Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Reading The Unseen Realm by Michael Heiser #3


I am continuing to read through The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, by Michael S. Heiser. In chapters 6-7 Heiser shows that Eden was designed to be the place where heaven and earth would come together and God’s kingdom would be completed. 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 Chapter 6, Gardens and Mountains, Heiser shows how the biblical description of Eden supports the idea that it was intended to be the place where God's heavenly council and his human imagers would come together and rule heaven and earth under YHWH's authority. Ancient Near Eastern civilizations viewed the abode of the gods as both a lush garden and an inaccessible mountain and the Hebrew scriptures reflect that view. The Fall delayed this from happening, but moving toward this is the focus of all the Bible. The humans are tasked with "subduing" the earth, that is bringing it all under the authority of God so that the entire earth becomes an "Eden" as depicted in the last section of Revelation. I think Heiser is correct that what God does in the world, he desires to do through his representatives, even if He has to become human Himself to do it.

Eden was God’s home on earth. It was his residence. And where the King lives, his council meets. 44

The biblical version of the divine council at the divine abode includes a human presence. The theological message is that the God of Israel created this place not just as his own domain, but because he desires to live among his people. Yahweh desires a kingdom rule on this new Earth that he has created, and that rule will be shared with humanity. 47

Chapter 7, Eden— Like No Place on Earth, describes the nature and purpose of the garden and the imagers of God that were to care for it. It is important to understand that Eden and the rest of the earth were not identical. The human beings were to care for the garden, but they were to subdue the earth. One does not subdue that which is perfect. Heiser also points out God's commitment to administering, both the heavenly and earthly realms, through his imagers in each one. We see examples of the Divine Council's role in administration in 1 Kings 22 and Daniel 4. God does this even though both groups of imagers are free to rebel, and they do rebel in both realms, yet God will accomplish His kingdom plan through both groups.

Adam and Eve lived in the garden. They cared for it. But the rest of the earth needed subduing. It wasn’t awful— in fact Genesis 1 tells us that it was habitable. But it wasn’t quite what Eden was. The whole world needs to be like God’s home. He could do the job himself, but he chose to create human imagers to do it for him. He issued the decree; they were supposed to make it happen. They were to do that by multiplying and following God’s direction. 51

God rules over the heavenly realm and the earthly realm with the genuine assistance of his imager-representatives. He decrees and they carry out his commands. These points are clear. What is perhaps less clear is that the way God’s will is carried out and accomplished is open— imagers can make free decisions to accomplish God’s will. God decrees the ends, but the means can (and apparently are at times) left up to the imagers. 54, 1 Kings 22 and Daniel 4

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