Welcome to Day 1531 of our Wisdom-Trek, and thank you for joining me.
I am Guthrie Chamberlain, Your Guide to Wisdom
Divine Rebellions – Worldview Wednesday
Wisdom – the final frontier to true knowledge. Welcome to Wisdom-Trek! Where our mission is to create a legacy of wisdom, to seek out discernment and insights, and to boldly grow where few have chosen to grow before.
Hello, my friend, I am Guthrie Chamberlain, your captain on our journey to increase wisdom and create a living legacy. Thank you for joining us today as we explore wisdom on our 2nd millennium of podcasts. Today is Day 1531 of our trek, and it is Worldview Wednesday. Creating a Biblical Worldview is essential to have a proper perspective on today’s current events.
To establish a Biblical Worldview, you must have a proper understanding of God and His Word. This week, we will expand on the past course work as we continue reviewing the book from Dr. Michael S Heiser titled Supernatural. The book is an abbreviated version of his more comprehensive book The Unseen Realm. I highly recommend both of these books. Creating a Biblical Worldview based on how the Old and New Testaments connect with God’s overall plan for humanity is essential. This book review will help us understand what the Bible teaches about the unseen world, and why it matters.
I ended last week’s Worldview Wednesday episode with the thought that free will in the hands of imperfect beings, whether divine or human, can have disastrous results. That’s an understatement. Some catastrophes in the early chapters of the Bible, all of them involving both humans and supernatural beings, illustrate the point.
Recall that God decided to share his authority with both divine beings in the supernatural realm and human beings on earth. That was the backdrop to God’s statement in Genesis 1:26, “Let us make humankind in our image,” and the fact that God then created humans in His image.
Spiritual beings and humans are imagers of God. We share his authority and represent him as co-rulers.
On the one hand, that was an excellent decision. Free will is part of being like God. We couldn’t be like him if we didn’t have it. Without free will, concepts like love and self-sacrifice die. If you are merely “programmed” to love, there is no decision in it. It isn’t real. Scripted words and acts aren’t genuine. Thinking about this takes me back to the last of the original Star Wars movies, The Return of the Jedi. The spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi tells Luke his father, Darth Vader, “is more machine now than man.” Yet, in the end, we find that isn’t true. Vader saves Luke from the emperor at the cost of his own life. Vadar wasn’t just a programmed machine; his decision came from the heart, his humanity, his own free will.
But there’s a dark side to God’s decision. Granting intelligent beings freedom means they can and will make wrong choices or intentionally rebel. That’s guaranteed to happen, since the only truly perfect being is God. He’s the only one he can trust. Free will is why things could, and did, go wrong in Eden.
Trouble in Paradise
Think about the setting in Eden, Adam and Eve aren’t alone. God is there with his council. Eden is the divine/human headquarters for “subduing” the rest of the earth, as instructed in Genesis 1:26–28. Humans were to spread the life of Eden to the rest of the planet. We learn that at least one member of the council isn’t happy with God’s plans.
Just as we saw in Genesis 1, there are hints in Genesis 3 that Eden is home to other divine beings. In Genesis 3:22, after Adam and Eve have sinned, God says, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil.” That phrase is the same sort of signpost we saw in Genesis 1:26 (“our image”).
know the main character of Genesis 3, the Serpent, was not a snake. He wasn’t an animal. No effort to put him behind glass in a zoo would have been effective, and he would not have been amused. He was a divine being. Revelation 12:9 identifies him as the Devil, Satan.
Some Christians presume, based on Revelation 12:7-12, that there was an angelic rebellion shortly after creation, “And there was war in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. And they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them any longer in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world. He was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him,” (Revelation 12:7-9 LEB).
In a closer analysis of Revelation, we see the war in heaven described there is associated with the birth of the Messiah (Revelation 12:4–5, 10 LEB), “And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, in order that whenever she gave birth to her child he could devour it. And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is going to shepherd all the nations with an iron rod, and her child was snatched away to God and to his throne.…
And I heard a loud voice in heaven saying,
‘Now the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Christ have come,
because the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down,
the one who accuses them before our God day and night.'”
the events in Eden, the Bible does not indicate that any of his imagers—human or divine—were opposed to God’s will or were in rebellion. Circumstances changed dramatically in Genesis 3.
The serpent’s crime was that he freely chose to reject God’s authority. God had determined that Adam and Eve would join the family business, that is His council. They would extend Eden on earth. The enemy didn’t want them there. He put himself in the place of God. He said in his heart in Isaiah 14:13, “I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars. I will preside on the mountain of the gods.”
He got a rude awakening. Since the serpent’s deception led to Adam and Eve’s sin, he was expelled from God’s home (Ezekiel 28:14-16) and banished to earth—“cut [or cast] down to the ground” in the biblical language of Isaiah 14:12—the place where death reigns, where life is not everlasting. Instead of being lord of life, he became lord of the dead, which meant that the great enemy now had claim over all humans since Eden’s events meant the loss of earthly immortality. Humanity would now need to be redeemed to have eternal life with God in a new Eden.
The fallout (pun intended) was a series of curses. The curse upon the serpent included a bit of prophecy. God said Eve’s offspring and that of the serpent would be at odds as we read in Genesis 3:14-15, “Then Yahweh God said to the serpent…I will put hostility between you and between the woman, and between your offspring and between her offspring.” Who are Eve’s offspring? Humanity. Who are the serpent’s offspring? Well, that’s more abstract. The apostle John gives us examples—like the Jewish leaders who hated Jesus. John 8:44 says, “You are of your father the devil,” Jesus called his betrayer, Judas, a devil (John 6:70). The serpent’s offspring is anyone who stands against God’s plan, just as he did.
The Bad Seed
It didn’t take long for more trouble to arise. One of Adam and Eve’s children became a murderer. Cain killed Abel, showing that he was “of the evil one” (1 John 3:12). As the human population grew in the biblical story, so did evil (Genesis 6:5).
Now comes another supernatural transgression that, although it may not be much discussed in Sunday morning sermons, greatly impacted the expansion of wickedness on earth. This time there was more than one rebel. The evil contagion spreading through humanity in Genesis 6:5 is linked to the story in Genesis 6:1-4 about the sons of God fathering their own earthly children known as Nephilim.
The Bible doesn’t say much else in Genesis about what happened. Still, pieces of the story show up elsewhere in the Bible, and in Jewish traditions outside the Bible, the New Testament authors knew well and quoted in their writings.
For example, Peter and Jude write about the angels who sinned before the flood (2 Peter 2:4–6; see also Jude 5-6). Some of what they say comes from Jewish sources outside the Bible. Peter and Jude say that the sons of God who committed this transgression were imprisoned under the earth—in other words, they’re doing time in hell—until the last days. They’ll be part of God’s final judgment, something the Bible calls the “Day of the Lord.”
Peter and Jude’s sources are well-known to Bible scholars. One of them was a book called 1 Enoch. It was popular with Jews of Jesus’ day and with Christians in the early church, even though it wasn’t considered sacred and inspired. Peter and Jude thought some of that content was important enough to include in the letters they wrote.
These sources speculate that the sons of God either wanted to “help” humanity by giving them divine knowledge and then got sidetracked, or that they wanted to imitate God by creating their own imagers. They also include an explanation for where demons come from. Demons are the departed spirits of dead Nephilim killed before and during the flood. They roam the earth harassing humans and seeking re-embodiment. In books of the Bible that follow Genesis, descendants of the Nephilim of Genesis 6:1-4 are called Anakim and Rephaim (Numbers 13:32-33; Deuteronomy 2:10-11). Some of these Rephaim show up in the underworld realm of the dead (Isaiah 14:9-11), where the serpent was cast down. New Testament writers would later call that place hell.
These ideas show us that early Jewish writers understood the threat of Genesis 6:1-4. The sons of God were trying to reformulate Eden, where the divine and the human coexisted, in their own way. They presumed to know better than God what should be happening on earth, just like the original enemy had. Alteration of God’s plan to restore his rule ends up making a bad situation worse.
Not only was the episode of Genesis 6:1-4 a terrible echo of the seed of the serpent—deliberate opposition to God—it was a prelude to worse things to come. During Moses and Joshua’s days, some of the opponents they run into when trying to claim the Promised Land were scattered giant clans (Deuteronomy 2–3). These giants went by various names. In Numbers 13:32–33, they are called the Anakim. They are specifically said to be living descendants of the Nephilim—the offspring of the sons of God back in Genesis 6:1-4. The Old Testament tells us Israelites were fighting these oversized enemies until David’s time. He took out Goliath (1 Samuel 17), and some of his men killed Goliath’s brothers to finally end the threat (2 Samuel 21:15-22).
Why This Matters
The prophetic curse on the serpent and the divine transgression that followed are the early stages of what theologians call spiritual warfare—the battle between good and evil, the long war against God and his people. It’s a war fought on battlegrounds in two realms: the seen and the unseen.
As strange as these stories are, they teach an important lesson: God had divine competition when it came to human destiny. He still does. Opposition to God’s will for earth and humanity is alive and well, in both the spiritual realm and within humankind. God has his own plans for how heaven and earth will be reunified. Hostile interference won’t go unpunished. Humanity is too valuable. God’s own plan for his human family won’t be altered or overturned.
These passages also teach positive lessons. While the long war against God can be traced back to God’s decision to create imagers, human, and divine, who would share his attribute of freedom, God is not the cause of evil.
There is no hint in the Bible that God prodded his imagers to disobey, or that their disobedience was predestined. The fact that God knows the future doesn’t mean it’s predestinated. We know that for sure from passages like 1 Samuel 23:1-14, which tells us about the time David saved Keilah’s walled city from the Philistines. After the battle, Saul learned that David was in the city. Saul had been trying to kill David for some time out of paranoid fear that David would take his throne. Saul sent an army to Keilah, hoping to trap David within the city walls. When David heard about Saul’s plan, he asked God in 1 Samuel 23:11–12:
“Will the leaders of Keilah betray me to him? And will Saul actually come, as I have heard? O Lord, God of Israel, please tell me.”
And the Lord said, “He will come…Yes, they will betray you.”
David then did what any of us would do—he got out of the city as fast as possible. That tells us why God’s foreknowledge of events doesn’t mean they are predestined.
1 Samuel 23 has God foreknowing two events that never actually took place. That God foreknew there would be divine rebellion and human failure doesn’t mean he made those things happen. Foreknowledge doesn’t require predestination.
We need to view the events of the fall in this light. God knew Adam and Eve would fail. God wasn’t surprised because He knows all things, real and possible. The fact that God could foresee the entrance of evil and rebellion into his world, on the part of both humans and the divine rebel who seduced humanity to rebel, doesn’t mean he caused it.
We can and should view the evil we experience in our own lives and times in the same way. God foresaw the fall and was ready with a plan to rectify it. He also knew we would be born sinners and fail (a lot—let’s be honest). He didn’t predestine those failures. When we sin, we need to own our sin. We sin because we choose to. We can’t say God willed it, or that we had no choice because it was predestined.
God loved us as we are told in Romans 5:6-8, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” He
loved us despite knowing what we would do. He not only gave us the freedom to sin, but he also gave us the freedom to believe the gospel and live for Jesus.
God also knows—and we know, by experience—that bad things happen to people, even to Christians. Evil is in the world because people (and divine beings) have the freedom to do evil. Our God isn’t a twisted deity who predestines awful things or who needs horrible crimes and sins to happen so some greater plan works out well. God doesn’t require evil, period. His plans will move forward despite it, overcoming it and ultimately judging it.
We might ask why God doesn’t just eliminate evil right now. There’s a reason: For God to eliminate evil, he’d have to eliminate his imagers, human and divine, who are not perfect like he is. That would solve the problem of evil, but it would mean that God’s original idea, to create other divine agents and human beings to live and rule with him, was a huge mistake. God doesn’t make mistakes.
We might also wish that God had never given humans freedom, but where would we be then? In choosing to provide us with freedom, God also chose not to make us mindless slaves or robots. That’s the alternative to having free will. Since freedom is an attribute we share with God, we couldn’t actually be imagers of God without it. God is no robot, and He made us like himself. That wasn’t a mistake either. God loved the idea of humanity too much to make the alternative decision.
After evil entered the world, he devised a means to redeem humanity, renew Eden, and wipe away every tear (Revelation 7:17; 21:4). Our look at the long war against God is underway. God has a battle strategy. The situation of Eden is going to get worse before he makes his first move.
That will finish our study for this week’s Worldview Wednesday. Join us again next week as we continue building our Biblical Worldview. Tomorrow we will enjoy our 3-minute humor nugget that will provide you with a bit of cheer and help you to lighten up and live a rich and satisfying life. So encourage your friends and family to join us and then come along with us tomorrow for another day of our Wisdom-Trek, Creating a Legacy.
If you would like to listen to any of our past 1530 treks or read the Wisdom Journal, they are available at Wisdom-Trek.com. I encourage you to subscribe to Wisdom-Trek on your favorite podcast player so that each day’s trek will be downloaded automatically.
Thank you for allowing me to be your guide, mentor, and, most of all, your friend as I serve you through the Wisdom-Trek podcast and journal.
As we take this trek together, let us always:
- Live Abundantly (Fully)
- Love Unconditionally
- Listen Intentionally
- Learn Continuously
- Lend to others Generously
- Lead with Integrity
- Leave a Living Legacy Each Day
I am Guthrie Chamberlain reminding you to Keep Moving Forward, Enjoy Your Journey, and Create a Great Day Everyday! See you tomorrow!
 Heiser, M. S. (2015). Supernatural: What the Bible Teaches about the Unseen World—And Why It Matters. (D. Lambert, Ed.) (pp. 35–45). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.