Michael Heiser’s– Unseen Realm– Part Eight

Heiser

BEN: Let’s talk about the baptism scene of Jesus in Mark 1 for a moment and about Israel in the NT. I was surprised that you simply followed R. Watts take that what was going on there as the new Exodus and you say nothing about the use of apocalyptic language to describe the scene. For instance, it’s the sky which cracks, not the water, and not even while Jesus is under the water, but when he’s coming out of it, and only then does he see the Spirit and hear the heavenly voice which identifies him not as the new Moses, but rather as God’s beloved Messianic Son. In fact the ‘beloved Son’ language was used previously of Solomon, as you point out. This is an apocalyptic portrayal of a vision Jesus had at his baptism, and it had nothing to do with the Exodus. It also has nothing to do with Jesus becoming Israel— he came to free Israel, not be Israel, and the Twelve have the same mission— the Good News is for the Jew first, and then the Gentiles. Rom. 9-11 uses the term Israel to refer to ethnic Jews, indeed mainly ethnic Jews who have been temporarily, but only temporarily broken off from the people of God, but when the Redeemer comes forth from heavenly Zion he will turn away the impiety of Jacob (which never means the church), and at that juncture, at the second coming ‘all Israel will be saved’. In short, Paul holds out a future for Israel just as Jesus does. In fact the end of Rom. 11 says that God broke off unbelieving Israel so he could graft them back into the people of God on the same basis as the full number of Gentiles— namely by grace through faith in the Jewish messiah— Jesus, at his return. Paul never calls the church Israel. The church is Jew and Gentile united in Christ…. but is clearly an already and not yet entity in light of Rom. 11. Comments?

MIKE: You wrote “I was surprised that you simply followed R. Watts take that what was going on there as the new Exodus and you say nothing about the use of apocalyptic language to describe the scene. “ The short answer is that you can’t discuss everything. I’m not kidding when, on the companion website, I say I have at least one and perhaps two follow-up books to Unseen Realm in me. See:

What’s Next?

So, in short, I have no qualm with the apocalyptic motifs. They are indeed obvious (and chaos metaphors like control over / splitting the waters are inherently part of apocalypticism since chaos needs to be dealt with in finality). It’s just material for another time.

On the “all Israel” thing, I think you need to reconsider being too categorical. As Staples and others have noted, Paul quotes certain OT passages in such a way that “not my people” (Gentiles) get redefined as “my people” (Israel). Perhaps you can review Staples’ work. I’d love to see it.