The Bible Project

Origin of Spiritual Beings & Mini Q+R - God E4

Episode Summary

This is a unique episode of our podcast. Tim and Jon originally sat down to have a Q+R on the first three episodes in our “God” series. Tim shared that before he responded to questions, he wanted to give some updates about new things he’s been learning pertaining to the conversation on God.

Episode Notes

In part one (00:00-14:00), the guys quickly go over the previous three episodes on God and identify one of the shortcomings of those discussions. Mainly, they never discuss the origin of the other Elohim/gods/ spiritual beings in the Bible. Where do they come from? Where and how are they created? Tim begins to outline an idea to explain the origin story of the other Elohim, and it starts where everything else starts in the Bible––Genesis 1.

Tim explains that there is no wasted or careless word, phrase, or idea placed in the creation story. Tim zeroes in on the “lights” created in Genesis 1 in the heavens. On day four of creation, “the great light” and “the lesser light” are created. Tim’s point is that these lights have roles to play in creation; they are for “signs and symbols.”

"Then God said, 'Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth,' and it was so. God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day." – Genesis 1:14-19

In part two (14:00-54:17), Tim continues to expand the analogy. His point is that in the ancient Hebrew worldview, the sun, moon, and stars were very central in their worldview. To the Hebrews, they were symbols of Yahweh’s love and rule. Tim explains how this is supported in passages like Psalm 36.

"Your lovingkindness, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
Your judgments are like a great deep.
O Lord, You preserve man and beast.
How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.
They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house;
And You give them to drink of the river of Your delights.
For with You is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light." – Psalm 36:5-9

Tim says that verse 9 is important. The Hebrews believed that physical light (photons, electromagnetic, waves, etc) is a symbol, a representation of the creator behind it. Jon says he is struggling to understand this. Tim expands on the point by illustrating that in the new creation, John says, “the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.” – Revelation 21:23.

Tim goes back to Genesis 1, saying that it’s important to understand that God is delegating authority to the “lights” (sun, moon, and stars) by giving them authority to rule in the heavens. Tim says only two things are given ruling ability in the creation story: humans on earth, who are God’s image to rule on the earth, and the lights in the heavens, that are God’s symbols to rule in the heavens. Jon remarks that he has never seen this idea in the creation story of Genesis before.

Tim says that he thinks the biblical authors believed that the “lights in the heavens” were “spiritual beings,” so the other Elohim would have been created and given authority when God created the “lights in the heavens” in Genesis 1. Tim makes a distinction saying that whereas an ancient Canaanite or Egyptian would have worshiped the actual sun, moon, and stars and have heavy habits of astrology, the Hebrews would have insisted that the being to worship is the being behind it all, Yahweh. Tim makes an additional point that in Genesis 1, humans are the ultimate symbol of the divine, whereas the stars are symbols. Tim says this can be seen in Psalm 8.

"Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?
You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!" – Psalm 8:1-9

Tim offers Genesis 6 as a recount of the spiritual rebellion where the “sons of god” rebel by taking human women. In Psalm 82, God confronts the Divine Council.

"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

Tim says this is a key passage to understand that God/Yahweh is talking to the spirit realm here, to the other Elohim. God promises that he will render his judgement on them.

At 54:15, the guys transition to a mini Q+R.

Here are the questions and timestamps:

Q1. (54:47) Cole from North Carolina: “My question is in regard to episode 2 of the God podcast where you discuss the idea of "other Elohim," and so my question is kind of two-part. 1. Are the other Elohim timeless and uncreated like God? 2. And if they aren't, does that mean that God created these inferior Elohim to oppose him?”

Q2. (57:33) Brandon: “When God says, 'Let us make man in our own image and our own likeness,' who's the us' he's referring to in Genesis 1?”

Q3. (59:25) Ivan from El Salvador: “I have a question about the deity of Christ. Tim spoke in the podcast that Christ said (that Jesus said) that he was God in a very Jewish way, and in John 8 when he said to the pharisees that before Abraham "I AM." I just have one question. I was looking at your video about the word LORD in the Shema, and he says that the word was "Ech Yeh," and I want to know if Jesus said that before Abraham, "Ech Yeh" that means that only God can say that. I've been thinking about this question. I know that it was written in Greek, but Tim said that even though it's in Greek, think in Hebrew and think in Aramaic. So when Jesus said "Ech Yeh," did everyone just freak out?! Or did we lose something in translation? What do we think that Jesus said?”

Q4. (1:01:50) John from Colorado Springs: “When you discussed Saul and the medium, you used her explanation of calling Samuel's spirit an Elohim as evidence that Samuel's spirit was in the same class as the rest of the gods. I've always read that as her being more surprised at seeing a spirit come to her. I'd always assumed that the author was telling us what she said, not agreeing with her declaration. Is there evidence in the text that I'm missing suggesting the fact that Samuel's spirit was indeed an Elohim and not just a case of mistaken identity by the medium? And if Samuel's spirit is in fact in the Elohim class, wouldn't that imply that there's no difference in between humans and the rest of the Elohim in the spiritual world, since we would all have some of the same Elohim within us?”

Q5. (1:05:12) Matt from Kansas City: “You mentioned that you do not think there is a way to put the Old Testament Divine Council vignettes into a coherent narrative, but as I was listening to your podcasts, one of your explanations sounded to me like a clear and coherent narrative. Elohim rebelled before the fall of man, and later God gave man over to his rebellion by appointing over them (Deut. 32) the Elohim that they desired. This is also consistent with the point that Paul makes in Romans 1. What do you see as the shortcomings of the harmonization?”

Thank you to all of our supporters! Have a question? Record it and send it to info@jointhebibleproject.com. Next week, Tim and Jon will respond to questions in a full Q+R. There are other Q+Rs scheduled for the future as well.

Show Music:
Defender Instrumental, Rosasharn Music

Show Produced By:
Dan Gummel, Jon Collins, Matthew Halbert-Howen