Over the past couple of weeks we have been stacking layers of the supernatural worldview of the scriptures in order to build an understanding of what is happening in the unseen realm and how it affects our thinking as Christians and how it affects our lives.
Today’s message is titled Cosmic Geography and what we will see today is that many of the supernatural beings that exists take up residency in particular locations. Some of those beings were Watchers who were appointed as gods or judges over the nations. Others are rogue gods or rogue spiritual beings who left heaven and laid claim to people and lands at particular times. And still others are what we might call ghosts or spirits or even demons.
We’ve already talked at length about the appointed gods and the rogue gods, so I won’t say as much about those as ghosts and demons, but lets begin with another look at the…
I’d like to begin by reading about the tower of Babel which is the foundations of this whole idea. Moses recorded,
Genesis 11:1–9 (ESV) — Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.
The Lord divided the people of the earth into nations so that they would spread all over the earth. Now let’s look to the Book of Deuteronomy. There, Moses wrote,
Deuteronomy 32:8–9 (ESV) — When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God. But the Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage.
When Moses said that the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, he was pointing back to Genesis 11, the story of the tower of Babel. Notice Moses said that the nations were divided according to the number of the sons of God, which you know from the last two weeks are the Watchers, the gods of the nations. But, notice also that the Lord maintained Jacob who is the father of the nation of Israel as a nation for Himself. So, there are Watchers overseeing the nations of the world that were disbursed, but then the Lord Himself would oversee Israel.
It’s almost like how we have governors over every state in the US, but then all the states are united under the Federal Government with the president as the head of the country. It’s kind of like that except that the president also gets his own state.
At least that was the design before the gods or governors of the nations went against the Most High God.
What I really want you to see in this is that there is a geographic correlation between the ruler of the land and the land itself. This is what is meant by cosmic geography, the idea that every geographic region is governed by it’s own cosmic forces.
We see this concept play out in the story of Naaman. This story comes from 2 Kings 5. The King of Syria had a commander named Naaman. Naaman had contracted leprosy, a deadly skin disease. Well the king got word that there was a prophet named Elisha in Samaria, in Israel, that could cure leprosy. So, he sent Naaman with lots of money and gifts. Some drama ensued as in all good stories, but Naaman was cured.
I want you to read for yourself how the story ends, though.
2 Kings 5:15–18 (ESV) — Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him. And he said, “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel; so accept now a present from your servant.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none.” And he urged him to take it, but he refused. Then Naaman said, “If not, please let there be given to your servant two mule loads of earth, for from now on your servant will not offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god but the Lord. In this matter may the Lord pardon your servant: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, leaning on my arm, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon your servant in this matter.”
Naaman recognized that the God of Israel was not like His God Rimmon and He wanted to worship the God of Israel. But, he knew that he would be forced to go and aid the king of Syria as he worshiped Rimmon. So, notice this extremely odd request. He wanted to bring back dirt from Israel to his own land in Syria, so that he could worship the Most High and offer sacrifices on it. In their way of thinking, the God is tied to the land and so he needed a piece of the land of Isreal to worship Israel’s God. That’s Cosmic Geography.
So, it seems that in these ancient times there were gods who were associated with certain geographic lands according to the way that the Most High God appointed them.
But, is that the only way that spiritual beings got associated with certain areas? Let’s talk about…
These are the Genesis 6 sons of God that we are talking about here. They were not sent by God from heaven like the sons of God in Deuteronomy 32. These left heaven as we learned last week. And I know we have read this verse like every week, but it’s so multifaceted.
Jude 6 (ESV) — And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day.
Notice they had a proper dwelling that God appointed them to. But, they left that dwelling and entered into a new place. They took on a new geographical location. They left heaven and came to earth where they ruled harshly over the people of the earth and took advantage of them as discussed last week. Now I don’t think that this ‘leaving heaven’ thing only happened the one time. I think it continued to happen throughout ancient history and may even continue to happen today.
Let’s look at Daniel 10. In this story, the prophet Daniel was in Persia with the rest of the Israelites. They had been taken out of the land of Israel 70 years before and were not able to worship and offer sacrifices to God. So, Daniel was agonizing over this situation, because he wanted the people to return to the land of Israel and offer their sacrifices to the Most High God.
Daniel was fasting and praying and all of this stuff for many days and eventually a spiritual being, I think a Watcher, came to him to enlighten him about God’s plan for Isreal. Notice what the being said,
Daniel 10:11–14 (ESV) —And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come.”
Notice here, we aren’t talking about human princes. A human prince didn’t prevent one of God’s powerful Watchers from entering into Persia to visit with Daniel. Humans aren’t that strong. What we see here is that there was a divine prince of Persia who stood at the border of Persia and fought with this Watcher so that He could not enter. But, then help showed up. It’s Michael who, according to Jewish tradition, is an archangel that God utilized to protect Israel. So, Michael showed up and together they overcame the prince of Persia.
But, where did this prince of Persia come from?
I won’t bore you with all the details, but Persia was not listed among the disbursed nations in the book of Genesis. God didn’t place a Watcher over Persia. And yet, here he is in this story. And that’s kind of what you see all throughout the ancient world. Every nation, sometimes every city, has it’s own god. And sometimes those gods have underling gods. If we’re to understand passages of scripture like Daniel 10, we have to understand this ancient worldview. There were gods who were appointed and there were, apparently, rogue gods, who took up residence in different areas to rule over regions of people.
And then we get to…
Let’s start by talking about ghosts and hauntings and all that. Properly speaking, a ghost is the spirit of a dead human that is still in this world. In many cultures its believed that ghosts are either spirits that don’t enter into eternity after the death of the body—they are left on the earth—or that they are spirits that are drawn back to this world through dark magic, or necromancy.
Does that sound too much like Harry Potter to you?
Well, consider this story. Samual was a judge over Israel and advisor to the first King of Israel named Saul. Here’s the context for the story.
1 Samuel 28:3 (ESV) — Now Samuel had died, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in Ramah, his own city. And Saul had put the mediums and the necromancers out of the land.
As far as this biblical author is concerned, necromancy, dark arts, mediums — all very real. And Saul obviously thought so too, because he kicked them all out of Isreal. As the story goes on, the Philistines started to camp around Israel, preparing to attack and Saul started to get scared, but he couldn’t call on Samual for advice any more because he died. And he prayed, but God wasn’t answering him clearly so he didn’t know what to do. Here’s how the story continues,
1 Samuel 28:7–12 (ESV) — Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a medium at En-dor. So Saul disguised himself and put on other garments and went, he and two men with him. And they came to the woman by night. And he said, “Divine for me by a spirit and bring up for me whomever I shall name to you.” The woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and the necromancers from the land. Why then are you laying a trap for my life to bring about my death?” But Saul swore to her by the Lord, “As the Lord lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing.” Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” He said, “Bring up Samuel for me.” When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice. And the woman said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul.”
The story can’t be any clearer than this. The spirit or ghost of Samuel was brought from his eternal resting place back into the land of the living. Ghosts and spirits of humans are mentioned in several other places in the scriptures, not euphemistically, but because the authors of the Bible believed them to be very real.
Many of you have experienced inexplicable things that you might attribute to ghosts or to the rogue gods. My thought is that if there are still rogue gods out there, I don’t think they are concerned with hanging out in your grandmas attic. So you probably are not experiencing the gods. But, there are other spirits in the world.
A word of advice though, do not touch. Don’t get involved in any way in anything relating to the spirits of the dead.
In the law it says,
Leviticus 20:6 (ESV) — If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.
And that’s pretty much what happened to Saul,
1 Chronicles 10:13–14 (ESV) — So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the Lord in that he did not keep the command of the Lord, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance. He did not seek guidance from the Lord. Therefore the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse.
Saul lost his kingship and died because he consulted a medium. Ghosts and spirits are not to be trifled with.
And it’s not just the spirits of dead humans. There are also divine spirits in the world that are also not to be trifled with either.
Remembering the giants or the Nephilim from last week, notice what the Hebrew tradition says about the spirits of the giants—they are different than just human spirits.
1Enoch 15:11–12 (LES) — The spirits of the giants were doing unjustly, destroying, attacking, and wrestling with each other and thrown together upon the earth, the hard spirits of the giants. They are making courses and no one is eating, but they are fasting and thirsting and stumbling spirits. These will rise up against the children of men and women because they have gone forth from them.
Now, I want to be clear. I have been reading from the Bible, but this is 1 Enoch which is not in the Bible. This is literature, the tradition of Jewish thought from the ancient world and can be helpful, but not the Bible. Still, this tells us that the Jews believed the spirits of the deceased giants would rise up against the children of men.
Understanding their beliefs, we can then see this theme show up in the scriptures as well. For a number of complicated reasons it is cloaked in most English translations of the Old Testament. But, notice how the RSV renders Psalm 88:10:
Psalm 88:10 (RSV) — Dost thou work wonders for the dead? Do the shades rise up to praise thee?
Shadeis a term that is used in certain translations of the Bible to identify spirits that are still in this world and thus reside in the shadows. Here in this passage, the word translated shadeis the Hebrew word rephaim, which means giant, just like in Enoch. The idea, in Jewish thought, was that the human part of the giant—the flesh—died and went into the ground, but the divine spirit could not move on to be with God so it remained on the earth.
There’s a handful of other places in the Old Testament where we observe the same thing. English translations like to translate it as ‘the dead’ and cloak the meaning. But, here the Psalmist retorts, ‘Do the giants rise up to praise you?’ What we see as a demon in the gospels and what we think of as demons today, they are not fallen angels, they are not the Watchers as we talked about last week, they are the spirits of the giants that continue on the earth to rise up against us and cause us to stumble. They operate in the Gospels precisely as the book of Enoch describes; they are stumbling spirits who rise up against the children of men and women.
What does that have to do with cosmic geography?
Well, in this discussion of cosmic geography, consider the idea of a “haunted” place. Traditions in most cultures have demons or shades and ghosts alike residing in particular places on the earth; a demon living in a cave or a valley, or a ghost haunting an old house.
Have you ever experienced what you take be a haunted location? Have you ever sensed in a place a demonic presence? Is that real or just your imagination?
The scriptures seem to teach that we should take that seriously. We shouldn’t take the presence of spirits whether human or divine lightly. We shouldn’t get involved with them in any way, but we should absolutely believe that they exist.
But, then what do you do about it? If your house is haunted or you are concerned some place or someone is possessed by a demon, then what do you do? Well, let’s go back to Israel, specifically we will look at…
God appointed gods over the nations, but remember,
Deuteronomy 32:9 (ESV) — The Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage.
Israel is holy ground. But, notice, the land of Israel is not the holy ground. The Lord’s portion is not a plot of dirt; the Lord’s portion is His people. The gods of the nations were tied to lands, but the Lord God, Most High is tied to His people.
It’s odd because it seems like there are times where the Jews didn’t understand this. Naaman didn’t get this and that’s why he wanted to take dirt home.
In another episode, though, David is driven out of Israel and he complained that, “They have driven me away from sharing in the inheritance of the Lord.” David thought that he could only worship God if he was in Israel, but that’s not true because all the world belongs to the Lord. The whole earth is the inheritance of the Most High.
That’s why the archangel Michael came to help in Persia. He wasn’t bound to Israel as the prince of Isreal. He could go anywhere he wanted, because he answers to the Most High God.
For the Jew in the Old Testament Holy Ground could be anywhere, because the holy ground was the people of God.
And so I think it follows that we need to view…
…as holy ground.
We need to view every gathering of true believers as holy ground. Jesus said,
Matthew 18:20 (ESV) —For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.
Now, Jesus was talking about believers discerning sins, but I think the principle ventures further than that. Jesus’ point is that there is a real presence of God in the gathering of believers. External appearances, buildings, and the size of the congregation are of no concern to God. What matters is that, where two or three are gathered, Jesus is in our midst.
The implications of that are staggering! At 2:00 this morning, this building was just a bunch of dead stuff. But, around 6:30 when we started getting here to setup, this space changed. It became sacred. The gathering of believers in this space made it holy ground; when we enter the auditorium it becomes a sanctuary.
So, let’s take a step back and think about hauntings and about demonic presences. What do you do about ghosts? What’s the best line of defence?
Well, I would say the best thing that you can do is get two or more people who believe and follow Jesus to gather in that place. Look, if you bring Jesus there, the spirit is not going to want to stay. You don’t need ghost hunting equipment and all that. I doubt that part of the whole thing is even real. All you need are believers. And maybe—novel thought—bring a Bible. Get together and read the scriptures. Read the Leviticus passage or others that condemn the practices of necromancy and consulting mediums. And obviously pray. Pray for the Lord to cleanse the space.
Look if you have a ghost in your house or some other place, and you start bringing Jesus there, then that ghost is not going to stay. That’s really all you need.
My bigger concern is that you might be concerned about a ghost or a demon or something like that and you claim to be a Christian, but this thing is still living in your house.
I’ve been asked to do a house cleansing before and I’d be happy to do it again if you ever think that might be necessary. But, the one thing I am clear about when I have this discussion is that you who live in that house are going to have to bring a constant presence of Jesus into that home. In other words, we can bring the pastors over to pray, but if you are not engaging in holy things in your home on a regular basis then the spirit is winning; the demon or ghost is doing exactly what he came to do, to be a stumbling block to you.
James said to resist the devil and he will flee from you. So, if you really have a presence, it’s there because you are not resisting it.
Your home needs to be a sanctuary for your family not a place of strife. It shouldn’t be the place you go to sin and no one talks about it. I hate to be so frank about that. But, if you go home and get drunk and no one is supposed to talk about it out in public, or if there’s drug use, or illicit sexual behaviors, or you watch pornography or inappropriate movies and TV at home—and it’s just understood by your family that you don’t speak of those things in public, then that tells me your home is not a sanctuary for your family.
It’s a place that perpetuates darkness. And if that’s where you are at, then you need to bring repentance into your home. Cease the sin and begin to read the word of God with your family. Begin to pray together and contemplate the things of God together. Watch moves and TV that edify each other. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
See, there is still something to this cosmic geography thing. Either your home is ruled by a spirit of disobedience and dissension (real or imagined) or your home is ruled by the Lord God, Most High.
Every group of believers, no matter how small or unknown, whether it’s a church or your family at home, every group is on the front lines of a spiritual war. And frankly this is why it is so important to be involved in the lives of believers on a regular basis. It’s why we need churches not just anonymous Christians. On our own we are vulnerable, but in number Christ is with us. We are holy ground.
Jesus said to the Apostle Peter,
Matthew 16:18 (ESV) —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.
Look, hell has gates. And the church is an offensive agent against the gates of hell. We aren’t trying to endure this world until Jesus returns. We are here to conquer. And conquer we will, because the gates of hell cannot prevail against us, Christ’s church.
And frankly that is what the Lord has been up to for a long time anyway.
The Lord is…
When I preached through Psalm 82, some of you noticed I left a verse off. I was saving it. Let’s read it now. At the end of the passage, the Psalmist prayed,
Psalm 82:8 (ESV) — Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit all the nations!
Look, it’s not like God has Israel and He’s content to let all these apostate gods rule over the rest of the world. He is reclaiming the nations for Himself. He wants it all back.
In the past two weeks we mentioned several times that the gods were supposed to point people to worship of the Most High, but they instead took worship from the people for themselves. So, Yahweh, the Most High God is reclaiming the nations. And frankly, that’s the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Gospel is that you were born into this world as a disobedient son or daughter of darkness, but God being rich in mercy rescued you from the pit reserved for the devil and his angels and has offered you an inheritance in His Kingdom through His son Jesus Christ.
In other words, following Jesus isn’t just about being a better person who sins less. Following Jesus is about being rescued from the Kingdom of Darkness.
Everything that was lost when Adam sinned and everything that was corrupted by the sins of the watchers and everything that was divided at Babel, God is bringing back together through Jesus.
In Matthew 28, Jesus commissioned the disciples with a great task before he ascended into heaven. We call it the Great Commission. We tend to reduce the Great Commission to, “We all need to tell people about Jesus.” But, it’s so much more. Jesus said,
Matthew 28:18–20 (ESV) — All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Notice that opening statement. What authority does Jesus have? All authority. All authority where? In heaven and on earth. In other words, whatever Watchers were or are still are here on this earth trying to hold onto authority over the nations, they are out of office. They no longer have authority over the nations. All authority on the earth belongs to Jesus now. God isn’t letting anyone have it any more.
Therefore—since, Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth—disciple all the nations. It’s like in the Star Wars movies, when the shields come down on the big space ship and then all the little rebel ships come in to blow it up. Jesus has the authority. The Shields are down. All we have to do is come in to win the battle. There are no princes in the nations trying to keep us out anymore, like in Daniel. We can go into all nations preaching the Gospel and gather all of God’s people. It’s not that there are no spirits in the world or that there are no more gods in the world, but they have no authority. It’s all been given to Jesus.
So, we preach the Gospel to make disciples and then we baptize them. Baptism into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit — that is, the Most High — is an act of spiritual warfare. Think about this. Baptism is a statement that you belong to Jesus now and not to any other. What does that say to the forces of evil in the world? When you get baptised you are saying to them, ‘You no longer have any claim on my soul; I belong to Christ.’ Baptism is spiritual warfare.
We disciple, we baptize and then we teach. What do we teach? We teach people to follow Jesus so that they too will go out and make disciples. And they will make disciples who make disciples. And then they will make disciples who make disciples. And on and on.
Until the end of the age. ‘Behold I am with you until the end of the age.’
As we move to talk about the Lord’s Supper for a moment, I just want you to reflect on this teaching, about cosmic geography. You probably thought at one point in time that Jesus came to save youfrom yoursin. That is, Jesus came to save you from yourself. But, Dr. Heiser says that, “Jesus is more than a cosmic life coach, and the God of the Bible had more in mind than a list of basic spiritual coping skills when he inspired its writers.”
In other words, you might just be your own biggest problem, but there is a bigger enemy that’s part of a much bigger story. The Bible isn’t about you as an individual; it’s about God and the Kingdom He is building through us.
And I’m so grateful, that Jesus has given us the power to overcome the darkness, that He is forever with us, and that whenever and wherever we gather, he empowers us.
That means that I can live out my faith in the world. I don’t have to keep it behind closed doors at home or here at church. I can boldly tell people about Jesus, the Most High wherever I go and the Most High will bring victory.
I work at a high school and most of you know I shamelessly talk to staff and students about Jesus and the church. How can I do that? Can’t you get fired for that? — Maybe, but who cares?I do it, because Jesus has torn down the walls, the shields are down, and all that is left is to proclaim the Good News.
The biggest problem with evangelism today isn’t that Christians can’ttell people about Jesus; it’s that wewon’t.Our society has taught us to be fearful. But, in Christ, the battle is won. We have no fear in life or death. There is no authority in this world. All authority has been given to Jesus and behold He is with us until this thing comes to an end.
That means it’s time for action. And it means we have every reason for celebration.
Some of you are struggling in this life because of your personal sin. Some of you are suffering at the hands of others. Some of you doubt God because you can’t figure out why the world is the way it is. And you wonder where is God, and what is God doing, and if God is loving, then why does all this mess persist.
And I’m going to ask you to lean on the scriptures. We aren’t waiting for Jesus to save us from this broken world. He already has. Jesus’s body was already broken. And we wonder when we will be free from sin, but Jesus blood was already shed on the cross. By His wounds you are healed from every brokenness and by His blood you are freed from every sin.
Believe the scriptures and then live like you believe it. Repent of sins, rejoice in your savior and proclaim the good news of Jesus. The broken body of Jesus and the shed blood of Jesus beckons you to do so.
Let’s pray and then we will partake of the Lord’s Supper together in a few moments.