Pastor David B. Curtis


Media #743 MP3 Audio File Video File

Spiritual Warfare Pt 3:
Serpent or Shiny One?

Ephesians 6:10-12

Delivered 02/01/15

We are looking at the subject of spiritual warfare and primarily focusing on verse 12 of Ephesians 6:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 NASB

This text clearly tells us that they were in a spiritual battle with spiritual powers in the heavens that opposed Yahweh and His people. The language in this verse points to a battle that is not physical, but spiritual.

Last week I asked, "Who are these non flesh and blood world forces of darkness, spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places?" And I said, "I believe these are divine beings who were once part of Yahweh's divine council." The idea of a divine council may sound strange to you because most Christians today have never even heard of it. But, hopefully, I demonstrated that in the Hebrew Bible we see a divine council, a ruling body consisting of Yahweh as the supreme monarch and various supernatural attendants. John the baptizer's father, Zacharias, had a conversation with one of these council members in:

The angel answered and said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. Luke 1:19 NASB

The first biblical appearance of Gabriel is in Daniel 8:16, when he is told to explain a vision to the prophet. He is mentioned twice in Daniel and twice in Luke. Notice how Gabriel describes himself to Zacharias as, "one who stands in the presence of God." The Greek word for "stands" is paristáno, which means: "to wait before a superior." The Septuagint uses this word to describe how Joshua served Moses and how David assisted King Saul.

Later in Luke one we read:

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, Luke 1:26 NASB

Here Gabriel is bringing word to Mary about the birth of Yeshua.

When Daniel meets Gabriel, he is frightened and falls on his face. When Gabriel greets Zacharias, his first words are, "Do not be afraid." Mary's greeting is more celebratory, but Gabriel still follows up by telling her not to fear. So there is something about Gabriel's appearance that scares people.

Last week someone in the chat room asked, "My honest question is WHY DOES GOD NEED COUSELERS in heaven?" To which I ask, "Why did God need to create the universe? Why did God need to create man? Why did God need to send his Son to die for the sins of His elect?" What is the answer to all those questions? He doesn't and He didn't! Yahweh is the self existent One; He doesn't need anything. What ever He does is not out of need, but choice. Yahweh does not need counselors, but He does have a divine council. Why? Because He chooses to.

Last week I closed with the idea that Yahweh had allotted "the host of heaven," the watchers, to the peoples of the earth. Today I want to try to develop that idea through the first 11 chapters of Genesis.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1 NASB

In Genesis 1, we have the creation account. Now whether this is a physical creation or a functional creation is not important for our discussion. I lean toward a functional creation, which means the world had already been created by Yahweh at this time. When this creation of Genesis 1 took place the divine council had already been created. The council was in place before the physical creation. In Job 38:4-7, we see Yahweh questioning Job in order to prove a point to him. During that interrogation, He asks Job where he was during the creation of the universe:

"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 council members. Some folks see "sons of God" as humans, but how were humans at creation? Somebody please explain that to me. We also see this in:

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." Genesis 1:26 NASB

The use of plural pronouns here is evidence of the council. So Yahweh had His council before the creation of Genesis 1. Paul teaches us that Christ is the agent of creation:

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

In the phrase, "All things have been created 'through' Him," we see that Yeshua is the instrument of creation. He is the agent whereby the universe was created. He is the Creator. And creation is designed "for him." This is a term of purpose. Creation is designed for the glory of Christ. He is the goal of creation. Christ is glorified in creation.

In the creation account, God creates Adam:

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:27 NASB

We are created "as" the image of God, would be a better translation. This means that we are divine representatives. We are to represent Him, we are to do what Yahweh wants us to do as if He were physically present with us.

So Yahweh creates Adam. And according to Job, Adam had access to the council:

"Were you the first man to be born, Or were you brought forth before the hills? "Do you hear the secret counsel of God, And limit wisdom to yourself? Job 15:7-8 NASB

The first man, Adam, was in Eden in the council of Yahweh. Adam was in an intimate relationship with Yahweh.

They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Genesis 3:8 NASB

Adam and Eve walked in the garden with Yahweh. They dwelt in His presence. Eden is where Yahweh lives and issues decrees. He is with His heavenly host, who existed before humanity did. This is the divine council, the family of God, and Adam is there with them.

You know what happens next, man is tempted, and he sins. Who tempted him and why? I don't think it was a snake. I think in Genesis 3 we see one of the watchers, 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. I think that it is interesting that in the Quran it is said that Lucifer rebelled against Allah because he was told to bow down and worship the clay-born "man of earth," Adam, and refused. There may be some truth to that, some of the watchers may have been upset about Yahweh's creation of man and His admittance to the council. I asked, "Who tempted him and why?" The "why" we cannot be sure of, but I think we can understand the "who."

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. That we know, what we need to know is who or what is the "serpent." 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.

At the end of the creation account what happens? God rests. What does that mean? Was he tired from creating? No, John Walden, in his book, The Lost World of Genesis One, writes, "The difference is the piece of information that everyone knew in the ancient world and to which most modern readers are totally oblivious: Deity rests in a temple, and only a temple" (page 71). And what we need to see is that Eden compares to tabernacle or Temple, it is Yahweh's dwelling where the divine counsil was. In ANE culture God dwelt in the best places, a lush garden, an oasis or a mountain top. So Adam was created and brought into Yahweh's dwelling with His council.

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. Look at Isaiah 6:

In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. Isaiah 6:1-2 NASB

The word "seraphim" here mean: "the shining" or "blazing ones." But the Hebrew saraph as a noun means: "serpent." What we have here is a divine throne room and a throne room guardian (saraph).

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 counsil in Eden decides to deceive humanity to get rid of them; to get humans removed from Eden, from Yahweh's council and family. Why? I think the Scriptures hint at pride or jealousy.

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. These accounts reference Eden directly in Ezekiel's case, and indirectly in Isaiah's case.

In Genesis 3 the nachash (the serpentine, shining one, deceiver) was in the Garden of Eden where Yahweh walked. Notice what Ezekiel says:

"You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The ruby, the topaz and the diamond; The beryl, the onyx and the jasper; The lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; And the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, Was in you. On the day that you were created They were prepared. Ezekiel 28:13 NASB

These stones elsewhere describe the brightness of Yahweh's throne. So whoever this is talking about is in Yahweh's Temple, His throne room.

"You were the anointed cherub who covers, And I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked in the midst of the stones of fire. Ezekiel 28:14 NASB

"Anointed cherub"—anointed is the word mashach ,which may mean: "anointed," but it may come from a Semitic homonym, "to shine" (The shining cherub). Cherub and Seraphim are the same, in Assyrian it is a throne guardian. Brown- Driver- Briggs definition is: an angelic being, a guardian of Eden. The "cherub" serpent figure is in "midst of the stones of fire," which is the divine counsel. In this text Eden is called a garden and a mountain:

"Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre and say to him, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "You had the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. Ezekiel 28:12 NASB

Hebrew scholar, Michael Heiser, says, "Seal of perfection"—could mean: "serpent." In Semitic at times the "M" at the end of a noun is silent. It's called the enclitic mem. If that is the case here, we have het, vave, tav, which would be: "serpent of perfection." In Isaiah 14:12 we have:

"How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! Isaiah 14:12 NASB

"O star of the morning, son of the dawn"—is "Helel ben Shachar," which means: "the Shining one." Lucifer is the Latin vulgate translation of Helel (shining, a luminous being).

"But you said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north. Isaiah 14:13 NASB

The "mount of the assembly" is the home of Yahweh, the place of the divine council. This divine being seeks to usurp Yahweh. We already saw in Job 38 that the sons of God are described as the stars.

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. But then we have a promise from Yahweh:

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. But for now man is banished from the presence of Yahweh.

Even though man is removed from the Garden Temple, Yahweh is still communicating with man. Notice these three very important verses:

Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters. Genesis 5:22 NASB
Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him. Genesis 5:24 NASB
These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God. Genesis 6:9 NASB

"Walked with God"—is a very significant phrase. This phrase only occurs three times in the Bible and none in the New Testament. When God walks with men, it is a really rare thing. The first occasion of this was in Genesis 3, "LORD God walking in the garden." Adam was in that Garden, Adam walked with God in that Garden/Temple. Walking with God depicts a direct divine encounter, a direct divine relationship.

Sometimes we think that the people from Adam to Abraham were ignorant of Yahweh and His ways, but these men walked with Yahweh, they knew Him:

Then the LORD said to Noah, "Enter the ark, you and all your household, for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time. "You shall take with you of every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female; and of the animals that are not clean two, a male and his female; Genesis 7:1-2 NASB

Anything strike you as interesting in these verses? How did they know "clean" and "unclean" animals? The Law wasn't given until fourteen hundred years later. These men knew Yahweh, they had been given laws. They were in a relationship with Him.

Enoch and Noah are Yahweh's prophets according to Jude and Peter:

It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, Jude 1:14 NASB
and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 2 Peter 2:5 NASB

As earth's population grows it becomes wicked as a result of a divine rebellion as per Genesis 3 and 6. Man begins to worship the watchers instead of the watcher's creator, Yahweh. This rebellion of man culminates in building a ziggurat at Babel:

So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth. Genesis 11:8-9 NASB

Things are in a state of chaos. They are in rebellion against God, and they are judged. They will not follow Him so He disburses them and turns them over to lesser deities. This is a very significant text, which we learn more about in:

"When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, When He separated the sons of man, [Adam] He set the boundaries of the peoples According to the number of the sons of Israel. Deuteronomy 32:8 NASB

The English translations based on the traditional Hebrew text of the Tanakh read "sons of Israel." But there is a variant rendering of this passage. It's based on the 3rd-century BCE translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, the Septuagint, as well as Hebrew manuscripts of Deuteronomy found among the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran:

When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of men, He fixed the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the SONS OF GOD. DEUTERONOMY 32:8 RSV

Here is this same passage as it was rendered by Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton in his, 1851 translation of the Septuagint into English:

Remember the days of old, consider the years for past ages: ask thy father, and he shall relate to thee, thine elders, and they shall tell thee. 8 When the Most High divided the nations, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God. DEUTERONOMY 32:7-8

In the Septuagint the Greek phrase "aggelon theou" is translated: "angels of God." This interpretive phrase is found in nearly all the extant Septuagint manuscripts. However, several earlier manuscripts have instead "huion theou," or "sons of God." This is a literal rendering of the Hebrew phrase beney 'elohim found among the Dead Sea Scroll copies of Deuteronomy 32:8.

The Septuagint translators plainly understood that the "sons of God" (beney 'elohim) spoken of in Deuteronomy 32:8 and elsewhere were spirit beings ("angels"), and rendered it that way several times (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7) in order to clarify the meaning. Thus the textual change from "huion theou" to "aggelon theou."

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

Chapter 10 of Genesis is the backdrop for Moses' statement in Deuteronomy 32:8 that Yahweh is responsible for the creation and placement of the nations (Heb. goyim). In fact, variations of the same Hebrew root word parad ("separate") 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 angelic "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.

Literary and conceptual parallels discovered in the literature of Ugarit, however, have provided a more coherent explanation for the number 70 in Deuteronomy 32:8— and have furnished powerful ammunition to textual scholars who argued against the "sons of Israel" reading in MT. Ugaritic mythology plainly states that the head of its pantheon, El (who, like the God of the Bible, is also referred to as El Elyon, the "Most High") fathered 70 sons, thereby setting the number of the "sons of El" (Ugaritic, bn 'il). An unmistakable linguistic parallel with the Hebrew text underlying the LXX reading was thus discovered, one which prompted many scholars to accept the LXX reading on logical and philological grounds: God (El Elyon in Deut. 32:8) divided the earth according to the number of heavenly beings who already existed from the time of creation.

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 happens to them in chapter 12?:

Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father's house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; Genesis 12:1-2 NASB

Yahweh calls Abraham and starts over with Israel as His people. Yahweh starts a new family. He has turned over the nations to the lesser gods, who, in fact, work for Him. They are all under His control and He will some day call the nations back.

"When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, When He separated the sons of man, He set the boundaries of the peoples According to the number of the sons of God [Israel]. "For the LORD'S portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance. Deuteronomy 32:8-9 NASB

These two verses are fundamental for understanding the world view of Old Covenant Israel. These verses explain both the existence of the foreign pantheons and their inferiority to Yahweh.

Commenting on Deuteronomy 32:8-9, John Walton writes, "These verses are intended to contrast the fact that the Lord has set Israel apart unto himself from among all the nations, and Israel is not numbered with them. The nations have their own 'gods,' who are mortal, but they do not have Yahweh, who alone does not die and is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent." (John H Walton ,Professor of Old Testament, Wheaton College), Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary (Old Testament) Volume 1: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), 516

The word "portion" here is cheleq a noun related to nachal. The word "inheritance" is nachalah. Verse 9 clearly presents the nation of Israel (here called "Jacob") as an allotted inheritance of Yahweh. Whereas the inheritance of the nations was the sons of God. The point of verses 8-9 is that sometime after God separated the people of the earth at Babel and established where on the earth they were to be located, He then assigned each of the seventy nations to the fallen sons of God (who were also seventy in number).

According to Deuteronomy 4:19 this "giving up" of the nations was a punitive act:

"And beware not to lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve them, those which the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven. Deuteronomy 4:19 NASB

We saw in our study last week that the "host of heaven" referred to sentient created spiritual beings which reside in the heavens. Notice here that these "host of heaven" have been "allotted to the peoples." The word "allotted" in Hebrew is chalaq, which literally means: "apportioned" or "assigned." Here we are told that Yahweh has assigned "the host of heaven" to the peoples of the earth; meaning; "all non Israelites."

Israel is not to worship the watchers. Speaking of judgment that was to come upon disobedient Israel, Moses says:

"All the nations will say, 'Why has the LORD done thus to this land? Why this great outburst of anger?' "Then men will say, 'Because they forsook the covenant of the LORD, the God of their fathers, which He made with them when He brought them out of the land of Egypt. 'They went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods whom they have not known and whom He had not allotted to them. 'Therefore, the anger of the LORD burned against that land, to bring upon it every curse which is written in this book; Deuteronomy 29:24-27 NASB

These gods that Israel worshiped were "not allotted to them" those gods were allotted to the nations.

So at the tower of Babel Yahweh is done with the nations, they want to follow and serve the watchers above Yahweh. So Yahweh gives the watchers to rule over the nations, and in Chapter 12 He calls Abram and starts over with His own people Israel.

At Mt. Sinai Yahweh gives Israel, His people the decalogue:

Then God spoke all these words, saying, "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. Exodus 20:1-2 NASB

What is the very first command He gives them?:

"You shall have no other gods before Me. Exodus 20:3 NASB

They would not listen, and they followed after other gods, and Yahweh disciplined them.

I have been reading Deuteronomy this week, and I noticed that this phrase kept coming up:

'The LORD your God has multiplied you, and behold, you are this day like the stars of heaven in number. Deuteronomy 1:10 NASB

This phrase is used 279 times in Deuteronomy, and 161 additional times in the Tanakh. Yahweh was Israel's God, and they were to have no other gods before Him.

As we come to the New Testament we see in Acts 2 at Pentecost that God begins to reclaim all the nations for Himself. Yahweh, in other words, had not forever abandoned the nations. Even in the Old Covenant, Israel was to be a kingdom of priests, mediators between the disinherited nations and the true God.

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