The angels assigned to oversee Gentile nations became corrupt.
We have previously established that:
- The heavens that GOD created included heavenly beings, such as angels.
- At Babel, when GOD scattered the nations, He assigned angels over them, except for Israel, whom GOD kept for Himself.
- This new angelic oversight of individual nations is the second world.
Over time, Satan corrupted these angels who had been assigned to rule the Gentile nations.
Genesis 11 covers the Tower of Babel and scattering of the nations. The first mention of idolatry is found about 1,000 years after the flood, recorded in Genesis 31:19, regarding Isaac’s brother-in-law Laban.
During this 1,000 year period, GOD had divided the nations under angelic rule. These angels were the (real, living) gods of the Gentile nations. Humans began to create idols, which were lifeless and powerless images that represented these real and powerful gods.
During this thousand years, at least some of these ruling angels began enticing their human subjects to worship and serve themselves rather than GOD. Scripture doesn’t give a detailed history of how this idolatry evolved. When idols and idolatry are introduced to us in Genesis 31, there is no introduction or history provided. Instead, it’s as though the reader was expected to simply know how they came to be.
Just a few generations after Isaac and the events of Genesis 31, by the time of the Egyptian plagues, GOD gave Moses preparatory instructions for the Passover (Pascha) before the final plague (death of the firstborn), saying:
11 Thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. You shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Pascha. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute vengeance: I am the Lord.Exodus 12:11-12 OSB
This is the first mention of GOD executing judgment upon a subset of these ruling angels (gods) of the second world.
However, as subsequent Scripture was revealed, GOD frequently pointed towards a coming judgment upon all of these gods. For example, in Psalm 82, we are given a glimpse into heaven and GOD’s feelings towards these gods:
1 A psalm for Asaph.
God stood in the assembly of gods;Psalm 81 :1-8 OSB
He judges in the midst of gods, saying,
2 “How long will you judge unjustly,
And favor the persons of sinners?” (Pause)
3 Judge an orphan and a poor man;
O Justify a humble and poor man;
4 Rescue a poor and needy man;
Deliver them from a sinner’s hand.
5 They do not know nor understand;
They carry on in darkness;
All the foundations of the earth shall be shaken.
6 I said, “You are gods,
And you are all sons of the Most High.
7 But you die like men,
And like one of the rulers, you fall.”
8 Arise, O God; judge the earth,
For You shall inherit all the Gentiles.
GOD emphasized to Israel through Moses that there was an important uniqueness between Israel (whom GOD kept for Himself) and the other nations (to whom GOD had assigned other angels / gods):
19 “Also do not act lawlessly when you lift your eyes to heaven and see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the adornment of heaven, and you thus go astray and worship and serve them, which the Lord your God assigned to all the nations under heaven. 20 But the Lord took you and brought you out of the iron furnace, from Egypt, to be His people, an inheritance, as you are this day.Deuteronomy 4:19-20 OSB
And Scripture is clear that these gods became quite evil:
29 “If the Lord your God destroys before your face the nations whose land you go to inherit, and you inherit them and dwell in their land, 30 take heed to yourself that you not seek to follow them after they are destroyed from before your face, and do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ 31 You shall not do thus with the Lord your God; for every abomination the Lord hates they have done with their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.Deuteronomy 12:29-31 OSB
Later on, in Daniel, we read how these wicked ruling angels even opposed godly angels that had been sent upon missions from GOD:
1 In the third year of Cyrus king of the Persians, a word was revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar. The word was true, and great power and understanding were given to him in the vision. 2 In those days, I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. 3 I ate no desirable food, and no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself, until three whole weeks were fulfilled. 4 Then on the twenty-fourth day of the first month, I was beside the great river, that is, the Tigris. 5 I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, there was a man clothed in fine linen; and his waist was girded with gold of Uphaz. 6 His body was like beryl, and his face like the appearance of lightning. His eyes were like lamps of fire, and his arms and legs like the appearance of shining brass. The sound of his words was like the voice of a multitude. 7 I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men with me did not see the vision; but a great astonishment fell upon them, and they fled in fear. 8 So I was left alone and saw this great vision, but no strength remained in me; for my splendor was turned into corruption, and I retained no strength. 9 Yet I heard the sound of his words; and when I heard him, I was deeply troubled with my face on the ground.
10 Suddenly, a hand touched me and raised me up on my knees. 11 He said to me, “O Daniel, a man of desires, understand the words I speak to you and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.” So when he spoke this word to me, I stood trembling. 12 Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day you set your heart to understand and to afflict yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I came because of your words. 13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom withstood me twenty-one days, and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; for I was left there with the ruler of the Persian kingdom. 14 Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the last days, for the vision is for days yet to come.”Daniel 10:1-14 OSB
The rebellion and corruption of the angels placed in charge of the nations of the second world is a major theme throughout the Bible. This rebellion was the conflict about which spiritual warfare occurred.