“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”[Job 38:4-7]
The Lord Jesus Christ — the Son of God — said something quite profound during his high priestly prayer in John 17. Jesus affirms His own divinity and acknowledges the eternal relationship He has with God the Father.
“Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed …”
“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”[John 17:5, 24]
God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit have existed eternally together in perfect communion and unmatchable glory. One God in Three distinct Persons. Blessed Trinity. Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD God Almighty.
The universe and everything in it, both visible and invisible, is contingent upon the existence of our Creator God. In my last post, I discussed the first proper name used for God — Elohim — and affirmed that the God of the Bible is the uniquely supreme God and Creator of the universe. The Apostle Paul affirms this in one of the early creeds of the faith, speaking of Jesus the Son of God.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.[Colossians 1:15-17]
God clearly created everything — both visible (the material universe) and invisible (the spiritual realm).
If we study God’s original creation week in Genesis 1, we are given essential details about the creation of the earth, the skies, the seas, and the land. We are told about the formation of the birds, the fish and the land animals. And God pays special attention to the creation of man, who is made in His own divine image and becomes the crowning glory of His creation [Genesis 1:26, Psalm 8:5].
All of this involves things visible and physical in nature.
But at some point before God laid the foundations of the earth and made man in His own image, God first created spiritual beings in the heavens. As we will see, these beings differ in name and variety — cherubim, seraphim, angels, holy ones, glorious ones, the heavenly host, watchers, and sons of God. Although some of these terms and descriptions overlap throughout the Scriptures, my goal is to take a look at each of them in turn.
There are significant differences in many of the proposed theories about when God created the heavenly beings. Some adhere to a gap theory, which places an undetermined amount of time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 to account for the introduction and interaction of these spiritual beings.
Although I find many problems with the gap theory and see no Biblical grounds for it, the Bible does place the creation of heavenly beings prior to the creation of the earth, or at least simultaneously with it. As Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning (time) God created the heavens and the earth. I believe that the heavens (plural) represent both the visible universe (space) and also the invisible heavens, which the Bible calls the third heaven or the highest heaven.
“You alone are the LORD. You created the heavens, the highest heavens with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to all things, and the heavenly host worships You.”[Nehemiah 9:6]
“Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth with all that is in it.”[Deuteronomy 10:14]
Introducing the sons of God — Bene Elohim
Based on our introductory passage in Job 38:7, the LORD says that at the same time He was laying the very foundations of the earth, “the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy.”
According to the Scriptures, the sons of God were present to witness God’s creative power and to praise the work of His hands. God had his purposes in first creating the heavenly host before He began His work on the physical world.
What a scene! As God worked, the “morning stars” burst forth in harmonious song, praising the Most High. As God formed the earth, moon, sun and stars, the sons of God shouted for joy, glorifying their Creator.
But who are the “sons of God” — The bene Elohim — and why is this phrase so important to understanding the bigger picture in God’s redemptive work?
Adam, the son of God
Luke traces the genealogy of Jesus — the beloved Son of God — all the way back to Adam, the first man, whom he also calls the son of God. Adam did not have an earthly father, so therefore he received life directly from God, making him a son of God.
The same can be said for the heavenly host, which is why they are called the sons of God. The sons of God are created, supernatural beings who abide in the spiritual realm. I presume that just as Adam was created in the image of God, the sons of God were created to be imagers of the Most High and reflect His glory to one another and back to Him.
In the same way that God shared His rule with Adam to be His representative and joint-heir of the earth, I believe God also shares His rule and administration of the heavens with the sons of God. This is not because God needs help ruling the universe in any way. God graciously chooses to invite His creations into relationship with Himself and gives them the privilege of sharing in His governance in both heaven and on earth.
Of course, we know that through the temptation and the fall, Adam abdicated his role and authority as God’s representative on earth though the highest form of rebellion and spiritual treason. The serpent [another spiritual being] beguiled Adam and Eve to believe the lie and by so doing subverted man’s legal right to the earth. That is why Satan, or devil, is now called the “god” or “prince” of this world.
In other words, it can be said that one of the spiritual sons of God, who was once called “O morning star, son of the dawn” [Isaiah 14:12], led the entire human race into death trap of sin and rebellion.
The sons of God and the Giants
After the initial rebellion with the serpent in the garden (Genesis 3), we quickly discover another heavenly rebellion that also involves the sons of God in Genesis 6. Again, this spiritual rebellion is designed to proliferate evil, subvert God’s plan of redemption, and completely destroy mankind.
“When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the LORD said, ‘My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.’ The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown. The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”[Genesis 6:1-5]
As the sons of God cohabited with human wives, they produced an ungodly offspring of evil giants who began to introduce all forms of sorcery, witchcraft, violence and sexual immorality. Basically, the sons of God were introducing forbidden knowledge and dark arts that accelerated man’s ability to self-destruct. This is precisely why the LORD was grieved that he had made mankind and resolved to destroy the earth with a global flood. The spawn of evil had spread throughout the entire earth and had to be purged.
As God started over with Noah and eventually entered into covenant with Abram, the promise of a Savior began to become more defined. The LORD told Abram that through His offspring all the nations of the earth would be blessed. The promised Messiah would eventually restore what had been lost as a result of these spiritual rebellions.
Jesus the Messiah — the Unique Son of God
The Apostle John states the purpose of his gospel saying, “these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” [John 20:31]
John also calls Jesus the one and only Son of God, meaning He is species unique. Like Adam, Jesus has no earthly father, but was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born in the fullness of time as God in human form — Immanuel.
And the entire mission of Jesus is to destroy the works of the devil, restore sinners to God through the cross, conquer death and the grave through the resurrection and give men the legal right and authority to become sons of the living God. All that Adam lost and the rebellious sons of God have corrupted, Jesus came to restore and redeem!
In Christ we spiritually reborn and now are promised to receive transformed, resurrection bodies, as we eagerly await our adoption as sons of God (Romans 8:23). And we too, one day will be shouting for joy in the new heaven and the new earth in the assembly of the holy ones!
It is only when we understand who the original sons of God truly are that we can fully appreciate the glory and power of God’s redemptive work in Christ Jesus.
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become sons of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”[John 1:12-13]