Saturday, October 07, 2017

Reading The Unseen Realm by Michael Heiser #8

HeiserI am continuing to read through The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, by Michael S. Heiser. This post concludes the section, Yahweh and His Portion, in which God visibly intervenes to create the nation of Israel as His special possession and places them in covenant to Himself as part of His plan to restore His rule on earth through His human 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.…

Chapter 19, Who Is like Yahweh?, shows that this view makes sense of the exodus event being described as war between the gods of Egypt and their son, Pharaoh, and YHWH and His son, Israel. YHWH must show all the nations He is unique and the only Creator. The song of Moses (Exo. 15) portrays the deliverance of Egypt in terms of God defeating the sea monster of chaos (see also Psalm 74) during creation. The point is that, though there are other entities who rule these other nations, God is unique as Creator and they are nothing more than beings who were created to serve Him and are subject to His judgment.

The reason for Israel’s circumstances was that it wasn’t sufficient that only Israel knew Yahweh was Most High among all gods, and that Israel was his portion. The other nations had to know that as well. Scripture makes it clear that Israel’s deliverance had that effect. Israel was in Egypt precisely so that Yahweh could deliver them— thereby conveying this theological message. 150

As creator, Yahweh had made the world habitable for all humanity. But the nations had been forsaken. Now the same God once again was described as subduing the forces of chaos to deliver his portion, Israel, for whom he had prepared a place of habitation— the promised land. 154

In chapter 20, Retooling the Template, Heiser makes the point that, because the original Divine Council rebelled, God will replace them with a loyal council. The heavenly imagers would be God's witness to creation and to the establishment of His covenants. This process begins with Adam and continues with Abraham and Israel. As these groups fail, God brings in Messiah who produces "children of God" from all the nations that will rule creation with Him. This picture of the divine council as covenant witness and sharing rule with God in God's throne room is seen in Eden, Mount Sinai (Gen. 24) and in final judgment prophecies like Daniel 7.9-10 and Revelation 4.

As Abraham, Yahweh’s portion (Deut 32: 9), had been the new Adam, so Israel, the collective progeny of Abraham, was also the new Adam. Adam was Yahweh’s son. Israel was Yahweh’s son...The ultimate future king, the messiah, since he will sit on the seat of David, must be Yahweh’s son as well. And since we, glorified believers, will sit on that throne too, sharing that rule (Rev 3: 21), we are God’s sons, his children. Every believer is also Abraham’s offspring by faith (Gal 3: 26– 29). We are the current and eschatological sons of God. 156

God is starting his intended Edenic rule with Israel. Israel will have a single earthly leader (eventually the messianic king, the ultimate offspring of Eve) and a council of seventy. The number telegraphs that, as the kingdom of God is re-established on earth, the seventy nations will be reclaimed, a process that began with the ministry of Jesus and will continue to the end of days. 157

Chapter 21, God’s Law, God’s Council, expands on the presence of the Divine Council on Mount Sinai. The Divine Council functioned on Sinai as the witnesses of the covenant as commemorated with the stone tablets of the 10 Commandments being placed in the "Ark of Testimony." Heiser sees the tablets being written by the visible YHWH, the very "finger of God." Exodus 24 then records the covenant ratification ceremony in which Moses, Aaron and the 70 elders of Israel eat a covenant meal together.  

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the New Testament speaks of angelic mediation for the law— it was written by the Angel who is God in the presence of council members (“ the holy ones”) and then dispensed to Israel through Moses. 167

Salvation in the Old Testament meant love for Yahweh alone. One had to believe that Yahweh was the God of all gods, trusting that this Most High God had chosen covenant relationship with Israel to the detriment of all other nations. The law was how one demonstrated that love— that loyalty. Salvation was not merited. Yahweh alone had initiated the relationship. Yahweh’s choice and covenant promise had to be believed. An Israelite’s believing loyalty was shown by faithfulness to the law. 169-170

Chapter 22, Realm Distinction, closes out part 4 in which, after YHWH consigns the nations to "lesser gods" (created supernatural beings who would rebel against God), He raises up Israel to be his imagers with whom He would connect to the rest of His creation. God still moved forward with His plan to expand Eden over the whole earth. God defeats the rebellious gods of Egypt, rescues His son Israel and begins the process of creating "sacred space" at Sinai. The tabernacle was to be a miniature Eden where the holy God met with His profane earthly people. The purity rituals emphasized this difference between God and His people, but also provided the means that the profane could become holy and come into God's presence. Israel was to be the means of connection between God and the rest of creation. All they had to do was trust Him alone and be loyal to Him as their only God.

Yahweh was not only the source of Israel’s life— he was life. Yahweh was complete in his perfections. Yahweh was not of earth, a place where there is death, disease, and imperfection. His realm is supernatural; ours is terrestrial. The space he occupies is sacred and made otherworldly by his presence. The space we occupy is “profane” or ordinary. Yahweh is the antithesis of ordinary. Humans must be invited and purified to occupy the same space. 172

As the divine abode, the tabernacle was also analogous to Eden. Like Eden, the tabernacle was cosmic in conception, the place where heaven and earth met, a veritable microcosm of the Edenic creation where God first dwelt on earth. 174

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