Monday, September 11, 2017

Reading The Unseen Realm by Michael Heiser #2

HeiserI am continuing to read through The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, by Michael S. Heiser. In these chapters 3-5 Heiser lays out his basic thesis. God desires to rule heaven and earth through the representatives He has created. He has created a “Divine Council” through whom He rules in the heavenly realm and human beings through whom He rules in the earthly realm. God desires ultimately to bring these two realms together after overcoming the rebellions in both. I have been posting quotes from the book on my Facebook page on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (NT is Mon-Wed-Fri) and we can discuss comments and questions about the passage there. As usual my comments are in black and quotes from the commentary are in blue below. I am using the Kindle version of the book.…

In chapters 3, God's Entourage, and chapter 4, God Alone, Heiser describes the "Divine Council of God" and defends his view of it from some objections. Psalm 82 is Heiser's key passage on this, but this council is referred to all through scripture, especially in the Old Testament. The Divine council is a group of divine beings created by God, called "sons of God" in several places in the Bible, who witnessed creation and help YHWH administrate it. They are called elohim, which has the basic meaning of "supernatural or divine being. When elohim is used to refer to YHWH is takes a singular verb, but when it refers to the council it takes a plural verb (Ps 82.1). The arguments against this are that Psalm 82 is speaking about the Trinity or human leadership, but neither of these fit the context of the Psalm. This is not polytheism because YHWH is the only Creator and these other elohim are all created beings. There are no elohim like YHWH! Some of the members of this Divine Council become the demons (and other evil spiritual entities) whose reality is asserted throughout the scriptures. I think in these chapters Heiser makes a very good case for the existence of both the evil and good hierarchies of created supernatural spiritual beings.

God has created a host of nonhuman divine beings whose domain is (to human eyes) an unseen realm. And because he created them, he claims them as his sons, in the same way you claim your children as your sons and daughters because you played a part in their creation. 25

The biblical use of elohim is not hard to understand once we know that it isn’t about attributes. What all the figures on the list have in common is that they are inhabitants of the spiritual world. In that realm there is hierarchy. For example, Yahweh possesses superior attributes with respect to all elohim. But God’s attributes aren’t what makes him an elohim, since inferior beings are members of that same group. The Old Testament writers understood that Yahweh was an elohim— but no other elohim was Yahweh. He was species-unique among all residents of the spiritual world. 31-32

Ancient people did not believe that their gods were actually images of stone or wood. We misread the biblical writers if we think that. What ancient idol worshippers believed was that the objects they made were inhabited by their gods. 35

In chapter 5, As in Heaven, so on Earth, Heiser discusses the meaning and significance of humans being "in the image of God." When God says, "Let us make man in our image," Heiser says that he is addressing the Divine Council, and is asking them to watch Him create man on earth. The point is that the Divine Council images God in heaven and human beings will image God in the physical world. The image of God, thus, is not an ability or capacity, but an assigned responsibility to be God's representative. Eden was to be the place where the heavenly imagers and the earthly imagers would come together and we see this realized in Revelation when the "heavenly Jerusalem" and the renewed earth become one. This, the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth, is the main theme of the entire Bible.

The story of the Bible is about God’s will for, and rule of, the realms he has created, visible and invisible, through the imagers he has created, human and nonhuman. This divine agenda is played out in both realms, in deliberate tandem. Michael S Heiser, The Unseen Realm, 38

We are created to image God, to be his imagers. It is what we are by definition. The image is not an ability we have, but a status. We are God’s representatives on earth. To be human is to image God. Heiser, 42-43

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