Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Exile of Israel

The question is Israel's exile had popped up in discussion over here. It is also relevant to the Church in Crisis series.

This is way too long, but you may find it interesting:
Most Jews of this period [second temple Judaism], it seems, would have answered the question 'where are we?' in language which, reduced to it's simplest form, meant: we are still in exile. They believed that, in all the senses that mattered, Israel's exile was still in progress. Although she had come back from Babylon, the glorious message of the prophets remained unfulfilled. Israel still remained in thrall to foreigners; worse, Israel's god had not returned to Zion. Nowhere in the so-called post-exilic literature is there any passage corresponding to 1 Kings 8.10f, according to which, when Solomon's temple had been finished, 'a cloud filled the house of YHWH, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of YHWH filled the whole house of YHWH.' Instead, Israel clung to the promises that one day the Shekinah, the glorious presence of her god, would return at last:

Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices,
together they sing for joy;
for in plain sight they see
the return of YHWH to Zion.
(Isaiah 52.8)

Then he brought me to the gate, the gate facing east. And there, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east; the sound was like the sound of mighty waters; and the earth shone with his glory...As the glory of the YHWH entered the temple by the gate facing east, the spirit lifted me up, and brought me into the inner court; and the glory of the Lord filled the temple...He said to me: Mortal, this is the place of my throne and the place for the soles of my feet, where I will reside among the people of Israel for ever. (Ezekiel 43.1-2, 4-5, 7; see also Ezekiel 48.35)


Nowhere in second-temple literature is it asserted that this has happened; therefor it still remains in the future. The exile is not yet really evil. This perception of Israel's present condition was shared by writers across the board in second-temple Judaism. We may cite the following as typical:

Here we are, slaves to this day—slaves in the land that you gave to our ancestors to enjoy its fruit and its good gifts. Its rich yield goes to the kings whom you have set over us because of our sins; they have power also over our bodies and over our livestock at their pleasure, and we are in great distress. (Nehemiah 9.36f.)

This could not be clearer: Israel has returned to the land, but is still in the 'exile' of slavery, under the oppression of foreign overlords. Similarly, the Damascus Document speaks of an exile continuing until the establishment of the sect:

For when hey were unfaithful and forsook Him, He hid His face from Israel and His Sanctuary and delivered them up to the sword. But remembering the Covenant of the forefathers, He left a remnant to Israel and did not deliver it to to be destroyed. And in the age of wrath, three hundred and ninety years after He had given them into the hand of king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, He visited them, and He caused a plant root to spring from and Israel and Aaron to inherit His land and to prosper o the good things of His earth...And God observed their deeds, that they sought Him with a whole heart, and he raised for them a Teacher of Righteousness to guide them in the way of his heart...


The exile, then, has continued long after the 'return', long after the work of Ezra and Nehemiah; it is finally being undone through the community that tells its story in this Scroll. Similarly, the book of Tobit (probably third century BC) speaks of a real post-exilic restoration of which the previous one was simply a foretaste:

But God will again have mercy on them and bring them back to the land of Israel. They shall rebuild the temple, but it will not be like the first one, until the era when the appointed times shall be completed. Afterward all of them shall return from their exile, and they shall rebuild Jerusalem with splendor. In her the temple of God shall also be rebuilt; yes, it will be rebuilt for all generations to come, just as the prophets of Israel said of her. All the nations of the world shall be converted and shall offer God true worship; all shall abandon their idols which have deceitfully led them into error, and shall bless the God of the ages in righteousness. Because all the Israelites who are to be saved in those days will truly be mindful of God, they shall be gathered together and go to Jerusalem; in security shall they dwell forever in the land of Abraham, which will be given over to them. Those who sincerely love God shall rejoice, but those who become guilty of sin shall completely disappear from the land. (Tobit 14.5-7)

None of these wonderful things have come to pass in the first century; even the rebuilding of the Temple by Herod would hardly count (though Herod had hoped that it would), since the other signs of the real return had not yet taken place. The so-called book of Baruch, probably composed around the same period, clearly reflects the same perspective:

For you are the LORD our God; and you, O LORD, we will praise! For this, you put into our hearts the fear of you: that we may call upon your name, and praise you in our captivity, when we have removed from our hearts all the wickedness of our fathers who sinned against you. Behold us today in our captivity, where you scattered us, a reproach, a curse, and a requital for all the misdeeds of our fathers, who forsook the LORD, our God. (Baruch 3.6-8)


A final example may be taken from 2 Maccabees, describing the prayer of Jonathan:

Gather together our scattered people, free those who are the slaves of the Gentiles, look kindly on those who are despised and detested, and let the Gentiles know that you are our God. Punish those who tyrannize over us and arrogantly mistreat us. Plant your people in your holy place, as Moses promised. (2 Maccabees 1.27-29)


The present age is still part of the 'age of wrath; until the Gentiles are put in their place and Israel, and the Temple, fully restored, the exile is not yet really over, and the blessings promised by the prophets are still to take place (cf. Daniel 9 and 1 Enoch 85-90).

No faithful Jew could believe that Israel's god would allow her to languish for ever under pagan oppressors. If he did, the taunts of the nations would after all be correct: he was only a tribal god, in competition with other tribal gods, and moreover losing the battle. As a result, Israel was able now to see the issue of good and evil in quite stark terms: evil became increasingly reckoned with in terms of 'that which threatened the covenant people', and the judgement of the creator god on evil in his world in general would coincide with the judgement that would fall on the pagans (meted out, perhaps, bu his chosen people). The little beleaguered nation looked out at the military might of Rome and the cultural power of Greece,felt both of them making painful and lasting inroads into her national life, and longed for the day when her covenant god would act to reverse the present state of affairs and come, himself, to deliver here and dwell again in her midst. Outside the walls of Israel there was evil and her god would defeat it. Inside, sheltered behind the religious boundary-markers that played so important a part in their whole story, Israel waited with faith and hope, in puzzlement and longing.

This problem is often seen in the later biblical and second-temple literature in terms of the covenant faithfulness (tsedaqah, 'righteousness') of Israel's god...The question of the righteousness of God, as expressed by Jews in this period, can be stated as follows: when and how would Israel's god act to fulfill his covenant promises (cf. e.g. Ezra 9.16-15; Nehemiah 9.6-38, Daniel 9.3-19,Tobit 3.2, the whole thrust of Isaiah 40-55 and Baruch 3.9-5-9). The solutions on offer fell into a fairly regular pattern with 'apocalyptic, writings. They can be best set out as follows:

a. Israel's god was indeed going to fulfill the covenant. The hope is never abandoned. (cf. Daniel 9.16, Neh 9.8, Joel 2.15-22, Ps Sol 9, Bar 5.9, 1 Enoch 63.3, Jubilees 31.2o etc.).

b. This will result in reestablishing the divinely intended order in all the world. (e.g. Isaiah 40-55, Daniel 7, Tobit 13-14 etc.).

c. Israel's present plight is to be explained , within the terms of divine covenantal faithfulness, as his punishment for her sin. (cf. Daniel 9, especially 7-9, 14 (LXX). Also Lamentations 1.18, Ezekiel 9.15, Nehemiah 9.33 and Deuteronomy 27-32; 2 Maccabees 7.38, 12.6, Wisdom 5 especially verse 18, 12.9ff., Sir. 16.22, 18.2, 45.26, Ps. Sol. 2.10-15, 8.7f., Bar. 1.15, 2.9, 5.2, 4, 9, Jubilees 1.6, 5.11-16, 21.4, etc; and Josephus War 3.351-4).

d. The explanation of the apparent inactivity of the covenant god at the present moment is that he is delaying in order to give more time for more people to repent; if he were to act now, not only the sons of darkness but a good number of the sons of light would be destroyed in the process. As a result of this process of delay, those who do not repent will be 'hardened' so that , when the time comes , their punishment will be seen to be just. (cf. eg. 2 Macc. 16.12ff, Wisdom 12.9ff, Sir 5.4, T. Moses 10.7, 2 Bar. 21.19ff., 4 Ezra 7.17-25, 9.11, 14.32, T. Abr. 10. The whole discussion in bSanh 97 is very relevant; see Bauckham 1980; 1983, 310-14).

e. The obligation of the covenant people was therefore to be patient and faithful, to keep the covenant with all their might, trusting him to act soon and vindicate them at last. (See 2 Bar. 44.4, 78.5, Letter of Baruch 78-86, and 4 Ezra - particularly 7.17-25, 8.36, 10.16, 14.32).

It should be clear from this that the idea of 'god's righteousness' was inextricably bound up with the idea of the covenant. These beliefs, which grew naturally out of the combination of monotheism and election, led to the characteristic shape of second-temple Jewish eschatology...Not until YHWH acted decisively to change things and restore the fortunes of his people would the exile be at an end. At the present time, the covenant people themselves were riddled with corruption, still undeserving of redemption...If Israel was called to be the means of the creator's undoing evil within his world, now that Israel has herself fallen victim to evil she herself needs restoration. The god of creation and covenant must act to redeem Israel herself from her continuing exile. But how would this come about?

If Israel's god was to deliver his people from exile, it could only be because he had somehow dealt with the problem which had caused her to go there in the first place, namely her sin...

-N.T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God
That God would deal with Israel's sin and predicament is seen in the best-known return from exile prophecies:

Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her
that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
Isaiah 40.1-2

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah....they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more... The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when the city shall be rebuilt for the Lord from the tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate...It shall never again be uprooted or overthrown. Jeremiah 31.31, 34, 38, 40.

I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you...Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. Ezekiel 36.24-25, 28.


Israel's exile is the result of her sin, idolatry and apostasy. The exile will be finished when YHWH forgives sin, restoring his people to their inheritance having dealt with their sin. Forgiveness was celebrated annually together at the Passover and the Day of Atonement - is Israel's sin caused her exile, her forgiveness will mean her reestablishment.

23 comments:

Mike Bull said...

Nowhere in the so-called post-exilic literature is there any passage corresponding to 1 Kings 8.10f, according to which, when Solomon's temple had been finished, 'a cloud filled the house of YHWH, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of YHWH filled the whole house of YHWH.'

Matt
You'll find it in Ezekiel 38-39, which is a prophecy of the events in the book of Esther. Prefiguring the New Covenant, the Lord's "glory cloud" is no longer angels but men, men with swords wiping out all the enemies of the Jews between India and Ethiopia.

"I will set My glory among the nations; all the nations shall see My judgment which I have executed, and My hand which I have laid on them. "So the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day forward. "The Gentiles shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity; because they were unfaithful to Me, therefore I hid My face from them. I gave them into the hand of their enemies, and they all fell by the sword. "According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions I have dealt with them, and hidden My face from them." ' "Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: 'Now I will bring back the captives of Jacob, and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name --'after they have borne their shame, and all their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, when they dwelt safely in their own land and no one made them afraid. 'When I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them out of their enemies' lands, and I am hallowed in them in the sight of many nations, 'then they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who sent them into captivity among the nations, but also brought them back to their land, AND LEFT NONE OF THEM CAPTIVE ANY LONGER. 'And I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,' says the Lord GOD."

This event is also the fulfilment of Joel 2. Peter quotes it in Acts because the pattern is being repeated (and Revelation refers to the Judaisers as the Babylonian locusts from Joel 1).

The Restoration makes a transition from the Kings era to the New Covenant era. On the day of Pentecost, the Lord's glory filled the Temple and the priests didn't have to flee - because the people were the Temple. Then the apostles went out with flaming swords (tongues) to conquer the enemies of God.

The passages you quoted from Jer 1 and Ezek 36 clearly refer to the period immediately after the exile. But like Joel 2, they prefigured New Testament events.

"I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you...Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. Ezekiel 36.24-25, 28.

Israel was forgiven after the captivity, demonstrated in the absolution of the sins that had rendered Joshua the High Priest unclean. The High Priest carried the sins of the whole nation on the Day of Atonement, but there was no Temple for this rite. Zechariah shows this carried out by God in heaven, instead, and Joshua is re-'covered.' Atonement was the 'Day of Covering.'

Mike Bull said...

No faithful Jew could believe that Israel's god would allow her to languish for ever under pagan oppressors. If he did, the taunts of the nations would after all be correct: he was only a tribal god, in competition with other tribal gods, and moreover losing the battle.

This statement must be based on the apocryphal writings. You won't find it in Scripture. During the Restoration era, the Jews would rule only by witnessing faithfully to the Gentile emperor, just as Joseph, Daniel and Mordecai did, prefiguring Christ at the right hand of the Father after His faithful witness.

As a result, Israel was able now to see the issue of good and evil in quite stark terms: evil became increasingly reckoned with in terms of 'that which threatened the covenant people', and the judgement of the creator god on evil in his world in general would coincide with the judgement that would fall on the pagans (meted out, perhaps, bu his chosen people).

In accordance with all previous Covenants, the Gentile powers only threatened Israel when they were disobedient. As discussed earlier, Antiochus Epiphanes was not the 'crime' but the punishment for the Jews' syncretism with Greece and their flogging of the High Priesthood for a price.

The little beleaguered nation looked out at the military might of Rome and the cultural power of Greece, felt both of them making painful and lasting inroads into her national life, and longed for the day when her covenant god would act to reverse the present state of affairs and come, himself, to deliver here and dwell again in her midst.

The little beleaguered nation had synagogues right across the empire, and more spiritual influence than ever before. She lost sight of her new role in this greater territory as a mediator for the empire, and chose elitism over servanthood - a twisted Ezra-ism. She failed to see God at work in the invisible, both under the Restoration Covenant and of course when the New Covenant arrived. She had no eyes to see the chariots of the Lord because she, as always, envied the chariots of Egypt, and the iron of Philistia, culminating in her perverse love-hate pact with Rome against the Messiah (Daniel 2:41-43; John 19:15).

Outside the walls of Israel there was evil and her god would defeat it. Inside, sheltered behind the religious boundary-markers that played so important a part in their whole story, Israel waited with faith and hope, in puzzlement and longing.

This is just like western Christianity today. We want God to come and rescue us from the world outside when He has commanded us to conquer the world and given us the same promise He gave to Joshua: "I am with you." If we are puzzled, we have misunderstood our mandate, just like these pre-Christian Jews. They converted Babylon and conquered Persia, then lost the plot.

Moffitt the Prophet said...

You'll find it in Ezekiel 38-39, which is a prophecy of the events in the book of Esther.

That's mere speculation.

Take the great return from exile prophecies: Isaiah 40-55, Ezekiel 36-37 and Joel 11. Nobody in the BC era would say that these had been fulfilled, and for anyone now to say that they had happened pre-Christ just doesn't know their history.

This statement must be based on the apocryphal writings. You won't find it in Scripture. During the Restoration era, the Jews would rule only by witnessing faithfully to the Gentile emperor, just as Joseph, Daniel and Mordecai did, prefiguring Christ at the right hand of the Father after His faithful witness.

What about Psalm 2 (which is only one example) There was meant to be a Jewish nation with a Jewish king. Esther is one more example that the exile is continuing - they are in pagan lands serving a pagan king.

The continuing exile is part of the scriptual metanarrative. Jesus understood himself as the end of the exile (see the parable of the prodigal son - he has come to call the lost of Israel). And the apostles knew this too. See for example Acts 15.16-17 when the Apostles quote the end of Amos re. the end of the exile. The exile has ended because sin has been defeated, Israel fully restored and now the gentiles can join the covenant family.

Mike Bull said...

You'll find it in Ezekiel 38-39, which is a prophecy of the events in the book of Esther.

That's mere speculation.

It's based on both the content, many clues within the chapters ('unwalled cities' being an example - see Esther 9:19, Ezekiel 38:11, Zechariah 2:4... plus the list of the conspiring nations) and the position of these chapters within the literary structure of the book. When do you see these chapters fulfilled - in detail?

Take the great return from exile prophecies: Isaiah 40-55,

The details of this passage locate it fair and square in the Restoration: carved images, Babylonians receiving recompense, Cyrus the restorer. It can only be applied to the New Covenant typologically, and that was the purpose of all these events to begin with - to give us an understanding of the spiritual events of the first century as Paul says (1 Cor 10:11).


Nobody in the BC era would say that these had been fulfilled, and for anyone now to say that they had happened pre-Christ just doesn't know their history...

Ezekiel 36 - clearly about the Restoration

"So they will say, 'This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.'... so shall the ruined cities be filled with flocks of men."

Ezekiel 37 - unites the bones of Ephraim and Judah (that were scattered in Jeremiah 8's prophecy of the captivity) and resurrects them as one nation.

"Surely I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will join them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand."

In Jesus' day, they were already united. They were Jews when they were restored to the Land. Plus, this chapter in Ezekiel appears at the Deuteronomy step - the mustering of the army before the conquest of the Land (that's in Ez 38-39). It was the Restoration conquest that followed the Restoration Covenant.

Joel 11

Not sure which chapter you mean, but again, the context of Joel is the Babylonian locusts (ch 1-2) and then the Restoration in Joel 3. Tyre, Sidon, Philistia, Egypt and Edom were all judged under a Babylonian 'flood', but Israel was restored, coming up out of the waters like the Land on Day 3 (Isaiah uses flood language in Isaiah 44:27, referring to Cyrus' command to rebuild). You can't just ignore context and apply these passages directly to the first century.


Whoever this 'nobody' was who said these weren't fulfilled, they couldn't read.

What about Psalm 2 (which is only one example) There was meant to be a Jewish nation with a Jewish king.

Psalm 2 was written before the captivity, and Revelation applies it to Jesus and also to the church as His body. The crown of David was in safekeeping by the priesthood (see Zechariah 6) until Messiah, and the Jews were under the guardianship of the Gentile emperors. But this is never referred to as captivity.

Esther is one more example that the exile is continuing - they are in pagan lands serving a pagan king.

That was what they were supposed to be doing as mediators. Faithful witness and ruling the nations.

The continuing exile is part of the scriptual metanarrative.

So YOU say ; )

Jesus understood himself as the end of the exile (see the parable of the prodigal son - he has come to call the lost of Israel).

That's stretching the parable. Jesus' point was the older brother - the Pharisees - who were bitter about the harlots and tax collectors entering the kingdom first. And they would have the same attitude to the Gentiles. It has nothing to do with exile.

And the apostles knew this too. See for example Acts 15.16-17 when the Apostles quote the end of Amos re. the end of the exile.

The Amos passage very clearly refers to the Restoration. The rebuilt the waste cities and inhabited them, etc. The apostles apply it typologically. Again, I am not arguing that these are not fulfilled in the first century, but this was not their primary meaning. The first century was not the end of the exile. Treating the prophets this way makes a mockery of the fine details in their prophecies and makes God the author of confusion.

The exile has ended because sin has been defeated, Israel fully restored and now the gentiles can join the covenant family.

That's what they were pointing to, but the fulfilment of this was in Esther where all the Gentiles submitted to the new godly government of Mordecai and Esther. The Gentile 'animals' submitted inside the empire 'ark' that would carry Judah safely into the new age of Messiah.

Moffitt the Prophet said...

Whoever this 'nobody' was who said these weren't fulfilled, they couldn't read.

They didn't need to. All they had to do was look around and see that they were being oppressed by a succession of mighty empires concluding in Rome. They were under the military power of Rome, and then taxed twice by Rome and the apostate Israelites running the country - bith Herod and the High Priests in him you depend so much on. You use allegory to explain away an exile everybody understood themselves to be in.

Mike Bull said...

Yes, but this wasn't the Babylonian exile. Judah (and Ephraim) received a greater role with more responsibility on a bigger world stage, but like all previous covenants before Christ, it would need restoring. After all, who became the worst harlot and tax collector? Judah.

Mike Bull said...

You use allegory to explain away an exile everybody understood themselves to be in.

Hey, I'm the one who takes the rebuilt cities, vineyards, children and old people together in the streets literally.

The only thing that was held off was a Davidic king, and Zechariah makes this clear. But the 'otherwise abundance' promised came to pass, along with a restored worship and priesthood. But all these things had less earthly glory and more influence on the world stage, bridging old Judah with the Christian church.

Moffitt the Prophet said...

So your whole arguement re. exile is fueled by your interpretation of Revelation?

Sorry, but it doesn't make historical or theological sense. Jesus and the Apostles knew that Israel was still in exile and they didn't preach just a typological restoration. They knew that in Jesus the full and real end of exile had occured. The knew that the promises about the end of exile hadn't happened pre Jesus, i.e. Ezekiel 36-37: resurrection starts as this idea about the resoration of the nation and as they continue to what for this to happen it develops into the idea that not just the nation will be restored, but individual Israelites will be resurrected. The sin that sent Israel into exile is also the same sin that sent Israelites (and the world) into death and this is defeated by Jesus.

Mike Bull said...

Jesus and the Apostles knew that Israel was still in exile and they didn't preach just a typological restoration.

That's not what I'm saying. The Restoration promises were fulfilled, and the exile was over. But of course the Davidic King was not yet enthroned.

Both the Restoration events and the first century events were physical, but one pointed typologically to the other. All Israel was saved in Esther. All Israel was saved in the first century, but the 'Haman' that was deposed from standing before the throne was Satan.

I differentiate between the Babylonian exile and the exile of Adam from the garden. They are related, but different. Israel entered the Land under Cyrus.

Adam entered the garden in Christ. Israel (the bride) entered the garden in AD70. Head, then body as in Leviticus 1.

Mike Bull said...

If you want to apply Ezekiel 37 directly to the first century (ie. out of context), it's the same as the Christian Zionists who apply it to Israel in 1947. And they want to apply 38-39 to some future battle (with swords and horses?) and Ezekiel's temple vision to something after that!

Ezekiel's prophecies are arranged in a careful theological order. You can't just pick the bits out you want to support your exile theory.

Israel conquered Persia, but after 400 years, it was the same situation as they had been in Egypt. They had become slaves in an empire they once ruled, not to Rome, but to Judah/Rome, the same bestiality found in Genesis 3. Christ did not bring the end of the exile. He brought a new exodus.

Mike Bull said...

So your whole arguement re. exile is fuelled by your interpretation of Revelation?

No, by the context of the prophets. And THEN it makes perfect sense of Revelation.

Moffitt the Prophet said...

And I wouldn't want to deny that the passages that have a contempary context. But they aren't fulfilled until Jesus.

Mike Bull said...

That doesn't make sense to me.
Kingship was a separate issue. Meanwhile they had a job to do, just like they did before King Saul.

Say this 3 times fast:
I gotta getta better meta narrative.
I gotta getta better meta narrative.
I gotta getta better meta narrative.

Thanks for the debate. I have learnt a lot.

Moffitt the Prophet said...

Kinship is a seperate issue!?! What are you smoking :p

Kingship becomes tied up with the covenant and restoration.

I like this metanarrative. It's straight out of the bible:

First Days

This is God’s world. He made it and continues to sustain it

He made it to reflect his nature by being a place of life and peace.

He made humanity to enjoy his world and to live in thankful obedience and dependence on him.

Dark Days

From the beginning humans arrogantly asserted their independence from God. Though it broke God’s heart, he let them go.

By rejecting the source of life and peace, they opened the door for evil to infect God’s world. Life gave way to death, and conflict came to dominate God’s world.

Every human since, including you and me, has been caught up in this. We have all sought to live independently of God. We have all experienced enslavement to Evil. And consequently, we all know the anguish of dealing with death and conflict in our lives.

Israel

God is committed to the world and to the people he has made. He is not willing to accept death and conflict as a part of life. And so out of his great love, God sent Israel into the world for the world, so that all the nations would be blessed and evil would be defeated.

God made a covenant with Israel, and after rescuing Israel from slavery, God gave them his law. the law offered life as it was always meant to be lived – in thankful obedience and dependence on God, with a deep love for others and a passion for truth and justice. God also raised up kings for Israel, who were meant to guide Israel in the path of righteousness.

However, Israel still sinned - as a nation and as a whole. Their disobedience and involement in evil resulted in them be sent out of their land and into exile. Israel, like all the other nations, was enslaved to Evil.

But God promised to free Israel - and all the world - from their sin and enslavement to evil.

Jesus

God is committed to the world and to the people he has made. He is not willing to accept death and conflict as a part of life. And so out of his great love, God sent his Son Jesus to defeat Evil and renew the world he loves.

Jesus lived life as it was always meant to be lived – in thankful obedience and dependence on God, with a deep love for others and a passion for truth and justice.

Jesus’ obedience and love culminated in him dying on a cross for us. He died as a sacrifice for our involvement with Evil and to rescue us from our enslavement to Evil.

On the third day, God raised Jesus to life as the first of a renewed humanity and as Lord of a renewed world.

Last Days

As Lord, Jesus will complete God’s renewing work in this world. He will return, and on that day, the reality that Jesus is Lord will be revealed.

Evil will be finally brought to nothing so that life and peace may prevail in God’s world.

And just as Jesus has been raised, so on that day God’s people will be raised to life to enjoy the renewed world with God. But those who continue to assert their independence from God will be excluded from God’s world together with all that is evil.

Today

Now, as Lord, Jesus has authority to forgive and give new life. Therefore today is a day of hope. God commands all people, including you and me, to turn from a life of involvement with evil and to seek his mercy. God’s promise is that those who turn to him will be forgiven, and will receive the gift of the Spirit to strengthen them for a life of obedience to Jesus. And God’s promise is that those who eagerly await his Son’s return will be raised to share in the life of God’s renewed world.

Mike Bull said...

It's a bit kindy and doesn't flow. And skips over many inconvenient details, like... the Revelation. And it gets the exile wrong.

Here's mine (and it's chiastic):

The Bible begins with the entire physical creation in view and works its way down through a Covenantal ‘world’—Adam-Israel (the blood of circumcision)—to Jesus, in whom the entire old world is slain and resurrected (AD30-70). The Bible then works its way out again through a Covenantal ‘world’—Eve-Israel (the water of baptism)—to a totally redeemed physical creation at its end.

BTW, "last days" in the New Testament were the last days of the Old Covenant, the last days of Judah. Daniel was told to close the book and stop writing. John was told to start writing because the time that freaked Daniel out had arrived. (Rev 1:3)

Mike Bull said...

Hey Matt

Did you know the letters to the seven churches recapitulate Israel's history (and the creation/feasts)?

SABBATH - Light/Ark
To the Church in Ephesus - the garden of Eden

PASSOVER - firmament divided/Veil & laver
To the Church in Smyrna - Hebrew patriarchs (particularly Joseph)

FIRSTFRUITS - Land, grain & fruit/altar and table
To the Church in Pergamum - Israelite priests

PENTECOST - governing lights/Lampstand
To the Church in Thyatira - Israelite Kings

TRUMPETS - swarms/Incense
To the Church in Sardis - the Remnant

ATONEMENT - land animals/Man
To the Church in Philadelphia - Restoration

BOOTHS - rest and rule in Messiah
To the Church in Laodicea - first century Jews

...and look where the Restoration falls.

“[Bible chronology] is a history of how the Divine Parent educated the core and centre of the human race, and then of how He called all nations to be grafted into that Olive Tree history so as to receive the benefit of it... The human race had matured to the point where it was fitting for Messiah to come, and come not only to save the race, but to bring the race to maturity... And then we can notice that the seven churches in Revelation 2-3 are each associated with a particular time in Old Covenant history. We can begin to apply the societal wisdom we have begun to learn from Israel’s history to address the particular problems and issues in our own churches. Is your church most like Pergamum? Well, that’s the wilderness church. Perhaps your church is made up of people who need to be addressed in a Law-oriented fashion. If your church is like Thyatira, maybe a strong dose of Psalms. If like Sardis, you need Jeremiah. And so forth.” JBJ

Moffitt the Prophet said...

By Last days I don't mean last days. And it flows very well thank you. I added he Israel bit myself, but the rest of it is the gospel outline we use at church and uni and has seen many people come to faith. Of course, it's just an outline and the actual course is much deeper. But the basic metanarrative is First Days, Dark Days, Israel, Dark Days, Last Days, and Today. It was designed by two of the smartest theologians and bible teachers I know.

Mike Bull said...

Yeah, it's pretty good, I agree. Just a bit general on some things - which can be good depending on your purpose.

Moffitt the Prophet said...

Do you believe in a forty year resurrection (AD30-70) :p

Chiasm's can be overrated. It doesn't feel like it flows, and it's grounded in ideology rather than history.

Moffitt the Prophet said...

Besides Wright, the main evangelicals working with metanarrative are Richard Buakcham, Oliver O'Donovan and Kevin Vanhoozer.

You should check them out (although they're all friends).

Mike Bull said...

Thanks - I will
(I have read a bit of RB from memory)

Moffitt the Prophet said...

Zechariah 2 - Israel in exile and a promise return:

6 Up! Up! Flee from the land of the north, declares the Lord. For I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heavens, declares the Lord. 7 Up! Escape to Zion, you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon. 8 For thus said the Lord of hosts, after his glory sent me to the nations who plundered you, for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye: 9 “Behold, I will shake my hand over them, and they shall become plunder for those who served them. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me. 10 Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the Lord. 11 And many nations shall join themselves to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people. And I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. 12 And the Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem.”

Mike Bull said...

More on this here:

http://www.bullartistry.com.au/posts/index.php?blog=7&title=a_king_before_god_s_time&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1