Monday, March 17, 2014
Introducing the two realms we live in
Job’s integrity and faith in God was tested almost to breaking point – but he held firm. The Bible gives us two snapshots of what was happening in the heavenly realms that resulted in anguish for Job on earth.
SOMETIMES we talk about “gaining heaven’s perspective” on a problem, or “declaring to the heavenly realm” in the kind of praying where we assert truth rather than asking God for a particular outcome. Let’s explore what is meant by this realm of the heavenly places, as it is described in the Book of Ephesians.
Jesus is seated in the heavenly places (Eph. 1:20) which is clearly part of the spiritual realm. This part has no sin and no evil. However, “heavenly places” is a broader term that clearly includes a dark area of demonic activity which the Church as a whole is called to confront by asserting God’s wisdom (Eph. 3:10). Meanwhile, we’re living our lives with the constraints and pressures of the earthly realm, checking the time in GMT, and aware of what’s going on through our five senses.
The Bible tells us that the heavenly realm, where Jesus is exercising His Lordship, is also real to us because our spiritual salvation “raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus”.
It is not an easy concept to grasp and perhaps it is little wonder that much otherwise sound Bible teaching bypasses this area. However, when we do grasp it, the whole perspective changes. Instead of us battling through life on earth, looking to Jesus but feeling very remote from Him and not a little helpless, there is a part of us – the spiritual part – that is side by side with Him in the place of authority.
Our Western, rational culture doesn’t readily acknowledge how the spiritual realm affects our everyday lives – but it does. It is like being in two places at once – and not unlike those TVs that have a ‘picture in picture’ facility to show what is happening on another channel within the main picture on the screen.
We find this ‘picture in picture’ idea in the first two chapters of the Book of Job. I’ll start with the main picture. Job 1:13-19 describes a series of calamities. A messenger hurries in and announces that the oxen and donkeys and their herdsmen have been attacked by the Sabeans and killed. Another comes in at the same time and says he is the lone survivor of a firestorm which burned the sheep and shepherds. A third comes and says he is the sole survivor of a Chaldean raid, and then a fourth brings the worst news of all – a wind storm has flattened the house where Job’s sons and daughters were eating, and killed them all. From being one of the richest men on earth, Job has only a thoroughly unhelpful wife and the clothes he stands in, and he is covered in boils.
That is what you call a spiritual attack, and the ‘picture in picture’ is described in Job 1:6-12 and 2:1-7 when there is dialogue between the Lord and Satan. The Lord points out Job as a man of outstanding integrity. Satan says, in effect, “We’ll see about that – I am going to get him to curse You.” And so this greatest of human trials was set up, and we are seeing both pictures simultaneously.
Job’s realm consisted of two realms, the natural realm and the spiritual realm. These realms were distinct but not separate – they intersected. When we look at the picture within the picture, it is a big clue to understanding what is going on in our lives.