Peter as the New Moses

Peter begins his first epistle by addressing “those who are elect exiles…” He calls them “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation”, which is the same language that God used to speak to the Israelites in Exodus 19:4 after He had just brought them out of Egypt. Just a few verses later in 2:11 Peter refers to them as “sojourners and exiles”, which is what God called Israel in Exo. 22:21. He encourages them to live as people who are free (2:16), indicating that they have been set free, and are no longer in bondage. This gives us a view to the “time” in which Peter was living when he wrote this. For all of these OT echoes are prior to Israel entering in to the land, and also after the Exodus. Thus, Peter and his audience are in the equivalent of the 40 year wilderness wandering just prior to entering into the land.

Just as during this time in the OT the people under went trials by fiery serpents, so too will these believers undergo some “fiery trials” of their own (4:12). It was because of such people who didn’t believe God in the days of the wilderness wandering, that the faithful had to wait until the generation of unbelievers died off before they could enter in to the land. Similarly, Peter tells them that the end of all things is at hand (4:7), corresponding to the end of ‘that generation’ in the wilderness, which in the case of Peter, is the end of “this generation” as the Lord Jesus had spoke in Matt. 24:34. The covenantal curse is upon those who rejected the Messiah and did not believe the Prophet. Thus, Peter says that judgment must begin with the household of God, which came upon Israel in AD 70, forty years after Christ was crucified, the equivalent of a generation.

Peter is like a Moses figure who is writing to Joshua type pastors, getting them ready to bring the people into the land of the new covenant. He thus tells them to “shepherd the flock of God”, just as Moses, after he was told that he would not enter into the land, appealed to the Lord for a man to shepherd the congregation of the Lord into the land (Num. 28:17). Similarly, Peter too is not going to enter into the land, like Moses, since Peter’s death occurred in AD 67, just a few years prior to entering fully into the New Covenant era. So he writes to his “Joshuas” giving them “Deueronomical” type instructions for when they enter into the ‘land.’

What is interesting is that what Peter looks forward to is not some heavenly existence in some ethereal realm, but to the New Covenant. The New Covenant is the “salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” and the New Covenant is the subsequent glory that follow Christ’s death, and the New Covenant is that thing which angels long to look! Hence, Peter says, “Therefore…set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” which was in AD 70, when the Old Covenant passed away and the New Covenant came fully into existence. But just because the glorious New Covenant is here, doesn’t mean instantaneous perfection, for Peter encourages his readers to continue to long for the word, like spiritual milk, that they might grow up into their salvation.

The whole history of redemption is one of maturation, and when Peter was writing, they were essentially new-borns in the new covenant. They needed to grow up into their salvation through the word. The question then is, though we are in the “land of the New Covenant,” yet because we have not fully arrived and are not matured 100%, and are not in the New Earth after the resurrection and judgment of all things, should we consider ourselves as still in a “wilderness wandering status?” Would that be the equivalent of the “Not Yet” in the Already/Not Yet paradigm? Or is the Not Yet a qualifier of the maturation level of the Already, as is, we are Already in the New Covenant, but we are Not Yet experiencing the full maturation of it? Like how Israel was in the land but needed to cast out the inhabitants and expand dominion throughout the whole land. Similarly the Church is “in the land” that is, in the New Earth, but Christ has not yet put all His enemies under Hs feet. I think it is the latter. But in either case, we need to take Peters advice and continue to grow up to salvation by the word, and continue to be holy, for God is Holy. Amen, and Amen.

John Owen, The Preterist

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 11Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”        ~2 Peter 3:10-13 ESV

John Owen provides a very interesting read of this passage, one that has been largely neglected since his day, but by the grace of God is becoming more of the predominant view, and is being understood as the truth of Scripture in many places, especially here at cross+words.

Here is just a brief portion of a sermon in which Owen postulated that the New Heavens and New Earth are essentially the New Covenant.

1. It is certain, that what the apostle intends by the “world,” with its heavens and earth, verses 5, 6, which was destroyed by water; the same, or somewhat of that kind, he intends by “the heavens and the earth” that were to be consumed and destroyed by fire, verse 7. Otherwise there would be no coherence in the apostle’s discourse, nor any kind of argument, but a mere fallacy of words.

2. It is certain, that by the flood, the world, or the fabric of heaven and earth, was not destroyed, but only the inhabitants of the world; and therefore the destruction intimated to succeed by fire, is not of the substance of the heavens and the earth, which shall not be consumed until the last day, but of persons or men living in the world.

3. Then we must consider in what sense men living in the world are said to be the “world,” and the “heavens and earth” of it. I shall 134only insist on one instance to this purpose, among many that may be produced, Isa. li. 15, 16. The time when the work here mentioned, of planting the heavens, and laying the foundation of the earth, was performed by God, was when he “divided the sea,” verse 15, and gave the law, verse 16, and said to Zion, “Thou art my people;” — that is, when he took the children of Israel out of Egypt, and formed them in the wilderness into a church and state.

Then he planted the heavens, and laid the foundation of the earth, — made the new world; that is, brought forth order, and government, and beauty, from the confusion wherein before they were. This is the planting of the heavens, and laying the foundation of the earth in the world. And hence it is, that when mention is made of the destruction of a state and government, it is in that language that seems to set forth the end of the world. So Isa. xxxiv. 4; which is yet but the destruction of the state of Edom. The like also is affirmed of the Roman empire, Rev. vi. 14; which the Jews constantly affirm to be intended by Edom in the prophets. And in our Saviour Christ’s prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem, Matt. xxiv., he sets it out by expressions of the same importance. It is evident, then, that, in the prophetical idiom and manner of speech, by “heavens” and “earth,” the civil and religious state and combination of men in the world, and the men of them, are often understood. So were the heavens and earth that world which then was destroyed by the flood.

4. On this foundation I affirm, that the heavens and earth here intended in this prophecy of Peter, the coming of the Lord, the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men, mentioned in the destruction of that heaven and earth, do all of them relate, not to the last and final judgment of the world, but to that utter desolation and destruction that was to be made of the Judaical church and state; for which I shall offer these two reasons, of many that might be insisted on from the text:—

(1.) Because whatever is here mentioned was to have its peculiar influence on the men of that generation. He speaks of that wherein both the profane scoffers and those scoffed at were concerned, and that as Jews; — some of them believing, others opposing the faith. Now, there was no particular concernment of that generation in that sin, nor in that scoffing, as to the day of judgment in general; but there was a peculiar relief for the one and a peculiar dread for the other at hand, in the destruction of the Jewish nation; and, besides, an ample testimony, both to the one and the other, of the power and dominion of the Lord Jesus Christ; — which was the thing in question between them.

(2.) Peter tells them, that, after the destruction and judgment that he speaks of, verse 13, “We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth,” etc. They had this expectation. But what is that promise? where may we find it? Why, we have it in the very words and letter, Isa. lxv. 17. Now, when shall this be that God will create these “new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness?” Saith Peter, “It shall be after the coming of the Lord, after that judgment and destruction of ungodly men, who obey not the gospel, that I foretell.” But now it is evident, from this place of Isaiah, with chap. lxvi. 21, 22, that this is a prophecy of gospel times only; and that the planting of these new heavens is nothing but the creation of gospel ordinances, to endure for ever. The same thing is so expressed, Heb. xii. 26–28.

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This sermon can found here: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/owen/sermons.iv.xiii.html.  Have fun!!!!

You can also see a series of videos featuring Kenneth Gentry about a Preteristic interpretation of Revelation at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjOThGeEnyc&feature=related