The Divine Council: The Sons of God and the Nations
Deuteronomy 32:8–9; Daniel 10:13-21
Angelic Rebellion Lesson #06
December 1, 2020
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.
“Father, it’s a tremendous opportunity that we have to gather together, to fellowship around the teaching of Your Word, and to be reminded of all that You have provided for us and all that is available to us. We are reminded that You are the sovereign God of the universe and that You will have Your hand on history and You will guide and direct it to Your desired end.
“Man may propose but You are the One who brings about Your desired end. Even though all of the fallen angels and all of the rebellious humans will plot against You, nevertheless You will have Your victory in the end.
“Father, we’re thankful for Your Word that tells us about all these things and our role in them. We pray that as we continue our study dealing with the angels and the council of El and this assembly of the angels, help us to understand how all of this intersects with human history and with our lives. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
Tonight what I want to do is look at three passages if we get there: Deuteronomy 32:7, 8, and 9. Go ahead and open your Bibles to Deuteronomy 32. Then we will also look at Daniel 10, at a few verses there, and then I hope we will conclude with 1 Kings 22.
As we study this topic and we look at this issue of the divine council. Our study is in Psalm 82. Remember we looked at Psalm 89 and then Psalm 82, where it is clear there is a council of the sons of the ’elim, and the sons of ’elohim. They are the angels. That is a term that includes both fallen angels as well as the elect or holy angels. That describes them.
We saw that as these sons of ’elohim that they are sometimes simply referred to as ’elohim because of the fact they are those who live in this celestial realm, this heavenly realm, and that is their abode. It is not that they live in a physical or material universe, but they live in a dimension or in a universe that is quite different than ours. It is not based on the physical laws that God created when He created this universe.
When you study this, and there are those who listen who are more knowledgeable than others and they get out there with their Logos Bible Software and some other things and they come across some of these books that have been written by a spectrum of people who understand what is taught in Psalm 89 and 82 about this angelic assembly, this divine council. It’s referred to by different terms.
Some of these people are biblically solid for the most part. Others of them have other theological issues in the way they express things. Some of them just come from what we would call a liberal perspective. In theology, liberalism describes people who do not believe the Bible is the inerrant, infallible Word of God or that the Bible is breathed out by God and that God superintended or oversaw the process of inspiration guaranteeing that what He wanted to be written was written.
After the Scriptures were written, they were then preserved by God by supernatural means. He oversaw the preservation of His Word so it would be available down through the centuries. What happens in liberal theology it that it starts with man and not with God. By the way, the same thing happens in the liberal political sphere, as well.
In the realm of theology, it starts with man and not with God. So they start off with an assumption that the earth is billions and billions and billions of years old and that there is a process called evolution. Somehow, God oversees this in some form of theistic evolution. Most pure evolutionists will say that theistic evolution is a contradiction in fact.
It can be one or the other, but it can’t be both. Nevertheless what the theistic evolutionists try to do is say that God oversees the process and for millions of years He used evolution to bring about what He wanted. They’ll start on that assumption and not only does this kind of evolutionary progress—notice the word progress—and progressiveness doesn’t just apply biologically to the human race, but they say this evolutionary progress and process applies to man’s social development and it applies to religion.
If you go to just about any secular university and unfortunately, a lot of Christian schools also, they will have bought into this assumption, especially if you take courses in comparative religion, because the underlying assumption of comparative religion is that all religions are basically the same. All roads lead to Heaven and all roads lead to God.
They never recognize the fact that the Bible doesn’t say that. The Bible actually gives Christians credence that we believe that there’s only one way and it’s not the way everyone else is going. Everyone else is on different roads that all end up in the same place, but Christians are following the path that Jesus laid out when He said that He was the way, the truth, and the life and that no one can come to the Father except by Him.
Christianity offers this exclusivity that just drives those who reject biblical Christianity nuts. Talk about discrimination. God can’t be a discriminator, they say. He can’t be biased, so it’s just a way of thinking that is frankly beyond me. Their belief is that religion developed, it evolved, and it’s progressive so it starts with some sort of primitive religion of animism and spiritism, then it progressed from there to pantheism, that God is in everything. Then it progresses from there to polytheism, that there are many different gods and goddesses. Then eventually it evolved to monotheism where there is one God. That’s at the pinnacle.
To do that they have to deny a host of data. There is a book, actually a six-volume work, written by a brilliant Jesuit anthropologist who investigated every religion in the world that was known at that time, which was back in the early part of the 20th century. His name was Wilhelm Schmidt. He wrote these six volumes on monotheism and man.
I have a copy of the English version that was an abridgement of those six volumes. What he demonstrated is that every known religion, whether you’re talking about the pantheon of the Greeks and Romans, or whether you’re talking about all of the hundreds of different gods and goddesses that inhabit the religions in India, or whether you’re talking about all the Egyptian gods and goddesses, if you trace back far enough, they all go back to one god.
That’s what the Bible says. It says that when God created Adam and Eve and He put them in the Garden of Eden they were perfect. They knew there was one triune God who would come and walk with them in the Garden. They knew what truth was. They understood who God was; that He was both personal and infinite. So they started off with a strict Trinitarian monotheism. They disobeyed God and sin brought corruption into the world and into the universe. You have the story in Romans 1 of the degeneration of man’s thinking. He doesn’t start with spiritism and animism and have hundreds of gods and then gradually narrow them down until he gets down to one god.
It’s the opposite. Man started with the understanding of a triune God and as you got further and further away from Adam’s sin in the Garden and men became more and more corrupt, rejecting the truth, suppressing the truth in unrighteousness, they began to invent all kinds of other deities, all kinds of gods and goddesses.
The reality is that from a biblical perspective it starts with monotheism, a Trinitarian monotheism, and begins to degenerate to a Unitarianism, and from that to a polytheism. From polytheism to pantheism and from pantheism to animism and spiritism. That’s what has truly happened. It’s that kind of desecration that takes place.
What happens is that in liberal “biblical” scholarship, they start with this assumption in comparative religions that the monotheists of the Jews borrowed concepts from the pagans around them, instead of understanding that the Canaanite religion and Aramean religion and Greek religion, Persian religion, and Egyptian religion, all of these different religions, all were manifestations of the deterioration and the degeneration of the human race and they all started with truth. Then it gradually got corrupted and degenerated and shifted down through the centuries.
There are elements within them of a residual truth but their framework is completely corrupted. So the way this permeates things today is in the realm of scholarship about the ancient world, about the Ancient Near East, about the development of religion, is you have those who will look at certain passages of Scripture like Psalm 82 and Psalm 89 and say that these reflect the pagan background of the Israelites. They’re borrowing these concepts of a divine assembly.
Just because someone talks about it doesn’t mean they’re doing what they should. They’ll talk about the Ugaritic or Canaanite religions and that there is the chief god which is El, the same name that is used to describe the unique God of the Bible and the unique God of Israel. They’ll say that there are seventy different deities in paganist religions. That’s a counterfeit of the seventy who went to Egypt with Jacob. The number seventy is really important in a lot of the Old Testament, so their opinion is a corruption of that.
These scholars will come to Isaiah 14 where it’s talking about the fall of Satan. And then in Ezekiel 28, where it talks about the Prince of Tyre in the first part and the King of Tyre in the second part and the fall of this anointed cherub, they’ll say, “See, those aren’t really talking about the fall of Satan. Those are talking about this myth, some Canaanite myth or some Syrian myth, something that has been brought over to explain the origin of evil.” They get into all the esoteric religions of the surrounding people and point out the Hebrews are just borrowing from everyone else.
They say there’s nothing unique about the Old Testament. You have to be careful. I have seen people go way off the deep end when they get into some stuff and they start studying these other religions. Then they start buying into the concept that is often found in the realm of scholarship.
Some of you have been to Israel with me. You’ve met Joel Kramer and I’ve shown you his videos. When I first met Joel, actually he was supposed to take me into the West Bank and he couldn’t because he got called in for an interview about his passport that day. He told me he had a friend, Andrew Cross, who would take me there that day. Andrew is the son of John Cross. I didn’t make the connection with John Cross of Good Seed.
I met Andrew and we were talking and he was telling me about the fact that these three guys found each other because they all believed in the Bible. They still believed in its inerrancy and infallibility. All three of these guys, Titus Kennedy, who is the son of Todd Kennedy who recently retired from Spokane Bible Church, and Joel, and Andrew told me they were the only three guys in all these schools of archeology in Israel that still believed in the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture.
What would happen is that evangelicals without a firm understanding of the truth of Scripture would go over to Israel to get an archeology degree and within six months they no longer believed in the infallibility of the Bible. They had been completely won over to the whole evolutionary perspective.
I just want to put that warning there because of the things that are happening and it’s important to understand these things just to be protected so the sheep don’t get deceived by the wolves. What we’re studying that the Scripture reveals here in Psalm 82 starts off, “God—that is—’Elohim referring to the One true God of the Bible—stands at the forefront of the assembly of the Mighty.” That could be translated as El’s assembly. It’s His assembly.
He judged among the ’elohim. The word ’elohim there relates to the demons. We looked last time at the fact that there are several things that are, shall we say, that are misunderstood by a lot of Christians. One of which is the fact that Satan has fallen, so he’s not in Heaven anymore.
I pointed out last time that in Revelation 12:7–9 that there is a war in Heaven. This is looking forward to the midpoint of the Tribulation. Michael and his angels are waging war with the dragon. We don’t know what that’s going to look like. I don’t understand that, but it’s written in language that I can understand that there’s this heavenly conflict between the elect angels and the fallen angels.
They’re waging war with the dragon who is Satan and his angels. Then they’re going to be cast out of Heaven. It says they weren’t strong enough and there was no longer a place found for them in Heaven. In Revelation 12:9, “And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent who was called the devil who deceives the whole earth and his angels were thrown down with him.”
This is when he’s ejected from Heaven. Until then Satan still has access to Heaven. Someone e-mailed a question in today and asked if this means Satan still has access to Heaven after the Rapture. I thought this was an interesting question, which I’d never thought about before.
Well, of course Satan does, but we never think of it that way. The Heaven is a big space. Think about that. Just because this finite creature, Satan, can have access to Heaven, he comes as part of these convocations of assemblies of God. He is there with his angels.
We don’t know how that works. It doesn’t really affect anything, but it may be a new thought to surprise you that when we’re raptured and we go to Heaven that Satan will also have access at times. That doesn’t mean he’s going to be where we are or know anything about what we’re doing up there.
Now let’s look at Deuteronomy 32. It is called the Song of Moses and it is written as a hymn, but it is a sermon, his parting words to the Israelites. I want you to notice how it begins in Deuteronomy 32:1, “Give ear, O heavens, and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.”
The heavens don’t have ears; neither does the earth. He’s not really talking about the physical heavens and the physical planet. He’s talking about those who inhabit the heavens, the angels, and those who inhabit the earth, which are human beings.
God has two classes of sentient beings; that is, beings who are intelligent and who can think and interact and relate to God. According to the Mosaic Law something must be confirmed by two witnesses and so Moses was calling upon these two entities, the inhabitants of Heaven and the inhabitants of the earth to be witnesses to what he is saying.
As Moses proceeds he’s reminding the Israelites of their past. He says, “Remember the days of old.” This generation that he’s addressing is the generation that’s going to go in and take the land. Their parents were the generation that left from Egypt and took part in the exodus.
He’s telling them to remember the days of old. They know the stories. They have been taught these things as they’ve been growing up. And he says, “Consider the years of many generations. Ask your father and he will show you your elders and they will tell you.” Ask those who have been through this. They will tell you what it was like.
Then he says, “When—he’s talking about a specific situation—the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations?” Who’s the “their”? He is talking about the group that received this inheritance. In Deuteronomy 23:8 he refers to God as the Most High.
The first time we run across this term is in Genesis 14 when Abraham and his servants have defeated the armies of the kings who came over from the area of Persia/Babylon/Tigris-Euphrates, and they’re the ones who defeated the cities of the plain, Sodom and Gomorrah and those various cities. They took Lot and all of his families and others, looted everything, and headed north as far as the northern border of what would be the Promised Land up near what is called Dan now.
They got that far north and then they get ambushed by Abraham and what is functionally his army. Back then you needed to have your own army if you were a wealthy man like Abraham. You had all these flocks and herds and everything else so you needed to protect them. He had his own private army who defeated these kings.
When he came back he stopped in Salem which is Jerusalem and he goes to the priest there who is Melchizedec who is a priest of God Most High, El Elyon.
We find that title for God there, as well. Moses is referring back to when God divided something. He divided the possession for inheritance. The Hebrew word is one we’ve studied a lot when we studied inheritance and rewards. There are two words that are used for inheritance and a shared inheritance. We find both of those Hebrew words here. The inheritance to the nations in verse 8. The other word is in Deuteronomy 23:9 called the Lord’s portion.
What’s important to note here is that there’s a contrast between two different inheritances. You have the Most High God divided the inheritance to the goyim, the nations, but the Lord’s portion, the Lord’s share of the inheritance is His people, Israel.
Notice it’s the people who are important, not just the land or the territory. Jacob, which is the term for Israel, is the place of his inheritance. This idea of an inheritance and contrasting it is important. There are nations that are given as a possession to a group. We’ll find out about this group in just a minute, but “divided to the nations” occurred when he separated the sons of Adam.
That phrase “sons of Adam” speaks of just the human race. He divided their inheritance when He separated the sons of Adam. This is talking about what happened at the Tower of Babel, so we’ll get there in just a minute. At the end of verse 8 it says He set the boundaries of the peoples.
We’ve gone to this verse several times to establish the fifth Divine Institution of nations. It’s referenced by Paul in Acts 17. This is referring to the fact that God establishes borders and He establishes nations. It goes back to the Tower of Babel. When God divided up the languages, God is selecting one language to one group of people but it’s not just higgledy, piggledy. He is giving that group that language because He knows that they all have certain genetic, recessive genes that will come to the forefront down the line.
Then He selects another group of people and they get another language, and they all have certain genetic markers that will eventually come to the forefront. The result of dividing the languages divides the human race in such a way that ethnic races develop.
You have the development of Caucasians. You have the development of the Negroid races. You have the development of different Asian characteristics and Asian races, and so forth. This act of giving out, distributing the languages, is what divides them.
God set the boundaries of the people. He oversees who goes where and when. This is said to be according to the “number of the children of Israel”. That’s from the New King James Version. In the second group of verses we have that it’s according to the “number of the heavenly assembly”. This is from a different translation, the NET. Why is there this difference between the NKJV and the NET? When we look at it, what we find is that when you have one group of verses that state “according to the heavenly assembly”, that is the NET version.
The Masoretic Text has “sons of Israel” as does the Samaritan Pentateuch. What is so significant about the Samaritan Pentateuch? Who were the Samaritans? Remember in 722 BC the Assyrians come in and conquer the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
After they conquer the Northern Kingdom of Israel, their whole policy when they conquered people was to scatter them and resettle them so they couldn’t foment a rebellion against the Assyrian government. They took a lot of the Jews in the north and they scattered them and moved them to different places in the Assyrian Empire, and then they took other people groups around the Syrian Empire and moved them into Samaria.
Samaria refers to the northern part of Israel. It’s a synonym for the Northern Kingdom of Israel. They brought in these other people and they settled them in the north. Now you have a mixture of Jews and Gentiles. There’s going to be intermarriage between the Jews and these Gentiles. The result was a different group of people.
Later after the Jews returned from the Babylonian captivity in 538 BC, they looked down on this sort of mongrel race that now inhabited Samaria. They had great prejudice against them. The Judeans had great prejudice against them. The Samaritans didn’t like those Jews, so they didn’t want to go down to Jerusalem to the Temple Mount and participate in all their rituals and sacrifices and festivals so they created, as it were, their own spin-off religion.
They only accepted the first five books of the Bible, the Torah, and they had a slightly different version of those than what was in the Masoretic Text. So you have the Samaritan Pentateuch and you have the Masoretic Text. I’ll tell you about the Masoretic Text in just a minute.
In this case, the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Masoretic Text agree in that they both have the phrase “sons of Israel”. Now the Masoretic Text is the standard, officially accepted text of the Hebrew Bible. We’re going to have to get into some of this, so some of the terms I use make a little sense, but I don’t want your eyes to glaze over.
This group of manuscripts known as the Masoretic Text developed over an extended period of time. So what you have is in the period of time after the destruction of the Temple in AD 70, after the Jews are scattered throughout the Roman Empire, they’re concerned about copying and preserving the Old Testament.
There’s a group of scribes … The word masora has the idea of binding something in the sense of protecting something. It also could have the sense of handing something down, referring to the handing down of traditions, according to a small little book called A Simplified Guide to Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia.
You have this scribal group and their responsibility is to guarantee the accuracy of the transmission of the text. They did a lot of incredible things to guarantee that. They counted every single word that was supposed to be on every page. They knew what word was to start the page and what word was to end the page and what word was in the middle of the page.
They knew how many letters were to be on each line. They knew how many sentences would be on each page so that when they made a copy of a page of Scripture it had to be perfect or they would burn it. That’s why in many cases we don’t have older copies of the Hebrew Scriptures, because when they got old and worn they burned them after they made an exact duplicate.
These Scriptures were passed on from generation to generation. By the time you get to the years AD 500 to 1000 these Masoretes, which is what they were called, had developed a lot of different traditions and protocols for passing on the text. That text, which they produced, is called the Masoretic Text.
That wasn’t the only text that existed of the Old Testament. There were other documents that existed. For example, in this slide you have the LXX, which is the abbreviation for the Septuagint. It gets its name because the legend was that seventy rabbis in seventy days made a complete, perfect translation of the Pentateuch from the Hebrew to the Greek.
The Jews that were living in Egypt no longer spoke or read Hebrew. They needed to have the Bible in the language they spoke, which was Koine Greek.
This was done in approximately 200 or 300 BC. That’s the Septuagint. The Septuagint is different in a lot of places from the Masoretic Text, but the Septuagint reflects a very old tradition. Then you have the discovery in 1948 of a tremendous number of scrolls down in an area called Qumran, which is in the desert by the Dead Sea.
There were a lot of manuscripts there. Let me give you an example why this is so important for our confidence in the Scripture. They found one book of the Old Testament that’s complete and that’s the Isaiah scroll. It’s very famous and if you’ve been with me to Israel you go to the Scroll Museum and we walk around and see a facsimile of the entire Isaiah scroll.
When you compare the Isaiah scroll, which they found at Qumran, which was probably copied around 200 BC with the copies they had, the oldest of which they had was around AD 800 or 900, a thousand-year difference, they were almost identical. There were some spelling changes and a couple of places where a couple of words were switched, but in terms of substantive differences where you had a different word or a word left out or in some cases in the Masoretic Text there are a couple of examples in Deuteronomy 32 where there are only two lines. In the Septuagint there are six lines.
In the Septuagint it actually completes this. There’s no parallelism there in the first two lines of the Masoretic Text and yet all of this is in poetry, so all of this has to have the parallelism for this to make sense. You find that in the Septuagint.
Scholars spend their whole careers studying this concept of textual criticism. How in the world do you decide which is the more accurate reading or the original reading? In doing this study I’ve had to go back and look at several things having to do with textual criticism and in God’s providence, I use several different pieces of software, but I use one called Accordance. It has these three webinars where they bring in scholars. They brought in Dr. Emanuel Tove who teaches in Israel. I think he’s originally Italian, but I may be off on that. He gave a lecture on textual criticism about two weeks ago which I was able to sit in on and participate. That was very interesting.
Someone asked him what the key rule was in textual criticism and he said that the one rule is that there’s no rule. You have to take every situation, every case, on a different basis and look at the context to see what fits the context the most because of these various differences. Scholars can spend their whole careers just studying these ancient manuscripts figuring out what their characteristics are. They can even discern the personality of the translators in places. It’s fascinating what they do.
What we find here is that there are two basic differences. It’s not a matter of what’s older; it’s that you have to weigh the manuscript. What’s significant about it? The Septuagint’s translation goes back to 300 BC. What was interesting was that some of you were here then, but when we first started this church and we moved back here from Connecticut we were meeting at a Baptist church where we could only meet on Sunday nights. We didn’t have a Sunday morning service.
There was a display at the Natural Science Museum on a Sunday morning so we set up an appointment and took about 15 or 20 people from the church. Everyone got their little headsets and we were listening to the canned lecture when Connie elbowed me and motioned for me to take my headset off. She told me that the guy in a group next to us really knew what he talking about and everyone needed to take their headsets off and listen to him.
It was a synagogue here in Houston and they had hired Lawrence Shipman who is one of the world’s top experts on the Dead Sea Scrolls. He has written a book and was familiar with and knew Randy Price, who’s also written a book on the Dead Sea Scrolls. He was the one giving the lecture that morning. As we were going from one exhibit to another I introduced myself to him, asked him if he knew Randy and told him I had a background in studying Hebrew and ancient Semitic literature.
He would talk to me between exhibits. One of the things he told me, which I didn’t know, was that the copy of the Pentateuch at Qumran was older than the Masoretic Text. I asked him how he knew that and he told me because it had fewer vowel points in it. Now in Hebrew it’s all consonants. The Masoretes developed this system of putting in vowels that are points and dashes and several marks, which indicate where the vowels should be. The Masoretes invented that.
If you go back to a copy that has very few vowel points in it, then it’s older than what the Masoretes developed. He told me that text from Qumran came from a very old tradition and you have to weigh the dates on these things.
When we look at this text in the first verse here of Deuteronomy 32:8 it has “according to the sons of Israel” as does the NIV 84 and the Holman Christian Standard Bible. They all go with the Masoretic Text.
Then you have a number of other English translations that go with the Septuagint and the Qumran scrolls. You have in Deuteronomy 32:8 in the ESV “the number of the sons of God”. The New Revised Standard Version says “the number of the gods”. Then Deuteronomy 32:8 in the NET translates it “according to the number of the heavenly assembly.”
The difference is that this text is saying that God divides up the nations according to the number of the heavenly beings, “according to the sons of God”. The traditional translation takes it as “according to the number of Israel”. That gets kind of interesting and it doesn’t make a lot of sense. You have to understand what’s going on here.
When you go through the texts of Genesis 10, which is called the Table of Nations, and you count up all the nations it comes to 70. So the standard interpretation is that the nations are divided up according to the sons of Israel. Moses says this in about 1404 BC. Think of this. The Exodus is 1446 BC. You go back a little bit further and you get to the time of Abraham and that’s about 2000 BC.
When’s the Tower of Babel? The Tower of Babel is back around 2800 BC. So you take 2800 and you subtract 1400 when Moses is writing and you come out with a 1400-year difference. That’s almost a millennia and a half. That’s a long time so there is a difference in that statement. When does Abraham get called in Genesis 12? When is he given the Abrahamic Covenant and he’s called out to form a new people? That’s in 2000 BC, 800 years after the Tower of Babel.
At the Tower of Babel why would God say He was going to divide up the nations according to the sons of Israel when Israel doesn’t even exist yet? That was the only way people in the past could figure it out, but then they came along and discovered that these other translations, these ancient texts, have “sons of the gods”. It refers to the fact, I believe, that what God does is He divides up the nations and He is assigning these “sons of gods” to have oversight over these nations. Does that make sense?
If we look at Psalm 82 again, what do we see at the very beginning? Look at verse 2. The first verse tells us that God takes a stand at the head of Assembly of El. He judges among the ’elohim. He’s getting ready to bring a judgment against them. That’s what He says in the first line of verse 2.
He says, “How long will you—sons of ’elohim—judge unjustly?” As we saw, He’s talking about these angels, not human judges. He is saying that the way these groups of angels, the fallen angels, are overseeing these nations, they are influencing the leaders toward wickedness and injustice. That’s what the indictment is in the middle part of that psalm.
Now we come to another chart I put together. At the top you have the Masoretic Text, which comes to its final form around AD 800 to 1000. In the Masoretic Text it says bene Israel, the sons of Israel. Then you have these ancient verses. These are different Greek translations, one by Aquila, one by Theodotion, one of Symmachus. They lived at different times, but around AD 100 to 200.
We have these three different translations, which were updates to the Septuagint. They’re after the Church Age began so there are some differences there. They are 200–300 years after the writing of the Old Greek, the Septuagint.
In one version of Aquila, it says bene ’elohim or bene ’elim, sons of God. In two or three manuscripts at Qumran it says bene ’elohim or ’elim, and the Old Septuagint said the same thing. These manuscripts, which are much older than the Masoretic Text. Remember in the New Testament probably about 80% of the time that the New Testament writers are quoting from the Old Testament they are quoting from the Septuagint. They are not quoting from the Masoretic Text. This doesn’t mean that the Septuagint is always right. Far be it from that. It’s not. In those verses, at least, we know because the Holy Spirit quoted them that even though they disagree remarkedly with the Hebrew texts, what they said was still accurate.
This is what textual critics do. They sit down and try to figure this all out.
You go to Genesis 10 or 11 and that’s called the Table of Nations. Genesis 11 is what happens to the descendants of Shem. The first part of Genesis 11 is related to what happened to the descendants of Ham, what happened to the descendants of Japheth, and what happened to the descendants to Shem, down to a point.
My go-to guy on the Table of Nations is Allen Ross who was here last year as a speaker at the Chafer Conference. Allen’s PhD at Dallas Theological Seminary back in the early ’70s was on the Table of Nations. He’s written a number of articles on this in theological journals over the years. What you write in your Master’s thesis or your doctoral dissertation, that’s your specialty for life because you’ve given so much of your life to that. He’s added up all the nations there and there are 70 nations, but guess what nation is left out of the Table of Nations. Israel! How could this be divided up according to the sons of Israel when Israel isn’t part of the nations that are listed in Genesis 10? Israel isn’t set apart for probably 200 or 300 years until the time of Abraham.
The second thing that we see that connects the Deuteronomy 32 passage to Genesis 10 is that they both use the same Hebrew word whose root is pharad. It has to do with separating or dividing the human race.
In Genesis 10:32 we read, “These were the families of the sons of Noah, according to their generations, in their nations; and from these the nations were divided on the earth after the flood.” That’s the word pharad.
Then in Deuteronomy 32:8 it says, “When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.” This makes much more sense and contextually makes better sense historically when you have “the sons of God”.
My third point here is that historically the interpretation was that the seventy sons of Jacob that went to Egypt are the basis for the seventy nations in Genesis 10 but that’s several hundred years later and it doesn’t fit. It doesn’t work.
So the conclusion is that God sets the “sons of God” over the nations. It’s an oversight of the nations. Deuteronomy 32:8, “When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, He separated the sons of Adam.”
Notice that is a contrast. In Deuteronomy 32:9 is says that the Lord’s portion is Israel. Israel is God’s possession. Israel is God’s portion. He turns over the rest of the world, the goyim, the nations, to demon influence. You sit back and you say that doesn’t seem fair. Well, it’s divine discipline because of what happened at the Tower of Babel.
Let’s go back and just briefly remind ourselves what Romans 1 says. “For the wrath of God—that is God’s judgment on the planet right now—is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” If they’re truth suppressors God is bringing judgment on them.
“Because of what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.” They have enough of a testimony in the nonverbal, general revelation of creation to be held accountable for that. That’s what Paul says in Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”
Everyone can understand that God exists by the evidence. They look at the world and they can see that the artist is displayed in His artwork, His creation. They are without excuse. “Because although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.” Here is the introduction of idolatry and the worship of these various animals and they created all the images.
“Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness.” This is part of God’s judgment. Three times, this is only the first time, in Romans 1 it says that God gave them up because they continued to be negative toward God and rejecting God. This is God’s judgment on them. They come under demonic influence and all of these nations and all these empires have these pantheons of deities because they have rejected God and they are worshipping the creatures rather than the Creator.
Now let’s see how an example of this works. Turn in your Bible to Daniel 10. We don’t get a lot of information about these things. God, I think, doesn’t tell us much because we probably can’t comprehend it and it would just lead us into probably a lot of sin. We would start worshipping all these angels just like Peter did when Elijah and Moses showed up on the Mount of Transfiguration and he wanted to build an altar for each of them, for Jesus and the other two guys who are humans. We get things all confused.
In Daniel 10 there is another vision of the future that is going to be given to Daniel during the time of the Persian Empire. This would be after he was in the lions’ den. What we’re told is that this vision is given to him, revealed to him, to understand it.
“In those days, I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food. No meat or wine came into my mouth nor did I anoint myself at all—that means he didn’t take a bath for three weeks because he was so upset—until the three whole weeks were fulfilled.” Then on the twenty fourth day of the first month he was down by the river. It doesn’t say it but I guess he was down for a bath.
“I lifted my eyes and looked and this man came.” Some people think this man was Jesus, but this man has difficulty overcoming one of the demon princes so it’s probably Gabriel instead of Jesus. He comes and he’s going to talk to Daniel.
We’re looking at just a few of these passages to give us this insight. Daniel’s been fasting and praying for three weeks and the prince comes and Gabriel comes and says in verse 12, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.”
So God started answering Daniel’s prayer three weeks ago. Well, why didn’t this man get here sooner? He says, “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.”
Michael is the only archangel. I want you to look at this language, chief princes. This is the Hebrew word sar, which refers to basically prince or chief. It means one who is in command. It is used to refer to a leader. It’s used over 400 times in the Old Testament. It refers to human leaders; it refers to political leaders, military leaders, and all kinds of different leaders.
In Daniel 10:13 it applies to Michael, one of the chief princes, but it also applies to the prince of the kingdom of Persia, a leader there. It’s the same word. This is not a human king; it’s not talking about Cambyses or any of the other emperors of the Persian Empire. It’s talking about a demon, because he is able to fight off and block Gabriel’s actions for three weeks.
Gabriel has to be aided by Michael, who is the archangel, who comes to help him. He says, “For I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.” They’re not talking about the human kings, but they’re talking about the power behind the kings, the demon forces.
Remember this when we get to Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28, when we’re talking about the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14 and the prince of Tyre in the first part of Ezekiel 28, and the king of Tyre in the second part. The king of Tyre refers to the fall of Satan in both of those passages. It’s not talking about the human king. That’s where we have all of these problems. We’ll get into that eventually.
Then we get into Daniel 10:18, “Then again, one having the likeness of a man touched me and strengthened me.—this would be Gabriel, probably—And he said, ‘O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!’ So when he spoke to me I was strengthened, and said, ‘Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me. Then he said, ‘Do you know why I have come to you? And now I must return to fight with the prince of Persia; and when I have gone forth, indeed the prince of Greece will come.’ ”
When he says the prince of Greece, he’s not talking about Alexander the Great, although Alexander the Great will come, he’s talking about the power behind the throne. Then in Daniel 10:21, Gabriel says, “But I will tell you what is noted in the Scripture of Truth. (No one upholds me against these, except Michael your prince.”
This tells us we have something I’m going to call national spirits that influence nations. I see we’re at the end of our time here. We’re going to have to come back and talk about this because there is a distortion of this in the world today by the charismatic groups, some, not all, but especially the group that started back in the ’70s and ’80s called the Vineyard Movement.
You have people like Peter Wagner and a number of other people writing all of these different kinds of books called Engaging the Enemy: How to Fight and Defeat Territorial Spirits. You have another one entitled Warfare Prayers: Strategies for Combating the Rulers of Darkness. And another one, Breaking Strongholds in Your Cities. In most cities you have poverty and other things because of the politicians and these territorial cities, but the Bible doesn’t teach us to go out and engage Satan, going on the offense.
That is not part of what the Scripture teaches, so there’s no scriptural basis for this whatsoever, but there are angels, holy elect angels, as well as fallen angels, which are assigned to different nations, not territories. The reason I say that is because Gabriel is assigned to Israel to protect the Jewish people wherever they are, wherever they are, not just within the confines of the country. He’s over in Babylon. So these are not territorial spirits. They are national, dealing with nations and people groups coming out of those nations that we find in Genesis 10 and 11.
When we come back next time we’re going to talk a little bit about these national spirits, what they do, what they can’t do, what we’re to do, and what we shouldn’t do. Then we’re going to connect this over to an example in 1 Kings 22 and see what is going on behind the scenes.
God just gives us these glimpses. When you think about the Old Testament, where do you see the angels mentioned in the Old Testament? You have the cherubim, the army that surrounds the Garden of Eden. The next time you see angels is when two angels show us with God to have dinner with Abraham before they go to bring judgment on Sodom.
Then you don’t see angels mentioned again. You see cherubim being mentioned in the Tabernacle and on the tapestries there and on the Ark of the Covenant. You see the Angel of the Lord, the pre-incarnate Christ a couple of times but you just don’t have angels or demons mentioned a whole lot. Their involvement is few and far between.
It’s important to understand that the Bible is not putting an emphasis on this, that the way you’re to handle this is to go out and identify, name, and claim your power over these demons and that’s how you pray against them. What we see in Daniel, Daniel knows about this but he’s not praying or calling upon God to judge them. What Daniel is doing is continuing to pray to God to protect the Jewish people.
This is a totally different focus and emphasis. The passage in the New Testament that addresses this is in Jude 9–11. Jude writes, “Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses—now what’s that all about?—dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’ ”
Michael, the archangel doesn’t bring an accusation against the devil. He understands who is the authority over the devil, but he’s doesn’t say he’ll rebuke the devil like these charismatic people do. “But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves.” Jude here is talking about the false teachers that will come along.
“Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.” It’s just pure arrogance to try to take some kind of dominion over these demons, but that’s what you find in the charismatic camp.
We’ll come back and talk a little bit more about that at the beginning next time. Then we’ll get into some of these other things in 1 Kings 22.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study these things. We know that this relates to our time. We know there are demonic forces; we know there are angels that are involved in different things, but we know not what in relation to what happens on the earth and in relation to politics and geopolitics and things of that nature.
“Father, we’re not to focus on those things. We are to focus on Your Word and we’re to pray for our nation. We’re to pray that You will expose evil and that the plans and plots of those who are up to no good will be exposed and that truth and righteousness will prevail.
“Father, we pray that in this next week with this various court cases that the truth will come out. We pray these things for our nation that we may peace and stability that we may go about our business as believers in teaching the Word and proclaiming the truth of the gospel. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”