What in the world is the Divine Council?
Good question. I’ve been a believer for a while, and I grew up going to church every Sunday. I’d never heard of the Divine Council until about six months ago. It’s put a whole new spin on the concept of spiritual warfare.
To answer your question to the best of my limited ability, the Divine Council is referred to a number of times in the Old Testament, although not in those specific words. See especially Psalm 82:
1 God presides in the great assembly;
he gives judgment among the “gods”:
2 “How long will you [a] defend the unjust
and show partiality to the wicked?
3 Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless;
maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.
4 Rescue the weak and needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
5 “They know nothing, they understand nothing.
They walk about in darkness;
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
6 “I said, ‘You are “gods”;
you are all sons of the Most High.’
7 But you will die like mere men;
you will fall like every other ruler.”
The word elohim is used in both the singular and the plural form in the Hebrew, sort of like the English words deer, sheep, and fish. What’s described here is God addressing other divine beings of lower stature, condemning them for their unjust, wicked ways.
Why would God do that? Look at Deuteronomy 32:7-9:
7 Remember the days of old;
consider the generations long past.
Ask your father and he will tell you,
your elders, and they will explain to you.
8 When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance,
when he divided all mankind,
he set up boundaries for the peoples
according to the number of the sons of Israel. [c]
9 For the LORD’s portion is his people,
Jacob his allotted inheritance.
But look at footnote “C”:
1. Deuteronomy 32:8 Masoretic Text; Dead Sea Scrolls (see also Septuagint) “sons of God”
Sons of God; originally bene elohim. In short, God divided the nations after the Tower of Babel incident and placed them under the rule of 70 bene elohim. (Not only do the older texts say so, but logic says “sons of Israel” makes no sense since this happened before Abraham was born!) Jewish tradition holds, and common sense would seem to dictate, that this was the origin of the pantheon of false gods of their ancient neighbors–Baal, Asherah, Molech, Chemosh, Marduk, et al.
But God reserved Israel for Himself. Note that the Hebrews were not listed among the Table of Nations in Genesis 10. The rest of the Old Testament is a record of Israel versus the world; in the New Testament, the story changes to become the church, the body of Christ, against the world, which is under the control of principalities, powers, and the rulers of the darkness of this world–the bene elohim who rebelled against the rule of God.
There’s a lot more to it than that; I would encourage everyone to look up Mike Heiser’s website, www.thedivinecouncil.com. You can download his papers on Deuteronomy 32 and Psalm 82 (PDF format) to read over at your leisure.