I have been reading a variety of books lately that are research done by various people (notably, Dr M. Heiser; Derek and Sharon Gilbert; Josh Peck; Dr. Michael Lake), into aspects of Biblical world view and what the people in ancient times understood about the relationship between the unseen, spiritual world and the seen, physical world. The ancient world was aware of ‘territory’, especially when it came to the gods the people of the world venerated and worshiped.
Each god had a ‘home territory’, so when a person traveled to a different place, they would take their god with them, usually in the form of an idol, (for protection and all the other benefits this god supposedly supplied in return for the worship of the individual), but they would also give gifts, acknowledge, appease, etc. the god of the territory they were entering. Large trading hubs had many people from various places, all with their own gods, and often provided areas for those gods to be represented. Petra is one such example, where there are niches for depictions of a multitude of gods.
Before I go on, lets look at what we understand today about other countries being represented in foreign lands/territories. I have included a few descriptions below.
What is an Embassy
An embassy is the base for a country’s diplomatic mission abroad – meaning all of the political, cultural and social relationships between the states. There will only be one embassy for one nation in another country, as it is where the country’s ambassador works (and sometimes resides).
The embassy itself belongs to the country it represents. Representatives of the host country cannot enter an embassy without permission — even to put out a fire — and an attack on an embassy is considered an attack on the country it represents.
When we read the Bible, it is clear the idea of territorial space for a foreign representative within the territory of another was clearly understood. They were way more literal than we are; they took actual dirt from their home with them, so they carried their god’s territory with them. Maybe it is the same idea that the Muslims’ employ with their prayer mat. They carry it wherever they go and put it down over the ground wherever they are, and they can sit, kneel and stand on Allah’s’ territory to worship him.
So, the idea of an embassy, sovereign territorial space within the host territory, has been around since humankind was split up into nations with their own sovereign, designated territories; and began traveling and trading between each other.
The Birth of Nations
God divided the people into nations at the time of the Tower of Babel incident (Genesis 11:1-9), so we read:
8 So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused[a] the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.
- Genesis 11:9 Babel sounds like the Hebrew for confused
Moses writes about this time in Deuteronomy 32:8
8 When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders[a] of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.[b]
- Deuteronomy 32:8 Or territories
- Deuteronomy 32:8 Compare Dead Sea Scroll, Septuagint; Masoretic Text sons of Israel
Who are the ‘sons of God’ that God divided the people according to their number? The dead sea scrolls are the oldest version of scripture yet to be found and the writing ‘sons of God’ is far more accurate, as, obviously Israel did not exist at that time. God after He divided the nations, went and chose Abram to make out of him and his descendants, a nation for Himself.
But the Lord’s portion is His people, Jacob His allotted heritage.
God judges the gods
Later in Psalm 82 we read of God judging the gods/ the divine council, that He had put in charge of the nations (each had a nation) to bring the people to God, to rule them justly.
God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
2 “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah
3 Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
4 Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
5 They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
6 I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you;
7 nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.”
8 Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit all the nations!
This is clearly expounded in the book ‘The Unseen Realm’ by Dr. M. Heiser
Divine Council members became the gods
Which means these divine council members became the gods that the people worshiped and feared. Feared, because they did abuse the people they were given by God, to take care of, and teach the ways of God. They judged unjustly and showed partiality to the wicked. Verses 3 and 4 tell the details of what they did not do and verse 5 indicates they did not teach the people the light of God’s knowledge and understanding.
Each of these gods had their own territory as allotted by God to their people group; but they fought with each other to expand their territory and take over the others’ people group for themselves. Basically, all the legends of gods warring with each other and stealing from each other, mating with humans (Genesis 6), etc. are records of some of these exploits. You see similar legends, just with the names changed, in Egypt, Greece, Rome, Middle East, Europe, The Americas (N&S), Pacific Islands, China, India. In fact, every culture has their own telling of the story.
Back to Spiritual Embassies.
As I was reading and looking back in the Bible, I came across the story of Naaman in 2 Kings 5:1-19.
5 Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper.[a] 2 Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”
9So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” 11 But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. 12 Are not Abana[c] and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. 13 But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.15 Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him. And he said, “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel; so accept now a present from your servant.” 16 But he said, “As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none.” And he urged him to take it, but he refused. 17 Then Naaman said, “If not, please let there be given to your servant two mule loads of earth, for from now on your servant will not offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god but the Lord. 18 In this matter may the Lord pardon your servant: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, leaning on my arm, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon your servant in this matter.” 19 He said to him, “Go in peace.”
- 2 Kings 5:1 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13
- 2 Kings 5:5 A talent was about 75 pounds or 34 kilograms; a shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams
- 2 Kings 5:12 Or Amana
Dirt from the territory
Now focus on verse 17
Then Naaman said, “If not, please let there be given to your servant two mule loads of earth, for from now on your servant will not offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god but the Lord.
Naaman asked for DIRT to take back with him to Syria. I never understood this weird thing, who wants so much dirt (2 donkey loads), when there is plenty of dirt back in Syria. Look at why he wanted it; so he could set up a place that was God’s territory/dirt on which he could stand and worship the one true God. This guy set up a spiritual embassy/ Gods territory in Syria.
What about us Today?
What about us today? Each of us, when we have come to the messiah Yeshua, have confessed our sin, repented from our sin and believed in Him and His payment for our sin; we now have His life in us. We are God’s territory; so, wherever we walk in this world we are His Spiritual Embassy, His living Temple, representing and presenting the one true God to all the nations around us.
I exhort you
Sovereign Territory of God Most High; be Bold, be Strong for the Lord your God is with you. Go walk the land where you reside and “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Teach God’s knowledge and understanding so the light of God’s word shines ever brighter. Be aware that these gods of old are still warring with each other and the servants of the Most High God, but they are already judged by God and have lost the war. Listen to Holy Spirit who lives in you and as He leads you; go do battle with them in the strength of the Lord who won the war, and help set the god’s abused prisoners free. You can not do it in your own strength.
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness (mercy) and to walk humbly with your God?
7 August 2020
Scripture quotes are from the ESV
For those interested in aspects of Biblical world view: References
The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible. Dr. Michael S. Heiser (Bellingham,WA: Lexham Press, 2015)
Reversing Hermon. Dr. Michael S. Heiser (Cane, MO: Defender Publishing 2017)
Veneration. Sharon K. Gilbert and Derek P. Gilbert (Cane, MO: Defender Publishing 2019)
Bad Moon Rising. Derek P. Gilbert (Cane, MO: Defender Publishing 2019)
Last Clash of the Titans. Derek P. Gilbert (Cane, MO: Defender Publishing 2018)
The Day the Earth Stands Still. Derek P. Gilbert & Josh Peck (Cane, MO: Defender Publishing 2017)
The Shinar Directive. Dr. Michael Lake (Cane, MO: Defender Publishing 2014)
The Sheeriyth Imperative. Dr. Michael Lake (Cane, MO: Defender Publishing 2016)