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.
PLEASE NOTE: If you bought the booklet already from Amazon, then be aware that I just added a bunch of more material to the booklet. I’ve added 6200 words, that’ 50% more words than when you first bought it. Amazon Kindle usually updates your kindle books. So check to see if you have an additional chapter 6. If you do, then you have the latest update!
Now, let’s get down to business.
In my previous posts, 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. 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.
So, the Watchers lost their allotted lands, authority and power and they died, most likely being thrown into the Lake of Fire.
But some of my readers have asked me, how do you then explain the demonic evil that has been occurring in evil, from world wars to the Holocaust and on. And are there not demons still around today?
Here is my attempt to answer that…
Having supported the supernatural interpretation of the gods of Psalm 82, I now want to address one of the tendencies that I see occurring within the community of those persuaded by the divine council worldview. They are often so focused on the heavenly principalities and powers that they can fall into a misunderstanding of human responsibility and evil in this world.
Since the Sons of God are understood within this view as being supernatural beings, then the interpretation of Genesis 6:1-4 places some of the cause of the great Flood upon the actions of those angelic divinities.
In that controversial passage, rebellious supernatural Sons of God come to earth and mate with human women in a violation of the heavenly/earthly divide (Jude 6-7). Their progeny were the cursed Nephilim, or giants to whom the Bible links the cursed giants of Canaan (Num 13:32-33). I can’t take the space here to prove that interpretation. See my book, When Giants Were Upon the Earth for the biblical proof.
But the context of that Genesis 6 passage is that the physical corruption by the heavenly beings was part of the reason for the judgment of the flood.
11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the land was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the land, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the land. 13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the land is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the land.
Though the Bible gives no details beyond the violence and “corruption” of flesh, some Bible researchers draw from 1Enoch to fill in the gaps of knowledge left out in Genesis. I’ve already explained that though 1Enoch is not Scripture, it is certainly a source used by Scripture, so it carries some weight when it comes to understanding biblical context.
In 1Enoch, we read an extended exposition of Genesis 6. It tells us that the Sons of God, also called the Watchers, were guilty of teaching mankind the arts of wickedness, from adultery and war, to sorcery, astrology and other forbidden dark arts.
And [the Watchers] took wives unto themselves, and everyone (respectively) chose one woman for himself, and they began to go unto them. And they taught them magical medicine, incantations, the cutting of roots…And Azazʾel taught the people (the art of) making swords and knives, and shields, and breastplates; …and alchemy. 2 And there were many wicked ones and they committed adultery and erred, and all their conduct became corrupt… 4 And (the people) cried and their voice reached unto heaven.
1Enoch paints a picture of humanity maliciously influenced by Watchers before the Flood. The Old Testament extends that evil influence after Babel and all the way up to the arrival of Messiah.
But if what I am saying is true, that the Watchers are not only disinherited from the nations, but have been judged and possibly even destroyed in the first century, then that would mean that they are no longer active in this world.
Supernatural Evil or Human Evil?
One of the most common questions I get from those who are following my argument is that if what I say is true, then how do I explain the great evil that this world still experiences, from world wars to genocides? And how do I explain all the apparent demonic activity that still seems to captivate our world? Even if we dismiss the charlatan exorcists and psychological explanations of many alleged supernatural cases, there still seems to be real apparent demonic activity in our world. How can that be if there are no demonic gods over the nations?
My first charge is that despite the real evil that the Watchers did in the cosmos, they are still not the cause of evil inside our hearts. We are. Cain didn’t need a Watcher to commit the first homicide that typified our murderous human nature.
The Watchers may have been part of the reason for the Flood, they may have influenced humanity, but they were not the cause of human evil. That was found in humanity’s own depravity.
5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the land, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the land, and it grieved him to his heart.
The text indicates that the wickedness and evil of humanity resided in their own hearts, not outside of them in other beings. We are not puppets of someone else’s evil.
But there is something else to notice in Genesis 6. Though the behavior of the Sons of God is implicated, it is not explicitly stated as the reason for the flood. The text goes out of its way to focus emphatically on the “wickedness and evil heart of man” as God’s motive for the flood, without any reference to the Sons of God/Watchers.
Even in the most wicked period of history, God does not shift the blame of monstrous world evil onto external demonic spiritual forces. He blames the evil inside the heart of humans.
The wicked heart of man is a common refrain throughout the Old Testament, highlighting an internal origin of human evil, not an external one.
21 The intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth…
9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
(see also Job 14:4; 15:14; Ps. 51:5; Jer 13:23)
The New Testament picks up this notion of internal sin nature and reaffirms it even after the kingdom of God has come in the new covenant.
13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
External forces can tempt us, but in the chain of causation, we are the originating source of our evil. Human nature does not need Watchers to explain the heinous “demonic” evil of world wars, genocide and other atrocities that saturate our newspapers and history books. We can accomplish all of that on our own without any help from spiritual powers.
Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Mao, Dahmer, Bundy, Gacy, the 9/11 terrorists and their successors; none of them needed to be demon possessed to do what they did. As Jesus said, “For out of [man’s] heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.”
Paul wrote a long list of human depravity that comes from the human “lust of our own hearts” and “debased minds.” No demons or Watchers required.
29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
Again, this is an internal wickedness, so thorough, that no external supernatural entity is needed to explain it. It comes from within the heart of unredeemed humanity. And Paul was no stranger to demonic reality. He knew demons when he saw them (Acts 16:16-18; 19:12; Eph 6:12). But he didn’t explain the worst of human wickedness by appealing to them in Romans 1.
If one thinks that the disinheriting of the Watcher’s authority over nations 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 humans themselves.
This doesn’t mean there are no demons or evil spirits anymore. Watchers are not demons, they are a separate category of being from demons. Demons are evil spirits in search of a human host (Luke 11:24-25). But Watchers are not merely spirits, they are angelic divine rulers with heavenly flesh (Jude 7-8), that can fornicate with humans (Gen 6:1-4) and eat food (Gen 18:8). Watchers are not pure spirit like demons.
Watchers are more like generals in a spiritual war, and demons are like the troops. Assassinating the generals doesn’t necessarily destroy the troops.
Just because the Watchers have been conquered or destroyed, does not mean that there are no more evil spirits. I am not aware of any biblical description of evil spirits being destroyed from the earth, so I am agnostic on the issue. But I know that if there are demons, they are not Watchers or “rulers, authorities and cosmic powers in the heavenly places” that Paul wrote about in his day (Eph 6:12). Those were the Watchers of the nations.
Jesus said that the eternal fire was made for the devil and his angels (Matt 25:41), and since “angels” in Greek means messengers, it most likely includes demons. But Jesus’ parables about Gehenna seem to only mention humans being thrown there at the end of the age (AD 70). I am not aware of any passage that directly says when the demons will end up there, so we would have to speculate as to when. They may still be around today. But that would make them more like terrorist cells without any central command.
It seems reasonable that the demons would be thrown into the Lake of Fire along with Satan at the end of the Millennium. But it is not explicitly written so (Rev 20:10).
A reminder about Paul’s reference to spiritual powers in his epistles such as Ephesians: As we already discussed, those letters were written in the “last days” of the old covenant (Heb 1:1-2), before the temple had been destroyed and before the new covenant kingdom had been historically consummated. So the Watchers had been legally disinherited, but not yet judged.
The old covenant included the territorial spiritual powers as part of its paradigm (Deut 32:8-10). So if the old covenant was still in effect until that temple destruction in AD 70 (Heb 9:8-9), then the Watchers were still at war with Yahweh and his Messiah during the transition period between covenants (Heb 8:13).
But when Jesus abolished the old covenant by destroying the temple, he received the new covenant kingdom and the Watchers lost their power and were judged.
And that brings us to the next issue.
The Now and the Not Yet
Another attempt at addressing the apparent presence of supernatural evil in our modern world in the face of Christ’s defeat and disinheritance of the Watchers is the suggestion that Christ’s victory and triumphal procession was a legal or spiritual reality that is now being worked out historically.
What that means is that there can still be evil supernatural entities who have power over sinful humanity, but have limited or no power in relation to the Gospel. This is commonly coined, “the now and the not yet” explanation.
I actually believe there is some truth to this theological concept. But I don’t think it provides a satisfactory answer to the question of the Watchers. Let me explain.
Here is the basic argument: Jesus Christ has indeed triumphed over the spiritual powers and has been enthroned as king over all the nations. Everything is under his feet, but this is only a legal or theological truth, that is still working its way out in history.
Therefore, even though Christ has been victorious, the spiritual powers still rule over the nations, but Christ is exercising his superior rule over their rule by saving Gentiles from the nations. He is reigning now from heaven, but this is a spiritual sovereignty that is not yet historically incarnate on earth. It will be so in our future. It is working out the already–step by step–into the not yet.
One Scripture that seems to teach this “now and not yet” is Hebrews 2.
7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, 8 putting everything in subjection under his feet.” Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.
The writer of Hebrews affirms the prophetic fulfillment of the messianic enthronement Psalm 110 (everything under his feet), but explicitly qualifies that as a heavenly truth that is in process historically. (“at present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him”). It is spiritually true, but historically coming true. The now (heavenly) and the not yet (earthly).
Here is another passage that expounds on this historical “process” of subjugation:
1 Corinthians 15:24–27
24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.”
I cannot exegete the entire complex chapter of 1 Corinthians 15, so I will just explain that I understand this to be referring to the end of history, when Christ returns. The idea here is that Christ is reigning right now from his heavenly throne at the right hand of God with all things “legally” or covenantally under his feet (Eph 1:20-22).
Jesus then makes true on earth what is already true in heaven (Matt 18:19), step by step, subject by subject. This is much like an earthly king who reigns over a nation whether the people like it or not. As he employs his power, he gets his subjects to obey him, until they are all willing in their loyalty to the king.
But remember, the kingdom of God is not of this world (John 18:36), it is a spiritual kingdom (Luke 17:21), so its “conquering” is a spiritual conquering through conversion, not earthly compulsion. As people receive the Holy Spirit and are brought into God’s kingdom, they become his subjects “under his feet” historically.
Jesus enacts his reign by working out in history what is already true in the heavenlies. As more people convert and are placed under his feet, the kingdom of God grows to be a mountain that fills the whole earth (Dan 2:35). It begins as a small speck of leaven, but soon expands to leaven the whole lump of dough (Luke 13:20). It starts as the smallest seed, but grows to be the largest tree in the garden (Luke 13:19). So, while the kingdom is spiritual in its operations, it is earthly in its ramifications.
So, doesn’t this support the notion that the Watchers may still be in power over the nations, but Christ is converting people out from under the enemy’s rule and into his own kingdom, “under his feet”?
No. And here’s why…
1 Corinthians 5:24-27 describes the historical process of Jesus “destroying every rule and authority and power.” But it is a process that involves not merely the now and the not yet, but also the “before now.” In other words, it involves the past, the present and the future.
The historical order is this:
1) Jesus disinherited the spiritual powers at his ascension and placed all authorities under his feet in the heavenly realm. The earthly fulfillment of that heavenly accomplishment is the destruction of the old covenant and temple in AD 70. That heavenly “now” has already become the earthly “not yet” with the historical judgment of AD 70.
2) Jesus is now in the historical process of placing all humans under his feet on earth through spiritual conversion. On earth as it is in heaven.
3) Jesus will destroy the last enemy, death, at the end of history.
Past, present, future.
So, yes, there is a “now and not yet” aspect of heavenly truth and earthly impact, but the “not yet” does not include the Watchers because, as we have already seen in previous chapters, the spiritual powers were already conquered in the heavenly realm, where they resided. They are part of the past accomplishment of Jesus’ Days of Vengeance (Luke 21:20-22). The spiritual rulers were triumphantly dragged through the streets, shamed, and disinherited from their allotments. Then they were judged by being cast into the Lake of Fire in AD 70. As Psalm 82:7 says, they lost their immortality and died like any other prince. They’re gone.
The rule of the Watchers is part of the old covenant that Messiah did away with. The heavenly realm is accomplished, it is the earthly realm that is the “not yet,” slowly coming into line with that heavenly reality.
The heavenly Watchers were already conquered and destroyed, earthly powers are currently being conquered, death will ultimately be conquered.
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.
• • • •
 James H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 1 (New York; London: Yale University Press, 1983), 16.