Psalm 82: Part Five – The Watchers and the End of the Age

These posts are all excerpted from my newest booklet, Psalm 82: The Divine Council of the Gods, the Judgment of the Watchers and the Inheritance of the Nations. You can buy the booklet here.

In my previous posts (1,  2,  3,  4), I analyzed Psalm 82 to uncover the narrative of Christ’s victory over the powers. In it, we saw a reiteration of the Deuteronomy 32 worldview that depicted fallen Sons of God from Yahweh’s heavenly host being allotted the Gentile nations as an inheritance, while Yahweh kept Israel for his own inheritance. These Watchers over the nations were unjust in their governance, so Yahweh declared he would judge them with death through the resurrection of Messiah, which would take back the allotment from the Watchers and give it to Messiah to inherit the nations.

But if Jesus triumphed over the spiritual powers at the cross and then led them captive in a military style triumphal procession, then how is it that the New Testament speaks of an ongoing struggle with those heavenly principalities and powers for the Christian? Are these territorial powers still an issue for us today?

My short answer is that the principalities and powers over the nations are not an issue for us today, but they were in Paul’s day because when he wrote his New Testament letters, the victory of Christ had been legally inaugurated at the cross, resurrection and ascension, but was not historically consummated until the destruction of the earthly incarnation of the old covenant, the holy temple in Jerusalem in AD 70. That event was the historical completion of the spiritual truth begun a generation earlier.

Paul was writing in a transition period between covenants. The new had been spiritually inaugurated but not historically consummated until the old had been done away with in the earthly realm. The old covenant was fading out but had not yet vanished with the destruction of the historical temple. The book of Hebrews predicts this destruction as a “vanishing.”

Hebrews 8:13–9:9
In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. …By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the [heavenly] holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section [earthly holy place] is still standing (which is symbolic for the present age).

That last parenthesis about the physical holy place being “symbolic of the present age” is in the text of Hebrews. I did not add it. the physical temple is a symbol of the old covenant age that was about to vanish away with the destruction of the temple.

Thus, the spiritual powers had lost their legal right to the Gentile nations at the complex of events that climaxed with the ascension of Jesus Christ. But their actual judgment of death in the fires of Gehenna did not occur until the consummation of the old covenant “present age” of the first century.

Many Christians assume that the “end of the age” or the “last days” is the end of the earth. Thus when Jesus speaks of casting sinners into the furnace of fire at the end of the age, they assume this has not yet happened. After all, does not Isaiah place the inheritance of the Gentiles in a future “last days”?

Isaiah 2:2
2 It shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it…

But I will show that the judgment of the Watchers in Psalm 82 occurs with the inheritance of the Gentiles which is actually begun in the book of Acts and solidified by AD 70 in the destruction of the temple. The “last days” occurred in the first century and they were the last days of the old covenant, not the last days of the entire earth.

Don’t read on unless you want your spiritual world rocked by this amazing biblical truth…

Acts and the Inheritance of the Gentile Nations

In Acts 2, we read about the first explosion of the Gospel with the first baptism of the Holy Spirit. It was the thing that Jesus had told them to wait for, which would launch them into all the world with the Good News (Acts 1:4). Pentecost would be the historical inauguration of the heavenly new covenant achieved by the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ. It would be the pouring out of God’s Spirit upon his people (Isa 32:12-19; 44:5; Ezek 36:25-28; 37:14).

The disciples asked Jesus if this was the time of the restoration of Israel (1:6). Jesus told them that the regathering or restoration of Israel would begin when the Holy Spirit came upon them soon.

And what was the restoration, but the pouring out of God’s Spirit and the regathering of Jews from all over the known world in a spiritual metaphorical resurrection? (Ezek 37). So when the disciples were baptized with the Spirit at Pentecost and began to speak in foreign tongues, that was the fulfillment of God’s pouring out of his Spirit.

But it was also the beginning of the regathering of Jews because “there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5). The list of nations that are described (Acts 2:9-11) just happens to be a representative sampling of the seventy nations of Genesis 10, the very nations that were allotted as an inheritance to the Watchers.

Just in case there was any doubt of that regathering, Peter said, “From every nation under heaven.” It’s almost as if he anticipated some future Christians arguing that since he didn’t list ALL the seventy nations, then the prophecy could not have been fulfilled yet. But Peter says, “No, I am not restricting my references to only the nations I mentioned, because they are coming from ALL the nations under heaven.”

But those seventy nations were also “all the nations” to which the Jews were scattered (Amos 9:9). And the scattering of the tribes of Israel was described as being swallowed up by the nations (Hosea 8:8). In other words, the tribes of Israel had become so intermingled with the Gentile nations that for Diaspora Jews to return to Jerusalem and convert to Messiah constituted the nations being drawn into the new covenant kingdom of God.

According to the apostle Luke, Pentecost of AD 30 was not only the ingathering of the tribes of Israel, it was the beginning of the inheritance of the nations — “every nation under heaven.”

Pentecost, AD 30, was the beginning of regathering the scattered Jews AND the reclamation of the divided nations. Pentecost was the undoing of both Exile and Babel.

Scholar Michael Heiser explains this connection of Pentecost to Babel and Exile:

There are two key terms in [Acts 2] that connect it back to Babel in an unmistakable way. The flaming tongues are described as “divided” (Greek: diamerizo), and the crowd, composed of Jews from all the nations, is said to have been “confused” (Greek: suncheo).

The second term, suncheo (v. 6), is the same word used in the Septuagint version of the Babel story in Genesis 11:7: “Come, let us go down and confuse [Septuagint: suncheo] their language there.” The multiplicity of nations represented at Pentecost is another link to Babel. Each nation had a national language. More importantly, all those nations referred to in Acts 2:9–11 had been disinherited by Yahweh when they were divided.

The other word of importance (diamerizo; v. 3) is also used in the Septuagint, but not in Genesis 11. It is found exactly where one would expect it if one were thinking in cosmic-geographical terms—Deuteronomy 32:8 (Septuagint: “When the Most High divided [diamerizo] the nations, when he scattered humankind, he fixed the boundaries of the nations”). This is a strong indication that Luke is drawing on the Septuagint, and specifically the Tower of Babel story in Genesis 11 and Deuteronomy 32:8–9, to describe the events on Pentecost.[1]

The inheritance of the nations involved the gathering of Gentiles together with the Jews that occurred all throughout the book of Acts. Notice these passages that say that the evangelism of Acts is the very fulfillment of the promise to gather the Gentiles with the Jews as his people:

Acts 15:13–19
13 After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. 14 Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written.

Acts 26:23
[Paul:] 23 “that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”

The “ingathering” of Gentiles with Jews was based upon unity of belief in Jesus as Messiah. Isaiah had prophesied that when Messiah first came (the branch of Jesse), in that very day, the Lord would “recover the remnant that remains of his people,” from all the nations. “In that day,” the root of Jesse would be “raised (resurrected) as a signal for the nations,” and would “assemble the banished of Israel and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth” (Isa 11:1-2, 10-12). In that day of Messiah’s arrival and resurrection (his raising as a signal), he would draw both the remnant of Israel as well as Gentile believers. Paul likened that raising of the signal to Christ’s resurrection, and confirmed this Isaianic promise as already being fulfilled during his ministry:

Romans 15:8–9, 12
8 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy…12 And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.

What were the promises given to the patriarchs that Paul says were confirmed (“verified”) in Christ’s resurrection? All of them, including the regathering (Acts 3:24; 32; 15:13-15; 24:24; 26:6). In fact, most of the prophecies about the regathering of Israel almost always add the inclusion of Gentiles as a simultaneous event.

But the point is that Paul writes explicitly that the Isaianic prophecy about the gathering of the remnant along with the Gentiles was already being fulfilled in his own day, not in some distant future.

The Last Days of the Old Covenant

Back to Pentecost. In Acts 2, Peter then preaches a sermon about how this baptism of the Spirit meant that they were in the last days as Joel described, a time when the “Day of the Lord” was coming for Israel.

That Day of the Lord was the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70. This has to be the case because Peter clearly states that the “last days” and “Day of the Lord” of Joel were being fulfilled in AD 30s, not in a distant future (Acts 2:16. See my book End Times Bible Prophecy for the details on this).

Acts 2:15–17
15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: 17 “ ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh…

There could be no more explicit claim of Joel’s “last days” being fulfilled in their day than Peter saying, “This is what was uttered through the prophet Joel.” This is what was uttered. Not, “this is yet to come,” or “this is like what will be.” This is what was uttered. Pentecost was the beginning of the promise of God’s outpoured spirit and it meant they were in the last days in the first century. So the last days are not the last days of earth. They must be the last days of something else.

The rest of Joel that Peter also quotes predicts the Day of the Lord. Christians tend to assume that the Day of the Lord is a reference to a universal end of time judgment. But in the Bible, it is not. In the Bible, “Day of the Lord” is used to describe a variety of local judgments by God on nations, peoples or cities (Zeph 1:7-15; Isa 13:6-19). The Day of the Lord Peter refers to in Acts 2 is not a worldwide universal judgment, but the localized national and city judgment of God. And what city or people were going to be judged in the coming Day of the Lord? Jesus said it would be Israel and her city and temple in Jerusalem. (Matt 23:37-24:2; 21:37-45; 22:1-9; Luke 19:41-44).

Jesus described the Day of the Lord for Israel in his generation. He called it the “days of vengeance,” with “wrath upon his people.” That Day of the Lord was Yahweh using the Romans to destroy the holy city and temple in AD 70 because the Jewish nation as a whole did not accept the “time of the visitation” of Messiah (Luke 19:43-44).

Luke 21:20–24
20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, 22 for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. 23 Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

Messiah would arrive in the last days of the old covenant to bring the new covenant that replaced it. It was the age of Messiah that brought an end to the previous ages. And the historical event that marked the end of that old covenant age was the destruction of the old covenant temple and those who refused to let it go.

The apostles knew they were in the last days in the first century, also referred to as the end of the ages. They said so:

Hebrews 1:1–2
1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things.

Hebrews 9:26
26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

1 Corinthians 10:11
11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.

The New Testament explicitly states that the first century was the last days, the end of the age. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross marked the purpose of that age. His death and resurrection would mark the arrival of the Messianic age to come that Jews everywhere looked forward to.

The Messianic age had come. The old covenant age was fading out and would vanish when its symbol, the earthly Jerusalem temple, was destroyed within a generation of the New Testament being written (Heb 8:13; 9:9-8-9; 10:9). Therefore, the last days could not have been the last days of the whole earth, but the last days of the old covenant, the end of the old covenant age.[2]

And those last days of the old covenant would include the destruction of the spiritual powers over the nations that were a part of that old covenant Deuteronomy 32 worldview. As I explained earlier, 2Peter 3 describes those last days as the Day of the Lord, when the stoicheia (the elemental spirits over the nations) would be burned up in judgment along with unbelieving sinners (Rev 20:15; 21:8). The judgment of the Watchers that Jude said would occur at “the judgment of the great day” occurred in AD 70 with the destruction of the old covenant and all its earthly and spiritual elements. Space does not permit an explanation of how 2Peter and Revelation were fulfilled in the first century (see my book End Times Bible Prophecy)

Now the last days of Isaiah 2 makes more sense. Messiah arrived in the last days of the old covenant to usher in the mountain of the kingdom of God (Dan 2:44-45), that now accepted the Gentiles that were previously under the authority of the Watchers.

Isaiah 2:2
2 It shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it…

That messianic mountain was also predicted by Daniel to occur in the time of the Roman empire with the coming of Messiah as a heavenly cornerstone of a kingdom that would overcome all kingdoms and grow to be a mountain that filled the earth (Dan 2:35, 44-45). Jesus was that stone who came in the time of ancient Rome (Acts 4:11), his kingdom was established in the first century (Matt 12:28), and it is currently growing to fill the earth (Matt 13:31-33), just as Daniel prophesied.

The Story of it All

So here is the summary narrative of what I have sought to exegete from Psalm 82 in conjunction with the rest of Scripture: The Watchers had been allotted the Gentile nations in their ancient rebellion and God kept Israel as his own allotment. But in the last days of the old covenant, Messiah came to take back that inheritance. His death resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God was his enthronement that empowered him to overthrow the Watchers and take back their territorial rights over the Gentile nations. He then regathers his remnant of Jews from all the nations through the gospel proclamation of his new covenant kingdom. But this spiritual inauguration of the kingdom is not historically consummated until the old covenant temple is destroyed. That new covenant now includes the Gentiles, no longer in bondage to the powers, who now flow into the heavenly Mount Zion, the New Jerusalem, the Body of Christ.

There are no longer territorial Watchers who have power over the nations because Christ vanquished them, dragged them through the spiritual streets in triumph, took back their inheritance and judged them by stripping them of immortality and most likely casting them into the lake of fire. He did this in the first century when the old covenant that included the Gentile allotment was completely abolished at the destruction of the old covenant temple in AD 70.

To see how the rule of the fallen Watchers over the Gentile nations may have played out in history, read my novel series, Chronicles of the Nephilim.

To see what the Watcher’s final destruction might have looked like, read my series Chronicles of the Apocalypse.

For more theological explanation of the last days and eschatology see my book End Times Bible Prophecy.

 

FOOTNOTES

[1]  Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, First Edition (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2015), 298.

[2] See “Chapter 9: End of the Age/Last Days,” Brian Godawa, End Times Bible Prophecy: It’s Not What They Told You (Embedded Pictures, 2017), 70-80.

15 comments on “Psalm 82: Part Five – The Watchers and the End of the Age

  • Wonderful work. I Will Buy all yr books. Finally a So of Yhwh who has discernment and the guidance of the Ruah HaQadesh. Thank You for the light.

  • Hi Brian, Thank you for this very enlightening post. But do you have any explanation for why we continue to see demonic oppression/possession even after 70 AD? How do you explain Islam, Hinduism and similar idolatrous cultures continue to flourish to this day? Thanks

    • Josh,
      Thanks for your kind words. I will putting a post soon to address that in detail, but here is what I wrote to someone with a similar question:

      I think it is important to consider that many in the divine council crowd often become so focused on the heavenly principalities that we forget that they are not the origin of man’s evil, which resides within our souls. Our sinful nature accounts for our evil, not external forces. So we don’t really need Watchers to engage in the horrendous “evil that men do.” It is dangerous to root the focus of our evil outside of humankind.

      Remember, there was no Watcher that caused Cain to slay Abel, and that is microcosm story of human nature’s violence. The Watchers were definitely part of the evil that brought the judgment of the Flood, but they were the tempters and facilitators of human evil, not the cause of it. Humanity’s nature is totally depraved without the need of demons to cause the evil of WWI, WWII, the holocaust, etc. In an interesting twist, I think the movie Wonder Woman is a good example of my argument. Diana thinks that if she kills the god of war, war will cease, but she learns that man’s nature remains evil regardless of what happens in the heavenlies (I know that fictional story takes place after AD 70, but the point is similar to what I am saying about now).

      That said, I might consider Watchers over nations now if it were not for the Scriptures that seem to emphatically communicate that Christ defeated the powers and dragged them through the streets in a military triumphal procession.

      Ephesians 4:8 (ESV)
      8 Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”

      Colossians 2:15 (ESV)
      15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

      That language of victory reads to me quite complete and decided. They were dragged as captives, disarmed, shamed and triumphed over. That is what happened to rulers who were conquered by Roman armies. They no longer had authority over their nations because they were conquered by the victor. Victory and captivity include the notion of loss of power and authority of the vanquished.

      Couple that with the fact that Christ’s heavenly enthronement is above all authority, and it becomes quite explicit to me that Christ took away their authority.

      Christ’s inheritance of the nations literally means that the Watchers lost their inheritance. Their inheritance came with their authority. It is all a package. Inheritance means ownership of allotted territory, and that is what Messiah took away when he inherited their allotment.

      Of course, that doesn’t mean there isn’t any demonic activity or forces around. It just means that all heavenly authority has been put down by Jesus.

      As I indicated earlier, if one thinks that the disinheriting of the Watcher’s authority means that there is no explanation of the evil in humanity, then perhaps one has forgotten that human evil is not located in heavenly beings but in humanity.

  • Stephen Holmes says:

    Sir, your theological ideas rob the remnant of Israel of her future inheritance on this earth in Jerusalem–– when Jesus reigns as the Son of David, from the throne of David upon the elevated Mt. Zion. Israel is still the nation by which all of the nations of the earth will be blessed at her future regathering as Isaiah 2, 60 and 66 truly report in agreement with Zechariah 14 and Ezekiel 36-48. I pray brother, as Paul prayed for all of us gentiles, that you not be uninformed of the mystery that is at work, “so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB.” I genuinely would not want you to fall into the category of brothers who have become arrogant towards the branches, “but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.”

    • Stephen,
      Thank you for your challenging comments.
      As you have already noted, we disagree quite substantially over theological issues.
      But I would like to correct some of your misunderstandings with Scripture.
      The remnant of Israel were those Jews in the first century who believed in Jesus as Messiah. They are not modern day Jews. Notice that Paul clearly says that the remnant, “the elect,” obtained what the rest of Israel failed to obtain, namely salvation through Messiah. Notice, it is past tense, not future tense as you are arguing.

      Romans 11:5–8
      5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. 7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, 8 as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.”

      You say “when Jesus reigns as the Son of David from the throne of David upon Mt. Zion. Yet, contrary to you, the Scriptures say that Jesus reigns RIGHT NOW from the throne of David on Mount Zion. Notice that Peter says here that Christ’s resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God fulfills the promise of Messiah seated on the Davidic throne.

      Acts 2:30–33
      30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God…

      Notice that Psalm 2 says Messiah will sit on the throne of David in Zion.

      Psalm 2:6–7
      6 “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” 7 I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.

      And then Paul says emphatically that Psalm 2 was fulfilled at the resurrection and ascension of Christ:

      Acts 13:32–33
      32 And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, 33 this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, “ ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’

      Notice here that the New Testament says that we the Church have come to Jesus seated on Mount Zion RIGHT NOW. It is not an earthly Mount, but a heavenly one, because the kingdom of God is not of this earth.

      Hebrews 12:22–24
      22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant.

      You speak of a future regathering of Israel, but the New Testament says that the Regathering of Israel from all the nations occurred in the New Covenant in Messiah that came with Jesus. Notice that Acts says the Pentecost was the start of that regathering of Jews to Messiah “From every nation under heaven.”

      Acts 2:5
      5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.
      Acts 2:16–17
      16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: 17 “ ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh…

      The pouring out of the Spirit was part of the very promise of the regathering (Ezek 36:25-28; 37:14). They were part and parcel of the same promise, and they happened together as Peter said in the New Covenant Gospel.

      Your understanding of the Root of Israel is flawed. The root is true spiritual Israel, it is not physical or geopolitical or genetic Israel. It has to be “spiritual Israel” because it included both Jew and GENTILE believers. I do not suggest that Gentiles are the only true Israel. All Jew and Gentile believers are true Israel. Those genetic Jews in modern day Israel who reject Messiah Jesus are cut off from Israel. Don’t forget, Paul said that just because you are a genetic Jew of physical descendency does NOT make you a Jew, because the true Jew is defined by FAITH, not physical or national identity.

      Romans 9:6–8
      6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.

      I believe you have a fundamental misunderstanding of the Gospel and may be thinking like the first century Jews who missed Messiah because they were looking for an earthly ruler and missed the heavenly kingdom.

      You quote Romans 11:26 that the Deliverer will come from Zion and banish ungodliness from Jacob.
      Well, yes, Messiah DID COME FROM ZION. He is Jesus, and you did not quote the second part of that verse, “And this will be my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” that is the NEW COVENANT that came and took away the sins of the remnant who believed in Messiah.

      There is more to say, but I recommend my booklet, “Israel in Bible Prophecy” that can be downloaded from Amazon here to help clarify what the Scriptures say over Dispensational distortions of Scripture.

  • I don’t know how much historical validity this has, but I once read an article claiming that futurism was proposed by a Jesuit priest named Manuel Lacunza, posing as a Jewish convert, in order to convince Protestants that the antichrist wouldn’t be the then pope, but another figure in the future.

    A preacher named Irving Wallace translated the book into English and incorporated its teachings in his church. Those ideas spread to another preacher named John Darby, which further developed the dispensational theology and went to America to teach it.

    A man with a murky past name Cyrus Scofield incorporated Darby’s writings into a Bible he edited and distributed across many churches and Bible schools, influencing the authors of the Left Behind books, Jerry Falwell, John Hagee, Hal Lindsey, etc.

  • Scott Mc. says:

    Hi, Brian! I’ve been reading through your series here because I’m preparing a sermon on this very topic. The series has been a useful resource, so thank you!

    I comment here because I am not convinced at all by your argument from Heb 9:8-9 that the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. is the final end of the watchers at which point they are out play, so to speak, maybe even destroyed.

    You quote Hebrews 8:13, 9:9: “In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. …By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the [heavenly] holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section [earthly holy place] is still standing (which is symbolic for the present age).”

    You take the author’s use of the present tense to mean these things are true even of his own time, that “the way into the holy places is not yet open” as he writes. But this is at odds with the whole thesis of his letter and the immediate context of your citation!

    Immediately, he writes, “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

    Heb 10: 19-22 “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

    Heb 13: 22-24 “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”

    So how then do we make sense of his use of the present tense verbs, “present age”, “ready to vanish away”, and not yet opened in conjunction with Christ’s already finished work: “have appeared”, “entered”, “the […] way that he opened”, “we have”?

    Well, consider first how he quotes the Lord through Jeremiah in 8:6: “8 For he finds fault with them when he says […]” He is referring to the past using the present tense, concluding, “In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” I contend it was old and ready to vanish in Jeremiah’s day, and did so through the work of Jesus. This use of the present tense to speak of past realities continues, I believe, until 9:10. “The Holy Spirit indicates” [through the prophet and the Old Covenant system] “that the way into the holy places is not yet opened […] But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come […]” and so on.

    The way was opened to us when the curtain was torn at the crucifixion, not at 70 AD. The consistent message of Hebrews is that Jesus brought the culmination. The author of Hebrews in no way is looking forward to 70 AD.

    That’s my case, so let me know what you think.

    Aside from Heb 9:9, is there any other textual reason to believe that 70 A.D. is an endpoint for the watchers? It would seem the obvious candidate would have been the resurrection, but Paul ruins that option by struggling with the watchers after that point.

    If I’m right about that, what do I think about the watchers after their defeat on Holy Week?

    I’m sure you’re familiar with the already-and-not-yet phenomenon in much New Testament writing. We have been saved once and for all, yet we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Jesus has come and we await his coming. The principalities and powers have been led captive, but it is against them we struggle. The watchers indeed lost their authority all at once. The Lord Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me, therefore go into all the earth and make disciples of all nations…” Just as saved, God empowers us to partner with him in living out our salvation, so having conquered, God wants his church to partner with Him in carrying out the fruit of his victory. The inclusion of the Gentiles is an ongoing process. My family is preparing to move soon to give our lives to the inclusion of an unreached ethnos.

    Paul did indeed engage in the battle with the principalities and powers, and so do we today as we continue to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. The watcher, dispossessed and disinherited are now squatters, without authority though not yet deprived of all agency and power–like a branch cut off but not yet withered. Acts ends open-ended, the nations of the earth not finally and completely reached. We still live within the back cover of Acts, as far as I can tell. Many missionaries today will tell you there are still territorial watchers desperately opposed to Christ’s victory once won on Easter becoming manifest in the nations over which they no longer have rights. I believe the final destruction of the watchers and Satan is yet to come.

    Do you think this is an exegetically workable perspective?

    Peace, brother.

    • Hi, Scott. Thank you for your intelligent challenge.
      I don’t have time or space here to exegete every detail, so let me at least say that the rest of the series or the actual booklet, Psalm 82 on Amazon flesh out more of the biblical argument.

      But the big picture is that Hebrews was written before AD 70. They were looking forward to the fulfillment of Christ’s prediction.

      Christ’s death, resurrection, ascension and judgment is a complex of events because they begin in the heavenly realm but are not historically consummated until forty years later in AD 70.

      This is where the “now and not yet” comes in. They were living in the forty year transition period. In a heavenly sense the new covenant/kingdom was inaugurated really and truly with the blood of Christ and his ascension. But until the earthly incarnation of the old covenant is destroyed, it is not consummated earthly or historically. Inaugurated now, consummated not yet. God’s work always has heavenly and earthly dimensions and they do not always occur historically at the same moment. That makes is messy for our theological demands, but that’s the way it goes. I don’t make the rules! 🙂

      So that transition period marked out the present age “growing old, and ready to vanish.” Now and not yet. The transition period appears to me to be the only way to make sense of that concept.

      Theologically, there is something interesting about the high priest and holy of holies. It wasn’t consummated until the high priest came out of the holy place. Jesus came out of that “holy place” in heaven to judge Jerusalem.

      The rest of the series and the booklet explain the other Biblical passages. But Psalm 82 links the death of the Watchers and their judgment to the resurrection of Christ, which biblically is a complex of events that includes the ascension and judgment. I explain that in the next part four I think.

      Thank of it, if one says that they are disinherited and have no more authority over the nations, but they are still exercising power in those nations, then that is a contradiction. Their very power lay in their allotment. That allotment has been taken back. To say they have any power is to deny the Gospel itself, which is that they have no power.

      My personal favorite is the triumphal procession imagery used to describe the defeat of the powers in the NT. It is based on the Roman Triumph, where they dragged the rulers through the streets and executed them or imprisoned them, something I should have gone more into in my booklet. Either way, that is NOT allowing them to have any power in their territories. And the paradigm of judgment at resurrection in Psalm 82 matches judgment during the triumphal march.

      Here is what I write in that section:

      But there is more. Paul also reveals the ascension of Christ as involving a violent overthrow of the Watchers. He quotes Isaiah to show that after Christ ascended, he then descended to earth to give spiritual gifts to the Church through the Holy Spirit.

      Ephesians 4:7–10
      7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” 9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth?)
      Notice that Christ’s ascension is described as “leading a host of captives.” Some Christians assume these are human captives freed from Hades through Christ’s sacrifice. But that is not what the phrase means. It is actually a reference to the common ancient Roman triumphal procession, which involved military victors parading their conquered foes, dead or alive, through the streets of a city. It was rubbing the noses of the vanquished in their defeat and declaring the victor’s new authority over those conquered foes.

      Scholar Mary Beard describes the ancient Roman Triumph:
      To be awarded a triumph was the most outstanding honor a Roman general could hope for. He would be drawn in a chariot—accompanied by the booty he had won, the prisoners he had taken captive, and his no doubt rowdy and raucous troops in their battle gear—through the streets of the city to the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline hill, where he would offer a sacrifice to the god. The ceremony became a by-word for extravagant display.
      Mary Beard, The Roman Triumph (Mass: Harvard, 2007), 1.

      Through analogy, Paul is saying that when Christ ascended to his throne at the right hand of God, he led the conquered and captive gods of the nations through spiritual streets as a victorious general and king.

      This interpretation is reinforced in Colossians where Paul writes that through the cross Jesus “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Col 2:15).
      Christ’s apparent defeat of the cross led to the surprise victory of the resurrection and ascension to universal authority. Captivating, disarming, shaming and triumphing are all violent military words of subjugation that paint a clear picture of disinherited Watchers who no longer have the power and authority they were once allotted in primeval days.

      There is even a sense in which that victory parade continues as a perpetual subjugation with the Gospel proclamation and growth of God’s kingdom.

      2 Corinthians 2:14
      14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.

      There can be no doubt that the principalities and powers, those Sons of God who were allotted the nations at Babel, were finally conquered at the cross and led captive at the ascension of Christ to his enthronement over all powers and authorities in both heaven and earth.

      I hope this helps.

  • Wow, Brian! Thank you for taking the time to write such a long reply! I know argumentation can sound cold, particularly as bare text, so just know I say all of the following in brotherly love and the joy of pursuing truth together in Scripture.

    BG: “But the big picture is that Hebrews was written before AD 70. They were looking forward to the fulfillment of Christ’s prediction. Christ’s death, resurrection, ascension and judgment is a complex of events because they begin in the heavenly realm but are not historically consummated until forty years later in AD 70.”

    Certainly these two paragraphs summarizes the central, unique claim you are making about the chronology of the judgement of the watchers, but on their own they just beg the question. In support of this 70 AD judgement you’ve only marshalled one passage of Hebrews, and I don’t find the exegesis you give to be necessary or persuasive.

    BG: “They were living in the forty year transition period. […] But until the earthly incarnation of the old covenant is destroyed, it is not consummated earthly or historically. […] I don’t make the rules! 🙂”

    But it appears to me that you did make these rules in this case by how you exegeted Hebrews 8:13, 9:9. Unless yours is the only sensible interpretation of Heb 8-9, then God hasn’t not made it a rule that, “until the earthly incarnation of the old covenant is destroyed, it is not consummated earthly or historically”. I think the exegesis I gave above to make better sense of this passage’s context in Hebrews and the wider Bible, so this rule seems contrived. What did you make of my interpretation?

    BG: “So that transition period marked out the present age “growing old, and ready to vanish.” Now and not yet. The transition period appears to me to be the only way to make sense of that concept.”

    “Growing old and getting ready to vanish” were in the words of the OT prophet Jeremiah. The author of Hebrews plays with tense coming out of Jeremiah’s quote, but goes on to say Jesus “has appeared”, that he “entered once and for all”, that “we have confidence to enter […] by the way he opened for us”, and “we have come to Mt. Zion”. The author of Hebrews clearly depicts this as fully complete at the time of his writing. Again, see full exegesis above.

    BG: “Theologically, there is something interesting about the high priest and holy of holies. It wasn’t consummated until the high priest came out of the holy place. Jesus came out of that “holy place” in heaven to judge Jerusalem.”

    What evidence is there for this? Why is this a better candidate than the tearing of the curtain or the resurrection?

    BG: “The rest of the series and the booklet explain the other Biblical passages. But Psalm 82 links the death of the Watchers and their judgment to the resurrection of Christ”

    Do any of these other passage lend support to the specific claim that the watchers get judged and executed in 70 AD?

    BG: “Thank of it, if one says that they are disinherited and have no more authority over the nations, but they are still exercising power in those nations, then that is a contradiction. Their very power lay in their allotment. That allotment has been taken back. To say they have any power is to deny the Gospel itself, which is that they have no power.”

    They have no more authority over the nations. I see a distinction between power and authority. Police have authority, criminials do not. But criminals do still have power. Jesus had authority over all evil spirits, but those spirits still exercised power over people until Jesus came and by his rightful authority put an end to their exercise of power for which they had no authority. Then he gives his disciples authority to cast out evil spirits, and it is as they confront the spirits that the spirits lose their power.

    This is parallel to the judgement of the watchers by the church. It begins at Pentecost, then Phillip in Samaria, the ethiopian eunuch, the gentile house of Cornelius, etc, etc, etc on to missions continuing into unreached nations to day. The consummation of Jesus victory over the watchers began long before 70 AD, in every disciple won to YHWH from the nations once entrusted to the beney elohim.

    If authority = power, I would have to agree with you, but it’s clear to me there is a distinction. Otherwise, why is Paul contending with spiritual forces in the heavenly realm after Jesus ascended with the captives in triumphal procession? Jesus took back the authority, and then commissioned Paul and the church to undo the power, power now exercised without any rightful authority, as when a wicked king desperately tries to maintain some semblance of rule when the rightful king turns up.

    Consider Scar and Simba, for a popular example. When Simba returns, all the lions and even hyenas know Scar has no rightful authority, but there is a period of contention against the disarmed and doomed principality, the wicked king, before total consummated restoration. Missions is how the rightful king returns to each nation in turn to oust the watchers.

    BG: “Christ’s apparent defeat of the cross led to the surprise victory of the resurrection and ascension to universal authority. Captivating, disarming, shaming and triumphing are all violent military words of subjugation that paint a clear picture of disinherited Watchers who no longer have the power and authority they were once allotted in primeval days.”

    I absolutely agree with your explanations of Eph 4:7-10 and Col 2:15! It seems to me that those passage cause problems for your 70 AD claims and your conclusions about the watchers situation at present. You seem to think these passages depict the watchers powerless and imprisoned once and for all at the ascension, but that’s well before 70 AD and in a period where the same author claims to struggle with these same principalities. These cannot both be true at the same time.

    You seem to solve this by saying Paul’s present and past tense conquering language about the resurrection and ascension actually looks ahead to a future situation at 70 AD on the basis of Heb 8:8 and 9:13, whereas Eph 6:12 is present tense and actually true of the Paul’s present moment. This seems awfully convoluted. Correct me if I’m misunderstanding.

    What you say next seems much more to accord with my perspective:
    “There is even a sense in which that victory parade continues as a perpetual subjugation with the Gospel proclamation and growth of God’s kingdom. 2 Corinthians 2:14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.”

    Indeed, a perpetual subjugation that continues to this day as disciples go in Jesus authority to make disciples of all nations. Indeed, missionaries throughout history and around the world today know that the wicked, desperate, disarmed kings try futilly to oppose the rightful king as he re-inherits all nations. I personally know missionaries who have been clearly confronted by spiritual enemies. But all their weapons–threats, corruption, violence, deceit–they don’t work! Those weapons only led to Jesus’ resurrection and everywhere only lead to more and more choosing to follow him. They’ve been disarmed because they cannot stop the church that walks in the self-sacrificial love of Jesus.

    BG: “There can be no doubt that the principalities and powers, those Sons of God who were allotted the nations at Babel, were finally conquered at the cross and led captive at the ascension of Christ to his enthronement over all powers and authorities in both heaven and earth.”

    Wait, but I thought you thought it was at the destruction of the temple? I agree with this statement here, but not with what you think follows from it, because authority != power.

    I’ve already provided my own exegesis of Hebrews above, so I won’t rehash it here, but I do want to ask what it is about it you find lacking. Also, what do you make of my illustrations of the distinction between authority and power?

    • BRIAN: Oh, how these posts get very complex trying to address each others’ details. And I am very limited on time, so I will not be able to continue this conversation. Since this is my sandbox, this will be the last post between on this issue. We can agree to disagree. But thanks for the friendly challenge. Iron sharpens iron. You make some good challenges that were worthy of wrestling with.

      BG: “But the big picture is that Hebrews was written before AD 70. They were looking forward to the fulfillment of Christ’s prediction. Christ’s death, resurrection, ascension and judgment is a complex of events because they begin in the heavenly realm but are not historically consummated until forty years later in AD 70.”

      SCOTT: Certainly these two paragraphs summarizes the central, unique claim you are making about the chronology of the judgement of the watchers, but on their own they just beg the question. In support of this 70 AD judgement you’ve only marshalled one passage of Hebrews, and I don’t find the exegesis you give to be necessary or persuasive.

      BRIAN’S ANSWER: It isn’t begging the question to state my paradigm that I am trying to clarify in the light of misunderstanding. I suspected that you were missing the forest for the trees, so I just wanted to clarify my broader position in light of details in Hebrews. The forest and the trees.

      BG: “They were living in the forty year transition period. […] But until the earthly incarnation of the old covenant is destroyed, it is not consummated earthly or historically. […] I don’t make the rules! 🙂”

      SCOTT: But it appears to me that you did make these rules in this case by how you exegeted Hebrews 8:13, 9:9. Unless yours is the only sensible interpretation of Heb 8-9, then God hasn’t not made it a rule that, “until the earthly incarnation of the old covenant is destroyed, it is not consummated earthly or historically”. I think the exegesis I gave above to make better sense of this passage’s context in Hebrews and the wider Bible, so this rule seems contrived. What did you make of my interpretation?

      BRIAN ANSWER: I think you answered your own question in your first attempt to offer the Now and the Not Yet concept. You and I have some agreement on the concept. We may disagree how and where it is applied, but it’s the same principle, namely how to answer the problems of Scriptures that apparently contradict each other in terms of theological statements. How can something be both NOW and REAL, and yet NOT YET? The idea is that inauguration carries the reality and/or seed of the consummation, which has not happened yet. That is why Scriptures speak of things in terms that appear to have happened, and yet appear to not have happened. We are saved, and we will be saved; we are Sons of God, yet we will be Sons of God; Death is defeated, yet it is yet to be defeated. All things are under his feet, yet we do not yet see all things under his feet.

      You seem to think that when I say the destruction of the temple is when the New Covenant is consummated, that it is not yet real until then. But that is not what I am saying. It was inaugurated in the Blood of Christ in the heavenly realm, and that is real, but not yet consummated in the earthly realm until the earthly destruction of the old covenant.

      BG: “So that transition period marked out the present age “growing old, and ready to vanish.” Now and not yet. The transition period appears to me to be the only way to make sense of that concept.”

      SCOTT: “Growing old and getting ready to vanish” were in the words of the OT prophet Jeremiah. The author of Hebrews plays with tense coming out of Jeremiah’s quote, but goes on to say Jesus “has appeared”, that he “entered once and for all”, that “we have confidence to enter […] by the way he opened for us”, and “we have come to Mt. Zion”. The author of Hebrews clearly depicts this as fully complete at the time of his writing. Again, see full exegesis above.

      BRIAN ANSWER: I don’t see Jeremiah saying words like “growing old and getting ready to vanish.” I see the writer of Hebrews drawing that conclusion from the New Covenant concept in Jeremiah. But it is an extrapolation. An extrapolation that you and I agree to as far as it goes. But I see that Hebrews extrapolation as an application by him to his present.

      His use of present tense “makes the first obsolete” is not present for Jeremiah but for Hebrews. The Old Covenant was not “obsolete” in Jeremiah’s day. That was looking forward to the New Covenant age. And the author of Hebrews is saying the “first” or “old covenant” is at once, both obsolete and “becoming obsolete” and “growing old, ready to vanish.” That was in his time period, not Jeremiah’s. So how can you make sense of something being both obsolete and “becoming obsolete,” about to vanish. Well, historically speaking, the old covenant was still around in the temple, which incarnated the old covenant. Even though it was obsolete in the heavenly realm because of Christ’s once for all sacrifice. That’s the transition period until the old covenant was finally destroyed through the temple.

      So, as I try to understand your position, it seems that we agree that redemption is secured once for all in Christ’s blood of the New Covenant. But that I see a heavenly and earthly distinction going on that adds a component of historical complexity that you do not like. Much like your distinction between authority and power.

      So, Jeremiah is predicting the new covenant age of Messiah and Hebrews is speaking in present tense of past prediction. A study of old testament prophecy shows that many prophecies speak proleptically, that is, present tense before they have occurred. But the bottom line is that yes, the present age was the old covenant of Jeremiah’s day. You think that only applies until the cross. And I say, “Yes, fully complete in the heavenly realm, but not fully complete in the earthly realm until the old covenant is historically done away with in the earthly temple, which embodied that old covenant.”

      Am I just saying that as an assertion? No, it is a conclusion from studying the whole of Scripture and integrating all those parts into the paradigm that makes sense of the parts. I have written a bit about that bigger Scriptural paradigm in my other books, End Times Bible Prophecy, Israel in Bible Prophecy and Psalm 82.

      I see one of the dominant themes of Hebrews as a comparison of the earthly with the heavenly. It goes all throughout. The whole thing about Jesus entering the heavenly temple, of which the earthly temple and all its covenantal elements are shadows. This is the Hebrews mindset: there are earthly and heavenly counterparts and the heavenly is the fullness of which the earthly is a shadow. The earthly is incomplete without the heavenly. But they are connected. This is why he says that we have come to the heavenly “Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant” (Heb 12:22-24). The heavenly over the earthly.

      Heb 9:8-9 says
      By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing 9 (which is symbolic for the present age)

      The paragraph right before that, it explains the “first section” as the holy place just outside the holy of holies, of the earthly temple. The second section is the Most Holy Place. Then he makes the analogy of the first section with the old covenant and the second section with the new covenant. It appears that you think the “first section still standing,” (Heb 9:8) means only the spiritual analogy that the holy of holies torn curtain means no more separation of holy and most holy place.

      I agree with that, as far as it goes. But the problem I see is that the paragraph earlier (9:1+), the writer equates the first covenant with the earthly temple. All throughout, he makes pains to describe that old covenant as incarnate in the temple. So, the first section still standing Combined with Jesus prophesying the necessity of the destruction of the temple, if the earthly temple is not destroyed yet, the old covenant still has earthly representation. Jesus’ prophecy of the temple destruction was not an arbitrary unconnected prophecy. It was his declaration of the day of vengeance upon Israel for killing Messiah (Luke 21:22).

      Then you have the further problem that Hebrews equates the first section (old covenant/temple) with “the present age.” In context, it clearly means the old covenant is the “present age,” as being present tense for the writer, which doesn’t fit your claims. The first section is defined as being symbolic of the old covenant system in the passage, so that old system was “the present age.”

      So, There is a sense in which that “present age” was still around, that is an earthly sense, the temple. This fits the “transition period” paradigm because the temple hasn’t been destroyed yet. The Jews believed in two ages, the present age, and the age to come, or the messianic age (which had arrived in Christ). There is that inauguration/consummation, now/not yet, heavenly/earthly concept again.

      Now and Not Yet: Yes, the New Covenant had arrived in Messiah, and yes, redemption was real and present and complete in that heavenly sense. But historically, the incarnation of the old covenant was still standing, that earthly temple of the “present age”, the old covenant age.

      Here’s a real problem for your view: The APOSTLES participated in temple activities, and arguably, sacrifices (Act 21:22-28), though they did so with a qualified apologetic purpose. But they did.

      So, why would Paul say that Jesus abolished the “commandments of laws in ordinances” and that the body of Christ is the heavenly Temple replacing the earthly (Eph 2:15-22), and that they were dead to the law (Romans 7), yet Paul and others still engaged in temple ordinances? I submit it was not because he was a hypocrite or contradictory, but because the heavenly new covenant was inaugurated but not yet consummated until the earthly old covenant incarnation was destroyed as Jesus predicted in his Mount of Olives prediction. It was a 40 year transition period. Overlapping realities.

      I understand that makes theology messy, and God is not a Cartesian modernist who only operates in clear and distinct categories. He is a god of history, and history is messy.

      BG: “Theologically, there is something interesting about the high priest and holy of holies. It wasn’t consummated until the high priest came out of the holy place. Jesus came out of that “holy place” in heaven to judge Jerusalem.”

      SCOTT: What evidence is there for this? Why is this a better candidate than the tearing of the curtain or the resurrection?

      BRIAN ANSWER:
      Because it’s in the text. First, I’d like to say that even your question about “curtain or resurrection” illustrates that the atonement was not a punctiliar moment, but rooted in a complex of events, the death/resurrection/ascension/judgment of Christ. The curtain tore at his death, but his resurrection was three days later, and his ascension 40 days later and his judgment 40 years later. So which is it? At which moment was atonement secured? The book of Hebrews reinforces this complex of events as it describes salvation accomplished through Death/resurrection/ascension and judgment.

      There are passages that speak of salvation rooted in the death of Christ, but also in the resurrection of Christ, and in the ascension of Christ, as well as in his judgment. That is why I don’t try to pin down the moment of atonement, because the Scriptures don’t speak that way. Kind of like the Trinity. Both/and, not either/or. The death, resurrection, ascension and judgment is a complex of events that comprise the accomplishing of redemption for his people (Isa 61:1-2)

      Hebrews 9:26–28 (ESV)
      26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear [out of the second], not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

      I “retranslated” “a second time” as “out of the second.” This is because I believe it to be a bad translation. The Greek is literally, “out of the second.” And since the context of Hebrews has been the first section as holy place, and second section as most holy place, into which Christ went (9:12), I think “second” is contextually about that most holy place. So I think that this is not talking about a “second coming of Christ” but rather a statement about our high priest Christ coming out of the holy of holies to bring the promised atonement after his ascension. Yes, he appeared once and for all, and yes he put away sin by his sacrifice (9:26), but at that moment in history (before AD 70), there was a historical sense in which Christ was yet to come out of that most holy place (“will appear” future tense) to finalize that atonement which was symbolized in the earthly high priest under the earthly temple law (Lev 16:16-17). When the high priest exited the most holy place, the atonement was complete.

      Again, this is not to say we did not have atonement, because the previous verses clearly say we did. So you have to make sense out of the Now and Not Yet language going on in the passage. It ends by saying Christ comes out of that holy place in the heavenlies, not to deal with the sin of his people, but to save. He did that in an earthly sense in AD 70, when he judged earthly Israel, which had become Babylon/Egypt/Sodom (Not My People) and rescued the Christians. It consummated the New Covenant inaugurated in his blood.

      BG: “The rest of the series and the booklet explain the other Biblical passages. But Psalm 82 links the death of the Watchers and their judgment to the resurrection of Christ”

      SCOTT: Do any of these other passage lend support to the specific claim that the watchers get judged and executed in 70 AD?

      BRIAN ANSWER: What other passages? Do you mean the Hebrews passages? No, I don’t claim that. I get the judgment of the Watchers from other passages. But there is a weaving of concepts that connect them all. I see theology as a tapestry.

      Consider this, The Watcher allotment was part and parcel of the Old Covenant (Deut 32:8-10), so if you say the New Covenant abolishes the Old Covenant, then you have to say that the Watchers allotment has been abolished. Whether or not they are executed comes from other passages that I wrote about, Psalm 82; Isa 24: 21-22; 1 Peter 3:10-12)

      Psalm 82 roots the “die like any prince” of the Watchers to the Resurrection of Christ and his inheritance of the nations. Messiah judges them when he inherits the nations (Psalm 82:6-8), and that inheritance occurred when he resurrected and ascended to his throne (Psalm 2:6-8).

      BG: “Thank of it, if one says that they are disinherited and have no more authority over the nations, but they are still exercising power in those nations, then that is a contradiction. Their very power lay in their allotment. That allotment has been taken back. To say they have any power is to deny the Gospel itself, which is that they have no power.”

      SCOTT: They have no more authority over the nations. I see a distinction between power and authority. Police have authority, criminials do not. But criminals do still have power. Jesus had authority over all evil spirits, but those spirits still exercised power over people until Jesus came and by his rightful authority put an end to their exercise of power for which they had no authority. Then he gives his disciples authority to cast out evil spirits, and it is as they confront the spirits that the spirits lose their power.

      BRIAN ANSWER: Yes, I can accept a certain distinction between authority and power. And yes, I even consider your viewpoint as a possibility. In fact, your reference to Paul’s theology of principalities is part of my Transition Period paradigm. That’s how it works.

      If the Watchers were not judged in that complex of events called the Resurrection (which includes the death/resurrection/ascension/judgment), then I would agree with you that that is how it works. Absolutely. In fact, In an “end of the day” sense, I think we both would agree that even though “everything is under his feet,” that is true positionally or heavenly, but progressive in the earthly sense as all peoples are conquered through conversion.

      The only question is are the Watchers still around or is man’s sin and renegade demons enough to explain the evil? I also address this in my book. While I believe it says the Watchers or authorities are judged, I don’t see anywhere in the NT where it says that the demons are also done away with. Watchers are not the same as demons. I may be wrong on this, but I see the demons as the terrorist cells who have lost their Osama Bin Ladens. So if there is any spiritually demonic activity, that’s where it comes from, demons, not Watchers.

      So in some important ways, we are very close in our outcomes of practical evangelistic view. I allow room for demons, and you say that there are bigger evil Watchers as well.

      I would actually agree with your explanation of how it would work for Watchers to still be around, IF I didn’t see Scripture speaking in final judgmental terms about them. Which means I’m open to convincing. I’m just not convinced.

      But here’s your problem as I see it: The text actually DOES link the execution of the Watchers with the Resurrection complex of events, NOT with a judgment future to us.

      I explained all this in Psalm 82 and above. The death of the Watchers occurs through the Resurrection.

      The language of Triumph that I exegeted from Paul’s theology is just too strong to me to be dismissed. The very concept of Triumph in the ancient world included the imprisonment and execution of the defeated generals. That is not a mere losing of “authority,” The Romans didn’t let those Generals go back to their countries to “rule” but without authority. They imprisoned them and executed them. That’s the picture of Triumph that Paul alludes to.

      You suggest that it is a problem with my view because that occurred before AD 70, and I agree that the Watchers were still around in Paul’s day. But as I explained, AD 70 was the historical consummation of what was inaugurated at the cross. The Cross/resurrection/ascension was the salvation of Isaiah 61:2. AD 70 was the day of vengeance of Isaiah 61:2 (That’s a 40 years of separation in history). Salvation is always accompanied by judgment in the texts. God brings salvation for his people and judges his enemies. The judgment was not complete until AD 70.

      SCOTT: What you say next seems much more to accord with my perspective:
      “There is even a sense in which that victory parade continues as a perpetual subjugation with the Gospel proclamation and growth of God’s kingdom. 2 Corinthians 2:14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.”

      BRIAN ANSWER: Jesus subjugated and judged the spiritual authorities, and now he is subjugating all earthly authority left behind that were once ruled by them. Again, we have a similarity in some significant ways. And we both agree with there being great evil to overcome. I don’t think it requires Watchers to explain great evil that man does.

      BG: “There can be no doubt that the principalities and powers, those Sons of God who were allotted the nations at Babel, were finally conquered at the cross and led captive at the ascension of Christ to his enthronement over all powers and authorities in both heaven and earth.”

      SCOTT: Wait, but I thought you thought it was at the destruction of the temple? I agree with this statement here, but not with what you think follows from it, because authority != power.

      BRIAN ANSWER: Remember, AD 70 was the consummation of the complex of events begun with the death of Christ and ending with the destruction of the OT temple. Now and not yet. Yes, Christ had victory over them inaugurated, but consummated with the final eradication of the Old Covenant earthly incarnation.

      So, since you believe Christ led them captive, then when do you think that occurred? You see, we have the same “problem.” And in a sense we use a similar defense. Now and not yet. The difference is that you believe the “not yet” continues on for the Watchers, But I think the texts indicate that they were judged in the first century.

      You wrote: “The watcher, dispossessed and disinherited are now squatters, without authority though not yet deprived of all agency and power…” I have some sympathy with this perspective. But I don’t see it anywhere in the text. Where does the Bible speak of these powers like squatters?

      I read Paul saying more the opposite. That the powers in fact do have authority. The language here is definitely that of old covenant power…

      Ephesians 6:12
      12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

      This is the language of authority, literally, “Authorities.” You have to be able to harmonize that with your view. You say they don’t have authority, but Paul says they do. I say the way to make sense of it as non-contradiction is that they were in the transition period, where theologically, the Watchers were disinherited but historically, the old covenant was still becoming obsolete and they were fighting their last battle. With the Old Covenant temple still standing, the Old Covenant still carried earthly weight. God had not judged Old Covenant Israel yet, that wicked generation.

      As Paul wrote in 1 Cor 2:6-8, “the rulers of this age are doomed to pass away.” Now, I realize you would say that their passing away is thousands of years later, but the text does not talk like that. It speaks of it with nearness. And “Rulers” is a word of authority, and it is a reference to “this age,” the present age, not the age to come. That’s not weak squatters, that’s powerful ruling entities who still have authority. They were in a sense, still within the Old Covenant age that was about to pass away (become obsolete) even as it had already become obsolete (1 Cor 7:31, “the present form of this world is passing away”). That is, the transition period.

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