What does the Bible mean, ‘You are gods’?
One of the pet phrases in scripture that world religions use to support the various doctrines claiming that humans can become divine is ‘you are gods’. This is found several places in scripture and in context the intent is clear. However, this can and often is twisted into unbiblical meanings and used to confuse those who value the Bible as authoritative. This is used to persuade people that the Bible supports their ‘you are god’ theory. The first passage we will examine is Exodus 7:
1 So the LORD said to Moses: “See, I have made you as God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet.
I won’t spend much time on this passage because the intent is quite obvious. The KJV words it, “I have made thee a god to Pharaoh”. Pharaoh was the highest god in ancient Egypt’s pagan religious world. They had gods for everything. Some gods had higher powers than others. The Egyptians believed that it was necessary to appease all the gods so that their wives could be fertile, their crops would yield harvest, the rains would come in season, and so on. Many of the plagues God sent were specifically targeted against the gods of Egypt. Pharaoh went down to greet the Nile floods each year and honor this god. God sent Moses to meet him and to turn the water to blood. This was a direct assault against this false god that Pharaoh was honoring. One of their gods was a frog, so God sent a plague of millions of frogs. Because Pharaoh thought he was a god, Moses was like a rivaling god against Pharaoh. To yield to Moses was to admit before his people that Pharaoh wasn’t the strongest god. God said in Exodus 9:14 that the plagues against Pharaoh’s gods were meant to show that there was none like God. It was not to show that Moses was a god. Moses was not a god. However, to the pagan worshipping Pharaoh he was a god. It was only in Pharaoh’s eyes that Moses was considered divine.
Gods will die like men?
Now look at Psalm 82:
1 God stands in the congregation of the mighty; He judges among the gods.
2 How long will you judge unjustly, And show partiality to the wicked? Selah
3 Defend the poor and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and needy.
4 Deliver the poor and needy; Free them from the hand of the wicked.
5 They do not know, nor do they understand; They walk about in darkness; All the foundations of the earth are unstable.
6 I said, “You are gods, And all of you are children of the Most High.
7 But you shall die like men, And fall like one of the princes.”
This passage requires a little more thought, but it is still quite clear. In the context of this passage it is clear that the ‘gods’ are not called so because they are divine, but because they are set up to be judges. God established His leadership to judge and do justice among the people. This has nothing to do with divinity. We know this because God follows up by saying, “You are gods and children of the Most High, but you shall die like men”. Look at the entire context of this passage. God is judging the judges He has ordained because they became arrogant and unjust. In stead of using the power God had given them to defend the helpless and needy, they used it for greed and gain. They afflicted the needy and gave favor to the wicked. Jesus used this same passage against the Pharisees. They thought they were above the people. The passage declares that these ‘gods’ are wicked, without understanding, walking in darkness, have an unstable foundation, and they will die like all men do. This doesn’t sound much like the claims of divinity the ‘Christian’ false teachers and other religions proclaim it to be.
Gods are an abomination
There is one last reference to gods I would like to bring to light. Look at Isaiah 41
20 That they may see and know, And consider and understand together, That the hand of the LORD has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.
21 ” Present your case,” says the LORD. “Bring forth your strong reasons,” says the King of Jacob.
22 “Let them bring forth and show us what will happen; Let them show the former things, what they were, That we may consider them, And know the latter end of them; Or declare to us things to come.
23 Show the things that are to come hereafter, That we may know that you are gods; Yes, do good or do evil, That we may be dismayed and see it together.
24 Indeed you are nothing, And your work is nothing; He who chooses you is an abomination.
In this passage, God is challenging those who call themselves gods. God challenges them, if they are gods, present your case. Show us what will happen in the future. Show us the past. Declare what is to come. What are the purposes of God? They should know since they are gods. God challenges them to show their power since they think they are gods. Then God follows up by saying, “you are nothing; your work is nothing; and he who chooses you is an abomination”. That is a very divisive statement. God declares that anyone who chooses these who claim to be gods is an abomination to Himself, the only true God.
There are only two ways that we can be so-called gods. When we stand in the place of authority that God has ordained us to hold, we are gods in the sense that we represent Him or that we are reflecting God to others. We are all created to reflect God’s glory, but we also have all sin and fallen short of that glory. We are nothing, but in His will and by His authority, we are instruments for His purposes. The other way we are gods is found in the beginning of scripture. In Genesis 3:22, God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil”. We are like God in the sense that we know right from wrong. Satan promised Eve that she would be like God. It was a half-truth. She was like God only in that she could identify good and evil. Sin has plagued mankind since that time. If someone claims that we are a god in any other context is a false statement and a false god. Satan’s lie is still the same – you will be like God. Man’s pride believes the lie because he does not want God, rather he wants to be god.
In each passage where the Bible refers to man as gods, it is judgment. Each time God is either challenging them, judging them or judging those who choose to align with them. It is ironic that other religions try to use the Bible to persuade by using the very passages that condemn them. If someone would just take the time to read the surrounding passages in context they would clearly see that most false teachers contradict their own doctrine with the scriptures they twist.
Look at Romans 1
22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man — and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,
25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
Just because someone claims to be wise does not make them wise. Wisdom based on the world will fail. Jesus warned that just because someone comes in His name does not mean that He sent them. Preachers claiming Jesus’ name are deceivers and anti-Christs if they are contradicting His word. When someone reshapes God into the image of corruptible man, the Bible says that they have become fools. If the Bible calls them fools, how can we allow them to be teachers of foolish doctrine within the church? If anyone teaches doctrine that says God is like man or man is like or can be like God, the Bible says that they have already rejected the truth and are not worshipping God, but are worshipping the creation of God – which is idolatry. If God has said that He has given them up, we should not be afraid to expose them. How people respond to false teaching reveals who is seeking God and who loves the lie.
It is the responsibility of every believer to uphold the truth so that each person can make a clear choice. If someone is deceived, it should be a knowing choice to reject the scriptures. We can’t make people want God, but we can uphold His truth so that people can see what choice they are making.