Post 127 / The Next Language
January 31, 2023
Those “Other Sheep” 3 – in the OT
In our quest to complete reading the Bible during the life of this project we have recently finished the Old Testament verse-by-verse with the Narrow Path by Steve Gregg. Prior to this my assumption of the Old Testament was that it was a Jewish thing promoted and preserved by the political and religious elite. I had wondered why some of that record survived in the hands of those in power who were made to look pretty bad. What became apparent was that the production and preservation of the Old Testament was almost entirely God’s work through the prophets.
The prophets were the only component of the prophet/priest/king triad that was not institutionalized. All of the OT was written by the prophets. In fact, the cannon was eventually determined by whether the author was a legitimate prophet. Authors impersonating prophets were rejected. The organization and duplication and preservation of the scrolls happened over centuries, sometimes completely outside the control of the kings and priests. The final act in that process (which we’ve only glimpsed in in recent years) was the preservation and discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls.
As a result of this organic and largely God directed community of prophets, the record we have in our Old Testament is not at all what I had originally imagined. Rather than an official religious and often racist record it was actually a minority perspective on history through the eyes of a righteous remnant that was consciously speaking for and enabled by God. It is amazing that such a literate and educated community did not spend more time writing about themselves. We are left with only glimpses of the schools of the prophets and their survival in the extermination environment of Ahab and Jezebel. But the story of the prophets was never primarily about the prophets but about the works and intentions of God. The existence of many of the prophecies had zero immediate nutritional value … but our Eternal Father was setting a table for our benefit thousands of years later.
Given this perspective the insights we get from the record of non-Jewish nations around the Promised Land and even to the “isles of the sea” remind us that God’s purposes have always been international. We have always known that God’s covenants with Abraham and his people were ultimately for “all the peoples of the earth.” But God’s program to those sheep outside Abraham’s family was not so obvious a story. The intricate detail of the preservation of the chosen “seed” and the legal and ceremonial signposts pointing to the final Anointed One are spot on to the story of the Bible being as, the Bible Project correctly declares, “a unified story that leads to Jesus.”
How that story looks to the non-Jew is largely left for us to figure out, using extra Biblical inputs and historical cultural remnants still in place in the languages we are working with in the remotest places left on earth. Don Richardson in Eternity in Their Hearts provides examples from modern day cultures that make us aware that God has not been sleeping.
My intent in this blog is to finish setting the background for God’s works outside the Abrahamic story based on hints from the Bible. In the next blog we will look at the amazing story of Balaam to illuminate God’s ways outside of the Abrahamic family. Then we will venture much farther afield.
Genesis chapter 10 gives us a genealogy whose purpose is to document the division of the earth.
[Gen 10:5, 25, 32 KJV] 5 By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations. … 25 And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one [was] Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother’s name [was] Joktan. … 32 These [are] the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.
Quite clearly the division was part of the event at Babel where the languages were divided and the people scattered.
[Gen 11:9 KJV] 9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
Immediately following Babel the record gives the genealogy of Shem for the singular purpose of introducing Abraham in Gen. 12. From that point the focus of the Bible is on Abraham and his “seed.”
The story of the seventy nations of Gen. 10 is largely untold but left for us to unfold. In Deut. 32 we get extra commentary on this division of the earth in Moses’ review of history.
[Deu 32:8 KJV] 8 When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.
I am indebted to Dr. Michael Heiser, author of The Unseen Realm for pointing out that both the Septuagint and the Dead Sea scrolls indicate that God set the bounds according to the number of the sons of God. I would commend this book to you for an exposition of enigmatic Scripture references to the sons of God and the council of God. I am not going to expand on that even though this hierarchy has a lot to do with affairs here on earth. There is good scriptural evidence for territorial spirit beings that are responsible for entire blocks of people – presumably originally 70 groups worldwide.
Daniel reveals a lot about the princes assigned to Israel. Apparently Michael was the principle in charge of Israel but he enlisted Gabriel when needed. They were interacting in a large heavenly complex of beings.
[Dan 8:16 KJV] 16 And I heard a man’s voice between [the banks of] Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this [man] to understand the vision.
[Dan 9:21 KJV] 21 Yea, whiles I [was] speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.
[Dan 10:5-6, 12-14, 20-21 KJV] 5 Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins [were] girded with fine gold of Uphaz: 6 His body also [was] like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude. … 12 Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. 13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. 14 Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision [is] for [many] days. … 20 Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come. 21 But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and [there is] none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.
[Dan 12:1 KJV] 1 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation [even] to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
Here in Daniel we have an inside view of a little of the activity in the heavenly realm. There is the “man clad in linen.” (Apparently a prenatal appearance of Jesus.) There is clear reference to the “Prince of the kingdom of Persia.” We have Gabriel being helped by the Chief Prince Michael. There is a Prince of Greece — apparently another territorial Prince.
This all suggests to me that the 70 “sons of God” are at work administrating God’s program for the nations. There have been times in my career when those beings were nearly tangible.
Are we to take it that all of those beings are demonic? Evidently Michael and Gabriel were not. And just because two of those princes might be opposing each other in their territorial interests does not mandate that ultimately they are not being used toward God’s ultimate purposes. We know from the cross that God actually used the evil intents of Satan himself to accomplish his own demise.
I believe that the princes and/or the sons of God are finite created beings with free will that have been charged to administer the heavens much as we as created finite beings made in the image of God were intended to rule the earth. Some of us handle that responsibility better than others and, of course, some worse. I think the same could be said for the influence of the heavenly princes on the kingdoms of the earth. And of course the flawed response to that spiritual influence on the part of fallen human cultures insures that we are all on a broad gradient in our progress toward God and His purposes.
But, we cannot deny that, directly or indirectly, God is in charge and has progressively made Himself known. How that story unfolded and merged into the Good News about Jesus, is what the great commission is about. With sensitivity to all this knowledge we can unpack and work toward completion of a story that has been moving forward in every nation since the Tower of Babel.
Next week: Balaam. If your nicely packaged Judeo-Christian theology has been stretched a bit this week I beg you to hang on because we are just getting started.
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