COMMITTED to train men and women
to have minds for the Lord Jesus,
hearts for the truth, and
hands that are skilled to the task.

"unseen realm" Tagged Sermons

WHAT SHAPES OUR FUTURE?

Dr. Michael Heiser in his book: “The Unseen Realm” makes this statement:
“The seeds of that failure were sown in the events of the conquest. For whatever reasons – lack of faith or lack of effort, or both – Israel failed to drive out their enemies. They allowed vestiges of the targeted bloodlines to remain in the land in the Philistine cities. They chose to coexist (Judges 1:27-36). The visible Yahweh, the Angel, asks the rhetorical question, “Why would you do such a thing?” and he announces the consequences: “Now I say, I will not drive them out from before you; they will become as thorns for you, and their gods will be a trap for you” (Judges 2:2-3). The name of the place where he uttered these words was thereafter appropriately remembered as Bochim, a Hebrew word that means “weeping”.

John North wrote the foreword to Malcolm Muggeridge’s book titled: “The End of Christendom”
The book is based on Malcolm Muggeridge’s lecture series given in 1978 at the University of Waterloo, Ontario.
“Most of the great universities of the West were founded with the conviction that theology is the queen of the disciplines, and that the key to man’s wholeness is the pursuit of the truth of God through Jesus Christ. Apart from that truth, it was believed, all other expressions of truth are fragmentary and sterile. Now, in the latter part of the twentieth century, that tradition has almost disappeared. Where Jesus Christ and Christian doctrine are the subject of formal study, it is usually as a minor are of Comparative Religion or in a divinity school well segregated from the general student body. Religious enthusiasm among students is an embarrassment; belief in the authority of the Bible and the deity of Jesus Christ is treated as naivety to be enlightened rather than life to be nourished. Scholars in the arts, letters, and sciences who show signs of Christian devotion are likely to be shrugged off as simplistic and eccentric. Coincidentally, truth itself has become devalued, especially in the humanities and social sciences and increasingly in the pure sciences, its consequence and even existence of matter of doubt.
Universities seem to promote fragmentation, in part by undermining general studies in favor of specialized and practical studies, in part by ignoring the signs of decay in the spiritual, moral, and emotional health of the academic community.”

THE FUTURE IS UP TO YOU

Before we go into our biblical text, let me quote Chris Hedges, a war correspondent who witnessed plenty of power struggles:
“Not having to make moral choices frees you from a great deal of anxiety. It frees you from responsibility. And it assures that you always be wrapped in the embrace of the powerful as long as, of course, you will do or dance to he the tune of powers play… When you do what is right, you often have to understand that you are not going to be lauded and praised for it. Making a moral decision always entails risks, certainly to one’s career and to one’s standing in the community.” Chris Hedges

“It is perfectly possible for a man to be out of prison and yet not free- to be under no physical constraint and yet be a psychological captive, compelled to think, feel and act as the representatives of the national state, or of some private interest within a nation wants him to think, feel, and act… To him the walls of his prison are invisible and he believes himself to be free.” Aldous Huxley “A Brave New World Revisited”

“So, you see, that the world is governed by very different personages to what is imagined by those who are not themselves behind the scenes.” Benjamin Disraeli (1801-1884)

“The world is divided into three kinds of people – a very small group that MAKES THINGS HAPPEN, a somewhat larger group that WATCHES THINGS HAPPEN, and a great multitude that NEVER KNOWS WHAT HAS HAPPENED.” Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler (1862-1947)

Pastor Erwin Lutzer in his book subtitled “A defense of Christ in an Age of Tolerance” writes this hypothetical story:
“In A.D. 303, the Emperor Diocletian has issued a new order, requiring all people to attend the religious/political ceremony designed to unify the nation and revive lagging patriotism within the empire. Specifically, this ceremony involves burning a bit of incense and saying simply: CAESAR IS LORD. Those who do this receive a seal of approval; those who don’t might well be put to death.
Christians discussed the issue and what their response should be. The answer is not as obvious as it seems. For one thing, they actually would not have to stop worshiping the true God; after they have sworn their allegiance to Caesar as Lord, they are free to privately worship whatever god they wish. Every religion is tolerated; freedom to choose ones own god is generally accepted. Indeed, there is richness in diversity.
Second, this was not simply a religious decision, but a political one. Caesar was convinced that it was not possible to be a good citizen without affirming his lordship. The argument was that if one had allegiance to a god above Caesar he could not be trusted in time of national emergency, a war, for instance.
Third, this requirement was but once a year. Even if one did not tell a lie, forgiveness through Christ was readily available. Why not argue, as some did, “For a moment my mouth belongs to the Emperor, though my heart always belongs to Christ.”
Rome was cruel. Many converted pagans who were now in the church had observed firsthand the brutality of the Roman citizens.
If Christ were seen as one option among many, Christians could give allegiance to other expressions of the divine. Why not find common ground, the central unity of all religions.
So the choice, strictly speaking, was not whether the Christians should worship Christ or Caesar; it was whether they would worship Christ AND Caesar.”

Edward Gibbon in “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” stated:
“All religions were regarded by the people as EQUALLY TRUE, by the philosophers as EQUALLY FALSE, and by the politicians as EQUALLY USEFUL.”

THERE ARE TWO PLANS

JESUS CAME TO PROCLAIM THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM.

Chuck Swindoll in his commentary on this text writes:
“For many years, faulty information had been taught by the religious aristocracy. With unquestioned authority, these religious leaders twisted the meaning of Holy Scripture, offered interpretations that were simply wrong, and demanded applications that were frankly impossible. Not content to let God’s Word speak for itself, they added to the commandments of God and required that everyone obey their additions without hesitation.
When Jesus sat down and delivered His illustrious Sermon on the Mount, jaws must have dropped as His audience heard an entirely different interpretation, delivered in an entirely different mode of communication.”

Dr. Michael Heiser in his book “Supernatural” writes:
“Though Eden was lost, God intends that it be restored. Ultimately, his rule – his kingdom – will return in its full scope when Jesus comes back and God creates a new heaven and earth (one that, in Revelation 21 and 22 looks a lot like Eden.)
In the meantime, we can spread the truth of God and the gospel of Jesus everywhere. We can also represent God to everyone we meet and in every place. We are God’s agents to restore Eden in the here and now, looking forward to the day when Jesus brings that plan to a climax.”

John Stott says it this way in his commentary on Matthew:
“Christian righteousness is greater than pharisaic righteousness because it is deeper, being a righteousness of the heart.
The righteousness which is pleasing to him is an inward righteousness of MIND AND MOTIVE.”

DO YOU BELIEVE?

Carmen Joy Imes in her book “Bearing God’s Name” writes:
“Matthew’s gospel breaks neatly into five blocks of teaching, mimicking the five books of the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy).
These five blocks of teaching are preceded by an introductory story in which Jesus’ life is in danger because King Herod, like Pharaoh, is killing Jewish babies. To escape, his parents take him to Egypt. It’s an inside-out Exodus story. When the coast is clear, they return to Palestine, retracting Israel’s journey from Egypt to the promised land. Next, we fast forward to Jesus’ adulthood, where he passes through the waters of baptism in the Jordan, reminding us of Israel’s crossing both the Red Sea and the Jordan.
After this, Jesus is sent by the Spirit into the wilderness for forty days, where he reenacts Israel’s wilderness wanderings.”

Baptism does not produce salvation in this text, Rather, it corresponds to something that does, THE DEATH OF JESUS (v 19) and the RESURRECTION (v 21)
“Baptism saves” if one makes a decision; a pledge of loyalty oath,
a public proclamation of who is on the Lord’s side in the cosmic war between good and evil.
Every Baptism is therefore a reiteration of the past and future doom of the Watchers in the wake of the gospel and the kingdom of God.
Early Christians understood the typology of this passage and its link back to 1 Enoch and Genesis 6:1-4.
This is why early baptismal formulas included a renunciation of Satan and his angels. Baptism was anything but routine. It was a symbol of spiritual warfare.” Dr. Michael Heiser “Reversing Hermon”

Who is Azazel?
We find the Biblical text in Leviticus 16:7-10
“And Aaron shall take the two goats, and he shall present them before Yahweh at the tent of assembly’s entrance. Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for Yahweh and one for Azazel. And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot for Yahweh fell, and he shall sacrifice it as a sin offering. But the must present alive before Yahweh the goat on which the lot for Azazel fell to make atonement for himself, to send it away into the desert to Azazel.”

R.T. France
“His Father is testing him in the school of privation, and his triumphant rebuttal of the devil’s suggestions will ensure that the filial bond can survive in spite of the conflict that lies ahead.”

Dr. Michael Heiser in the “Unseen Realm” makes this comment about that temptation:
“Had Jesus given in, it would have been an acknowledgment that Satan’s permission was needed to possess the nations. It wasn’t. Satan presumed power and ownership of something that, ultimately, was not his but God’s. The messaging behind Jesus’ answer is clear: Yahweh will take the nations back by his own means in his own time. He doesn’t need them to be given away in a bargain. Jesus was loyal to his Father.”

A NEW BEGINNING

Christopher Wright in his book “The mission of God” asks the question:
“How big is our Gospel? If our gospel is the good news about God’s redemption, then the question moves on to, “How big is our UNDERSTANDING OF REDEMPTION?
Where do we turn in the Bible for our understanding of redemption?
If you would have asked a devout Israelite in the Old Testament period “Are you redeemed?” the answer would have been a most definite yes. And if you had asked “How do you know?” you would be taken aside to sit down somewhere while your friend recounted a long and exciting story – THE STORY OF EXODUS.”
Christopher Wright is referring to Exodus 6:6: Say therefore to the people of Israel, “I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will REDEEM you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment.

Repent is not a feeling, repent is an ACTION.
Repentance speaks of a CHANGE OF DIRECTION,
NOT A SORROW OF HEART.

Michael Heiser in “Unseen Realm» comments on this chapter:
“In Isaiah 40:1 we learn that God is the speaker. He issues four commands. All four commands are grammatically plural in Hebrew. That means that Yahweh is commanding A GROUP. The group cannot be Israelites or a collective Israel, since it is Israel that Yahweh is commanding the group to comfort, speak to, and call. You should know the identity of the group by now: THE DIVINE COUNCIL.”

“In response to the commands in Isaiah 40:1-2, a lone response comes:
A VOICE IS CALLING IN THE WILDERNESS, “CLEAR THE WAY OF YAHWEH! MAKE A HIGHWAY SMOOTH IN THE DESERT FOR OUR GOD!” (Isaiah 40:3)

Michael Heiser comments on this scene:
“Like the prophet of old, John the Baptist has “stood in the council and answered the call. To a Jew familiar with the Old Testament, the pattern would not be lost. As had been the case at the time of Isaiah, Yahweh’s council had met in regard to the fate of an apostate Israel. Isaiah had been sent to a spiritually blind and deaf nation. The calling of John the Baptist tells the reader that Yahweh’s Divine Council is in session again, only this time the aim is TO LAUNCH THE KINGDOM OF GOD WITH THE SECOND YAHWEH, NOW INCARNATE, AS ITS POINT MAN.”

THE KINGDOM OF GOD

Michael Heiser in his book “The Unseen Realm” in a summary statement says:
“The kingdom of God is already a present reality but isn’t yet realized. John the Baptist announced it. He introduced its king. Jesus preached its arrival and demonstrated what life in God’s Edenic world could and would be like; no disease, no infirmity, no demonic opposition.
The New Testament makes the rebirth of a struggle thousands of years in the making. The people of God have been isolated and under foreign rule. The divine presence of the days of Moses, David, Salomon, and the prophets is nothing but memory. When angels visit Mary and Zechariah to announce the impending births of Jesus and John, centuries of divine silence are broken. Thirty years later, Judea will explode. The unseen spiritual conflict is even more volatile.
Every chapter of the New Testament provides a glimpse into this conflict. The cosmic geography of the Old Testament is evident in the New. Where Jesus goes and what he says and does when he gets there is framed by confrontation with unseen powers. The conflict pursues him unto death – as God had planned, and as Jesus provoked. THE KINGDOM OF GOD ESTABLISHES A PERMANENT BEACHHEAD AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS AND THE DOOR OF THE EMPTY TOMB.