1b. gods or God- are there missing triune explanations in the Old Testament
Micahel Heiser states whom the council is NOT! “Many Bible readers note the plural pronouns (us; our) with curiosity. They might suggest that the plurals refer to the Trinity, but technical research in Hebrew grammar and exegesis has shown that the Trinity is not a coherent explanation.” ( The Unseen Realm, 2015, p. 39).
Heiser says this is not the Trinity speaking AMONG themselves but only TO the divine council. He says, “ The solution is much more straightforward… What we have is a single person (God) addressing a group— the members of his divine council.”
Heiser does not define who is speaking, is it the Father, the Son or the Holy Spirit speaking to this council? What Heiser sees in Genesis is only what he wants to see. A simple reading of the passage (in light of New Testament revelation) clearly shows that the persons within the godhead are communicating amongst themselves.
That is not being straight forward but crooked in so many ways. And to call what he says as a coherent explanation (which means rationale, intelligible and clear) is banal and hubris.
Heiser is saying the plural statements of God saying ‘us,’ ‘our’ and ‘we’ are rather the other so- called Elohim gods that God created! Was God announcing or asking ‘the divine council for help to create man?’ Then the SCRIPTURE cannot be correct when it says man was made in the image of God, because it also includes the other elohim (creatures) that gods made which are referred to elohim as well.
Heiser also states that while humans are the image God God on earth, angelic beings are the image of God in the spiritual world. This means man is then made in the image AND likeness of these ‘other creatures’ that Heiser calls divine, divine gods who later fell. Where does the Bible teach such a doctrine explicitly or implicitly?
The Bible never teaches what Heiser is saying! we will also discuss later what divine means and what divine does not mean.
Yet Heiser also contradicts himself when he says,“The image of God as a phrase is applied only to humans.” (Michael S. Heiser, The Lexham Bible Dictionary)
Heiser's explanation is that Let us,’ and ‘our image’ is his alleged council creating man. (Heiser also says God consulted with them)
God said ‘let us make man in our image,’ apparently the gods that The God spoke to, declined. As Heiser says, he spoke to them and they did not act. What stopped them from participating? Which means they were disobedient before the last day of creation.
His interpretation actually negates God himself saying ‘let US make man in OUR image.’ Herein lies his confusion, He is saying God alone is doing the creating, and, in the same breath is saying that God is not doing the creating alone.
Heiser's explanations may be acceptable to some, defining who is saying ‘let us make man’ to. But a divine council, (gods), that God consults or works with within Scripture is non-existent in the Scripture contrary to his insistence.
He goes on to use an apparent modicum of logic with a weak example from everyday life, “It’s like me going into a room of friends and saying, “Hey, let’s go get some pizza!” I’m the one speaking. A group is hearing what I say. Similarly, God comes to the divine council with an exciting announcement: “Let’s create humankind!”
In other words he does not want ‘us,’ or ‘our’ to be the Triune God who confers together in the act of creating man; but instead gods, his ‘divine’ creatures as his cohort friends. But what does the New Testament say about this?
Using human understanding Heiser states, “What we have is a single person (God) addressing a group—the members of his divine council.”
Biblically! The plural pronoun (‘Us,’ ‘Our’) in this matter is identified with God alone, no others are included.
However, according to Heiser God is addressing these others as his equals in Scripture. In Scripture, God has no equals to himself! Created by him! Therefore Heiser is wrong in his interpretation. A person can only learn this by his new Hebrew technique, his so called higher scholarly and exegete abilities. Phooey!
He suggests the Trinity “does not need to speak to each other because they already know what is in each other's minds” (Angels: What the Bible Really Says About God's Heavenly Host pp. 8-9)
However, let us go to Psalm 110:1 “The LORD said to my Lord,” Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”
This is found in the same book (Psalms) that Heiser uses for his Sons of God revelation that he applied to Genesis (Ps.110 is quoted in all three gospels by Jesus the Son). There are other examples such as Jesus praying to the Father. So we do have a specific reference of God speaking among himself (Father to Son) the very activity Heiser says he cannot find (except for the Angel of the Lord. Which will be addressed in another discussion). The point is that there ARE examples of communication between the persons within the Godhead.
Scripture is written for man to understand God. God conveyed his nature as a plural unity .That is why Gn.1:26 and elsewhere have plural words to convey Gods nature which is further clarified in the New Testament. Yet Heiser states these a not used to present a triune nature of God but instead a council of Elohim with the greater elohim.
God had his nature written in the Bible to convey His plural unity as The One from the beginning who is established in the New Testament. The Father, the Son and Holy Spirit are spoken of, to explain ‘The Who’ that created all things. Throughout Scripture we read God speaks among himself. We see Jesus who was God incarnate speak to the Father throughout His ministry! Jesus in prayer says “ And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was .”
Why would this not be so in heaven? There is evidence of communication between them? Heiser has this crucial teaching of the persons of God s missing from Old Testament Bible theology. This is a hazardous teaching that does affect the triune nature of God revealed in Scripture.
A number of times God does speak in the plural among himself instead of singular! But Heiser says no, insisting THAT HE (singular) IS SPEAKING to a council. despite the fact this is how the majority of Trinitarians, pastors, scholars, theologians (and the early church) throughout history (nearly 2,000 years) have interpreted this verse correctly, disagreeing with Heiser.
In a lengthy footnote Heiser states: Seeing the Trinity in Gen 1:26 is reading the New Testament back into the old Testament, something that isn’t a sound interpretive method for discerning what an Old Testament writer was thinking. Unlike the New Testament, the Old Testament has no Trinitarian phrases (e.g., “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”; cf Matt 28:19-20). The triune godhead idea is never transparently expressed in the Old Testament. Since… other references to divine plurality involve divine beings who are lesser than Yahweh, we must be careful about attributing the language of divine plurality to the Trinity. Doing so will get us into theological trouble in other passages.” Underline mine.
As we see this is not correct at all. Heiser has made a new doctrinal structure to explain the Old Testament which obtusely affects the New Testament. Whereas the best principle of interpretation is the New Testament shedding light on the Old, not the reverse. He is causing theological trouble,confusion introducing theories that do not fit the biblical record. The conclusion on this matter is that Heiser is deceived on this and deceiving others by intentionally taking away the divine communication between the eternal persons of the Trinity!
He should be careful of not attributing divine language to the Trinity!
Hebrew Messianic Scholar Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum writes, “Elohim, is a plural noun and has the Hebrew masculine plural ending. Whenever it is used of the true God, it is always translated in the singular, but when it is used of false gods, it is always translated in the plural. The fact that the Hebrew word is plural when speaking of the only one true God opens the door to the concept of plurality.”
Heiser consistently resists seemingly intentionally resists) finding the Triunity in the Old Testament, I have yet to see him affirm the Triunity as he does the council of gods which he declares are the biblically intended subjects of the many ‘plural’ passages in the Old Testament.
Genesis is the foundation for numerous doctrines in Scripture, Gods infinite omniscient nature, of being the creator of all things, AND man’s finite nature of being created directly from him, in his image and likeness and then falling into sin.
This dismisses this summary statement from Scripture “So God created man in his own image, in His own image He created them. Male and Female He them.” (KJV)
He explains “So God created humankind in his image, in the likeness of God he
And “They watch” (meaning that the unbiblical
other created Elohim
that he spoke this too, watched him in his creation man (those who watched
are mentioned in Job.38 as morning stars; the sons of God.
But the Scripture teaches only one Elohim created man, not one among the other elohim, not some did and some didn’t. So he changes the words and their meanings by his scholastic opinion. some things god warns about .
Which elohim created man? YHWH Elohim OR other so called Elohim (the ‘others’). In Gn. 1:26 Heiser says God spoke to (other elohim) who are not mentioned in the bible, who were watching what God was doing. Gn. 5:1-2 “… In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God.” According to the Bibles Word if any elohim are involved in creating they would be creators like the only true God of Israel. The Bible is specific who made it all, it is YHWH elohim alone. Gn. 2:4 “This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.”
Heiser says these sons of God are made in Gods image and likeness. However Scripture only speaks of this of mankind he is inserting into Scripture something it does not say but wants it to say.
As he says “those sons of God who were already in existence at the time of creation. The plurals in Genesis 1:26 mean that, in some way, we share something with them when it comes to bearing God’s image.” (Unseen Realm)
So let’s understand what he is proposing, they did not help create man but God (Elohim) is speaking to them (in Scripture) to make man in ‘his image.’ This is duplicit and it cannot be both ways.
When it states “Let Us make man in Our image, God created man “in the image of God,” not gods (Gn. 1:26-27). Scripture repeats this several times (Gn. 5:1; Gn. 9:6; 1 Cor. 11:7; Jams 3:9), but not once does Scripture make any such connection between God and ‘other’ elohim in their image. Heiser states the other Elohim are said to be made in the same image of God. Are there are others who share in Gods image and likeness that are not mentioned in Gods revelation to us in His Word. If this is true than why is it that only man is redeemable and not the angels or other creatures made in Gods image that fell?
God is speaking to a make believe Elohim, to make man in ‘His image.’ This either shows how confused Heiser is or how much he is intentionally leading whoever will listen to him.
Let me use the same illogical phrasing Heiser uses to prove his point as moot. If angels or other beings are Elohim share in the divine image of God because of their special creation, then in Gn. 1:26 would not God turn to the angels and say, “Now let’s make another creature like the both of us.” Why does Scripture instead say that He will make man in ‘his image’ and not theirs?
The implication by Heiser's interpretation also gives the other creatures the same power to create life, not just YHWH elohim.
When the bible speaks of the one true God the word Elohim can also be used for one person of the Godhead or all three, since they all share in common the same eternal nature that’s deity.
Heiser says there is one creator, and the other gods created are divine. Heiser redefines Monotheism by claiming his view holds to the ontological uniqueness of Yahweh. However, the main God asks the other gods (consults with them). This is what is called Henotheism, which contains Polytheism, and Polytheism is not Monotheism. This demotes the all knowing, omniscient creator God as one who seeks help, guidance and assistance from lesser creatures in his creating man.
Gn.2 summarizes who created all things and there is no council mentioned. Gen 2:4 “This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens ” (specifically YHWH Elohim). This includes all that was made; including man and woman). Scripture does not ever say God consulted, created or employed any Elohim creature to help in creation. This qualification shows us that it is the YHWH elohim that the Scripture is referring to as the Elohim in creation. “In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God ” (Gn.2:4), again not gods. Deut. 4:32 “since the day that God created man on the earth” (see Mal.2:10; Rv.4:11, 10:11; Isa.44:24. Also numerous ‘other’ Scriptures indirectly attribute creation of man to only God (Hebrew-YHWH Elohim) as the creator of man. (The same one who created the heavens and earth).
Ps 104:30 “You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; And You renew the face of the earth.” which is directly linked to Gn.1:2 the Spirit over the waters. The Holy Spirit is active as God in Gn. 1:2. One can safely say God IS speaking to the Holy Spirit in Genesis 1:26 as one of the other Persons. Affirming the concept of the Trinity the beginning of this revelation of Gods nature that was gradually revealed throughout the Scripture from Genesis 1:26. Job says what it states in Genesis 1:2 “By His Spirit He made the heavens.” (Job 26:13, also see Ps. 194:30). Heiser however places the divine council in this position than the Holy Spirit, or the Son who is included in creating.
Here is what Heiser is trying to convince us to believe, that God created all the living things in Genesis 1, but when it came to man he did not, he conferred with his elohim council, regardless of how specific Genesis disagrees with this imaginative teaching The scripture speaks for itself. “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Gn. 1:27)
He inserts a council that has no mention in the text that he insinuates it exists in another text (Ps.82)which comes a thousand years later. He used this as the axis for interpretation with no justification or validation to support it.
New Testament Revelation
The New Testament defines what is unclear in the Old Testament and defines ‘the who’ that are involved.
John 1:2-3 “He was in the beginning with God All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” Jesus is with him (YHWH) from the beginning. What beginning? The creation, Gen.1. That’s whom God in Gn. 1:26 is speaking from within his plural nature as the one God, not to others outside of himself.
When Heiser says the elohim are consulted, this includes Jesus as one of these elohim. Why? Because he says it is not speaking of the Trinity. But Jesus, the eternal Son is God, Biblically it is God who creates. In Heb.1:10 we read of The Father speaking of the Son, “ And, Thou, Lord,in the beginning has laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of your hands.” That’s Gn.1; 1:26.
Rv. 4:11 “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.” If the preceding Scriptures say Jesus created all things and the book of Revelation says the Lord did, than the conclusion we come to is that The son is whom God is speaking to in Gn.1:26 - both the Son and the Spirit. The speaker and the ones addressed are included in the act of creating man who will be made in God the creator’s image.
Some may be persuaded by Heiser's new view need to consider the following qualifying statements. Col. 1:16 speaking of the Son who is God “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” Eph. 3:9 God, “who created all things through Jesus Christ.” Heb. 3:4-5 “He who built all things is God.”
The New Testament makes it perfectly clear The Son of God is with God the Father (Jn.1)
Heiser states: “And Yahweh God said, “Look— the man has become as one of us, to know good and evil.” The phrase “one of us” informs us that, as in Genesis 1:26, God is speaking to his council members—the elohim. This tells us clearly that the second instance of elohim in Genesis 3:5 should be plural.”
(this means the ‘us’ were not God but the other creatures called elohim, but God is also included, which is really convoluted)
He also states in contradistinction, Genesis 1:26, when God said, “Let us make humankind.” The ensuing singular forms guided us to conclude that the passage has humankind created by a single creator, the God of Israel, who creates humans as his imagers. The prior plural language was a clue that God’s other family, the divine sons of God created sometime earlier, were also imagers of their creator.” (Unseen Realm)
He counters what he said previously by introducing his addition of mankind is created in the image of other elohim gods who are another image of God (the other elohim) and God. Two images instead of humanity directly made by the creator of all.
The words image and likeness are attached to the plural pronouns ‘our’ and ‘us.’ The speaker and the ones addressed in the act of creating are of the same image that man will be made in. Nowhere in the Bible is humanity said to be made in any other being but God’s image alone. There is not 2 images mentioned, only one, Gods. Nowhere does the Bible teach we were made in the image of creatures, divine or not.
Clearly Heiser does not understand what image and likeness means. It means a moral nature, a creature with finite qualities , attributes and abilities like the creator who alone has infinite abilities that no other creatures.
Heiser cites Clines view, which: “would imply that man was made in the image of the elohim as well as of God Himself (‘in our image’); it would mean that the elohim shared in the creation of man (‘let us make’)” (Clines, “The Image of God in Man,” 66).
Heiser goes on to say “The text is clear that the angels did not participate in the creation of humankind. The singular suffix (“so God created humankind in His image”) makes that point as well. There is no contradiction if “let us create” is taken as an announcement of the single Creator to a group .” Thus affirming what Cline presupposes.
I see no divine council mentioned or insinuated ANYWHERE in the Bible. Exactly where does God teach in the Scripture that he has created gods, and uses a council of gods for anything? Absolutely nowhere. Heiser or anyone else has to read this into the text and when they do it changes Gods Word dramatically. Clearly this does damage to the concept of the triune nature regardless of his insisting it does not. Yes it does affect the Trinity in the Old Testament and it changes it throughout the Bible.
Scripture says only God exercised his creative power for 6 days, but Heiser insists the divine council was involved, how? and where? From the beginning the Bible attributes creation to the only God. Gn.1:1. Isa. 45:12 “I have made the earth, And created man on It.” And further states “ I--My hands-- stretched out the heavens. In other words, he alone created the earth and the heavens. Gn. 2:3 “He rested from all His work.”
Now let us look at ‘us,’ or ‘our’ -- God as a Triunity (Tjhe Father, the son and the Holy Spirit) within the triune nature God confers together in the act of creating man instead of announcing or consulting with some fictitious ‘divine’ creatures as his cohort friends.
As we go through the Scripture ask yourself where is the divine council in any of this? This must be inserted as part of the theological construct.
Gn. 1:3 Then God said, “Let there be light”
Gn. 1:6 God said , “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.”
Gn. 1:9 God said , “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear”
Gn. 1:11 God said , “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”
Gn. 1:14 God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night.”
Gn. 1:16 “ Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also.”
Gn. 1:20-21 God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” 21 So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind.”
Gn. 1:24 God said, “ Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind ”
Gn. 1:26-28 God said , “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
When we read all these in context and allow Gods Word to convey its content we find that it is the same Elohim that has created all things in the 5 days of creation. Then continuing his creation on the 6th day we read that ‘God said,’ as he did all the other days, Elohim announced to make man in his image. The question is to whom? The answer is contained in the text from start to finish.
Heiser wants us to think these Elohim (the others) are divine creatures, and did nothing or were not involve until man was made. He wants us to believe (God) elohim did not speak to elohim (as the Trinity) until man was announced to be made when the record says ‘God said’ each time.
Heiser wants us to believe that the one and only true God (Elohim) from (within the Godhead) until mankind was announced, However every single day of creation it is recorded that it was God that said everything about what He created, and then after the creation was complete, it was He who said, “IT IS GOOD”.
This is why Heiser's interpretation is so wrong for it says Elohim said (spoke each time something was made.) Gn.1:26 does not specify different Elohim like Heiser teaches, but it becomes obvious who they are, the same Elohim (God), who spoke for all things to exist.
When we come to the second chapter Moshe (Moses), gives us further details of the first chapter of Gn. 2:4 “This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God (YHWH elohim) made the earth and the heavens”
Scripture actually tells us in Gn. 2:6-7 “And the LORD God (YHWH elohim) formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” It says God breathed into man and gave him life, not the council.
After Adam and Eve is made God speaks to them, "Be fruitful and multiply Gn. 1:28; v.29 God said , "See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth”
We read of further details Gen 2:15-16 Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, telling him to eat of all the trees fruit except one.
Gn. 2:18 the LORD God (YHWH elohim) said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” This become the very last act to create that is spoken by the YHWH Elohim.
This same God came into the garden each afternoon to converse with man that he had created (Gn.3:8). There is no council in the garden as Heiser proposes. He confuses people by his own predilection. His agenda is to introduce a council, he is biased because everywhere there is a plural connected to God such as ‘us,’ ‘our’ or ‘we,’ it’s not the Trinity.
So Heiser says YHWH Elohim created all things in 5 days, and then on the 6 th day only, the greater Elohim made man in his and included the other elohims image. Denying one God in three persons, Heiser presents the elohim as numerous separate gods, created elohim, divine ones which is only applied to false gods when it is in the plural.
Questions…Why does God not speak to these Elohim until he declares to make man to them? Where does this council speak of what they have done in Genesis? Where are they specifically mentioned in creation in the Genesis account?
Genesis is the basis to build on. How is his teaching being accepted or excused is beyond me. This is polytheism, even Henotheism; not Monotheism, and should be easy enough to identify and understand the differences and corrected by those (especially pastors) who are trained in Scripture.
This teaching divides the Church and shows what one actually believes of man and God from Genesis. As Paul admonishes us in 2 Tim. 2:7 “Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.”
Israel was never taught about a council of Gods but that there is only one true God, that YHWH alone is God. YHWH took Abraham from paganism to form a nation that would be taught the truth directly from him and that they would worship Him correctly and not be like any other nation, but a theocracy under him. God was their shepherd and delivered his truth to them by His word through the prophets. And warned them about going astray from his Word. Heiser has gone astray.
Pt.2a the other Elohim, Psalm 82 Heiser’s sons of god (Divine Council) interpretations - Heiser's serious interpretative flaw