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Spirit Realm

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Key Verse: John 4:24
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Question: What does the key verse mean to you?


We are well aware of the physical world in which we live. We have tripped over objects, felt the heat of the sun, scraped our knees and seen the blood and felt hunger and pain. We have experienced laughter, tears, and happiness. These are all physical activities and emotions that we know exist because we are aware of their effect on us. What many refuse to accept is that there is another world existing with the physical world, the realm of spirit. God is the chief member of this world and it existed before the material world did. As the Spirit that created this material world God requires that we worship Him in a spirit of thankfulness and submission to His will through obedience. He expects us to recognize His truth through the study of His Word and not be misled by ideas unfounded in Scripture that are introduced by men’s opinions.

The spirit realm is populated by angels, the sons of light, and demons, the sons of darkness. Our relationship with these entities is governed by the commandments delivered by God to us through His Word, the Bible. The phrase “familiar spirit” is translated in the KJV from the Hebrew word OWB (Strong’s H178). It comes from a prime word AB (Strong’s H1) which means “father.” The meaning attached to OWB apparently comes from the prattle or babbling of a very young child addressing their father before they can speak clearly. Once, it is rendered “bottles” in Job 32:19 “Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles.” A more accurate translation would have been wine-skins instead of bottles, because bottles don’t burst in the fashion in which Job means. From this Hebrew vernacular use of the word the connotation “mumble” has attached to OWB because of the hollow sound made when a full wine-skin is tapped, hence the meaning “mumbling babbler” or “necromancer” has resulted in the translation of the word to “familiar spirit.” Any association with familiar spirits (i.e. demons) or with people who associate with them is forbidden (Leviticus 19:31). To do so is to be defiled by them. A man or woman engaging in wizardry in conjunction with demons was to be put to death without mercy (Leviticus 20:27). The seriousness of the defilement was so great that the heaviest penalty was decreed for it.

A profound example of the execution of this law is found in 1 Samuel 28:7-19. Saul went to a woman that had a familiar spirit to seek the advice of the departed Samuel. Because of this sin, Saul was condemned to die with his sons (verse 19). In addition, since the one who broke this law was the king, the army of Israel was delivered into the hands of the Philistines. The reason for his death is confirmed (1 Chronicles 10:13). The entire exercise was a major waste. If the apparition which addressed Saul was really Samuel, it would contradict every Scripture dealing with the state of the dead, which will be covered in detail in Lesson # 44. It is told in 1 Kings 22:19-23 that God can put a lying spirit into the mouths of a king’s advisors to mislead the man. It is probable that what appeared as Samuel was a familiar spirit, so-called because he was familiar with Samuel and could imitate him. The nonsense of consulting demons for information is well addressed by Isaiah. In Isaiah 8:19 he criticizes those who advise you to consult familiar spirits and wizards that peep and mutter and asks the poignant question, “Shouldn’t people ask their living God for guidance instead of the dead?” Demons are going to lie to you. There will be just enough truth in what they tell you to convince you of their veracity but the objective is to mislead you and get you into trouble.

One of the most heinous kings in the history of Israel was Manasseh. He was the child of Hezekiah, one of the most righteous kings of Judah, being only twelve years old when he ascended to the throne. Having such an upright father as an example Manasseh must surely have been aware of the expectations of God, but he ignored this knowledge and set about to engage in despicable and barbaric behavior (2 Kings 21:1-6). He sacrificed his son by burning him to death on the altar of a pagan god in the valley of Hinnom and consulted familiar spirits and wizards. He was extremely wicked and justly deserved the death penalty for his actions. However, after his capture by the Assyrians Manasseh humbled himself and repented of his evil deeds and the Lord forgave him (2 Chronicles 33:11-13). A lesson to be learned from this story is that if God is so loving and merciful that He can forgive a sadistic monster like Manasseh because the man became humble with a contrite heart and repented, He can forgive anyone who repents of their sin.

Josiah was the grandson of Manasseh. After a short, two-year reign by his father Amon, Josiah became king when he was eight years old. The behavior of Josiah was more akin to that of David, ruling in an obedient attitude of humbleness before the Lord God. In the eighteenth year of his reign the Book of the Law was found while repairs to the Temple were being carried out. Upon the reading of the law and being made aware of certain stipulations which had passed from knowledge due to disuse, King Josiah decreed that those who dealt with familiar spirits and the wizards were to be put away in accordance with the words of the law written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD (2 Kings 23:24).

The foregoing accounts demonstrate that God’s law forbids association with evil spirits. Saul died on account of his consultation with a spirit he thought to be Samuel. Manasseh is considered the most evil Judean king to have ever ruled because of the reverence he paid to familiar spirits and the pagan gods inspired by them. After reading the law of God concerning them, it was evident to Josiah that the very presence of such trappings was not allowed in his kingdom. He set about to destroy not only the monuments to these false gods but also the practice of communication with the dark side of the spirit realm. The action taken by Josiah when he became aware of God’s Word about witchcraft and familiar spirits and the fact that God Himself is intensely concerned with the matter should erase all doubt for the believing Christian that this spirit world exists.

In stark contrast to the guiding principles of God concerning the evil dominion of the spirit realm, contact with the spirits of light is encouraged and used at various times by God. The archangel Gabriel has appeared to at least three different people at different times. After witnessing a vision of revelation, Daniel saw what appeared to be a man standing before him. A voice addressed the man as “Gabriel” and instructed him to explain the vision to Daniel. There were other visitations to Daniel at later times as well. Gabriel also appeared to Zacharias to inform him of the coming birth of John the Baptist and to Mary to announce the coming of the Messiah and her selection as the one through whom the virgin birth would occur. The Scriptures relating these events can be found in FURTHER STUDY at the end of this lesson.

A story about communication and contact between the physical and the spiritual realms is told in great detail in chapter 10 of the Book of Daniel. Daniel was on the shore of the Tigris River one day when he was confronted with the vision of an awesome individual, described as dressed in linen, wearing a belt of pure gold, a brightly glowing face with shining eyes like fire, having a skin tanned to the color of brass and an extremely strong voice, having the general appearance of a man (verse 16). One of the unique abilities of angels is that they can appear to whom they please while concealing themselves from others who can be nearby. This was the case here. Daniel saw him but the men with him did not, although they sensed something out of the ordinary and fled. The sight had such an effect on Daniel that he was weak and helpless, falling in a faint before this mighty sight. Then the angel touched Daniel and set him on his hands and knees so that he was able to understand what the angel was saying. The angel told him to stand and Daniel managed to get trembling to his feet. He then explained to Daniel that he had been delayed by the demon of Persia for 21 days and had to have the assistance of Michael, an archangel (one of the chief princes) before he could break loose and come to Daniel. This angel is not named and therefore was probably a lesser angel than either Gabriel or Michael, an indication that there may be degrees of rank among the angels in the spirit realm. The angel then proceeded to reveal to Daniel a prophecy of things that were to happen. Again, Daniel was dumbfounded and unable to speak, so the angel touched him again, this time on the lips and enabled him to speak. Daniel explained that he had no strength so the angel touched him again and Daniel was strengthened. During this exchange mention is made of the “prince of Persia,” the demon that tried to prevent the angel from reaching Daniel, Michael, a “chief prince” and the “prince of Greece.” The latter is not identified as one of the sons of light or darkness, but there seems to be an assignment of territory to various angels and demons. Michael is identified as the prince that represents Israel (Daniel 12:1). It is conceivable that angels and demons are assigned nations, areas, tasks and even individuals so each of us has our own “guardian angel” and “demon tormentor.”

While we blissfully pass through this life we are unknowingly surrounded by activities going on in the spirit realm. We have just covered an episode whereby Daniel’s messenger angel had to fight (Jude 1:9). We are told of a war in Heaven when Michael defeated Satan and he and his demons were cast to Earth and confined to it as a prison (Revelation 12:7; 2 Peter 2:4). Because Elisha kept the king of Israel informed of the plans of the king of Syria, the Syrian monarch sent an army to capture Elisha. When Elisha’s servant saw the Syrian army surrounding them he was greatly alarmed but Elisha prayed for his eyes to be opened. Then the servant saw thousands of horses and chariots of fire covering the mountain. This was an army of angels sent there to protect Elisha. What the prophet did to the Syrians is rather amusing. You can read all about it in 2 Kings 6:11-17.

Angels protect. Demons hurt. There is a modern story told a few years ago about a young boy in Florida who, while walking through the woods, hopped over a small stream and landed next to a poisonous snake. The snake bit him through his tennis shoe, becoming embedded in the shoe and unable to pull back as they usually do. The result was that all the snake’s venom went into the boy’s foot, delivering a massive dose of poison into his body. As related by the child, he was semi-conscious, but vaguely remembers two men, dressed in white, removing the snake and carrying him back to his house, where he was found and given treatment that saved his life. No one ever saw those two men. They were angels charged with the duty to protect this child. Demons perform their deeds, too. When they take possession of a body they can render the person unable to speak, blind and exhibiting erratic behavior. Examples can be found in the FURTHER STUDY at the end of this lesson.

During the ministry of Jesus, many demons were encountered and cast out by Him. They recognized Who He was, and Jesus told them to hold their peace, not wanting them to reveal the fact that He was the Son of God (Mark 1:23- 25). The Pharisees were aware of the spirit realm and freely accused Jesus of being possessed. They could not accept the fact that the miracles He performed were through the power of God. They were more willing to give credit to Satan, a very dangerous thought to have (Matthew 12:24-28). The many examples of demon possession and the matter-of-fact attitude of the people of that time about the existence of the spirit realm lend credence to the idea that demons were involved in many lives. The situation is no different today. This is not an invitation to blame everything that goes wrong on demon possession. That is not the case, but the influence of the spirit world in this modern age does not get the recognition it deserves, both good and bad. Miracles get very little attention in the media and the horrendous acts of cruelty that occur are likely manifestations of demon influence. There are only two sources for original moral thought, God and Satan. Adam and Eve would never have thought to eat the forbidden fruit if the devil had not planted the idea in Eve’s head. Without spiritual inspiration to propel him into action, Man would be a very pliant, mildmannered creature, but with God’s Holy Spirit to encourage him and Satan’s evil demons to enrage him, the world is filled with beauty, love, creativity and accomplishment, as well as hatred, violence, murder and robbery. Give the matter your serious thought. Which spirit realm do you want involved in your life?



  1. What miraculous act proves that the two men who visited Lot in Genesis chapter 19 were angels? (Verse 11)

  2. Read Zechariah 13:2. When will the time be when unclean spirits are no longer around? (Revelation 20:1-3)

  3. Why is crediting God’s action to Satan dangerous? (Acts 5:39; 12:22-23)

Deuteronomy 18:10-11 No astrologers, witches or consulters with familiar spirits allowed.
1 Samuel 28:7-19 Saul inquires of a familiar spirit.
1 Kings 22:19-23 The LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of prophets.
2 Kings 6:11-17 Elisha leads the blinded Syrians astray.
2 Kings 22:1-8 Josiah reigns, the Temple is repaired and the book of the law is found.
2 Kings 23:1-15 Josiah’s cleanup of Israel.
2 Chronicles 33:6 Manasseh used enchantments, witchcraft and familiar spirits.
Isaiah 8:19 Should the living seek advice from the dead?
Daniel 8:16; 9:21 Gabriel appears to Daniel.
Daniel 10:4-21 Daniel’s meeting with the angel.
Matthew 9:33 With the devil cast out, the dumb spoke.
Matthew 12:22 Possession with a devil caused blindness.
Matthew 15:22; 17:15-18; Mark 5:2-9 Erratic behavior caused by demons.
Luke 1:11-19 Gabriel appears to Zacharias.
Luke 1:26-27 Gabriel appears to Mary.
John 8:48-49 The Jews accuse Jesus of having a devil.

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