Note: This manuscript is taken directly from my current small group series at church on Exploring the Unseen: The Supernatural World of the Bible. Contextual references to other lessons have been retained.
Readings: Supernatural, chapters 5–6. Genesis 11:1–9; 12:1–7; 15:1–6; Deuteronomy 32:1–9; 4:19-20; Genesis 48:15-16; Judges 6:22-23
This chapter will explore the concept of cosmic geography, which involves God using physical land to convey the story of his people and their salvation. The principal story of the Bible revolves around Abraham’s loyalty to God and his refusal to worship the spiritual forces that sought his destruction. This theme of spirit-controlled land is prominent throughout the Old Testament and culminates in the ministry of Jesus Christ. The chapter will delve into the biblical understanding of idolatry and the term “monotheism,” emphasizing the uniqueness of the Creator God while allowing for the existence of other gods.
Important words: Allotment, Inheritance, Adoption
- The Big Picture
- The idea of cosmic geography is introduced through the stories of Adam and Eve and the Tower of Babel.
- God uses physical land to tell the story of his people and their salvation.
- This theme of spirit-controlled land influences many Old Testament narratives and comes to full bloom in the ministry of Jesus Christ.
When God divided up the nations , they were divided among the sons of God . God allotted the nations to members of his divine council . This is the Bible’s explanation for why other nations came to worship other gods . Until Babel , God wanted a relationship with all humanity . But the rebellion at Babel changed that . God decided to let members of his divine council govern the other nations . — Heiser
God’s allotment of the nations to other gods frames the entire Old Testament . How ? The rest of the Old Testament is about the God of Israel and his people , the Israelites , in conflict with the gods of the other nations and the people who live in them . — Heiser
- The Main Idea
- The principal story of Scripture is Abraham’s loyalty to God while refusing to worship spiritual forces.
- Abraham’s story is placed immediately after the worldwide flood and the apportionment of lands and peoples to the authority of created gods.
- The story of Abraham eventually finds fulfillment in the Messiah.
- Digging Deeper
- Israel makes the mistake of thinking their God would not abandon them or their land even if they worshiped other gods.
- Jesus’ appearances in the Old Testament add depth to the larger story, reinforcing the belief that God would physically come to Israel’s rescue.
- God’s ultimate promise of salvation is connected to Israel’s restored fidelity.
Another way of knowing this Angel was God in human form is to compare Exodus 23 : 20 – 22 with other passages . The Angel who had met Moses in the burning bush , the Angel with God’s name inside him , did indeed bring the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promised Land ( Judg . 2 : 1 – 3 ) . But so did the Lord ( Josh . 24 : 17 – 18 ) and God’s own presence ( Deut . 4 : 37 – 38 ) . The Lord , the presence , and the Angel of the Lord are different ways of pointing to the same figure : God . But the Angel is human in form . — Heiser
- Knowledge in Action
- Idolatry in the Bible refers to the worship of a real deity through a physical manipulative made of stone, metal, or wood.
- The term “monotheism” allows for belief in other gods, but emphasizes the uniqueness and exclusive claim of the Creator God.
You have probably heard that idolatry comes in all sorts of colors, including the love of things, pride, or that promotion at work. In this sense the second commandment (“You shall not make a graven image”) has been interpreted in light of the tenth (“You shall not covet”). But is this what idolatry meant to the original writers and readers of the Bible? Not at all. In each of its biblical occurrences, the sin of idolatry describes the worship of a real deity through the use of a physical manipulative made of stone, metal, or wood. It led to what Paul called “fellowshiping with demons” (1 Cor 10:20), recalling the singular sin that led Israel into exile. It would likely come as a complete surprise to Moses or Paul that a car (or a camel) could be considered an idol. This reservation of the original meaning of idolatry will be important as we continue forward in our study, especially as we take into account the New Testament writers’ pleas to avoid it. They believed that the gods were still very active during the period of the church (1 John 5:21, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” nkjv), and so should we. — Johnson, R. (2015). Supernatural (A Study Guide). Lexham Press.