p.4a A Deeper look into the pseudo monotheism of Michael Heiser
Nearly everything Heiser explains about Israel is viewed through a history of paganism and its false gods. Heiser’s divine council permeates his whole approach to the Bible. It’s like the ad for the Discover card, ‘don’t leave home without it’— don’t interpret the Scripture without it.
Doing so, reveals crucial errors in his belief, which are, that the Bible is not sufficient and only by using extra biblical material incorporated in his doctrine can we understand the Scriptures. But what he has created instead of clarity, is confusion on essential Bible subjects.
2 Tim 3:16-17 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God , and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that `the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. ” We know that according to God, that there are no other books or writing’s equivalent to the Bible! For He holds His Word higher than His Name.
What of studying these other books?
Michael Heiser: “Mesopotamian myths claimed a “divine” council of 70, so too does Yahweh (pp. 113-122). “God enthroned in the midst of His heavenly court are based on the ancient conception of the divine council or assembly found in Mesopotamia, Ugarit, and Phoenicia as well as supposedly in Israel “(p. 354).
He believes that the pagan records are an equivalent to Judaism in substance, However, the myths have nothing in common with Judaism, in the same way that the New Testament has nothing in common with Mormonism’s plurality of gods.
His whole theory throws doubt upon the true monotheism of Judaism as having flaws, through these pagan writings. Therefore, according to Heiser, these pagan writings are used as necessary tools to interpret early Judaism. Modern books written about these pagan cultures, and the pagan teachings themselves, only confuse, and mislead people from the truth that is in the bible.
Is there prophecy from God in the Ugarit, [No]! where are the words of God that make this parallelism to the Bible? It is the liberal wing of scholars who do not believe in the actual inspiration of Scripture they approach the bible strictly academically, by using historical records, language or culture.
Besides the pagan writings, numbers and words are used as a crossword puzzle to produce what he wants the Scripture to be, such as with, the numbers 70 (72). This is a dangerous precedent to set. His revelations are primarily from pagan nations, enemies of Israel and of God. With a history to synthesize their falsehood with the truth. To Heiser, the Bible is no longer the final arbiter of truth, it is replaced by using the pagan resources. There is the warning throughout the Scriptures (Deut. 12:32; Prov.30:6; Rv.22:18) concerning anybody that would add or take away from the Scriptures.
These other writings that Heiser uses are pagan, and also cannot be trusted, much less used for the biblical interpretation of events and doctrine, as they were enemies of Israel. This diminishes Scripture’s importance in doctrine and in history.
Contrary to Heiser’s conclusions, Paul speaks about what will take place in our day, 2 Tim. 4:3-4 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths (or fables)”
Fables and myths are exactly what the pagan cultures based their entire cultures on. This is what Heiser is synthesizing into Judaism, both historically and biblically. By making core changes in the Old Testament, Heiser likewise changes core teachings of Christianity in the New Testament.
The Apostle Paul warned; that from myths, “there would be those who will turn away from the truth.’ Which means that these fables and myths are NOT truth. Paul mentions this 5 times in various ways. In 1 Tim 1:4 Mentions along with myths genealogies ,other nations mythological stories gathered round the birth and "genealogy" of their heroes. Probably Jewish "genealogical" tales crept into Christian communities. Hence the warnings to Timothy and Titus . (Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright)
Along with the commandments of men, that turn from the truth, which references the Pharisees adding to the laws of God.
The word fable in Greek is Muthos, it is used of gnostic errors and of Jewish and profane fables and genealogies, in 1 Tim 1:4; 4:7; 2 Tim 4:4; Titus 1:14; of fiction, in 2 Peter 1:16 .(from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)
There is much more depth in Paul’s summary about those having itching ears, y start believing the fables and myths, no longer tolerate sound teaching according to the bible. Paul says: that they will end up believing something totally contrary to what the bible actually teaches.
Most Christians want to learn more about Gods Word, but the accuracy of interpreting the scriptures, is far more important than any other thing so we can learn correctly.
These myths and fables are the root of paganisms beliefs and worship of false gods, who Heiser says, (ruled over these nations). To learn the history of a nation and to teach the knowledge and rebellion of a particular nation is completely different than what Heiser is doing. He uses that nations history to literally revise the Bible, that makes it say something it doesn’t; especially, using the history and worship of a pagan culture that were sworn enemies of God and Israel.
The beliefs of a pagan nation should never be incorporated with Gods Word in order for Christians to better understand our faith in the God of Israel.
Jesus always pointed to the Scriptures for general answers, but more importantly, He exclusively pointed to the Hebrew scriptures in order to validate who He was and what He was sent to do, Jesus only quoted from the Jewish law, the Jewish prophets and the Jewish writings to do so.
Jesus often stated the phrase, “It is written,” (repeated 92 times New Testament), “have you not read?” (Matt. 12:3, 5; 19:4; 21:16; 42; Mk. 12:10), “search the Scriptures” (John 5:39), “is it not written in your law?” (Jn.10:34; Lk. 10:25). This clearly shows that the people were able to read and interpret the Scriptures for themselves. Which at the time was in Hebrew. He explained the consequences of failing to understand the truth, “You err, not knowing the Scriptures...” Jesus did not at all quote whom Heiser refers to.
The biblical Scriptures alone are called God’s Word (Jn.10:35; 2 Tim.3:16; 2 Pt.1:20) In 1 Cor.4:6 we are specifically told “ not to go beyond what is written.” If you pursue teachings “Outside the written Word to understand the written Word,’ you will not come to a right understanding of the Word, Is this not what Paul is addressing?
Heiser states, “Literal readings are inadequate to convey the full theological message and the entirety of the worldview context .” (Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, p. 90)
He explains how the revelation of these pagan outside resources affected him, “I took Ugaritic during graduate school. It was a life-changing course, because it opened up the Hebrew text and Israelite religion to me in so many ways .”
“The texts recovered at Ugarit provide a key piece of literary, social, and religious context for certain passages of the Old Testament.” ( Logos) underline mine.
The term “God” Elohim
Heiser states “This fact alone should immediately and unambiguously tell us that the word Elohim ought not be identified with one particular set of attributes. That is our fundamental mistake. We are accustomed to equating the word spelled g-o-d with the God of Israel and his unique attributes. As a result, the idea that other gods are indeed real—even if that is what the biblical text says—has been something to escape or obscure.” (Dr. Michael Heiser, “The Divine Council” p. 7)
Again, Elohim is used for the true God YHWH in Hebrew 2,000 times, Elohim is also used of false gods in the plural. Even though Heiser is correct in that there are no attributes attached to this generic term Elohim, he applies it towards a divine council.
We are always to interpret any word, phrase or statement by its overall context, especially when used toward the true God it is translated into the singular form. When it is used of false gods, it is translated into the plural form. In the Hebrew, Elohim, is a plural noun and has the Hebrew masculine plural ending.
“The Ugaritic divine council was led by El, the same word used in the Hebrew Bible for deity and as the proper name for the God of Israel” (Michael S. Heiser, “Divine Council,” The Lexham Bible Dictionary)
Heiser continually calls El or Elohim “ the proper name for the God of Israel” when in Hebrew it is not. In the same manner theos in the Greek is not a name, but a term, or title.
El is not a name, it is a general word for God, Heiser applies El, or Elohim, a word used by pagan nations for gods, (their gods). Israel’s God is not, nor was ever the other nations gods, no matter what name, or title is used. The nations had false gods along with their false creation narratives and other myths. Israel from its inception had a history of conflict with the world and the nations that surrounded them. His terms are often defined differently, such as using the word ‘divine’ for sons of god, which in the Bible (New Testament) carries the same meaning as deity
heios NT:2270, "divine" (from theos, "God)
It is not about the name of these cultures gods being the same. These pagan gods have a belief system attached to them that is contrary to what el/ elohim, the God of the Bible revealed to Israel. To accept the name of (the Ugarit) this nation[s] gods (the enemy of Israel) should you accept what their gods taught them? How can one separate the god of their culture from his teaching or history?
If this nations god[s] do not have the same nature, (they do not) who is triune, or prophecy. If their God did not give the same commandments or words, then they do not have the same God no matter what name they call him. It only proves that these are generic titles not names
Psalm 147:19-20: “He declares His word to Jacob, his statutes and His judgments to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any nation; and as for His judgments, they have not known them .”
You either believe the Scripture or Mr. Heiser, they are not the same in any way shape or form no matter what words he finds that have similarities.
Heiser quoting another writer inserts this convoluted logic, “This new monotheism went beyond monolatry, which allows the existence of other gods but forbids their worship. It is reflected in denial language where the writers have Yahweh proclaim, “There is no god besides me,” interpreted as meaning Yahweh is the only god that exists.”
Heiser instead says that Yahweh is the only God that CREATES, that the gods that he is declaring as divine, do exist.
“denial language where the writers have Yahweh proclaim, “There is no god besides me,” interpreted as meaning Yahweh is the only god that exists” is exactly what YHWH was teaching and declaring to Israel. 63 times in the first 5 books of the bible the word gods are used in the plural form, from Joshua to Malachi is mentioned 163 times. There are mainly two different ways the word Elohim is used, it is used for ‘false gods’, (the other gods that Heiser is referring to) from the surrounding nations of Israel. And it is used for YHWH (GOD). It is the context of Elohim being used that determines its meaning. It refers to the false gods, (that are not gods at all, and do not exist), or it refers to YHWH, (GOD) who alone has always existed, the self-existent one, no beginning, no end, the Creator of All things.
228 times Elohim is used in genesis alone for the true God, a false God, as Elohim is not introduced until Gn. 31:19 when “ Rachel had stolen the household idols that were her father's.” these were Laban’s images, idols, whom Laban (in Gn.31:30) called gods.
Gn. 35:2 Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, "Put away the foreign gods that are among you” V.4 “ they gave Jacob all the foreign gods which were in their hands.” The word is Elohim, and these are manmade idols.
Do other gods exist?
Heiser ignores all the clear and repeated passages in the Bible that say other gods Do Not Exist, and then distorts the same passages to make them appear to be nothing more than expressions of incomparability with YHWH, instead of agreeing with the Scriptures, that God himself states that these other gods do not exist.
Heiser sees the passages that prove and proclaim YHWH, as being compared with other “gods” He does this in order to teach that other gods truly exist; (which in reality, is polytheism)! They were not gods, but the people of other cultures treated them as gods and called them gods. When the children of Israel went into rebellion, they did the same, and that is why over and over again, that the true GOD allowed them to go into the captivity of their enemies.
Throughout the Scripture God has said of Himself “Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.” (Isaiah 43:10) and “Thus says the LORD, the King and Redeemer of Israel, the LORD of Hosts: “I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God but Me.” (Isaiah 44:6) and “I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.” (Isaiah 45:5). Deut. 4:35 says “You were shown these things so that you might know that The Lord is God; besides Him there is no other.”
Isa.46:9 “For I am (Elohim) God, and there is no other; I am (Elohim) God, and there is none like Me.” Heiser may agree that YHWH, this Elohim is unique , but at the same time say there are other Elohim; who are divine.
However, in this passage YHWH identifies Himself strictly and exclusively as Elohim, (As He introduced Himself to be in Gn.1:1 as the Creator of Life). Which plainly means, that Heiser’s’ proposition of there being ‘other true or real Elohim’ - is False! In other words, the word Elohim, when it is applied to the True God, means there is only one existing. So either God spoke what is true about himself and the references of other gods means something different than what Heiser is teaching, or, God did not speak the truth about him being the only God.
“Other passages in the Torah, such as Exod 15:18, beg the same question. When the author wrote “Lord, who is like you among the elohim did he really mean, “Lord who is like you among the imaginary beings that really aren’t there”? When the final redactors, presumably zealous over the new idea of monotheism, allowed Deut 10:17 and Exod 15:18 to stand, did they simply err, or were they content to put polytheistic language into the mouth of Moses? (M. Heiser: P.5 Monotheism, Polytheism, Monolatry, or Henotheism?)
This is kind of absurd argument Heiser puts forth for his position. These ‘gods’ were real to pagans who did not know the true God but they were not gods at all, idolatry means demonic entities.
1 Chron. 16:24-26 “Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; He is also to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols , But the LORD made the heavens.”
Scripture defines what the term God means, creator of heaven and earth.
God in the Scripture defines what the ‘other gods’ are - idols.
If you question this interpretation read fully
Deut. 32:16-17 “They provoked me to anger with strange gods; with their abominations they bitterly angered me. They sacrificed to devils” (Septuagint)
Deut. 32:17 “they sacrificed to demons, not to God” (Masoretic text)
If these sons of god are the gods over the nations, here we have God saying they are devils (Septuagint) and demons (Masoretic).
Heiser’s interpretive error is consistent in his rejecting the qualitative “denial passages” from God. His only explanation is that they are saying that He is the most Supreme (Elohim) in the universe (the main, or greater God than all the other Elohim, gods he created) a supreme deity who rules over all the other deities, divine beings, his first family who are a council of other Elohim like Himself.
Heiser relies on, and profusely quotes from those who deny Gods revelation who according to the Bible are Gods enemies. God doesn’t take council from anybody, certainly not a council from make believe beings that have been created out of the imagination of men’s hearts.
“Quoting Max Müller’s seminal work on the subject, Yusa writes that henotheism was a technical term coined “to designate a peculiar form of polytheism . . . [where] each god is, ‘at the time a real divinity, supreme and absolute’ not limited by the powers of any other gods.” (Monotheism, Polytheism, Monolatry, or Henotheism? Toward an Assessment of Divine Plurality in the Hebrew Bible Michael Heiser)
We should know that Max Müller rejected any reliance on divine revelation as he pursued to understand how human beings came to our religious beliefs; what religion is, how it came to be, and what it is. Müller’s views on religion were shaped by German idealism and the comparative study of language, and that at the heart of religion is a consciousness of the Infinite. He formed the belief that religion could only be understood through comparison, and as he famously put it, “He who knows one, knows none.” This is a rejection of The One and Only True God of Israel.