Monday, September 18, 2017

Reading The Unseen Realm by Michael Heiser #4

HeiserI am continuing to read through The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, by Michael S. Heiser. Chapters 8-9 continues the discussion about Eden. The big point here is that, although God created a world in which evil is possible, He is not morally responsible for evil. Evil happened because of the free moral decisions of God’s supernatural and earthly imagers. 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 8, Only God Is Perfect, Heiser discusses some overlooked elements in the story of the Fall in Genesis 3. First, the snake, the nachash, in the garden is not identified as the devil in the Old Testament. This comes later in Jewish writings and in the New Testament. In fact, in Job, the satan appears to be a working member of God's counsel. The snake is a rebellious elohim who does not agree with God's plan for Eden or for creation. God took a "risk" in Eden allowing free will beings, the elohim in the spiritual realm and humanity in the earthly realm, to administrate His creation. Both humans and elohim gained the experiential "knowledge of good and evil" as they exercised their God-given ability to choose to make a bad choice.  

The function of the office of the satan is why later Jewish writings began to adopt it as a proper name for the serpent figure from Genesis 3 who brought ruin to Eden. That figure opposed God’s choices for his human imagers. The dark figure of Genesis 3 was eventually thought of as the “mother of all adversaries,” and so the label satan got stuck to him. He deserves it. The point here is only that the Old Testament doesn’t use that term for the divine criminal of Eden. 57

Only God is perfect in the possession and exercise of his attributes. Every lesser being is imperfect. The only perfect Being is God. This is why things could, and did, go wrong in Eden...being in the presence of God is no guarantee that free-will beings will never stray or act out of self-will. 59

Heiser entitles Chapter 9 Peril and Providence because he discusses the relationship between God and evil, predestination and foreknowledge. His point is that God is not morally responsible for evil because free will decisions of His imagers made them morally responsible for their own disastrous decisions. God did foreknow that they would make these bad decisions, but that does not mean God predestined evil. Heiser gives an example from 1 Samuel 23 that God foreknows events that never happened. Foreknowledge does not necessitate predestination. God knew that evil would enter the world but he decided that would be preferable to never creating His imagers and He has made a plan to deal with the evil. "God does not need evil as a means to accomplish anything” (66).

Prior to knowing good and evil, Adam and Eve were innocent. They had never made a willing, conscious decision to disobey God. They had never seen an act of disobedience, either. When they fell, that changed. They did indeed know good and evil, just as God and the rest of his heavenly council members— including the nachash (“serpent”). 63

Evil does not flow from a first domino that God himself toppled. Rather, evil is the perversion of God’s good gift of free will. It arises from the choices made by imperfect imagers, not from God’s prompting or predestination. God does not need evil, but he has the power to take the evil that flows from free-will decisions— human or otherwise— and use it to produce good and his glory through the obedience of his loyal imagers, who are his hands and feet on the ground now. 66

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