Episode 33: Who Were the Sons of God, and Why Did Satan Come With Them To God’s Throne in Job? (+Jacob’s Sons Avenge The Rape of Their Sister) Rated Pg-13
Today’s episode is rated pg-13, and that is a first for us. Of course, I am being a little tongue in cheek by using such a rating, but what I am trying to communicate is that the subject matter isn’t necessarily for children – not my discussion, but the passage that we are reading. For our readings today, we are in Genesis 34, a very upsetting passage in which Dinah, daughter of Jacob is raped. Though it doesn’t make it better, the revenge on those who raped her is every bit as satisfying as any revenge-themed movie you’ve ever seen. We continue in Mark, which sees the fascinating incident with Jesus and the legion of demons that he drives into a herd of pigs, an episode which we will no doubt cover later on in the podcast run. Romans 5 will then continue our beautiful view of the good news of Jesus, proclaiming the powerful truth of death in the first Adam, and life everlasting available in the second Adam, Jesus.
Also today we begin a new book – Job (pronounced JOBE, not JOHB) which is one of the literary masterpieces of the Bible, and a book which will flex many of your theological convictions. The primary theme of Job is suffering, sovereignty and the character of God. A fascinating thing happens in Job 1 and 2 – we are given a peak into the throne room of God, where we will get a glimpse at what is probably God’s Divine Council as well as a conversation between God and The Satan. That will be our focus passage today, as we consider who the ‘Sons of God’ were, and why the Devil came with them (twice) to a meeting in God’s throne room. Let’s read it – prepare to be surprised if you’ve never read Job before!
6 One day the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. 7 The Lord asked Satan, “Where have you come from?”Job 1:6-7
Job doesn’t give us a lot of subtext or explanation here – all of the sudden, we are taken to a scene in the throne room of God, and these beings called ‘Sons of God’ are presenting themselves before THE King of Kings – God Most High, and Satan is strolling in there with them. So many questions! Who in the world were the ‘Sons of God?’ Isn’t Jesus the ONLY Son of God? Was the Satan somehow a ‘son of God?’ To at least try to answer these questions, lets first look at the text of the Bible:
Genesis 6:1, “The sons of God saw that the daughters of mankind were beautiful, and they took any they chose as wives for themselves.“
Genesis 6:4, “The Nephilim were on the earth both in those days and afterward, when the sons of God came to the daughters of mankind, who bore children to them. They were the powerful men of old, the famous men.“
Job 1:6, ” One day the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them.”
Job 2:1, “One day the sons of God came again to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them to present himself before the Lord.”
Job 38:7, “Where were you when I established the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
5 Who fixed its dimensions? Certainly you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
6 What supports its foundations?
Or who laid its cornerstone
7 while the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy? “
This is every exact occurrence of the Hebrew phrase ” בְּנֵי הָאֱלֹהִים ” (Bene-Elohim/sons of God) in the Old Testament. From this very limited sampling, we can conclude with a fairly high degree of grammatical certainty that, in at least some instances, the ‘sons of God’ in the Hebrew Old Testament were NOT human. (How could they be since God Himself says in Job 38 that they were present at the creation of the world and were shouting for joy then?) Some confidently postulate that the ‘sons of God’ are the human offspring of Seth, but that simply does not fit the context of the Job passages or really the Genesis passage either.
As mentioned in our episode on the Nephilim, episode 6, I further believe that the grammatical and contextual uses of the Hebrew phrase here indicate that the ‘sons of God’ in Genesis 6 and Job were NOT human, but were some sort of Heavenly being. Most assume that they are angels, but that doesn’t appear to be the case either, as angels tend to serve as messengers (that is what the Hebrew for their name means) and these beings do not appear to be messengers. So – what are they? Sadly, the Bible never tells us exactly, but I believe it is likely that what we are seeing in Job 1 and Job 2 is what is described in a bit fuller detail in Psalm 82: The Divine Council of Yahweh, referred to earlier this week:
God stands in the divine assembly;Psalm 82:1-4
he pronounces judgment among the gods:
Here is another picture of what might well be the divine council:
Then Micaiah said, “Therefore, hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and the whole heavenly army was standing by him at his right hand and at his left hand. 20 And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab to march up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ So one was saying this and another was saying that. 21 “Then a spirit came forward, stood in the Lord’s presence, and said, ‘I will entice him.’ 22 “The Lord asked him, ‘How?’ “He said, ‘I will go and become a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ “Then he said, ‘You will certainly entice him and prevail. Go and do that.’1 Kings 22:19-22
From these Scriptures, we see that God ‘holds court’ from time to time and meets with various heavenly beings and considers their council. Why would an omniscient being do this? I think the answer lies in relationship rather than the need of council. God did not need humans. He was not lonely, and thus created humanity in the same way one adopts a puppy for companionship. God Himself, as Trinity, is in the ultimate relationship and is completely fulfilled in Himself, but His actions seem to indicate that He is a God who delights in relationships with others. But why was The Satan in God’s throne room? (Satan isn’t a name, it is a role – it means, “The accuser.) That is a big, big question, and the surprising truth is that, up until a certain time, Satan had access to Heaven:
7 Then war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels also fought, 8 but he could not prevail, and there was no place for them in heaven any longer. 9 So the great dragon was thrown out—the ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the one who deceives the whole world. He was thrown to earth, and his angels with him. 10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say, The salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have now come, because the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been thrown down.Revelation 12:7-10
At some point, apparently during the time of humans being on earth, Satan was cast out of Heaven. A plain-sense reading of Revelation 12 indicates that – even well after The Fall of Genesis 3, Satan had access to Heaven. How do we know? Because vs. 10 notes that Satan had been accusing the brothers and sisters in front of GOD (day and night!) BEFORE he was cast out of Heaven. If this happened pre-creation, or even pre-Fall in the Garden, there were no brothers and sisters to be accused! Therefore I believe that Job is giving us a picture of what things were like in Heaven pre-the War in Heaven of Revelation 12 – prior to Satan being cast out of Heaven.
Allow me to close with this powerful encouragement from Charles Spurgeon:
How few Christians there seem to be who really understand the covenant of grace! “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” We fell, not by our own fault, but by Adam’s fault; and we rise, not by our own virtue, but by virtue of our union with Christ. If you are in Christ, believer, you are safe while Christ stands. You cannot drown the body until you drown the Head. My foot may be deep in the stream, but until the waves roll over my brow, my foot is not drowned; and until Christ shall perish, no soul that is one with Christ can be destroyed; for he said to his disciples, “Because I live, you shall live also.” … May the Spirit of God glorify Christ by taking these things of Christ, and revealing them unto you, and making them personally yours!C. H. Spurgeon, “The Spirit’s Office Towards Disciples,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 53 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1907), 512. Slightly modernized.