Saturday 22nd Jun 2024Lighthouse

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We recently studied spiritual beings on Sunday nights, which was interesting. We looked all over the bible and discussed a lot of stuff over the course of five weeks. So we had three key questions which we’re going to look at today:

 

  1. Who or what are the spiritual beings?
  2. What is the nature of spiritual warfare?
  3. What is our role in spiritual warfare?

 

To answer these, we need to look at a fair bit of background, so we’ll look at a bunch of scriptures to understand more about spiritual beings, why there’s conflict going on, and what we’re supposed to do about it. 

 

We know from Genesis that we were put in Eden with God to extend His good creation over the earth, and to be in charge of it. That was our original purpose - we were supposed to walk with God as we increased and enjoyed fruitfulness, multiplication, and spread Eden everywhere we went.

 

 

Genesis 1:26-28 ESV

26Then God said, “Let us make manh in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

28And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

 

From these scriptures we see that God, “Elohim” in the Hebrew, was not alone in establishing creation. “Elohim” is a plural word, but we often, as Christians, just jump to thinking: ‘oh the “us” and “our”… it must mean the Trinity!’ And God is a 3-in-1 being, it’s true - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But you’ll also notice that He doesn’t talk about Himself like this, using explicit plural words later in the Bible. However, we find out from the book of Job who the US was, who was present at creation:

Job 38:4-7 ESV (God is speaking to Job here)

4“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
 5Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
 6On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
 7when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

So God, and the morning stars, that is, the sons of God were present at creation. So “Elohim” refers to many spiritual beings, not just God. Some of these spiritual beings, like the ones here, are called “sons of God” also translated as “children of God” (B’nei Elohim in the Hebrew).

Therefore “Elohim” live in the spiritual realm, humans live in the earthly realm, that’s the difference - any member of the spiritual realm (angels, sons of God, seraphim, etc.) would be one of the Elohim-kind, any person (men, women, children, babies) of the earthly realm is a member of humankind.

So we each have our domains, Elohim have the spiritual realm, we have the earthly realm, but of course back in Eden, at creation, these realms were fused. Humans lived in Eden and God was right there with us. Eden was therefore like the original Kingdom of God - if God is King, and He was living in Eden with Adam and Eve, then they were literally living in the Kingdom of God, on earth.

 

WHERE IT ALL STARTED TO GO WRONG… ORIGIN OF SPIRITUAL WARFARE 

3 key rebellions

Sadly, we know this Paradise of Eden, God’s domain that He shared with us didn’t last because rebellion took place, and it wasn’t just one rebellion but there were three key moments of rebellion that took place in Genesis, and we’re going to look at each of them briefly because they’re critical to understanding spiritual warfare. They’re in Genesis chapters 3, 6, and 11.

 

Now, we’re not given all the details, but we see in Genesis 3 what happens with the serpent and how Adam and Eve bring sin and thus death into the world, and we know the serpent tricks Eve by denying what God actually said, and entices her with lies - he twisted God’s words and sold the “you’ll be like God, knowing good and evil” line. And then Adam unquestioningly eats the fruit - he didn’t even need to be enticed by the serpent’s false advertising to sin. So let’s look at what happened after the fruit was eaten:

 

Genesis 3:14-15; and 19 ESV

14 The Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspringe and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”

 

And verse 19:

 

19 By the sweat of your face

you shall eat bread,

till you return to the ground,

for out of it you were taken;

for you are dust,

and to dust you shall return.”

 

So that’s the first of the three key moments of rebellion, God says humanity now has an enemy - the serpent and its offspring. Adam and Eve have to leave Eden and aren’t allowed back in, the fusion of the spiritual and earthly home gets separated. God still talks to humankind but we don’t live together in harmony anymore. There is a general separation. So that’s the result of the first rebellion.

 

The second rebellion is in Genesis 6

 

Genesis 6:1-5; 11-13 ESV

1When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, 2the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. 3Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide ina man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” 4The Nephilimb 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. 5The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 

 

11Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 13And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh,c for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 

 

We’re not actually told lots of detail here, but we see from the first few verses that the sons of God (remember them?) left their spiritual realm, came to earth, took human wives, and they give birth to this hybrid race “the Nephilim” - i.e. the giants, aka the men of renown, the mighty men of old. So whilst humanity couldn’t get back to live with the divine because Eden was blocked off, that didn’t stop the divine leaving the spiritual realm. This second rebellion basically created an unclean mixture of rebellious spiritual being and human mingled together. This second rebellion was therefore an affront to God’s decision to put a separation between humanity and the divine. And we see the offspring, the giants, of this unclean mixture pop up here and there later throughout scripture, the most famous of course is Goliath. But there are lots of others with various names like the Anakim, the Rephaim etc. - all of whom had to be wiped out by the Hebrews as they entered the Promised Land because they weren’t human, remember they were an unholy, an unclean mixture. So the second rebellion brought another enemy against humans.

 

The 3rd and last rebellion we’re looking at now is Babel which we see in Genesis 11:1-9 ESV

 

1Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” 5And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confuseda the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

 

So this rebellion went against God’s command to spread out over the earth, extending Eden, extending God’s creation which He had said was GOOD. Remember this got disrupted by Adam and Eve’s sin, but the exact same command to be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth was reiterated by God in Genesis 9:1 after Noah and co. came out of the ark, and God repeats it again in Genesis 9:7. So at Babel, rather than spreading out and extending God’s design across the world, the people gathered in one place and tried to build upwards towards the heavens, perhaps to reach the divine or become like the divine, again we see that wrongful attempt to connect with the divine.. So God had to disrupt this as well by dividing up humanity into nations…

 

Now it’s not apparent from this passage, but elsewhere in the Bible we’re given more detail about the nature of the 3rd rebellion, Babel, and its consequences

 

Deuteronomy 32:7-9

7Remember the days of old;

consider the years of many generations;

ask your father, and he will show you,

your elders, and they will tell you.

8When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,

when he divided mankind,

he fixed the bordersa of the peoples

according to the number of the sons of God.b

9But the LORD’s portion is his people,

Jacob his allotted heritage.

So Moses tells us here that God allotted the nations to their inheritance, but He chose one nation for Himself, His portion, his inheritance is Jacob i.e. Israel. So if God got Israel for Himself, who got the other nations? The sons of God! We’re told this elsewhere in Deuteronomy where we get this “allotment” or “apportioning” language, but in the Psalms we find out that these sons of God to whom the other nations have been allotted became corrupt and judgement is coming to them:

 

 

Psalm 82

1God has taken his place in the divine council;
in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
2“How long will you judge unjustly
and show partiality to the wicked? 

Selah


3Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
4Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

5They have neither knowledge nor understanding,
they walk about in darkness;
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

6I said, “You are gods,
sons of the Most High, all of you;
7nevertheless, like men you shall die,
and fall like any prince.”a

8Arise, O God, judge the earth;
for you shall inherit all the nations!

So the 3rd rebellion, Babel, caused not only the dispersal of the nations, but the assignment of those nations to these sons of God, or “little G gods” as verse 6 there told us.

 

So from here we see that there are territorial entities, the so-called gods who are over the nations, and that they’re now hostile to God and they will ultimately die like men. Quite a judgement. A bit like the serpent being demoted to eat dust, these sons of God get demoted to die like men and become dust…

 

THE GOOD NEWS

 

And then years later, along came Jesus. Now we can get excited. Because Jesus reversed the curse of each of the three rebellions.

  1. He reversed the curse of death brought to all humans, caused by the sin of Adam and Eve. He rose from the dead, beating death Romans 5:17 ESV ”For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.“
  2. He reverses the separation and He promises we can be with Him and we will be together forever in the future - we will have a marriage feast of the Lamb and He has given us His engagement ring - the Holy Spirit which is the deposit guaranteeing our future togetherness. Not an unholy alliance producing giant enemies, a union of holiness as it was in the beginning, perfect in God’s design
  3. He reverses the state of all nations and invites them all to come back under His wing, away from the corrupt gods, and indeed compels us to preach this Good News to all the nations, and then the end will come.

 

So when we think of spiritual warfare, these things have to be in mind. Spiritual warfare is therefore:

 

  1. Proclaiming the resurrection - overcoming the curse of death - taking communion!
  2. Declaring God’s invitation to be united with Him and therefore receive His Holy Spirit
  3. Making disciples of all nations - baptising them in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit - overcoming the dispersal and allotment to the sons of God who became corrupt

 

So spiritual warfare isn’t shouting at the ceiling, it’s preaching the Truth of what Jesus did, because He reversed ALL the curses. That’s why He said “tetelestai” - IT IS FINISHED when He was on the cross. It means a debt has been paid off, a judicial sentence has been finished, and the battle has been won. Tetelestai means all these things. This is why we need to be preaching the Gospel! This is why we need to disciple people. And baptism, by full immersion, is a picture of what Jesus did - we go down under the water, like going into the grave, but we come up again, in new life. And in doing that we’re making a public pledge - I belong to Jesus! I don’t belong to the gods of the world who have been judged and are going to die like men as Psalm 82 told us, I don’t belong to the injustice and wickedness that goes on in the world! I am now transferred into the Kingdom of God!

 

So for anyone who accepts Christ, our status is changed

 

John 1:12

12But to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God

 

Remember them? The children of God, the sons of God? If we believe in Jesus, WE BECOME the sons or the children of God.

 

1st John 3:1 NIV 

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

 

 

 

Romans 8:18-23

18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 

 

Jesus came with authority, and the people noticed how he spoke, not as the scribes and religious teachers exclaiming ”And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!”“ (Mark 1 22, Luke 4 32-36)

 

The centurion recognised his authority when asking him to heal his son. ”But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”“ Matthew 8:8-9 ESV

 

When Jesus sent out the seventy-two he gave them his authority to preach the good news when they returned ”The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”“ Luke 10:17-20 ESV

 

After his resurrection, Jesus said ‘All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me therefore go make disciples and teach them to obey my commands’. Matt 28.18.

 

All who believe in Jesus therefore have their co-rulership with God restored, we replace the corrupted sons of God, and He invites all nations to come back under His authority - an authority that is absolute Truth and Justice, so all people can have the opportunity to be in their restored image of God. Isn’t God good?!

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