President Donald Trump just upset his own political party, several U.S. allies, and much of the world on Friday by abruptly announcing on Twitter with a mere tweet, as is often his practice, that he will pull the total 2,000 U.S. troops out of Syria within thirty days and reduce to half the 14,000 troops in Afghanistan. This U.S. presence has been mostly for the purpose of hindering extremist Islamic terrorism which threatens the U.S. and many nations. But the president has a constitutional right to do this without consultation from Congress since it has never declared war in these regions. Trump, as U.S. president, has more right to make such military decisions than God chooses to do so.
Many Bible readers are unaware that according to the Bible, “the God of heaven” meets regularly in heaven with his holy council (e.g., 2 Kings 22.19; Job 1.6; 2.1; Ps 89.5-7; cf. 82.1; Daniel 7.9-10, 21). Yes, God has a council of beings whom I think are angels; but many distinguished Bible scholars call them “divine beings.” Regardless, the Bible relates various incidents in history and prophecy in which God meets with this council to discuss matters that oftentimes involve things that are happening on earth.
For example, the book of Job begins by informing, “One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the LORD [God], and Satan also came among them” (Job 1.6). This happened a second time, in which the text says the same thing and then adds that Satan came “to present himself before the LORD” (Job 2.1). Both times there was a discussion between God and Satan about Job. The whole book is about God allowing Satan to afflict Job, him then discussing this with friends and finally with God. It is about the subject called theodicy, which asks the question about why righteous people suffer. As for the identity of “the heavenly beings” in attendance, the Hebrew text identifies them as “the sons of God” in English. I think they are a select group of angels.
Who are these angels in God’s holy council? The book of Revelation relates repeatedly that there are “twenty-four elders” in heaven who surround God’s throne and lead the other angels in the worship of God in heaven (e.g., Rev 4.4, 10; 5.6, 8, 14). Its first text says of them, “Around the [God’s] throne are twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones are twenty-four elders, dressed in white robes, with golden crowns on their heads” (Rev 4.4). I believe–as does distinguished New Testament scholar Richard Bauckham and others–that these twenty-four elders are the sole members of God’s holy council.
Jesus’ favorite title, by far, with which he identified himself was “the Son of Man.” And Jesus often taught about the kingdom of God in the form of parables. The book of Daniel in the Old Testament tells far more about the kingdom of God in heaven than any other OT book. And it has the only text in the OT from which Jesus derived his abbreviated title “the Son of Man.”
Daniel relates a vision he had about this by saying, “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days [God] and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7.13-14 ESV).
This text in Daniel is preceded by the following prophecy about what will happen in heaven just prior to the Son of Man, Jesus, receiving a kingdom and returning to earth with it. Daniel says about his night vision, “As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days [God] took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened” (Daniel 7.9-11 ESV).
I believe the “thrones” in Daniel 7.9 are those of the twenty-four elders mentioned in the book of Revelation. This prophecy presents an actual court scene which God will conduct in heaven among his holy council of twenty-four elders just prior to the royal ceremony mentioned in vv. 13-14 that will also occur in heaven. Daniel says further about this court scene, “the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom” (v. 21). I also think “the Most High” is better translated “the Highest One,” as in the NASB, and that this refers to “one like a son of man,” who is Jesus. Thus, the saints are the people of God, and they belong to both God and Jesus.
But my point for mentioning all of this is that this court scene represents a judicial decision in which God and his holy council of twenty-four elders discuss about was is written in heavenly books about what has been occurring on earth about the Antichrist. Daniel represents him by the symbol of “a little horn.” He is persecuting and killing the saints on earth. According to Daniel 7.21, this court rules in favor of these suffering saints on earth and against the Antichrist and all those who have aligned themselves with him. This decision involves war, in which the Son of Man then returns to earth as a Warrior-King to destroy the Antichrist and those with him and afterwards establish him eternal kingdom on earth.
The take-away from all of this is that God involves his multitude of counselors many times when he makes decisions that involve humans on earth, especially war. For more information about this, see my ebook Warrior from Heaven, also available as a printed book at my website kermitzarley.com.