Not long ago, Rod Dreher, author of The Benedict Option, and “Live not by lies,” wrote on his American Conservative blog, that there seems to be “something demonic in the air.” He was referring to QAnon, which seems to have burst onto the scene to rival the “Wokeness” that he usually writes and worries about (for good reason).
However, readers of this blog have probably picked up on the fact that I’m creating quite a niche on crazy ideas like “demonic” things “in the air,” and so I wrote him about the stuff I had already written about. Here is a slightly modified version of what I gave. Hopefully it helps and encourages you, too.
Along the lines of your post on “demonic forces,” I’d like to share something that I recently researched and wrote on my own blog. It’s about what the Bible means when it uses the word “spirit.” The full blog is here.
I’ll summarize, because it is VERY relevant to your post on “demonic forces.”
The actual word for “spirit” in original Hebrew is “Ruach” and in Greek is “Pneuma.” The word literally means “wind.”
Additionally, the word for “soul” in Hebrew is “Nephesh” and in Greek is “Psuche” or “Psyche.” The word literally means “breath.”
These aren’t spooky or divine or metaphorical concepts that only the “religious” believe in.
They are very real-world concepts that are applied to describe a group of things that we don’t tend to group together in our scientific age. I think it is because of our expanded ability to “see” and “measure” and “detect” and “influence” things that we can’t directly observe.
As I explained in my post, the word “spirit” in its original context means something much different than how we think of things today. It’s much more simple, and also very broad. When you read scripture, you can use this definition in your mind where the word “spirit” appears, and it works.
A “spirit is an invisible influence that has an effect on the visible world.”
This isn’t merely about “metaphysical” or “immaterial” things. It isn’t something outside of the laws of the universe. The only criteria is “unseen,” and I don’t mean “undetected.” I mean that someone living in the time of the Bible would not be able to observe it.
So think about how broad that is. Whether we’re talking about the Holy Spirit, epilepsy, a demonic influence on an individual, whatever it was that came from the East and parted the Red Sea, a virus, a belief, the “zeitgeist,” an attraction, an arousal, an addiction, thoughts and emotions of the mind, or WHAT EVER, these all fall under the general concept invoked by the Bible with the word “spirit.”
And come to think of it, even the word “algorithm” falls into that definition. Isn’t it funny how normal it is to say “the algorithm did X”?
And people thought “summoning spirits” was something that CRAZY people do. I bet I’ve summoned several spirits before I make my coffee. Come to think of it… …wouldn’t “caffeine” be a spirit?
This brings up a different point. We are commanded:
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)
So, it seems not all spirits are bad, and so, I’m going to trust my coffee. I mean, the logo is a half-human half-fish looking creature that is literally described as a “siren.” What could go wrong?
I’m kidding, of course, and no, coffee from Starbucks is not evil. But take the point about “caffeine” (or any substance that claims to help) and “testing the spirits” quite seriously. That’s not a joke.
We should also note the word “Soul” means “breath,” and it is the same category of “stuff” that “spirit” is made out of. It is the invisible “whatever” that differentiates a corpse to a living thing. That is why John says that when Jesus died, he “gave up his spirit,” at John 19:30, but Luke, describing the same event says he “breathed his last” at Luke 23:46.
Therefore, it is s not without accident that the BIOLOGICALLY CORRECT STATEMENT (when it comes to red blood cells) in Leviticus that says “the LIFE [nephesh] is in the blood.” (Leviticus 17:11) The word we have translated as “life” in English is actually the same concept as “an invisible influence that has an effect on the visible world.” The only difference is that a “soul,” is a spirit “inside you.”
So, think about the power dynamic between these two concepts: “breath” and “wind.” Which one is greater? The breath and soul in you or the winds and spirits around you?Which one is to be feared?
This brings new meaning to Paul’s instruction:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual (Pneuma) forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)
So how does this relate to your “Demonic Forces” post?
Well, I’d like to share something with you that has been in the news, but which I also know about personally. Magic Mushrooms and psychedelic substances are on the rise. Like… REALLY on the rise.
Some people get downright evangelistic about all the good things that Psychedelics can do. And strangely enough, it seems true that they actually “do” things, whether or not the effect is good or bad. I can’t confirm or deny that they are “definitely evil” (even Fentanyl has its uses), but it is hard to deny their power.
But that’s not the whole of it. In fact, not long ago, there was a story about how pretty much everybody in Silicon Valley micro-doses on psylocibin to open up their creativity. They claim it makes them more open, creative, and changes the way they can solve problems and run their companies.
What crazy publication said this? Forbes. And the New York Times. IT’S A REAL PHENOMENON.
What does this have to do with the Bible’s talk about “spirits”? A lot, surprisingly. You see, the Hebrew has this word for a “sorcerer” that it uses to describe certain people in Egypt and in Babylon, most clearly in Daniel 2. They are differentiated from “necromancers” and “astrologers,” in some respect, because it is a different word.
Astrologers watch the stars to see how the heavenly places influence Earth. Necromancers talk to dead people to get insight on what’s going on in the spiritual (unseen) realm. So what does a “sorcerer” do?
Here’s the key: In the Septuagint, the translators who translated this Hebrew word into Greek called them “pharmakos” which is the Greek word from which we get “pharmacy” and “pharmacist.”
Here is what that tells us. These “sorcerers” were “people who used physical substances (hence: “pharmacy” and “pharmacist”) to obtain divine knowledge, gain wisdom, and/or harness “spirits” — the invisible influences that have an effect on the visible world — for their own purposes as physical human beings.
Guess who opposed Moses and Aaron on behalf of Pharoah? The Pharmakos of Egypt.
But here is where we should remember what happens when human beings who don’t know what they are doing toy with “spirits”:
Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. (Acts 19:13-16)
What is our power over this thing over these unseen “things” that we have brought into the world? Remember what I said about Silicon Valley using substances to open up their creativity and problem solving ability? Do you see how they say it opens up their minds? Do you think they’re lying?
Also: Anybody heard anything about anything going bad that is from “the internet” or “Silicon Valley” or “an algorithm” lately? And here we were thinking that “summoning spirits” was something kooky and old. If we go by the Bible’s definition of “spirit,” it is literally the biggest industry in the world.
If we don’t like it, can’t we change it? Aren’t we in charge here?
It is not without reason (especially if you are an Amillennialist) that the scripture says:
“ And when the thousand years are ended,Satan will be released from his prison.” (Revelation 20:7)
So what does this mean for us? What can we do when we are dealing LITERALLY with what the Bible describes as “spirits.” Read 1 Kings 22 or 2 Kings 19 if you are unconvinced on what these things are, how they operate, or how absolutely lethal they can be if they want to be. They quite literally destroy nations.
Shouldn’t we fear? Shouldn’t we sound the alarm?
No. And here’s why.
Can a man stop a hurricane by standing on the beach and blowing it back? Will the effect be greater if he gathers all of his friends, and every person who lives on earth? What if they all blew together?
Do he and his friends have a chance if they include jet engines, giant fans, all the technological and computing power of the world, and all other powered devices to resist that hurricane?
In short, no.
But remember our God: the Lord of Hosts, who rides in the clouds, and comes in THE WHIRLWIND.
The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. (John 3:8)
From watching the news, I think we can all agree that it has been been getting “breezy” lately, if you know what I mean. But we don’t need to fear a coming hurricane.
Remember what the prophets have said:
For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind. The standing grain has no heads; it shall yield no flour; if it were to yield, strangers would devour it. (Hosea 8:7)
But remember what else they said:
The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. (Nahum 1:3)
That’s the Lord, you know. The whirlwind and hurricane fight for us.
So don’t be confused. As people in Louisiana know when a hurricane is coming from the gulf, it’s a huge low pressure system. A few days before the hurricane makes landfall, that low pressure system causes all of the “winds” to go CRAZY. Because the hurricane draws all things to itself, there is a strange phenomenon that happens in the path of the hurricane. The winds mostly move in the OPPOSITE DIRECTION of the approaching of whirlwind.
And that whirlwind comes when we are least expecting it:
And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. (Luke 17:22-25)
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
Though all the forces of this earth, both visible and invisible may be working against us, unleashing “spirits” that have an effect on the world we can see, we need to remember that they are the ones fighting against a coming hurricane, not us.
As for ourselves, the hurricane fights for us.