Good Bible teaching takes us down familiar paths and shows us new things. That is not an original thought or sentence, but rather one that I heard years ago and have often repeated. It is for me a very good way of defining what I have experienced in reading The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible by Michael S. Heiser and published by Lexham Press.
I am on my second reading of the book. The first reading was slow and the second one may be slower. This is a path breaking book. It is challenging because it addresses issues that are not usually tackled and has some approaches that are far from conventional.
Notice the subtitle to the book: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible. Worldview is a recurring theme of many Christian discussions in our time. As a Christian educator, I have been drenched with books, lectures, and information regarding having, developing, detecting, fine tuning, and defending a Christian worldview. Debates about how and how much aside, the question is “Do we really have a supernatural worldview of the Bible?”
What other kind of view could we have as Christians? It is possible to read the Bible for years and typically overlook or sidestep certain passages, details, and content. In many cases, this is because there are things mentioned that just don’t open up to easy answers. For example, consider the Nephilim of Genesis 6:1-4.
“The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.” (Genesis 6:4 ESV)
Or consider Psalm 82:1: God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods. (KJV)
These passages and others create challenges in that the usual method of comparing text with text doesn’t easily yield answers. But Heiser believes and supports the idea that these passages are not just weird quirks in an otherwise sensible story.
Much of his book concerns God’s council with spiritual, even divine beings, who serve God, confer with God, listen to God, interject their own comments, but who ultimately are under God’s total providence and power. This is not polytheism, for God alone is God, as the Scripture consistently affirms.
This book is neither brief nor easy. I recommend it, but warn the reader to take time, think carefully, have the Bible handy, and be ready to do some brain changing thinking.