Spiritual Warfare & the OT Heavenly Council

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by IveyLeaguer, Nov 22, 2004.

  1. IveyLeaguer

    IveyLeaguer
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    Hi Everybody,

    I'm currently doing a study of spiritual warfare and came across a paper (linked below) dealing with the OT concept that God presided over some kind of assembly of divine, created, beings (as in Job). Unlike much of the material I found on the subject, this one is well written and researched by a Hebrew-Semitic language scholar and textual critic, who carefully guards the integrity of the Hebrew scriptures, IMO. I am a strict biblicist but am interested in any honest attempt to shed light on such scriptures as 1Kings 22:19-23, Psalm 82, Deuteronomy 32:8, Jeremiah 23:18,22, Psalm 89:6-7, and their relationship to Ephesians 6:12, Colossians 1:16, Colossians 2:15 & many others.

    My primary question is: Since we know we wrestle and practice warfare "against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places", how can the picture the OT gives us of God's heavenly creation, His order of heavenly beings, cosmic warfare, etc. help us on a practical, everyday level? So far, I have found that a strict Biblical concept of a "divine council", or "divine assembly", or meetings, or various times "when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and satan came also among them" (Job 1:6, 2:1), to be helpful in the understanding of spiritual warfare, binding together relevant ideas presented in scripture and resulting in a net increase of faith, since it only further exalts and glorifies our Father's omnipotence, authority, omniscience and mind-boggling eternal plan. I'm anxious to see if, in the end, the concept holds up to Biblical scrutiny and criticism, and if it is as valuable on a practical, everyday level as I suspect it could be. I would be interested in your thoughts or insight on this subject.

    The follow up question would be: What is the effect of the cross and resurrection on this OT way of doing business? And how does all this affect us?

    Here's the link (this is a PDF file): Deuteronomy 32:8 and the Sons of God

    One disclaimer: I'm respectful of the inherent danger in diving into a topic like this and would suggest anyone approach it with the utmost caution and discernment, as I have. As a biblicist, I care only about the Truth, and am fanatical about error of any kind. This is a subject that can easily lead to Mormon theology, ancient near-East mythology, and even UFO/occult connections. None of that is of interest except to the extent it could shed light on the topic.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Marcia

    Marcia
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    I looked at that link -- it is way too long and to scholarly for me.

    I think the only kind of spiritual warfare we are to engage in is through the principles of Eph 6: engaging in prayer, standing firm in the truth of God's word, resisting temptation, being assured of our salvation, and putting faith in God. I think it is God and his angels who fight the unseen battles and our part is merely to be faithful and prayerful. Jesus has been put in charge of these principalities and powers. "Submit to God, resist the devil, and he will flee."

    The NT gives no instructions to the early believers or to us on anything beyond this, imo.

    I realize this is not a scholarly answer but this is not usually a very scholarly type board. I have seen so much horrible teaching on spiritual warfare -- usually it consists of techniques and formulas very similar to the occult.
     
  3. Link

    Link
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    I took a class in OT at a state university that mentioned the heavenly council, comparing it to the Ugaritic god 'El' who headed up a council of pagan gods. Later, 'Baal' was worshipped rather than 'El' among the groups living in the Canaanite area.

    I think there is a Biblical case that God has some kind of council or something along those lines.

    As for practical application, Paul's war was againt thoughts and imaginations. He had to overcome these things. How did he do it? If we read Acts we see that a big part of his ministry was teaching the Gospel and living out how to live according to the Gospel. The 'spiritual warfare' chapter tells us about being protected by salvation, righteousness, truth, the preparation of the Gospel of peace, the word of God, and how we should pray. This is how we overcome.

    There isn't anything in the Bible about casting demons down over cities by yelling at them. We do not see Christ or the apostles doing this. They rebuked demons out of people in whom they discerned evil spirits, or who when the demonic presence manifested itself through the person. They cast demons out of people, not out of the air.
     
  4. IveyLeaguer

    IveyLeaguer
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    Marcia, thanks for your clear response. You are exactly right, IMO. What this post is about is WITHIN the context of NT writings and commands, which you have summarized. I have never considered that any light the OT writings may shed on the subject would in any way override NT scripture. For most people, I would say it is best to keep it simple and let Jesus do the work. After all, trusting Him is what we are all trying to do - regardless of who or where we are. You seem very solid and I'm thankful you replied first, because the last thing I would want to do is overcomplicate and/or confuse anyone unnecessarily. This is somewhat of an academic discussion but I would like to say that the thing that initiated my interest and started this investigation was a prayer of John Wesley, of all people, recorded by witnesses as follows:

    Dr. Adam Clarke, in his autobiography, records that when Mr. Wesley was returning to England by ship, considerable delay was caused by contrary winds. Wesley was reading, when he became aware of some confusion on board, and asking what was the matter, he was informed that the wind was contrary. “Then” was his reply, “let us go to prayer.” After Dr. Clarke had prayed, Wesley broke out into fervent supplication which seemed to be more the offering of faith than of mere desire. “Almighty and everlasting God,” he prayed, “Thou hast sway everywhere, and all things serve the purpose of Thy will, Thou holdest the winds in Thy fists and sittest upon the water floods, and reignest a King forever. Command these winds and these waves that they obey Thee, and take us speedily and safely to the haven whither we would go.” The power of this petition was felt by all. Wesley rose from his knees, made no remark, but took up his book and continued reading. Dr. Clarke went on deck, and to his surprise found the vessel under sail, standing on her right course. Nor did she change till she was safely at anchor. On the sudden and favourable change of wind, Wesley made no remark; so fully did he expect to be heard that he took it for granted that he was heard.

    The simple petition "Command these winds and these waves that they obey thee" struck me like a lightning bolt, and started this present inquiry. I feel sure you can understand that, though the answer I'm looking for is surely incorporated in your concept of spiritual warfare.
     
  5. Marcia

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    IvyLeaguer, thanks for your post and sharing what led you to your inquiry.

    I like the story about Wesley -- it shows strong faith in the Lord and not making a big to-do over a prayer, but just praying simply in childlike faith. Of course, God might say no, and our faith should remain.

    Well, I look forward to other responses. Don't know how academic they will be, but you never know! ;)
     
  6. IveyLeaguer

    IveyLeaguer
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    I couldn't agree more. That's another big reason for doing this.
     
  7. IveyLeaguer

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    Good point. IMO, the Ugaritic comparisons are useful for COMPARATIVE purposes ONLY, not supportive evidence. As you point out, it's too easy to go from one assumption to another.
     
  8. IveyLeaguer

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    Yes it was, but I think Paul had more on his mind than just that. I think he knew, in addition to that grueling battle, he was dealing with an hierarchy of specific, powerful, fallen angels - dedicated to wreak the highest degree of destruction and havok possible to his ministry. Surely, a considerable, intelligent force was aligned against him, though he didn't make that big of a deal of it, given his great faith in our Lord.
     
  9. IveyLeaguer

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    No, absolutely. I wasn't going there. BTW, Marcia, the answers to questions about Truth need not be academic. Indeed, like you I prefer simple logic and answers - they are almost always superior, as our Lord clearly revealed. I am not an academic by any stretch of the imagination. It's just that this subject demands considerable depth and accuracy.
     
  10. IveyLeaguer

    IveyLeaguer
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    I should add that, IMHO, nothing is superior to a combination of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. Jesus was thankful that the Father chose to reveal such things to the simple, and so am I. Frankly, I expect more help on this question from everyday Christians than from any segment of academia.
     
  11. Plain Old Bill

    Plain Old Bill
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    Simple. Dr. Clark went to Wesley. Wesley prayed.God answered.Wesley was not surprized.Niether am I.God answers prayer all the time.Sometimes yes,sometimes no,sometimes later.
     
  12. Paul of Eugene

    Paul of Eugene
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    I think that in the matters of spiritual warfare we are somewhat ignorant and that it is well we simply keep quiet when we don't know. I am very hesitant to be more definate than the Bible about these things.
     
  13. IveyLeaguer

    IveyLeaguer
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    Me too, Paul, I am extremely hesitant. And I won't go outside that. But there is a great deal of scripture on this, woven throughout the Bible, and the exegesis of that scripture is the reason for this inquiry, nothing else.
     

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