Chapter 11 Meanings

Being Taken

Watson’s face goes white at the news that his dear sister has been “taken.” Being taken by the little ones represents becoming captive to sin. Paul refers to our former life as unbelievers as the time when we were slaves to sin (Romans 6:20). That enslavement ends at conversion (v.22), however, even believers can voluntarily re-enslave themselves. When we give control to the flesh, we find our best efforts to forsake certain sins unsuccessful (Galatians 5:17).

Note: While Escape from Paradise is a parable of coming to salvation, At War with the Wind is a parable of a believer trying to escape bondage to a sin to which she has enslaved herself.

Giants and Children

Apparent physical size, in the story, represents greatness in the eyes of men. The “great ones” were seen as giants by the people in the lowlands because those people had such high regard for them. The same men were seen as small in the high country because people there saw their true stature.

In our society, the “great ones” are the celebrities. It’s not uncommon to hear them described as “larger than life”—even at their funerals!

But from a biblical point of view, pop stars, athletes, and movie stars who reject Christ are not great in any sense. They are fools with such miniscule souls that they care about nothing beyond this world.

The truly great ones are people who are lowly and unimportant in the world’s eyes. This is why I depicted believers as children.

The small stature of the mountain people in the story illustrates not only the low opinion the world has of believers, but also our humility. Jesus was clear that we cannot enter heaven unless we become like a little child (Matthew 18:3).

The War, the Warriors, and the Wild Animals

The conflict between the cottage people and the warriors represents spiritual warfare—the battle between believers and demons.

While the lowlanders (unbelievers) see the cottage people (Christians) as enemies, the cottage people understand their opponents are the warriors (demons), not the lowlanders. Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against spirits (Ephesians 6:12).

The wild animals, who are the regional powers ruling the warriors, represent demons in the hierarchy of authority in the spiritual world. These beings are mentioned in Ephesians 6:12, Colossians 1:16, 2:15, 1 Peter 3:22, and possibly Romans 8:38.

Study Questions


“There are far worse fates than what happened to those people.”
   “Worse than having your chest ripped open?” -p.92


What does it mean to be afraid of God as the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell rather than fearing those who can kill the body? (Matthew 10:28)


It means if I face a decision between facing physical harm or even death, or crossing God, I would be more afraid of the latter than the former.


Consider the logic Jesus uses in Matthew 5:29—30. Is there some area of your thinking that needs to be corrected by that logic (It would be better to lose _____ than to have an eternally negative outcome)?


For me, I need to be reminded that it would be better for me to lose some of my time than to disobey God. Sometimes I’m reluctant to do things I know God wants me to do because of the time it will cost me.


“Isn’t it irrational to believe in things that can’t be observed?”
   “It would be if observation were the only form of evidence. But to say that is to revert to the mentality of an infant who thinks the world disappears when he closes his eyes. Just because something is unseen does not disprove its existence. Nor is observation the only means of obtaining knowledge. It is useful for matters pertaining to the body, but not for matters of heart or soul.”–p.93


What are some realities we know exist but that cannot be discovered through scientific study?


The Creator, our own thoughts, the human mind or soul, logic, morality, evil, reason, insight, angels, demons, history, and the elements of the creation that are not observable (such as the reaches of space beyond our reach and particles too small for scientific observation)


“But observational knowledge can be verified. What other form of gaining knowledge can be trusted?”
   “Testimony,” said Watson. “Of all the things you believe, what percentage is from your own experimentation, and how much is from what you have read or been told by a reliable source?” -p.93


How would you answer Watson’s question: “Of all the things you believe, what percentage is from your own experimentation, and how much is from what you have read or been told by a reliable source?”


Probably 90% or more from reliable testimony, 10% from scientific experimentation.


How would you respond to someone who draw a distinction between that which is “faith based” and that which is “evidence based”? See John 14:11 (Do you regard testimony from God as reliable evidence?)


It’s a distinction that shows a misunderstanding of the meaning of “faith.” Faith simply refers to believing something. Everyone who believes anything has faith.

There are two reasons why we believe things: 1) because of evidence, or 2) because of superstition. Believing something unsupported by any evidence is superstition. If the best evidence points to a conclusion, the only rational response is to believe that thing. That is faith because it involves trusting the validity of the evidence.

Sometimes Christians are accused of having faith that isn’t evidence-based because there is no scientific evidence. But scientific evidence isn’t the only kind of evidence. It’s not even the best kind. Most of what all people (including scientists) believe, they believe based on the evidence of reliable testimony, not scientific evidence.


“Mere observation of events without comprehension of meaning is not a discovery of truth. It is half–truth. Less than half, in fact. What good is awareness of objects and processes while remaining ignorant of their purpose and meaning?” –p.93

Scientific study reveals processes, but not meaning or purpose. Only Scripture can reveal that. What do we learn about the meaning/purpose of the following elements of the creation from Scripture?


What is the purpose of the earth? See Genesis 1.


Each of the days of creation are descriptions of how God transformed the uninhabitable earth into an ideal home for mankind. The earth is for man.


What one the purpose of the sky? See Psalm 19:1.


There are multiple purposes. In Psalm 19, it is to bring glory to God. in Genesis 1, the purpose heavenly bodies is to provide light for man and to enable man to mark time.


What is one purpose of birds? See Matthew 6:26.


To serve as daily illustrations of God’s generous provision. Every day God feeds trillions of birds, which requires about 100 million tons of food every single day. And caring for his children is a far higher priority to God than the birds.


What is one purpose of marriage? See Ephesians 5:32.


Marriage is designed to teach us about the nature of the relationship between God and his people.


What is one purpose of food and drink? See 1 Timothy 6:17.


Human enjoyment!


“To truly know what is seen one must also know the unseen.” –p.93


What are your observations about the relationship between the seen and the unseen from 2 Corinthians 4:17–18 and Colossians 3:1–2?


2 Corinthians 4—Visible things are light, momentary, and temporary verses the eternal, weighty, and glorious nature of the unseen.

Colossians 3—-Eternal things are worthy of our thoughts and affections; earthly things are not.

That’s a basic answer. I urge you to read Austin’s response in the comments. He took it deeper than I did.


We can discover a great deal through scientific study, but there are limitations to science and other forms of human wisdom. What are some areas where human wisdom is inadequate? See Jeremiah 9:23—24; 1 Corinthians 1:20—21; Psalm 119:99—100.


Jeremiah 9 – Science cannot reveal the knowledge of God. One can reason logically from what can be scientifically observed (based on what we learn from scientific study, it stands to reason there must be a Creator), but God’s delight in his kindness, justice, and righteousness cannot be studied in a test tube.

This is striking, because the same passage tells us that this is the most important knowledge there is. It can’t be obtained apart from divine revelation, we have no access to it through merely human study, and yet it is far more important than all the wisdom that can be obtained through scientific study.

1 Corinthians 1:20-21 – Human wisdom cannot bring a person to know God in a saving way. Not even the smartest person in the world can come to know God unless God reveals himself to that person.

Psalm 119 – Spiritual insight and understanding can never come through human study or reasoning. Only through revelation. And that kind of insight makes one wiser than the wisest of people who have only human knowledge.


What happens when we try to use human wisdom, rather than wisdom from above (God’s Word), to discern spiritual things? See James 3:13—17. Have you observed any examples of this?


It results in disorder and every evil practice.

I’ve seen it many times in churches when God’s way seems counterintuitive. It happens a lot in church discipline situations. Thousands of churches fail to carry out church discipline at all for fear that God’s way is too harsh.

Others use church discipline as a weapon to punish people who have committed especially egregious sins, even after they have repented. They don’t want to forgive for fear that God’s way is too merciful.


“Did you ask them what powers gravity? Or magnetism? Are they cognizant of its source? Or purpose? “Did you inquire as to the law of cause and effect? When did it begin?”
     “Hasn’t that just always existed?”
     “Without a cause?” Watson asked. “Are the laws of physics exempt from the laws of physics? The only uncaused effect in the world?” –p.92


Naturalists believe the universe powers itself. Deists believe God embedded power in the creation at the beginning, and now it runs on its own. What does the Bible say about God’s day-to-day involvement in the workings of nature? See Psalm 104:10—30. List some things God exercises direct control over.


God is sovereign over every detail of nature, no matter how small (see Austin’s response in the comments). He determines the path of every leaf falling from a tree, every whisp of a breeze, the flight path of every mosquito. What we observe as “laws” are only laws because God runs that aspect of the creation in a consistent way. The workings of nature are not laws dictated by the creation that God must obey. Rather, they are laws dictated by God that the creation obeys.


“I do not doubt their voluminous knowledge of this world, Adam. However, their knowledge is limited to this world. Unhelpful for someone who belongs to another world—an unseen world, wouldn’t you say?”–p.92


What are some limitations of science as a means of discovering truth?


Science is great for studying physical things. The scientific method of discovering truth is to observe a phenomenon, develop a hypothesis to explain it, test that hypothesis, and then analyze the results. This is an excellent method for studying observable, testable things such as gravity or chemical reactions. It is not useful for non-observable phenomena, such as history, morality, the human soul, or any other spiritual realities.


“True size. It is the measure of a man as judged by the Ruler. The Ruler considers great those who are small in their own eyes. Such people appear as children to those who are great in their own eyes, but who lack greatness in the Ruler’s eyes.” –p.97


What is the difference between those the world looks up to and those God highly esteems? See Luke 16:15; Mark 10:42–44; 1 Samuel 16:7.


The world esteems the famous, those who have titles, those who have power and wealth, and those who are physically impressive.

God esteems the humble.


What kinds of people are most highly esteemed in your church? By you? And how does that match what God tells us in Philippians 2:29–30 and Matthew 18:5?


The church also highly esteems the humble (at least more than the world does). However, they also tend to elevate those who are specially gifted in music or people skills. Extraverts tend to be more highly valued in the church than introverts.

I try to follow God’s heart in who I esteem. I do highly esteem the humble and those who love the Lord. However, I am susceptible to esteeming attractive people or people who have something to offer me more than unattractive or needy people.


Are there any areas where you have been striving for the earthly kind of greatness rather than the kind God calls us to?


Yes. I recently realized that I tend to put too much stock in external markers of success. Especially ministry success. I claim that my main concern is what happens in people’s hearts, whether I see it or not. But judging from how my emotions respond, it’s clear that what I really believe is that the external markers are often more important to me.


We are constantly tempted to measure ourselves by the assessment of people—so their opinion of us matters more to us than God’s assessment. Who are those people in your life? (Friends, strangers, parents, yourself, etc.)


This one is easy. For me, it’s MYSELF! I don’t care much what other people think of me. I never really have. In fact, as a teen I even took pride in the fact that the “in” crowd didn’t like me. But in recent months I’ve realized that there is one person I really do strive to impress, and it’s myself. I have clear markers of success in my mind, and if I fall short of them, I’m miserable. If I meet them, I’m happy. I need to learn to set those aside and focus only on God’s assessment of me.


How might one go about pursuing the right kind of greatness?


Through humility and servanthood, with an eye only on what God says about what I’m doing, thinking, and feeling.


“Their souls have shrunk so small that their appetites can be satisfied by mere gold and fruit.” –p.95


God designed us with appetites for him and his grace. He placed eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). What kinds of influences might shrink your soul so that instead of craving eternal glories, you crave only temporal things?


I think all forms of idolatry do this. Whenever I use some temporal thing to satisfy a spiritual craving, any pleasure I get from that trains my soul to think that thing is real “food.” For example, if I get into a bad mood and become irritable because my soul is starved for fellowship with God, and I turn to an earthly pleasure (such as entertainment, sex, or food), the momentary pleasure I get from that will train my soul to think that temporal pleasure really does satisfy the soul’s cravings.


“Why do you appear as children?”
   “How a person appears is determined not by that person, but by the observer. The more highly you regard the one you observe, the larger he is in your eyes.” –p.96


in what ways must one resemble a child to enter the kingdom? See Matthew 18:1–4.


One must become humble and lowly in the eyes of the world.


In what ways should we avoid being like children? See 1 Corinthians 3:1–2, 13:11, 14:20.


1 Cor.3 – We must avoid the immaturity of being unable to digest “solid food” (spiritual principles that go beyond the basics).
1 Cor.13 – We must avoid childish reasoning and speech.
1 Cor.14 – We must avoid the tendency in children to be dazzled by superficial things while oblivious to more important realities.


“You’re dealing with powers you know nothing about. And if you’re taken … –p.91


What is Satan’s objective in coming after you? See 2 Timothy 2:26.


He wants to take me captive to do his will. Those are both startling thoughts. There are some horrible slaves owners in this world. But none more horrific than Satan.

And the idea that I would be carrying out the will of Satan–achieving his desires–is sickening. 


What are some ways Satan accomplishes that objective? See Acts 8:23; Colossians 2:8; Titus 3:3; 2 Peter 2:18.


Acts 8 – Bitterness can lead us into captivity.
Colossians 2 – Human wisdom and philosophy can lead us into captivity.
Titus 3 – Passions and pleasures can lead us into captivity.


“They aren’t animals. Animals can be defeated with much lesser weapons. What you saw were the powers that control the little ones.” –p.94


What are the weapons we use in spiritual warfare? See 2 Corinthians 10:4–5; Ephesians 6:17.


The weapon in both passages is the truth from Scripture. In Ephesians 6, the Word of God is depicted as the Holy Spirit’s sword—in our hands.

The weapon that demolishes strongholds in 2 Cor.10 is the act of correcting unbiblical ideas. This passage is often understood in terms of controlling one’s own thoughts, but in the context, the idea is that we confront the unbiblical ideas propagated by unbelievers and force those ideas into obedience to Christ. We do that by correcting them using the Word of God.


How might a person win a spiritual battle using these weapons?


Personal battles with temptation can be won using the sword of the Spirit. Jesus exemplified this in his temptations in Matthew 4. He quoted Scripture to counter the enemy’s lies. This required skilled use of Scripture because 1) Satan quoted Scripture in his temptations, and 2) the passages of Scripture that helped Jesus were passages that applied to his exact situation (being tested in the wilderness in a time of hunger).

An example of winning a spiritual battle in the 1 Cor.10 way would be a letter to the editor exposing the errors of common unbiblical thinking using the truth of Scripture.


“Why did the powers only appear when they saw you?”
   “They were there the whole time, but they only become visible to us when the light from the cottage pieces exposes them.” –p.94


what are some specific examples of how one might obey the command in Ephesians 5:11?


If a group conversation goes in an ungodly direction (such as gossip, off-color jokes, or complaining), rather than joining in, Eph.5:11 calls me to say something that exposes the evil of what’s going on. That can be done either directly (“The Bible forbids this kind of conversation”) or more subtly by countering their words with godly remarks. Respond to gossip by speaking well of the person, or to complaining with words of gratitude.

Another way to expose evil is to overcome it with good, like repaying an offense with an act of kindness or forgiveness.


Adam turned away, clasping his hands behind his head. The more they explained, the more his confusion increased. Could such a story be true? He couldn’t bring himself to believe it. But what did he believe? His imagination searched in vain for a more plausible alternative. –pp.95–96

One of the best ways to handle nagging doubts about Christianity is to ask, “What is the alternative?” As hard as some elements of Christianity are to believe, every other worldview has elements that are even harder. 


What are some elements of naturalism that are impossible to believe? (Naturalism is the belief that only the physical world exists.)


If I were a naturalist, I would have nagging doubts about the human mind. It’s impossible for me to believe that my mind is nothing more than my physical brain.

I would also have huge doubts about how the natural world could have created itself, since the scientific knowledge we have shows that matter is not eternal, and there is no such thing as a self-perpetuating anything. Everything eventually runs down.


What are some elements of evolutionism that are impossible to believe?


If I were an evolutionist, I would have nagging doubts about the following belief: “If there is nothing in existence except hydrogen gas shooting through space and gravity, eventually it will turn into humans.


What are some elements of agnosticism that are impossible to believe?


Agnostics claim it’s impossible to know for sure if there is a God (which means they believe that even if there is a God, it would be impossible for him to communicate truth things about himself to us).

If I were an agnostic, I would have nagging doubts about the idea that not even a God of infinite, perfect wisdom and power would be incapable of communicating truth about himself. If we can communicate, why wouldn’t a Supreme Being be capable of communicating?


What are some elements of Christian liberalism (belief in the morals of the Bible but not the supernatural elements) that are impossible to believe?


If I were a liberal, I would have nagging questions about all the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. If that never happened, how did a group of disciples go from not believing it happened to being so convinced that they were willing to die for the claim? We have a lot of information about these witnesses, and everything we have points to them being extraordinarily honest men and reliable historians. People don’t make up stories that make them look like buffoons, and no one dies for something they know to be a lie.  

I would also have a nagging thought, “If there is no supernatural, how did everything come into existence (since there is no natural process that could explain it)?


“To apprehend truth requires both mind and soul. The mind cannot accurately process information without proper attitudes—attitudes it needs to interpret and absorb the information it receives. The way the little ones became so small was by severing the cord that connects mind with soul, leaving their souls to wither. And the mind, no matter how intelligent, cannot draw accurate conclusions when there is a diseased soul.” –pp.95–96


What attitudes in your heart threaten to cloud your thinking on spiritual matters?


I think the bad attitude I struggle the most with is self-pity. When things get especially difficult, I often descend into thoughts of self-pity which clouds my thinking about God’s goodness, kindness, generosity, and love.


What do we learn from Ephesians 4:22—24 and Philippians 2:5 about how to change the attitudes of the heart?


Eph.4 – Renewing of attitudes is part of the process of displacing the old self with the new self. The sins of old life must be pushed out of one’s life by replacing them with the corresponding virtues.  

Php.2 – We transform our attitudes by following the example of Christ’s attitude of humility.


In what ways does faith function as a two-way cord connecting mind with soul (delivering necessary information from the mind to the soul and necessary attitudes from the soul to the mind)? See John 8:31—32; Colossians 3:9—10.


Col.3 – The new self is being made new “in knowledge.” Knowledge is required for the renewal of the inner man to take place.

Jn.8 – Before the mind can know the truth, there must first be a prior commitment to Christ’s teaching in the heart.


“What he means is you can’t know the truth unless your heart is receptive to it.” –p.96


Write a brief summary of what the following passages teach about new birth: John 3:3–8; Titus 3:3–7; 1 Peter 1:22–25.


Jn.3 – New birth is invisible, like the Spirit (and the wind). But one must be born again in order to enter the kingdom of God.

Titus 3 – Rebirth is the means by which God saves us. It happens not because of our righteousness, but because of his mercy.

1 Peter 1 – Life from the new birth is eternal, not perishable because it happens by means of the eternal Word of God.