Divine Council – Part 3

Stranger things = Those fringe[1] subjects of the Bible which exist at the intersection of the supernatural and natural, the immaterial and material worlds.

Why we are discussing these kinds of subjects = So that we are viewing of our world in the same way Jesus and those living in the ancient near east (the bible’s authors) viewed their world since this is not only the real world but also vital to proper biblical interpretation (or the avoidance of projecting on the text/reading into the text our modern ideas and assumptions [eisegesis] – e.g., Gen 2:18-20).

“It would be dishonest of us to claim that the biblical writers read and understood the text the way we do as modern people, or intended meanings that conform to theological systems created centuries after the text was written. Our context is not their context. The proper context for interpreting the Bible is …not the modern world at all, or any period of its history. The proper context is the context of the biblical writers-the context that produced the Bible…The biblical context was produced by men who lived in the ancient near east (ANE). Seeing the Bible through the eyes of an ancient reader [therefore] requires shedding the filters of our [modern] traditions and presumptions. They processed life in supernatural terms.” – Michael S. Heiser (The Unseen Realm)

Divine council (def.,): a heavenly assembly of beings who have been deputized by God to function as His vice-regents on earth governing and judging the nations on His behalf.

1. Biblical evidence of their existence

(Psa 82:1-8)

(1) “God (Heb., elohim [singular – see underlined] = Divine being/God) takes His stand taking His stand(participle -singular) in His own the divine (Heb., be el = the divine [See ESV], e.g., el shaddai = God of the mountain, Gen 35:11) congregation (or council); He judges in the midst of the rulers (or gods) (Heb., elohim [plural – see verse 2], “you” [plural] = Divine beings/Gods/gods). See also verse 6, “I said, ‘you are gods’” (again, elohim).

2. Who are the plural elohim that make up this divine council? After considering the possible options, there is only one that meets all the biblical tests: the anointed priests and levites (judges) of the covenant community.[2]

3. What are the practical implications and application associated with the God’s divine council being the priests and levites in Christ’s churches (the New Covenant community)?

3.1. Deacons/officers are a part of the DC by proxy (i.e., they are deputized not anointed, e.g., Korah the levite – Num 16:3 “we are all holy” [anointed]) (Deu 21:5 [priests are judges] w/2Sa 15:1-4 and 2Ch 26:21 [kings are judges] = Deu 17:8-9) = The king and priests are the anointed judges in the CC (high court judges or divines[3]). Levites and the heads of households help the king and priests in judging. They are the low court judges (2Ch 19:8). They have been deputized to represent the high court judges – i.e., the divine council or council possessing divines or those w/divine authority/anointing (Deu 16:18 “judge the people…tribes…in all your towns”; “judging ones [participle; the wise heads of household in each tribe[4]] and officers” [Levites] versus 17:8-9 “if any… cases of dispute” are “too difficult…then you shall arise and go to…the Levitical priests and judge” [priests and king/the anointed/divines]; NC = Pastors and deacons, Isa 66:21 [priests and deacons selected as heads of their households] w/1Ch 17:6 “the judges of Israel whom I commanded to shepherd My people”).

3.2. Jesus confirms that the NC possesses a DC just like the OC which means there is supernatural authority, power, protection and guidance in our church that Jesus Himself backs up or supports – which is what makes it a divine council issuing divine judgments:

1) (Mat 18:15-16) = [Deu 16:18, 17:6],

2) (Mat 18:17a) = [Deu 17:8],

3) (Mat 18:17b-20) = [Deu 17:9-12].

3.3. The way God perfectly cares for and leads His people to heaven is through the fallible and fallen leadership of His DC which means:

1) though fallible and fallen, God’s DC can judge/rule with justice (or equity) and righteousness (e.g., 2Sa 8:15).

2) unless it can be disproven to the congregation, our default position as a congregation should be to view the decisions and judgments made by our DC as coming directly from God (Pro 16:10; 2Co 1:21 w/4:6-7; Consider also 1Ti 3:1-16 = The P+D are what make the church the pillar and buttress [fortress] of truth; Mat 10:40 and 18:19-20; Act 15:22).


3.4. Anyone who thinks the church possesses no DC (i.e., no human judges w/divine authority):

1) is ignorant of the Scriptures and God’s power (in the church) (Mat 22:29).

2) has not considered the implications of such thinking w/respect to not only the preservation of justice and righteousness in the church but protection from demons and demonic influence (e.g., how many of us wb okay w/getting rid of the American judicial system which appoints secular men as judges w/final authority in relation to laws and issues of justice? If we deem them necessary to procuring the aforementioned things in this country, why would the same not be necessary for the church? [1Co 6:3-4]. Do we not view the secular judges as possessing authority from God? [Rom 13:1] Then why not those leaders in the church?).

3) are more than likely rebels who despise such authority or judges since they are a threat to their wicked way of life (Pro 21:15).

3.5. The church’s DC will be under stricter judgment by God and so should be careful in their decisions and judgments to make sure they are always promoting justice and preserving equity (Deu 16:20; Jam 3:1; the result of such carefulness wb the ignorant/disobedient viewing many of their decisions/policies as petty or unrighteous – e.g., late = absent; Pro 28:5).

3.6. Understanding that the DC in the church is actually referred to as elohim, brings further clarity and certainty to why insubordination or insurrection amounts to apostasy from God (Deu 17:9-12 [Num 15:30-31; Deu 29:18-20] w/Mat 18:17b-20 [Mat 12:32]; Mat 10:14-15; Rom 13:2 w/5; the crayon-eaters dilemma = When you refuse or reject the counsel of the DC, you have pushed your case to God on J-Day – which allows for no recourse/redemption after judgment).

3.7. It makes sense that the DC of the church will be involved in the final judgment of those who were a part of their congregation given they will also be involved in the judgment of those angels who caused their office and congregation pain and distress (1Co 6:3 = Those angels who caused trouble to the CC over which that DC was responsible. The righteous angels will face no judgment; Heb 13:17; Hence why then even the archangel Michael chose never to speak against the DC – Jud 8-9; Consider the context of Jude: humans treading where no angel would dare to tread; 1Th 5:12-13 “live in peace w/one another” = CC w/their DC; Num 12:1 w/9-10).

3.8. The existence of a DC in the church means that though Jesus has left us for heaven, He has not left us as orphans (i.e., persons w/o a father – or one who through their vision and discernment, discipline and discipleship, provides them with the tools to prospering in this world and passing the eternal test).

In the ANE, it was assumed that those w/o fathers were also those w/o the proper leadership in their lives to become wise or make wise decisions. Orphans – or those left as orphans, were as a result, often the idiots and criminals of society.

How (then) Jesus (though again in heaven), keeps His church from becoming aimless idiots and crooks who ultimately damn their souls b/c of such folly or lack of wisdom = Through the special anointing of “another Helper…the spirit of truth…the Holy Spirit” on certain members of His DC (Joh 14:16-18a w/25-26).

Why we cb confident that John 14 is a reference to the HS’ special anointing of the priests (in Jesus’ DC) and not the HS given to all at baptism:

1) bc the three things Jesus says about it are in perfect agreement w/what Jesus says at the initial special anointing: 1] He will personally deliver it after His death (18-20), 2] it will be associated w/Jesus’ special peace (26-27), 3] it will strengthen their belief (28-29). All three of these things are only found in (Joh 20:19-22).

2) the purpose of the John 14 HS is not the purpose of the Spirit given at baptism/@Pentecost. It can make someone a prophet (the gift of revelation – Act 2:15-18) but not a judge/part of the DC (the gift of remembrance in re: to truth – Joh 14:26; Consider also 1Co 15:29 “others judge” = The judges/DC [v28 w/Act 15:19 “my judgment” = James the anointed priest]. IOW: prophets are not judges. What about the prophet Samuel who “judged Israel”? [1Sa 7:15] Sam was also a priest – 1Sa 2:18 w/22:18 and 7:9 in contrast to 13:12]).

[1] Subjects not part of the mainstream; topics or understanding that are unconventional and/or uncomfortable to modern culture and thinking.

[2] In the ANE, the spiritual realm and humanity were inextricably linked. To believe in the spiritual realm meant also believing that its supernatural power had also been given to certain humans who functioned as authorities within specific spiritual communities. Those communities were identified as religions (or the old term, cults) and the dispensers of this power, their priests (e.g., Psa 132:16). To assume then that no such power or authority existed – or still exists today, would have been for those in the Bible, the same as believing the spiritual realm itself was fantasy. The question should therefore never be, are their human beings functioning as God’s divine council today? But rather, who are they?

[3] Old term for priests and theologians (e.g., Westminster Divines)

[4] In ancient times, being the head of a household or tribe did not require you be the oldest in the family (e.g., David; hence Psa 119:100). It meant that those in the community (or household) viewed you as among the wisest and most righteous of their clan (Exo 18:21).

A Tale of Two Kings: David

1. David had all the potential to be a great king.

– 16:1, 5-13 = Divine blessing, confirmation, & guidance

**notice however, humble beginning

**notice also, God’s choice for ‘most likely to succeed’ v.7

16:18; 17:4-11, 26, 32-37, 45-47; 18:30 = Courageous, confident, & great leader (vs Saul hiding in the luggage), giving guarantees ahead of time.

2. David demonstrates his righteous careful character through extreme trials.

18:10-11, 17, 19, 25, 19:6, 9-12, 18, 20:41-42, 21:13-22:2, 22:21-23 = Saul’s attempts to kill David -> Saul makes aggressive efforts to kill him, David loses one of his best friends, flees like a criminal, makes himself look insane, and Saul kills the priests in pursuing David.

*23:1-14 = stands up to his people, seeks God’s guidance

*24 = David’s test of sparing Saul’s life & standing up to his men. Attention to detail despite everything pointing to God’s deliverance.

*26 = David spares him again & again stands up to his men.

*30 = David’s own peeps talk of stoning him. Seeking God through the situation is part of being righteous.

2Sa 1 & 4 = David continuing to respect the King’s office

2Sa 7 = David’s covenant with God

8:15 = justice and equity

9:1-13 = David’s integrity

Character tests = Spares Saul’s life, is pressured by his men, is under threat of being stoned, David is reliant on God, trusts God, continues to pray to God (ref Psalms)

3. David saves his soul by submitting faithfully and quickly to God’s discipline.

2Sa 11 = David’s complacency leads to committing serious sin.

2Sa 12:1-25 = discipline (Psalm 51)

*Notice that David accepts what God uses to punish him. David doesn’t mope around.

*Ref David’s continued rapport with Nathan all the way into 1Kings

2Sa 15-18 Absalom’s rebellion and David’s response.

David ends his life with the legacy of a man after God’s own heart intact, ‘faithful in all things’, (Act 13:22; 1Kings 15:3-5)

Concluding principles that come from comparing Saul & David’s life:

1. What makes a man mighty in God’s eyes is not his ability to physically conquer but rather his commitment to carefully obeying God.

2. Response to discipline is a defining moment and test for people, possibly more than anything else.

3. Having the deck stacked in your favor is an indicator of future POTENTIAL, not future SUCCESS.

New principles from David’s life

1. Complacency kills. (David’s comfy in his palace instead of going to battle, Pro 1:32)

2. God expects us to respond righteously to authority even if/when they respond unrighteously. (Rom 13; 1Ti 5:19; 1Pe 3; Mat 5:38-41)

3. God expects us to be faithful, NOT perfect.

4. Growing distant from church members and/or your pastor(s) after discipline is a huge red flag. (notice David’s continued comms with Nathan vs Saul)

5. God doesn’t hold grudges. (He will bless and work all things for good if you’ll just turn and be faithful to Him. e.g. God doesn’t desire the death of the wicked [Eze 18, 33], and uses Bathsheba to continue David’s bloodline)

6. God demands our attention to detail even under pressure. (David slows down when pressured to kill Saul, doesn’t violate God’s command about building the temple, etc. vs Saul’s compromise, or Moses’ rush to strike the rock)

7. God expects you to honor your covenants/keep your word even to your own detriment. (Psa 15:4; 1Sa 20:14-17 w/ 2Sa 21:1-2)

8. Your sin has consequences and God expects you to accept that and move on. (David’s life was characterized by trouble after what happens with Bathsheba, but he doesn’t complain about it)

9. It’s important to be in your place when the fighting starts. (You don’t have to go sword to sword but do your part! This requires sacrifice, the good of the “ nation” over personal achievement/comfort. Don’t be someone who sits on the sideline or worse, thinks we shouldn’t be fighting)

Closing Contemplation: at the end of your life, will your choices reveal you to have been more like Saul or David?