Stage #2–At Last!

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Now that we have arrived at Stage #2, the time has come for us to exit the Truth Train and make our way into the theatre, where Act 1, Scene 2 of God’s One Big Story will soon be getting underway.  As we leave, let’s remember to take with us the Program Guides we were given on the first leg of our journey.  These will prove to be helpful because, while we are watching the smaller stories taking place on the Earthly Stage before us, they will help us keep in mind the larger story that is taking place on the Heavenly Stage above us.

In the event that you have misplaced your guides—or, if you are new to this study tour—here are some extras that you can take with you.

Guide #1

Program Guide

Guide #2

Program Guide

As you can see from Guide #2, in Act 1, Scene 1, God was the Celestial Suitor who, in anticipation of His upcoming betrothal, created the earth as the ideal home for His future wife.  We watched in awe as He, through the 9 Vignettes in Genesis 1-11, created a world full of nations out of nothing, and made ready the Earthly Stage for the imminent appearance of His Bride, Israel.

So, now that our stage now has been set, where does that place us in our Story?

It is here, at Act 1, Scene 2, in Genesis 12-50, that we will be introduced to the four men most responsible for the creation and development of the nation of Israel. They will be introduced to us through the use of Four Biographical Pictures—or, what we will be calling the 4 Biopics of the Patriarchs.  They are…

Biopic #1—Abraham

The first Patriarch we will be studying is Abraham, known today as the Father of Israel.  He plays such an important role in the story of Israel that, of the fifty chapters in Genesis, fifteen are given over to him and his earthly pilgrimage of faith.  By comparison, only eleven chapters of this first book of the Bible were used to cover all the major events of the world from its creation to the dispersion of the people into nations following God’s judgment at the Tower of Babel.

As for when his part in our story takes place, if we calculate the years given in the genealogy of Shem in Genesis 11, when he first appears on our stage, approximately 1946 years have passed since the Creation, 288 years since the Flood, and—if the division into nations took place during Peleg’s lifetime—anywhere from 27 to 266 years since the episode at the Tower of Babel. Since that incident, and as a result of God’s confusion of the one universal language there, the people have dispersed into different nations, taking with them the false religious beliefs they had adopted at Babel. 

Concerning Shem’s descendants, according to the Jewish historian, Josephus, his five sons settled in the areas making up much of today’s Middle East.  There…

  • Elam became the father of the Elamites, the ancestors of the Persians [Iran].
  • Ashur became the father of the Assyrians
  • Arphaxad became the father of the Arphaxadites, who were later called the Chaldeans [southern Iraq].
  • Aram became the father of the Aramites, or Syrians, as they were known by the Greeks.
  • Laud became the father the Laudites, who were later called the Lydians [Turkey].[1]

Given that Abram is a direct descendant of Arphaxad, it should come as no surprise to learn that at some point in his life, Abram and his family have resided in Ur, a prominent city in the land of the Chaldeans, and a land wholly given over to the worship of idols.  In fact, we are told later in Joshua 24:2 that even Abram’s family have been idol worshippers in the past…

Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the River [Euphrates] in old times; and they served other gods (Joshua 24:2). 

Although it has been a while, we actually met Abraham back in Genesis 11:27-36, at the end of Scene #1. There, we learned…

Terah begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Haran begot Lot.  And Haran died before his father Terah in his native land, in Ur of the Chaldeans. 

Then Abram and Nahor took wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and the father of Iscah.  But Sarai was barren; she had no child. 

And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran and dwelt there.  So the days of Terah were two hundred and five years, and Terah died in Haran.

From this brief introduction, we are told several important things about Abraham…

  • At this stage in his life, he is still called by his given name, Abram, a name meaning exalted father—a meaning made all the more ironic by the fact that at this point, and for many years to come, he and his wife are and will remain childless;
  • He and his family have left their hometown of Ur for reasons which, for now, are still a mystery to us; and,
  • When he left Ur, Abraham’s original destination was Canaan but, also for reasons unknown, his journey there has been put on hold and they are currently living in the city of Haran.

Before the curtain rises on the rest of Abraham’s life, though, we need to take a moment to discuss the significance of these things and learn why they are so important to our Story…

  • As we learned back in More Blessing, Cursing, and Big Time Rebellion, being a descendant of Shem meant that Abraham was among those who had been charged with the Stewardship of God’s Revelation to the world; and, being a descendant of Arphaxad placed him in the generational line leading directly to the Redeemer promised back in the Garden of Eden.
  • As for the exact date of Abraham’s appearance on the earthly stage, we are not sure.  A number of different dates from 1800-2200 BC have been suggested, however, if we do some calculations using other scripture references, we will arrive at a date of 2166 BC.[2]  This was a pivotal time, not only in human history but also in God’s Story of Redemption because…
    • By and large, the other nations of the world were now in place and the peoples were worshiping a host of false gods, rather than the one True God;
    • While the other nations had been formed naturally through their common languages and shared cultures, Israel would soon be created supernaturally in response to the Word and Promise of God–as the nation through whom God’s Son will eventually be born into the world, in order to reconcile that world to God;
    • With human government in place (but not functioning as it should because of its corruption at the Tower of Babel), this marked not only the beginning of the nation of Israel but also the beginning of a whole new dispensational period in God’s Redemptive Story—the Dispensation of Promise.  As this chart illustrates, dispensations are simply the periods of administration or stewardship of God’s revelation to Man, taking him from the innocence of the Garden to the kingdom rule of Christ in the Millennium.

  • The fact that Abram/Abraham has come from a family of idol worshipers is a reminder to us that, in spite of his spiritual heritage and the part he is about to play in God’s Redemptive Plan, he is himself a sinner—and part of a family of sinners who are comfortable living in a sin-saturated culture.  As such, he has done nothing special to merit God’s favor but, like everyone else who has or will ever become a member of God’s Family, he is an recipient of God’s Grace.
  • Being born in Ur of the Chaldees means that Abraham
    • …has been accustomed to living in a prosperous industrial, commercial, and agricultural center with a population of about 360,000 people; a great city-state enclosed by a wall 2 ½ miles around and 77 feet thick, and one which has been dedicated to the worship of Nanna, the Moon God. 
    • …is most likely a member of an upper class family living in a spacious home in town and, because the sons of the upper class are the only ones allowed to go to school, he is sure to be an educated and literate person.  And, since the government doesn’t allow most people to leave Ur, for Abram and Terah to be able to do so, they would have to be free merchants or high officials.
  • Because Abraham and his family stop for an indefinite time at Haran, and Haran means Caravan City, it is likely that they are involved in and prospering from the lucrative caravan trade linking Mesopotamia and the Far East with Egypt.  We know that such a trade existed because of ancient Egyptian texts which speak of caravans at this time numbering 500, 600, and even 1000 donkeys.
  • At this point in our Story, why Abraham would choose to leave all of this prosperity behind and go to Canaan is still a mystery.  Unlike Ur or Haran, Canaan is pretty much a rural backwater with no major cities or city-states, and no governmental bureaucracy offering economic opportunities or protection.  Patriarchal Rule is the law of the land and central to every aspect of life; with the head of each clan having absolute power—even the power of life and death—over every member of his clan.
  • Probably the most important fact we have been given so far is the one concerning the barrenness of Sarai.  This is important to our Story for several reasons…
    • It is an embarrassment to Abraham and makes a mockery of his name(s);
    • It is a reproach to Sarai—since God’s original blessing involved the ability to have children, this implies that she has done something wrong, placing her outside of the blessing of God;
    • It means that Abram/Abraham will not enjoy the natural immortality (immortality which would come from having one’s name carried into the future through future generations) or the care in old age that having a son would provide; and,
    • It means that God’s promise of a coming Redeemer will not be realized.

Armed now with a better understanding of the dynamics operating within the life and times of Abraham, we are ready to get on with the Story of the Man himself—and, Scene #2 will do that by picking up where his story began in Genesis 11: 27-32.  But first, while we wait for this scene to get underway, let’s take some time to meditate on all that we have learned so far.


Since God created the world, the people in it, and the nation of Israel just so He could have Children, it is only right that we, as the Children of the Living God, should give Him praise!


[1] Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews: Book 1 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1960), 42.

[2] In 1 Kings 6:1, we learn that the 4th year of Solomon’s reign—966 BC—was 480 years after the Exodus [966+480=1446], and from Exodus 12:40-41, we learn that the Israelites lived in Egypt 430 years.  So 1446+430=1876, making that the year that Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt.  Since Jacob was 130 when he appeared before Pharaoh, Isaac was 60 when Jacob was born, Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born, and Abraham was 75 when he entered the Promised Land, this would mean that the total time spent in Canaan would have been 215 years [130+60+(100-75)=215]. Adding 215 years to 1876, then 75 (for Abraham’s age until then)—the year that Jacob and his family moved to Egypt—we arrive at a date of 2166 BC for Abram’s birth.

Back on Track–The Journey Resumes

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It’s Time to Get Back to the Land of Revelation Knowledge!

All Aboard and welcome back, fellow travelers!  I am happy to say that, after a rather lengthy but edifying visit to the Workout Room, the time has come for us to once again head out on the Truth Train and resume our Bible Study tour through the Land of Revelation Knowledge.  For those who are joining us for the first time, this tour is unique in that it presents the One Big Story of the Bible as a Play; one consisting of two Acts with six Scenes each and one long Intermission between the acts.   These scenes and the intermission, as well as an epilogue at the end of the play, are being acted out for us on fourteen different Stages, positioned along the route we are taking through this vast and inspirational land.  When we broke for our detour to the Workout Room, we had just left Stage #1 where Act 1, Scene 1 had completed its run, and we were on our way to Stage #2 where Act 1, Scene 2 had been scheduled to get underway.

Now that we are back on track and heading in that direction once more, considering how long it has been since we left the first Stage, I think it would be wise if we used this travel time to Review  briefly what took place in Scene 1, and to Preview what will soon be taking place in Scene 2.  For those who may feel the need of a more thorough review, one can be obtained by visiting the His Truth, My Voice Theatre page, where all of the material we’ve covered so far has been arranged chronologically for easy viewing.

Reviewing Where We Have Been

In Act 1, Scene 1 of God’s One Big Story, we were introduced to the Sovereign God of the Universe, whom we discovered is not only the Main Character of the Story but also its Author.  From the opening verses of the Script(ures), we learned that this God is…

  • A Trinity of Three Unique Persons united in One Divine Purpose;
  • Pre-existent and Eternal; and,
  • All-Powerful, All-Knowing, and Present Everywhere at All Times.

As for the Story itself, we learned that it is a Love Story, borne out of God’s Heart and His passionate desire to have a Family of His own to love.  It was for this reason that He created the world and the people living in it—people who, as they multiplied, would eventually become the nations from which one, Israel, would graciously be chosen to become God’s Wife.  When Act 1 opened, however, no such nations existed; therefore, to prepare for Israel’s eventual entrance onto the earthly stage of the Story,  all the action taking place in the opening scene was for the purpose of bringing them into being.

The way in which this was accomplished was revealed to us through the use of nine dramatic Vignettes, or mini-scenes, covering the major events in Genesis 1-11–these being…

The Creation of the World;
The Creation of Man and Woman;
Their Sin and Fall from Grace;
The Consequences of their Sin…

…Personally,
…In Their Family,
…In Society at Large;

The Judgment on their Sin through the Flood;
The New World after the Flood; and,
Mankind’s On-going Rebellion and its Judgment. 

Over the course of these Vignettes, we learned how God used elements from the real-life experiences of people living on the earth at the time to tell the Bigger Story of Love and Redemption that was taking place on the Heavenly Stage.  In fact, by the end of Vignette #9, we were able to see how the mini-scenes of Genesis 1-11, when viewed together, formed a Panoramic Prophetic Picture of all human history—creating, in effect, a Spiritual Overture of the themes and motifs which would be reappearing throughout the rest of the Story.

For example, in this Overture, we saw how

  • In the story of Creation—in going from darkness to light, chaos to order, and from death to life in response to the Word of God and the “hovering” work of the Spirit—we are provided with a picture of the recurring spiritual theme of Re-creation or Rebirth.
  • The story of the First Adam and his wife, Eve, gives us a prophetic picture of the Second Adam, Jesus, and His Bride, the Church—who, like Eve, was fashioned from a “rib” (the disciples) taken from the Second Adam as He slept in death.
  • The story of the Two Trees in the Garden is an illustration of the only two “salvation” alternatives available to mankind—the counterfeit system of works or the genuine system of salvation through faith in Christ.
  • In the story of Cain and Abel—in which God’s acceptance of Abel’s offering by faith and His rejection of Cain’s self-righteous offering provoked Cain to envy, anger, and the murder of his brother–we are given a spiritual illustration of the wicked’s on-going rebellion against and persecution of the righteous.  We are also shown a picture of Cain as a type of Israel—the brother who, after his slaying of the righteous Son, is marked for protection before he begins his wanderings in the wilderness of the world.
  • In the long “Reign of Death” taking place between the stories of Cain and the Flood, we are shown how sin has affected all men and led to their deaths, and the futility of life lived apart from God.
  • In the translation of Enoch just before the judgment of the flood, we are given a prophetic picture of the Rapture which will take place prior to the Great Tribulation, when those who are “walking with God” will be translated to heaven without dying.
  • The lawlessness and demonic activity preceding the Flood gives us a preview of the conditions existing before the Tribulation, as self-absorbed humanity abandons faith in God, violence increases, and doors are opened to ever-increasing levels of satanic activity.
  • And the Flood, in which the wrath of God was poured out from heaven against the unrighteousness of men while a small righteous remnant in the Ark was being spared, provides us with a picture of the end-times Tribulation, when the wrath of God will once again be poured out from heaven against the unrighteousness of men, while a righteous remnant is being preserved on the earth.
  • In the story of Noah after the Flood, when those in the Ark come out to a new earth and enter into a new covenant with God, we are shown a “type” of the “new world” which will exist when Christ sets up His Millennial Kingdom following the Tribulation–where the righteous remnant will live on a cleansed earth, under a new covenant with God, for a thousand years.
  • The rebellion at Babel gives us a prophetic picture of Satan’s final act of rebellion—when, at the end of the Millennium, he is released from his thousand year imprisonment to lead one final revolt against the righteous rule of the Lord.
  • And, in the Judgment of the Nations at the Tower of Babel, the final Judgment of the Nations is in view, when the Lord gathers the nations together—separating the “sheep” nations from the “goat” nations— and judges them according to the way they have treated His “brethren.”

In Genesis 1-11, We Start with Nothing and End Up with a World Full of Nations

Now, having refreshed our memories as to what we have seen, and with Stage #2 fast approaching, let’s prepare ourselves for what we can expect to see when the curtain goes up on Act 1, Scene 2 of God’s One Big Story.

Previewing Where We Are Going

Whereas in Scene 1, we were introduced to God as “The Celestial Suitor”—who, in anticipation of obtaining a Bride, created and prepared the world to be her future home—in Scene 2, we are going to be introduced to the Patriarchs—or, the line of godly ancestors through whom “Israel: the Beloved of God,” will come into being.  Much like Scene 1, where the story was told through the use of 9 Vignettes, in Scene 2, the story will unfold by means of 4 Bio-Pics, or four biographical pictures of these ancestors of Israel, found in chapters 12-50 of the book of Genesis.  They are…

Abraham—the Exalted Father who becomes the Father of a Multitude;
Isaac—the Long-Awaited Son of Promise who displaces the Son born into Bondage;
Jacob—the Scheming Shepherd who becomes a Prince with God; and,
Joseph—the Betrayed Brother who not only becomes His Brothers’ Savior but the Savior of the World, as well.

Before we can move forward with the story, though, there is still the all-important matter of Formatting that we need to take into consideration.  Hopefully, those of you who have been with us from the beginning of this tour will remember that during our visit to the Welcome Center of the Word, we viewed the video, The Bible: The Story Behind the Story.  In that video, we learned that the Story of the Bible was formatted according to the Ancient Jewish Wedding Tradition—a tradition completely foreign to our present day concepts of marriage.  Because of this, in order for us to truly appreciate the Love Story that the Bible has to tell, we must first come to an understanding of the Wedding Tradition upon which that story is based.

The Format of the Story

Because Family was at the center of Jewish life and culture, the choice of a marriage partner was serious business.  This selection was not to be determined by some fly-by-night or emotional impulse of the moment; it was achieved through an involved Marriage Process, consisting of three distinct phases…

The Arrangement or Negotiation Phase;
The Betrothal Phase; and,
The Marriage and Consummation Phase.
 

  1. The Arrangement or Negotiation Phase

The Ketubah–the Marriage Contract

In Jewish culture, when it was time for a young man to marry, typically his father would choose a bride for him and then send an agent or representative to the bride’s family to negotiate an arrangement for a marriage.  The bride, of course, had to give her consent and if she did, a mohar or Bride Price was established and a Ketubah or written document was drawn up in which the bride price, the promises of the bridegroom, and the rights of the bride were clearly stated.  This document would have to be executed and signed prior to the wedding ceremony.

Gifts were then given to the bride and a cup called the Cup of the Covenant was shared between the bride and groom—the rite of erusin or betrothal being completed when the groom gave something of value to the bride and she accepted it.  This completed rite was known in Hebrew as kiddushin or sanctification, and the covenant between the bride and the groom would be sealed with the drinking of the wine.  Once agreed to, this covenant was a legally binding contract which could only be dissolved by divorce.

The Cup of the Covenant

Afterward, the bridegroom would go back to his father’s house, where he would begin preparing a home for his new bride.  Before leaving, though, he would reassure her of his return with this promise:  “I go to prepare a place you; if I go, I will return again unto you.”  Upon his departure, the bride would undergo a mikvah—or water immersion—a ritual of cleansing marking a separation from her former way of life to a new life with her spouse.

  1. The Betrothal Phase

This marked the beginning of the Betrothal Period, which usually lasted a year.  During this time, the bride was consecrated and set apart, busily preparing her wedding garments for the big day, while the bridegroom was away working on their new home.  The bride had to be ready at all times because she had no idea when her groom would return for her.  Even the groom didn’t know when that would be because he first had to get permission from his father—who had to be completely satisfied that his son’s house was in order.

  1. The Marriage and Consummation Phase 

Once he received his father’s permission, the bridegroom would return—usually in the middle of the night—with a shout, “Behold the bridegroom comes,” and with the blowing of the shofar or ram’s horn.  He would then abduct his bride from her father’s home and carry her away in a sacred procession to the chupah or wedding canopy where the marriage would take place.  There, they would be treated as royalty, with the bridegroom in the role of a newly-crowned king, and the bride as his queen.

Under the Chupah

Following the wedding ceremony, the bridegroom and bride would go into the wedding chamber where the marriage was to be consummated.  The friend of the bridegroom would take up his position outside the door where he, and all of the assembled guests, would eagerly await word that the consummation had taken place.  Upon receiving the signal from the bridegroom, the friend of the bridegroom would announce it to the guests, and great rejoicing would break out.  The couple would remain in the wedding chamber for a total of seven days and when they came out, they—along with all the guests invited by the father of the bride, would enjoy a great Marriage Supper.[1]

Although this wedding tradition bears little relevance to our lives today, because it was such an integral part of everyday life when the Bible was written, we must take time to familiarize ourselves with each of this tradition’s three parts if we are ever going to understand the Story it has to tell.  For, not only do these phases provide the framework for all of God’s Great Love Story, they also serve as the basis for the Plot, and propel the Action of the Story forward in both the Old and the New Testaments.

As we shall see in the upcoming scene, in the Old Testament—which is all about God’s love relationship with Israel…

  • The Negotiation Phase takes place in Genesis 15, when God—as the Bridegroom Himself–enters into a covenant with Abraham, negotiating a marriage contact in which the future nation of Israel will one day become His Bride;
  • The Betrothal Phase follows on the heels of this negotiation and covers the period of time from Genesis 15 to Exodus 19. That’s when, Moses, as God’s representative, abducts Israel in the middle of the night from the “house of Pharaoh,” and leads her in a sacred procession to the Marriage Chupah at Mount Sinai;
  • Then, in Exodus 20, the Marriage Phase begins, when Israel vows to forsake all other gods, agrees to the terms of God’s covenant, and becomes the Wife of Jehovah. 

With this as the backdrop to our Story—and with the train now coming to a halt at our next destination—the time has come for us to leave the train and make our way into the theatre, where Scene 2, “Israel, the Beloved of God” is just about to get underway.

In place of our usual music selection, here is the video referred to earlier, “The Story Behind the Story”…

[1] Information on the Jewish Wedding Tradition gathered from Edward Chumney’s book, The Seven Festivals of the Messiah (Shippensburg, Pennsylvania: Destiny Image Publishers, 1994), 125-135.

Spiritual Warfare: Getting the Lay of the Land

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Mapping Out the Enemy's Territory

What We Need to Know Before We Go

Having familiarized ourselves with the character, career, and ultimate end of our enemy, Satan, in our previous exercise, it is now time for us to “get the lay of the land” over which he rules.  In other words, we are going to reconnoiter or, to put it into military terms, do a “recon” of our enemy’s territory.   Since reconnoiter comes from the French word reconnoitre, meaning to “make a survey,” our goal in this action is…

…to inspect, observe, or survey (the enemy, the enemy’s strength or position, a region, etc.) in order to gain information for military purposes.[1]

Given that the enemy’s territory is so vast, and largely invisible to the naked eye, surveying it seems like a rather daunting task for us to undertake.  This is especially true when we consider that there many whose knowledge of the world beyond their immediate spheres is so limited that they cannot identify many of the states on a map, or give a location for the countries whose names they so frequently hear in the news.  Nevertheless, if we are going to be at all effective in waging Spiritual Warfare, this is something that must done—and, it is something we will endeavor to do through a process known as Spiritual Mapping.

Spiritual Mapping

Spiritual Mapping is the term coined by George Otis, Jr., a specialist in prayer and world evangelization, to describe the method…

…by which ‘We learn to see the world as it really is, not as it appears to be;’ and,
…which involves…’Superimposing our understanding of forces and events in the spiritual domain onto places and circumstances in the material world.’[2]

In other words, it is a way for us to make the invisible supernatural forces at work in the natural world visible to us through our eyes of faith.  This is so important because…

…behind many visible aspects of the world around us may be spiritual forces, invisible areas of reality that may have more ultimate significance than the visible.[3]

As for how to go about doing this mapping, we will…

  1. Take what we can learn about Satan and his kingdom in the Word of God;
  2. Apply this information to what we know about the Earth and its environs; then…
  3. Attempt to identify the visible Structures which the invisible powers have erected upon the Earth and throughout the Cosmos—and, by Structures, I am referring to the Systems of Governance which hold sway over the lives of every human being living on this planet.

As with any map, ours will consist of a vertical element—a y-axis, if you will—as well as a horizontal element—or an x-axis—that will need to be plotted out.  For our purposes, this y- or vertical axis, as a spiritual one in nature, will define the extent of Satan’s domain in its northerly to southerly direction; while the x- or horizontal axis, being a terrestrial one in nature, will demonstrate the extent of his domain in an easterly to westerly direction.

Our Spiritual Map

What We Will Be Looking For

 Mapping Out Satan’s Vertical Domain

Although the Bible doesn’t give us any concrete dimensions for Satan’s kingdom, it does infer a three-fold vertical division of it in the following verses…

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11).

And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it (Revelation 5:3).

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’  (Revelation 5:13)

The fact that there are beings in heaven, on the earth, and beneath the earth who are not presently bowing to the Lordship of Jesus Christ is a clear indication that these are the areas which are currently under Satan’s dominion.  Given this information, we now know that any mapping we do of Satan’s vertical territory must include a survey of its Celestial, Terrestrial, and Subterranean divisions.

Its Celestial Division

By Celestial, we mean the area…

…pertaining to the sky or visible heavens; or to the universe beyond the earth’s atmosphere;
…pertaining to the spiritual or invisible heaven.[4]

In its opening verse, the Bible makes reference to both the visible and invisible heavens mentioned in this definition, when it tells us that…

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).

Later, in 2 Chronicles 2:6, another reference to is made to them by Solomon in his dedicatory prayer for the temple…

But who is able to build a temple for him, since the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him?

And, then, in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, the Apostle Paul makes an even more specific reference to them as he relates the following…

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows.  And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.

Derek Prince explains the significance of all this in the following way…

Logic convinces me that if there is a third heaven, there must be a first and second.  So there are at least three heavens.

What are the three heavens?  The first heaven is the visible and natural heaven with the sun, the moon, and the stars that we see with our eyes.  The third heaven, we know from 2 Corinthians 12, is God’s dwelling place.  It is paradise, the place of rest of the departed righteous.

So we are left with the second heaven.  Clearly, this must be between the first and the third.  I understand it to be an intermediate heaven between the heaven of God’s dwelling and the visible heaven that we see here on earth.  I also believe this intermediate heaven is where Satan’s headquarters are located.[5]

With the third heaven being God’s dwelling place—and the place from which Satan was evicted after his failed rebellion—it stands to reason that the second heaven would be the next best place for him to set up his kingdom’s headquarters.  From this vantage point, he is not only able to supervise his operations in the first heaven and the lower regions, but he is also ideally situated to interfere with or attempt to interrupt the ministry of God’s angels to those living on the earth.

As for how he goes about doing this, because he is neither omnipresent nor omniscient like God, he has to rely on the support of and intelligence provided by a hierarchy of demonic underlings, such as those described by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:12…

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Thomas White, a specialist in strategic level warfare, elaborates on this passage with a word study of the Greek in an excerpt from his book, The Believers’ Guide to Spiritual Warfare

Paul brings light to the topic by depicting the powers as organized in a hierarchy of rulers/principalities (archai), authorities (exousia), powers (dunamis), and spiritual forces of evil (kosmokratoras).  It is reasonable to assume the authority structure here is arranged in descending order.  Daniel 10:13 and 20 unveil the identity of the archai as high level satanic princes set over nations and regions of the earth.  The word exousia carries a connotation of both supernatural and natural government…

Presumably, the dunamis operate within countries and cultures to influence certain aspects of life.  The kosmokratoras are the many types of evil spirits that commonly afflict people, e.g., spirits of deception, divination, lust, rebellion, fear, and infirmity.  These, generally are the evil powers confronted and cast out in most deliverance sessions.  Even among them there is ranking, the weaker spirits subservient to stronger ones.[6]

And, as we shall discover in an upcoming exercise…

These insidious powers continue to work through human governments, religions, and powerful personalities to keep people in bondage to legalism, social ideology, and moral compromise.  Their role is to pollute the minds and pervert the wills of people, diverting them from redemption, holding them hostage to the father of lies.  When we describe evil at this level, we are in a sense describing the Board Room of Hell, acknowledging that there are high ranking C.E.O.s (Chief Executive Officers) responsible for major movements of deception and destruction in our world.[7]

Satan's Vertical Domain

The Vertical Extent of Satan’s Domain

Although the Bible doesn’t give us much more information than this about these evil beings, some revelations of them have been given to a variety of people over time—with one unlikely group of recipients being the children living in the Adullam Home in the little town of Kotchiu, China, sometime during the 1920’s.  This home was opened and run by missionaries H.A. Baker and his wife, Josephine[8]—a Pentecostal couple who witnessed a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon these uneducated and beggarly children, and who recorded these visitations in the book, Visions Beyond the Vail.  Here is a transcript from that book, detailing some of the things the children witnessed while under the anointing power of the Holy Spirit…

The government of the hosts of evil is in mid-heaven.  There are thrones from which the devil’s angels exercise their Satanic government over the earth.  These rulers of darkness vary.  Some are larger in stature than others; there is variation in dress, crowns, facial expressions, disposition, and authority.  In all respects they are as devilish in appearance and acts as the hosts of Satan are expected to be.

These rulers of evil are in constant contention amongst themselves, each resenting the authority of those higher in power, each jealous of the other and all covetous of the seats of highest rank.  Those in higher rank hold their positions, not by consent of the lower orders, but solely through their own superior fierceness and powers.  Cliques and individuals are in constant conflict and quarrels.

All have crowns that represent various orders and ranks.  All desire to sit on the thrones above and supervise the work of evil on earth, rather than descend on delegated duties to further the demonical powers below.

Those of highest rank sit on thrones in the mid-heavens, ruling over innumerable hosts of evil spirts, from whose number delegations are constantly dispatched to earth to entice its inhabitants, to withstand the forces of righteousness, to strengthen weak places in the demonical forces of earth, and to bind and to drag the souls of evil men to hell when they die.

Although these wicked demons fly in high heaven to the very gates of the New Jerusalem and although they descend to earth and fly in its air, the center where they congregate in countless numbers is in the region of the thrones of authority in the mid-heavens.  Here evil hosts of wicked spirits of all sizes fly hither and thither or move about more deliberately.  A certain halo surrounds the wicked angels of higher rank.

All are similar in some respects:  all have wings, all have crowns, all belong in the heavens.  The delegated messengers go to earth only temporarily.  Their evil errand finished, they again return to the heavens.[9]

Its Terrestrial Division

With the higher-ranking demons supervising the devil’s work from their lofty perch in the Second Heaven, the actual hands-on dirty work on the Earth is carried out by demons of a lesser order.  According to the visions of the children at Adullam…

The hosts of evil spirits on earth are very different from those which fly through the heavens.  Those on earth do not have wings; they can walk and run rapidly; and they move freely but apparently do not leave the earth.  They vary in size from a few inches to ten feet in height, wear gaudy colored clothes of many stripes, and have fancy caps of various shapes and colors; some, on the other hand, wear rags or filthy garments.

Some of these demons on earth have very little power and are of a rather harmless order.  Others, however, are large in stature, fierce in appearance, and have great power.  These on earth withstand the work of righteous men and the work of angels among them.[10]

Whether large or small, weak or strong, these are the beings who are responsible for keeping their human charges on the earth in bondage to their master, Satan; and, in the event that they fail at this, to keep those finding freedom in the Kingdom of God from growing in the knowledge of Him and from serving Him and His Kingdom purposes successfully.  We were introduced to some of the ways they accomplished these tasks in Service:  Interrupted…by Devilish Design, and we will learn even more about them when we get around to plotting out the x-axis of our map in our next exercise.  So, for the time being, let’s move on to our survey of the third and final division of Satan’s vertical domain, which is…

Its Subterranean Division

By Subterranean, we mean that part of Satan’s kingdom…

Existing, situated, or operating below the surface of the earth; underground;
Existing or operating out of sight or secretly; hidden or secret.[11]

While we might be tempted to dismiss the idea that there could be such a place, Jesus Himself confirmed its existence in the parable of the rich man and the beggar named Lazarus, found in Luke 16:19-31…

There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day.  And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores.  The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.

And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’  But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.  And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’

And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house—for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’

But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’  And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’  He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’

Heaven or Hell

It’s Either Paradise with Jesus or Hades/Hell without Him

From Jesus’ description, up to that time in history, there were two places—two holding tanks, if you will—where the souls of men would go upon their deaths:  the righteous would go to Abraham’s side (in some translations, Abraham’s bosom), and otherwise referred to as Paradise, while the wicked would go to Hades, also known as Sheol in the Old Testament.  Since the writers of the Old Testament always thought of Sheol as being “…down under, somewhere in a hollow part of the earth,”[12] and since, in the parable, the rich man and Abraham could see one another, it is logical to conclude that both places were underground, in close proximity to one another, with some kind of un-crossable barrier between them…

The reason there are two different realms in sheol is best explained by remembering that sheol has two different kinds of inhabitants…here the righteous and the wicked enter, though when they arrive, they do not have the same experience.[13]

From this parable, we learn that…

The man in hades was fully conscious immediately after death. Memory, speaking, pain, and bliss—all of these were a part of his experience.

The eternal destiny of this man was irrevocably fixed…[he] is confined, without any possibility of escape.

This man knew himself well enough to know that what he was experiencing was fair and just…he complains about the pain, but he does not complain about injustice.

The rich man of Luke 16 was not yet in hell, but hades. Because the King James Version often translated both sheol and hades as hell, this needlessly confused two different kinds of regions.  The Bible is clear that no one is yet in hell today.  Someday, hades will be thrown into hell, but that has as yet not happened (Revelation 20:14).[14]

As for Lazarus, because he was in Abraham’s Bosom or Paradise when Jesus was resurrected from the dead, he and all the Old Testament saints who were with him were carried along with Jesus into Heaven—leaving Hades with only one section, and with Hades still being…

…an abode for departed spirits, a temporary intermediate state where those who have not received God’s forgiveness wait until further notice.  When they hear their names called, the news that awaits them will not be encouraging.[15]

The experiences of the children at Adullam also bear witness to the present-day existence of hell (Hades); for…

Over and over again the children had visions of hell and the lake of fire.  The first time anyone was under the anointing of the Spirit he usually had a vision of hell.  He was bound in chains by demons and taken through a region of darkness.  Some children could hear demons all about them in this region.

The children saw not only darkness in hell, but also the lake of fire which was always approached through a region of stygian darkness.  In vision they were led to the edge of a great lake of molten fire in a semi-dark pit from which arose clouds of smoke.  When the smoke settled low, the fire in the lake was less distinct.  When the smoke lifted a little, the burning lake with red and greenish flames and its inmates could be distinctly seen.

The lost were seen going into hell.  Some fell in, some walked over the brink, and some were bound by demon chains and cast into hell by demons.  One boy saw groups of the wicked bound in bundles, ready to be cast into this furnace of fire.

When the fire abated and the smoke settled down the moans of the miserable could be heard.  When the fire at intervals increased in intensity and the smoke lifted a little there were shrieks and wails of agony.

In the lake of fire were oceans of hands reaching up for help.  Those below pled with those looking in upon them to come to their rescue.  We could hear the children talking to them just as you can hear someone talking over the telephone and get but one side of the conversation.[16]

More recently and in separate experiences, Mary K. Baxter and Bill Wiese witnessed first-hand the horrors of hell when they were carried there in the spirit by the Lord.  In their books,[17] they describe in great detail the demons who run rough-shod over those who leave this world without knowing Christ and end up at their mercy in the Subterranean division of Satan’s kingdom—with both confirming that hell/Hades is real and a place to be avoided at all costs!

 

Francesca Battestelli reminds us that when God is on our side, any giants we face will fall…

 

[1] Reconnoiter. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/reconnoiter (accessed: September 28, 2017).

[2] C. Peter Wagner, Breaking Strongholds in Your City (Ventura, California: Regal Books, 1993), 32.

[3] Wagner, Breaking Strongholds in Your City, 49.

[4]  celestial. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/celestial(accessed: November 6, 2017).

[5] Derek Prince, Spiritual Warfare (New Kensington, Pennsylvania: Whitaker House, 2001), 21-23.

[6] C. Peter Wagner, ed., Territorial Spirits (Chichester, England: Sovereign World, Ltd., 1991),61-62.

[7] Wagner, Territorial Spirits (Chichester, England: Sovereign World, Ltd., 1991), 62.

[8] The Bakers were the grandparents of Rolland Baker, who founded the IRIS Ministries in Mozambique with his wife, Heidi Baker.

[9] H.A. Baker, Visions Beyond the Vail (New Kensington, Pennsylvania: Whitaker House, 1973),82-83.

[10] Baker, Visions Beyond the Vail, 84.

[11] subterranean. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/subterranean (accessed: November 11, 2017).

[12] Erwin W. Lutzer, One Minute After You Die (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1997), 32.

[13] Lutzer, One Minute After You Die, 33-34.

[14] Lutzer, One Minute After You Die, 37-40.

[15] Lutzer, One Minute After You Die, 41.

[16] Baker, Visions Beyond the Vail, 87-89.

[17] Mary K. Baxter, A Divine Revelation of Hell (New Kensington, Pennsylvania: Whitaker House, 1997), and Bill Wiese, 23 Minutes in Hell (Lake Mary, Florida: Charisma House, 2006).