Genesis 1:1 states:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
One verse, jam-packed with truth that alters the way we view God, ourselves, and the world we inhabit. It’s this verse that begins the narrative of scripture. It’s this verse that marks the beginning of our story as God’s created people.
When God created, He didn’t just create an earth for his people to inhabit. God also create the heavens. Subtle, yet profound, from the very beginning God communicated to us through His Word that there are two worlds at play. One we inhabit with physical bodies. One we engage with in spirit.
it’s unseen realm, not visible to the natural eye, that we often overlook. But it’s this realm that plays a vital role in our story as God’s people.
Dr. Michael HeiseR states:
The story of the Bible is about God’s will for, and rule of, the realms he has created, visible and invisible, through the imagers he has created, human and nonhuman. This divine agenda is played out in both realms, in deliberate tandem.2
The question isn’t: is there an unseen realm?
The real question is: how do we navigate, understand, and engage with this unseen realm?
What is the Unseen Realm?
In the Old Testament book of Psalms, chapter 82 speaks of a “great assembly” that God presides over.
God presides in the great assembly; he renders judgment among the “gods.” 3
This divine assembly of other “gods” forms the Scriptural foundation for the unseen realm. A supernatural realm of divine beings that govern over aspects of our world, with Yahweh God reigning supreme.
This council of other divine beings exists in the unseen realm, constantly engaging with the seen, natural world. And to the ancient readers of Scripture, the unseen realm wasn’t just a concept but a lived reality.
To the audience Psalm 82 was written to, the idea of an assembly of other gods was normalized, as idol worship was prevalent. These ancient readers of Scripture were accustomed to the practice of idol worship, with the belief that these various idols housed the presence of gods that existed in the unseen realm.
However, the idea of an unseen realm, or an assembly of other divine beings, sounds foreign to modern readers of Scripture. Especially those of us who come to the Scriptures with western ideals and presuppositions.
In his book The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, Dr. Michael Heiser expounds on the question of why this council exists when he states:
What does God need with a council? This is an obvious question. Its answer is just as obvious: God doesn’t need a council. But it’s scripturally clear that he has one. The question is actually similar to another one: What does God need with people? The answer is the same: God doesn’t need people. But he uses them. God is not dependent on humans for his plans. God doesn’t need us for evangelism. He could save all the people he wanted to by merely thinking about it. God could terminate evil in the blink of an eye and bring human history to the end he desires at any moment. But he doesn’t. Instead, he works his plan for all things on earth by using human beings. He’s also not incomplete without our worship, but he desires it. I’m not saying that the question of whether God needs a council is pointless. I’m saying that it’s no argument against the= existence of a divine council.
The concept of the existence of other gods, as well as a council that rules beneath Yahweh God seems counter to much of what we understand as modern readers of the Scriptures. But this unseen realm is a Biblical reality, and it plays a vital role in the narrative of the Scriptures, as well as God’s overall plan for His creation.
How to Understand and Navigate the Unseen Realm
The writer of Ephesians tells us:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
We live in a natural world, present in a physical body. But there is another realm that exists. And this unseen realm is real and active, with powers at play and forces at work.
But for many of us today, we read Scripture through a different lens than the ancient eastern readers the Bible was written to. Because of this, it’s imperative that we recover an ancient, supernatural worldview of the Scriptures.
Seeing the Bible through the eyes of an ancient reader requires shedding the filters of our traditions and presumptions. They processed life in supernatural terms. Today’s Christian processes it by a mixture of creedal statements and modern rationalism. 5
In order for us to understand the unseen realm, we have to do the work of removing our western filters and learn how to read and interpret Scripture through the lens of its ancient, eastern readers.
It’s through this process that previously overlooked passages of Scripture come alive, and places we have analogized in order to help it make sense become clear. In order to begin understanding the unseen realm, we have to begin by learning how to read the
Scriptures as the people it was written to.
In order to begin navigating and understanding the unseen realm, we’ve created a course specifically designed to help you discover what the Bible has to say about this ancient concept that has massive implications for our faith today.
In our online course Unseen Realm: 101, Dr. Michael Heiser takes you on a journey to discover what the Bible has to say about the unseen realm, as well helping you to reclaim a supernatural worldview of the Scriptures. You’ll get the opportunity to explorethe ancient world of the Old Testament, gain a deeper understanding of its historical and cultural context, and engage with its authors and audience.
Through this course, you can learn how to read the Bible through a supernatural lens and begin your journey of navigating and engaging with the unseen realm.
With over 15 hours of video content, you’ll learn how to read the Bible through an ancient lens and recover a supernatural worldview of Scripture, helping you to better navigate, understand, and engage with the unseen realm.
You can sign up for this introductory course here!
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