Israel: One of the Seers of the Bible

Seers of the Bible: Preface

Seers are individuals who receive spiritual revelation through sight. Another way to think about it is this: they perceive information from the spirit realm visually. These individuals may be godly, holy and upstanding people, or they may be creeps. They may be adults or they may be little children.

The Bible is full of people who received spiritual revelation visually: men and women; adults and children; mature and immature; Godly and godless. The supernatural encounters of the biblical record should be instructive to us in our day: we live in world not constrained by natural laws but by supernatural encounters that are hard to quantify.

Those who can see into the spirit realm – young or old, godly or godless – fit right in to reality as described from the biblical paradigm, but they don’t always fit in to the modern or postmodern paradigm of Western Civilization. Hence the everyday tension for those who come searching to this site for answers about seeing into the spirit realm.

This series looks at various people in the Bible who received spiritual information visually: The Seers of the Bible.

Jacob the Cheat

Genesis Chapter 25 describes the birth of Abraham’s grandkids, Esau and Jacob, two brothers who strove with each other from the womb.  These brothers provide a picture of the future nations of Israel and Judah (two nations that, centuries later, descended from Abraham), and ultimately they reconciled.

But early on, Jacob was pegged as a cheater: in fact, the name “Jacob” actually means cheater, and he lived a life fulfilling his identity as a cheater, until in chapter 32 God changed his identity to Israel, “He will rule as God.”

Sidebar: Ruling as God

Let’s take a moment to think about the identity of Israel (please don’t confuse this with the modern nation of Israel. On this site, I never mean the modern nation state when I refer to Israel). The word “israel” means, “he will rule as God.” In the beginning of Genesis (a book about God starting to form the identity of Israel), God created humans to rule and reign on the planet as God would rule and reign; to be regents on the earth, God’s representatives, stewards.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

And God blessed them.

And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Gen 1:26-28

God’s desire was for his image to fill the earth and he delegated that mission to humans, his earthly imagers.  Their headquarters was the Garden of Eden, and their commission was to go into the chaotic earth and bringing God’s rule and reign there, as it was in Eden, which is where heaven and earth co-existed. Eden was God’s home on the earth.

You were in Eden, the garden of God… I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; Ezekiel 28: 13,14

Humans failed in this stewardship almost immediately, forgetting or choosing to rebel against their identity as “like God” and “the imagers of God.” 1

So, from the beginning, humans were supposed to live the identity “he/she will rule as God.” Having failed that, God chose Abraham, through whom God birthed a new nation to rule as God would, to demonstrate to the other nations what God looked like and how God would rule. The Old Testament chronicles the other gods and their nations waging war against God and his nation Israel, and ultimately that nation’s failure to fulfill their identity.  This summary, then, sets the backdrop for Jacob later being figuratively reborn as Israel in Chapter 32.

He literally wrestled with God all night, and wouldn’t let God go until God changed him.

The Cheat’s Dream: Israel’s Ladder

Long before Jacob’s rechristening as Israel, Jacob was on a journey, and camped out for the night on a mountain.

He dreamed. In his dream, he visually encountered spiritual revelation.

Some seers don’t see in their waking state; instead they see the spirit realm in their dreams.

Jacob's Ladder.005Jacob dreamed of heaven opening in the sky and a great ladder leading up to it, connecting heaven and earth.

And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it!

And behold, the LORD stood above it.. Genesis 28:12-13

The ladder is best understood as a stairway into heaven, with Yahweh, the God Jacob's Ladder.011of Abraham, sitting on top of it. God gives Jacob a prophetic promise during this dream. When Jacob woke in the morning, and said, “Surely God is in the place, and I did not know it.”  He renamed that place Bethel: House of God.

Eventually, Israel’s descendants became the ancient nation of Israel, and God called them to live,  rule and reign as he would on the earth.

Interestingly, all through Israel’s history, Bethel was known as the place prophets and seers could go to receive revelation from God. It was considered the stairway to heaven, the house of God where angels were ascending and descending from the throne of God.

Temples and the Stairway to Heaven

Jacob's Ladder.010This spiritual image of a stairway connecting heaven to earth is physically modeled in ancient temples.

Typically, temples of ancient religions were designed to mimic a mountain, with a stairway leading to the top, which is where the gods of that particular nation or religion lived, in the “holy of holies.”  That sanctuary was sacred and unattainable to normal humans, as the tops of mountains were unreachable, and thought to be where the gods lived.  The “holy of holies” was the god’s home on the earth, where heaven and earth intersected. Generally, only the high priests could enter in.

Jacob’s dream, then, suggested that God’s home on earth was spiritually at Bethel, and that location remained sacred for God’s prophets. Eventually, a school of prophets was built there.

The New Israel and His Ladder

After Israel failed to demonstrate how God would rule and reign on the planet, God determined to demonstrate how this would work in person: through Jesus Christ. When Jesus launched his ministry at around the age of 30, he made a stunning declaration. He declared that the House of God and Stairway to Heaven was no longer at Bethel on the mountain: Bethel was actually on him.

And he said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man. John 1:51

So wherever Jesus walked, the stairway connecting heaven and earth went with him.  The implication went further: Jesus embodied the House of God on earth. He was where heaven and earth intersected.

The New Testament writers went to great lengths to declare that, since God had divorced the nation of Israel centuries earlier through the prophet Jeremiah, the true Israel had arrived in the person of Jesus.  In short, the nation of Israel wasn’t the true Israel: Jesus was the true Israel.

The author of the opening book of the New Testament (Matthew) cleverly but clearly laid out to his audience that Jesus was the true Israel. Note just a few parallels between the birth and maturation of Israel and the birth and maturation of Jesus.

Israel as the Israel of God

  • Sarah couldn’t physically have a child (Sarah had passed through menopause)
  • A man  named Jacob had a son named Joseph.
  • Joseph has a dream that takes him to Egypt, where Israel grow.
  • God calls Israel his Son and leads him back from Egypt.
  • Israel was baptized and wandered in the desert for forty years.
  • In the wilderness, God gives Israel the Law on the mountain, culminating in Moses giving Israel the Book of the Law, Deuteronomy.
  • Israel then invades the land.

Jesus as the Israel of God

  • Mary couldn’t physically have a child (she was a virgin).
  • A man named Jacob had a son named Joseph.
  • Joseph had a dream that takes him to Egypt, where Jesus grows.
  • God calls Jesus his Son and leads him back from Egypt.
  • Jesus was baptized and wandered in the wilderness for forty days.
  • In the wilderness experience, Jesus defeats the devil by quoting from Deuteronomy. At the end of the wilderness experience, Jesus expounds on the correct interpretation of the Law in the Sermon on the Mount.
  • Jesus then invades the land.

The parallels continue through the book of Matthew and the history of Israel. As Israel was supposed to embody the rule and reign of God but failed, Jesus would embody the rule and reign of God… and succeed. He would live with an open heaven over him. He was the House of God on the earth. He was the true Israel of God.

Angels Winds and Flaming Fire

Jesus made many more stunning declarations later in his ministry. He made it clear that the true Israel of God included those who had faith in God, rather than those who had the proper genetic lineage. 2

He replaced the old covenant with a new one, which also would be entered in by faith, and said he’d ascend to heaven, and when those who believed and were filled with the Holy Spirit,  then they would be in Him and He would be in them. As in the Old Testament, the true Israel would be those who lived in faith (because by faith, they’d be in Jesus Christ) but because the covenant had changed, something far better would happen through faith.

In fact, God would live in them: they’d become the House of God on the earth, with an open heaven and a stairway connecting heaven to earth, and they could rule as God. When people saw them, they could see how God looked on the earth. The ancient destiny of humanity as created in the Garden would finally be realized!

If Jesus is the True Israel, then let me say it this way; by faith, Jesus’ followers would be in Israel and Israel would be in them, and they’d live as the true Israel. They’d fulfill the identity of Israel as conceived by God in the beginning.

We see this actually happening when Jesus’ disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit in Acts 2.  When that happened, can you think of the evidence that angels began ascending and descending on them? Recall that Psalms and Hebrews declares:

He makes his angels winds, his ministers [angels] a flaming fire. Psalms 104:4, quoted in Hebrews 1:7

Read what happened:

And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.

Heaven was opened to them, and angels were ascending and descending on them.

Israel Today: Filling the Earth

Jesus still reigns today, and his rule and reign is expanding on the earth through his Body as his Body expands.  And guess what: angels are ascending and descending on believers.

Seers sometimes see them and can sometimes feel the winds, and even non-seers can learn to pick up on their presences.

If you are in Christ by faith, this means you.  Heaven and earth intersect where you are and you are the House of God on the earth, and you can rule and reign as God on the earth.

Reread the dream that a seer named Jacob had and fathom his reaction to it. Then begin to understand what that means for you.

And spread the good news: God is really good and wants to fill the earth with his image, rule and reign. Start living like it.

 

Notes:

  1. Eve forgot the God made her like God, thinking she had to do something (eat the fruit) to be like God, but Adam wasn’t deceived and chose to rebel against this identity, to attempt to become something more than what God made him.
  2. Matthew 3, John 8

Comments

  1. and yet God is still fulfilling His promises to Abraham in a remnant of the physical descendants as the time of the grafted in gentiles comes to an end and Jews begin to carry the torch.

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