The Divine Council: The ’Elohim “Judges” and World Influence
Angelic Rebellion Lesson #04
November 24, 2020
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.
“Father, it’s such a comfort to know that You are in control, that nothing can happen in this universe, no demonic activities, satanic activity, or human activity that can take place apart from Your permission. You allow these things, the evil, the sin, and the corruption, to take place because You, in Your omniscience, know how all things are going to come together.
“You are overseeing everything to bring about Your intended end. Yet we know that You do that without violating our individual responsibility and You do that in order to demonstrate that we must be exclusively dependent upon You.
“We know that whenever any creature acts independently of You the consequences are devastating. Devastating to individuals, devastating to marriages, devastating to families, and devastating to nations.
“Father, we pray that as we study tonight we’ll open our eyes to the fact that we are living in a universe where there are other dimensions inhabited by other creatures that are angels. Some of these angels are obedient to You and some are fallen and are evil. There’s this enormous revolt that’s taking place in the heavens and a war that involves us. We are on the center of the stage now in this Church Age so we need to pay attention and learn all about this.
“We are to manifest and witness to Your character and Your glory and the uniqueness of the Church Age for Your glory. Father, we pray that we will respond to that challenge to be a witness. In Christ’s name. Amen.”
Let’s open our Bibles to Psalm 82. Tonight I hope to not only go through Psalm 82 but to hit some other passages that correlate to what we’re learning in Psalm 82. If you’ve thought it through, it’s not new in the sense that you’re learning something totally new. We’re expanding on something we have already understood, including passages we’ve looked at in Job, passages we’ve looked at in Daniel, and a passage we’ll look at tonight if we get there in 1 Kings 22.
These are all passages we’ve studied but by looking at it this way, by approaching it and coming at it through the lens of Psalm 89 and specifically Psalm 82, what is happening to our understanding of what is going on in these other passages will become a little more robust. It becomes enlarged a little bit. I hope what we understand is that what we see and the experience we have in our lives, especially living in the world in which we do where we see the headlines of corruption and crime and all of these things, this will open our eyes to the fact that this world is very much influenced by Satan and the demons.
That doesn’t mean we should go around and try to figure out how that happened and who is specifically influenced by demons more than anyone else. Remember the old Flip Wilson line from his TV show back in the late 60s where he said, “The devil made me do it”?
That’s just a way of absolving ourselves of responsibility. Remember what happened in the Garden of Eden. That’s the first time that was uttered. Adam said, “God, the woman YOU gave me …” He’s blaming God and the woman. She says it was the serpent, the devil who made her do it.
We’re all responsible, individually responsible. What we should see as we go through this study is that nations become more and more open to demonic influences as their population rejects the Word of God and rejects the Truth. That creates a vacuum in the human soul and what fills that vacuum is false ideas, false doctrines, false religions, and false philosophies. In other words, anything that is different from the Word of God and the way of God is wrong.
There may be a hundred thousand different forms of human viewpoint but there’s only one form of Divine viewpoint. We have to learn to walk consistently in that. That only comes from a study of God’s Word.
What we’re looking at still in Psalm 82 is this concept of the Divine council as part of our study on the angelic rebellion. This is our fourth lesson. I imagine we’re going to have eight or ten more lessons. This isn’t huge, but we’re going a little bit slower than I had anticipated.
We’re looking at what the Bible teaches about the angelic rebellion and we’re looking at this whole concept of angelic convocations, a term I’ve used in the past. There are these gatherings, these assemblies. The word that is used in the Old Testament is qahal. It is the same word that is translated even in the Septuagint as ECCLESIA. Its root sense is an assembly. It means assemblies before God. You have these councils is how it’s translated in some versions of Psalm 82 and you also have it translated here in the New King James Version as the “congregation of El”.
We’ve looked at how this happens in Job 1 where there’s a day when the sons of God come before the Lord and Satan comes among them. People have gotten the idea that since there’s this fall of Satan, Satan is not in Heaven but he’s down in Hell. They think he’s ruling in Hell and he’s not serving in Heaven, but that’s not right.
All of the fallen angels are still in Heaven. Satan is still in Heaven. The Lake of Fire, according to Matthew 25:41 has already been created for the devil and his angels, but they have not been sent yet. We have to get into why all of that. Why is there that delay? We’ve covered that a lot in the past.
The use of the phrase “sons of God” is a very, very important term. It’s bene ha’elohim and has different forms. One of the forms we have seen is in Psalm 89, bene ’elim which is sometimes translated sons of the Mighty, because the root meaning of the word El has to do with power and might. When it talks about bene ’elim, which is another form of ’Elohim, El being the root. You also have sons of El, the mighty one. It’s the same concept. It’s talking about the angels.
We see this in Job 38 when God is asking these rhetorical questions to demonstrate to Job his own ignorance and inability to comprehend what only God can comprehend. He says at the time that He “laid the foundations of the earth”. Remember that phrase because we’re going to come back to it. We’re going to see that phrase again in Psalm 82.
Here foundations of the earth is referring to the physical elements that God creates initially on which Planet Earth is formed. That’s the foundations of the earth, physical foundations. When He did that “the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy.”
We see in the parallelism that “morning stars” is parallel to “sons of God”. Often angels are referred to as stars as a metaphor. Here the sons of God refers to those angels, so that helps us to understand that. We talk about stars when we’re meaning celebrities. We talk about movie stars, TV stars, and different kinds of stars. We use this word in a metaphorical sense also.
In Psalm 89 we looked at verse 6 where we have the phrase, “Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to the Lord?” It’s bene ’elim. The whole scene is in Heaven and “the heavens” means those who occupy the heavens. Again, it is a metonymy of the place for those who occupy it. “The heavens will praise Your wonders.”
We look at verse 6, “For who in the heavens can be compared to the Lord?” So who is in the heavens is this assembly of the saints, the qadshim. I want you to remember that the term qadash, which is the verb, qadosh is the noun, is a word normally translated as holy.
Whenever you study words, you need to know that a word has its core meaning. We refer to that as the core, semantic meaning of the word. Then in different contexts it can pick up different secondary and tertiary ideas. Those are often thought of by people to be part of the core meaning. You get in a lot of trouble when you do that, especially if your core definition is wrong.
We’ve seen an example of that when we study the word ’Elohim. So many of us, because it is the primary word used for the God of the Bible, have confused this. It is not His name. It is just a generic term. El, in fact, is just a name for the mighty one and it’s the name for the god who is at the head of the Canaanite pantheon. He’s analogous or comparable to Zeus among the Greeks or Jupiter among the Romans. All the different polytheistic religions have some god who is at the top of the power pyramid. El is just this generic name.
When you think that el or ’Elohim always refers to Yahweh, then you get confused. Yahweh is His name. Yahweh is the unique ’Elohim because He, alone, is the Creator of all things. He, alone, is the self-existent One. He, alone, is the eternal One. All of the other ’elohim that are mentioned in these passages are creatures, but Yahweh is not a creature.
When we make the fundamental mistake of thinking that ’Elohim includes the idea only of God and nothing else, we’re going to misinterpret a lot of things. In fact, I got into an interesting discussion with another pastor, a friend of mine, today. He was not aware of something that I’ve taught you before. We’ve talked about music and the permanent gifts and temporary gifts and what is the nature of prophecy.
When you ask people what prophecy is, they’re going to give you two meaning. Number one, the first thing that comes to our mind, is telling the future, foretelling. This is really only a secondary idea in the Bible. The biblical concept of a prophet is what we think of as Moses.
Moses, remember, is the archetype of the Great Prophet, who is to come, which is the Messiah. Moses is a prophet who is a mouthpiece for God. That is one aspect of being a prophet. You look at the other prophets such as Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Amos, and Joel, all of these different prophets spoke for God. Their role seems to be that of a prosecutor from the heavenly court indicting the nation for their violations of the covenant.
But there’s another biblical use of the word prophet. You go to 1 Chronicles 25 and you see that you have Asaph, the one who wrote this hymn. Asaph and two or three others who were the choir leaders and orchestra leaders and it says that they “Prophesied with lyre, and cymbal, and other instruments.” It says this three times, once in verse one, once in verse two, and once in verse three. It uses the word prophecy. It’s the same word, the same verb. All it refers to there is someone singing. It’s not talking about those other features of being a prophet. So, if your root meaning isn’t something that can include all of those meanings, then you’re going to misinterpret Scripture.
I talked to this pastor friend about it yesterday and then he called me today and said, “I just can’t see how they’re doing what Isaiah, Daniel, and Jeremiah did with the music.”
I said, “That’s because you have a limited definition.” When you have the wrong definition for a word and you get to certain passages where there’s another sense to it, you just end up confused and not understanding the passage. That’s why we constantly have to go back and do these word studies.
Well, qadshim is one of those words. We think it means holy, that it means morally pure, that is means someone who is perfect but that has nothing to do with the meaning of the word. Those are secondary, maybe tertiary meanings of the word.
When you see Isaiah before the throne of God in Isaiah 6. He immediately recognizes he is in the presence of the perfect God, that God is unique and holy. That is the core meaning of holy, unique and distinct. Part of that uniqueness and distinctness of God is His moral qualities, that He is absolute perfect righteousness and perfect justice.
When Isaiah is confronted with the righteous, just God Who is unique in His righteousness and justice, Isaiah says, “Woe is me, a man of unclean lips.” The seraph picks up a coal, brings it, and purifies Isaiah’s lips with that coal. He’s not actually burned but it a picture in the spiritual realm of the cleansing of sin in Isaiah’s life.
What does it mean to be holy? It doesn’t mean to morally pure. How can a table be morally pure? The Table of Showbread in the Tabernacle is said to be holy. The Ark of the Covenant is holy. The tent itself is holy. All of the vessels, all of the furniture, and all of the utensils inside of the Tabernacle and later the Temple are holy and they’re inanimate. They can’t be moral or immoral. How can they be holy if the meaning of holy is morally pure?
It has the idea of something that is unique and distinct and secondly, something that is set apart for the service of God, so these inanimate objects are holy because they are set apart for the service of God. The opposite of that word holy in the Old Testament is a word that means to be profane or common, something you use every day.
There’s nothing wrong implied here with being profane or common. We use profane in the sense of profanity so we think that it’s something wrong but that’s not the root sense of the word. It has to do with something that is just in common, everyday use, not something set apart to the service of God.
Holy, then, has this idea of being set apart for the service of God or just set apart so when we look at “Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the saints …” that’s a bad translation. Qadshim means set apart ones and the angels, whether fallen or elect, are still created to be set apart for the service of God.
Angel means a messenger in both Hebrew and Greek, so they’re set apart for the service of God. They’re called the bene ’elim, so what I’m saying is that everything about this passage is not talking about human beings. It can’t be talking about human beings. It’s talking about angels.
We see this in regard to the heavenly court and the thousands upon thousands in Daniel 7:10 that minister or serve God. That’s the idea. They serve God and they’re called the court. This is the judicial term that is used here that is translated the court. It’s the people or the place of legal judgment. They’re seated and the books are open.
We came to Psalm 82. We started this last time and looked at it in the New King James Version. God stands in the congregation of the mighty; He judges among the gods. Now when we get into this we need to understand how that first word is used which is ’Elohim. We looked at this both last time and time before last but I need to review it again just because it’s such a new concept that we need to keep hearing it before it finally clicks in our thinking.
It has the meaning of a god, what we would call a false god or an idol, in a number of passages. Exodus 20:3 says, “You will have no other gods before Me.” The “im” ending in the Hebrew is a plural. That is directly translated as gods. It’s interesting that never are the idols referred to as false gods. They are false gods but they’re not Yahweh, who is the ’Elohim of Israel.
They are gods. They are ’Elohim but not on the same level as God. They’re not infinite, not eternal. They are created, not uncreated. They are not omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent. They’re not immutable, not veracity. They have none of those attributes, but they are powerful.
The term is used to describe these gods of the pagans, but most of the instances, probably 90–95% of the instances of ’Elohim in the Old Testament refer to Yahweh, the ’Elohim of Israel.
Third, we saw that it describes a dead person when the spirit of Samuel came up from the ground in 1 Samuel 28. It’s used to describe a demon in Deuteronomy 32:17. The Israelites sacrificed to demons. The gods they sacrificed were demons so we see that in some places the word ’elohim means demons.
That blows some people’s minds but we have to understand. What is a demon? A demon is a fallen angel. So, in many places the word ’elohim is going to refer to an angel or a fallen angel.
We looked at 1 Samuel 28:13, where it refers to an immaterial spirit.
We looked at the semantic range here that we have in referring to the Creator God, the infinite, eternal, holy, righteous, just, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, unique one-of-a-kind ’Elohim. Then you have the false gods, the ’elohim of the nations that are not anything like the ’Elohim of Israel.
You have the ’elohim translated as angel in Psalm 8:5, “You have been created a little lower …” In some translations will say gods, literally translating ’elohim. The Septuagint understood that it was talking about angels so it translated it as ANGELOS and that is how it is quoted in Hebrews 2:7 where it is talking about the fact that humanity has been created a little lower than the angels. It validates that translation of ’elohim. Then it has that sense of spirit or ghost.
What do they all have in common? First of all, ’Elohim isn’t limited in its meaning to God. It is not limited in the sense of expressing deity. It simply expresses those who live in this immaterial, spiritual dimension that is not physical and material. That’s what they all have in common. They are some kind of heavenly creature and a lot of translations have recognized that or are moving that way.
The way it reads in Hebrew, to pick up the idea here in Psalm 82:1, is “God—that is ’Elohim—stands in the congregation of the mighty.” Literally it’s that He stands in the assembly of El or El’s assembly. This is God’s assembly. “He judges among the ’elohim.”
This is where God is entering into judgment, discussion, or debate, which we’ll see in various places. It’s interesting. We don’t get a lot of information here. In our understanding of what’s going on between God and the angels, if we get there tonight, I’ll show you two examples where we have this kind of debate, discussion, and strategizing taking place within this assembly where there are fallen angels as well as Satan as well as angels.
Job 1 and Job 2 are part of that. I translated Psalm 82:1 this way. “ ‘’Elohim takes his place—actually we’ll see He sits on His throne because He is the head of the assembly. It is His assembly—in the assembly of El. He judges among the angels.” The Holman Christian Standard Bible suggests heavenly beings as an option in terms of translation.
What we have if you try to read this is that you have to understand who is talking and who they’re talking about. There are different voices, as it were, in this psalm or song. The first verse is the voice of the narrator and He is giving us this summary of what’s happening. He’s setting the stage. He’s setting the scene.
It says, “God (’Elohim) takes His stand in the congregation in His assembly of El and He judges among the ’elohim.” So God is the One in authority. He is the One who is judging them.
Then He speaks. And that’s Psalm 82:2–3 and it also goes down to Psalm 82:4–5. Then notice that He says that He said they were gods, but we'll have to deal with that when we get there.
“He says to them—this is the Judge of all the universe, the Supreme Court meeting and He is addressing all of the angelic armies, the hosts, both fallen and elect angels, and He says—‘How long will you all judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked?’ ” See, justice isn’t just a problem for humans. Justice is also a problem for the angels. Why do they have a problem with justice?
We have a problem with justice because of sin. Once sin enters in as a disrupter force, those who have given themselves over to sin make it all about them. They become self-centered and arrogant and that is always self-destructive. It destroys justice. It always destroys justice.
When you’re having conversations maybe in a couple of days and you have some of the issues related to social justice come up, don’t blow your top. Don’t call them names and kick them out of the house. Just say, “Isn’t it interesting that every civilization has struggled with injustice, that every family has struggled with injustice, and every person has done unjust things? Even in just wars there’s been injustice. Even in Heaven there’s injustice. What do you think the cause of injustice is?” Ask the question.
It’s sin. The problem is when you get away from the Bible and the Judeo-Christian worldview, you have no concept of sin. You have a generation running around complaining about social justice and inequities in the world and there are bad things that happen to people who are perfectly fine and haven’t done anything wrong. They’re not spared. They’re not treated justly.
Go read the Book of Job. We live in a world and in a universe where there is injustice and it comes from sin. The Bible is the only thing that gives us an ultimate answer to why there is injustice in the world. It’s not social injustice. It’s injustice in everything. Social injustice is a weak term. It only refers to injustice in the realm of that which is social.
What about everything else? We have to deal with a much broader concept. What happens here is that God is accusing them of being unjust and He is accusing them of showing partiality in a way that elevates and empowers the evil people.
This shows that their influence on the world or toward the nation isn’t toward justice and righteousness but is to the promotion of evil. By way of application what that means is that we live in the devil’s world and the trend in the devil’s world is always toward injustice and it is always toward evil.
The purpose of marriage and the family is to teach and to train your children in a way of self-discipline, hopefully under the ministry of God, the Holy Spirit, to restrain their sin nature and to have self-discipline. This has been understood in all of the great civilizations in their ascendancy, that man’s baser instincts must be brought under his control.
They’ve struggled with that. The only hope and the only foundation for doing that comes from a relationship with God and the Word of God, because as long as we live in this world, we all struggle with sin. Anyone who thinks they’re better than anyone else is just filled with arrogance and pride and we see that happen all the time.
God accuses them of judging unjustly and showing partiality to the wicked. The NET [Bible] adds that “He says” to this so you understand that the speaker of Psalm 82:2 is the God who is the Head of the Council of El in the first verse. He is the one who says, “How long will you make unjust legal decisions and show favoritism to the wicked?” I like the way the NET translates that.
Then what God says to them, speaking to the council of the ’elohim, is “Defend the poor and the fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy.” Now if you haven’t figured it out in the last five seconds, this is a verse that your social gospel, social justice, socialist people go to and say, “See, this is what we’re supposed to be doing.”
But they ignore the context and they don’t understand it. God is criticizing those to whom He is speaking, these ’elohim judges because they are failing what they are supposed to be doing in influencing the nations they’re assigned to in the direction of justice and righteousness and properly dealing with the poor.
The word “defend” here means to govern or to execute justice. It’s the word sapat in the Hebrew. The first word for the poor is the word dal meaning helpless, powerless, insignificant, or dejected. The word fatherless is often translated orphan, but one of its meanings in Israel, you’re an orphan if you don’t have a father. The assumption is that the standard is to have a father and a mother in the same house. A male father, genetically related to the child and a female mother genetically related to the child. We have to clarify that. Not two men. Not two women. Not those who aren’t genetically related. That’s the standard.
Those that are left without a father have a real deficit coming up in life. There are things that a father can do for a child that only a father can do. A mother cannot do them because a woman cannot be a man. There’s a distinction in Scripture between male and female that God created, so they’re not interchangeable.
Many of us have been influenced very subtly by the radical feminist movement that is grounded in Darwinian evolution. The idea that women can do everything a man can do and men should do everything a woman should do is wrong. There are role distinctions in the Bible and they’re based on God as the Creator.
Only fathers can truly teach certain things to the children. Only a mother can teach certain things to the children. That is part of those role distinctions. The role of these angels who are the ’elohim judges is that they are to have justice towards those who are in a helpless or powerless situation.
The command is to do justice to the afflicted and the needy. The word for afflicted is on the bottom of the slide [rus]. It means those who are poor or oppressed. That’s a bad word to use today because we’re using it so much to refer to the oppressed class and the oppressor class, which comes right out of Karl Marx. It’s nothing but evil.
What this is talking about is that when a person is born in a corrupt, fallen world, there are those that take advantage of them if they don’t have someone to watch over them and protect them. That should be partially the role of society to bring about justice for them and not injustice.
They are needy. They are afflicted and poor, which is the word on the slide on the far right [‘anaw, ‘ani]. This is the idea. The role of these angels, both holy angels and fallen angels, is to influence for justice. God is addressing the ones who are working within the society of these nations they’re assigned to to promote wickedness and to take advantage of the weak and the weak-minded and those who are impoverished, to change the way they think.
These fallen angels are given the directive they are to deliver the poor and the needy. This is an interesting word that’s found here. It’s not the normal word for “deliver” in the psalms. Usually that’s a word related to yasha, the root for Yeshua, the Savior, but this is the word palat which means to escape something or to be delivered from something or to be rescued from something. Rescuing is a good way to translate it here.
“Rescue the poor and the needy.” Who is supposed to do this? Not human government. It’s talking to these angelic hosts. They are to do it through the way they’re influencing the leadership [of the nations], but they’re not doing it; they’re failing.
The verse goes on to say in a parallel statement, “Free them from the hand of the wicked.” But what are the fallen ’elohim doing instead? Back in Psalm 82:2 it says they’re showing favoritism and partiality to the wicked. They’re letting the wicked be successful. [For example,] they’re letting the wicked win elections. They’re letting the wicked gain power and gain control.
This is because they’re working behind the scenes. It’s like being in the theater and we’re seeing certain things on the stage, but there are other things going on behind the stage, behind the curtain, and we don’t know what that is. We’re not going to get a chance to go back and lift up the curtains or the props of the stage to see what’s happening back there.
God has lifted that curtain in Job 1 and in Job 2 and He’s lifted that curtain in a few other places we’re going to look at so we understand that there’s something invisible and unseen that is influencing human history. That’s not for us to go dabble with. It’s not for us to go out and discover what demon is behind this bush and what Satan is doing over here.
We don’t know. We’ll get to Ephesians 6, but our primary objective in Ephesians 6 is putting on the armor of God, and that is a defensive armor. It is not an offensive action. We are not to go out and try to beat up the devil. We don’t try to kick the stuffing out of the devil. We are to stand firm and stand fast in the defensive line with the armor of God on.
We see examples of how these angels, these ’elohim, fallen and elect, are given responsibilities to different nations. I’m going to connect this with what we go to in Deuteronomy 32:7–9.
Just to show you that this is in other places in the Scripture, for example, you have Daniel 10 which deals with a certain amount of prophecy, but you see what is going on behind the scenes.
As Daniel is praying, God sends Michael to answer his prayer, but Michael is delayed and in the invisible, heavenly realm, he is involved in a battle. He is in a wrestling match with an invisible fallen angel by the name of the prince of Persia. This isn’t talking about the actual king of Persia. This is talking about a demon who oversees the influence on the king of Persia.
It’s not just him. He’s got a whole hierarchy of demons who are working to influence the people against God. But the Prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood Michael twenty-one days. This is Gabriel talking and he talks about how Michael came to help him. “For I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.”
Notice it’s plural there. I think this is related to the principalities and powers we see in the New Testament. This is just talking about an upper echelon level of demonic or angelic authority. Again in Daniel 10:20 we read, “Do you know why I have come to you?” This is what Gabriel says to Daniel. “And now I must return to fight with the prince of Persia and when I’ve gone forth, indeed, the prince of Greece will come.”
That’s not talking about Alexander the Great. That’s talking about the demonic power behind him. A lot of places in Scripture we’re going to see this. The human leader is addressed, but actually the person being addressed is that demonic power behind the throne.
We see this in Ezekiel 28. It starts off talking about the prince of Tyre. Then when it gets down to where it’s talking about the real power behind the throne, it shifts to the king of Tyre. Then in a much-debated passage among scholars is whether or not Isaiah 12–14 talks about the fall of Satan. Some scholars say it’s the king of Babylon. Others will say it’s prophetic and is talking about what’s going to happen in the future in the Antichrist kingdom of the revived Babylonian Empire in the end days.
Yes, they’re both true. It’s addressing the human power, but it’s ultimately addressing the demonic power behind that so we have this going on here. It’s talking about the prince of Persia and the prince of Greece and then in Matthew 16:21, we get an example of how God addresses Satan through a human.
This is so important to understand and we’ll pull it together more when we get to Isaiah 14 and 28 and Ezekiel 28. You look at almost every study Bible now and they will tell you in the notes that Isaiah 14 is not talking about the fall of Lucifer. I’ll tell you why. Part of it is because Lucifer is not found there except in the Latin translation. It’s helel ben Shahar, and that is the name of a person there, but not Lucifer.
But it is Lucifer. You have to understand that in the Bible the unseen individuals who are influencing a leader are addressed through the leader. We see this in Matthew 16:21. This is when Jesus has been talking to Peter. We’ll just jump into the scene. “From that time forward Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.”
Jesus keeps telling them that He’s going to go to Jerusalem and will be arrested and persecuted by being beaten up and tortured, and all these other things. Then they’re going to kill Him, but He’s going to rise from the dead on the third day. This just goes right over their heads.
Now Peter’s tried to handle this in his impatient way so he’s going to correct Jesus. Notice Matthew 16:22, “Peter took Him aside—at least he didn’t do it openly—and began to rebuke Jesus.” What a scene! Then Peter says, “ ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!’ ”
Peter, you really haven’t gotten the picture yet, have you? So Jesus turns to Peter and says, “Get behind me, Satan.” See, He’s talking to Satan, who is influencing Peter at that point. Jesus knows that because He’s omniscient. You don’t know it because you’re not omniscient.
All we see is the human there. We can’t speculate that there’s someone else there because we don’t know, but Jesus did. He’s addressing Satan through the human that he’s influencing. This is what we have in Isaiah 14 where the king of Babylon is being addressed by Satan who is being addressed through that king. It’s the same thing with the king of Tyre in Ezekiel 14.
One of the other reasons that we know that these ’elohim judges in Psalm 82 are not local judges not justly applying the Law of Moses in the society of Israel is because of what is said in this verse. If you take the standard interpretation that these ’elohim are just judges, then go through the Book of Judges and you will see that none of the judges are ever called ’elohim.
God really praises a lot of these judges when you get to Hebrews 11, but they’re never called ’elohim. You just don’t have any example of that, so that’s a historic misunderstanding of the passage. Here it says something interesting in Psalm 82:5, “They neither know nor understand. They stumble around in the dark, while all the foundations of the earth crumble.”
When we get to that we have to figure out who is talking here. “They” do not know. Who’s talking? It’s still the same person talking, so we still have God, who is up on His Throne as the Head of this assembly of the ’elohim, and He is still saying that they do not know. This is ambiguous. Does the “they” refer to the ’elohim who are not bringing about justice? Or is it talking about the poor and the destitute who have no idea what’s going on?
Things are probably evenly split on this. I think God is discussing the poor and the needy and He’s addressing the ’elohim fallen angels here to defend the poor, the fatherless, the afflicted, and the needy. Then God says that they do not know. He’s speaking to the ’elohim in front of Him who are failing to fulfill their responsibilities and obligations, so He wouldn’t shift from “you” to “they.” Now He’s talking about “they.”
Here when God says “they do not know,” He’s talking about the everyday person on the street, struggling with all their problems. They don’t understand. They walk about in darkness. Then the next line talks about the consequences of what these ’elohim, these unjust wicked ’elohim are doing.
“All the foundations of the earth crumble—are unstable.” Even if you recognized that in a lot of Hebrew poetry there’s a lot of hyperbole, a lot of exaggeration, this is a little over the top if this is talking about the fact that you have a certain number of judges in Israel who are unjustly applying the Law. The statement here is that they are destroying the foundations of the earth.
There’s a couple of ways to understand this. I had to look around and do some studying on this. All the foundations of the earth are unstable. That’s a good translation. The NET translates it, “All the foundations of the earth crumble.”
These are both good ways, adequate ways, to address what is happening to the foundations of the earth. What are the foundations of the earth? The first thing that came to my mind was the phrase that we referenced a little while ago from Job 38:4, “Where were you when I created the foundations of the earth?”
That word is the word that is used here, yasad. It means to establish, to lay a foundation. It’s talking about physical foundations. In Psalm 82 it uses the word musad, which also has to do with a physical foundation. If you take it literally, then the consequences of what these bad, wicked ’elohim judges are doing is shaking the physical foundations of the earth.
That points to a severe reality. This isn’t just something that is happening in Israel. This is something that affects the whole world.
Another word that is used is the word shat. That word is a word that is found in Psalm 11:3. It’s not the word that’s found here. This was the other verse that came to my mind. This is the verse that we used when we were studying about voting this summer. We were studying about How Should We Then Vote. That was the theme verse for that whole series.
“If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” The word for foundation there is not this word on the slide, but it is the word shat and that refers to the social foundations, the legal foundations. This is what we refer to as the Divine Institutions, but this word that refers to a literal foundation can also be used in a figurative sense.
In his commentary on Psalm 82, Allen Ross writes, “The ‘foundations’ refer to the order of society (an implied comparison); if the indictment is of supernatural beings as well as human judges, then the ‘foundations’ would apply to the order that sustains every society in the world.” Foundations would apply to the order; it is an implied comparison, a metaphor between the literal foundation to the societal foundation. He said, “If the indictment is of supernatural beings as well as human judges, then the foundations would apply to the order that sustains every society in the world. That order is [what we call] the Divine Institutions.
- That’s Divine Institution #1, personal responsibility toward God.
- Divine Institution #2, marriage between one man and one woman, ideally for life.
- Divine Institution #3, family.
- Divine Institution #4, human government.
- Divine Institution #5 takes us into nations and biblical nationalism. We see how God established the borders and boundaries of the nations when we get to Deuteronomy 32:7–8 as well as Acts 17.
- Then we come to the sixth Divine Institution, which is Israel. Those who bless Israel, whether they’re Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, Christian, or Jewish, those who bless Israel will be blessed and those who curse Israel will be cursed. It applies to everyone in the human race.
When those foundations are disrupted, and that’s what’s going on here, then the whole earth shakes. Society will crumble. That’s exactly what we’re seeing going on in our culture right now. Those who are on the wicked side are attacking personal responsibility. All they can do is talk about social justice and critical race theory and a number of other things that are all built on the idea of identity politics where it’s all about the group and not about the individual.
Groups don’t get saved; only individuals do. Groups aren’t penalized by God; only individuals are penalized by God. When believers appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, or unbelievers before the Great White Throne, it’s you, not your family, not your nation, not you appearing with white people or brown people or red people or whatever their color is. It’s not based on ethnicity. It’s based on individuals. God is going to hold us accountable individually.
Critical race theory is straight from the pit of hell. It promotes wickedness. Social justice is straight from the pit of hell. It promotes injustice. It is not biblical justice because they don’t have an eternal absolute for their reference point to justice.
If you’re going to say something is right, if you don’t have an eternal reference point for that, then you’re just making it up as you go along. It’s right for you, but it’s not right for the next guy. What gives you the right to judge him? Nothing.
When you slip into this wickedness that comes from the influence of these demons, what happens is it destroys nations and civilizations. You can trace it all the way back to the Tower of Babel. Every human empire, every human nation, has risen and fallen because of corruption and sin.
In Psalm 82:6, “I said …” Here I think that the speaker is still God and He addresses with that second person plural, which He did earlier. “ ‘You are ’elohim.’ ” God is addressing this assembly and He calls them ’elohim. “And all of you are children of the Most High.” Bene ‘elyon. This is just another form of the sons of God. Always when you have this name of God in this relationship it’s bene ’elohim, bene ’eloha, bene ‘elyon. It’s never Yahweh. Bene Yahweh is sons of Yahweh and that is restricted to Israel.
You are gods. All of you are children or sons of the Most High. He’s addressing all of the angelic hosts, fallen and elect.
Then in Psalm 82:7 God states the penalty. He says, “But you shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.” For those who take these as human judges what they will say is that these human judges were so full of themselves and so arrogant that they thought they were God. Now God is saying they’re going to die like men and that makes sense, but here He is addressing those who are constantly called the sons of ’elohim, the sons of ’elim, and the sons of ’eloha. They are the angels and he says that they, as fallen angels, are going to die like all mortals, like all men. They’re going to go to the Lake of Fire for eternity. That’s exactly what that is saying.
Then the writer of the psalm calls on God to execute justice. He says in Psalm 82:8, “Arise, O God, judge the earth; For You shall inherit all nations.” What in the world does that mean? When we go look at Deuteronomy 32:7–9 and we’ll eventually get there, what happens is that God establishes the boundaries and borders of the nation according to the “sons of Israel” in some translations, but in the Septuagint and other ancient texts it says “sons of angels” or “sons of gods.” This means He is establishing the boundaries according to the number of the sons of God, the bene ha’elohim. That makes much more sense because after the Tower of Babel, God assigned these sons of God, fallen and elect, to each nation, each national group.
Then at the end He says, “Ah, that’s your possession but Mine is Israel. Israel is my possession.” God’s one nation that He possesses that is not under this severe demonic influence of all the other nations in the world is Israel. The psalmist here prays, “O God, judge the earth for you shall inherit all the nations.”
When it gets down to the last quarter in the football game of the history of the world, God wins and He will possess all of the nations and establish His kingdom. That’s what happens at the Battle of Armageddon. The NET translates it, “Rise up, O God, and execute judgment on the earth for You own all the nations.”
The problem with that translation is that it’s a present tense. The form of the Hebrew verb can be translated as a present tense, but it’s not that He owns all the nations, but that He will own all the nations. Right now, based on Deuteronomy 27:9 God has taken Israel for His inheritance.
When it gets to that final minute in the final quarter, God is going to defeat Satan and the fallen angels and take possession of all the nations. That takes us through our understanding of Psalm 82. I wanted to run us by a couple of passages, but we’re not going to have time. We’ll just have to wait and look at those on Sunday morning when we’ll look at 1 Kings 22 and some passages in relation to other vignettes that take place in the Old Testament to show how the council of God works. Then we’ll come to Psalm 82:7–8. That is the structure.
What we’re going to have to do after we’ve put all of this together is go back and ask what causes division. Where did this arise? How did this arise? Where is the origin of evil and wickedness in the universe? That’s when we’ll look at Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28.
That’s just a preview of coming attractions. Eventually we have to figure out what’s going on in the New Testament when it says that we as Church Age believers are to manifest God in a unique way to the principalities and powers. That will have to be tied into Ephesians 6.
This is a great study.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study these things and to look at the fact that You have revealed a lot of what is going on behind the back curtain of the stage. We see that there are those who are pulling strings, those who are influencing, and those who are having their way.
“When we have gone through a horrible year as we have we see the Covid virus, which is not really a pandemic, but is a change of the term that occurred several years ago. So much is happening and you have the tyrants who are over states and tyrants over different countries locking everything down. It’s not just the United States. We’re seeing this in numerous countries where there are areas with more freedom and other areas with complete loss of freedom.
“We see the fact that nothing that is happening fits the pattern we have witnessed in history over the last 200–300 years. It’s radically different. Something is going on. Our role as believers is to learn the Word of God, internalize the Word of God, grow to maturity, and to get more serious about our spiritual life and the role that we play in this angelic revolt than we’ve ever been before in our lives.
“We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”