The Unseen Realm Part 1

There are three parts to this first talk on my new series called: If God is For Us, Who Can Be Against Us? The first session of this series is called The Unseen Realm. The notes are free and in the middle column under the heading of this same series. The other two parts of this talk can be found below. I start this talk with an illustration from my early days as a commercial fisherman when I caught an unexploded mine in my nets.

The Unseen Realm Part 2

This video is the second part of my message on the Unseen Realm, the first session of my topic on If God Is For Us, Who Can Be Against Us? We talk about what Paul wrote about being taken to the third heaven. If there is a third heaven, where are the first and second heavens? What happens in the Unseen Realm? Why should we understand what happens in that realm?

The Unseen Realm, Part 3

There are three parts to my talk on the Unseen Realm. This third part begins with the story of an unseen angel that stood to confront Balaam. The angel was seen by the donkey that Balaam was riding on, but beyond the senses of the prophet who was filled with greed. You may want to see Parts 1 and 2 before listening to this third part.

Unseen Things Can Be Dangerous

Alaska. Southeast. Commercial salmon seiner fishing boat with a net.

The worst thing possible to happen to a fisherman is to have an unexploded mine in the net.

When I glanced down at the water rushing past my fishing trawler in the wrong direction, I knew something was wrong. The net my father and I were towing along the bottom of the seabed was caught on something heavy. We put our winches in gear and slowly pulled the boat back against the tide, toward the object that was stuck in our net. Inch by inch, we heaved the net, while our two-ton winch strained at the weight. Our fishing boat, the Why Worry, heavily leaned as she creaked and groaned, the derrick and mast taking the strain. When the net had been pulled to the surface, we found nestling squarely in the Cod End, the largest of the Second World War German magnetic mines. A whopping 12-foot-long mine still in pristine condition, with 1,500 pounds of high explosives. Designed to blow ships completely in half, it was now swinging inches above our deck as the waves made us roll. With a heavy clunk, we rested the mine on deck. Made of stainless steel, it looked as though it had just been placed on the bottom of the seabed. It had been buried beneath the mud in a very familiar piece of fishing ground, a place we had fished over and over again. The chains at the front of the net must have just caught it perfectly. Once we cut the mine from our net, we had to get it over the side again without incident. A delicate task, considering that it was still in such good condition, and was possible that it could still explode. Fishermen had heard of such things happening, boats just disappearing, not accounted for. With the whole boat leaning, we gently lowered it back into the sea and carefully cut through the rope strop, releasing it from our boat. Then, to our amazement, the mine stood up in the water, the top part of it still showing! We had not realized how shallow the water was and how little water was under our boat. We called the Coastguard to come and detonate the mine, so that it would not be a danger to any other boats. On the next high tide, they tied it to a long rope, towed it out to deeper water, and blew it up.

Seeing Beyond the Physical Realm

Like trawling a net in waters where two world wars have been fought, there are some things in life that can be unseen, but deadly. Just because you may be unaware of something dangerous, it doesn’t mean it cannot affect you. Electricity in a light plug is unseen, but stick your finger in a live socket, and you will soon realize there are powerful things that are unseen, but dangerous. Natural gas is odorless, but if there is a lot in your house, it can totally destroy your home. So, gas companies added a horrible smell, meaning if we have a leak, we’ll smell it. The unexploded mine shed light on the truth: even though we had gone over that familiar fishing ground again and again without mishap; there are some things in life that cannot be seen, but still affect our lives in ways we don’t realize.

The Bible is very clear that there is more to this world than can be seen with the naked eye. There is a spiritual realm that is just as real as the world we live in; I believe it to be more real than what is seen. This world is temporary and passing, a shadow of things to come. There are things unseen that are happening around us all the time, which are of a spiritual nature, and have eternal value.

Horses and Chariots of Fire

In the Old Testament book of 2 Kings, there is a story of a king reigning in Aram, who was angry because his actions and intentions were somehow being made known to the armies of Israel. He could not understand how Israel knew everything he was plotting, he believed he had a spy amongst his leaders (2 Kings 6:8-10). His problem was that Israel had a man of God, Elisha, who by the Spirit of God, knew the very words the King of Aram spoke in secret to his generals (2 Kings 6:11-12). God was revealing these things to Elisha, who was very aware of the unseen realms, and had an intimate and powerful prayer life. When the King of Aram discovered Elisha’s gift, he became so enraged, that he sent his army to the town where Elisha lived, hoping to kill or capture him: Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city. When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, “Strike these people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked (2 Kings 6:14-18). When Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, looked at the size of the army of Aram, he began to lose heart. Things looked hopeless when seen only from an earthly perspective. But all was not as it seemed. There were spiritual forces of God around Elisha and Gehazi, so Elisha prayed for his servant’s eyes to be opened toward the unseen spiritual realm around them.

At the prayer of Elisha, Gehazi saw beyond the physical world and into the reality of the spiritual forces of God that were previously hidden from him. These angelic beings of God, that were much more powerful than the army of Aram. He saw the armies of heaven protecting and surrounding the prophet of God, available to serve him in whatever way the prophet prayed. The enemies of Israel were defeated with one display of God’s power at the prayer of Elisha. We too, as servants of the Living God, have angelic hosts that protect us. “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?”(Hebrews 1:14). How much do we use or value heavenly help when we are in need? The Bible is very clear that angels are sent by God to serve us, even before we come to faith in Christ, and of course, afterward too. However, we do not reach out to angels in prayer for help; instead, our prayer is directed to the Father in whom we place our trust. Angelic beings take their direction and orders from the Father. It is faith that connects us to this unseen realm, just as it is faith that opened the servant’s eyes, and faith that caused Elisha to reach out to God in prayer. Many Christians are just like Elisha’s servant, unaware of God’s power and supernatural resources. A majority of Christians have no room for the supernatural; for the most part, they are oblivious to angelic beings and demonic spirits. How many times do we miss seeing God’s power displayed and Satan’s kingdom displaced because we don’t reach out to God in prayer or believe in Him for divine resources and intervention?

A simple prayer for you:

“Father, I pray that I may have greater awareness of what you are doing on Earth. Let the way I view the world be according to the lens of Your Word, and don’t let me be influenced by unseen evil forces that seek my fall. Let Your Kingdom come on Earth as it is in heaven. Amen.”

Keith Thomas

Unconditional Surrender is What is Needed

images31“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:31-33).

Many people are fighting a war of resistance against the kingdom of God. They are attracted to the Lord Jesus and His call on their lives, but there is something within them that wants to keep distance between them and God. Many are afraid of the changes that becoming a Christian will cause. Yes, there will be changes in your life when you surrender to the King of Kings. But what is the alternative? Do you wish for your life to continue the way it has been? It is time to sit down and think through your options. There is only one option. The option of surrender! How long are you going to keep fighting against King Jesus? What are the terms of surrender that He asks? An unconditional surrender is what is needed! You must give up everything you have to Him to be all that you can be in Christ. Only when you surrender completely all that you are and all that you have can He begin to work in your life to transform you into His image.

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).

During the latter stages of the Second World War, a Japanese soldier was told by his commander to fight a guerilla campaign against American forces on the island of Lubang in the Philippines? His name was Hiroo Onoda and his commander’s strict orders was that he was forbidden to die by his own hand and they were to continue the fight until Japanese forces were to come back for him. When the island fell to the Americans, he kept to his orders and carried on fighting with three other soldiers. They survived by eating coconuts and green bananas that grew naturally in the jungle.

Occasionally they would come out of hiding, killing one of the local villager’s cows for meat. It was at one such time that they found a note left by a local resident, appealing them to come and surrender for the war had come to an end two years ago. The soldiers took it to be a clever propaganda trick to draw them out of the jungle to capture them. They received the truth that the world was at peace with mistrust and unbelief. They carried on killing and wounding the islanders whom they saw as the enemy. In September of 1949, four years after the war had finished, one of the soldiers, without a word to the others, sneaked off during the night and surrendered. The remaining three felt that he was weak willed and coerced by the ‘enemy.’ They continued their guerrilla attacks for another three years until Corporal Shimada was shot in the leg during a shootout with some fishermen. He died at the age of 40 years old. For nineteen years Onoda and the remaining other soldier, Kozuka, carried on the fight, refusing to surrender. They felt that the Japanese Army would return as they had been promised and recapture the island. Nineteen years after the death of Shimada, in October of 1972, 51 year old Kozuka was killed by a Filipino police patrol, ending his guerrilla war of 27 years. Lieutenant Onoda carried on the fight on his own, refusing every bit of information that came his way that the war was over and that he should surrender. The Japanese authorities sent out search parties but he evaded them all. In 1974, Norio Suzuki, a Japanese college student, managed to track him down. Still Onoda would not surrender, explaining that he would only surrender to his old commander, Major Taniguchi, who had given him orders to fight on and never surrender. Major Taniguchi himself went to Penang and told him that Japan had surrendered many years previously and that it was futile to carry on fighting. When the reality of the truth sunk home that peace had come and that he had been deceived into fighting a war that was over, he broke down weeping. He formally surrendered to Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos in 1974. He was pardoned for the crimes he had committed under the false belief that the war was still being fought and that he should never surrender. He returned to Japan to receive a hero’s welcome. His memoirs were entitled, “No Surrender: My Thirty Year War.”

Lieutenant Onoda fought gallantly but for a misplaced cause. In his 30-year war, he killed 30 individuals and wounded over a hundred people. If only he would have listened. If only his countrymen from Japan would have gone earlier to find him, so many families would not have been in mourning. Much pain was endured because He did not surrender. How about you? How much pain has been endured in your family because you have been unwilling to surrender to Christ? Can you hear the call to surrender? If so, today is your day to surrender fully to His grace.

Keith Thomas