Do we see the world as it is? Do we experience life as it was meant to be experienced, or do we experience it as we have been conditioned to experience it? Do we maybe see the world as ... we are?
Jesus offered us “life to the full”. He said that He specifically came to bring this life to us. So, do we have it? He brought it to us. But do we have life to the full?
But, what does that even mean? Many people think life to the full means wealth. Success. A good life. Vacations. Friends. Fun. Toys. And yet... Jesus had little in common with these things. So how can we find out what Jesus was talking about? What was this life that He came to bring? How can we see the world, see life as He saw it and understand how to receive what He brought us?
For many of us, the first step is to realize that we don’t see the world as it really is. A false world, an illusion, a shadow reality has been pulled over our eyes by very nature of being born in America, in a post-modern, western society in the 20th (or 21st) century.
In the words of the famous theologian Morpheus: "It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth. " He called it the Matrix. And like he said, "Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself."
You cannot know you are deceived until you’re not.
This year, our plan is to look deeply into the real world. We are calling it the Unseen Realm. Yes, we’re talking about the spiritual world, what the Bible calls Heaven. You see, for the ancient Hebrews, Heaven wasn’t just a place you go to when you die, it was the very real place where God lives right now. The spiritual dimension, if you will. They believed in the physical, earthly realm, but also believed very much so in the spiritual, Heavenly realm. This is the Unseen Realm we will be talking about.
Now, I don’t have a magical red pill for us to take so that we can see this world. But I do have something that will work on us better than many because we believe, or claim to believe it. We are going to use the Bible to see if we can crack the alternate reality that has been pulled over our eyes and peer through to... well, we’ll have to see. You can’t be told, you have to see it for yourself.
The ancient Hebrews did not see the world as we see it. They knew something that we have forgotten. They acknowledged a supernatural, spiritual dimension in the universe that permeates and interacts with the natural dimension in a myriad of ways. That’s why the Holy of Holies in temple was such a special place: it was the one place on earth where the two realms, the two dimensions intersected.
The lives the ancient Hebrews led were very different from our lives, because the world they experienced was very different from ours. The Bible the Hebrews read, the Bible Jesus read, was very different than the Bible we read - not because the words were different, but because they were different.
The same words are there, but we have misunderstood, ignored, and in some cases mistranslated them in order to fit this false reality, this alternate reality, that is our experience.
Let’s look at some examples in the Bible that have been hidden to many of us (including myself). But let’s look at some Hebrew word definitions first:
Elohim = spiritual being, usually, but not always, meaning our God. In a more general sense, it is a spiritual being that inhabits the spiritual realm. Elohim is to the spiritual realm, what human is to the earthly realm.
El = Creator, Almighty God. The God of both elohim and humans. Creator and sustainer of all.
YHWH = Yahweh, or Jehovah (we don’t really know). This is the personal name of El. The name that God chose to reveal as His own.
OK, with these three Hebrew words understood, let’s go through some amazing passages of scripture in the ESV Bible version, with modifications for these Hebrew words:
In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth.
And he said, “I am the Elohim of your father, the Elohim of Abraham, the Elohim of Isaac, and the Elohim of Jacob.”
Elohim spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am YHWH. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as El Almighty, but by my name YHWH I did not make myself known to them. ... I will take you to be my people, and I will be your Elohim, and you shall know that I am YHWH your Elohim.
Exodus 6:2-3, 7
Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says YHWH, the Elohim of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.’” But Pharaoh said, “Who is YHWH, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know YHWH, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.”
I am YHWH your Elohim, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other elohim before me.
For YHWH your Elohim is Elohim of elohim and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome El, who is not partial and takes no bribe.
For YHWH is a great El,
and a great King above all elohim.
But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
1 Corinthians 2:7-8
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 will stop here. We could go on all night, talking about the divine council of elohim in Psalm 82 where God is judging them for not ruling the nations justly. We could talk of the Sons of God in Job 1, or speak of the Prince of Persia who opposed an angel brining an answer to Daniel’s prayer. We could go all night...
I trust you have begun to see there is much in the Bible about the Unseen Realm that might bear some fresh exploration.
This year we are going to be delving deeply into the unseen realm. In fact, in a few weeks we will be looking at the epic story that we are born into and the cosmic battle that we are now a part of, whether we know it or not. We’ll be going to basic training for spiritual warfare.
Before that, we will be re-introduced to our most powerful spiritual weapon in the battle: prayer. My friends, prayer is such a critical component to our spiritual lives that it could be equated to breathing for our physical lives. Sure, we need the nourishment of the Word, and encouragement and fellowship, but without prayer, we won’t last very long. Jesus said that in order to bear fruit we must abide in Him. To be connected to the vine. How can we be connected to Him except through prayer? Several of us have challenged ourselves to a renewed life of prayer this year, and let me tell you, it is changing our lives. I want to invite you to join us.
Next week, however, we will be re-introduced to the One who helps us pray. The One who teaches us to pray, and prays for us when we ... just. Can’t. I am talking, of course, of the Holy Spirit who was sent to us. He, though He is a part of the Unseen Realm, the Heavenly Realm, He nevertheless makes His home in us. Marking us as members of the spiritual Kingdom of Heaven. And making us into temples: places where the spiritual dimension meets the earthly dimension. There isn’t a more important topic.
Next week Erik Thureson will be teaching us on the person and the role of the Holy Spirit. This brother has been studying the Holy Spirit in the Bible for YEARS, he has been reading books new and old. He has wanted to teach on the subject for a very long time. And I’m very excited to see what he brings.
Until next time, then...