Is Michael the Ruler of Israel? Further Proof that Jesus isn’t an Archangel Pt. 1

In this post, I am going to provide further proof that Jesus cannot be the archangel Michael if we assume that Michael is a spirit being created by Jehovah God.(1) 

I will also address some of the arguments set forth by Arian apologist Gregory Stafford, founder of a recent cult group called Christian Witnesses of Jah (http://elihubooks.com). Stafford produced a series of 7 youtube videos where he presents what he believes to be solid evidence from both the Holy Bible and extra-biblical sources, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, which he thinks identify Jesus as the archangel Michael (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNoTrgQH-MY). I will address some of his claims here since, Jehovah Jesus willing, I intend to provide a thorough refutation to his points in a series of talks for my own youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_IXSJtM-BKyy-suKuLwEqw?view_as=subscriber), as well as in written format.

The book of Daniel describes Michael as Israel’s prince who stands in their defense:

“But the prince of the royal realm of Persia stood in opposition to me for days. But then Miʹcha·el, one of the foremost princes, came to help me; and I remained there beside the kings of Persia… However, I will tell you the things recorded in the writings of truth. There is no one strongly supporting me in these things but Miʹcha·el, your prince.” Daniel 10:13, 21

“During that time Miʹcha·el will stand up, the great prince who is standing in behalf of your people.” Daniel 12:1

Arian cultists like Stafford take this to mean that Michael is one of those spirit beings whom Jehovah gave authority to rule over the nations. This is based upon a certain reading of Deuteronomy 32:8 where Jehovah is said to have divided the nations in accord with the number of the sons of God whom he appointed over them.

The main problem with this interpretation is that the very context of this text plainly states that Jehovah set apart Israel to be his very own possession, his inheritance among all the nations. Note the following renderings of the passage in question:

“When the Most High apportioned the nations, when he divided humankind, he fixed the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the gods; the LORD’s own portion was his people, Jacob his allotted share.” Deuteronomy 32:8-9 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) 

“When [the Most High] gave [to the nations] their inherit[ance, when] he separated [humankind, he set the bounds of the peoples according to the number of] the children of God. [For the LORD’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of] his [inher]itance.” (The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible – The Oldest Known Bible Translated For The First Time Into English, translated and with commentary by Martin Abegg Jr., Peter Flint & Eugene Ulrich [HarperOne; 1 edition, November 17, 1999], p. 191)

“When the Most High divided the nations, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God. And HIS people Jacob became the portion of the Lord, Israel was the line of his inheritance.” Septuagint (LXX)

“For Jehovah’s people are his portion; Jacob is his inheritance.” Deuteronomy 32:9 – Cf. 4:20; 7:6; 14:2; 26:18

This is why the Hebrew Bible repeatedly asserts that Israel is God’s unique possession, his very own inheritance,

“Now if you will strictly obey my voice and keep my covenant, you will certainly become my special property out of all peoples, for the whole earth belongs to me.” Exodus 19:5 

“(for they are your people and your inheritance, whom you brought out of Egypt, from inside the iron-smelting furnace). May your eyes be opened to your servant’s request for favord and to the request for favor by your people Israel by listening whenever they call to you. For you set them apart as your inheritance out of all the peoples of the earth, just as you declared through Moses your servant when you were bringing our forefathers out of Egypt, O Sovereign Lord Jehovah.” 1 Kings 8:51-53

“For Jah has chosen Jacob for himself, Israel for his special property.” Psalm 135:4

And why Jehovah is identified as the King of Israel, and why Jerusalem is said to be the place where he sits enthroned among his people:

“O Jehovah, remember David And all his suffering; How he swore to Jehovah, How he vowed to the Powerful One of Jacob: ‘I will not go into my tent, my home.c I will not lie upon my couch, my bed; I will not allow my eyes to sleep, Nor my eyelids to slumber Until I find a place for Jehovah, A fine residence for the Powerful One of Jacob.’ Look! We heard about it in Ephʹra·thah; We found it in the fields of the forest. Let us come into his residence; Let us bow down at his footstool. Rise up, O Jehovah, to come to your resting-place, You and the Ark of your strength. May your priests be clothed with righteousness, And may your loyal ones shout joyfully… For Jehovah has chosen Zion; He has desired it for his dwelling place: ‘This is my resting-place forever; Here I will dwell, for this is my desire.’” Psalm 132:1-9, 13-14

“The full moon will be abashed, And the shining sun will be ashamed, For Jehovah of armies has become King in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, Glorious before the elders of his people.” Isaiah 24:23 

“‘Return, you renegade sons,’ declares Jehovah. ‘For I have become your true master; and I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, and they will feed you with knowledge and insight. You will become many and will bear fruit in the land in those days,’ declares Jehovah. ‘No more will they say, “The ark of the covenant of Jehovah!” It will not come up into the heart, nor will they remember it or miss it, and it will not be made again. At that time they will call Jerusalem the throne of Jehovah; and all the nations will be brought together to the name of Jehovah at Jerusalem, and they will no longer stubbornly follow their own wicked heart.’” Jeremiah 3:14-17 

“Then he led me to the gate that is facing east. There I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters; and the earth was illuminated by his glory. What I saw was like the vision I had seen when I came to bring the city to ruin, and it appeared to be like what I had seen near the river Cheʹbar; and I fell with my face to the ground. Then the glory of Jehovah entered the temple through the gate facing the east. A spirit then raised me up and brought me into the inner courtyard, and I saw that the temple had become full of the glory of Jehovah. Then I heard someone speaking to me out of the temple, and the man came and stood beside me. He said to me: ‘Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place for the soles of my feet, where I will dwell among the people of Israel forever. The house of Israel will no longer defile my holy name, they and their kings, by their spiritual prostitution and by the carcasses of their kings at their death. By putting their threshold next to my threshold and their doorpost beside my doorpost, with only a wall between me and them, they defiled my holy name by the detestable things they did, so I exterminated them in my anger. Now let them put their spiritual prostitution and the carcasses of their kings far away from me, and I will dwell among them forever.’” Ezekiel 43:1-9 

“The perimeter will be 18,000 cubits. And the name of the city from that day on will be Jehovah Is There.” Ezekiel 48:35

“I will make the one who was limping a remnant, And the one far removed a mighty nation; And Jehovah will rule as king over them in Mount Zion, From now on and forever.” Micah 4:7

“Shout joyfully, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O Israel! Be joyful and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! Jehovah has removed the judgments against you. He has turned away your enemy. The King of Israel, Jehovah, is in your midst. You will fear calamity no more. On that day it will be said to Jerusalem: ‘Do not be afraid, O Zion. Do not let your hands drop down. Jehovah your God is in your midst. As a mighty One, he will save. He will exult over you with great joy. He will become silent in his love. He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” Zephaniah 3:14-17

“Everyone who is left remaining out of all the nations that come against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to bow down to the King, Jehovah of armies, and to celebrate the Festival of Booths. But if anyone among the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to bow down to the King, Jehovah of armies, no rain will fall on them.” Zechariah 14:16-17

The foregoing helps us appreciate why we find extra-biblical Jewish sources expressly affirming that Jehovah alone reigns over Israel, and therefore hasn’t given authority to any spirit creature to rule his people, not even Michael:

When the Most High made allotment of the world unto the nations which proceeded from the sons of Noach, in the separation of the writings and languages of the children of men at the time[3] of the division, He cast the lot among the seventy angels, the princes of the nations with whom is the revelation to oversee the city, even at that time He established the limits of the nations according to the sum of the number of the seventy souls of Israel who went down into Mizraim. [JER. When the Most High divided the nations buy lot, and distinguished the languages of the children of men, He appointed the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the tribes of the Beni Israel.]

And when the holy people fell to the lot of the Lord of all the world, Michael opened his lips and said: Let the good portion of the Name of the Lord’s Word be with Him. Gabriel opened his lips with thanksgivings, and said, Let the house of Jakob be the lot of His inheritance. [JER. Because the Lord’s portion are His people, and the house of Jakob the lot of His inheritance.]… (The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan Ben Uzziel On the Pentateuch With The Fragments of the Jerusalem Targum From the Chaldee, by J. W. Etheridge, M.A. First Published 1862 http://targum.info/pj/pjdt32.htm; bold emphasis ours)

“He appointed a ruler for every nation, but Israel is the Lord’s own portion.” Sirach 17:17 NRSV

“For Ishmael and his sons and his brothers and Esau, the Lord did not cause to approach Him, and he chose them not because they are the children of Abraham, because He knew them, but He chose Israel to be His people. And He sanctified it, and gathered it from amongst all the children of men; for there are many nations and many peoples, and all are His, and over all hath He placed spirits in authority to lead them astray from Him. But over Israel He did not appoint any angel or spirit, for He ALONE is their ruler, and He will preserve them and require them at the hand of His angels and His spirits, and at the hand of all His powers in order that He may preserve them and bless them, and that they may be His and He may be theirs from henceforth for ever.” Jubilees 15:30-32

“And we returned in the seventh month, and found Sarah with child before us] and we blessed him, and we announced to him all the things which had been decreed concerning him, that he should not die till he should beget six sons more, and should see (them) before he died; but (that) in Isaac should his name and seed be called: And (that) all the seed of his sons should be Gentiles, and be reckoned with the Gentiles; but from the sons of Isaac one should become a holy seed, and should not be reckoned among the Gentiles. For he should become the portion of the Most High, and all his seed had fallen into the possession of God, that it should be unto the Lord a people for (His) possession above all nations and that it should become a kingdom and priests and a holy nation.” Jubilees 16:16-18

As such, Michael cannot be Israel’s prince in the sense of one who rules over them, and whom they are to look to and revere. Rather, Michael is a prince in that he is that specific spiritual ruler assigned to fight in defense of God’s people, the one who is called to protect them against evil rulers, whether celestial or terrestrial. This, in turn, proves that he cannot be identified as Jesus Christ either in his prehuman or post-resurrection existence.

I’ll have more to say about this issue in the next part of my discussion (https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2019/08/28/is-michael-the-ruler-of-israel-further-proof-that-jesus-isnt-an-archangel-pt-2/).  

Endnotes 

(1) Not everyone believes that Michael is a spirit creature since there are some groups, such as the Seventh Day Adventists, that take the archangel to be one of the many roles and/or appearances assumed by the second Person of the Trinity. According to this position, Michael would not be a created spirit being, since he is none other than the eternal Word and Son of God, and is therefore uncreated by his very nature. Although there is very little biblical support for this view, it is nonetheless orthodox in that it upholds the uncreated nature of the Lord Jesus Christ and his essential coequality with God the Father. This, in turn, shows that even if one were to believe that Jesus is the same as the archangel Michael, this still wouldn’t establish the Arian claim that Christ is the first spirit son whom Jehovah created. The most that this proves is that Michael is not a creature, but rather is the eternal Creator and Sustainer of all creation who is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit in essence.

 

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