Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Reading The Unseen Realm by Michael Heiser #10

IHeiser am continuing to read through The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, by Michael S. Heiser. This post begins the section, THUS SAYS THE LORD, which applies the Divine Council view through the rest of the Old Testament. With the failure of the Davidic Kingdom and exile, God adjusts His plan to restore His creation as another Eden and provides clues to what His plan is through the prophets. 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 26, Mountains and Valleys, begins part 6, THUS SAYS THE LORD, which brings the story of the spiritual battle from the judges through the exile. The spiritual battle with the seed of the nachash continues as David battles the Philistine giants and the nation succumbs to the worship of other gods. This chapter deals with the "cosmic geography" that informs this section. The "mountains" are the places are the holy ground where God is enthroned and meets His people; mainly the tabernacle and temple. Both were built to remind one of Eden and Sinai. The valleys were the unholy ground of the rebellious gods and their offspring the Rephaim/Nephilim. David is validated as king by defeating the Rephaim giant, Goliath and the Valley of the Rephaim and Valley of Hinnom (Ge-Hennom) become places of idol worship and human sacrifice. The battle was on between these two realms. 

In Israel’s theology, Eden, the tabernacle, Sinai, and the temple were equally the abode of Yahweh and his council. The Israelites who had the tabernacle and the temple were constantly reminded of the fact that they had the God of the cosmic mountain and the cosmic garden living in their midst, and if they obeyed him, Zion would become the kingdom domain of Yahweh, which would serve as the place to which he would regather the disinherited nations cast aside at Babel to himself. 228, Micah 4.1-2

Jeroboam set up cult centers (1 Kgs 12:26–33) for Baal worship in two places to mark the extent of his realm: Dan (which was in the region of Bashan, close to Mount Hermon) and Bethel (the place where Yahweh had appeared to the patriarchs). The symbolism of spiritual warfare in these decisions was palpable. No one faithful to Yahweh would have missed their intended contempt. Ten of Israel’s tribes were now under the dominion of other gods. Yahweh would destroy Israel in 722 via the Assyrian Empire. 231

The Old Testament prophets were key players in this cosmic battle and are the subject of chapter 27, Standing in the Council. Prophets were God's spokespersons who were brought into God's council to bring God's message to His people. From Adam, Enoch and Moses, through the patriarchs to Moses, and to the classical OT prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, prophets met with the visible YHWH and His Divine Council to be called into service. This was the validation of a true prophet. They were then responsible to call God's people to faithfulness and service.

Prophets were simply people who spoke for God— men and women who, at God’s direction, looked their fellow Israelites in the eye and told them they were being disloyal to the God to whom they owed their existence and who had chosen a relationship with them over everyone else on earth. Prophets told people the unvarnished truth and often paid dearly for it. 232

Jeremiah’s dramatic call by the embodied Yahweh is quite important in the book of Jeremiah, for it serves as the basis of true prophet status. What began in the days of Moses as public validation of his call and the call of those who served with him became fixated in the minds of Israelites as a litmus test to apply to any who claimed to be God’s vessel...The implications are clear: true prophets have stood and listened in Yahweh’s divine council; false prophets have not. 238-239, Isaiah 6:1, Jeremiah 23:16–18, 21–22

The point of Chapter 28, Divine Misdirection, is that God presents His plan to redeem the world and bring in His kingdom in a cryptic way in the Old Testament. Israel failed in their mission and so God knew that He must become a human himself to accomplish the plan of redeeming the world through human agency. The plan would be to send the Son to be a dying and rising Messiah. However, the plan was not presented in one piece or in one obvious abstract statement or the dark powers would have know not to crucify Jesus. It is presented in the OT in a fragmented and typological (Adam, Israel, Moses and David are all partial pictures) way. It would not be obvious until AFTER it was fulfilled. 

By God’s design, the Scripture presents the messiah in terms of a mosaic profile that can only be discerned after the pieces are assembled. Paul tells us why in 1 Corinthians 2:6–8. If the plan of God for the messiah’s mission had been clear, the powers of darkness would never have killed Jesus— they would have known that his death and resurrection were the key to reclaiming the nations forever. 241

The story of the cross is the biblical-theological catalyst to God’s plan for regaining all that was lost in Eden. It couldn’t be emblazoned across the Old Testament in transparent statements. It had to be expressed in sophisticated and cryptic ways to ensure that the powers of darkness would be misled. And it was. Even the angels didn’t know the plan (1 Pet 1: 12). 243

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