Monday, November 13, 2017

Reading The Unseen Realm, by Michael Heiser #16

HeiserWith this post we complete the read through of The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, by Michael S. Heiser. He closes the book with a discussion of the eternal state in which heaven and earth come together as anew Eden and believers rule with Christ. 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 would also recommend Supernatural by Michael S. Heiser which covers most of the same content as this book on an easier level. I am using the Kindle version of the book.…

In Chapter 41, The Mount of Assembly, Heiser makes a very convincing argument that the final battle of the age will be fought in Jerusalem, not on the plains of Megiddo. He thinks the Greek word Harmegeddon in Revelation 16 should be transliterated into Hebrew as Har Ma'edon rather than Har Magedon. This would mean, "Mount of Assembly" (Psalm 48, 68) rather than Mount Megiddo. This is certainly possible lexically. This fits better with the descriptions of the final battle in Zechariah 12.9-11 and other OT prophecies which place this battle in Jerusalem. Revelation describes Christ coming with his army of supernatural beings to remove the nachash and his evil army from His creation and restore it as a new Eden.

Armageddon is about how the unbelieving nations, empowered by the antichrist, empowered by the prince of darkness— Lord (baʿal) of the dead, prince Baal (zbl baʿal), Beelzebul— will make one last, desperate effort to defeat Jesus at the place where Yahweh holds council, Mount Zion, Jerusalem. 373

The heavenly armies who return with Christ will be more than just nonhuman members of the divine council. The host will include believers who have been exalted into its membership, returned to displace the gods of the nations. Christian— do you know who you are? The day will come when the elohim will die like men—and you will judge angels (1 Cor 6:3). 375

Chapter 42, Describing the Indescribable, completes the section of the Kingdom Not Yet. It describes the eternal kingdom after creation has been restored. Believers will have resurrection bodies like Christ's post-resurrection body. We will live on an Edenic earth as God's council, judging and ruling with Him. All the curses of Genesis 3 will be removed. There will be no more chaos (sea), death, sickness, sin, shortage or war. Human and angelic wills will be aligned with God's will forever. 

The body Christ had after the resurrection was his earthly body, healed and transformed into a material form unbound by the limitations of human terrestrial existence. It was a “glorious body” (Phil 3:21), both of earth and not of earth. This resurrection transformation is the final, unimaginably literal expression of being conformed to the image of Christ (2 Cor 3:18). 379

The tree of life is specifically now for “the healing of the nations,” a clear reference to the reclaiming of the nations turned over to lesser gods at Babel (Deut 32: 8– 9). The effect is also described: “No longer will there be anything accursed.” The curses upon earth and humanity brought on by the fall are reversed. The other two tree-of-life references naturally link the eternal life of the believer to being present in Eden— the place where God, the source of all life, dwells. 382, Rev 22:1–3, 14, 19

Heiser closes with an Epilogue that repeats his goals for the book and lists 6 principles for biblical research. He emphasizes that we need to read the Bible as an ancient book with the meanings intended by the ancient authors. We need to let the Bible make sense in its own context, not ours. The ancient people lived with a supernatural world worldview that is an integral part of the message of the Bible. Our rationalization of it does violence to the text. If we believe in resurrection because it is in the Bible, how much more should we believe in supernatural beings and realms that affect us daily. We should try to build connections between texts (biblical theology), rather than just break it apart, and take a lesson from how the NT writers used the OT in our exegesis. We need to take the Bible as it is rather than just filter it through our traditions and doctrinal statements. We read the Bible "with the tradition" rather than "under the tradition." I may argue with some of Heiser's exegesis, but I appreciate that he has brought the "unseen realm" back into the theological conversation and that he is willing to "let the Bible be the Bible."

The realization that I needed to read the Bible like a premodern person who embraced the supernatural, unseen world has illumined its content more than anything else in my academic life. 383

Whether we like it or not, the biblical writers weren’t obsessed with literalism the way we seem to be...Biblical writers regularly employ conceptual metaphor in their writing and thinking. That’s because they were human. Conceptual metaphor refers to the way we use a concrete term or idea to communicate abstract ideas. If we marry ourselves to the concrete (“ literal”) meaning of words, we’re going to miss the point the writer was angling for in many cases. 383

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