Understanding the truth of the Spiritual World
The battle for men’s souls began in the Garden of Eden: “her Seed shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15; Revelation 12:9). Here we first met the Spirit of the Antichrist, who is Satan, the “lawless one,” who spoke to Eve, saying, “did God really say that you shall not eat from any tree of the garden?” (Genesis 3:1)
The spiritual world is invisible, and the battle in the spiritual world can only be understood in the Bible. We cannot refer to folklore or legends. In the fourth century, the Catholic Church created all kinds of tales about the existence of thousands of Archangels, and Mary in heaven interceding for men. All of these stories are entirely fictional.
We must carefully study the Bible to understand the truth about the spiritual world. The descriptions of Spirits and Angels in the Bible explain the relationships of God, Christ, and Satan. We cannot even begin to understand how the Spirit of Christ was manifest as the image of the invisible God, and as an Angel, and as the Son of Man, unless we properly understand the spiritual world. Otherwise, we will only have an understanding of Christ and God that is based on human imagination.
Here, in this first chapter, we will give a brief overview of the battle for men’s souls, in the spiritual world described by the Bible. We will also introduce the content of the next 32 chapters.
The Armies of Heaven
From Genesis 1:1 to 2:1, we find the account of all creation, which includes the creation of “the heavenly host,” the “ministering spirits.” Unfortunately, this creation also included Satan, the Spirit of the Antichrist, along with all the spirits who followed him. In Colossians 1:16, the Apostle Paul wrote: “all powers and principalities” were created “by” ἐν Christ.
When Paul said all things were created “by Christ,” he meant that “God” in Genesis 1:1 was Christ. The Apostle John brought us the same message, which we will explain in Chapter 3 (In the Beginning, God was the Word).
Paul clarified his statement in Colossians 1:16 to say that all things were created “through” διὰ Christ, as did John, in John 1:3, saying, “all things were made through δι’Him.”
The Spirit of Christ was “the only begotten God,” the Spirit God sent out in the beginning of creation, to act as His “Word” (His speaker), and His image. The expression “the Word,” found in John’s Gospel, was used extensively to describe the Spirit of Christ in the Jewish Targum. When John used the expression “the Word,” his Jewish readers understood his meaning precisely (see Chapter 2).
The Spirit of Christ was “the beginning of the creation of God” (Revelation 3:14).
The presence of Christ, as the speaker for God in creation, is most famously shown by the statement “Let Us make man in Our image,” in Genesis 1:26, which we discuss in Chapter 4.
In Genesis 2:1, we find the completion of God’s creation: “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their armies צְבָאָֽם׃.”
You may not recognize the word “armies” in your Bible, because most Bibles do not faithfully translate this word. However, this Hebrew word “tsaba” has no meaning other than “armies.” You can easily verify this for yourself, by looking at the online interlinear Bible. Translators have only changed the translation of this word when it is used to describe the “armies of heaven.”
In the Bible, there is a strong comparison of the “armies of heaven,” to the stars of heaven, as if the stars were actually spirits in the sky. We normally think of spirits as angels. Angels are just the visible form of spirits, which have no real visible form, and only appear to us as angels. The original meaning of the word Angel is “messenger.”
The first comparison of angels to stars was made in Deuteronomy 4:19 (and 17:3): “Take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the armies of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them.”
Here the stars are called the “armies of heaven.” Throughout the Bible, stars are metaphorical of angels or spirits (see Isaiah 14:13; Daniel 8:10; Revelation 1:16, 20; 2:26; 8:11 ,9:1; 12:1, 4; and 22:16.)
The Spirit of the Antichrist, Satan, was called the “star of the Morning,” the brightest of the stars.
But, Christ overcame Satan, “the Ruler of this World,” and then called Himself “the Bright Morning Star” in the second and last chapters of Revelation.
The Spirit of Christ was the “Captain of the Armies” of the Angels of Israel in the Old Testament (Joshua 5:14–15; Daniel 8:11). In the Old Testament, He was only “one of the chief Captains of the Angels” (Daniel 10:13, 21). The opposing Nations, like Greece and Persia, also had their “Captains of Angels” (Daniel 10:20). The most powerful of these opposing Angels was the “Ruler of the People to come” (Daniel 9:26), who was Satan.
After Christ was crucified, God made Him the Lord of heaven and earth. The Spirit of Christ became the Ruler of all the Angels, the Archangel (Daniel 8:10; 12:1), and Satan was cast down from heaven, as we read in Revelation 12:7–10.
The Bible is a story of the battle of the Spirit of Christ, and the Spirit of the Antichrist. This story begins in Genesis and ends in Revelation, when Christ finally declares Himself to be the Bright and Morning star, as the victor over Satan.
Many presume that a spirit is only some kind of a “force,” but in fact a spirit is a being.
A good passage to help us understand spirits is 1 Kings 22:19–23 (2 Chronicles 18:18–22):
Then Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw YHVH sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left. And YHVH said, ‘Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?’ So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, and said, ‘I will persuade him.’ YHVH said to him, ‘In what way?’ So he said, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’”
Here we can see the “host of heaven,” which is all the spirits or angels, and one of them says that he will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. From this, we understand that one spirit can be in many places: “in the mouth of all his prophets.” The Spirit of Christ was also in all the prophets, and spoke through them in the Old Testament (1 Peter 1:11). The Spirit of Christ was “the Word.” We can see an example of this in Numbers 11:25:
Then YHVH came down in the cloud, and spoke to him (Moses), and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and placed the same upon the seventy elders; and it happened, when the Spirit rested upon them, that they prophesied, although they never did so again.
From this verse, we can see that the same Spirit on Moses, was also on all the elders.
The Messenger of the Most High God
Satan wanted to exalt himself as high as God, and said in his heart, “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:14).
The Most High is “the invisible God.” He is “above the heights of the clouds.”
A famous 1 verse demonstrating the existence of the Most High God is Genesis 19:24:
Then YHVH rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah,
from YHVH out of the heavens.
The first YHVH in this verse is the ELOHIM who spoke with Abraham. The second YHVH is the invisible God in the heavens. It is most remarkable that the invisible God repeated this story from His own perspective in Amos 4:11, and called the first YHVH “ELOHIM.” (See Chapter 5.)
The Spirit of Christ was “the image of the invisible God,” as “ELOHIM.” He was God’s “Messenger” who spoke “for God,” leading people to believe that He was God. He normally did not introduce Himself as a “Messenger,” and so people thought He was the Almighty God.
There are many “Messengers” or Angels of God. But the Bible identifies one Angel as the Angel of YHVH, the Spirit of Christ, using five methods:
- The Hebrew word “Malak” is only used for human “messengers” and the Spirit of Christ, nearly 50 times in the Old Testament. We demonstrate this in Chapter 6 (The Messenger of YHVH). There, we prove three truths about the Messenger of YHVH: He was called ELOHIM, and YHVH; He spoke as someone who was not God; and He spoke as God. He was “the Word.” We will especially notice some occasions when the Messenger spoke as Himself in one sentence and then as God in the next. The most startling being His words to Gideon: “Certainly I WILL BE with you.” These were His words to Moses at the burning bush.
- The Angel of YHVH is the only Angel whose features are described. This is useful in identifying the Spirit of Christ, as the Angel, in the Books of Daniel and Ezekiel and Revelation.
- In Zechariah, the phrase “the Angel who spoke with me” was used 11 times, to identify the Angel as the Angel of YHVH. This is revealed to us in Chapter 1, verses 12 to 14. But to understand this passage, we first need to know that the Angel of YHVH is the Speaker for the invisible God.
- God told us that “His Angel”—“My Angel” (the Angel of YHVH)—directed John throughout the Book of Revelation. And all the clues reveal that the Angel who appears with different descriptions is the Spirit of Christ. This is like the mystery in the Book of Zechariah, of “the Angel who spoke with me.” In Chapter 1 of Revelation, the Angel of God spoke as the Angel, and as God, and as the Son of Man. This proved to us that the Spirit of Christ was the Spirit of the man Jesus Christ. The words of the Angel are very revealing. In the last chapter of Revelation, the Angel of God spoke as God, saying, “I, Jesus, sent My Angel.”
- There are only two Angels in the Bible who are named: Gabriel, and WHO IS LIKE GOD, which is transliterated as “Michael.” WHO IS LIKE GOD is obviously the Spirit of Christ, “the Image of the Invisible God.” This is proved, not only by His name, but also by His description, and by the statements of the Apostles.
This identification of the Angel of YHVH is useful to prove these truths of the Bible:
- Christ pre-existed as the Word and Image of the invisible God.
- The Spirit of Christ was only “manifest in the flesh” in Christ. Because Christ is a Spirit, He can be in many places at the same time. In Revelation, we will see that the Spirit of Christ appears as the Angel, as the Image of the Invisible God, and as the man Christ Jesus, all in the same moment.
- Paul said, “When all things are made subject to Christ, then Christ will be made subject to God that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28). The Angel of God demonstrated this in Revelation 22:9, when He told John not to worship Him, but only to worship God. We will discuss this in the final chapter (It is done).
The invisible God made the visible God, the Messenger, the God of Jacob. In Genesis 35:1, God told Jacob to make an altar to the God “who appeared to Him” using the Hebrew word “RAAH,” which means “see.” The Hebrew word “RAAH,” especially its form “WAYYERA”—“And appeared”—is used on several occasions to emphasize the ELOHIM that people “saw.” We find the expression WAYYERA in Genesis 12:7; 17:1; 18:1; 26:2, 26:24; 35:9, and most notably in Exodus 3:2 and 3:16 where God called the Messenger who “appeared” to Moses “the ELOHIM of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” The word “RAAH” is a kind of code word in the Old Testament that identifies the visible God as Christ. After the Messenger was named YHVH at the burning bush, the Messenger said to Moses, “I, YHVH, appeared (WAERA) to Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob as “God Almighty” but by My Name YHVH, I was not known to them” (Exodus 6:2-3). Through this statement, the Messenger told us that He was always the image of the invisible God to people, because Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did know that the name of the invisible God was YHVH. But they did not know the name of the Messenger.
In our Chapter 8 (The Messenger appears to Moses), we will show that the name of the Messenger was revealed as YHVH at the burning bush, as “YHVH, the ELOHIM of our fathers.” Indeed, it was the Angel who was named YHVH. The name of YHVH was already known as the name of the invisible God. But, God differentiated His own name as YHVH (He WILL BE) from the name of the Messenger as YHVH (He WILL BE), by saying, “this is My Name Forever.” The Messenger became “I AM” when He appeared as Israel’s Redeemer.
Today, the Jewish people can no longer see this. But the early Israelites knew there were two YHVHs, as we shall show in Chapter 8. The early Israelites called their Messenger “ELOHIM,” even though they knew He was only the Messenger of the invisible God.
YHVH our ELOHIM, YHVH, ECHAD
He WILL BE of the Armies is with us;
The ELOHIM of Jacob is our refuge.
You may be wondering how the people of Israel could worship the Messenger as their ELOHIM, after God told them not to worship Angels in Deuteronomy 4.
Moses’ words of comfort came in Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear O Israel (Jacob): YHVH our ELOHIM (the Spirit of Christ), YHVH (the Father), ECHAD (is one), (therefore) you shall love YHVH your ELOHIM will all your heart, all your soul and all your strength.”
Moses said that the Messenger and the invisible God were ECHAD. They came together as “one unit,” as we can understand from the first four uses of ECHAD in Genesis 1:5; 1:9; 2:24; and 11:6:
- the morning and evening (ECHAD) one day;
- gathered into (ECHAD) one place;
- they shall become (ECHAD) one flesh; and
- they are (ECHAD) one people.
We will explain the oneness of Christ and God in more detail in Chapter 9 (YHVH our ELOHIM, YHVH, ECHAD), and in Chapter 25 (I and the Father are one). In Chapter 9, we will look at some beautiful verses of Isaiah, which show Christ and God as two separate speakers, two separate YHVHs, who speak the same words. The evidence of Christ as the speaker continued, which we shall describe in Chapter 10 (You have neither heard His voice nor seen His form).
The understanding of the two YHVHs as “one unit” allowed the Israelites to call their God “Father” and “Almighty” and “Most High.” The invisible God and His image became indistinguishable when the Messenger stopped appearing. The invisible God and His image not only shared the name of YHVH, but even the name: YHVH of the ARMIES (Angels)! In Zechariah 1:12, the Angel of YHVH, who is the YHVH of the Armies, prayed to the invisible God, calling Him “YHVH of the ARMIES (Angels).” Zechariah said that again in the LORD’s Day, it shall be “the LORD one and His name one” (Zechariah 14:9). The invisible God will always bear the name of His image, even the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38; Matthew 28:19).
Eventually, the Israelites became confused by Exodus 3:15, where the Angel was named YHVH, “He WILL BE.” They began to deny that the name of “He WILL BE” was given to the Angel, as we will study in Chapter 11 (Their Fathers forgot My Name for Baal) and Chapter 12 (WHO IS, WHO WAS and WHO IS TO COME).
God showed His humor for their forgetfulness. He said, “I will save them by He WILL BE their ELOHIM.” This is our topic of Chapter 16. In Chapter 22 (My Lord and my God), we will see the response of Jesus’ disciples, when they realize that Christ was their ELOHIM.
Of course, “He WILL BE” was not the real name of God, or His image. The Old Testament prophets hinted at God’s real name, which we will study in Chapter 13 (Prophesies of the Name of the Father). The true name of God was revealed by Christ and His Apostles (Chapter 21 – The Name of the Father is Revealed).
In Chapter 12, we will look at a very famous expression from Isaiah 44:6: “I am the first and the last, besides Me there is no God.” This expression identifies the Spirit of Christ as the Word, the speaker for the invisible God, in the Book of Revelation. In the LORD’s Day, when Christ returns, “it shall be YHVH one and His name one” (Zechariah 14:9), meaning God and Christ will become as “one unit” again: The Spirit of Christ will be once again be “the Word” and God’s Image, just as in the Old Testament.
Having become much better than Angels
Satan desired to be as great as the most High. But, the Spirit of Christ, who was in the form of God, “did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped.” He emptied Himself, and became as a man (Philippians 2:6–7).
This was the difference between the attitude of Christ and the Antichrist.
Paul then went on to say that the Spirit of Christ was only “found in appearance as a man” (Philippians 2:8). The Spirit of Christ was “manifest in the flesh.”
Christ’s identification as “the Son of man” has two significant biblical messages. This expression was first used in Numbers 23:19, where we learn that a “Son of Man” is someone who is less than God:
God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent.
Jesus Christ Himself said, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18), meaning that only God is inherently good. God does not need to obey anyone, or imitate anyone, in order to be perfect. But Christ overcame temptation through His obedience and imitation of God.
The expression “Son of Man” also refers to Christ’s dual nature as a man and as the Spirit “who was manifest in the flesh,” which we will discuss in Chapters 17–19.
Paul called this a “great mystery” (1 Timothy 3:16). How could the Spirit of Christ remain active as the Holy Spirit, while being manifest in the flesh in the man Christ Jesus?
How can we understand “manifest in the flesh?”
- Revelation Chapter 1 helps us. In our Chapter 31 (The LORD’s Day), we will see the Spirit of Christ appearing in all of the manifestations of the Spirit at the same time. He appears as the Son of man, who comes toward the Ancient of Days, but He also plays the part of the Ancient of Days! The Spirit of Christ appears as the Son of man, the Archangel (WHO IS LIKE GOD), the image of the invisible God (the Ancient of Days), and the Body of Christ (the Rider on the White Horse), all at the same time.
- In Revelation 4 and 5, we will see the Lamb appear beside God on the throne. In Revelation 10, John proved that the appearance of both God and Lamb were a manifestation of the Spirit of Christ. We will discuss this in Chapter 32 (The Angel of Revelation).
The man Christ Jesus was the first Son of God by “adoption” when He was baptized, and the Spirit of Adoption descended on Him. But, Christ became “the only begotten Son” when He was “born” as a new spiritual being when He resurrected. This was the message of the prophets and the Apostles Paul: “God has fulfilled this promise . . . in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.’”
We will discuss this in more detail in Chapter 20 (the only Begotten Son).
The Four Winds/Spirits of Heaven
Satan thought he could stop the work of Christ by crucifying Him. Before He was crucified, Jesus said to His disciples, “I will not speak with you much longer, for the Ruler of this world is coming.”
Jesus called Satan the “Ruler of the People to come” as prophesied in Daniel 9:26.
Satan was the spirit that came out of the four Spirits of heaven in Daniel 7:2 and 8:8–9. Wind and Spirit are the same Hebrew word, Ruah. This expression is used metaphorically in the Old Testament to show the interaction of the spiritual and natural world.
Daniel prophesied that Satan would crucify Christ, the Messiah shall be “cut-off” and “put an end to offering and sacrifice” (Daniel 9:26-27).
In Daniel 8:11, we read about the sin that caused desolation. Satan tried to exalt himself as high as Christ. He did this through the power of Rome, represented by the Bishop of Rome, for 42 months, 1278 days as years. This began in 193 A.D., when the Bishop of Rome exalted himself as high as Christ, by excommunicating the churches of Asia. It ended in 1471 A.D., exactly 1278 years later, when the first Protestant Church broke free from the papacy.
Satan’s first corruption of the truth, through the Beast, the Bishop of Rome, was the “Modalism” doctrine, which John called “the Spirit of the Antichrist.” This Bishop of Rome, whom Tertullian called “Praxeas,” propagated Modalism in Rome from 190 to 200 A.D. We will discuss this in detail in Chapter 27 (The Spirit of the Antichrist).
It was actually the concept of worship that confused the Gentiles, as we will discuss in Chapter 29 (We Know what We Worship). The Gentiles thought they could worship Christ only if He was God.
The desire to worship Christ as God led to the greatest deception of the Beast, the Trinity doctrine. The Beast would cause men to make an image to worship (Chapter 28). John told us this would happen, when one of the beast’s heads “was crushed,” and the Beast “was wounded by the sword and lived” (Revelation 13:3,14). This referred to the fall of the Roman Empire, which began with the Gothic War of 376–382 A.D. The Trinity doctrine was established in 381 A.D., and would be enforced by the sword for the next 1100 years, “even causing as many as would not worship the image to be killed” (Revelation 13:15).
Christ’s prayer for the unity of all believers can only be fulfilled when believers are no longer divided by false doctrines of Christ and God. It is very important to preach the relationship of Christ and God, which is explained by the Bible (Chapter 29).
The restoration of the truth comes from the four Spirits of heaven, in Zechariah 6:5–8:
And the angel answered and said to me, “These are four spirits of heaven, who go out from their station before the Lord of all the earth. The one with the black horses is going to the north country, the white are going after them, and the dappled are going toward the south country.” Then the strong steeds went out, eager to go, that they might walk to and fro throughout the earth. And He said, “Go, walk to and fro throughout the earth.” So they walked to and fro throughout the earth. And He called to me, and spoke to me, saying, “See, those who go toward the north country have given rest to My Spirit in the north country.”
The black horses that go toward the North Country, are the spirits that aid the Antichrist, the king of the North, who is described in Daniel 11:31–35. The white ones that go after them are the white horses in Revelation 19:14–15. They are led by the Spirit of Christ (the Body of Christ), which is the sanctified Church that “treads the wine press of the wrath of the wrath of the Almighty God.” This Rider on the White horse uses the Word of God “to strike down the Gentiles” (Revelation 19:15).
Jesus told us the Gentiles will “trample the holy city until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Luke 21:24). In other words, when the truth is restored “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:25–26). At that time, the Spirit of truth will come out of “the four Spirits of heaven” and be poured out on Jerusalem, as recorded in Ezekiel (Ezekiel 37:9).
When Christ returns, the angels from the four winds of heaven will gather together His elect (Matthew 24:31).
The Spirits of God
John told us to “test the spirits, whether they are of God, for many false prophets have gone into the world” (1 John 4:1).
The Angel of God actually called Himself a true prophet in Revelation 22:9. The correct translation of this verse reads: “I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets.” The spirits manifest themselves through “prophets” and “angels.” The Spirit of Christ was only one of many spirits of God.
Some spirits, as Zechariah described, are black horses. There are also “strong steeds that . . . walk to and fro throughout the earth.” In Chapter 1 of Zechariah, we see “red, sorrel, and white horses” that patrol the earth. In Chapter 4, we find “seven . . . the eyes of the Lord which range to and fro from the earth.” These are the Seven Spirits of God, described in Revelation 5:6, who are “sent out into all the earth.” These Spirits are manifest as “Messengers” or “Angels” who are the horse Riders, and are presumably the Seven Messengers to the Seven Churches. These seven Spirits of God may represent the complete number of the Spirits of God, because the number seven usually signifies completeness.
There are many Spirits of God. The Spirit of Christ was the firstborn.
Sometimes it is difficult to determine when the Bible is speaking of God’s own Spirit, or a Spirit sent by God. In Genesis 6:3, God speaks of His “breath” or “wind” as the “breath of life,” which is translated “My Spirit.” In Zechariah 4:6, the phrase “not by power, not by might, but by My Spirit,” refers to the Spirit of Christ, called “His Spirit” in Zechariah 7:12. The Targum of Zechariah translates this verse as, “Not by strength and not by might, but through my Word, says the Lord of Hosts.” In Zechariah 6:8, God spoke of His Own spirit, or anger, when He said, “See, those (white horses) who go toward the north country have given rest to My Spirit in the north country.”
How can we distinguish a spirit of God, from God Himself? For God is Spirit. When God says “My Spirit” He can be referring to own Spirit, or a Spirit He has sent out, a spirit of God.
The answer is in the Book of Zechariah. The Seven Spirits of God, depicted as Horses, are manifested in visible form as Riders, which are Angels or Messengers. But we know that no one has seen God at any time. If a Spirit of God manifests itself as an Angel or Messenger, then that Spirit is obviously a created Spirit who “serves” God. In contrast, the Spirit of truth poured out on the Day of Pentecost never manifests itself in visible form, because it is the Spirit of God Himself.
There are generally four tests to determine whether God is speaking of His “own Spirit”:
- Is the Spirit everywhere, or does it only exist “where it goes”?
- Does the Spirit submit to God, and God’s authority? If so, it is another being.
- Was it sent? Generally, no one can say they sent themselves.
- Most significantly, does the Spirit manifest in visible form? For no one has seen God.
From these four tests, we are certain that the “Spirit of ELOHIM,” sent out in the beginning of creation, was another being: “the only begotten God.”
- This verse was noted in 150 A.D. by Justin Martyr, DWT Chapter 56; Irenaeus 180 A.D.; Tertullian 200 A.D.; Ignatius 250 A.D.; and Cyprian 253 A.D. ↩