If we are to read each portion of scripture in view of the broader story of scripture, then what is that bigger story? What is the overarching storyline of the Bible? In this episode, we cover the first few epochs of that overarching story: creation, fall, and the covenants.
On Sunday, January 24th, 2016, I began a Core Seminar on Redemptive History & Biblical Theology at my church, Lake Drive Baptist Church. During the course of this series I’ll be sending out emails recapping lessons and directing recipients to resources for further study.
Rather than just share these recaps with my church family, I’ve decided to share them here on the blog for anyone else who might be interested. I will be posting them occasionally over the next couple of months on a weekly basis or so.
See previous posts:
- Introducing Biblical Theology and Redemptive History (LDBC Recap 1/24/16)
- The Significance and Relevance of Biblical Theology and Redemptive History (LDBC Recap 1/31/16)
- Foundational Principles and Basic Frameworks for Redemptive History and Biblical Theology (LDBC Recap 2/7/16)
- Redemptive-Historical, Biblical-Theological Hermeneutics (LDBC Recap 2/14/16 Pt. 1)
- Redemptive-Historical Survey: 1 | Creation (LDBC Recap 2/14/16 Pt. 2)
- Redemptive-Historical Survey: 2 | The Fall (LDBC Recap 2/21/16)
- Redemptive-Historical Survey: 3 | The Flood & Noahic Covenant (LDBC Recap 2/28/16)
- Redemptive-Historical Survey: 4 | Abrahamic Covenant & the Patriarchs (LDBC Recap 3/6/16 Pt. 1)
- Redemptive-Historical Survey: 5 | The Exodus (LDBC Recap 3/6/16 Pt. 2)
This week we covered the Law or the Mosaic Covenant and its role in redemptive history.
Overview of Biblical material
Exodus 19-Deuteronomy 34.
God brings the people of Israel to Mt. Sinai (or Mt. Horeb) and he makes a covenant with them involving many laws.
Before we move forward, we do well to note the various terms used to refer to this covenant so that, as we talk about this covenant and perhaps use these various terms, we are all on the same page in knowing what we are talking about.
- The Law – Because this was law-covenant, a covenant involving many laws.
- Mosaic Covenant – Because Moses was the mediator of this covenant; it was given through Moses.
- Israelite Covenant – Because this covenant was made with the nation of Israel.
- Sinai Covenant (or covenant at Sinai) – Because this is where the covenant was made.
- Old Covenant – i.e., “Old” as in contrast to the New Covenant. It is “old” now that it has been superseded.
Role within redemptive history
I just finished reading D.A. Carson’s chapter “Mystery and Fulfillment: Toward a More Comprehensive Paradigm of Paul’s Understanding of the Old and the New” in Justification and Variegated Nomism, volume 2 subtitled “The Paradoxes of Paul.” These two volumes, the first of which deals with the variegated nature of 1st century/Second Temple Judaism while the second addresses the interpretation of Paul himself, are a collection of essays which seek to respond to the claims made by what has been called the New Perspective on Paul (or better: New Perspectives [plural] on Paul).
The following is my attempt to summarize the main argument of the chapter:
Carson presents the “coherent tension” between mystery (which entails some degree of discontinuity) and fulfillment (which entails some element of preceding anticipation and thus continuity) in Paul’s thought and applies to a response to the proposals of the New Perspective.
He argues that the New Perspective on Paul, which in many ways views Paul as not diverting from Judaism but, rather, in essence advancing what could be understood as a sect of Judaism in continuity with Judaism and as fitting the criteria of “covenantal nomism,” fails to grapple with the way in which Paul’s thought, although containing a strong sense of continuity with the Old Testament and its religion, which is evidenced by Paul’s pervasive “fulfillment”-framework, nonetheless has strong currents of discontinuity, which are evidenced by his inclusion of mystery concepts alongside his “fulfillment”-framework.
In other words, he argues that the New Perspective on Paul, which stresses significant continuity between Paul and Judaism and/or “covenantal nomism,” fails to handle with integrity the continuity and discontinuity framework in Paul, a framework evidenced by the existence of “mystery” and “fulfillment” concepts in Paul.
Although I have significant interest in the conversations and debates inspired by the proposals of New Perspective, I actually set out to read this chapter because of its interaction with matters pertaining to redemptive history, issues continuity and discontinuity, typology, the role of the law, the relationship between the Testaments, the concept of mystery in Paul and the NT, etc. Carson provides some helpful insights into these matters as he “utilizes” them in his interaction with the New Perspective.
In other words, if either the New Perspective or any of the other topics interests you, I’d add this essay to your reading list.
Yesterday Matt Smethurst published a blog post on Israel, Gaza, and the idea of Israel’s ‘divine right’ to the land (originally posted Nov 22, 2012). In it Matt linked to and shared thoughts from one of John Piper’s sermons on that same topic. I was familiar with this sermon; I have listened to it once or twice previously. But I was reminded of it yesterday; and, like Matt, I thought it would be good to share his principles as well as some commentary.
In the sermon, John Piper provides 7 principles concerning Israel, Palestine, the land, ‘divine right,’ etc. I want to share these because 1) this is incredibly relevant right now and 2) I think Piper is spot on here.
1. God chose Israel from all the peoples of the world to be his own possession.
Deuteronomy 7:6 – The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
2. The Land was part of the inheritance he promised to Abraham and his descendants forever.
Genesis 15:18 – On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates.”
Genesis 17:7-8 – “I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”
Just a few days ago I tweeted the following:
(1/2) Definite discontinuity exists within God’s redemptive plan. But it is not “raw” discontinuity (parenthetical)…
— Kirk E. Miller (@kirkevanmiller) August 18, 2013
(2/2) … It is discontinuity effected through the fulfillment of one unified salvation program (continuity).
— Kirk E. Miller (@kirkevanmiller) August 18, 2013
I’ve decided to expand upon and explain these tweets in further detail in this post. Allow me to do this by providing an illustration.