What is the “Divine Council”?

March 18, 2024

THE CONTROVERSY: Several biblical passages speak of what some theologians call a “divine council,” an assembly of heavenly beings or “gods.” For Israel’s neighbors in the ancient Near East, such councils reflected polytheistic worldviews, where rival gods vied for power and supremacy. For Israel, however, though heavenly and supernatural, the members of the divine council remained subject to the providence and decrees of the one Creator God. Furthermore, God disarmed all these evil spiritual powers at the cross of Christ, and one day he will strip them of all authority entirely.

divine council
divine council

Exploring the Divine Council in the Old Testament

One captivating aspect of the Old Testament, or Hebrew Bible, is the notion of a divine council. This council consists of celestial beings who interact with God, engaging in important discussions and decision-making processes.

The Concept of “Sod”

This idea is closely associated with the Hebrew term “sod,” which refers to a private discussion or a trusted circle of advisors.

Understanding “Sod” in Scripture

Contemporary scholars widely agree that when “sod” is mentioned in relation to God, it signifies this heavenly divine council. Sometimes, prophets are granted access to these gatherings, enabling them to gain insights into divine secrets. Throughout the Old Testament, members of this council are referred to by various names, including the “host of heaven,” “gods” or “sons of God,” and “Holy Ones.”

Unveiling the Secrets of the Divine Council

“Sod” carries a dual meaning: it represents both the divine council itself and the confidential matters discussed within it — the hidden plans of the celestial beings. Occasionally, prophets receive privileged access to this knowledge and convey it to ordinary people. However, only those within the divine circle possess a comprehensive understanding of these matters and are authorized to disclose them.

Examples from Scripture

  • 1 Kings 22:19-23: Michaiah recounts a vision in which he witnesses God and His angelic assembly deliberating over a course of action regarding Ahab. This insight allows Michaiah to make accurate predictions based on God’s secret plan.
  • Isaiah 6: Isaiah receives a divine vision wherein he witnesses God seated in His temple surrounded by heavenly beings. Isaiah is then commissioned to share the revelations from this divine encounter.
  • Jeremiah’s Insight: In Jeremiah 23:16-18 and 23:21-22, false prophets are rebuked for misleading people with their fabricated visions. Jeremiah asserts that genuine prophets have participated in God’s divine council, distinguishing them from the impostors.

Identifying True Prophets

Differentiating between true and false prophets hinges on their access to the divine council. Authentic prophets have been privy to God’s secret meetings, granting them genuine insights into divine intentions.

Scriptural References

  • Psalm 82: This psalm offers a vivid depiction of God presiding over His divine council, addressing its members as “gods” and “sons of the Most High.”
  • Amos 3:7: The passage underscores God’s practice of revealing His plans to His chosen prophets, ensuring that they are informed of His intentions.
  • Insights from Job: Job provides glimpses into God’s divine council, highlighting the exclusivity of its members’ knowledge. Eliphaz emphasizes Job’s lack of access to this privileged information, emphasizing the significance of divine revelation in understanding God’s will.
divine council
divine council

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