Now at that same time there were some present who were reporting to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you think that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered these things? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you think that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse offenders than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:1-5 LSB
Yeshua countered the popular narrative concerning these terrible events – they were not God’s punishment on the individuals involved for their personal sins, but they were a warning to all that apart from repentance we will perish.
And He was telling this parable: “A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and did not find any. And he said to the vineyard-keeper, ‘Behold, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?’ And he answered and said to him, ‘Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in manure, and if it bears fruit next year, fine, but if not, cut it down.’” Luke 13:6-9 LSB
Repentance bears fruit. John the baptizer had warned them before: “The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew 3:10 NIV). During this the third year of His ministry, Yeshua now bemoans: Behold, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree without finding any. God’s goodness is to lead men to repentance, the nation of Israel were experiencing His goodness in all Christ was doing and teaching, yet there had been no national repentance.
Shabbat Teaching in a Synagogue
The next time we read of Yeshua, He’s no longer with the innumerable multitude but in a synagogue on shabbat, teaching the people.
And He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who for eighteen years had a sickness caused by a spirit, and she was bent double, and could not straighten up at all. But when Jesus saw her, He called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your sickness.” And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made erect again and began glorifying God.
But the synagogue official, indignant because Jesus healed on the Sabbath, answered and was saying to the crowd, “There are six days in which work should be done; so come during them and get healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites, does not each of you on the Sabbath release his ox or his donkey from the stall and lead it away to water it? And this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for—behold—eighteen years, should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day?” And as He said this, all His opponents were being put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing over all the glorious things being done by Him. Luke 13:10-17 LSB
Once again the gentle love and purity of Yeshua’s actions generates conflict instead of peace in the community. His enacting of the kingdom rule of God is in stark parallel with the opposition that the coming of the kingdom provokes. Satan, the accuser, had bound this humble woman for eighteen cruel years but lost his hold immediately Yeshua spoke to her. She was set free and began glorifying God. But the proud synagogue official allied with the accuser in seeking to denigrate her for being healed on Shabbat. Yeshua replaced the woman’s shame with honour by referring to her as “a daughter of Abraham” and is so doing placed the shame where it belonged – on the accuser.
The synagogue official’s offence lay in his interpretation of Deuteronomy 5: 12-14: Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work. Yeshua’s interpretative strategy involved reading on, and more fully, to expound the theological principle of Sabbath observance rather than offering a mere surface reading. His response simply continues reading Deuteronomy 5 into its immediate context (Vs 14-15): On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.
Sabbath means rest and liberation, not only for God’s people but also for the ‘ox and the donkey’ that Yeshua mentions. He again employs the first of Hillel’s rabbinic rules of exegesis – qal wahomer, “light to heavy.” Essentially this rule posits that what applies in a less important case (the “light”) will also apply in a more important case (the “heavy”), often using the phrase “how much more” to draw a conclusion. Here Yeshua argues, if you are prepared to offer Sabbath rest to your animals, surely you cannot withhold this from a precious daughter of Abraham? The Sabbath itself is a reminder of the release from captivity that God effected – if they thus release their animals to water them on Shabbat how much more should this child of Abraham be released from the bondage of disease on Shabbat! Setting people free is not only not a breach of Shabbat but provides a perfect illustration of the meaning and purpose of Shabbat.
It is worth noting that the cause of this woman’s ailment is attributed to a spirit, and Yeshua’s healing released her whom ‘Satan has kept bound’, but it is not described as demonic, nor does her … there is no sense in which this is described as exorcism from demon possession; the language of ‘demon’ or ‘unclean spirit’, and the actions of ‘possession’ and ‘expelling’, found in other gospel accounts of exorcism, and are all absent here. Rather, the physical and the spiritual are seen as inextricably interlinked; it is striking that when she is physically able to stand and look up, this woman immediately breaks into praise to God (surely the purpose of Shabbat). The cause of physical ailments is cosmological disorder and healing is an act of liberation from satanic bondage, it involves direct engagement in cosmic conflict, in the kingdom of God expanding and being manifest on the earth, overthrowing the rule of darkness.
Therefore, He was saying, “What is the kingdom of God like, and to what shall I compare it? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and threw into his own garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.” And again He said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three sata of flour until it was all leavened.” Luke 13:18-21 LSB
Having displayed the kingdom of God in healing the woman, Yeshua reiterated (Matthew 13 and Mark 4) two parables teaching on this kingdom. They are two parables by which Christ foretells the great success of the gospel, despite the present small appearance of the efficacy of it, like the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands in Daniel 2, that grew to fill the whole earth.
Proceeding on His way to Jerusalem
And He was passing through from one city and village to another, teaching, and proceeding on His way to Jerusalem. Luke 13:22 LSB
The point here is that Yeshua was teaching everywhere He could as He proceeded in determination toward His crucifixion in Jerusalem. Everything is leading towards that fateful day when He paid the price for our sins.
And someone said to Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ And He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me, all you workers of unrighteousness.’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being cast out. And they will come from east and west and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last.” Luke 13:23-30 LSB
We are to consider the question of salvation with reference to ourselves, not with reference to others. It is not “do they qualify to be saved”, but “do I qualify to be saved?” Have we entered through the narrow door or are we relying on knowing about Jesus or seeing His works, or our religious heritage to earn a place in the kingdom of God?
Just at that time some Pharisees approached, saying to Him, “Leave and go from here, for Herod wants to kill You.” And He said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish.’ Nevertheless I must journey on today and tomorrow and the next day, for it is not possible that a prophet would perish outside of Jerusalem. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you did not want it! Behold, your house is left to you desolate, and I say to you, you will not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Luke 13:31-35 LSB
There is some evidence that Yeshua was during this time ministering in the towns and cities of the Peræan area “beyond the Jordan”, and thus His journeys may have brought Him near Machærus, where John the baptizer had been imprisoned and murdered, and in which was one of Herod’s most stately palaces. Thence the Pharisees may have come with a threat, in which we may possibly trace the hand of Herodias, and which, at least, reminds us of the message sent by Jezebel to Elijah (1Kings 19:2). Yeshua was not perturbed, this threat aroused no fear in Him, He knew the Father’s will and sovereignty, neither Herod nor anyone else could take Him before it was His time to lay His life down for us all and that would not happen here, for Jerusalem was the appointed place and Passover the appointed time. He would not enter Jerusalem again until the triumphal entry when the people cried out: “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
1. HELPS Ministries. The Discovery Bible. [Online] https://thediscoverybible.com/. 2. Stern, David H. Complete Jewish Bible (CJB). 1998. 3. Holy Bible.New International Version. s.l. : Zondervan Publishing House, 1984. 4. —. New American Standard Bible. LaHabra, CA : The Lockman Foundation, 1995, 2020. 5. The Lockman Foundation. The Legacy Standard Bible. [Online] https://lsbible.org/. 6. Bible Commentaries. Luke 12:5. Bible Hub. [Online] [Cited: December 27th, 2022.] https://biblehub.com/commentaries/luke/12-5.htm. 7. Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary. Luke 12:1. Study Light. [Online] [Cited: December 28th, 2022.] https://www.studylight.org/commentary/luke/12-1.html. 8. Paul, Ian. The many layers of the story of the women bent double in Luke 13. Psephizo. scholarship. serving. ministry. [Online] August 21st, 2019. https://www.psephizo.com/biblical-studies/the-many-layers-of-the-story-of-the-women-bent-double-in-luke-13/. 9. Burer, Michael H. Qal wahomer: light to heavy. Exegesis for Christ, the Gospel, and the Church. [Online] July 11th, 2012. https://michaelhburer.wordpress.com/2012/07/11/qal-wahomer-light-to-heavy/.
In the comments section below share your thoughts on what you have read and answer some of the following questions…
* What are the warnings Jesus gave us in this chapter? * What do we learn from the woman’s healing in the synagogue on the Sabbath? * What do we learn about the kingdom of God from this chapter in Luke’s gospel?
Please read Matthew 19:1-2, Mark 10:1, Luke 12 & John 10:40-42
Spring is approaching. It is the last months of Yeshua’s ministry. He is still in, or around, Jerusalem in His homeland of Judea (forHe was born in Bethlehem), right under the noses of the religious leaders who were feeling so threatened by Him, and the masses kept gathering and gathering to follow Him. Των μυριαδων του οχλου = myriads of people. A μυριάδων (myriad) is literally ten thousand, so myriads would literally mean more than twenty thousand, but the word is often used figuratively to signify a crowd or multitude too numerable to be counted. There had been no waning in Yeshua’s popularity, indeed it kept increasing, thereby increasing the threat felt by the Jewish leaders. Their sense of threat was not just envy that He was more popular than they, there was a genuine fear of what the Romans would do if this growing movement aroused their attention, and this was the largest group of people to gather around Yeshua thus far. Everyone was jostling to get closer to Him, to hear His words, to touch His garment, to make contact with this Son of Man who brought hope.
When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. Matthew 19:1-2 NIV
Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to Him, and as was His custom, He taught them. Mark 10:1 NIV
In the meantime, when an innumerable multitude of people had gathered together, so that they trampled one another, He began to say to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.” Luke 12:1-3 NKJV
Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There He stayed, and many people came to Him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.” And in that place many believed in Jesus. John 10:40-42 NIV
Fear leads to hypocrisy as people seek to hide what is in their hearts. These religious leaders who made such a show of building lavish tombs for the prophets of old were, behind closed doors, rejecting the One those prophets had foretold and plotting to kill the Son of God. Notice that this warning against hypocrisy was directed firstly to our Lord’s talmidim (disciples), those who would in time become the leaders of the early church. They would face the same temptations to hypocrisy that had ensnared the Pharisees and Torah experts. They needed to be diligent in guarding themselves against such. Likewise, all who would follow them into leadership in the body of Christ need to guard against hypocrisy in our own lives. It is a warning for us as much as it was for them. Yeshua promises to make the hypocrites fail – to unmask for all to see what they are hiding. He loves us too much to allow any evil to remain hidden where it can continue and grow. We see the fulfilment of this promise in every church scandal that is exposed.
“And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell (Gehenna); yes, I say to you, fear Him! Luke 12:4-5 NKJV
Yeshua encouraged His followers that there’s no need to fear the Romans, nor even their own religious leaders, but let the fear of God banish all these other fears. Gehenna (גי הנםGê Hinnom, Valley of Hinnom) was a Hebrew word, and corresponded primarily to Hebrew conceptions. The Valley of Hinnom, was originally a pleasant valley outside Jerusalem, which had first been rendered infamous by the child sacrifices of Molech worship; then defiled by Josiah with corpses; and lastly kept from putrefaction by large fires to consume the corpses and prevent pestilence. This once fair valley, thus successively defiled with hideous corrupting rites, by putrefying corpses, and then with blazing fires lit to consume what would otherwise have occasioned pestilence, was taken by rabbinical writers as a symbol for the place of torment.
Notice that Yeshua addresses this warning to His friends. It was not so much a rebuke as an encouragement to look beyond their current circumstances and lay aside the fear of man for the fear of God. We can respond poorly when it feels like our life has been ripped from our control and placed in the hand of others with evil intent. Yeshua here reminds us that we are not really in the hands of those who may be seeking to do us harm, rather we remain for all eternity in God’s hands – don’t focus on how much control ungodly men have over our temporal destiny, instead focus on how much control God has over our eternal destiny. Be a God-fearer, not a man-fearer.
“Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:6-7
The One who has control over our eternal destiny greatly loves us, and cares about every detail of our lives, to the extent of keeping a count of the number of hairs on our head. Yes, He cares more about us than we care about ourselves.
Our creator cares deeply for all of His creation, even tiny sparrows that we place so little value on. So do not fear, even if your life is threatened, even if your enemy seems to be succeeding against you, even when you are unjustly treated, do not fear because God loves you and He is greater than all.
“Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God. And anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but to him who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven.
Yeshua is continuing on the theme of the fear of God overcoming the fear of man. He is preparing His followers to face the false accusations and judgments of those leaders in their community whose hearts are hardened against Messiah. When men try to judge and sentence you for following Yeshua, remember that God Himself will judge and sentence them. Better to be condemned by man than condemned by God – for God can surely rescue you from man’s judgment, but none can rescue from His judgment.
Yeshua warned here that those who deny Him before men (as Peter would later do – three times) will be denied before the angels of God. Yet, Peter’s example shows us that this sin is completely forgivable, we can be totally restored after such even as Peter was. To deny Christ is an act of weakness, an act of fear. All such can be repented of and forgiven, restoring us to fullness in Christ Jesus.
Then Yeshua moves from an act of weak fear to an act of pride – from denying Him to attempting to denounce Him by blaspheming the Holy Spirit, declaring that the works which testify to Yeshua’s union with the Father (John 3:2, John 5:36, John 10:25, 32 & 38, Matthew 11:4-6) are displays of demonic power.
To equate the Holy Spirit of the Most High God with the work of other gods is to undercut the fundamental thesis of the biblical text; namely, that the God of Israel is infinitely superior to all other gods. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is mentioned in three of the gospels, Matthew 12:22-32; Mark 3:22-30; and here in Luke 12:10. It is prideful judgment and slander willing to go to any lengths to denounce the son of God being attacked; a willful, wide-eyed slandering of the work of the Spirit, attributing to the devil what was undeniably divine. The miracles Yeshua performed were credentials of heaven, they were “the works of My Father” (John 10:38) that gave evidence that “the Father is in Me and I am in the Father.“. The religious leaders pridefully declared these good works to be the credentials of hell. They could not deny that many real, significant miracles which benefited their recipients were performed by Yeshua, so the only way they could discredit Him was to discredit the source of His power – the Holy Spirit.
Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” Luke 12:8-12 NKJV
This exhortation to the multitude now following Yeshua reflected His instructions to the twelve when He sent them out in Matthew 10:18-19. The same Holy Spirit that was evident in all the good works of the Father that Yeshua was doing will teach them, and us, what to say when we need it. Not only do we have no need to fear the outcome of any persecution or trial, we need have no fear of the process or of our own inadequacy to handle that process well, for the Holy Spirit will teach us in the moment what we need for that moment. The book of Acts later recorded several instances of this – both with the apostles and with other followers of Christ.
And someone from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But He said to him, “Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?” Then He said to them, “Watch out and be on your guard against every form of greed, for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you prepared?’ So is the one who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:13-21 LSB
And someone from the crowd.—Better, one of the multitude. The request implied a recognition of Yeshua’s stature as a scribe or Rabbi, but it was for the purpose of asking Him to assume the legal stature of that office on this man’s behalf. Yeshua had been teaching them of things pertaining to eternal life and this man’s only thought concerned things pertaining to this world. As interpreters of the Law, the scribes were appealed to as advocates and arbitrators in questions of property or marriage. The precise nature of the case is not stated here because it is irrelevant. Although the time will come when He judges all the world, Messiah had come this time not to judge but to save mankind from our sin. Skillfully, He redirected attention back to eternal things.
And He said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! And which of you by worrying can add a single cubit to his life span? Therefore, if you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You of little faith! And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek, but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Do not fear, little flock, for your Father is well pleased to give you the kingdom.Sell your possessions and give it as charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:22-34 LSB
Yeshua’s focus shifts from the man who wanted Him to judge on his behalf, to His disciples as He continues on the theme of seeking God’s kingdom instead of worrying about the things of this world – reminding them once again of His teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:25-34.)
“Gird up your loins, and keep your lamps lit. And be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find awake when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them. Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into. You too, be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.” Now Peter said, “Lord, are You addressing this parable to us, or to everyone else as well?” And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and prudent steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But if that slave says in his heart, ‘My master will be a long time in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers. And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many beatings, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a beating, will receive but a few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required, and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more. Luke 12:35-48 LSB
Yeshua encourages us to be awake, alert, prepared for service and meeting the needs of others. Those who serve faithfully will be served by the very King of kings.
In response to Peter’s question as to whether this was just for them or for everyone Yeshua responded affirming the blessings for those who have been put in charge and faithfully serve their charges while warning that their punishment will be much more severe if they start satisfying their own lusts. Even those who have been given the privilege of leadership will be assigned a place with the unbelievers if they serve themselves instead of those they are called to lead.
“I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” Luke 12:49-53 NIV
Yeshua reminded His disciples of exhortations He had given them when He first apostello‘d them in Matthew 10:34-36 (Sent Out – Renewal Blog). Although He brought a message of peace with God, the uncompromising nature of that peace would bring much conflict with all who refused to repent and submit to it.
He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time? Luke 12:54-56 NIV
“This present time” was the day of their visitation with invitation to salvation through repentance and faith.
“Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled on the way, or your adversary may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.” Luke 12:57-59 NIV
It was not that they did not know what was right, but that they did not act on their knowledge. The call to repentance had been sounded loud and clear through both John the Baptizer and Yeshua the Son of God “try hard to be reconciled on the way“. There was an urgency in the hour, the time was now to repent and follow their Messiah but instead many were passing unrighteous judgment on the preachers of repentance and it was this unrighteous judgment that would lead to the conflict even within families that Yeshua was warning them of.
1. HELPS Ministries. The Discovery Bible. [Online] https://thediscoverybible.com/. 2. Stern, David H. Complete Jewish Bible (CJB). 1998. 3. Holy Bible.New International Version. s.l. : Zondervan Publishing House, 1984. 4. —. New American Standard Bible. LaHabra, CA : The Lockman Foundation, 1995, 2020. 5. The Lockman Foundation. The Legacy Standard Bible. [Online] https://lsbible.org/. 6. Bible Commentaries. Luke 12:5. Bible Hub. [Online] [Cited: December 27th, 2022.] https://biblehub.com/commentaries/luke/12-5.htm. 7. Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary. Luke 12:1. Study Light. [Online] [Cited: December 28th, 2022.] https://www.studylight.org/commentary/luke/12-1.html.
In the comments section below share your thoughts on what you have read and answer some of the following questions…
* What were the important things Jesus wanted His disciples to learn in the midst of this huge crowd? * Why was Jesus unwilling to act as judge between the man and his brother? * What is it about Jesus’ message that leads to conflict between people?
Yeshua had one last interaction with the Jewish religious leaders during the winter festival of Hanukkah. There, in the Temple, in the sheltered area of Solomon’s porch, the Light of the World taught the people as the religious leaders surrounded Him, attempting to intimidate Him, ensuring He had no means of escape when they questioned His divinity claims:
The Jews surrounded him. They asked him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” John 10:24ESV
Yeshua’s answer finished with the declaration: “The Father and I are One” and in response…
31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him.
32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33 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.”
Yeshua’s reply in quoting from Psalm 82 basically declared “I am not only a man.” As in so many other times in scripture, Yeshua did not restrict Himself to answering their question, but stuck to His agenda of teaching the people why they could have complete confidence in Him and His mission.
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 10:31-39 ESV
Remember, Yeshua was speaking to men who had the scriptures memorized and spent their days debating their meaning and applications. So, He would say part of a verse and expect them to instantly think of the whole passage and all other related passages. This time He quoted from Psalm 82, letting them know that He belongs to the divine realm and the Father had sent Him down from the divine council to inherit all the nations.
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 82:1-8 ESV
Yeshua’s answer in quoting from Psalm 82 implied a rabbinic style kal v’chomer (light and heavy) argument: if A is true then B must all the more so be true. If it is hard to lift a big rock it is so much harder to lift a huge boulder. If even these members of the divine council who were doing evil works as they judged unjustly are “elohim” (gods), how much more is Yeshua who does good works; and if these spirits which do evil works are “sons of the Most High“, how much more does the description “Son of God” apply to Yeshua who does the good works of His Father!
WHAT IS THE DIVINE COUNCIL? The scriptures often use imagery of the natural in order to describe the supernatural. Thus, God’s throne room is described in terms of a king’s court, with the king’s sons (who would inherit the throne after he was gone) being the second tier of leadership and whomever the king called for each session being present to witness, discuss and receive orders to carry out his decrees. In this imagery, the term “divine council” refers to the heavenly host, the administrative body of divine beings (elohim) in the heavenly realm who manage the affairs of the cosmos under God’s authority. Yahweh is the Most High, the king of the universe and head of the divine council. He has created spiritual children in His likeness (elohim) and earthly children in His likeness (mankind). While Yahweh has no need of either, He is totally self-sufficient, yet He delights to have His creation work with Him on His projects. So, He has chosen to delegate some of His authority to elohim in the heavenly realm, and to humans in the earthly realm in order to carry out His will.
ELOHIM: The word (יםלהֹא / elohim), which is translated as God or gods in English, refers to a divine being or beings, that is, residents of the heavenly (spiritual) realm. In Hebrew, plurals of masculine nouns end with -im. While the word elohim is plural in form, its meaning can be either plural or singular just like the word “sheep” in English can be either plural or singular depending on the surrounding grammar. Most often (over 2,000 times) in the Hebrew Bible elohim is singular, referring to the unique Most High God of Israel, Yahweh. However, elohim is also used in the plural to refer to any other inhabitants of the spiritual realm – members of Yahweh‘s heavenly council (Psalm 82:1,6), gods and goddesses of other nations (Judges 11:24, 1 Kings 11:33), angels (Psalm 8:5) and demons (Hebrew: shedim Deuteronomy 32:17).
Yahweh stands above all the other elohim, there is none like Him! “Who is like you among the gods [elim], Yahweh?” (Exod. 15:11) “‘What god [el] is there in the heaven or on the earth who can do according to Your works and according to Your mighty deeds?’ ” (Deut. 3:24) “O Yahweh, God of Israel, there is no god [elohim] like You in the heavens above or on the earth beneath” (1 Kgs. 8:23). “For You, O Yahweh, are Most High over all the earth. You are highly exalted above all gods [elohim]” (Psalm 97:9). Yahweh alone is all-powerful (Jer. 32:17, 27; Pss. 72:18; 115:3); sovereign king over the other elohim (Psa. 95:3; Dan. 4:35; 1 Kgs. 22:19); creator of all, including the other members of the divine council (Psa. 148:1–5; Neh. 9:6; cf. Job 38:7; Deut. 4:19–20; 17:3; 29:25–26; 32:17; Jas. 1:17); and the only Elohim who deserves worship from the other elohim (Psa. 29:1).
SONS OF GOD: The scriptures depict the spiritual realm as having a hierarchical structure. Yahweh is God and supreme authority over all. A second tier of lesser elohim in the divine council are also called sons of God (beney ha’elohim, or beney elohim) or sons of the Most High (beney elyon). In the Tanakh the term sons of God always refers to elohim (spirit beings). Genesis 6:2,4 describes some of these sons of God sinning. Job 1:6-12 and 2:1-7 describes Satan (the adversary) coming among the sons of God to stand before Yahweh and discuss the deeds of men. Job 38:7 describes the sons of God shouting with joy when Yahweh laid the foundation of the earth. Deuteronomy 32:8 describes God’s judgment involving dividing up the peoples and allocating them to the sons of God when He confused their languages at the Tower of Babel. In Psalm 82:6 Yahweh calls the elohim He is addressing sons of the Most High when rebuking them for unrighteous rule over man.
In the New Testament sons of God always refers to Yeshua‘s followers (Matthew 5:9, Luke 20:36 and Romans 8:14 & 19) – in Christ we have been elevated to this exalted position in the Kingdom of Heaven (Do you not know that we will judge angels? 1 Corinthians 6:3).
ANGELS: Although angel strictly means messenger, the word is often used more generically in referring to spiritual beings, including the sons of God. The Septuagint, first translation of the Hebrew scriptures into Greek (dated around the middle of the third century BC), translated the Hebrew terms מלאך אלהים (mal’āk̠ ‘ĕlōhîm; “messenger of God“), מלאך יהוה (mal’āk̠ Yahweh; “messenger of the LORD“), בני אלהים (bənē ‘ĕlōhîm; “sons of God“) and הקודשים (haqqôd̠əšîm; “the holy ones“) to the Greek ángelos, which is translated as angels in English. This rendering was generally carried through into the New Testament.
WATCHERS: The term for “watcher” is from Aramaic, one of the few times in the Tanakh that Aramaic is used instead of Hebrew. It is only used in reference to Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 4. ‘I was looking in the visions in my head as I lay on my bed, and behold, a watcher, a holy one, descended from heaven. … “This edict is by the resolution of the watchers, and the decision is a command of the holy ones, In order that the living may know that the Most High is the powerful ruler over the kingdom of mankind and gives it to whom He wishes and sets up over it the lowliest of men.” Daniel 4:13, 17 LSB. Noncanonical second temple Jewish literature such as Enoch and Jubilees elaborate in detail regarding the watchers and equate them with the sons of God who produced children with the daughters of men in Genesis 6.
ARCHANGEL: There is only one archangel named in Scripture: Michael. He is mentioned in Jude 1:9. The voice of the archangel is heard in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, with no mention of his name. In Daniel 10:13, 21 and 12:1, Michael is described as an angelic prince. Revelation 12:7 describes war between Michael and his angels and the devil and angels, suggesting that Michael’s role included leading other angels in warfare.
SERAPHIM: (singular seraph) means “fiery” or “bright.” We see them in Isaiah 6:1–4: “I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.”
CHERUBIM: (singular cherub) are mentioned numerous times in Scripture, often in relation to guarding the place of God’s presence. After Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden of Eden, cherubim were placed there to guard the entrance (Genesis 3:24). The likeness of two cherubim adorned the cover of the ark of the covenant (Exodus 25:18 –20; 37:7 –9; 1 Samuel 4:4) and there were many representations of cherubim in the temple (Exodus 25:17-22; 26:1, 31; 36:8; 1 Kings 6:23-35; 7:29-36; 8:6-7; 1 Chronicles 28:18; 2 Chronicles 3:7-14; 2 Chronicles 3:10-13; 5:7-8; Hebrews 9:5). David sings a song of praise to God in which he says that God “mounted the cherubim and flew; He soared on the wings of the wind” (2 Samuel 22:11). When Ezekiel sees the glory of God leaving the temple, he also sees cherubim carrying the throne of God (Ezekiel 10). In verse 14, the cherubim are described as having four faces, those of a cherub, a human being, a lion, and an eagle. Prior to his rebellion, Satan was a guardian cherub (Ezekiel 28:12-15).
We see evidence of the divine council‘s operation in Job 1:6-12 (Now it was the day that the sons of God came to stand before Yahweh, and Satan also came among them. And Yahweh said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered Yahweh and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” Then Yahweh said to Satan, “Have you set your heart upon My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” And Satan answered Yahweh and said, “Does Job fear God without cause? Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But send forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” Then Yahweh said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand, only do not send forth your hand toward him.” So Satan went out from the presence of Yahweh.), Job 2:1-7 (Again it was the day that the sons of God came to stand before Yahweh, and Satan also came among them to stand himself before Yahweh. And Yahweh said to Satan, “Where do you come from?” Then Satan answered Yahweh and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” And Yahweh said to Satan, “Have you set your heart upon My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil. And he still holds fast his integrity. So you incited Me against him to swallow him up in vain.” Satan answered Yahweh and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. However, send forth Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh; he will curse You in Your face.” So Yahweh said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand, only spare his life.”Then Satan went out from the presence of Yahweh…), 1 Kings 22:19-22 (Then Micaiah said, “Therefore, hear the word of Yahweh. I saw Yahweh sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left. And Yahweh said, ‘Who will entice Ahab so that he will go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said this while another said that. Then a spirit came forward and stood before Yahweh and said, ‘I will entice him.’ And Yahweh said to him, ‘How?’ And he said, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ Then He said, ‘You shall entice him and also prevail. Go out and do so.’), Nehemiah 9:6 (You alone are Yahweh. You have made the heavens, the heaven of heavens with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them and the heavenly host bows down to You.), Daniel 7:9-10 & 13-14 (“I kept looking until thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His clothing was like white snow and the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with fire, its wheels were a burning fire. A river of fire was flowing and coming out from before Him; thousands upon thousands were attending Him, and myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; the court sat, and the books were opened.… “I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and came near before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and men of every tongue might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not be taken away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.”)and in Psalm 82, which begins: “God (יםלהֹא / elohim) stands in the council of El/the divine council (לת־אדע ); among the gods (יםלהֹא / elohim) He passes judgment.” Psalm 89:5-7, places the God of Israel “in the assembly of the holy ones” (להקב יםשֹדק) and then asks “For who in the clouds (קחשב) can be compared to Yahweh? Who is like Yahweh among the sons of God (יםלא יֵנב), a God (יםלהֹא / elohim) greatly feared in the council of the holy ones (יםשֹדוד־קֹסב).”
SATAN, DEMONS AND FALLEN ANGELS: To understand who and what these are and where they came from, we need to go back to Genesis. This book of beginnings describes three rebellions against God that included both spiritual and earthly actors and affected all humanity before God entered into covenant with Abraham. Through inciting such rebellion, Satan sort to destroy God’s plans of having people display His splendor and rule the earth with Him, gradually extending the Garden of Eden out to cover all the earth. From the third of these rebellions came the situation addressed in Psalm 82, where elohim who had been set over the nations were being rebuked for ruling the people unjustly.
FIRST REBELLION – THE FALL Genesis 3 God created Heavenly beings, elohim, before He laid the foundations of the earth. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? … When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” Job 38:4-7 Like man, they were given free will but, unlike man, they are eternal beings that cannot pro-create with one another (Matt. 22:30, Mark 12:25, Luke 20:35-36), each is God’s direct creation. The first of these elohim to rebel was an anointed guardian cherub manifested as a serpent in the Garden of Eden and tempted Eve, and through her, Adam, to likewise rebel against their creator. All of us are descended from these rebels.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. Genesis 1:26-29 ESV
… the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. … The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:7-10, 15-17 ESV
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.And 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. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.” And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. Genesis 3:1-24 ESV
The Garden of Eden was the center of God’s governance over the earth, it was the place where the divine and earthly realms joined. It was God’s temple (dwelling place) on earth and God had assigned Adam and Eve to tend and care for His earthly habitation and to multiply so they could extend this garden, and their representation of His reign, over all the earth.
Before God created everything on earth, He created spiritual beings (elohim) in heaven (the spiritual realm). One of these chose to rebel against God and seek to rule over this new creation of His. Through deception this serpent accused God of lying and enticed Eve to eat the fruit of the tree of good and evil. Ezekiel alludes to this rebellion in his diatribe against the prince of Tyre:“You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God […] you were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones” (28:12–14). In the temple God had these guardian cherubs depicted as part of the ark of the covenant, being made of beaten gold, and therefore were with it anointed, and were very large, and covered the mercy-seat with their wings. Later in the oracle, Ezekiel tells us of this guardian cherub developing a pride problem and being punished and cast to the earth: “So I drove you in disgrace from the mountain of God and I banished you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart grew proud of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor; so I cast you to the earth; I made you a spectacle before kings“ (28:16-17). He who had been so beautiful, important and close to God was now cast out of the Divine Council and banished from God’s glorious presence. Isaiah likewise compared the arrogant king of Babylon to a particularly ambitious divine being who attempted a coup in the Divine Council: How you have fallen from heaven, O day star, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the ground, O destroyer of nations. You said in your heart: “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God. I will sit on the mount of assembly, in the far reaches of the north. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” But you will be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit (14:12-15 ESV). Genesis 3 describes this punishment as: “You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life”. The nachash [Hebrew word translated “serpent” in our Bible], who wanted to be ‘most high,’ was cast to ʾerets, a Hebrew term that can refer literally to the dirt and metaphorically to the underworld. This rebel was cast away from God and His Divine Council, down to earth, and even under the earth. His domain is death and thus he reigns over all who are destined to die. This fallen guardian cherub became the arch enemy of life, love and truth. Although Satan had won a temporary victory over the woman, God declared that her seed (offspring) will crush his head in utter victory.
SECOND REBELLION – UNHOLY UNIONS Genesis 6 So it was that the second rebellion involved an attack on “the seed of the woman” as some of the “sons of God” (angels) left their holy abode, clothed themselves in flesh, took “daughters of men” and produced hybrid offspring with them.
When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them,the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in (or My Spirit shall not contend with) man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” (warning 120 yrs until all would be destroyed by the flood) The Nephilim (giants) were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown. The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. Genesis 6:1-8 ESV
So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” Numbers 13: 32-33 ESV
And when you approach the territory of the people of Ammon, do not harass them or contend with them, for I will not give you any of the land of the people of Ammon as a possession, because I have given it to the sons of Lot for a possession.’ (It is also counted as a land of Rephaim. Rephaim formerly lived there—but the Ammonites call them Zamzummim— a people great and many, and tall as the Anakim; but the Lord destroyed them before the Ammonites, and they dispossessed them and settled in their place, as he did for the people of Esau, who live in Seir, when he destroyed the Horites before them and they dispossessed them and settled in their place even to this day. … “Then we turned and went up the way to Bashan. And Og the king of Bashan came out against us, he and all his people, to battle at Edrei. But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not fear him, for I have given him and all his people and his land into your hand. And you shall do to him as you did to Sihon the king of the Amorites, who lived at Heshbon.’ So the Lord our God gave into our hand Og also, the king of Bashan, and all his people, and we struck him down until he had no survivor left. And we took all his cities at that time—there was not a city that we did not take from them—sixty cities, the whole region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan. All these were cities fortified with high walls, gates, and bars, besides very many unwalled villages. And we devoted them to destruction, as we did to Sihon the king of Heshbon, devoting to destruction every city, men, women, and children. But all the livestock and the spoil of the cities we took as our plunder. So we took the land at that time out of the hand of the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, from the Valley of the Arnon to Mount Hermon(the Sidonians call Hermon Sirion, while the Amorites call it Senir),all the cities of the tableland and all Gilead and all Bashan, as far as Salecah and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan. (For only Og the king of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaim. Behold, his bed was a bed of iron. Is it not in Rabbah of the Ammonites? Nine cubits (A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters) was its length, and four cubits its breadth, according to the common cubit.) Deuteronomy 2:19-22, 3:1-11 ESV
For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but held them captive in Tartarus with chains of darkness and handed them over to be kept for judgment, and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a proclaimer of righteousness, and seven others when He brought a flood on the world of the ungodly… 2 Peter 2:4-10 …And the angels who did not keep to their own domain but deserted their proper dwelling place, He has kept in eternal bonds under deep gloom for the judgment of the great day… Jude 5-7
Not only were the hybrid offspring born of these unions’ violent giants (Genesis 6:2-4, Enoch 6:1-4 & 7:2-6), but what men learnt from the “sons of God” led to “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). The Torah doesn’t say anything specific about this wickedness, but early Jewish interpretation fills in the gaps with an entire cycle of stories regarding these angels and their sinful behavior, stories that both Peter and Jude alluded to in their epistles. The earliest work addressing pre-flood angelic sin is the Book of the Watchers (250-200 BCE), which now makes up chapters 1-36 of the book of 1 Enoch. 1 Enoch 7:1 has the angels teaching humans charms and spells to facilitate disloyalty to Yahweh, then Enoch 8:1-2 describes an angel teaching men how to make weapons of war, thus facilitating human’s self-destruction, and lustful adornment thus facilitating impiety, fornication and corruption. Whereas the surrounding nations viewed such knowledge as the cornerstone of their civilization, the Jews recognized it’s destructive nature.
Genesis 6:4 pointedly informs readers that the Nephilim were on earth before the Flood “and also afterward.” Although the flood wiped out the Nephilim and devastating evil of the peoples at that time, it appears that a smaller number of angels came down and produced offspring at some time after the flood and these continued to pro-create. Numbers 13:32-33, states that the oversized descendants of Anak “came from theNephilim.” The sons of Anak, the Anakim, were one of the giant clans described in the conquest narratives (e.g., Deuteronomy 2:10–11, 320-21, 3:1-11; Joshua 11:21–22; 14:12, 15). It is worth noting that the only peoples the Israelites were commanded to destroy were those who contained descendants of the Nephilim, Moses and Joshua destroyed all of these except for those who went and hid among the Philistines, and David killed the last of these, cleansing the earth.
ORIGIN OF DEMONS According to the Jewish interpretation prominent in the second temple period, the Nephilim and their descendants had all been killed but their spirits, deriving from immortal heavenly beings (the angels), could not be destroyed, nor return to heaven. They remain connected to earth as evil spirits, wreaking havoc among humankind and causing both physical evil (such as disease) and moral evil (sin): And now the giants who were born from spirits and flesh will be called evil spirits upon the earth, and on the earth will be their dwelling. And evil spirits came out from their flesh because from above they were created; from the holy Watchers was their origin and first foundation. Evil spirits they will be on the earth, and spirits of the evil ones they will be called. And the dwelling of the spirits of heaven is in heaven, but the dwelling of the spirits of earth, who were born on the earth, [is] on earth. And the spirits of the giants . . . which do wrong and are corrupt, and attack and fight and break on the earth, and cause sorrow; and they eat no food and do not thirst, and are not observed. And these spirits will rise against the sons of men and against the women because they came out [from them]. (1 Enoch 7:8-12) This story is developed further in the Book of Jubilees, and is reflected in Qumran prayer and incantations that deride the “bastards,” that is, the evil spirits who are the result of the illicit union of angels and human women (as in 4Q510-511, 4Q444, and 11Q11 V.5-11).
GENESIS 6Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. 10 Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth. 11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13 So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. 14 So make yourself an ark … 17 I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. …22 Noah did everything just as God commanded him. GENESIS 7Then Yahweh said to Noah, “Enter the ark, you and all your household, for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this generation.2 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;3 also of the birds of the sky, by sevens, male and female, to keep their seed alive on the face of all the earth.4 For after seven more days, I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights; and I will blot out from the face of the land every living thing that I have made.”5 And Noah did according to all that Yahweh had commanded him.6 Now Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of water came upon the earth.7 Then Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him entered the ark because of the water of the flood.8 Of clean animals and animals that are not clean and birds and everything that creeps on the ground,9 by twos they came to Noah into the ark, male and female, as God had commanded Noah.10 Now it happened after the seven days, that the water of the flood came upon the earth.11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on this day all the fountains of the great deep split open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened.12 Then the rain came upon the earth for forty days and forty nights.13 On this very day Noah and Shem and Ham and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark,14 they and every beast after its kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind—every fowl, every winged creature.15 So they came to Noah into the ark, by twos of all flesh in which was the breath of life.16 And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, entered as God had commanded him; and Yahweh closed it behind him.17 Then the flood came upon the earth for forty days, and the water multiplied and lifted up the ark, so that it rose above the earth.18 And the water prevailed and multiplied greatly upon the earth, and the ark went on the surface of the water.19 And the water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains under all the heavens were covered.20 The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered.21 And all flesh that moved on the earth breathed its last, that is birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, as well as all mankind.22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life—of all that was on the dry land—died.23 Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah remained, and those that were with him in the ark.24 And the water prevailed upon the earth 150 days.
GENESIS 8Then God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark… and at the end of 150 days the water decreased.4 In the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat. ….13 Now it happened in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, on the first of the month, the water was dried up from the earth. Then Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and behold, the surface of the ground was dried up.14 In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry.15 Then God spoke to Noah, saying,16 “Go out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and your sons’ wives with you…. 20 Then Noah built an altar to Yahweh and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.21 And Yahweh smelled the soothing aroma; and Yahweh said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again strike down every living thing as I have done… GENESIS 9And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth… Then God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I am giving to be between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations;13 I put My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth.14 And it will be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud,15 and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh.16 So the bow shall be in the cloud, and I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”17 And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”
THIRD REBELLION – TOWER OF BABEL Genesis 11 In the days of Noah’s great, great, great grandson, Peleg, while Noah and his three sons who had been through the flood with him, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, were still alive, the people were multiplying quickly and the whole extended family migrated east, down from the mountains and into the fertile valley of Shinar (the southern region of Mesopotamia.) There they rebelled against God’s command to disperse and fill the earth and sort instead to congregate in one large city built around a massive tower in defiance of God, resulting in God disinheriting them and giving them over to what they desired – the rule of other gods.
Genesis 9:1 And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.
Genesis 10:6-25 6The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put, and Canaan. … 8 Cush fathered Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man. … 10 The beginning of his kingdom was Babel… 22 The sons of Shem: Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, and Aram. …. 24 Arpachshad fathered Shelah; and Shelah fathered Eber. 25 To Eber were born two sons: the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided.
Genesis 11:1-9 “Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to each other, ‘Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.’ And they had brick for stone and they had tar for mortar. And they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower whose top reaches to the heavens. And let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered over the face of the whole earth.’ Then Yahweh came down to see the city and the tower that humankind was building. And Yahweh said, ‘Behold, they are one people with one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. So now nothing that they intend to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand each other’s language.’ So Yahweh scattered them from there over the face of the whole earth, and they stopped building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, for there Yahweh confused the language of the whole earth, and there Yahweh scattered them over the face of the whole earth.”
Deuteronomy 32:8-9 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. But the LORD’s portion is His people, Jacob his allotted heritage.
Romans 1:18-25, 28 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, both His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the likeness of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. … And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to an unfit mind, to do those things which are not proper.
Deuteronomy 4:19-20 “And do this so that you do not lift your eyes toward heaven and observe the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of the heaven, and be led astray and bow down to them and serve them, things that Yahweh your God has allotted to all of the peoples under all of the heaven. But Yahweh has taken you and brought you out from the furnace of iron, from Egypt, to be a people of inheritance to Him, as it is this day.”
Genesis 12:1-3 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
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 (Adam) you shall die, and fall like any prince (OR: fall like one of the shining ones),” Arise, O God, judge the earth; for You shall inherit all the nations!
Isaiah 24: 21-22 In that day the Lord will punish the powers in the heavens above and the kings on the earth below. They will be herded together like prisoners bound in a dungeon; they will be shut up in prison and be punished after many days.
Psalm 86:9 O Lord, there is none like You among the gods, nor any works like Yours
Psalm 95:3 For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods.
Exodus 15:11 Who among the gods is like You, O Lord? Who is like You – majestic in holiness, revered with praises, performing wonders?
Man’s punishment for the first rebellion was death – expulsion from the Garden of Eden – and the serpent was cursed, brought low and set at enmity with the woman and her offspring, who would crush his head. The second rebellion brought such violent, destructive depravity to man that all but Noah and his family were killed by flood, but God gave the rainbow as a promise that He would never again wipe out everything through flood. While Noah and his sons were still alive, the population of earth grew rapidly and once again rebelled against God – He told them to multiply and fill the earth and they decided instead to build a massive city and tower to keep from being scattered over the earth and reach the heavens to connect once again with the sons of God as before the flood so as to make a name for themselves. There is evidence in the scripture, and it’s interpreted as such in the Talmud, that one of Noah’s great grandsons, Nimrod, whose name is related to the Hebrew word for rebel, had risen to leadership over all the people at this time “he was the first on earth to be a mighty man” – ie king / emperor.
What was put to death in response to this third rebellion of mankind was the first empire. You can control people who speak the same language – institute a system of encouraging everyone to spy on everyone else and report any conversations that are considered “unacceptable”. All that falls apart the moment each group of people has their own language and can neither be understood by, nor understand, anyone in any other group. But that’s not all God did, split them into 70 different language groups (the number 70 comes from the Table of Nations in Genesis 10), He also disinherited them and gave all the resultant nations over to the guardianship of sons of God. In Deuteronomy 32:8-9, as in Romans 1:21-32, God gave humankind over to their persistent rebellion and that which they were lusting after – they had persistently shown a distain for living as His people under His rule, so He disinherited them and allotted them to the lordship of lesser elohim. Genesis 10 gives us the Table of Nations – 70 descendants of Noah whom the peoples were divided into to spread out and form all the nations of the world. Each extended family group now freely discussed things privately between themselves and decided to travel on to where they could worship their god and live as they chose. Hence the world is not only filled with different languages, but the worship of different gods as well. But Yahweh still had a plan for the redemption of all peoples in all nations.
This disinheriting of humankind was not to be a permanent state of affairs – God was about to call Abram (who was of the last generation born during Peleg’s lifetime) to father a new nation as God’s own possession and cause all peoples on earth to be blessed by this nation belonging exclusively to Yahweh. Israel was to bless all the nations and peoples by showing them what blessings and healthy society they could have if they chose to come back under the lordship of the Most High. Israel was also to become the conduit through which Messiah would come to crush the serpent’s head, defeat death and bring all peoples back into direct relationship with Yahweh. In Psalm 82, which Yeshua quotes from in John 10:34, God rebukes the elohim (gods) for unrighteous rule over the peoples and declares that ALL the nations will be returned to Him- this was part of Yeshua’s mission as messiah. After His death and resurrection Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. The gods that had been in charge of all the different people groups no longer had that authority – Yeshua had defeated death and earned authority over all the nations and so commanded His disciples: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
Yeshua was surrounded by His enemies who were angered by His declaration of being in the Father, “theFather is in Me and I am in the Father“, as head of the Divine Council, yet He escaped from their hands because His time was not yet. They had convinced themselves that they were being faithful to God as they sort to kill His beloved Son. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?“ Jeremiah 17:9.
1. HELPS Ministries. The Discovery Bible. [Online] https://thediscoverybible.com/. 2. Stern, David H. Complete Jewish Bible (CJB). 1998. 3. Holy Bible.New International Version. s.l. : Zondervan Publishing House, 1984. 4. —. New American Standard Bible. LaHabra, CA : The Lockman Foundation, 1995, 2020. 5. The Lockman Foundation. The Legacy Standard Bible. [Online] https://lsbible.org/. 6. Heiser, Michael S. Who Are the Elohim? The Answer Might Rattle Your Theology. Logos. [Online] July 20th, 2021. https://www.logos.com/grow/who-are-elohim/. 7. Staff, Logos. Satan in the Bible: 14 Sobering Facts about the Devil. Logos. [Online] August 17th, 2021. https://www.logos.com/grow/satan-in-the-bible/. 8. Linscomb, Dennis. Sons of God and the Divine Council in the Bible. Academia. [Online] January 21st, 2020. https://www.academia.edu/41667327/Sons_of_God_and_the_Divine_Council_in_the_Bible. 9. Heiser, Michael S. Who Are the Nephilim and What Is Their Origin? Logos Biblical Studies. [Online] May 28th, 2021. https://www.logos.com/grow/who-or-what-were-the-nephilim/. 10. Levenson, Jon D. Did Jews Really Believe There Were Two Gods in Heaven? Mosaic Magazine – Advanced Jewish Thought. [Online] Auguat 4th, 2020. https://mosaicmagazine.com/observation/religion-holidays/2020/08/did-jews-really-believe-there-were-two-gods-in-heaven/. 11. Stern, David H.Jewish New Testament Commentary. Maryland : Jewish New Testament Publications, 1992. ISBN 13 978-965-359-008-3. 12. Heiser, Michael S.Reversing Hermon: Enoch, The Watchers & The Forgotten Mission of Jesus Christ. Bellingham, WA : Lexham Press, 2017. 13. The Origin of Sin in Irenaeus and Jewish Pseudepigraphical Literature. Schultz, D. R. 3, s.l. : Vigiliae Christianae, 1978, Sept, Vol. 32. 14. Levenson, Jon D. Did Jews Really Believe There Were Two Gods in Heaven? Mosaic Magazine – Advanced Jewish Thought. [Online] August 4th, 2020. https://mosaicmagazine.com/observation/religion-holidays/2020/08/did-jews-really-believe-there-were-two-gods-in-heaven/. 15. Doedens, Jaap. Those Elusive Sons of God: Genesis 6:1–4 Revisited. The Bible and Interpretation. [Online] April 2019. [Cited: September 2nd, 2023.] https://bibleinterp.arizona.edu/articles/those-elusive-sons-god-genesis-61-4-revisited. 16. Brand, Dr.Miryam. The Benei Elohim, the Watchers, and the Origins of Evil. The Torah. [Online] [Cited: September 2nd, 2023.] https://www.thetorah.com/article/the-benei-elohim-the-watchers-and-the-origins-of-evil. 17. Wolf, Shaul. Nimrod, the Biblical Hunter. Chabad. [Online] [Cited: September 9th, 2023.] https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/3162874/jewish/Nimrod-the-Biblical-Hunter.htm. 18. Posner, Menachem. The Tower of Babel: What Was Up With lt? Chabad. [Online] [Cited: September 3rd, 2023.] https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1013006/jewish/The-Tower-of-Babel-What-Was-Up-With-lt.htm. 19. Deuteronomy 32:8 and the sons of God. Heiser, Michael S. January-March, s.l. : Biblotheca Sacra, 2001, Vol. 158, pp. 52-74. 20. Heiser, Michael S. The Tower of Babel Story: What Really Happened? Word by Word. [Online] May 18th, 2022. https://www.logos.com/grow/really-happened-tower-babel/. 21. Blum, Julia. The Book Of Enoch (2): The Sin Of The Watchers. Israel Institute of Biblical Studies. [Online] June 21st, 2018. https://blog.israelbiblicalstudies.com/jewish-studies/the-book-of-enoch-2-the-sin-of-the-watchers/. 22. Heiser, Michael S. Who Are the Elohim? The Answer Might Rattle Your Theology. Word by Word. [Online] July 20th, 2021. https://www.logos.com/grow/who-are-elohim/. 23. —. The Stones of Fire in Ezekiel 28. Dr Michael S. Heiser. [Online] January 25th, 2009. https://drmsh.com/the-stones-of-fire-in-ezekiel-28/. 24. Heiser, Michael S. Jesus’ Quotation of Psalm 82:6 in John 10:34: . The Divine Council. [Online] 2012. [Cited: September 3rd, 2023.] https://thedivinecouncil.com/Heiser%20Psa82inJohn10%20RegSBL2011.pdf. 25. Shurpin, Rabbi Yehuda. Where Did the 70 Nations Come From. Chabad. [Online] [Cited: September 3rd, 2023.] https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/5258600/jewish/Where-Did-the-70-Nations-Come-From.htm. 26. Heiser, Michael S. Who are the Elohim – The Answer Might Rattle Your Theology. Biblical Studies. [Online] July 20th, 2021. https://www.logos.com/grow/who-are-elohim/. 27. Markos, Louis. The Truth About Angels and Demons Is Staring Us in the Face. Christianity Today. [Online] June 12th, 2020. https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/june-web-only/michael-heiser-angels-demons-unseen-realm.html. 28. Heiser, Michael S. The Divine Council in the Book of Daniel. The Divine Council. [Online] [Cited: September 13th, 2023.] https://www.thedivinecouncil.com/daniel7.pdf. 29. —. Deuteronomy 32:8 and the Sons of God. drmsh. [Online] January – March 2001. https://drmsh.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Heiser-Deuteronomy-32-8-and-the-sons-of-God.pdf.
In the comments section below share your thoughts on what you have read and answer some of the following questions…
* Why were the Jewish religious leaders in the temple threatening to stone Jesus? * How did He respond to their threat and what can we learn from this in how to respond to threats? * What is your understanding of spiritual beings – who are they, what are the functions of the good ones, when did the evil ones rebel against God and how do they influence things on earth? * Describe the effects of the three rebellions before God called Abraham and established the Jewish nation. * What were God’s purposes in establishing the Jewish people? * What reasons do the evil spiritual beings have for trying to prevent the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?