5.a What does deity mean to Michael Heiser?
We begin where Michael Heiser’s theology begins, he teaches that God (Elohim) is part of a pantheon of gods (Elohim).
“The God of the Old Testament was part of an assembly – a pantheon – of other gods ” (p. 11 Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible)
Which invalidates the Triune Nature of the True God of Israel. How? because he says, this pantheon existed before God created the creation itself. This teaching cannot in found the Bible, and therefore, cannot be taught from the Bible.
As I go through Heiser’s books, it is abundantly clear that Theology (The study of the Nature of God) with all the years of academic studies, is not one of Mr. Heisers strong points; in fact, it may be his weakest.
It is the One True God who rules over all creation, He does not distribute this authority to angels, or any other created thing.
The Un-Created Triune God, Created All Things!
God is called the Everlasting God in Gn. 21:33, (meaning uncreated, no beginning, no end).
1 Chron. 16:36 “ Blessed be the LORD God of Israel From everlasting to everlasting”
This means from the vanishing point to vanishing point in Hebrew. This phrase is repeated throughout the Scripture (Ps 93:22; Ps 106:48)
Ps 41:13 “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel From everlasting to everlasting!
Ps. 90:22 “Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God .”
As we go through Heiser’s statements (keep these scriptures in mind).
In chapter 3 of his book ‘the Unseen Realm’ Mr. Heiser writes, “ Most discussions of what’s around before creation omit the members of the heavenly host. That’s unfortunate, because God and the sons of God, the divine family, are the first pieces of the mosaic.”
It’s not unfortunate it’s biblical. There is no heavenly host to omit as Heiser so strongly imagines.
In other words, Heiser's words are making them equal, putting God and the sons of God together, as being the divine family, (God being the head of the divine council). He is not saying that God is the first piece of the mosaic and that the sons of God are the second piece of the mosaic. .
Biblically, only Jesus is equal with God, as He is the eternal Son of God, God by Nature, (uncreated, and co-eternal) with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
He goes on to say, “God has company—other divine beings, the sons of God.” First , we learned that the sons of God are divine, not human. The sons of God witnessed creation long before there were people. They are intelligent nonhuman beings. The reference to the sons of God as stars also makes it clear that they are divine.’… it’s clear that the sons of God were with God before creation ” (Unseen Realm)
“…many scholars to accept the Septuagintal reading on logical and philological grounds—God (El Elyon in Deut. 32:8) divided the earth according to the number of heavenly beings who existed from before the time of creation” (p. 54 BiBLiOTHECA SACRA / January-March 2001)
He also says, “ Angelic beings were created before the earth, and therefore before humans (Job 38:7–8). (Michael S. Heiser, The Lexham Bible Dictionary)
In Genesis 1:1 it says, “in the beginning”, (the beginning of what?) The Creation! God (Elohim) created the heavens and the earth (The heavens are made first before the earth), for obvious reasons.
Even though Heiser writes, “God is eternal and existed before all things,” this comes into question as he explains the things that he adds. What he teaches are many times is the opposite of the above statement.
According to the Bible, only God, (The Everlasting Triune God) existed before anything else. If creatures existed before the creation, we are no longer speaking about The God of the Bible, or the revelation that God has given to mankind in the Bible, but rather a different beginning, a counterfeit.
Only God exists before creation! By himself; no other creatures, no divine sons of God, no divine council of Elohim, no angel or any other created thing, they came to be, (after) God began to create, if they existed prior to that, they themselves would be God also, which is the opposite of what the Bible teaches.
Heiser further writes, “ The biblical answer is that the heavenly host was with God before creation. In fact, they witnessed it. What God says to Job in Job 38:4–7 is clear on that point:4 “Where were you at my laying the foundation of the earth?” (Unseen Realm)
Looking at the Biblical Scriptures we see Heiser is wrong again. God first created the heavens and the earth, then began to work on the structure, the foundations of the earth. let’s take a look at how Scripture (describes and defines foundations). If these creatures were present as the heavens were made, it would mean something different than existing prior to anything being created, as Heiser suggests.
Job 38:7 actually describes them watching the Lord lay the foundation of the earth. Meaning; what Solomon described in Prov. 8:29, (writing about God) saying, “ when He assigned to the sea its limit, So that the waters would not transgress His command, When He marked out the foundations of the earth .” Meaning that the heaven had already been created (as these creatures occupied heaven) and then God formed the earth, laid its foundations in the same way it says in Deut. 32:22 of “the foundations of the mountains.” It means the beginning of structuring and forming the mountains of the earth.
God spoke and asked Job " Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge? (Job 38:2) Can this Scripture be applied to Heiser’s creation story? That Sons of god, gods, being there before creation? That these Divine Sons existed prior to creation alongside the Creator? It is only in Heiser’s imagination that any so-called Divine sons exist. There are no divine sons recorded in the Bible. Son’s yes, divine No. Before creation, No.
This should concern anyone who has a biblical view of God and his creation (if not you need to question what you believe).
There are no ‘other Elohim’ existing yet at this time, so then, what does all this mean?
Heiser says, “Yahweh was viewed as the Creator of the “host of heaven” (Heiser, “Divine Council,” The Lexham Bible Dictionary). These divine beings, which he calls gods, (Divine sons of God), The questions to ask Heiser is, “exactly when were they created before creation”? Was there a separate special creation for them, and if so, where? Where is this mentioned in Scripture?
The Bible explains that the heavens and the earth were created in the same time period. Watching the foundation of the earth being formed and the creation itself are two very different things. If true, it would not only mean pre-existence prior to the creation for these so-called creatures, but it would also mean that they would have to be everlasting creatures. Unless you insert another separate creation for them.
Foundations of the earth means the basis, (to set) boundaries; we understand this by how the Bible uses this word. Reading further in Job 38:6 it says, “what were the foundations fastened to? Or who laid its cornerstone” v.8-9 “ who shut in the sea with doors, When it burst forth and issued from the womb; When I made the clouds its garment: These are all the foundation being described.
Earlier in Job 22:16 It says, “ Whose foundations were swept away by a flood? If the earth itself is the foundation was the earth gone by the flood or the formations of it? 2 Sam. 22:16 “ Then the channels of the sea were seen, The foundations of the world were uncovered ” (also Ps 18:15; Prov. 8:29) “ When He assigned to the sea its limit, So that the waters would not transgress His command, When He marked out the foundations of the earth.” (Ps 82:5) Ps. 104:5-6 “ You who laid the foundations of the earth, So that it should not be moved forever, You covered it with the deep as with a garment. ” Prov. 8:29 “When He assigned to the sea its limit, So that the waters would not transgress His command, When He marked out the foundations of the earth.”
Isa 51:13 states “ Who stretched out the heavens And laid the foundations of the earth , meaning to structure it. So now let’s read Gn. 1:1-3 “ In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. “ The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. ” Then, Gods work fashioned the earth’s structure. It does not mean the earth itself is the foundation. See V.6, and 9.
The Masoretic text in Job 38:6-7 reads, “To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?”
The Septuagint actually says the sons of God are angels, Job.38: 6 “ On what are its rings fastened? and who is He that laid the corner-stone upon it? When the stars were made, all my angels praised me with a loud voice. And I shut up the sea with gates, when it rushed out, coming forth out its mother’s womb. And I made a cloud its clothing and swathed it in mist. And I set bounds to it, surrounding it with bars and gates .” (Septuagint by Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton)
Not only are they called angles, but he mentions the stars (real stars, not symbolic) that were made on the 4 th day as they praised him, the maker.
“ Yahweh is clearly depicted as the sole Deity credited with bringing all that exists into being. He was unassisted in His creative acts. 85 None of the other elohim aided Him in this endeavor .” (p.74 BIBLIOTHECA SACRA / January-March 2001)
Which again affirms they were there before the FIRST or ANY created thing. Heiser writes, “Job 38:7 states that the heavenly host was present at creation.” Which he interprets as the sons of Elohim, which (according to him), means they were created BEFORE the heavens and the earth (Gn.1). This, untruthfully and illogically means that when this heavenly host was created, that they already occupied a place (heaven) that had not yet been made along with the earth, It Did Not Yet Exist, for God did not begin creation.
There is only One Son who is divine that was at the Fathers side prior to Creation, (The Eternal Son of God). Jesus in the Scripture states unequivocally “ Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” (John 17:5)
This is saying He was there before the earth was made. Which means; He, as the Son (Is God) who is with the Father. No other sons of god were there as Heiser claims. The Scriptures teach that Only God existed prior to Creation. However, Heiser says that gods (plural) did. Prior to creation only the uncreated God existed, the self-existent God, (No beginning and no end). Again let me reemphasize that No created divine gods were present, otherwise they too would have to be considered uncreated, and thus, would have to be called God also, (Like Christ is, throughout the entire Bible). In the Scriptures, this is 100% exclusive to Jesus, from eternity, the One and Only Begotten Son of God.
Both Christianity and Judaism hold to the same Gen. 1 Account. Heiser however, departs from the Biblical parameters, into his own imagined counterfeit theology, and unfortunately, it is just the beginning and only gets worse from here.
Only God, who in the Bible is described as the Father, the Son and the Spirit are present, however, Heiser is not going by what the Bible says, but rather, by the Ugarit writings, and interpreting the Bible from them. He cannot explain his teaching of error by the Bible alone but has to use pagan stories, written by the enemies of Israel and God to change the Word of God; to fit his own interpretation contrary to the Bible and what the scriptures clearly teach against. Welcome to a new Star Wars story.
But, contradicting himself as he often does throughout his writing’s he says, “ The primary distinguishing characteristic of Yahweh from any other ʾĕlōhîm was his preexistence and creation of all things (Is 45:18), including the “host of heaven ” (Divine Council.)
But this statement goes completely against his repeated insistence of his Divine sons of god existing with God prior to creation. If this is the primary distinguishing characteristic of Yahweh than what does one do with his other statement that negate this!
Notice what Nehemiah 9:6 “ You alone are the Lord. You have made the heavens, The heaven of heavens with all their host.” It seems to me that he is saying the creatures were made when the heavens were made, not before creation.
If your theology is wrong or inconsistent about the nature of God, so will your Christology be wrong. Which if wrong, can you accurately teach the Bible. Of all the articles written on his teachings; this may be the most important to know.
God is a species?
Heiser writes of the Elohim, “He was not one among equals; he was species unique.” (Should the Plural אלהים of Psalm 82 Be Understood as Men or Divine Beings? 2010 also Annual Meeting, Evangelical Theological Society, 2010)
He says that Gods, “species uniqueness is the basis for God’s distinction from the other gods in later Jewish writers .”
Later writers, or from the beginning that Scripture was being written? Heiser states “monotheism” is deficient for describing this, when actually the term species is extremely deficient.
Biblically, Israel’s God was always unique from the time He revealed Himself to Abram.]
Heiser repeats this statement numerous times, and of all his statements, God as a species, is the most convoluted. He continues by saying that “ The Old Tes tament writers understood that Yahweh was an elohim—but no other elohim was Yahweh, But That, “He was species-unique among all residents of the spiritual world.” (Unseen Realm)
First of all, God is not a species, He is a being who has always existed, an uncreated being who created all other creatures, all other things, both visible and invisible. The Eternal Triune God; who has No Equal.
Have you ever heard that God was a species? A species is a biological classification, the word ‘species’ (is plural) refers to more than one, it is only used in the classification of creatures.
Species -a class of individuals having common attributes and designated by a common name: a logical division of a genus or more comprehensive class: a subclass designated by adding to the name or connotation of a genus some specific difference that limits its application to a restricted group <the triangle is a ~ of plane figure>
b): a limited kind or group having a distinguishing characteristic; especially one capable of including variant individuals and of being subsumed in a more inclusive category
c): the race of man: human beings : humanity.
In biology it means a group of living organisms consisting of similar individuals capable of exchanging genes or interbreeding .
This is a very wrong term to be applied to the only eternal being who always existed
“A species is a class of plants or animals whose members have the same main characteristics and are able to breed with each other.” (Ultimate dictionary)
Again, species carries the meaning of more than one. I found this description of God repeated 35 times within 10 of his books. Is Heiser aware that he is using terrible terminology to describe God? Calling him “species unique,” in his attempt to distinguish this one ‘elohim’ from the ‘other Elohim’ that he claims were created prior to creation (also being untrue). He repeats this type of description of God, that has no basis in the Bible and causes nothing but confusion. If they did exist prior to creation, they would have to be equal with God, turning the Biblical God into a Polytheistic god, (one of many). Which the true God goes out of His way to warn us against. But the belief of other gods is the ultimate conclusion that Heiser wants people to come to without him actually having to say it. Is this the hidden agenda behind his teachings to the Christian Church?
Again, Heiser flip flops when he writes, “because his nature was unique (pre-existence) and his power was unquestionably superior (creator of all that is).“Hence one can be unique in properties, but species uniqueness is a fallacy. The analogy with humankind is flawed, however, since no such claim as pre-existence before all humans is seriously offered. An attribute shared by no other member in the species by definition makes that entity species unique despite any other shared qualities. 63 In other words, a species unique being need not be unique in every attribute. The entity must only be considered to be set apart in a way or ways that are completely exclusive.” (Monotheism, Polytheism, Monolatry, or Henotheism? Toward an Assessment of Divine Plurality in the Hebrew Bible)
Nowhere in the Bible, can it be found that any type of species existed before the creation, least of all that God Himself is a species.
Speaking of Yahweh “ He was species-unique among all residents of the spiritual world." He also says of Jesus, he is Unique among the elohim that serve God" (Unseen Realm)
Heiser teaches Jesus’ rank is unique among the divine council members.
First, to say Jesus is “ the same essence as the Father, is unique among all heavenly sons of God” Is a non sequitur statement. If Yahweh was not one among equals; then there can be no comparison to the sons of God, for The Son is Yahweh, just as the Father is Yahweh, their creator.
For Heiser to say that Elohim is a divine, separate class (or species as he calls the sons of God, and God YHWH) is a spiritually lethal problem. For YHWH is also called Elohim. Heiser redefines a number of terms in order to force his false theory to fit into the biblical record.
To make it even more clear, Heiser quotes (and adds) to Jn.10 by saying, “Because he calls himself the son of God and has in fact just claimed to be one with Yahweh, not only puts himself in the class of the sons of the Most High of Psalm 82:6—divine אלהים —but implies that he is Lord of the council. This particular son of the Most High is one with the Father. “(Should the Plural אלהים of Psalm 82 Be Understood as Men or Divine Beings? Heiser)
Heiser is then teaching that Jesus is part of a divine council of Elohim (he is its head). Why would Jesus’ claim to be one with Yahweh put him the class of the sons of God, created by Yahweh? How does Heiser arrive at saying Jesus is in the same class of these ‘created beings’ that he calls sons, and at the same time one with Yahweh? Remember, that biblically sons are created with the nature of sons (Biblically Angels). So to make Jesus the Lord of this council of created divine beings and being one with Yahweh at the same time, is not just false, but also contradictory.
This, in one way aligns him with Jehovah’s witnesses, and every other anti-trinitarian cult or group. And in another way aligns him with the Mormon Church and their polytheism, It also aligns his teaching with that of many New Age occultic teachings, along with the gnostic teachings that the Apostle Paul contended with surrounding the Church in his day.
Yet Heiser thinks this is of such great importance that he repeats it at the Evangelical Theological Society, by saying, “ My view is that Jesus is quoting Psalm 82:6, “He reminds his Jewish audience that there were in fact other אלהיםbesides the God of Israel, and those אלהים were God’s sons. Because he calls himself the son of God and has in fact just claimed to be one with Yahweh, not only puts himself in the class of the sons of the Most High of Psalm 82:6—divine א the sonלהים —but implies that he is Lord of the council. This particular son of the Most High is one with the Father. The Jewish authorities got the message, too—they charged him with blasphemy. Now ask yourself, why would they do that if all Jesus was saying was “you mortal Jews get to call yourselves sons of God, and אלהים , so I can, too.” That makes no sense at all.” (Annual Meeting, Evangelical Theological Society, 2010)
What doesn’t make sense! is his reinterpretations of Scripture. Jesus never said anything about other (Elohim) being a Son as He is, and Jesus didn’t call (in context; the rulers of Israel) sons of God – But instead, He called them (gods). Heiser often changes words of Scripture in a premeditated attempt to bring you to his false conclusions. The Bible never says that Jesus is over a council, in the class of the other sons, or to be Lord (as head) of any so-called council. Gods Word never reduces Jesus to be some type of Elohim like the others in their nature or in their position.
Heiser’s flawed argument about Jesus being a son that had been elevated above the rest of a council of divine gods is completely false, it is simply not what Jesus is even suggesting in Jn.10, Only through Heiser’s theology could one arrive at such a distortion of what Jesus meant.
When Jesus said “ While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light." (John 12:36) Jesus is talking to men, who are no more gods than sons of light are light.
After all this, Heiser actually says, “ Let’s allow the text say what it says; we have no reason to fear it.” This is very subtle, even persuasive meandering to arrive at his conclusion..
Yes, that would be nice to see him do that. Heiser is doing what the JW’s have done with almighty and mighty God in Jn.1. Except his mighty is in the plural, using the word elohim for divine gods.
Referring to Ps. 82, He asks, “How could Jesus be the only divine son when there were others?” Heiser follows with his take on the Greek word Monogenes, when he continues, by saying, “ Jesus is indeed identified with Yahweh and is therefore, with Yahweh, unique among the elohim that serve God.”
The question is, why does he keep comparing Jesus to the created Elohim?
Concluding with; “Just as Yahweh is an elohim, and no other elohim are Yahweh, so Jesus is the unique Son, and no other sons of God are like him.”
Remember they are a species so how is Yahweh species-unique?
The Necessity of understanding Gods Nature according to His Word (The Bible)
Let’s define and establish some terms as we venture further into Heiser’s definitions of Gods nature and his so-called Divine son[s] of God.
Unitarianism:denies the three persons of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as being God; and only affirms one person being God.
Monolatry: An adherence to one particular god (to worship) out of many, especially by a family, tribe, or other group.
Tritheism :is minor Polytheism, limiting the number of gods to three. This is a denial of the unity of the three distinct persons of the Godhead being the one true God, and sees instead three separate gods.
Triune: (Trinity) According to the Bible each person, (the Father, the Son and The Holy Spirit) are 100% deity, (divine) so when they appear singularly there is no diminishing or division of that deity, they are indivisible within the essence as the one true God.
Most of the time that the Trinity is mentioned by Heiser is when he comments on normal trinitarian passages, by saying things like: “That is not what that passage is referring to.”
The other denials are his interpretations on plural passages such as Gn. 1:26 as being plural but not God speaking within the persons of the Triune Godhead, and this gets repeated ad nauseam, and offered as straw man arg uments that can easily be refuted when left in the context of the passage.
On the plural pronouns (us; our ) “… technical research in Hebrew grammar and exegesis has shown that the Trinity is not a coherent explanation. 1 The solution is much more straightforward, one that an ancient Israelite would have readily discerned. What we have is a single person (God) addressing a group—the members of his divine council.” (Unseen Realm p.39)
No matter what Heiser says to the contrary, it is evident that he removes the triune nature of God presented in the Old Testament passages to have one believe in a divine council in its place. He subtly and disingenuously weaves the nature of God into something extremely foreign to the true Biblical revelation.
Casting total doubt on the Son and the Spirit and leads his readers to believe that it is more than likely only the Father who is God Alone. Heiser departs from the known language used to describe the plurality of the one true God and brings nothing but exclusion and confusion to the nature of God. While all the time saying that he believes in the Trinity. But I have heard the same from Mormons and others who reject it.
Through his varying private interpretations, he leads people to see God as a single person; when the whole of the New Testament explains the Creator of heaven and Earth as being the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, united as the one and only true God of Israel.
The Scriptures, Speaking of the Son, in John 1:2-3 says, “ He was in the beginning with God.” Col 1:16-17 “ 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”. Which goes on to not only say created by Him, but also for Him and through Him.
Of the Spirit in Job 26:13 it says, “By His Spirit He made the heavens,” As we also see Gods Spirit active in creating in Gn.1.
Michael Brown, a popular hyper charismatic apologist who was involved the false Brownsville revival, Youtuber, interviewed Mr. Heiser – to Speak about his new book at the time ‘Reversing Hermon.’ Brown started the interview by saying to Heiser that he wanted to “dispel a few misconceptions,” and asked Heiser, “are you a monotheist or do you believe in many gods? I believe in the God of the Bible is a one unique being there is none like him. There is no one like Yahweh, he is unique in his attributes he is alone. Brown then pronounces “ALL Clear!” Not pursuing any deeper explanation (Michael Brown interview) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frAPAZ7Wri8
Is it really all clear? Is Yahweh God because of unique attributes? Or is this questioning indirect and unclear to what Heiser actually believes? Browns questioning is so superficial that it seemed like he just wanted to get his questioning on this over with. If he asked more targeting questions, he might not like the answers he would get from Heiser.
That you can believe other gods exist and still have one that is unique, that is what Heiser believes which is exactly what the pagans surrounding Israel believed. Yet Brown clearly did not pursue his questioning of Heiser with any responsible apologetic questioning in order to get to the true heart of the matter, and into what Heiser in reality might truly believe. It was deeply troubling to listen to.
Heiser further explains “Within the spiritual world, as in the human world, entities are differentiated by rank and power . Yahweh is an elohim, but no other elohim is Yahweh . This is what an orthodox Israelite believed about Yahweh. He was not one among equals; He was unique. The belief that Yahweh is utterly and eternally unique—that there is none like Him—is not contradicted by plural elohim in the OT. ” (Dr. Michael Heiser, “Elohim as “Gods” in the Old Testament” p.3)
I thought elohim is a species, the sons of god are a species, how is Yahweh then an Elohim?
But Yahweh Is different, but not because of any rank or power, but rather because he is the only ONE TRUE GOD. He, Is God by Nature which is the basis for all His unlimited omni - attributes, characteristics, and presence etc. God is, by nature, uncreated, and self-existent, however, just like Israel in the past there are those today who believe in other gods, that are not really gods at all (they are false gods) . The bible speaks of one true God and other FALSE gods.
To summarize, I return to what he said in the beginning of his book the Unseen Realm “I still believe in the uniqueness of the God of the Bible. I still embrace the deity of Christ.” Why state this unless he knows he is giving the impression of the opposite?
5b The Angel of the Lord, Heiser's binitarianism fused from the Ugarit writings? Israel using Canaanite literature