Book reviews: Supernatural and The Unseen Realm by Dr. Michael S. Heiser

supernaturalI have been slow in getting around to reviewing these books, especially The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, which has been in my possession for several months. We hosted a flurry of guests at SkyWatchTV about two months ago and I’m still trying to read through the stack of books they left behind.

That said, I am very glad that I’m finally able to move The Unseen Realm and Supernatural: What the Bible Teaches About the Unseen World–And Why it Matters to the reference shelf of the bookcase in our office. It is not exaggerating to say that Dr. Heiser’s work has helped me understand the biblical narrative far more clearly than I did before.

Whether you’re familiar with the Divine Council or not, Mike’s thorough explanation of the cosmology hidden in plain sight on the pages of the Bible will leave you wondering why you’ve never heard about this in church.

The Unseen Realm and Supernatural are complementary works. Supernatural is an introduction to the supernatural worldview of the authors of the Bible, while The Unseen Realm, a heavily footnoted volume, dives deeper into the theology. (And if you want a serious look under the hood, Mike helpfully provides a companion website to The Unseen Realm with scholarly discussions organized by the chapters of the book.)

Mike’s writing style is clear and concise, very readable and accessible even for non-scholars like me. Mike is a credentialed scholar whose conclusions are based on where the biblical text leads. This is not a weird new interpretation of scripture, although it was new to me and probably will be to most readers. Call it the “new old way” of reading the Bible–cosmology seen through the eyes of the authors of the scriptures, or as closely as we can manage from our 21st century perspective.

In both books, Mike systematically lays out the worldview the prophets and apostles recorded in the 66 books of the canon. In a nutshell, humanity was created to serve as the “imagers” of Yahweh, charged with taking dominion of the Earth as members of His Divine Council–which Mike describes as a sort of “supernatural task force”. The rebellion of Adam and Eve, encouraged by one of the nachash, resulted in death and banishment from the “cosmic mountain”. (Yes, Eden was a garden, but it was also a mountain).

The rest of the Bible is a chronicle of the long war between the rebellious members of the council and Yahweh, and the plan of redemption He set in motion after the Fall. It culminates with Yahweh’s final victory at the battle for the “cosmic mountain”, Armageddon. (And Mike explains why Armageddon will be fought at Jerusalem–Mount Zion–and not at the “mount of Megiddo”. For one thing, Megiddo is in a valley.)

Most of us have heard about heaven, but it’s a safe bet that most of what we think we know about life after death and/or the Second Coming is a fuzzy conflation of things half heard on Sunday mornings and random bits of scripturally unfounded fluff absorbed from the culture. Jesus didn’t die on the cross just to save us from death, although that’s obviously of critical importance, but to restore our inheritance as heirs of Yahweh–members of the Divine Council who will one day judge angels!

This mind-blowing concept gives new significance this passage from Hebrews:

11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying,

“I will tell of your name to my brothers;
    in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”

13 And again,

“I will put my trust in him.”

And again,

“Behold, I and the children God has given me.”

(Hebrews 2:11-13, ESV – emphasis added)

Do you get that? A day is coming when Jesus will present his followers to the congregation–the assembly, the Divine Council–on Yahweh’s “cosmic mountain”, Mount Zion. And he will sing our praises, saying, “Behold: I and the children God has given to me.”

If that doesn’t take away your breath, then you really don’t grasp the situation you’re in.

Five-star ratings for both books.  Lexham Press also offers a study guide for Supernatural suitable for personal devotions or small group study. If you’re new to the concept of the Divine Council and looking for a quick overview, or something you can share with a friend or family member to ease them into this “new old way” of reading the Bible, start with Supernatural.

If you’re willing to jump into the deep end, get The Unseen Realm.  Both are highly recommended.

Watch these brief interviews with Dr. Heiser for SkyWatchTV:

Mike will be the guest on the nationally syndicated SkyWatchTV program (Christian Television Network: DirecTV ch. 376 and Dish Network ch. 267) on Tuesday, January 12th at 9:30 PM Eastern.

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