Conceding to Giants

Once upon a time there was a very large group of people who had settled in a rich and fertile land. After some time, the ruler of the land, a dragon, enslaved those people for 400 years. A deliverer was raised up from among those people. God had sent this man to free his people from the dragon’s clutches of death and tyranny, and to bring them into a land better than the one they were inhabiting as slaves. Through many great and mighty acts the man of God freed the people from the clutches of the dragon, and had brought them to the border of the land they were about to inhabit. This land was promised to them, by God Almighty. But, there was a catch, there were enemies in the land. Giants, in fact, descendants of the dragon. But, no fear, for God had promised them victory, if only they would believe Him and obey Him.

Spies were sent into this land of promise, 12 to be precise, and 10 of them brought back tales of horror and impeding doom if they went in to fight as God commanded them. “There are Giants in the land!” they cried. “We can never defeat them, for they are much too strong and much to advanced. They have total control over all the schools of education and they have indoctrinated all the people into believing in their false gods, and in the virtues of their wickedness. The have taken control over the production and distribution of the economy. They control the health care, and the entertainment, and the military, and even the food supply and the all means of communication. There is not one square inch of all creation under which they have not taken over and used as an advantage for their empire. They are giants and we are but grasshoppers in their sight. We can never win.”

So the report of the 10 had sway over the people, though the other 2 were unconvinced and believed that this God who had redeemed them in a mighty way from the hands of the dragon, would in fact fight for them again and stay true to His promise, and now defeat these dragon descendants. The people did not believe them, or their God. So, God had sworn an oath, in His wrath and anger against His people, that because of their unbelief, they would never enter the land! That generation of people sealed their own fate and sentenced themselves to wander in the wilderness until they died, never to see the land flowing with milk and honey that God had promised them. This was a very bad thing.

The next generation born to them, did enter into that land, and began to believe the promises of their God. God fought for them, and they were successful at killing many giants. And slowly over time, as they took control over more and more, they began to build new institutions of education, based upon their God’s law. They also built a better economy, not based upon the unjust weights and measures of fractional reserve banking, but through honest weights and measures backed by real gold and silver. They took control over the judicial system, putting many righteous God-fearing men in positions over the people. They created a godly culture of entertainment and arts, and a national defense and a police force that really sought to protect the people. Places of worship were spread throughout the whole land, so that the people of every tribe could all be taught about God and His law, and how to worship Him in Spirit and in truth.

And if it were not for me telling you, you might think that things always continued this way, to get better without any push back or resistance from the enemy. Not so. In fact, this was a very long and arduous project they undertook, spanning many generations. Most of those generations actually became even worse than the people they were supposed to eradicate. Most of the time they did whatever was right in their own eyes, and God sent judgments their way, attempting to purge them from their sins. But throughout it all, God had sent his prophets to his people to tell them of another redeemer to come, one like the first redeemer, but this time it would be the Lord Himself to come. And to ensure His victory, He promised that His law would not just be written on stone, but His spirit would fill them, and His law would be on their hearts.

This Redeemer finally came, and fought against the real enemy that plagued his people with the power of evil and death, the True Dragon. This savior came to bring people life and goodness by dying, thereby killing the Dragon, and reversing evil and death. He rose from the dead to forever make life victorious over death, and good to triumph over evil. He crushed the head of the prototypical Giant, the Great Dragon and promised His people once again, that their mission was to go and kill the giants. He promised them God would put all his enemies under His feet, and he did so by putting the dragons under their feet. They were to fight against them with the power of the Spirit and with the Word of Truth. Yet this time, the land that was promised to them was the whole world! God’s promise had finally been given new power and life, so that the promise would not fail, and the curse of the Dragon would finally be reversed, and the people of the world would no longer follow the dragon, but the Savior. And it was in this manner that God promised His people victory.

And as it is in a great number of stories, there is always a character who thinks he is doing good, but is blinded by the dragons magic. In one particular instance, there are a group of God’s people who are strangely like the group that believed the report of the 10 spies. They believe that the Giants are too big, and too numerous to be defeated. In fact, they believe that it is necessary for the Giants to defeat God’s people, and to take over the earth. And only then at the very end, after everything is destroyed and there is no hope, only then will the savior return to defeat all the dragons and giants, and that by almost destroying this world. But, in a twist, this time the savior would rule from one of the ancient cities of earth, the one that He was killed in fact. But his “reign” will last for 1000 years. In this 1000 year kingdom, the whole thing happens all over again: the good King fails to keep his kingdom from being sieged by the dragon. It is attacked again, and only then at the very end, when that world is about to be destroyed by the dragon, does the Good king destroy it finally to build a new heaven and new earth where there will no longer be any dragons, or giants, or dark magic of death.

Now, if I were a dragon, I think it would be a very advantageous thing to get the enemy to believe that I was going to succeed in my mission, and that any attempt by them to defeat me would be ultimately futile, for then they would be hindering the coming of their savior, who of course is only going to come when it gets so bad that the only one who in fact could do anything about it would be God. That seems like a good little lie to tell these church people, so that whenever they see how bad things are, they will remain in their little churches and wait for the savior to come, instead of actually obeying their God, who promised them victory over me. Ha! They have all believed the lies of the 10 spies again, when in fact if they would have believed the report of the 2 postmillennial spies we might have all been killed some time ago. But as it turns out, because of these people’s unbelief, God had sworn in His wrath that they would not enter His rest. These fools are repeating the same sin again, and yet this time they think that by doing so they are being faithful and obedient. As long as I can continue to get them to believe that there are Giants in the land, and they are grasshoppers in our sights, we have the victory!

Advertisements

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.

Subdue It and Have Dominion

“We will begin, then, with the creation of the world and with God its Maker, for the first fact that you must grasp is this: the renewal of creation has been wrought by the Self-same Word Who made it in the beginning. There is thus no inconsistency between creation and salvation; for the One Father has employed the same Agent for both works, effecting the salvation of the world through the same Word Who made it at first.” ~St. Athanasius, On the Incarnation

From the very beginning of man’s existence, God gave man a special work to do, namely, to have dominion, or rule, over all the creation. Man was originally created for this task, as can be seen in the fact that man was created in the image and likeness of God. In Genesis 1:26-28, after God says, “Let Us make man in Our image after Our likeness” God immediately describes the way in which man is to be like God, and what this image and likeness of God looks like fleshed out in creation, that is, dominion over the whole created order. Psalm 8:6 reiterates this theme when it says, “You have given him (man) dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet.” Man, as God’s image bearer, was to carry on the same work as God, by virtue of his created position as king.

But the purpose of kingly rule as was originally intended was not domination, but glorification. We can see in Genesis 2:15 that man was to “cultivate” and “keep” the Garden of Eden. “Cultivate” means “to serve”, and “keep” means “to guard or preserve.” So man, in his position of kingly ruler over the Garden was given dominion over the Garden, which was to be a rule of serving and preserving, glorifying, not destroying. As we will see later, this serving role carries with it priestly duties. Thus man, in the garden, was to rule over it as king, but also serve as priest. Adam’s serving God as priest was manifested in his serving the creation. This concept of king/priest has interesting implications when Scripture introduces Melchizedek, a Priest of God Most High, and King of Salem (Gen. 14:18), who is typological of Jesus Christ.

Along with his Dominion mandate, man was also to subdue the creation. The word “subdue” in Hebrew carries with it the idea that the one being subdued is hostile and fighting against the one attempting to subdue it. According to Harris’ Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, “‘[S]ubdue’ in Gen 1:28 implies that creation will not do man’s bidding gladly or easily and that man must now bring creation into submission by main strength. It is not to rule man. However, there is a twistedness in humanity which causes us to perform such a task with fierce and destructive delight. Try as we might, we cannot subdue this.”

But just as soon as man began his dominion rule, he lost it when Adam, the first man, representative of all mankind after him, disobeyed God, and fell in to sin. He then lost his ability to bring the created world into subjection because the creation was now not only working against him and fighting against him as before, but now the whole created order was cursed, particularly the ground. The ground signified the realm of man’s work, the place that was given over to him for subduing and dominion (Gen. 3:17,18). Man was now subjected to death, and he would be placed back into the ground when he died, the place from which he was originally created. The ground was not only cursed as a result of man’s sin, but the ground, now symbolic of the place of man’s death, now even takes over man’s role of dominion, whereby it now subdues and  has dominion over man in man’s death. Thus, when man dies he is put into the ground, and the ground then, or the grave, the place of death, now rules over man.

According to many theologians, Genesis 1-4 is the foundation to the whole Biblical story. Everything that happens in the Biblical story is an outworking of Genesis 1-4. The major themes are repeated over and over again, but are flushed out more and more as redemptive history keeps moving forward through time. I mention this because I want you to see that along with the mandate given to man to have dominion, there is always a place given to man to work out this dominion. At first it was given to man in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:8).

But after man was kicked out of the Garden, man became broken up in to two groups of people, the Godly line of Seth, and the wicked line of Cain. The Godly line of Seth, the line from which humanity was to be redeemed, came about after the first death was recorded. The wicked line of Cain was the descendants that came after the one responsible for the first death. We can see in this, the foreshadowing of Christ’s death and resurrection which would redeem humanity. Christ the righteous (Abel) was killed by the wicked (Cain), only to have redemption carry on through a new birth, or a “resurrection” (Seth).

We see that as Genesis 4 comes to a close, the blessed man went from a living in a Garden to being cursed and living in a city (Gen. 4:17). This is important because we see throughout Scripture God is always bringing man back into the Garden, restoring his position of dominion. At the same time we see that God’s people are constantly being opposed by those who build cities, (Cain’s city, Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah, Egypt, Babylon, etc.)  I mention this strange idea that seemingly has nothing to do with dominion because as we see God bringing his people into cities, and into lands, God’s people transform those cities and lands, and gradually man’s dominion mandate is being restored, and it is often referred to in a manner that is similar to a return to Eden.

Joseph (the man whom God brought into the pagan city, over which he became ruler over all the land [Gen. 41:43]), in order to protect his family from the famine, provides his family the best land in all of Egypt, the land of Goshen (Genesis 45:18; 47:5-6,11,26). We are told that Egypt is even similar to the “garden of the Lord” in Gen. 13:10. Thus we can see God bringing his people to “rule” over the place that is “like the garden of the Lord.” Nonetheless, they are even brought into the very best part of the land, reminiscent of Eden, a mini dominion restoration story.

God then sends Moses to redeem the children of Israel from their bondage to Egypt, and He promises to bring them into a land flowing with milk and honey, another Edenic type land (Joel 2:3). On their journey, God provides them with the Tabernacle. Something interesting to note here is that the Tabernacle entrance was on the east side (Ex. 27:13-16). When man was cast out of the Garden of Eden, he was cast out of the garden from the east, and the cherubim were placed there with flaming swords to guard the tree of life (Gen. 3:24), which is the place where man met with God in communion and fellowship. Now, in the tabernacle, only one man, the high priest, who “served” the Lord in his “priestly” duties once a year, entered into the Holy of Holies, from the east, meeting God at the Ark of the Covenant, which was “protected” by two cherubim (Ex. 25:17-21), signifying a return to the Garden of Eden, the place where man has fellowship and communion with God, the place where God meets his people (Ex. 25:22).

Jesus Christ is now serving in the true tabernacle / temple in Heaven (Heb. 8:1-2) as the Melchizedekian priest (Psalm 110:4; Heb.7), making intercession on behalf of all those who can now draw near to God through Christ as a result of his death and resurrection (Heb. 7:25).

It was through the tabernacle and the giving of the divine law by which the Israelites were to be a kingdom of priests and a light to all the nations. This was to make them a distinct people, but not to be a reason for separatism. God redeemed them and gave them the law so that they might continue the dominion work, the expansion of God’s kingdom, on earth. Dominion was lost in the Garden because God’s Law was broken, therefore the restoration of dominion will carry with it obedience to God’s law, as is promised in the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31; Deut. 30:6; Ezek. 36:25-27).

This return to Eden and the restoration of man’s dominion was amplified even more so when the children of Israel were in the land of promise, the place of dominion, observing the holy festivals that God gave them. For example, during the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths the Children of Israel were told to, on the first day of the week of the celebration “take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days” (Lev. 23:40). This was to remind them that God was bringing them back into the garden.

Once the Tabernacle was replaced with the Temple, even more Edenic imagery occurs in the construction of the Temple.  In 1 Kings 6:29-36 we are told that Solomon, the King, has built a Temple for the Lord. And inside the Temple is was full of Edenic imagery: “Then he carved all the walls of the house round about with carved engravings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers, inner and outer sanctuaries.” Solomon, the Wise King, whose reign was peaceful and full of rest (1 Kings 5:4), symbolizes what a return to the Garden will be like, peace and rest, while David, his kingdom reign was characteristic of war and violence. He fought against the enemies of God, the wicked line of Cain, in order to bring peace to the land, and to establish the Godly kingdom. David fought to bring about peace by killing off the enemies of God and God’s people. And Solomon, once peace was ushered in, brought the people into the presence of God, via the Temple with all of its “back to Eden” imagery.

Even when the Israelites were taken into captivity by the Babylonians, Daniel, who was a Joseph type character who had dreams and interpreted them for the foreign ruler in whose land he was in, brought about restoration even to pagan Babylon. Daniel and his three friends were exalted to ruling positions over Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 2:46-49). But even more importantly, God was exalted among the pagan Babylonians (Dan. 3:29). As a result of Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams which Daniel interpreted, as well as his humiliation, Nebuchadnezzar was converted and was shown “How great are His signs, And how mighty are His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And His dominion is from generation to generation” (Dan. 4:3, 34). Babylon, which at that time was considered to be the kingdom of kingdoms on the earth, was shown that another kingdom was to come, and this kingdom, with all of its dominion restoration and ever increasing rule was coming with it.

In Daniel 2 and 7, two visions are given. In chapter 2, Daniel interprets a dream for Nebuchadnezzar in which he interprets a huge statue as symbolic of four kingdoms (2:31-45). The statue is destroyed by a “stone cut from a mountain without hands.” It was symbolic of another kingdom, that would never be destroyed. “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever” (Dan. 2:44-45).

A similar vision is given in chapter 7, except this time the four kingdoms are represented by four beasts. The four kingdoms are Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome.“As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time.  13 “I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him.  14 “And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed” (Dan. 7:12-14). Here we see that not only is a new kingdom coming, but a new king, who is referred to as the “Son of Man.”  This king is given, by God, the Ancient of Days, dominion, everlasting dominion in which all peoples, nations, and languages would serve him. And his kingdom will never pass away.

I pause here to collect our thoughts about all that we have seen thus far. The concept of dominion in intrinsically connected with the garden, and a return to Eden, i.e. New Creation. Also God’s kingdom and priestly serving is all intertwined. I have not said all that could have been said, but I feel that I have sufficiently provided thus far the foreshadowing and typology that Scripture lays out for us, which is, as Our Lord Jesus spoke to those two men on the road to Emmaus, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27). And so, I shall at this time do the same.

Jesus Christ is the Second or Last Adam. He is the true image of God (Col. 1:15), the true Man. Just as man was given dominion and kingship over the creation, Colossians tells us that Christ was the one who not only created all other dominions, and thrones, and rulers, but that he created them for himself. I quoted Ps. 8:6 earlier to show that man was given dominion and that all things were put under his feet. This idea of “having all things put under feet,” is extremely kingly, as can be seen by the fact that it is directly related to Christ’s reign as King in 1 Cor. 15:27. In this verse Paul quotes Psalm 8:6 (and alludes to Psalm 110:1 earlier in verse 25), and reinterprets it/them to show that by nature of Christ’s resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God, all things are now put in subjection under his feet. Jesus Christ is the true King over all creation and has restored humanity back to his original position as kings, hence we are told that we will “reign with him” (2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 5:10).

Man was created to be a king/priest to serve God, but as a result of the fall and death, he forfeited that role. Jesus Christ, as a result of his resurrection and defeat of death, now occupies that very same position that we lost. The upshot of his resurrection and ascension, Jesus Christ is now seated at the right hand of the Father, reigning as the Davidic King over all his enemies (Acts 2:22-36; 1 Cor. 15:22-26), who, like his father David, destroyed, except he did this via his death and resurrection (John 12:31; Col. 2:15).

In the garden we saw that man not only ruled as king, but served as priest. Hebrews 7 tells us that Psalm 110 is to be interpreted Christologically, and therefore when Ps. 110:4 says, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek,” we are being told that as a result of Christ living forever, via his resurrection and ascension, he is now occupying the position of the Eternal King / High priest. But he has also “made [us] to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and [we] will reign upon the earth.” Our position of serving God and the creation is restored in Christ, and we are to, as before, glorify and not destroy the creation. Our attitude toward the creation shows our attitude toward God, for he gave us dominion over the creation as a means of serving Him. If we, in our duty to subdue the creation “perform such a task with fierce and destructive delight,” and end up destroying it and polluting it, and exhausting its resources, and if we lack the wisdom and the know how to worship God by means of our dominion mandate, then we are returning back to our position of post fall man, and render the work of Christ meaningless, and we inevitably are spurning the work of God by not recognizing our “newness.”

We are told in Romans 8:19-23 that “the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” Some people think that because the earth is going to be burned up in the end before the New Heavens and New Earth are ushered in, that caring for the environment is pointless and futile. But I believe that since we have been restored to our original position as kings and priests over the creation, even though the fullness thereof will be fulfilled in the New Heavens New Earth, I believe we will be doing the same thing there, so we should also be doing the same thing here not only as preparation, but to symbolize that we are redeemed people of a new creation restored back to our dominion mandate. I feel that by caring for the environment and by glorifying our surroundings we are glorifying God and acting like Him, and are living out our being created as the image of God, i.e. dominion over the creation as king priests.

Where the first Adam fell and brought death, the Last Adam, Jesus Christ, through his death and resurrection, like that of the story of Cain and Abel and Seth, brought life and restoration and redemption (Rom. 5:17). By virtue of Christ’s resurrection in particular, we can see that, just as death and the grave had dominion over man, Jesus Christ now has dominion over death and the grave, for Rom. 6:9 says, “We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.” And since we are now in Christ, death no longer has dominion over us. Yeah, we still die physically, but there will be a day when Christ will raise us up into glorified bodies, so that we can live and reign forever with Him in / as the “garden city” of the Heavenly Jerusalem (Rev. 21:10; 22:5).

In summary, we can see that man’s original created purpose was to glorify God by serving the creation and glorifying the creation. In effect, man was to turn the whole world into Eden. Man’s role of dominion over the creation was lost when Adam sinned, and the ground, the place of man’s work then had dominion over man in man’s death. God promised to redeem man, and throughout the Bible gave mini-redemption stories and used a lot of imagery which carried a lot of Edenic imagery, representing God was restoring man back to his original state. Jesus Christ came, defeated death, restored the image of God in man, reversed the curse of the fall by becoming a curse for us (Gal. 3:13). He resurrected from the dead, taking dominion away from the grave. He ascended to the right hand of God where he now reign as the Davidic King, and serves as High Priest to God for His people. He has everlasting Dominion as the Son of Man and his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. His people therefore, through Christ, are now restored back to their position as king/priests on the earth and are to serve God via dominion over all creation since Christ made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God and Father. In short, Christ is bringing in the New Creation (2 Cor. 5:17), and therefore we, as new creations, are to live accordingly, and are to reign and serve as kings and priests to our God and Father by virtue of our union with Christ, the Second Adam.

Bibliography

Chilton, David. Paradise Restored: A Biblical Theology of Dominion. Horn Lake, MS: Dominion Press, 2007.

Jordan, James B. Through New Eyes: Developing a Biblical View of the World.Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt Pub, 1988.

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.

—————————————-

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

 

For He Must Reign… – part 2: Coming on the Clouds (Mt. 26:64; Dan. 7:13-14; Ps. 110)

In Matthew 26:63-64, Jesus is being questioned by Caiaphas the high priest. Caiaphas asks Jesus, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God?” Jesus’ reply has been misunderstood by many, thinking that he is speaking of his second coming. Jesus acknowledges that Caiaphas is right, that Jesus is the Son of God. Undoubtedly the high priest understood Psalm 2 which speaks of God’s Son as being King over Zion. Thus, being understood by the high priest as we understand it today, that Psalm 2 is a messianic Psalm, Caiaphas knew that the messiah, the King of Israel, was to be the Son of God (which explains why the sign above the head of Jesus on the cross read, King of the Jews).

Jesus acknowledges that Caiaphas was correct, and then continues to exegete himself from two other O.T. passages, Psalm 110, and Daniel 7. Using a combination of these two texts (in which he intertwines them both together to form one new text in which to derive one meaning), Jesus refers to himself in v. 64 as the Son of Man, obviously a reference to Daniel 7:13,14. Jesus then refers to Psalm 110:1, and says that he would be sitting at the right hand of God. Continuing on, Jesus then goes back to Daniel 7 and speaks of his coming on the clouds of heaven. How are we to understand this? Let’s first look at Daniel 7, since we already dealt with Psalm 110 above.

Daniel 7:13,14 says:

13  “I kept looking in the night visions,
         And behold, with the clouds of heaven
         One like a Son of Man was coming,
         And He came up to the Ancient of Days
         And was presented before Him.
    
14
“And to Him was given dominion,
         Glory and a kingdom,
         That all the peoples, nations and men of every language
         Might serve Him
         His dominion is an everlasting dominion
         Which will not pass away;
         And His kingdom is one
         Which will not be destroyed.
(NASB)

            As I mentioned above, many people, when they read Matthew 26:64, when Jesus refers to his “coming on the clouds of heaven”, they take that to mean his second coming. But let us notice something plain as day, and that is, in Daniel 7:13, what direction is the Son of Man going on the clouds of heaven?

“I kept looking in the night visions,
         And behold, with the clouds of heaven
         One like a Son of Man was coming,
         And He came up to the Ancient of Days
         And was presented before Him.”

The Son of Man in Daniel 7 is going up, up to the ancient of days, not coming down. And when in the gospel accounts, did Jesus go up? At the Ascension. This Daniel 7 passage is not speaking of the second coming of Christ, but his Ascension to the right hand of the Father. And notice what the Son of Man receives at his coming up to the Ancient of Days, verse 14,

“And to Him was given dominion,
         Glory and a kingdom,
         That all the peoples, nations and men of every language
         Might serve Him
         His dominion is an everlasting dominion
         Which will not pass away;
         And His kingdom is one
         Which will not be destroyed.”

            So when Jesus, in Matt. 26:64, speaks of his coming on the clouds of heaven, we can now understand Jesus to be referring to His enthronement as King, and his being given a kingdom. This is congruent with Psalm 110 which Jesus also refers to in Matt. 26:64. As we have already seen, God the Father tells His Son that he is to sit at His right hand until all his enemies are made his footstool. Jesus directly connects these two passages, Psalm 110 and Daniel 7, explaining that he is the Son of Man who will be going up to the Ancient of Days to be seated at the right hand of the Father, where he is given his everlasting kingdom, which is characteristic of all his enemies being made his footstool. This is why the Caiaphas tore his robes and said that Jesus was a blasphemer, and why the sign “King of the Jews” was put over his head while he was on the cross.