Ephesians Study, Part 49: Spiritual Warfare --
"The Reality of the Spiritual World"


Last week, we started into the section of Chapter 6 of Ephesians where Paul explains to us that we are in the midst of a battle, not a physical battle, but a spiritual battle.  After telling us how we should be living our lives, our marriage and our work lives, he seems to understand that we are likely to say, "Yes but, we can't do that".

It seems to me that it is at this point that he says, indirectly, "I know you can't do it on your own, because your enemy in this battle is stronger than you are, but God has protective armor that you need to put on, put all of it on, to survive the battle".

He is not talking about salvation.  He is talking about being able to live this life here or earth in a manner worthy of the calling as a Christian.

Remember, he said:

Remember that the terms rulers and powers and world forces are references to ranks of fallen angels, evil spirits under the direction of Satan.

Also remember that in Second Corinthians he said:

Today: Spiritual Reality

Since we don't see the spiritual world, it is natural for us to think it does not exist.  But the Bible clearly says that it does exist.  It is just as real as the reality that we perceive, but it is beyond our natural perception.  This morning, I am going to try to reinforce this teaching from the Bible.

Elisha and God's army:

Let's look at Second Kings, Chapter 6.  This part of the book is in the days of Elisha.  Syria was the enemy of Israel.  Seems like there isn't much that has changed from that time to now.  In the NAS translation, the term Aram and the Arameans in this Scripture are synonymous with Syria.  The King James calls it Syria.

In other words the king of Syria would make a plan, but Elisha would tip off the king of Israel. In other words, this happened several times, not just once.

In fact this gets to be a real problem.

In other words, the king of Syria thinks he has a spy in his camp.  Every time he makes a plan, somehow the king of Israel finds out about it and avoids the problem.  And it happens time and time again, so the king of Syria thinks he must have a spy in his staff. This is the first Biblical record of a phone tap.  But that's sort of what's going on here.  Somehow by the Spirit of God Elisha knew what the king of Syria was going to do and he would tell the king of Israel. Dothan is a small village where Elisha lives.  And overnight the place is surrounded by the Syrian army.

What we're leading up to is in verses 15 through 17:

When Elisha's servant got up early that morning he saw the place totally surrounded, that must have panicked him.  They were totally surrounded by enemy.

And his servant said to him, "Alas, my master!  What shall we do?"

I would imagine that the young servant assumed that Elisha was just using a platitude.  He was probably thinking, "Sure, boss, but I can hear them revving their engines.  They're out there!"  In verse 17, Elisha prays.  As you listen to Elisha you can almost hear his impatience with the young man. You can almost see Elisha, annoyed to be bothered.  He says, Lord, just show him what's going on.  Hey boss, let him in on it. They were in this village.  They were totally surrounded by the strongest army in the region.  These were mean dudes.  The young servant is understandably terrified, because all he could see was the natural, not the supernatural.  Suddenly he sees God's reality.  Suddenly he can see the massive power of the spiritual hosts that were there to protect Elisha.

If we could only see the spiritual power that was allocated to protect Elisha.

Display Codes:

How many of you have a computer and use a word processor?  As we use our word processor we hit a key and a letter appears on the screen.  We type in paragraphs and a document is created.  What we do not see is what all is going on in the computer, unseen by us, the volume of codes that the computer uses to generate the document we see.  The software has all kinds of rules to insert returns at the end of a line or hard returns when we want a new paragraph or codes that tell the printer what font to use and so on.  In a typical document there may well be a hundred or more of these unseen instructions that cause the document to be printed the way you intend it to be printed.  There are so many that you don't really want to be bothered with all that stuff, it would just be a bother.  Once in awhile we need to change one of the assumptions built into the software.  In some software you can hit a special key or select from a menu to show the hidden instructions.  In some software this is called "display code."  If you hit that key all of those hidden instructions suddenly become visible and you can amend them if you choose.  You see indent symbols, and paragraph symbols, and a lot of other symbols, previously hidden.

Sometimes I think it would be great if God gave us a "display code" key so that when we couldn't figure out what was going on, we could hit it and suddenly see all of the spiritual forces in play around us.

I think it was kind of like that when Elisha said to God, "display code" and even his young servant could then see all of the forces being used by God to protect them.  Sometimes I think it would be great if we had a display code key in our life that we could hit and at least for a short time be able to see all of the spiritual forces at play around us.  I have the feeling if we could see those forces around us we would spend a lot of time saying thank you.  I think I have some of them working overtime.  I can only assume that they are keeping us out of trouble, protecting us, protecting us from all of those things that we know intend to cause us harm.  But they also protect us from dangers that we don't even know about.  That sounds very strange but the Bible is very clear that those invisible forces are at work all around us.

One of the things that you and I need to take on faith, not blind faith, but faith in God's Word, is that he has allocated these resources for our protection.  This case of Elisha is sort of an individual case.

Daniel and the delayed help from Michael:

There is another classic case that we should take a look at, which is Daniel Chapter 10.

The book of Daniel consists of twelve chapters.  The first six chapters are narratives and the second six chapters are visions.  The climactic vision is in Chapter 12, but Chapters 10 and 11 are preludes to that vision.  In the interest of time, I am not going to read it, but I will paraphrase it.

In Chapter 10 Daniel decides to go into fasting and prayer.  For twenty-one days Daniel goes into a special period of fasting and prayer.  Then he was visited by a special messenger.

Scholars are divided in their views about this messenger.  Some scholars view this visitor as an Old Testament appearance of Jesus, the pre-incarnate Jesus.  Some theologians believe this cannot be Jesus because the visitor requires the help of Michael and Jesus would not need help so it could not be Jesus.  For this morning's purposes we will set that debate aside, because it is not germane to our topic.  Whoever this messenger was, the messenger was a very powerful messenger sent to give Daniel the vision and message in Chapter 11 and 12.

The reason we are looking at this is the peculiar circumstances that he makes reference to.  The people with Daniel at the time of the appearance were terrified and so they ran away and hid.  So Daniel is left alone with this messenger.  Chapter 10 verse 12 says:

Now remember the situation.  Twenty-one days ago, Daniel started this period of fasting and prayer.  And this messenger was dispatched then.  It apparently took him twenty-one days to arrive.  What held him up? He goes on to talk about this.  The messenger says that he was dispatched three weeks ago.  But apparently the spiritual power behind the king of Persia had held up his arrival.  It is pretty clear that it was a spiritual power behind the Persian Empire, not the physical king, that had held up the arrival of this messenger.  This messenger had been fighting for three weeks to get free to come to Daniel.  And he has come to give Daniel a vision.  The vision will be described in chapters 11 and 12.  He points out in verse 19: By the way, notice that he does here exactly what Paul does in Chapter six of Ephesians.  "Take courage and be strong" is a command.  It is not automatic.  It is something you need to do.  Daniel had to do it.  Remember, Paul commanded us to be strong.  Same idea. There are a couple of small points to make here.  First, Michael is one of the named angels.  Gabriel is also a named angel.  If you study the appearances of Gabriel you will find that he is always bringing the message of the coming of the Messiah.  In the Old Testament, every time he shows up he is announcing something about the Messiah.  In the New Testament he does the same thing.  Michael is always a military commander on behalf of Israel.  We can infer by studying all of the places they appear that each of them has a very definitive job description.

What Michael appears to be saying is "Look, guy, it took me 21 days to show up because I was fighting the Prince of Persia.  After I give you this vision I've got to go fight the Prince of Persia again and after him the king of Greece is my opponent."

If you have studied the book of Daniel, you are probably aware that the book of Daniel lays out all of the Gentile empires from Babylon, when Daniel was deported, all the way until the end of time, and there are only four empires.  Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome in two phases and then the Lord sets up his kingdom.  This is one of the few places where the Bible gives us insight into Gentile history in advance.

The point is that after the Prince of Persia comes the Prince of Greece.  There was a delay here, for him to arrive, but the Prince of Greece did not come for 200 years.  What is going on?  I think it is safe to conclude that the time dimension in the spiritual world is very different from the time dimension in the human world.  There is no reason to presume that time is the same in both worlds.  Time is a physical dimension.  It changes with mass acceleration and gravity.

Territorial Spirits:

Is an angel subject to gravity?  I don't think so.  Is the time domain for an angel the same as for us?  I don't think so.  An angel is not God.  Don't misunderstand the attributes of God.  God is outside the physical constraints of time.  That does not mean that angels are.  Angels are created beings also.  But they are not subject to the same dimensions that we are.  This is just one of all of those spooky glimpses, just a glimpse, but the text suggests that there is a demonic power, not just a Prince but probably an organization with a prince behind the world empires.  Clearly behind Persia.  Apparently behind Greece.  Was there one behind Rome?  I think so.  Was there one behind Hitler?  I think so.  Is there one behind the United States?  Biblically I think we would be justified in the saying yes. (26:11)

That is what we are dealing with here.  We are not dealing with the physical reality that you and I can sense.  We can only perceive a small subset of reality.  Scientists and physicists tell us that you and I live in four dimensions that we can sense, the three physical dimensions plus time.  They also tell us that there are at least six other dimensions that we are not able to discern.  Just between you and me, even though I am an engineer, this is beyond my understanding.  Only guys like Joe Bridwell who have studied quantum physics can even begin to comprehend what we do not perceive.  I don't know if guys like him can either, but they talk a good line.

The point is, as you read and study modern physics, these ideas seem much less strange than perhaps they would have been to someone not current in modern science.  It is interesting that as we discover more and more about our universe, we discover things that the Bible anticipated all along.

Surprise, surprise.  God created our universe and he gave us this unique message that we call the Bible.  Perhaps we should not be so surprised that they agree.  Mark Eastman and Chuck Missler wrote a book entitled "The Creator Beyond Time and Space" which deals with this whole question.  If you really what to get into it you might want to get that book and read through it.  It deals with the transcendence of God and how modern science with its modern discoveries vindicates and authenticates biblical teachings that heretofore were considered ridiculous by so-called great thinkers.

God's reality and the Bible's reality are far more extensive than what we can see and sense.  That is the issue.  Paul says the battle is not against the flesh of this world, but it is a spiritual battle that we must suit up for.


Next week:

...we will get back to the text, and the full armor that God has provided for us to win the battle.