The early Christians were sensitive to the voice of God. Ananias, who prayed for the newly converted Saul of Tarsus, was told by the Spirit where to find Saul, what to say to him, and why it was important for him to do so (Acts 9:10-18). Sometimes followers of Christ are misled to believe that they need to “learn” how to hear the voice of God. There is no example of this need anywhere in Scripture. But there are, however, injunctions to seek the Lord (Deut. 4:29; 1Chron. 16:11; Ps. 34:10; 105:3-4; Isa. 51:1; 55:6; Matt. 6:33; 7:7).
It was John Calvin who wrote in his commentary on Ephesians that the reasons believers today do not experience the divinely supernatural, as it seems the early Christians did, was the lack of desire. This is what I now want to both remind you of and encourage you to do: seek God. Seek Him. Be open to Him. Pray that you might pray effectively. Ask God to confirm His Word in the hearts of those who need a supernatural encounter with God that might lead to their conversion. And then, be still (Ps. 46:10).
My Great Grandmother was one of eleven children. My mother was one of six children. After the financial devastation of the Great Depression, my mother and my aunts and uncles moved to Bunyip, a small town in Gippsland Victoria, where my Grandparents started over – again, farming sheep, dairy cows, and crops. In the early 1900s in rural Australia it made sense to have a big family because farming was so labour intensive and every farmer depended upon their children to help out on the farm. Today, families of six or more children is far less common. In fact, some couples are now getting married with the intention of having just one child, and even some are telling me that they do not intend to have any children. I wonder what this apparent trend might do to our culture? I wonder whether some of the problems that beset young men who struggle to interact in a wholesome way with young ladies might be due to their lack of growing up with a sister or sisters? While sociologists who study the effect of family compositions on societies examine some of these dynamics and how they maybe contributing to the “me generation”, I think there is also something deeply spiritual and theological to consider as well.
When the Evil One entered the Garden of Eden, he did not try to directly corrupt the man. He went straight to the one upon whom the entire divine plan for mankind depended – the woman. But God immediately instigated His plan of redemption and put women right in the centre of it! As you read through Scripture you will see this pattern – Satan attacks key women, God redeems these women and uses the attack against them as an opportunity to further His plan of redemption despite Satan’s attack against them! When Satan attacked Eve with his insidious deception, God redeemed this attack by announcing that He would send the Redeemer as “seed of the woman” (Gen. 3:15; Rom. 16:20). God ordained that a young woman named Tamar would be one of the women through whom the family line of the coming Redeemer would come. When Satan had orchestrated Tamar’s husband, Er, to be sexually deviant so that this would not happen (Gen. 38:7), God orchestrated for His plan of redemption to be furthered through Tamar and her link to the tribe of Judah anyway (Matt. 1:3). When a young chosen girl, Rahab, was chosen by God to be in the family-line of the Messiah-Redeemer, she too was attacked by Satan at a very young age. She was robbed of her of dignity and purity and against all hope doomed to be childless. But God chose to rescue her out of these wicked schemes of Satan and the men Satan had manipulated to abuse her. God orchestrated a dramatic military rescue plan and brought her into the family of God as the wife of a godly Hebrew man, Boaz, and she was able to become the Great-Grandmother of King David and thereby continue the family-line of the coming Redeemer (Matt. 1:5a). Her only child, Boaz, her son, reached his senior years and had not yet married. Satan had made life difficult for Boaz and his countrymen by orchestrating a drought and a famine. Satan’s scheme looked like it would bring God’s plan of redemption to a halt. But God once again used Satan’s attack and sovereignly orchestrated it as a means to redeem both Boaz and a young Moabite girl, Ruth (Matt. 1:5b) through whom He ensured that the family-line of the Redeemer remained unbroken. And when David corrupted the heart of the LORD’s favourite servants with lust for an already married woman, God eventually orchestrated for her who had been the wife of Uriah to be the chosen woman in the line of the coming Redeemer (Matt. 1:7).
It seems that before God created mankind, He had created a heavenly family composed of powerful, intelligent, volitional (able to make decisions and act upon them) created beings. We get a later glimpse of the vast numbers of created heavenly beings who fill the Third Heaven of God’s realm in Revelation 5:11-
¶ Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands
We get another glimpse of a scene of the highest heaven, in Isaiah 6, where Isaiah the prophet is shown God on His throne surrounded by magnificent heavenly creatures who serve Yahweh as heaven‘s worship leaders whose presence invoke great awe of God.
¶ In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above Him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” ¶ And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.
But it seems that God also created a special category of heavenly beings who would watch over (they were called “watchers” Daniel 4:13) and guide the future creation of mankind on earth. These incredibly powerful creatures were given appropriate abilities to be able to interact with mankind. They appear to have been trans-dimensional — that is, they could appear in physical form in this dimension in which we exist, and they could translate back into the second heaven (and originally they could each also translate into the Third Heaven to appear before God as alluded to in Job 1). It seems that Yahweh entrusted to each of these Watchers, also referred to as “the holy ones” and “the sons of God” (Deut. 32:8) and as “Elohim” (Psalm 82:6-7), authority over a nation each, and the right to decree certain governmental decisions…
When Paul said that “we wrestle” against “cosmic powers” that were not “flesh and blood”, what was really saying? In the previous verse, Ephesians 6:11, he describes these forces as being a part of the “schemes of the devil”. It seems that Paul had a very keen sense of the demonic real that was at work in attempting to hinder, destroy, and distort the work of the Kingdom of God on earth. He wrote to the Corinthians and told them that they were not “not ignorant of his (Satan’s) schemes” (2Cor. 2:11). He told the Thessalonians that he was hindered by Satan from coming to them earlier (1Thess. 2:18). And while there are a few other references in Paul’s epistles to Satan, it is perhaps surprising just how little attention the New Testament pays to the topic of Satan. But based on what Paul told us about Satan, it appears that the devilish work of Satan is still in operation, and if my reading of Revelation 20 is correct, there are good reasons for thinking that this might get worse in the days to come.