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Tuesday 17 January 2023

The Sons of God


You can watch the video of this sermon here.


We are all going to die. As Psalm 49 says, “For he sees that even the wise die; and the fool and stupid alike must perish!” Or as one of the characters in one of my favourite movies Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey says, “You may be a king or a little street sweeper, but sooner of later you dance with the reaper.” Right now you are thinking: boy what happened to Matthew on his holidays to make him come back so morbid? Nothing. I had a really good time away. We got to go to the beach, to relax, to wind down. I went camping and hunting and did a bit of 4wding, sung old school rock around the campfire with a bunch of fun people. I did a lot of reading. It was a great time. But our holidays ended, just like everything else in this life ends, including our lives. I know this sounds bleak, but it is the truest of truths. We all know it, and we all feel it.

How many of you woke up this morning, and it kind of hurt a little bit when you got out of bed? How many of you here feel that click in your knee that wasn’t there when you were younger? How many of you play sport and find that you have to take two or three days to recover, instead of one? Do you remember when you were 18, 19, 20 and staying up till all hours of the morning was fun, and didn’t take a real toll on you, and now 11’ o’clock is a really late night? How many of you remember calling your youth leaders who were 28 old, just like it was yesterday, and now you are the youth leaders and you are being called old man? Our bodies cry out to us, every day, that death is our end…well it’s the end of our earthly life. And if we stopped the story there, we would have a rather bleak and terrifying story, this is story that many non-believers actually have.

But what is the end for believers? Many people think we can’t know this, they often quote 1 Corinthians 2:9 which says, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him…” but they forget that the very next verse reads – “10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit.” The bible actually tells us quite a bit about what we will be in heaven. Not everything, there is a lot we don’t know. But we learn enough to build in us hope, to build in us anticipation. Never give up in this life, because your reward in the next is awesome.  

1 John 3:1-3 says this:

“3 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”

This passage tells us more about our future hope than we realize at a first glance. But to fully understand these words we need to do a little tour through God’s word.

The Garden (Genesis 2-3) – Where does the story of humanity begin? In a Garden…but not just any garden, the Garden of God, the Garden of Eden…why does the story of humanity begin in a Garden like this?

Well what does the Garden signify? In the ancient world a Garden, as indeed with our day and age, is a place of sanctuary, a place of beauty, a place where the wild has been tamed, and people can mingle in peace.

Unless it’s our garden at home, which has been turned into a miniature wasteland by a border collie.

The king’s Garden was a place of exquisite beauty, Nebuchadnezzar the ancient Babylonian king had an amazing reputation in the ancient world for his hanging gardens, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Even today royalty and wealthy people will go to great lengths to develop elaborate and beautiful gardens. The palace of Versailles in France has a garden that will blow you away in its beauty, indeed, the whole palace will.

But here is the key point for our message this morning. If you have access to the king’s Garden, who do you have access to? The king.

Adam and Eve were created to have access to King of kings, he made them to be part of his family, he made them to have direct access to him. In the Garden, they had access to the king, to his heavenly court. They were part of the inner circle of the king of kings, just like the rest of God’s family. Rest of his family you say, who are they?

Well, they are the sons of God.

The Sons/Children of God (Job 38:4-7, 1-2) – We get a little bit of insight into the heavenly family of God in the book of Job. One example is in God’s fascinating conversation with Job. Job actually got into an argument with God, and at one point God says this,

“4Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. 5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? 6 On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, 7 when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”

Wait what? Who are these sons of God that God is referring to in this passage? Are they kings, are they the leaders of Israel, are they even human beings?

No, they are the heavenly family of God, they are part of his inner court, and they have direct access to the king. I am not just making this up…Job also tells us this: Job 1:6, “6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.” And later on in Job 2:1, “2 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord.”

These fascinating verses gives us an insight into the throne room of God. Here we have a kingly court scene, with the king on his throne, and those who have access can come and present themselves before him. We have the sons of God mentioned, and Satan, the accuser comes among them to present himself to God, and find a way to cause trouble.

Indeed, as a fallen guardian cherub, it is likely that Satan was once among these “sons of God”, these created beings, these high angels.  

But for our purposes this morning I want to highlight this: Here we have an insight into what God created humanity to be. What does Luke call Adam in Luke 3:38, “…Adam, the son of God…” Why does he call him this?

Because he is a child of the king, he and Eve were created to have equal access to God, access to his amazing throne room, his Garden, to be able to come before the king, and present themselves before him, and enjoy the benefits of an amazing perfect creation. Just like these sons of God in Job.  

We get insight into this in the book of Revelation 4:2-5,

“2 At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. 3 And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. 5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God…”

We see a scene, like many in the Old Testament where the sons of God, the children of God, his heavenly family, sit around him, wearing crowns of their own, and have direct access to the king. And what do they do with their crowns? They cast them before him, they worship him, they get to enjoy the presence of the great mighty God, our God, who created us, and who loves us.

What do the Sons of God do? Well, probably a lot. But we know for sure, that they sit on the divine council of God, they oversee the nations (Psalm 82), they give input into God’s actions in this world, and they are to worship the eternal creator God, and they fight evil (Daniel 8?):

They oversee the nations (Psalm 82):

“1 God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: 2 “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah 3 Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. 4 Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” 5 They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. 6 I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; 7 nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.” 8 Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit all the nations!” (Psalm 82)

We see here, how God has given authority to these sons of God, these created beings to rule over the nations, but they had become corrupt. They had set themselves up as the false God’s and done great evil.

Remember Genesis 6:1-2 –

“6 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.”

These “sons of God”, these heavenly beings, some of them had fallen, and abused their power, laid with women creating the Nephilim, and they had overseen the nations in a wicked way, stealing the worship that is due to the one true God.

So we can see clearly, that part of their role was to spiritually oversee the nations.  

They give input into God’s plans (1 Kings 22:19-22):

“19 And Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left; 20 and the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another. 21 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, saying, ‘I will entice him.’ 22 And the Lord said to him, ‘By what means?’ And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.’”

Here we see God’s divine council, helping God out with his plan to take down Ahab. Why does he need their help? He doesn’t, just like he doesn’t need our help to advance the gospel. But God delights in including his family in his plan of redemption. That includes his heavenly and earthly family.

They were to worship God (Psalm 29:1-2):

“29 Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. 2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.” Most Bibles note that the Hebrew here says, “Sons of God”, which is reference to the heavenly angelic beings who sit on the council of God.

They fight evil (Daniel 10:10-14):

“10 A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11 He said, “Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling. 12 Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. 13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. 14 Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.”

We get here a glimpse into the spiritual battles of the heavenly realms that these powerful arch-angels, these sons of God, are involved in. Their role is to resist and fight evil.

So these sons or children of God are given authority to rule, they participate in God’s reign, they are created beings who are to worship God, and they fight evil. They are not on the level of Jesus, who is the only begotten, eternal, son of God. They are powerful angelic beings who were created to carry out God’s will, and we were created to be something similar.       

The Problem (sin): By looking at these heavenly beings, we get some insight into what we were created to be, what humanity could have been, if not for the fall. The fall separated us from God, got us banned from the Garden of God, cast out into a world of thorns, sin and death.

-        Instead of having complete access to God, we got a world where hearing his word is hard, and rare to find.

-        Instead of living in a pain free, struggle free existence, we make our way in the world by hard work, sometimes back breaking work, that wears our bodies out, and grinds us down over life.

-        Instead of being free to enjoy God’s commands, we are corrupted and damaged by sin, we disobey him, and in doing so we reject him, and make our own lives harder.

We were created to be something great, instead we are a fallen race.

But God has a plan – The whole story of the Bible is the record of God telling us his plan to make for himself a family from the people of this earth, and to restore humanity to is pre-fall greatness.

Straight after the fall he promised a he who would come to crush the serpents head.

The he who comes and finally does this, is Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, God the son, who lives a perfect life, then dies a cruel and painful death on the cross, and rises again, achieving for us salvation.

He died on the cross to save us from sin, death, and the devil, and importantly hell. He died and rose again to make a way for all who believe to be saved.

But more than he died and rose again, to make all who believe a part of his heavenly family,

“3 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”

-        As children of God we will again have full access to the king.

-        As Children of God when he appears we will be made to “be like him.” Just as God originally intended. “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” (Galatians 3:26).

-        He will also give us authority over the nations:

“25 Only hold fast what you have until I come. 26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, 27 and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. 28 And I will give him the morning star.”

We will be made into glorious beings who will rule over the nations, just like the sons of God, the morning stars of Job 38, were created to do.

-        We also fight against evil, as do the sons of God, “Put on the full armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11)

-        And we will enjoy his presence, and through our worship of him, we shall be changed into something amazing: “And we all with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor. 3:18).

We were created to be the children of God, like the sons of God, and in Christ our true purpose is restored.  

Conclusion – If you are a believer, not only is your future not bleak, it is more amazing than you can even imagine. Our hope in Christ is glorious, we shall be made more like him for an eternity. Sons of God, children of the king, to reign with him forever. Let’s pray.



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