Shabbat, November 5, 2016
Who are the b’nei Elohim—the sons or children of God? Are they the children of Israel, or the children of Abba and co-heirs of Messiah, or all the children of Adam? Or how about the angels, powers and principalities of heaven, or betwixt heaven and earth? When I ask an ‘or’ question, what do you say?
Yes, both… Or in this case: all of us b’nei Elohim, siblings and co-heirs of the Kingdom of our Abba.
If we all—various human children of God and supernatural b’nei Elohim—would line up straight with our Abba and His beloved Son, that would be His Kingdom, on earth & in heaven. V’eemru? (Say?)
Good news! The kingdom is at hand; the re-alignment of earth & heaven is already happening!
I protested, Lord, I haven’t even finished the book! And it’s a bit esoteric for a sermon. But the Ruach nudged me, read some more…. It so happened the next chapter is about The Tower of Babel, which happens to be in this week Torah portion….
So this message will start in the middle of the book, which it’s sort of appropriate, because this book is rather dense and sweeping, so starting the supernatural story of the Bible like an epic (in medias res, in the middle of things) is fitting.
Let’s go to Genesis (Beresheet) 11, where we find the story of the Tower of Babel: Verse 1: “Now the entire earth had the same language with the same vocabulary.”
Imagine a world in which everyone spoke the same language…. [Sing:] “Imagine all the people…” all understanding each other, and there would be world peace, right?
2: “When they traveled eastward, they found a valley-plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.”
Shinar is in southern part of Mesopotamia, called Babylonia, and before that Sumer, and now Iraq. Shinar/Babylonia/Iraq plays a major role in the epic story of the Bible and Israel, then & now.
3: “They said to one another, ‘Come! Let us make bricks and bake them until they’re hard.’ So they used bricks for stone, and tar for mortar.”
Since stone is rare in Mesopotamia, they used sun-dried clay.
4: Then they said, “Come! Let’s build ourselves a city, with a tower whose top reaches into heaven. So let’s make a name for ourselves, or else we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
Isn’t that ironic? They were concerned they would be scattered over the whole earth, and what happens? They thought their unity was based on their own effort, rather than their common heritage in the one God, whose image we are all created, so we might reflect His glory, not our own. V’eemru?
Scholars agree that the Tower of Babel was a ziggurat, which ancient Mesopotamians built as artificial, mountains, serving as gateways betwixt earth and heaven—and the spiritual world. In ancient Akkadian Bab-il meant ‘gate of god’.
Skipping to verse 7: “Come! Let Us go down and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand each other’s language.”
Notice that this verse parallels verse 4: “Come, let us…” Does anyone hear the irony here? God is mocking their bold speech, even as He prepares to confuse their speech and scatter them.
Dr. Heiser also points out a parallel with Gen. 1:26, “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness.” Now, many believers conclude that “Let Us” is an allusion to the triune nature of God, especially since the Hebrew word for God, Elohim, is plural. How’s that? Well, maybe…
However, Dr. Heiser contends that in Genesis, God may be talking to a divine council of angels and other supernatural beings. Dr. Heiser points out that the idea of a divine council or court of supernatural beings was common in the ancient world, paralleling the councils that served the kings of Egypt, Mesopotamia, etc. Just as an ancient king or Pharaoh would announce his intentions to His court, so HaShem announced His intention to His divine court. And it was said, so it was done. Similarly, HaShem gave His judgment to His court about humanity and their vain building project.
In the ancient world, the divine council of gods would convene on a mountain between heaven & earth. Hence ancient peoples built ziggurats and pyramids…. which now all lay in ruins.
In the Bible as well, the divine council appears again and again, for example in Exodus 15:11, from the song of Moses, “Who is like Thee among the gods, Adonai? Mi chamocha ba’elim Adonai.”
But, have any of you felt a little uncomfortable singing about other gods? Are there any other gods? So some translations even render elim (a plural of el) as “mighty ones.” Yet Moses and the children of Israel had no difficulty seeing HaShem exalted above all other gods, especially the gods of Egypt. Biblical monotheism exalts HaShem above all other gods, but doesn’t exclude the existence of other supernatural beings—whom the nations regard as elohim, or gods.
Another place God appears among His divine council is Psalm 82. God takes His stand in the assembly of God. He judges among the ‘gods’. In Hebrew, the same word, Elohim, refers to the one true God, singular, yet the same word, elohim, also refers to a plurality of less ‘gods’. God reproves these other ‘gods’ for judging unjustly and showing partiality to the wicked. In Psalm 82:6, these lesser ‘gods’ [elohim] are called sons of the Most High God [b’nei Elyon].
The divine council of b’nei Elohim also appear in Deuteronomy 32:8–9 (ESV), 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 [b’nei Elohim]. These verses proclaim that when HaShem divided mankind—at Babel—He gave them their inheritance, in effect dis-inheriting them and giving them over to their own gods, b’nei Elohim.
Then, as verse 9 declares, “But the LORD’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage.” I.e., after Babel, God created a new people or nation—Jacob His allotted inheritance. Thus, immediately after the Tower of Babel incident, Genesis swiftly introduces Abram, in Ur (near Babylon).
Instead of “sons of God,” many translations of Deuteronomy 32:8 (including the TLV) have “sons of Israel.” That’s because the Masoretic Hebrew text, usually the standard Hebrew text, has b’nei Yisrael. That rendering gives rise to the Rabbinic idea that after Noah, the number of nations was 70, since the number of the sons of Jacob that went down to Egypt was 70.
However, the Dead Sea Scrolls has b’nei Elohim, while the Septuagint (an ancient Greek translation) has “angels of God”—so ancient Jews understood that the b’nei Elohim were angels or similar beings. Angels served as messengers or intermediaries for HaShem; the b’nei Elohim also served as governors or rulers over the nations.
In Daniel 10:13, an angelic messenger from God to Daniel was held up by the prince of Persia, until Michael, one of the Chief Princes, came to his aid. No human prince could have resisted an angel, let alone contended with the archangel Michael! So this “prince of Persia” is a supernatural authority, above any human king. Moreover, this supernatural authority resisted the will of God. V’eemru?
Nobody resists God in heaven, but on earth it’s another matter—ever since Adam ceded his authority to the lie of the serpent—who, BTW, was no ordinary snake, but also a supernatural being.
The New Covenant has much more to say about the unseen realm of supernatural rulers and powers, since the apostles were all first century Jews, who assumed the reality of these beings.
So I asked the Lord, why did He want me to talk about these things to you all? The Ruach spoke to me about bringing His sons & daughters back into alignment with His will. Through the Spirit of Messiah, He wants to restore all His children in the Kingdom of God.
Ever since the serpent deceived Adam & Eve, both natural and supernatural b’nei Elohim have been out of alignment with His will—both thwart God’s plans for the kingdom on earth. The plan was and still is for His angelic and human children to serve and worship Him together.
God distinguishes between His children, not so they would be in perpetual conflict, but love one another and help each other fulfill their destiny. V’eemru?
He tried a re-set with Noah, but soon after the flood, the sons of Adam started building their Tower, and men keep building towers, asserting their own unity and power apart from God. Oy, oy, oy!
Though the world and its children looks like it’s all gong to … Sheol, the Ruach Elohim is bringing His true children into alignment with His will. And we all want to line up with His will… V’eemru?
It began in Acts 2, when Jews speaking the languages of all the nations all of the known world were able to hear the disciples of Yeshua praising God—as if they were all hearing all in one language. As Dr. Heiser observes (as have others), Acts 2 reverses Babel. The Jews from all the nations were said to “confused.”
Genesis 11:9 mocks the name of the city Babel, because it sounds like the Hebrew word for confuse. The Greek word for ‘confuse’.is used in the Septuagint for the Babel story in Genesis 11: “Come, let us go down and confuse their language there.”
But in Acts 2, when Peter proclaims the Good News of Messiah Yeshua, all confusion disperses—as thousands of Jews from all over the world were immersed in the name of Yeshua the Messiah! Hallelujah!
In our days, the epic restoration of all things has resumed, as Jews are restored to their own land—there are more Jews living in their own land than in any other country (even America). Hallelujah!
In our days, the Good News is spreading in power to all the nations of the earth. Hallelujah!
These things are happening in parallel—there is a supernatural alignment happening. The children of Israel are blessing the nations—just this with a cure for AIDS and relief for migraines.
The children of God from the nations are blessing Israel.
Surely the Ruach HaKodesh is brining the children of Israel and the children of God among the nations into alignment with the kingdom of God. V’eemru?
In our days, the Jews are turning back to Yeshua as the Messiah of Israel, and forming Messianic Jewish congregations! And in our days, people from all the nations are saying, “O how we love Your Torah, and some of them are aligning themselves with the Messiah of Israel in Messianic congregations!
How can we in Beit Simcha be part of this alignment with the Kingdom? We’ll explore this question, among others in our breakout discussion.
This sermon may not to be reprinted in whole or in part without the express written consent of Messianic Rabbi Glenn D. Blank of Beit Simcha. Your generous support for our ministry and building project is appreciated!
Breakout Discussion Questions (and Study)
What does b’nei Elohim mean? Who are the b’nei Elohim? Besides the supernatural variety, are their any other b’nei Elohim?
Where was Shinar? Why does the Bible locate the Tower of Babel there?
What’s a ziggurat? Why did ancient people living in the Mesopotamian valley-plan build a ziggurat?
What was wrong with building the Tower of Babel?
What was ironic about God saying, “Come! Los us go down and confuse their language?”
Why do some believers say about, Genesis 1:26, “Let Us make man in Our image?”
What does Dr. Heiser say? What do you say?
Have any of you have felt a little uncomfortable singing, “Who is like You, Lord, among the gods?” Why didn’t Moses and ancient Israel have a problem mentioning other gods?
Was the faith of Moses truly monotheistic? Why or why not?
In Psalm 82 Why does God, who is Elohim, call an assembly and judge other elohim?
In Deuteronomy 32:8-9, why does God disinherit the nations and then claim Israel as His inheritance? Was God abandoning the nations?
In Daniel 10:13, who is the prince of Persia who holds up an angelic messenger?
Who is Michael and why does he help the angelic messenger?
How did the events of Acts 2 reverse the confusion at the Tower of Babel?
Why did God distinguish Israel from the nations? What is God’s plan for Israel and the nations? Is the distinction between Israel and the nations still important today? Why or why not?
How many of you see the Ruach Elohim is bringing the children of Israel and His children from the nations into alignment today? How so?
How can we at Beit Simcha—both Jews and non-Jews—participate in the realignment of God’s children with the Father’s will for His kingdom of earth?