topic at all. You see, the “sons of God” in Genesis 6. You see references to the false gods, the demons, as you go through Deuteronomy and some other passages in the Torah. You see a few other instances here and there. Daniel has a number of things related to the future.
Just these little pictures, but we have to be able to put those things together. That will then flesh things out a little bit, so we can have a better understanding of what is really going on in this angelic revolt, as we’re studying in Ephesians, why we are to manifest God’s grace to the principalities and powers.
Then we come to a great passage in Colossians 2 that Christ on the Cross disarmed him. What does that mean? Because Satan is alive and well on planet Earth today, they don’t look too disarmed to me. So, we have to figure that out. There are a lot of interesting things here, and it’s all related to our spiritual life and the framework of our spiritual life.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to study these things today, to be reminded of Your greatness, of Your uniqueness, of the fact that You stand above and distinct and unique from all of Your creatures, all of the angels, the holy angels, the fallen angels. Of all other creatures there is none like You.
Yet, Father, in Your uniqueness, You have created us with the desire to walk with us, to fellowship with us, and because of sin that has been broken. But You have provided that redemption solution so that relationship can be permanently restored, and then we can learn to walk with You on a day-by-day basis.
“Father, we pray for anyone who may be listening to this lesson who has no idea about how to have a relationship with You, how to be saved, for before we can have a relationship with You, we have to become spiritually alive and not spiritually dead, and that comes by just trusting in Christ as Savior, believing the Good News of the gospel, that Jesus paid the sin penalty. And because He paid the sin penalty, we can have everlasting life. All we have to do is trust in Him, to believe in Him.
“We know from Scripture that he who does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the Only Begotten Son of God. So, the challenge for a person who has never trusted in Christ is to believe in Christ, so that they can become spiritually alive, and then to nourish themselves on the Word of God, to grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you may grow to maturity and come to understand and realize your full purpose to be alive, which is to glorify God.
“We’re thankful for the fact that we can get into the Word and talk about these things and have our understanding expanded and clarified. We pray these things in Christ’s name, amen.”