2. Elohim

Spiritual Beings

Theme: 2. Elohim

Summerstrand 18:30 4 August

INTRODUCTION

We are not alone!

To recap

In the beginning God created two realms, the heavens and the earth. This is the setting for the story of the Bible.

We are more familiar with the human and earthly side of it. But there is another set of characters, the spiritual beings of the heavenly realm who also take part in this earthly story.

Let’s look at the second of our videos on the Spiritual Beings.

VIDEO

Video on Elohim

Watch the video Elohim – 30 MB

Spiritual Beings are copyright 2019 by The Bible Project and are available for viewing at www.thebibleproject.com“.

SERMON TWO: ELOHIM

What is the first of the ten commandments in the Bible?

Anyone?

We find the ten commandments in two places. In the book of Exodus, chapter 20, as the heart of the law of God, given to Moses as the core content of the covenant with the people of Israel in the desert at Sinai. And in Deuteronomy, chapter 5, given by Moses as the guiding principles for entering the Promised Land across the river Jordan.

Let’s read the first commandment in context:

20:1 And God spoke all these words, saying,

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

1st Commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me.

2nd Commandment: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

3rd Commandment: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

The first of the ten commandments are:

“You shall have no other gods before me.” (Ex 20:3; Deut 5:7)

What strikes you about that commandment?

Anyone?

God is not alone!

That is what strikes me about the first commandment. When God commands us to have no other gods, He is recognising that there are other gods. There are other spiritual beings that can catch our attention. There are other gods that can draw us away from Him.

This may come as a shock to you, that there are other gods.

  • Secular society has done a great job of relegating gods to the fantasy world of our movies and mythical stories.
  • Liberal theologians do the same. They teach a worldview that ignore gods. They don’t take into account what the Bible teaches on gods. They dismiss all those texts in the Bible that talk about gods, idols, and demons as a premodern worldview. One that should be discarded.

But if that were true, then this commandment of God would not be necessary. God would not need to tell his people to ignore other gods and focus on Him instead … if there were no other gods in the first place.

But, God does warn them. And He does that repeatedly. No other gods but Me. “For I the Lord your God am a jealous God,” he says in the law (Ex 20:5).

Even Jesus teaches that. When Jesus was asked: “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered:

“The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’” (Mark 12:28-30)

Jesus was quoting the Shema (Deut 6:4), the most important confession of old Israel. The first thing every Jewish child are taught.

And He was saying, no other gods but the Lord your God. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.

This is the message of the whole Bible.

And why is this message necessary? Because …

We live in a god-congested universe

That is what the Bible teaches us. When we read the Bible in context, it clearly reflects the ancient worldview of a god-congested universe.

From Genesis, through the Gospels to Revelation. Right through Scripture the existence of many gods are attested.

So what does the Bible teaches us about these gods?

Let us focus just on two of those type of gods.

The gods of nations

The first of these types of gods can be linked to nations.

We read in Deuteronomy:

“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 .”(Deut 32:8-9)

Moses is talking about the period after the building of the tower of Babel. We read in Genesis that the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which they built.  And the Lord said,

“Come, let us go down …  and the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth.” (Gen 11:5-9).

The verb used is plural and it indicates that Yahweh is speaking to the heavenly host or divine council.

The wonderful thing is that we also read that God chose Israel for Himself as a nation. And in doing so, He allowed the other nations to worship and follow other gods, named “the sons of God”.

This is the background for the fourth vision of Daniel where a certain heavenly being – he could be linked to the pre-existent form of Jesus – gave Daniel insight into the war being fought in the heavenlies regarding the future of the people of God.

This divine man spoke about heavenly beings in charge of nations:

“The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come.” (Daniel 10:13-14)

God Himself is named the “Prince of princes” in Daniel 8:25, teaching us that this reference to “prince” (śǎr) in the vision is to a divine or spiritual being. It is also what the spiritual being was called that helped Joshua in taking possession of the Promised Land, “the commander (or prince) of the army of the Lord” (Jos 5:14).

The gods of religion

The second is the gods of religion. We read in Exodus that Moses and Miriam magnifies the Lord after the deliverance through the Red Sea. They have in mind that God has triumphed over the gods of Egypt:

“For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord.” (Ex 12:12)

So they shout:

“Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?” (Ex 15:11)

These gods are the gods of religion, in their case the Egyptian gods.

With the deliverance of Israel from Egypt God were showing the people of Egypt that their gods were powerless against Him. He wanted them to realise that He is God. He wanted the Egyptians to know that He is the Lord (Ex 7:5). That their gods were powerless against Him.

That was also the purpose of the plagues. It was on the one hand a visible judgement of God to persuade pharaoh to let God’s people go. It was on the other hand a judgement on the spiritual beings worshipped by the Egyptians, a sign to the people that Yahweh, the God of Israel, was the God of the gods, the Lord of the lords.

Most of the plagues can be linked as an act against one or more of their gods.

  • The first plague of blood could have been aimed at the god Khnum, who was considered the creator of water and life.
  • The second plague of frogs could have been directed against Heket, the goddess of childbirth, depicted with the symbol of a frog.
  • The fifth plague against the cattle could have been aimed at Hathor, the goddess of heaven, who was depicted with a cow.
  • The seventh and eighth plagues, hail and grasshoppers, could have been directed against Isis, the goddess of life.
  • The last and tenth plague of the death of the firstborn could have been directed against Osiris, the god specifically associated with Pharaoh and who also acted as the judge of death.

(You can read more about a modern version of this religion here: Kemetism)

That is why Moses teaches the Israelites in the law given at Sinai in the first commandment, the one that all the others derive their power from, that God is above all gods:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. (Ex 20:2-3)

The Lord their God is the God of the gods. He created these gods. Therefore, there is none like Him. The Lord your God, the one that chose you, the one that is the God of the gods, must be worshipped above all.

The short and the long of the first commandment is, you cannot worship the God of gods if you plan to worship other gods as well. He will not allow it.

 “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God.” (Deut 10:17)

Biblical monotheism

The view of God presented in the Bible is thus not monotheistic. We should rather call it henotheistic. There are a number of gods, but One Supreme God exists above them all. He is their Source and Creator.

This is the view of God in the NT also.

When Jesus was tempted by die devil to worship him as god, He answered:

“You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.” (Lk 4:8)

The apostle Paul wrote the following:

For although there are many that that are called gods in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many gods and many lords) – yet for us there is One God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist”. (1)

And Paul exhorts us to become strong in the Lord and his strength:

12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:12)

The apostle John contrasts Jesus with idols as the one true God, and warns us to keep way from these gods:

“Keep yourselves from idols.” (1 Joh 5:21)

And in his Revelation he proclaims God’s judgement on all people that:

“did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk.” (Rev 9:20)

The picture that thus emerges from the Old Testament as well as from the New Testament is that there are other powerful heavenly beings alongside God.

Some of them are the gods of nations. Some of them are the gods of religion. And some of them have other functions as we shall see further in the series.

I am the Lord your God

I want to go back to the beginning of the Ten Commandments. Because there is a very important introduction that governs all the commandments:

20:1 And God spoke all these words, saying,

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

You see, I started with the fact that we live in a god-congested universe. That is the Biblical worldview. There are gods of nations. There are gods of religion. There are other spiritual beings.

But, we only need to know that, to really hear that the Lord God wants us to serve only one God, Himself. He will not tolerate any other gods beside him.

But, it is not as if He wants to force us into doing something that is bad for us. Or that we will forfeit something good in worshipping only Him.

It is because He has said to us: “I am the Lord your God”. He wants to bless us with his presence. He wants to bless us with spiritual gifts. He wants to give us life in abundance. He wants to fulfil his promises to us.

And remember, Herbert Lockyer lists 7 487 specific promises of God to man based on the work of Everet Storms (All the Promises of the Bible). That is a lot of promises that we can rely on!

And if you believe in Christ, you are an heir of all God’s promises (Gal 3:7, 29).

“For all the promises of God find their Yes in him” (2 Cor 1:20).

God now says to you, in Christ:

“You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession” (1 Pet 2:9).

If you take these promises to heart, you have the motivation to shun the other gods, to say no to temptations, to live a life “worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil 1:27).

Paul writes:

“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” (2 Cor 7:1)

Those who hear this promise of God, I am the Lord your God, have the ability to confront every defilement and strive for complete holiness. We make every effort, by the Spirit and strength and help of God, to be found worthy of the Lord, our God.

BIBLE STUDY: ELOHIM

  1. In the beginning God created two realms, the heavens and the earth. This is the setting for the story of the Bible. We are more familiar with the human and earthly side of it. But there is another set of characters, the spiritual beings of the heavenly realm who also take part in this earthly story.
  2. Here is the link to the second of our videos on Spiritual Beings.

Watch the video Elohim – 30 MB

  1. Read Exodus 20:1-7. What does God mean by the 1st Commandment?
  2. Is it true that there are other gods? Do you think we live in a god-congested universe?
  3. Read Deuteronomy 32:8-9 and talk about what it means. Do you think there are gods of the nations?
  4. Read Genesis 11:5-9. How does this help you to think about gods of the nations.
  5. Read Daniel 10:13-14. Who are these “princes”? Do look at Daniel 8:25 to help you, where God Himself is named the “Prince of princes”. You can also read Joshua 5:14 to help you interpret Daniel’s vision.
  6. Read Exodus 7:5 and Exodus 12:12. How this help you to understand that the plagues were also directed at the gods of Egypt (cf Ex 15:11). Do you think there are gods of religions?

A bit of background:

  • The first plague of blood could have been aimed at the god Khnum, who was considered the creator of water and life.
  • The second plague of frogs could have been directed against Heket, the goddess of childbirth, depicted with the symbol of a frog.
  • The fifth plague against the cattle could have been aimed at Hathor, the goddess of heaven, who was depicted with a cow.
  • The seventh and eighth plagues, hail and grasshoppers, could have been directed against Isis, the goddess of life.
  • The last and tenth plague of the death of the firstborn could have been directed against Osiris, the god specifically associated with Pharaoh and who also acted as the judge of death.
  1. Read Exodus 20:1-2 again. Focus on the phrase: “I am the Lord your God”. How does this help you understand God’s command?
  2. Read Galatians 3:7,29, 2 Corinthians 1:20, and 1 Peter 2:9. What do you make of the promises and calling that God has for you?
  3. Read Philippians 1:27 and 2 Corinthians 7:1. How can you respond to these callings of God on our lives?

 

 

     

Trackback from your site.

Leave a comment

Kommentaar en navrae

  • Avatar

    Willem Wiid

    |

    Ek is opsoek na verlede Sondag (20/10/2019) se liturgie. Kry dit ongelukkig nie opgespoor nie. Kry ook nie die afkondigings nie

  • Avatar

    Riana Carstens

    |

    Dankie!!!!!! N insiggewende opbouende preek wat die “Goeie nuus” boodskàp ook bevat. Baie baie dankie.

    Riana

  • Avatar

    Rene De Lange

    |

    Ek is opsoek na n woonstelmaat vir 2020. Overbaakens kompleks naby Moffitt on main
    huur R3100 per maand. Water en elektrisiteit uitgesluit. Whatsapp my asseblief op 073 043 9386 .

  • Avatar

    Chris van Wyk

    |

    Hi Pieter

    Jy kan uiteraard lees wat ek self oor Romeine en Efesiërs geskryf het:

    Maar, as jy ‘n bietjie dieper wil delf, kan jy kyk na die volgende bronne:

    • Faithlife Study Bible (korter kommentaar oor die hele Bybel)
    • NET Bible (kort tekstuele kommentaar oor die hele Bybel – gratis op YouVersion se Bible app)
    • Scripture Direct (uitstekende woordverklarings oor die hele NT – gratis as app)
    • Keener, C. S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Second Edition). IVP Academic. 2014.
    • Vosloo, W., & van Rensburg, F. J. Die Bybel in Praktyk (Nuwe Vertaling). Vereeniging: Christelike Uitgewersmaatskappy. 1993
    • Van Zyl, A. H.. Die Bybel verklaar: 1983-vertaling. Kaapstad: Lux Verbi. 1993

    Dan is daar natuurlik volbloed kommentare.
    Op Romeine:

    Op Efesiërs:

    • Lincoln, Andrew T. Ephesians WBC 1990
    • Bruce, F. F. The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians NICNT
      1984
    • Foulkes, Francis Ephesians TNTC 1989
    • Stott, John R. W. The Message of Ephesians BST 1991
    • Fowl, S. E. Ephesians: A Commentary. Westminster John Knox Press 2012
    • Roberts, J. H. Die brief aan die Efesiers. N G Kerk-Uitgewers. 1990
    • William Barclay http://www.dannychesnut.com/Bible/Barclay/Galatians%20and%20Ephesians.htm