by William J. Stewart
The existence of a spirit realm and activity in that realm is mentioned throughout the Bible. In fact, there are a number of texts that seem to indicate the Lord gave angels a measure of responsibility over the nations. Deuteronomy 32:8 from the LXX reads:
When the Most High divided the nations, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God.
Job 1:6 speaks of a day on which “the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD…” (cf. Job 2:1). This does not appear to be a worship assembly, but rather angelic beings presenting themselves to the LORD. Psalm 82 pictures the same kind of scene, as the Lord (who will inherit all nations, v 8), stands judging “the gods” for their failures among the nations (v 1-5). His proclamation against them was:
You are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High. But you shall die like men, and fall lie one of the princes. (Psalm 82:6-7).
Daniel 10 records a vision of Daniel. An individual (the Lord?, Daniel 10:5-6; cf. Revelation 1:14-15) appears to the prophet and speaks of fighting with the “prince of Persia” (10:13, 20), mentions the coming of the “prince of Greece” (10:20), and of one of the chief princes, “Michael, your prince” (10:13, 21) who was a help to the One who spoke to Daniel. The prophet didn’t receive a vision about physical battles that were going on, but about spiritual activities, things that were going on behind the scenes in the spirit realm. These princes were not temporal royals, but angelic beings associated with these respective nations. Michael, the archangel (Jude 1:9; Revelation 12:7), was responsible for Israel in the spirit realm (Daniel 12:1).
Psalm 2:8 promises the Messiah,
I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession.
A time would come when these spiritual princes would be removed from their role over the nations, for all the nations would be given to the Messiah. So, when would that happen? In Luke 4:5-7, the devil, knowing the promise of Psalm 2, claimed authority over the nations and offered their glory to the Lord if He would worship him. Jesus refused and rebuked the devil (v 8). Incidentally, Satan does not have, nor has he ever had authority over the nations. He is a liar (John 8:44). He has certainly exercised influence on people (Ephesians 2:2), but influence is not possession.
Psalm 22, a Messianic psalm, says,
…the kingdom is the LORD’s, and He rules over the nations. (v 28)
Again, Psalm 67:4,
…You shall judge the people righteously, and govern the nations on earth.
And once more,
Say among the nations, the LORD reigns; the world also is firmly established, it shall not be moved; He shall judge the people righteously. (Psalm 96:10)
In Matthew 28:18-19, Jesus said,
All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…
After His resurrection, all the nations were given to the Lord. That is why the gospel went out to all, and not just the Jews. Paul speaks of this gathering of Jew and Gentile together in one body in this way:
…to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord… (Ephesians 3:10-11)
Who are the principalities and powers in the heavenly places? Might they be the spiritual beings who were charged with oversight of the nations before they were given to the Christ? In Romans 8:38, the same words are used in the immediate context of “angels.” 1 Peter 3:22 says these angels, authorities and powers have been made subject to the Christ.
So, what is the point? In this article, we simply want to acknowledge the existence of a spirit realm out there, a realm where angelic beings are active, and where their activities have in the past, and perhaps still today intertwine with this physical world.
In our next article, we will look at some examples in the Bible of the spiritual realm interacting with the physical realm, and consider whether such still occurs today or not.