The Sons of God versus the Judges of Israel Part 5

This article is written in response to a set of questions posted on our facebook group Living in the Kingdom of God.

The general thrust of the questions was regarding why we believe that the divine beings in Psalm 82 quoted by Yeshua in John 10 were spiritual beings, elohim instead of the traditional view of them being men.

These questions were raised after the Facebook reader had been reading our  How God reigns from heaven series. I’m co-writing this series with the Streetlamp Blog and we thought this would be a great opportunity to write a response to these questions the man asked as a supplement to our series.

The questions came in 4 rapid-fire comments. We tried to address the first one but the man left our group claiming that we were false teachers, without addressing our answers or answering the questions we asked him. We think he was simply cutting and pasting from a single source.

The following are Monty’s questions copied directly from his comments:

1. Who are the gods in John 10;34- compare to psalms 82;6- Are not these judges(men) of Israel, what are your thoughts on this.

2 A and B. So you believe the us in gen.1:26 and gen. 11:7 are angels and not the trinity

3. Ex.7:1- And the Lord said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: – If God called the Israelites judges “gods” because they were agents of God’s revelation and will, how could it be blasphemy for Jesus to call himself the Son of God? Jesus was rebuking them because he is the Son of God in a unique, unparalleled relationship of oneness with the Father.-cf. John 10:34- If God would call mere men “gods”, why was it blasphemous for him , the Son of God, to declare himself equal with God as i have already said. They were called gods because they represented God in executing judgment- ex.4:16- And he(Aaron) shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God-

4. It is Israel that God is talking about- Deut. 32:8-9- Song of Moses-When the Most High divided(gen 10,cf. Gen.11:7-Acts 17:26) to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam,, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. For the Lord’s portion is his people: Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. Question- Who did God appoint to destroy Israel ? The Assy. in 722 b.c. Babylon, and finally Rome. What did all these nations worship, was it not pegan gods, but Israel worshipped pbn god’s also. Gen.9:32- These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in there nations, and these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.


 

We have decided to answer the first question second and the second question first.

  • Question 2: Who is us in Genesis 1:26 and Genesis 11:7?

Monty’s second question was really two questions, though they seem more like accusations than questions. We will deal with both at the same time.

 

So you believe the us in gen.1:26 and gen. 11:7 are angels and not the trinity

 

First let’s take a look at Genesis 1:26

 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. ~ Genesis 1:26,27 NASB

 

The answer to question 1 is simply no. We believe that we are created in the image of the triune God.

The answer to the second question is that we’re happy with it meaning either the Trinity or the Trinity plus His divine council of spiritual beings. We know Father works with a group of spiritual beings in His creation as clearly shown in 1 Kings 22:20-23:

“The LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said this while another said that. “Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD and said, ‘I will entice him.’ “The LORDsaid to him, ‘How?’ And he said, ‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ Then He said, ‘You are to entice him and also prevail. Go and do so.’

 


  • Question 1: Who are the gods in John 10;34- compare to Psalms 82;6- Are not these judges (men) of Israel, what are your thoughts on this?

 

Yeshua defends His divinity, John 10:22-39

Right off the bat, we want to say that we read John:10 and understand that the capture is about Yeshua defending His claim to being God’s Son and as such to be both divine and equal to the Father. Any different premise seems to go completely against the flow of the text and purpose of Yeshua’s public ministry. The whole context of the Gospel of John surrounds His divinity, right from the very first few verses of the book.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. ~ John 1: 1-3 NASB

 

The Pharisees certainly understood Yeshua’s claim that way. It should also be noted that Yeshua claimed His divinity back in John 8 too and made room for error in misunderstanding His claim.

 

The Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. “But I do not seek My glory; there is One who seeks and judges. “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death.” The Jews said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets also; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste of death.’ “Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be?” Jesus answered, “If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’; and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word. “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple. ~ John 8: 48-59 NASB

 

If you are an Orthodox Christian and believe that Yeshua is God in human form you cannot deny that Yeshua is claiming divinity here. He states that He existed before Abraham was and that He is calling Himself the I AM, in other words, Yahweh.

When faced with the same accusations two chapters on in John 10 to say that He denied His own divinity by supposedly pointing out that humans can be called divine beings absolutely defies reason.

Any theory about what Yeshua does or says in John:10 that undermines His claim to His divinity should be exposed for what it is, namely nonsensical and at worse insulting. Unintentional I’m sure, but insulting all the same.

Lets see how it plays out …

At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon. The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. “But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. “I and the Father are one.”

The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands. ~ John 10: 22-39 ESV

 

Each one of these claims in John:10 is a claim to be divine and equal to the Father.

  1. and I give eternal life to them.
  2. I and the Father are one.
  3. because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?

Whichever way you interpret Yeshua’s response to the Pharisees, it has to reinforce His statements 1 through 4  claiming equality to the Father. Yeshua would never deny His divinity because it is true and as He Himself said, the miracles He worked proved it.

There’s a series about how those miracles point directly to Yeshua’s divinity here:  Did the Pharisees really know that Jesus was the Messiah?

So the stage is set, the Pharisees rightly accuse Yeshua of claiming to be equal to Yahweh. Yeshua then replies to their accusation in verse 35 by quoting Psalm 82 as His defence in backing up His claim.

This is what our reader said:

Exactly how could the Pharisees consider it blasphemy if Father called men gods.
The answer is simple and consistent.

 

My answer is that Father never called men ‘gods’ in the sense that they were divine and to propose that Yeshua was denying His divinity or playing some kind of linguistic trick on the Pharisees is not consistent at all.

Yeshua quotes Psalm 82 …

Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? ~ John 10 ESV

 

We had better go have a close look at Psalm 82 …

God has taken his place in the divine council;
in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
“How long will you judge unjustly
and show partiality to the wicked? Selah
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

They have neither knowledge nor understanding,
they walk about in darkness;
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

I said, “You are gods,
sons of the Most High, all of you;
nevertheless, like men you shall die,
and fall like any prince.”

Arise, O God, judge the earth;
for you shall inherit all the nations! ~ Psalm 82 ESV

 

Those teachers that oppose the idea that these members of the divine council called elohim are not actually spiritual beings usually offer three main candidates from scripture. Each candidate or candidates is a type of judge or person in authority.

  1. Moses and Aaron
  2. A group of Judges under Moses
  3. The Judges that ruled Israel before the kings.

We will look at each of these candidates and compare them with the group in Psalm 82 starting with option 1 Moses:

Their proof text is based on this in Exodus 4

Then the anger of the LORD burned against Moses, and He said, “Is there not your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he speaks fluently. And moreover, behold, he is coming out to meet you; when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. “You are to speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I, even I, will be with your mouth and his mouth, and I will teach you what you are to do. “Moreover, he shall speak for you to the people; and he will be as a mouth for you and you will be as God to him. “You shall take in your hand this staff, with which you shall perform the signs.” ~ Exodus 4 NASB

 

Right off the bat we have a problem, Moses is told he will be as God and not actually called a god and that he was to be as God to Aaron, not the nation of Israel.
But even more obvious, Moses is but one person. Yahweh is addressing a group of beings not a single person.

Option number 2: The  group of Judges under Moses, this can be found in Exodus 18

Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing that you are doing is not good. “You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you, for the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone. “Now listen to me: I will give you counsel, and God be with you. You be the people’s representative before God, and you bring the disputes to God,  then teach them the statutes and the laws, and make known to them the way in which they are to walk and the work they are to do. “Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens. “Let them judge the people at all times; and let it be that every major dispute they will bring to you, but every minor dispute they themselves will judge. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. ~ Exodus 18 NASB

 

We will start by saying that nowhere in the text are any of these judges called divine or elohim (gods).

The same goes for option 3, the Judges that ruled Israel before the kings.

 

Big trouble

It is clear these elohim in Psalm 82, the members of the divine council are in big trouble for being unjust judges.

Nowhere in the text is there a record of these judges being wicked judges, nowhere in scripture is there a record of Yahweh holding a meeting with a group of Judges where he passes judgement on them, NOWHERE, not one single mention.
The judges in option 3,  the Judges that ruled Israel before the kings, ruled one at a time and were replaced only when they died. This disqualifies them for Psalm 82 where Yahweh addresses a group of elohim.

“How long will you judge unjustly
and show partiality to the wicked?

 

The Judgement of death

Nowhere in the scriptures were these judges told they would live forever like gods, yet in Psalm 82 Yahweh says the following.

I said, “You are gods,
sons of the Most High, all of you;
nevertheless, like men you shall die,
and fall like any prince.”

 

The threat of dying like a man when you are a man makes Yahweh’s judgement on them nonsensical and rather meaningless.

For us, the last problem is the most obvious. It’s a reference to Yeshua inheriting the nations.

Arise, O God, judge the earth;
for you shall inherit all the nations!

 

It seems obvious to us that these beings are the same beings, the sons of God that Yahweh gave the nations to in Deuteronomy 32:8.

 

When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,
when he divided mankind,
he fixed the borders of the peoples
according to the number of the sons of God. ~ Deuteronomy 32:8

 

In the next post, we will address another question regarding the nations being divided up according to the number of the sons of God vs the sons of Israel. Yet another nonsensical attempt at whitewashing the whole backdrop to the entire biblical narrative that will eventually end up with Yeshua overcoming these rebellious sons of God and taking the nations as His inheritance.

 

Let’s compare Psalm 82 with Psalm 2:

Arise, O God, judge the earth;
for you shall inherit all the nations! ~ Psalm 82 ESV

Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Your possession. ~ Psalm 2 NASB

 

Nowhere in the Bible did Yahweh give the nations into the hands of the human judges of Israel, only to take them back again.

 


So to end this post we will answer this last question in this section:

If God called the Israelites judges “gods” because they were agents of God’s revelation and will, how could it be blasphemy for Jesus to call himself the Son of God? Jesus was rebuking them because he is the Son of God in a unique, unparalleled relationship of oneness with the Father.-cf. John 10:34- If God would call mere men “gods”, why was it blasphemous for him , the Son of God, to declare himself equal with God as i have already said.

 

Firstly, we don’t believe that Yahweh called Israelite judges ‘gods’, there is no biblical evidence for this idea anywhere in scripture. Secondly, if Yahweh did call men ‘gods’ the Pharisees could not accuse Yeshua of blasphemy.
But then Yeshua clearly claimed to be divine by having the authority to forgive sin as He was one with the Father and that the Father was in Him and He in the Father.

None of the points raised in the Facebook comments make any sense unless you have an agenda to force them to make sense. The reader’s views are not supported by the text, but are an attempt to remove the supernatural battle between Yeshua and the spiritual beings that had control of the nations up until they were defeated at the cross.

All through the Old Testament the gods of these nations have been called elohim and are clearly real beings. The battleground is real, the spiritual beings are real, the battle for the nations that forms the backdrop for the entire Biblical narrative is real.

 


On our next post we will look at the remaining question:

It is Israel that God is talking about- Deut. 32:8-9- Song of Moses-When the Most High divided(gen 10,cf. Gen.11:7-Acts 17:26) to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam,, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.

 

But finally we will leave you with Psalm 89 …

The heavens will praise Your wonders, O LORD;
Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the holy ones.

For who in the skies is comparable to the LORD?
Who among the sons of the mighty is like the LORD,

A God greatly feared in the council of the holy ones,
And awesome above all those who are around Him?

O LORD God of hosts, who is like You, O mighty LORD?
Your faithfulness also surrounds You.

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