In our last two studies of the eighth chapter of John we talked about Satan, and then the next week we talked about demons. So what I want to do this morning is to try to give you an overview of divine beings in the Bible. I want to give you a snap shot of what the Bible teaches us about these divine beings called Satan, Watchers, Nephilim and demons.
Let's start at the beginning. In the far reaches of eternity past Yahweh always existed. The Eternal God of the Bible has always existed and always will:
Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. Psalms 90:2 NASB
As El Olam, Yahweh is known as the Everlasting God. The Hebrew name Olam means: "forever, perpetual, old, ancient" implying that there is an infinite future and past. The principles of the laws of nature, the beginning of time, and the first existence of this world—are all the result of Yahweh, the Creator who possesses never-ending wisdom and power. He was before all time and all worlds.
So Yahweh existed from all eternity, Yahweh being the three persons of the divine Trinity; the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Then at a point in time Yahweh created other gods, lesser gods and angels to be part of His family, His divine council. Christ, who is Yahweh incarnate, is said to have created everything including other gods:
For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. Colossians 1:16 NASB
The phrase "all things" occurs six times in Colossians 1:15-20, and literally means: "the all" or "the totality" referring to The Creation. Yeshua designed all creation "visible" (that is, earthly kingdoms and empires) and "invisible" (that is, the divine principalities and powers). The words "thrones," "powers," "rulers" and "authorities" probably refer to spirit beings and not to human government. In part, this refers to the hierarchy of spiritual beings.
So who are these rulers and powers in the heavens? I believe these are divine beings who were once part of Yahweh's divine counsel. The idea of a divine council may sound strange to you because most Christians today simply view God as ruling, and Satan as opposing Him. Yahweh is seen as the only good deity, and Satan is seen as the only bad deity. But in the Hebrew Bible we see a divine council, a ruling body consisting of Yahweh as the supreme monarch and various supernatural attendants.
All ancient Mediterranean cultures had some conception of a divine council. But the Hebrew Bible describes a divine council under the authority of Yahweh, the God of Israel. While the divine council of Israel and its neighbors share significant features, the divine council of Israelite religion was distinct in many important ways. Yahweh is a unique God, but He is not alone.
The idea of a pantheon of gods in a heavenly council is witnessed to by various literary genres of the Hebrew Bible. It is mentioned in historical, narrative, and poetic passages, prophetic visions, Temple liturgy, and apocalyptic visions. It also transcends the historical time-line from the earliest primeval history to the final eschatological frontier. The concept and imagery of the divine council is woven throughout the pages of the Hebrew Bible:
A Psalm of Asaph. God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: Psalms 82:1 ESV
"Council" is from the Hebrew edah, and means: "a stated assemblage (specifically a concourse, or generally a family." The term "divine council" is used by Hebrew Bible scholars to refer to the "heavenly host" (the pantheon of divine beings who administer the affairs of the cosmos). It is the consensus among ANE scholars that every society from the time of the ancient Sumerians to the time of the Babylonians and the Greeks believed in a pantheon of gods.
Here "God" and "gods/rulers" are both the Hebrew word elohim; this is speaking of the divine counsel, or the "watchers," as Daniel calls them. We don't know at what point in time Yahweh created these other gods but we see that these gods were there when Yahweh created the world:
"Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? "On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together And all the sons of God shouted for joy? Job 38:4-7 NASB
Here "morning stars" and "sons of God" are names of divine beings, they are members of the divine council. Some folks see "sons of God" as humans, but how were humans at creation? So before the creation of the earth and man you have Yahweh and other (lesser created) divine beings that make up the divine council.
In Genesis we learn that the first man, Adam, was created by God and then brought into Eden, the cosmic mountain, the dwelling place of Yahweh, the place where Yahweh holds council. So Adam was brought into the garden, into an intimate relationship with Yahweh and the divine council. Adam and Eve walked in the garden with Yahweh. They dwelt in His presence.
You know what happens next, man is tempted, and he sins. The Book of Jubilees says that Adam was in the garden for seven years before he sinned. So what caused man to sin? The text says it was a serpent who tempted Eve, and Revelation 12:9 tells us that the serpent was Satan. They weren't tempted by a snake. I think in Genesis 3 we see one of the sons of God, a watcher, a council member, tempting man so he could get rid of him. God had made man vice regent with Him, and some of the watchers may not have been too happy about this:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?" Genesis 3:1 NASB
So we see here that it was the "serpent" who tempted them. I believe that this "serpent" was a divine being, it is not a member of the animal kingdom, but a member of the divine council. This watcher chose to oppose Yahweh's plan for humanity by prompting humans to disobey Yahweh, so they would either be killed or removed from Eden, Yahweh's council and family.
Let's look at the text in Genesis 3:1, "Serpent" here is from the Hebrew word nachash, which, according to Hebrew scholar Michael Heiser, "Is most likely a triple entendre, which is a word or phrase that has three different meanings at once. The root of nachash is (noon, het and sheen), which is the basis for a noun, a verb and an adjective in Hebrew. If you take nachash as pointing to the noun, the word here would mean: 'serpent.' This is a valid translation, but you must keep in mind that 'serpent' is not a member of the animal kingdom. If you were to take it as a verb, it would mean: 'deceiver' or 'diviner.' So nachash could imply a 'deceiver.'" This option also fits the story. As an adjective it would mean: "bronze," or "the shining one." In our text it is "ha nachash" (the Shining one). Luminosity is a characteristic of a divine being in the Hebrew Bible and in the ANE texts, luminosity is not the characteristic of an animal or a man. This is a divine being, not an animal or man. Would Eve carry on a conversation with a snake? I don't think so, but she would talk to a divine being. Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of God, they were very familiar with these divine beings.
So what we have in Genesis 3 is a divine being, not an animal, but a throne room guardian, a saraph, a serpentine being, one who was part of the divine council in Eden decides to deceive humanity to get rid of them; to get humans removed from Eden, from Yahweh's council and family. Why? Why does this divine being want man kicked out of Eden? I think the Scriptures hint at pride or jealousy. The Pseudepigrapha work called, Life of Adam and Eve, elaborates on the motive and role of Satan in the fall of humankind. In chapter 16 it states:
And the Lord God was angry with me [Satan] and banished me and my angels from our glory; and on your account we were expelled from our abodes into this world and hurled to the ground. Straight away we were overcome with grief, since we had been robbed of such great glory. And we were grieved when we saw you in such joy and luxury. And with guile I cheated your wife and through her action caused you to be expelled from your joy and luxury, as I have been driven out of my glory.
In 1 Enoch the temptation of Eve is attributed to Gadreel, here it is attributed to Satan. The link between Satan and the serpent is also attested in the book, The Life of Adam and Eve (33) and in the book of 2 Enoch (31). Both texts state it was the devil who led Eve astray. The Life Of Adam And Eve chapter 33 states:
Moreover the Lord God gave us two angels to guard us. The hour came when the angels had ascended to worship in the sight of God; immediately the enemy the devil found an opportunity while the angels were absent and the devil led your mother astray to eat of the unlawful and forbidden tree. And she ate and gave to me.
So the divine being, Satan, seems to have been jealous of man, and so got him to sin so Yahweh would kick him out of the cosmic mountain.
There are parallels between Genesis 3, Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:11-19. The passages in Isaiah and Ezekiel are about evil tyrant kings, whose pride is described in terms of an ancient story about a divine being who fell from paradise due to rebellion against Yahweh. This being talked about in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 was in Eden, he was a member of the divine council. This being tempts man, and man sins, he falls and is removed from Yahweh's Temple. He is put out of the Garden.
To most modern Christians, this event in Genesis 3 is the sole reason that mankind is as evil as they are. But to a Second Temple Hebrew this was only one of three events that caused man to be so sinful. And to them the event in Genesis 3 was low on the list.
Let me give you a quote from Michael S. Heiser, who is a Bible scholar who has a Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages. Heiser says:
"Ninety nine percent of Second Temple Judaism believed that the reason wickedness so permeates the earth is not just an extension and is in large part not even linked to what happened with Adam and Eve, but the reason that people are always and universally thoroughly wicked is because of what the Watchers did. Everybody in Paul's circle, everybody in Second Temple Judaism with the exception of four intertestamental references in intertestamental literature, everything says that the reason for the proliferation of evil is the sin of the Watchers, everything?" (Michael S. Heiser, "The Naked Bible Podcast" 2.0, Episode 94)
Before we look at the sin of the Watchers, notice Yahweh's promise after the fall of Adam and Eve:
And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel." Genesis 3:15 NASB
Eve's seed, a human being, will come and fix what Adam has done. A deliverer will come. It is my understanding that the gods understood this promise of a coming redeemer who would be human, so the gods next strategic move was an attempt to destroy the human race by genetically corrupting the human line so that it was no longer truly human. We see this in:
Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. Then the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years." The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. Genesis 6:1-4 NASB
The "Sons of God" of verses 2 and 4 are rebellious divine beings from God's heavenly host, also called "Watchers," which have taken the form of masculine human-like creatures. These gods married women of the human race (either Cainites or Sethites), thus violating the heavenly/earthly division that Yahweh established. The hybrid offspring of this abominable union was the giants called Nephilim. Nephilim were giants with physical superiority, and therefore, established themselves as men of renown for their physical power and military might. The meaning of the biblical word Nephilim has been a matter of unending controversy in Church history. That the word is still not translated into an English defined word but transliterated in most Bible translations is evidence of the fact that no agreement can be made over its original meaning. While word studies have produced numerous suggestions for the meaning of this term, the biblical definition of this word comes from its only other instance in Scripture:
"There also we saw the Nephilim [the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim]; and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight." Numbers 13:33 NASB
"We became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight"—this gives me the impression that the Nephilim were a race of giant super-humans who are the product of this angelic invasion of the earth.
The two passages quoted above are the only two places in the Bible where the Hebrew word Nephilim is used. What would surprise some Bible readers is that these are not the only places where the Nephilim are talked about in Scripture. Nephilim has a theological thread that begins in Genesis 6 and goes through all the way to the New Testament.
So what does the Hebrew word Nephilim mean? Some scholars looking at the root word claim that it means: "fallen ones" because that is what the Hebrew means: "to fall." But there is a problem, and that is that the Septuagint (LXX), which is sometimes quoted by the New Testament authors as authoritative, translates this word as "giants." Did those ancient Hellenized Jews not know the true meaning of the word? Or did they know something we don't? Most all the ancient Jewish sources understood this term to mean "giant." There are also some Second Temple Jewish texts that tell us that these were giants:
Jubilees 5:1 And when the children of men began to multiply on the surface of the earth and daughters were born to them, that the angels of the Lord saw…that they were good to look at. And they took wives for themselves from all of those whom they chose. And they bore children for them; and they were the giants.
Enoch says the flood was sent because of the Watchers. The voluntarily sexual transgressions of the women with the Watchers was a violation of heaven and earth, which caused the humans to share the blame. The wickedness of men was their sexual union with the Watchers.
The Nephilim (they are also called the Rephaim in the Tahakh) were already in the land when Abraham came to the promised land. They represent an attempt on the part of demonic powers to derail the divine program of bringing a Redeemer into the world through the human race.
If one of the main purposes of the flood was to wipe out the hybrid race, then why do we see giants after the flood? Let's look at:
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. Genesis 6:4 NASB
Please notice what it says, "and also afterward"— is this referring to after the flood? The Hebrew verb bo: "came in" is a euphemism for sexual relations. This verb is in the imperfect form, which denotes uncompleted ongoing action. The ensuing verb "bore children" is in a construction known as narrative sequence, meaning: "it carries the same action as the preceding verb." This answers the question, "How do you get giants after the flood?" The grammar indicates that the activity that created giants was ongoing. It happened before and after the flood. This is why Yahweh told Israel to totally wipe out different cultures. They were destroying these hybrids.
Enochian texts of the Intertestamental period and the New Testament tell us that these Watchers did two things to disrupt God's plan: 1. They raised up a seed to corrupt and oppose God's people and; 2. They helped humanity destroy itself. Enoch says:
1 Enoch 7:1-6 And all the others together with them took unto themselves wives, and each chose for himself one, and they began to go in unto them and to defile themselves with them, and they taught them charms and enchantments, and the cutting of roots, and made them acquainted with plants. And they became pregnant, and they bare great giants, whose height was three thousand ells: Who consumed all the acquisitions of men. And when men could no longer sustain them, the giants turned against them and devoured mankind. And they began to sin against birds, and beasts, and reptiles, and fish, and to devour one another's flesh, and drink the blood. Then the earth laid accusation against the lawless ones.
These watchers corrupted mankind and taught them all kinds of evil. They taught mankind to use certain technologies, they seduced them with aberrant sexual relationships. They helped humanity in the path of self-destruction.
So we have Satan corrupting man in the Garden, then we have Watchers/Sons of God corrupting the gene pool with hybrid beings, and we have the Nephilim corrupting and destroying humans in Genesis 6. What about demons? Where do they come in? Many theologians and Bible experts have traditionally taught that demons are simply fallen angels. The Bible never offers a point-blank explanation for where demons come from. What the New Testament refers to as demons, Jewish texts in between the Testaments actually have a very clear answer for this—and that is demons are the disembodied spirits of the dead Nephilim from Genesis 6:1-4. So demons are second generation divine beings. First Enoch says:
And now, the giants, who are produced from the spirits and flesh, shall be called evil spirits upon the earth, and on the earth shall be their dwelling. Evil spirits have proceeded from their bodies; because they are born from men and from the holy Watchers is their beginning and primal origin; they shall be evil spirits on earth, and evil spirits shall they be called. (Enoch 15:8-10)
These spirits that were once in bodily form in the Nephilim are once again seeking human hosts to reside in. These demons reek havoc on the earth:
And the spirits of the giants afflict, oppress, destroy, attack, do battle, and work destruction on the earth, and cause trouble: they take no food, but nevertheless hunger and thirst, and cause offences. And these spirits shall rise up against the children of men and against the women, because they have proceeded from them. And at the death of the giants, spirits will go out and shall destroy without incurring judgment… (Enoch 15:11-16:1)
What we need to understand is that this Second Temple Literature is the context of the New Testament. All the Biblical writers were familiar with and influenced by Second Temple literature. The context of the Bible is the people who produced it. When we read the New Testament we must perceive and consider it like a first century Jew would. We must have their supernatural world-view in our heads.
From the writings of the Second Temple Period we see that they believed that the reason that wickedness so permeates the earth was a result of three incidents,
1) the fall of Adam and Eve
2) the sin of the Watchers in Genesis 6
3) The Tower of Babel in Genesis 11
Tower of Babe—Because of Genesis 3, the fall, and Genesis 6, men were evil and disobedient to Yahweh and in Genesis 11 it reaches its summit in the Tower of Babel. In Genesis 10, the table of nations, Yahweh divides Noah's descendants into 70 different nations. This is recorded in:
These are the families of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, by their nations; and out of these the nations were separated on the earth after the flood. Genesis 10:32 NASB
It is important to note that Israel is not listed in the index of the 70 nations found in Genesis 10. The nation of Israel did not yet exist at that time. What happens at Babel is man's disobedience causes Yahweh to divide them up and give them to the lesser gods. They were to worship the lesser gods because Yahweh was done with them. Man continued to reject Yahweh and serve other gods so Yahweh gave them up. What happened in Genesis 10 and 11 is explained in:
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 ESV
Here we see that Yahweh is responsible for the creation and placement of the nations (Heb. goyim). In fact, variations of the same Hebrew root word parad ("divided") are used in both Genesis 10:32 and Deuteronomy 32:8.
The idea that the separation of mankind into 70 nations at the Tower of Babel was by and for the "sons of God" is supported by the ancient Book of Jasher (which is mentioned in Joshua 10:13, "Is it not written in the book of Jashar?" and 2 Samuel 1:18, "it is written in the book of Jashar.")
And they built the tower and the city, and they did this thing daily until many days and years were elapsed. 32 And God said to the seventy angels who stood foremost before Him, to those who were near to Him, saying, Come let us descend and confuse their tongues, that one man shall not understand the language of his neighbor, and they did so unto them. JASHER 9:31
If in Deuteronomy 32, Moses was indeed referencing Yahweh's separation of the nations according to Noah's offspring (specifically their physical separation at the Tower of Babel), it is important to note that Israel is not listed in the index of the 70 nations found in Genesis 10. The nation of Israel did not yet exist at that time. Therefore, the statement that God "set the boundaries of the nations according to the number of the children of Israel" clearly seems out of context here.
I think that the Watchers were jealous of Yahweh bringing man into sacred space, the garden, so the serpent got them kicked out of the garden. Then Yahweh told of His plan to redeem man by the seed of the woman, so the Watchers sought to pollute the human race to stop the plan of redemption. The flood and the holy wars of Israel wiped out this hybrid race. And the god-man, Yeshua, came and provided redemption for His elect:
Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; 7 but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; 1 Corinthians 2:6-8 NASB
Who are these rulers? Most would say they are the Jewish rulers. And that is possible, but I think this is a reference to the watchers, the spiritual rulers, the anti Yahweh forces. In a Greek translation of Daniel, a text many scholars consider even older than the Septuagint currently in use, the prince of Persia and Israel's prince, Michael, are both described with the Greek word archon. That is the term Paul uses here for "rulers."
Paul says that had "the rulers of this age" known what God's plan of redemption was—that the messiah must die to accomplish salvation—they "would not have crucified the Lord of glory." They would not have crucified Him because they wanted to thwart the plan of redemption.
The wisdom and rulers of "this age" were coming to nothing, because the age was passing away. He is speaking of the spiritual archon, which were about to be judged at the end of the Old Covenant system. These rulers would shortly have no realm in which to rule, because "this age" was about to end.
At the cross these spiritual beings were defeated and at Pentecost Yahweh begins to reclaim all the nations for Himself. Yahweh, in other words, had not forever abandoned the nations to the watchers:
Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come. Luke 10:1 NASB
What is the significance of "seventy"? Remember, the number of nations listed in the Table of Nations in Genesis 10 that Yahweh disinherited was seventy. Since Luke viewed the Gospel as God's plan for reclaiming the nations He disinherited at Babel, the number of disciples in Luke 10:1 was meant to match the number of nations to reinforce this symbolism.
Yeshua's inauguration of the Kingdom meant that these 70 disinherited nations were being reclaimed. Sending out 70 disciples expressed this theological message:
The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name." And He said to them, "I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. "Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. Luke 10:17-19 NASB
In conjunction with the successful mission of the "seventy," Yeshua declares the expulsion of Satan from God's presence. Satan is being defeated, and the nations are being made part of the Kingdom of God.
I believe that since AD 70 with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple Satan, watchers, and demons are all defeated foes. Their purpose was to stop the work of Christ in redeeming man, and that work was completed in AD 70 with the second coming, the resurrection, and the judgment.
The spiritual gifts all ended in AD 70 and one of those gifts was the gift of power. The purpose of the gift of power was to deal with demons. The gift is gone because the demons are gone, and it is no longer needed.
But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 1 Corinthians 12:7 NASB
and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 1 Corinthians 12:10 NASB
The Greek word used here for miracle is dunamis, which means: "power or inherent ability." It is used of works of a supernatural origin and character, such as could not be produced by natural agents and means. The gift of miracles was the supernatural ability to cast out demons. It is the gift of power over the forces of evil.
Dunamis is the same word that is translated power throughout the Gospels. Dunamis or power appears as the point at which Yeshua defeated Satan again and again. Whenever Christ spoke the word, the demons were forced to obey Him:
And amazement came upon them all, and they began talking with one another saying, "What is this message? For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits and they come out." Luke 4:36 NASB
The apostles used this gift to defeat Satan by casting out demons:
"Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give. Matthew 10:8 NASB
The main thrust of the gift of miracles seems to be the casting out of demons. This sign gift, as the others, was only temporary. Once the Lord returned the gifts died out. We don't have this gift today because we no longer need it, Satan the demons, and the lesser disobedient gods have all been destroyed. The battle is over, through His death, resurrection, and second coming Yeshua brought God's elect back into the Garden of God. We are back in fellowship with Yahweh and no power can hinder that. The damage that Satan, the watchers, and demons has caused has all be repaired in Christ.