8-2 "Seducing spirits"?
The following evidence seems to suggest that the Angels can give
those who are closing their minds to the clear truth of the word
the temptation to believe wrong things, in a similar way to which
God through the Angels hardened Pharaoh's heart as a result of his
own already hardened heart. Ezekiel 14:9 clearly states "If the
prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD hath
deceived that prophet". Jeremiah says that "O LORD Thou hast
deceived me, and I was deceived (mg. 'enticed')" (Jer. 20:7); although
Jeremiah was not actually deceived in the prophecy he was given,
it seems that he sensed there was a possibility that he had been,
which is backed up by the Ezekiel reference. In the same way we
saw in 1 Kings 22:22 that the Angels made the false prophets of
Ahab to prophesy falsely. This fact is picked up in the New Testament
by Paul saying it was possible for an Angel from Heaven to preach
a wrong Gospel to them (Gal. 1:8). If it was fundamentally impossible
for an Angel to do this, why does Paul say it? It may even be
that "be not soon shaken in mind. . neither by Spirit, nor by word,
nor by letter. . " (2 Thess. 2:2) refers to the possibility of an
Angel-Spirit giving the temptation to believe that the day
of Christ would come without the "falling away" (see context). And
are the "seducing spirits" of 1 Tim. 4:1 Angels too, that God has
"made spirits" (Ps. 104) like this in order to try us? The strong
delusion of 2 Thess. 2:11 which God would send was sent by Him-
i. e. by His Angels through whom He does all things. Isaiah 19:13,14
says that the princes of Zoan were become fools because of the "perverse
spirit" the LORD had mingled in their hearts- presumably through
the work of His Angels. So we conclude that through the work of
the Angels God can work directly on mens' hearts, and that sometimes
he does send an "evil spirit" (an "Angel of evil"?) on us, like
He did to Saul, which temptations we must spiritually battle against
Ezekiel 20 provides another example of 'seducing spirits'. The
whole chapter is full of references to the Angel that cared for
v. 8 "they rebelled against Me" -cp. Is. 63:10, where Israel
are said to have rebelled against the Holy Spirit Angel.
v. 10 "I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and
brought them into the wilderness"- this was all done by the Angel
who promised to do so to Moses in the burning bush.
v. 11 "I gave them My statutes, and shewed them My judgements.
. . I gave them My sabbaths"- these commands were given by the
Angel on Sinai.
v. 13,14 "Then I said, I would pour out My fury upon them in
the wilderness, to consume them"- such changing of mind must refer
to the Angel rather than to God Himself (Cp. the Angel telling
Moses that He would no longer go up with Israel, and then deciding
v. 17 "Mine eye (Angel) spared them from destroying them. The
eye or Angel of God spared Israel from a destroying Angel ("the
destroyer" of 1 Cor. 10:10).
v. 22 "I withdrew Mine Hand"- an Angelic phrase. Because of their
continued disobedience, the Angel "Therefore. . . gave them also
statutes that were not good, and judgements whereby they should
not live; and I polluted them in their own gifts, in that they
caused to pass through the fire all that openeth the womb, that
I might make them desolate, to the end that
they might know that I am the Lord" (v. 25,26). These "statutes
that were not good, and judgements whereby they should not live"
were not the actual laws which comprised the Law of Moses. By
contrast it is emphasized that if a man kept those judgements,
"he shall even live in them" (v. 13)- cp. "judgements whereby
they should not live". "The law is holy and the commandment holy,
and just, and good" (Rom. 7:12). Therefore the language of Ez.
20:25 cannot apply to the actual Law of Moses. It must therefore
apply to the traditions and 'Halacah' built up by the rabbis which
were considered by the Jews to be equivalent in value to the Law
given to Moses initially. It was these human commands "that were
not good" (cp. "holy, just and good"), and which led to sacrifices
being unacceptable to God. These commands were invented by men-
and yet in a sense the Angel "gave them" these commands by operating
on the hearts of men, working through the perverse thinking of
men to create them- although ultimately to the end that
the Jews "might know (better and more meaningfully) that I am
the Lord" (i. e. the true nature of God).
If the Comforter was an Angel (see Chapter 13), then Jn.
16:13 slots into all this: "The Comforter. . . the spirit (Angel)
of truth"- implying that there can be a Spirit-Angel- of error.
It is probably going too far to quote 1 Jn. 4:1,2,6 here, but there
may be some connection, bearing in mind that there do seem to be
two distinct groups of Angels of good and evil (see 'Angels co-operating'
in Chapter 4). "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: every spirit (person
led by that Angel?) that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in
the flesh is of God: but every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus
Christ is come in the flesh is not of God; and this is that spirit
of Antichrist, whereof ye have heard (in Gal. 1:8, 1 Tim. 4:1, 2
Thess. 2:11 etc. ) that it should come. . . hereby know we the spirit
(Angel Comforter) of Truth (surely alluding to the Comforter "spirit
of truth" in Jn. 16:13? (2)),
and the Spirit of error", i. e. those led by an Angel into error.
This leads us on to consider the place of the Angels and the Word
(2) Note the many other
links between John's Gospel and epistles.