Since reading The Unseen Realm by Dr. Michael S. Heiser, which rocked the way I view Scripture, I’ve begun considering how the Deuteronomy 32 worldview applies to other aspects of what I believe. Even as Dr. Heiser says that we who have an eschatological view of the Bible look at it through certain systems we’ve acquired, I think that’s also true for other areas of Biblical doctrine.
My bias regarding end times events is through a prophetic lens that strongly believes the Bible teaches us about a pre-Tribulation Rapture. That’s the system I’ve been taught and through study have embraced. Someone else may have learned the essentially opposite extreme of amillennialism.
Before I get to the heart of my premise for today, let me recap what the Deuteronomy 32 worldview espouses.
God created a divine family, the sons of God, that we see in numerous Old Testament passages. He also created a human family. The intent for both was for them to come together and extend the original creation of Eden throughout the earth. Both families have free will and both had members that rebelled against God. This has set up an ages-long spiritual war as God works through His human family to redeem them so that ultimately, in Christ, we who believe in Him will be glorified and be like Jesus as He is; in other words, we ultimately will be divine. At that point, we will rule and reign with Christ and the two families will come together to resume what God decreed initially to Adam and Eve and then again to Noah: multiply, subdue, rule the earth. This will be the eventual utopia that man has always sought but can never achieve on his own. God must be at the center of the effort, and He will be some day.
In the meantime, the rebellious sons of God, the lesser elohim in this divine scheme, currently rule the nations because God gave rebellious mankind over to these divine rebels. We’re not exactly sure how this came about, but Satan somehow has authority over many, if not all, of these corrupt spiritual rulers over the nations of the earth. It’s why Satan could legitimately offer Jesus the nations during His temptation in the wilderness if He would bow down and worship him. Of course Jesus said, to paraphrase, “Nothing doing, My Father has a better plan and I’m going with that.”
What all this leaves us with, however, is spiritual darkness throughout the world with points of light being those who are born again and have chosen to follow God’s way, not the way of the world.
One other review point. Just as when God dwelt in the tabernacle in Jerusalem, His presence was literally there. That space was holy ground. In fact, all of Israel was God’s possession, while the other nations under His corrupt sons were outside the domain that He chose to inhabit.
In the same way, Christ-followers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Our bodies are His tabernacle. There is truly a specialness about us as believers because we have chosen God and His way. Non-believers are completely in outer darkness, while we are in the light.
God has given us a task, the Great Commission. He has instructed us to go out into the world, take the Good News of Jesus Christ to those who don’t know Him, and teach them His way of righteousness and holiness. The problem is that the vast majority of Christians don’t do this. Why? Because, despite the fact that they are saved and the Holy Spirit lives inside them, they have not appropriated the power and authority that God has made available to them.
Now that I’ve hopefully set the stage, here’s where my thesis becomes controversial. Remember what I said earlier in echoing Dr. Heiser? We believe what we do because of the system we’ve come to embrace. There’s a system that says the Gifts of the Spirit ceased at the end of the first century. This system believes that the Bible is the perfection that Paul speaks of, so those pesky gifts he mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12-14 aren’t necessary for us. There’s another system that argues the opposite, that the gifts continue into today and are for today, in fact, are vitally necessary more than ever.
Let’s examine this. If spiritual darkness is all around us and growing worse because of apostasy in the church and the general coarsening of the culture, if these trends are the result of the activities of the corrupt sons of God in the world and there will be no letting up of this for the foreseeable future, if the trajectory is down-down-down, perhaps something is necessary to address this before God takes the battle to a new level.. Eventually the Rapture of the Church will cause the Restrainer, i.e. the Holy Spirit present in the believers who are snatched away, to leave the earth and lawlessness will increase exponentially. That’s a whole nother dimension of war that’ll break out at that point. But for now, we’re here, we’re in the midst of this mess, and we’re not doing so well obeying God’s decree for us.
Far too many churches are without life, without power, without much of anything that looks like obedience to God’s command to bring those in darkness into the kingdom. I humbly submit in this essay that the reason is because these churches, their pastors, and the people in the pews have embraced a system that makes them powerless. This system believes that the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is weird, not applicable, and not necessary for today. Now, believe me, I’m with these folks when we consider the excesses in the charismatic movement. I’m all over that and look askance at some of the shenanigans that go on. The problem with too much of this is that it doesn’t point to Jesus; it’s the experience of the gifts. Some of the things that happen are potentially true gifts from God, but I’m equally convinced that some numbers of these experiences come from the dark side.
But…but…God has made it clear in His Word that He does give spiritual gifts. He gives them through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. How do we know we’re baptized in the Spirit? The same way that the apostles in Acts knew: they witnessed something that showed them, demonstrated to them, that God had done something supernatural. What was that? Grit your teeth. It was the gift of tongues. Only when believers spoke in an unknown tongue did God’s representatives know by that evidence that others had the baptism.
So, what was the purpose of this? When believers are born again, they’re saved, but frankly, it’s the rare person who becomes on fire for God. There’s something lacking.
The purpose of the Baptism of the Spirit is to give Christ’s power and authority to believers. It’s through this means that they can demonstrate to a dark, lost, unbelieving world that embraces the lies of the corrupt sons of God and of Satan, that the kingdom of God is greater and will prevail. What do we see in Acts? The Gospel was preached and miracles occurred. The power of God works supernaturally both through His Word and through those who have yielded themselves to Him, who allow Him to perform the miraculous.
Listen, the rest of the world knows about the darkness. Witch doctors, necromancers, curses, spells—these are all real demonic manifestations. Demon possession, oppression, and harassment are all around us. People in the third world know this. We in the west have relegated these things to psychiatry, to our detriment. The church has yielded its power to the medical profession. If we went into the world like the men and women in Acts did, in the power of God, i.e. baptized in the Holy Spirit and given over to allowing Him to work through us in power and authority, this world would look a whole lot different. God probably wouldn’t be to the point of calling in all the chips, snatching the His church away, and bringing the battle to a head in the Tribulation.
But, most people have not embraced the Spirit in this way. Most believers are content to dwell in their little corner of Christendom generally disobedient to God in the most important command He gave us. “Tell the world about Me! Operate in My power, My authority! Send the powers of darkness packing because I AM greater than all of them!”
Is this important? Am I passionate about this? Do I believe that we the church are missing the boat? Rhetorical questions all.
God will accomplish His ends. We could do so much more to be a part of His plans if we only say yes and allow Him to work more fully in us.