This post continues a series looking at the different nuances of the term “Son of God”.
Ruler of the Council
But [the gods’] king is Baal the Conqueror, our judge, higher than all
-Baal in Stories from Ancient Canaan, ed. and tr. Michael Coogan
And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant? And the captain of the Lord‘s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.
And an angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this? Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you. And it came to pass, when the angel of the Lord spake these words unto all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept. And they called the name of that place Bochim: and they sacrificed there unto the Lord.
Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of the sanctuary was cast down…And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.
-Daniel 8:11, 25
Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion…Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
-Psalm 2:6, 12
A number of pantheons in the ancient world had a father figure whose rule was exercised on his behalf by a vicegerent in the divine council. Often there were stories to explain how this second figure rose to take on the role of the father. Thus Baal gained the rule from El by defending the gods against Yam (the sea) and Lotan (the sea monster), a symbol of chaos. Similarly, Marduk took over from Anu by defeating the sea-dragon Tiamat. Zeus took the rule from Cronos by defeating him and his allies, the Titans, in battle, assisted by the other Olympians. Horus rose to take over from Ra by defeating Set, sometimes presented as a court trial, who had murdered his father, Osiris. The Hittites also appear to have had a similar belief structure.
In Israel’s worldview, there was a corresponding motif, but with a twist. YHWH occupied the position of Father and of Ruler of the Council. The second YHWH figure, the Ruler of the Council, was identified by various names: the Angel of YHWH, the Commander of the Host, the Word of YHWH, etc. At this stage in Israel’s history, the Word had not yet become flesh, and there was no Trinitarian language; but a careful reading of the texts showed that there were three YHWH figures: the invisible YHWH (Father), YHWH’s Vicegerent (Son), and the Spirit of YHWH.
Jesus as THE Son of God (Luke 1:32), is the ruler of the Divine Council, YHWH’s Vicegerent. His elevation story is His victory over the Serpent, His death on the Cross. His glorious enthronement is the resurrection and ascension, to be completed at the Parousia Last Judgment. As YHWH’s Vicegerent, He will one day hand the rule of the cosmos over to the Father.
And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
-1 Corinthians 15:28