Supernatural: What the Bible Teaches About the Unseen World and Why It Matters Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Dr. Michael S. Heiser, a scholar-in-residence at Faithlife Corporation, presents 15 years of research on what the Bible really says about the unseen world of the supernatural unfiltered by tradition or by theological presuppositions. People shouldn't be protected from the Bible, Dr. Michael S. Heiser says, but theological systems often do just that, by explaining away difficult or troublesome passages of Scripture because their literal meaning doesn't fit into our tidy systems.
Who were the sons of God? Who were the Nephilim? Where do angels fit into the supernatural hierarchy? Why did God find it necessary to have the Israelites destroy the populations of entire cities man, woman, and child? What relation does Jesus bear to the rest of the supernatural world? Dr. Michael S. Heiser tackles these questions and many more in his books Supernatural and The Unseen Realm.
In both books, Dr. Michael S. Heiser shines a light on the supernatural world, not a new light, but rather the same light the original, ancient readers and writers of Scripture would have seen it in.
After these books, you won't be able to read the Bible in the same way again.
Supernatural, What the Bible Teaches About the Unseen World and Why It Matters presents this approach to reading and understanding scripture for the person in the pew. The Unseen Realm covers the same material but at a deeper, complex, and highly documented way, for pastors, the seminarian, or serious students of the Bible.
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|Listening Length||3 hours and 51 minutes|
|Author||Dr. Michael S. Heiser|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||December 04, 2015|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #6,985 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#27 in Bible Study
#41 in Christian Theology (Audible Books & Originals)
#98 in Christian Ministry & Evangelism (Audible Books & Originals)
Reviewed in the United States on November 29, 2015
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However, there is another group that plays the role, the divine council. Part of the group referenced in Ephesians 6:12 which refers to the unseen realm ruled by principalities, two of which are named in a brief reference in Daniel 9. There are a few explicit references to these beings in the Bible along with many references that are implicit.
Without understanding that yes, there is an actual unseen realm and a variety of beings who inhabit it and that some of the words spoken in the Bible are judgments against them, we can completely miss the context of what certain passages are saying.
Dr. Michael Heiser has made an extensive study of the Divine Council. An expert in ancient Near East languages, he has collected over 4,800 references related to it. This 168 page book is a synthesis of those resources and gives an overview of the structure and dynamics of the conflict from Genesis to Revelation.
The book reminds me of " Mere Christianity ." But while Lewis began at square one beginning with a defense that there must be a God and then follows with arguments as to why the Christian God rings true in every area, this book is written for a Christian audience.
Heiser assumes that the reader believes in God and that Christ is the Redeemer of mankind; however, be prepared to check every other assumption you have regarding the make-up of the heavens at the door.
I'll admit, when I first came across his blog, drmsh.com, and read about the Divine Council, it was uncomfortable. It didn't fit with what I had been taught in Sunday School, Bible study or church. But having that information, when I read through the Bible, there were passages that opened up to me. There was significance where before it had been just words.
The book begins with the question, "Do you really believe what the Bible says?" The chapter continues point out that while as Christians we profess to believe in a God, Creator, and Redeemer who is outside of space and time, very often we act like confirmed skeptics when it comes to supernatural accounts in the Bible. We skip over the parts that are hard, make us uncomfortable, or don't fit within the worldview we've created.
What it covers
• The make-up of the heavenly government of God, the heads of which were 70 heavenly beings/principalities which were assigned people groups at the dispersion at the Tower of Babel as told in Deuteronomy 32:8. There is a whole other layer to the salvation plan and it was this group, this council, that Jesus is made Lord of all, the name above all other names (Philippians 2:9.) This is the government that he is Lord of, which he won through victory at the cross. (Isaiah 9:6)
• It explains who the Bible is referring to when the world "Elohim" is used.
• It answers questions about those weird verses referring to the Nephilim and the Watchers
• It explains our purpose as God's "imagers."
• It talks about free will, God's will, destiny, and our purpose.
• It gives a fuller picture of what is truly going on, the "battleground in two realms." (pg 42)
• It explains how the celestial interacts with the terrestrial (Chapter 5: Cosmic Geography)
• It explains the purpose of the Law (Chapter 7: Rules of Engagement.) I think when we as Christians read the Old Testament, we get hung up on all the sacrifices and completely miss that the way to salvation has always, from first to last, been through faith in the Redeemer, God's Salvation, Yeshua. (Genesis 15:6, Job 19:25)
• It also explains the truly demonically inspired effort to eradicate both the Jewish people and the nation of Israel (pg 75.)
• It explains what sacred ground means and the purpose of all those animals sacrificed. (Chapter 8: Sacred Space.)
• It ties in seemingly unrelated conflicts in the Bible and illustrates how they are part of the same battle (Chapter 9: Holy War)
• It gives a reason for the bits and pieces of the plan and picture of the Messiah in the Old Testament and explains why the message was so cryptic (Chapter 10: Hidden in Plain Sight)
• It gives a different perspective than most on the confrontation between Jesus and Satan and what Jesus was really doing in sending out the 12 and then the 70. (Chapter 11: Supernatural Intent)
• It explains the Second Temple understanding of some of the names of God and descriptors and explains why Caiaphas had such a violent reaction when Jesus said, "You will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven (Chapter 12: The Cloud Rider.)
• It explains the meaning of Pentecost where the Holy Spirit gave not just gifts, but was equipping for war (Chapter 13: The Great Reversal.)
• It explains who we are as believers (Chapter 14: Not of this World)
• It explains our position in God's family (Chapter 15: Partakers of the Divine Nature)
• It explains what is to come (Chapter 16: Ruling over angels.)
I grew up in the church and even went to a private Christian school for a number of years. I thought I knew the stories and understood it. Then I started reading through the Bible for myself . . . and I realized how much I didn't know and how much I had been taught really didn't line up with what the Bible said.
Then when you start learning the details of what was going on at the time the words were written and the context in which the writers wrote and read it in that light, most of the time you have to readjust your understanding of it.
=== Who Should Read This Book ==
If you or someone you know is struggling with how it all fits, this is a good book to read. For a new believer, it's a good framework for beginning to fill in the pieces. Certain things will make more sense when they read the Bible. I'm guessing the more "churched" someone is and the more "doctrines" they are versed in, the more resistance they will have to the information presented in the book.
If you or someone you know is into "spiritual warfare" as some present it as "warring" against territorial spirits and "taking territory." Read this book. Then read Needless Casualties of War by John Paul Jackson. And then go and read Daniel chapter 9 and pay attention to WHAT HE WAS DOING when the angel that came to Daniel and Michael were battling the Prince of Persia. All we are supposed to be doing is 2 Chronicles 7:14 and James 4:7 . . . that's it.
If you or someone you know is a Christian but is caught up in UFO religions or Reptilian bloodline conspiracy theories . . . Bless your heart . . . and read this book.
If you or someone you know has been following teachings that use Psalm 82:6 which states "Ye are gods; you are children of the Most High;" applying it to humans and then use it as a springboard to all sorts of weird, almost heretical doctrines. Read this book.
That verse has been misused by a lot of people in a lot of different ways. For example, Bill Johnson and Kenneth Hagin and their understanding of kenosis and what actually happened in Christ's death and Resurrection. Rabbinic commentary has used it as justification for making Israel the Savior and suffering servant rather than trusting in God alone as Savior. And in reading Three Treatises on the Divine Images (St. Vladimir's Seminary Press Popular Patristics Series) recently, I discovered that that misinterpretation was the cornerstone of John of Damascus's defense of icons and justification of venerating saints as gods.
== My Big Takeaway ==
In discussion on another review, someone asked me if I really learned anything new. Let me tell you, yes I did!
As I've read through the Bible, particularly the Psalms, the continual reference to Og of Bashan and the bulls of Bashan always made me wonder,
"What does that mean?"
I knew there was significance to it, but I could not figure out what it was. I would enter different search phrases trying to find articles that discussed it. Nothing.
Then I was reading through this book and lo and behold, Chapter 9: Holy War, page 92. It explains exactly why Bashan was significant.
"In ancient literature outside the Bible, Bashan was known as 'the place of the serpent.' Two of its major cities, Ashtaroth and Edrei, both mentioned in connection with this journey (Deut 1:4; Josh 13:12), were considered gateways to the underworld realm of the dead. In the context of Israel's supernatural worldview, God had led the Israelites to the gates of hell."
Any time David mentions Og of Bashan in the Psalms, he is saying the exact same thing Jesus said in Matthew 16:18
"And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
== Criticisms ==
One of the other comments criticized the book for its lack of references. This is a valid criticism. This book, as it states in the introduction, is a greatly condensed version of The Unseen Realm , which is the much longer and heavily cited academic version. I do agree sources would have been good. I'm not sure why they decided to leave them out.
My guess is that when you are taking information from such a huge amount of sources (I mentioned above his library on the Divine Council contains over 4,800 sources) and then process and condense it down to such a small book, a lot of this is synthesized information which would probably be hard to cite one source specifically.
SHARED INFORMATION BETWEEN THE GODHEAD:
In Chapter 3, page 28, Heiser makes the claim that the "us" in Genesis 1:26 is not a conversation between the persons of the Trinity but to other members of the divine council. The reasoning is this:
"God announces his intention to a group. Who's he talking to? His heavenly host—his council. He's not talking to the other members of the Trinity, because God can't know something they don't! And here the group he's addressing learns what God has decided to do."
Could he have been talking to the divine council with this statement? Yes, it's possible. However, it is not proof of it. It could also be another example of a conversation between the Godhead. Such as for example, Psalm 110:1 which states:
"The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet."
This is very obviously a conversation between the Father and the Son.
And yes, God can know something the others don't. Jesus himself said it was so in Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32 when he said that only the Father knows the day and the hour of his return.
"“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only."
ON DEMONIC FOCUS
There were a few little things here and there where I didn't necessarily agree with his interpretation on some Scriptures, but they mainly had to do with layers of Scripture. The one thing that did bother me was in the very beginning of the book (pg 19,) he made sort of a dismissive statement saying that demons had more important things to do than to bother with us. Quote:
"And while the Bible describes demonic possession in rightfully awful ways, intelligent evil has more sinister things to do than to make sock puppets out of people. And on top of that, angel and demons are minor players."
I do not agree. I do not think it is something to dismiss or take lightly. For a book that stresses the reality of the supernatural, unseen realm, it seemed like a very odd statement to make. It encourages people to broaden their view of the forces at work, but then pushes it to the theoretical, like it has nothing to do with us personally or our day to day lives.
First, this is not Scriptural. Jesus said, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10.) Yes, coming . . . to us.
Peter reinforces this in 1 Peter 5:8 when he says, "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."
Who is he talking to? Believers. He is telling US to watch out, that this is something WE will be dealing with.
And then in Ephesians 6:10-12:
"10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places."
I didn't understand the reality of this until a few years ago when I volunteered in a prayer ministry. Someone came for prayer for severe head and neck pain, which she had been suffering from for 16 months. She had been to numerous doctors and none of them could do anything for her.
When she came, she said she had gotten to the point where she told God, "Either take me or heal me" because she couldn't bear the extreme, continuous pain any more. She was almost to the point of suicide.
The first time she came, she had a little bit of relief, so she came back again. The second time, the people praying with her recognized there was some demonic activity going on and were praying against it. Her pain shot through the roof. They asked her what was going on. She said, "I can see a black faced demon clawing at me trying to get me."
That shattered anything I thought I knew about interaction between the demonic and Christians. When your theology becomes reality, sometimes it's a little freaky.
It is a very real thing. If you would like to read a more vivid illustration, I recommend Spirit of the Rainforest: A Yanomamo Shaman's Story .
A note on this review: I preordered this book when it first became available to do so in March 2015. The publication date was later pushed back to December 2015; however, my preorder was still fulfilled by the publisher by mistake in July. This is why you will see a couple of reviews way before the release date.
Now the review. I found this book very well researched. It is in layman terms, so it is very easy to read unlike other Scripture interpretation books. It is AMAZING when you read the Bible through the lens of the Israelites, and have it explained in is Aramaic/Hebrew/Greek context. This book covers many questions I have had since I was young. What does it mean in Genesis when it says "the sons of God saw the daughters of men were beautiful"? Who were the Nephilim? Why is the first commandment "You shall have no other gods before me"? Why is the tower of Bible so important when in reality it does not look like much is there? This book provides so many answers and more, and really makes you rethink some of what you have been taught.
Why four stars? There is one thing that is very hard for me to believe, but that may be because I was taught a certain thing my entire life. In Genesis, where God says "let us make man in our own image", Heiser says God is not referring to the Trinity. He makes his point clear, but I am just not sure I agree fully.
I would NOT give this book to a new believer to read unless they have questions such as these. When the Bible says give babies bay food and adults meat, this is the kind of book that you give to a meat eater. But also, maybe not. If I would have known this stuff earlier, I would have looked at the Bible very differently. Maybe we have just been presenting the Bible incorrectly for centuries. I don't know to be honest.
I would highly recommend doing follow-up reading after reading this though to see what other theologians and teachers believe. I try not to get lost in theology or teaching, cause it is after all, one mans interpretation of the Bible. Some things we will just not know until we get to heaven, but I will say, this book as given me lots to consider, and I will be re-reading it to glean more.
I don't know that anything in it is startlingly new. However, he brings subtle evidence in Scripture together in rather clear and emphatic ways that make Biblical sense.
Certainly his discussion of the fallen angel critters . . . and the "other gods" of the former Heavenly court, to me, is clearly Biblical. We have just not tended to face what the Bible says about such characters.
I like, also, his emphasis that as we realize more clearly WHO WE ARE as GOD IMAGERS--living object lessons into God's character--it can and should make our lives more fittingly dedicated to His service and walking in His Spirit.
I heartily encourage folks to give this book a read. I think their spiritual walk can be enhanced by it.
Top reviews from other countries
I first came across Dr. Michael Heiser through his involvement in the "Ancient Aliens Debunked" documentary. I was intrigued why a Biblical scholar would take the time to debunk the ancient alien series.
Since finding his website http://drmsh.com I have been hooked. I have since read both of his fiction novels and his book "I Dare You Not to Bore Me with the Bible" all of which I would thoroughly recommend.
I also set out to listen to every talk I could find from Dr. Michael Heiser on YouTube and on his website. I soon came into contact with the "Deuteronomy 32 Worldview" and it just made sense. It filled in all of the missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle.
Coming from a Charismatic background I have been aware of popular forms of Christian angelology and demonology. I would also therefore had considered myself 'open' to the supernatural worldview of the Bible. Also possessing a degree in Biblical Studies and Applied Theology I have also read a great deal of scholarly work on the Bible. Neither of these two things prepared me fully for what I discovered in his academic book 'The Unseen Realm' and the popular version of the same title 'Supernatural'.
I bought 'Supernatural' as a gift for my friends and family. I had read 'The Unseen Realm' and wanted more people to get hold of the same content. I knew my friends and family would not read an academic title so I bought them
'Supernatural' instead. The content was too good for them to miss.
Dr. Michael Heiser begins by showing us how an ancient Israelite would have pictured God and his heavenly host and then proceeds to follow the whole meta narrative of scripture showing us how the "Deuteronomy 32 Worldview" impacts and intersects with each sub section of the overarching storyline.
I found the discussions surrounding theophanies in the Old Testament very interesting, mind-blowing in places. The discussions around glorification are also excellent.
I think that everyone who reads this book will teach like I did by saying 'how have I not seen all of this before?'. Dr. Michael Heiser will open your eyes to the worldview of the ancient Israelites and you will begin to read the scriptures just as they did with ancient eyes.
'Supernatural' like 'The Unseen Realm' is a paradigm altering book. It will open your eyes to the world described in the Bible like very few other books can. I loved 'Supernatural' so much that I downloaded the audiobook as well. I loved the devotional and applicable nature of this book which 'The Unseen Realm' lacked because it was written for a different audience. I cannot recommend this book enough.
So far, I have read only three chapters. My initial impression was slightly unfavorable. The writer assumes that the reader agrees with his initial premise...
I will make up my own mind when I finish the book!!