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Your Thoughts on Biblical Theology

John Meade, a frequent contributor to this blog, recently suggested getting input from people about major themes that run through Scripture.  I thought his suggestion was a good idea, since it would be a help to many of you out there, but also a benefit for me to see how you are learning and developing a biblical-theological perspective of Scripture.  Please chime in with any thoughts you have about themes, ideas, or connections you are making in the Bible from a redemptive-historical perspective.

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Categories: Biblical Theology
  1. Jason
    August 20, 2007 at 4:59 pm

    Hey Chad,

    As you know, I could go on and on . . . and on about how I (am learning to) understand prevailing themes as they are fulfilled in Christ. It’s just so exciting learning Christ as we see Scripture paint His portrait throughout its pages! Since Christ is the “consummation” of all of God’s promises, there are numerous major and minor themes saturating the OT—themes that at times seem distinct, but then are shown to be intimately connected with one another (as we would expect if they all speak of and to Christ and His work).

    The Kingdom theme is very exciting to me in my studies. This is such a major theme that it would take a lifetime to plumb its depths, but to begin to understand the Kingdom in terms of God’s promise to Abraham and its progress and development (in promise and fulfillment) in Israel’s history from the formation of the nation in Jacob to the initial structure of it under Moses and the great high-point or apex in the Davidic Kingdom; to see this development in light of the Edenic model under Adam and the cosmic and “forever” language of the Kingdom’s restoration in the Prophets; to begin to understand this Kingdom reality in the OT and its fulfillment in Christ is to be almost overwhelmed by the enormity of what has been accomplished in the Person and Work of our Lord and Savior! If the Kingdom theme doesn’t cause us to simply stand in amazement and wonder (and then worship!) of our Great God and King and what He has done, then we surely don’t appreciate the Glories of the Son of David!

    I probably should have waited a while before writing (to clean it up a bit!), but I get too excited to wait! And as you know, it’s hard for me to keep my mouth shut (or my fingers from typing) for very long. I hope my writing makes sense. Talk to you later.

    Jason

  2. John Meade
    August 20, 2007 at 5:40 pm

    How about the “rest” theme which begins in Gen. 2:1-3 and ends with Christ in Matthew 11:28-30; 12:8; Heb. 4:3? Of course, we are still making every effort to enter into the eschatological rest of Genesis 2:1-4 (Heb 4:11), but in Christ we have also entered the rest in a very real and eschatological way (Heb 4:3).

    The contours of this theme are quite complex. It seems that the Sabbath day itself is typological of this rest (cf. Ex. Ex 20; 31:16-17). Also, something not talked about very much, though Hebrews makes a reference to it is the rest that Israel experienced after the conquering of the land (note the connection between land and rest in Joshua 1:13, 15; 11:23; 14:15; 21:44; 22:4; 23:1). No wonder the author of Hebrews has to say, for if Joshua had given them rest, he would not have fixed another day, calling it, Today!

    My thesis is that the rest and land themes converge in Jesus, the antitype of the shadows of land and rest. To continue looking for the fulfillment of the land promises means that one must also be looking for the fulfillment of the rest promise. However, in Jesus, we are no longer looking for fulfillments because He is it.

    Got to run. Keep the themes coming!

  3. August 20, 2007 at 6:21 pm

    John and all,

    I don’t think you will find the ‘rest’ theme so clearly and well laid out anywhere as in Dale Ratzlaff’s book, ‘Sabbath in Christ’. You may order it online at Life Assurance Ministries. Anyway, Ratzlaff is a former Seventh Day Adventist who studied his way out of the cult (he is one of many). Also, it might be good to kow that it was this book that God used (in its frist edition under the title Sabbath in Crisis) that was used by God to transform the Worldwide Church of God from a legalistic cult in to a gospel organization.

    He makes some sort of quirky statements here and there, but all in all, and in the main, he is excellent. the first edition had a foreward written by D A Carson and was very well received.

    I don’t usually write on blogs, just read. I have really appreciated your blog, Chad. I would ‘ditto’ many of the appreciative comments that others have made.

    Chad

  4. Ferron Morgan
    August 21, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    If you still have the study that I did on a BT of revenge and retribution, I think that would be a good piece to post. I can e-mail a copy of it as well.

    FM

  5. Chad
    August 22, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    Ferron, If you want to post it in the comments you are free to do so.

  6. Travis
    August 22, 2007 at 9:44 pm

    One thing I have been studying is the progression of the Law, the theme keeps reacquiring, though it never seems to be seperate from faith.
    Being new to Biblical Theology I think its interesting to see how many themes there are things explained in the New Testament about the Old Testament, Sabbath, law, love, grace, faith, the kingdom, the end….
    I really appreciate the Lord opening my eyes to these things along with progressive revelation, and how many things can be understood now with the knowledge of these issues.

  7. August 22, 2007 at 11:42 pm

    Anyone ever read anyone say anything about Christ wearing a crown of ‘thorns’ at the crucifixion? Seems like an obvious symoblic reference to bearing the curse.

    Just curious. I don’t have any commentaries that mention it.

    Chad T

  8. August 23, 2007 at 3:29 am

    Hi Chad,

    I want to better understand the relationship between Gen. 1-2 and Rev. 21-22. Please consider that as a future theme.

    Thanks,

    Greg

    P.S. I’ve enjoyed browsing through your site. A couple days ago, I put you on my blogroll. Keep feeding Christ’s sheep with His Word just like you’ve been doing.

  9. Chad
    August 23, 2007 at 11:28 am

    Jason and John…Good stuff.

    Travis, yes, law is a theme, but that theme must be properly understood through Christ.

    Chad T, I have not heard that; however, according to the text the idea of cursing seems to be associated with the cross rather than the crown of thorns (see Gal 3:13).

    Greg, I have done some work on Gen 1-2 and Rev 21-22 (see my Revelation Outline under Resources), but I hope to write something more substantial. Actually the connections do not stop at Gen 1-2 and Rev 21-22, but really include Gen 3-11 as well as the rest of the book of Revelation.

  10. August 23, 2007 at 6:50 pm

    No, no. I didn’t mean that we had an explicit reference to that. and obviously the tree is the explicit reference to the bearing of the curse. I am just saying that the crown of thorns seems to be more than jsut a coincidence as well. Certainly not on par with the tree reference, but the question, “is it there”?

    Chad

  11. Chad
    August 23, 2007 at 7:53 pm

    I understand the crown of thorns as more of a symbol of mocking Jesus by the Roman soliders because he was the King of the Jews (see also purple robe). Furthermore, I don’t think we can clearly trace in the biblical storyline how crowns are associated with cursing. So, no I don’t think “it is there.” Just my thoughts, but if you are seeing more in the text I would be interested to hear your thoughts.

  12. August 24, 2007 at 8:45 am

    Chad,

    My contention is simply that the Bible never looses sight of the fact that ‘thorns’ are essentially tied in with the curse of God. You see this throughout. In order to demonstrate this I have copied below every biblical reference to ‘thorns’ in the ESV. Just read through them quickly and let me know your thoughts.

    (Gen 3:18) thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.

    (Exo 22:6) “If fire breaks out and catches in thorns so that the stacked grain or the standing grain or the field is consumed, he who started the fire shall make full restitution.

    (Num 33:55) But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those of them whom you let remain shall be as barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land where you dwell.

    (Jos 23:13) know for certain that the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations before you, but they shall be a snare and a trap for you, a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good ground that the LORD your God has given you.

    (Jdg 2:3) So now I say, I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you.”

    (Jdg 8:7) So Gideon said, “Well then, when the LORD has given Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, I will flail your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers.”

    (Jdg 8:16) And he took the elders of the city, and he took thorns of the wilderness and briers and with them taught the men of Succoth a lesson.

    (2Sa 23:6) But worthless men are all like thorns that are thrown away, for they cannot be taken with the hand;

    (Job 5:5) The hungry eat his harvest, and he takes it even out of thorns, and the thirsty pant after his wealth.

    (Job 31:40) let thorns grow instead of wheat, and foul weeds instead of barley.” The words of Job are ended.

    (Psa 58:9) Sooner than your pots can feel the heat of thorns, whether green or ablaze, may he sweep them away!

    (Psa 118:12) They surrounded me like bees; they went out like a fire among thorns; in the name of the LORD I cut them off!

    (Pro 15:19) The way of a sluggard is like a hedge of thorns, but the path of the upright is a level highway.

    (Pro 22:5) Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked; whoever guards his soul will keep far from them.

    (Pro 24:31) and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down.

    (Ecc 7:6) For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fools; this also is vanity.

    (Isa 5:6) I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and briers and thorns shall grow up; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.

    (Isa 7:23) In that day every place where there used to be a thousand vines, worth a thousand shekels of silver, will become briers and thorns.

    (Isa 7:24) With bow and arrows a man will come there, for all the land will be briers and thorns.

    (Isa 7:25) And as for all the hills that used to be hoed with a hoe, you will not come there for fear of briers and thorns, but they will become a place where cattle are let loose and where sheep tread.

    (Isa 9:18) For wickedness burns like a fire; it consumes briers and thorns; it kindles the thickets of the forest, and they roll upward in a column of smoke.

    (Isa 10:17) The light of Israel will become a fire, and his Holy One a flame, and it will burn and devour his thorns and briers in one day.

    (Isa 27:4) I have no wrath. Would that I had thorns and briers to battle! I would march against them, I would burn them up together.

    (Isa 32:13) for the soil of my people growing up in thorns and briers, yes, for all the joyous houses in the exultant city.

    (Isa 33:12) And the peoples will be as if burned to lime, like thorns cut down, that are burned in the fire.”

    (Isa 34:13) Thorns shall grow over its strongholds, nettles and thistles in its fortresses. It shall be the haunt of jackals, an abode for ostriches.

    (Jer 4:3) For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: “Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.

    (Jer 12:13) They have sown wheat and have reaped thorns; they have tired themselves out but profit nothing. They shall be ashamed of their harvests because of the fierce anger of the LORD.”

    (Eze 2:6) And you, son of man, be not afraid of them, nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions. Be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house.

    (Hos 2:6) Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths.

    (Hos 9:6) For behold, they are going away from destruction; but Egypt shall gather them; Memphis shall bury them. Nettles shall possess their precious things of silver; thorns shall be in their tents.

    (Nah 1:10) For they are like entangled thorns, like drunkards as they drink; they are consumed like stubble fully dried.

    (Mat 13:7) Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.

    (Mat 13:22) As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

    (Mat 27:29) and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”

    (Mar 4:7) Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain.

    (Mar 4:18) And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word,

    (Mar 15:17) And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him.

    (Luk 8:7) And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it.

    (Luk 8:14) And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.

    (Joh 19:2) And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe.

    (Joh 19:5) So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!”

    (Heb 6:8) But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.

    I think that when we think of crowns, we are meant to think of something being bestowed on a person. Jesus was crowned with thorns. Of course, the soldiers didn’t realize what they were doing fully. But the picture of the Lord having the curse to rest upon him seems to be there in some measure. it would seem that the crown of thorns is not just a cruel thing done by the Roman soldiers, but perhaps an emblematic act.

    Chad T.

  13. Chad
    August 24, 2007 at 9:14 am

    I had never thought about a BT understanding of thorns, but I can see what you are thinking and now it seems quite viable. Thanks for clearing that up. Point well taken.

  14. August 24, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    So I guess that is a ‘no’ as for having read anyone else saying this about the thorns.

  15. Chad
    August 24, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    I originally meant “No, I don’t see your connections in the text.” However, after your presentation in the next post I understand where you are coming from and it seems viable, but I would have to spend more time working through it.

  16. Ferron Morgan
    August 25, 2007 at 9:52 pm

    My name is Ferron Morgan. I’ve been under Chad’s teaching for a little over a year now. Even though our church fellowship has disbanded, the last year or so have been very enriching and rewarding in helping me to rightly understand the Bible and all its implications to my life as a redeemed human being.

    What follows is one of the initial study in a series that will probably go on for the next several months. I recently took my disciple, who is a new believer through God’s Big Picture to give him an introductory glance at biblical theology. As we finished that, I though it was important to begin to show him the implications of our faith as it is fleshed out in our day to day lives. Since him and I both have a God-given interest for playing basketball, I thought that we would start there. I must say, as I worked through the study I realized that much of my own worldview still needed revision and transformation. It was very bothersome and rewarding experience at the same time. Being a student him high school, my disciple and I will be formulating a bib. worldview on each one of his subjects the next few months. I’m looking forward to this endeavor and I encourage everyone who reads this to examine what you hold to in light of who you are now in Christ. The following link may be helpful in getting you started:http://www.homeschools.org/worldview/biblicalWorldviewCurriculum.html

    Christian Worldview on Playing Basketball

    In this essay you will read about developing and maintaining a distinctly Christian worldview on playing basketball. It is imperative that you understand that everything written in this article presupposes Scripture, and thus Christ, as our ultimate authority for all things. For me to attempt to argue on this topic from a supposedly neutral position would reveal that my own worldview carries no supreme authority or position as I claim. Therefore, it is with a redeemed mind, careful thought, and consideration that I present these things to you.

    I. STRUCTURE and DIRECTION
    In understanding the real purpose behind playing basketball we must ask what is the original intention of this pursuit and how through man’s rebellion against God has it been bent toward sinful purposes. In other words, what would playing basketball look, sound, and feel like apart from the Fall? Before we can begin to point out the present distortion that exists in playing basketball, and thus its need for restoration, we must first show that this activity was ALWAYS part of God’s design and purpose for His people; therefore, it is an inherently good and God-honoring pursuit.
    In Gen 1:28, mankind (Adam and Eve at this point) were given what is commonly referred to in most circles as the Cultural Mandate. Being made in the image of God (reflecting his very character and nature, Gen 1:26), man is told to work that image out in the Earth by procreating and raising up Godly offspring; filling and permeating the Earth with the visible present of God’s glory by subjecting all its vast available resources in service to God and fellow man; and exercising dominion and care over the very things God has created, showing that the Lord has truly anointed them as vice kings and priests.
    Within these divine orders we see God’s underlying intent was for man to create culture and build civilizations that would glorify Him in all respects. Although not explicit within the Mandate, it is implied that man is suppose to accomplish this task by 1) developing a social system predicated on people forming meaningful relationships in order to further a universal good (i.e. society) and 2) on man’s ability to tap into and harness the potential stored within the Earth, utilizing these natural resources to provide for himself and his God-given interests (i.e. basketball, etc.). And do we not see the convergence of these social structures (teams, tournaments, rule committees, idea of teamwork and unselfishness) and natural products (basketballs, gymnasiums, scoreboards) in the game of basketball? So while Dr. James Naismith may be credited with inventing the game of basketball in the late 1800s, it has always been the creative expression of the Eternal God who graciously endowed Mr. Naismith with those ideas and abilities.
    In light of what has just been mentioned, we now must analyze the game and see how its original purpose to glorify God in reflecting His image has been marred through sin. Playing the game myself, I see and hear firsthand how the Fall has perverted the God-desired direction of the game. Players are obsessively consumed with winning at all costs, lustfully pursuing wins and championships as the ultimate measure of success. To some degree every player fails in rightly assessing his or her own skills and flaws. Many players insincerely profess how good they want to be while actually failing to invest fully in accomplishing that goal because of laziness. Also, coaches are often heard bemoaning the apathy and lack of work ethic and commitment that exists in today’s players. In fact, recently, an NBA referee pleaded guilty to illegally gambling on basketball games where he possessed insider’s information. Even the very structural fabric and make-up of the game has been corrupted by sin so that the basketball we see played is not really “basketball” in a Biblical sense. All these visible signs confirm that there is something terribly wrong with the human condition and is in need of redemption. These factors also show us why it is so essential that we have a discerning attitude as we play (as well as watch and coach) the sport. In the next section, we will outline and show how to implement the proper biblical process for formulating a distinctly Christian perspective on this matter.
    II. ATTITUDE
    1) Celebrate-Because we understand the game of basketball to ultimately be God’s own creation, we can and should applaud all the artistry and technical skill that are exhibited on the court every time the ball is thrown up. The creative flare and execution that make the game so exciting should also be celebrated because they reflect the very nature of God. So when Lebron James makes a spectacular, breathtaking play we should acknowledge his talent, but go above and beyond him to praise the God who has given him those skills.
    2) Critique- Even though verbal communication in basketball is a large component, much of what we “hear” comes to us through body language. One of the most popular expressions today is for players to beat on their chest after performing and executing a special move. It is also en vogue for many players to exalt themselves by placing their thumbs inside their jersey and protruding their school or team’s name with arrogance and pride. Having a Christian worldview helps us to point out the inconsistencies in such sinful expressions and how they ultimate borrow their capital from the Christian worldview.
    The player that pounds on his chest may have just performed an awesome human feat. However, how does he account for all the multiple biological systems (muscular, nervous, skeletal, etc.) that were coordinated in order to pull it off? How does he account for even finding purpose, though self-centered, in those acts? And to the player who implores the world to look at him, how does he account for the dignity and worth which he feels about his own accolades? Why does he feel there is some bond between himself and the team/school he promotes? Who has declared that man has any value at all? Clearly, through these two simple examples we can see that even the most unassuming acts must be critiqued with a discriminating mind to expose the false worldviews that stand behind them.
    3) Compassion-While it may seem difficult to simultaneously celebrate and critique a particular idea or pursuit, this is the task we are called to as redeemed creatures. We are also called to display genuine compassion for those that are lost in utter darkness and building their lives on deception and falsehood. Francis Schaffer said that these individuals are “dying while they live.” We show genuine, “Biblical” empathy to these folks by crying out to God in prayer for their redemption and restoration. For it is through Jesus alone that their hope will be properly directed and their worldview conformed to the mind of Christ.
    4) Craft-While we earnestly plead for the Lord to save His elect from the bondage of sin, we need to be crafting real Biblical answers and perspectives to the very things we declare to be false and dangerous. Christians must move beyond the point of criticism to developing and displaying redeemed expressions of those very things. For example what if an unbeliever asked you, “Why God desires for us to enjoy playing basketball and how competition can and should ultimately glorify God at the end of the day?” We should be able to respond that through competition we demonstrate that 1) everyone freely places authority figures and rules over him or herself for personal benefit and protection, and are, therefore, unknowingly acknowledging the image of God within us all 2) we not only manifest the image of God in our play, albeit distorted, but reveal its unity and diversity that is rooted in the Trinity (unique player on a collective team) 3) we logically understand that the root purpose of competition can’t be winning because inherent in the word victory is the notion that someone was defeated. Therefore, if losing is a certainty of all competition, we then realize that God’s ultimate concern and pleasure is with those that reflect His true character in defeat or triumph and praise Him for the talents He has given them and other fellow men, and finally, 4) we must account for the fact that the created order appears to point toward a “right” way that basketball should be played. That absoluteness is evident in a great shooter who duplicates the same motion over and over to make a shot
    5) Confront-This is obviously one of the most difficult stages, but one that can’t be avoided. As we confront people with the truth of the Gospel and its implications and effects on every aspect of our existence, we should expect rebuke and ridicule. Many people simply are satisfied with worshipping the game, rather than its Maker. However, we should also find comfort in the fact that God is sovereign and he will faithfully save those that he has chosen before the foundation of the world. Therefore, we don’t rest in our own efforts, but in the perfect work of the Son, Jesus Christ, on our behalf.
    6) Create-For those that God does graciously save and restore, he immediately commands them to resume the pre-Fall directive of creating God-honoring culture. Hopefully, you have seen through this essay that creating Biblical culture doesn’t mean tacking on a Bible study to the end of practice or praying before a big game. It is the idea that you are now a redeemed vessel who has the proper framework to evaluate and reform all your thinking (and thus action) by submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. You no longer hold to a works-righteous ideal because you understand that YOU are redeemed and all your future work and service unto the King will reflect that truth.
    7) Cultivate-Hopefully, you will not stop at the creation stage. Sadly, many professing Christians are more enamored with their salvation then their continued maturity in the faith. In order to properly grow and cultivate a Christian worldview one must continue to be diligent in performing an internal critique of one’s own views as well as being mindful of the many subtle, dangerous messages that bombard us on a daily basis. Through proper biblical mediation, prayer, and Bible study (which should include a good stock of extra biblical resources), you should be so acquainted with any false worldview that promotes itself as truth that you can identify it and expose it as an impostor in an instant. Clearly, this task takes serious training, devotion and commitment to the Lord, which is the NORM for all believers, not the EXCEPTION. How can we properly cultivate and refine our Christian worldview if we are not even familiar with the tools and steps needed to do so?

    8) CONDUCT
    Once our thinking is properly submitted to the Lord, our active response should be consistent with this thinking. For us to say that Christian conduct is merely not cussing, stealing, or cheating is to show that we don’t proper understand all that Biblical salvation entails. Even though we are still bound to our mortal bodies, our entire immaterial self that been completely transformed. No longer are we in bondage to the sin nature that indwelt us. We are now free to “flesh out” in our thinking, and thus actions, what it truly means to be in Christ-being truly human and rightly related to God. To dumb down Christianity into a set of “big no-nos” places us back in the same shackles that Jesus has freed us from. Let us give a few examples to show how we truly appropriate all that we have in Christ and avoid legalism of any kind:

    1) Any move or decision made to embarrass or intentionally hurt another player (cheap shot) is considered inconsistent w/ who we are because that person is also made in the image of God. By honoring the image of God in each player, regardless of the distorted image that may be reflected, we are acknowledging that every opponent or teammate is ultimately God’s precious handiwork
    2) Any attempt to intentionally belie one’s abilities that they’ve been given is a disgrace to God as well. Since God has given freely to all men the skills and talents they have, they show proper respect and honor to those things by accurately displaying those gifts so that he is honored. To misrepresent what you can do, or pretend to be a player that you are not, ultimately paints God as a clown. Precious jewels are not handled foolishly.
    3) We use our intellectual reasoning abilities, which have come under the Lordship of Christ, to strategize various options and moves that we can make in a game on offense and defense. We use our communication skills, which are rooted in the perfect dialogue w/in the Trinity (no misunderstandings), to convey information to others on the court. The fact that our bodies are designed to be coordinated and integrated, as God is, even reflects God’s glory to all those that watch us play. Even the world shows its displeasure for uncoordinated, awkward players by trying to teach them how to be more fluid and smooth. As a believer, you can boldly assert that your desire to become more coordinated is in line with who you truly are in Christ. The unbeliever has no rationale for why his awkwardness should even bother him, let alone be corrected.
    4) It is only through the Christian worldview that we can even account for players being injured from time to time (sin’s effects on the physical realm) and players making mental errors (sin’s effects even reach the intellectual reasoning realm).

    Our response to these types of situations and others should be one of expectation, not of surprise. Also, these types of occurrences should ultimately compel us to groan and long for the day when the Lord will put everything right in the universe. What basketball will look, sound, and feel like in the news heavens and earth, we do not know. However, we do know that we will be in the full presence of the Lord forever that all of our pursuits and tasks will flourish without sin’s hindrance for eternity.

  17. Ferron Morgan
    August 25, 2007 at 9:54 pm

    A BIBLICAL THEOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE ON REVENGE
    Ferron Morgan

    In order for us to begin to understand this issue from a redemptive historical outlook as Jesus and the apostles did we must begin where they began–with a supremely high view of God and what he has accomplished on our behalf through Christ.
    To get the big picture we must begin in Genesis with the creation account. In Genesis 3, after the world was created and mankind was placed in the first temple as its kingly priests to guard and govern it we see a revenge plot being executed by Satan, who is represented by the deceitful and manipulative serpent in the garden. Because Satan is unable to assault and overcome the Lord, he seeks to corrupt and pervert His perfect created order. His plan appears to be highly successful on the surface, but is meet with swift judgment and condemnation by the Lord. Punishment and cursing also is declared upon Adam and Eve for their rebellion against God’s sovereignty and belief that they could live responsibly under God’s rule with a neutral mind. We see that the effects of the fall on the created order are not only cosmic in their scope but rapidly transmitted as well. Cain, Adam and Eve’s son, not even one generation removed from his parent’s rebellion, kills his brother Abel in a cold, calculated fit of jealously because the Lord rejected his offering.
    Therefore, we see in successive chapters a stark contrast between the righteous judgment that God has on those that rebel against his rule and holiness compared to the unrighteous, selfish revenge that unregenerate Cain sought against Abel. Because his gift was not given in true faith, showing trust in the promises of God to restore the created order to Himself, Cain’s gift was justifiably rejected by the Lord. On the other hand, In Gen. 3 God is fully warranted for his retribution because his holy standard can’t be compromised and must be upheld.
    In light of what has just been noted, we see that fallen man is in no position to seek revenge for several other reasons, which we will unpack shortly. However, as we have already seen we must view this issue through the proper biblical framework so that we don’t arrive at erroneous, moralistic conclusions. At the end of the day, our respond to why we do not seek revenge must be more intelligent and deep-rooted than simply saying it’s wrong or it hurts peoples’ feelings.
    In Leviticus 19:18 the Lord slowly begins to clarify and define why revenge is such an abhorrent thing to Him. Israel is not only to be a holy nation, but a redeemed people who are to reflect and extend God’s glory to the ends of the earth. In Exodus, the Israelites are given the Ten Commandments to, in essence, detail how they should properly relate to the Lord and each other in light of God’s gracious salvation and mercy towards them. Yet, none of these things are ever fully realized throughout Israel’s biblical history for two reasons: 1) God never gave them a new heart to believe and 2) Israel was always a fuzzy shadow pointing toward the true reality that is Christ and His church (Col 2:17: Heb 8:5, 10:1)
    Therefore, Israel was never able to show any distinction between itself and its surrounding neighbors (Jer 9:25,26) and ultimately shunned its unique privilege and responsibility to be salt and light to the world by first showing forgiveness and mercy to those within its own camp. However, the church as an extension of Christ, the true Israel, does demonstrate this mercy and forgiveness as the true, redeemed people of God because the Spirit gives us the ability and desire to seek reconciliation rather than revenge.
    Proverbs 20:22 helps us to see another facet of why the Lord despises revenge. It is He who is our true deliverer, savior and redeemer. He demonstrated this claim through the perfect life of His Son, Jesus Christ. For the cross is God’s greatest display of deliverance, a continual reminder of the countless saving acts he performed on Israel’s behalf throughout its history (exodus, manna, etc.). God’s amazing miracles and works in their past were never divorced from the promises he made to Israel’s fathers- Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Israel, however, did not rest in these promises as they should have and constantly called God’s Word into question. They were an unfaithful bunch as a whole that possessed a small remnant of true believers. Therefore, when we as Christians don’t retaliate; we are demonstrating that we are truly resting in the promises of God and what has been accomplished for us in Christ.
    As believers, we know that those promises are believed through faith in an unseen God. We trust his promises, not because we can verify them through some experiment, but because they stand on their own self-authentication as the Word of God. But if God’s Word is the ultimate truth as we uphold, how can we fully grasp the assault it takes not only in the seen realm, but the unseen realm? Does God ultimately ordain and even use revenge to accomplish his glorious purposes? Genesis 50:19 reveals to us how Luther can emphatically proclaim that “even the devil is God’s devil.” As Joseph reassures his brothers that their wicked deeds were used by the Lord to save many lives, we see how Christ could say, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do (Luke 23:24).” It was only by the Lord’s grace that Joseph understood the underlying spiritual dynamics of his situation, circumstances with ultimately prefigured the immense anger and rage that was poured out on Christ at the cross to redeem a new humanity. This is another reason why the believer, even as he seeks justice at some level in his day-to-day affairs through proper means can only achieve a limited settlement or punishment in this unredeemed world. Because he doesn’t and can ‘t fully understand the scope of wickedness that stands behind the wrongdoing and evil we face, it is our omniscient God alone who is qualified to correctly understand, respond and use the evil in this world to his own glory, which is the summing up of all things in Christ Jesus. Therefore, it is Christ who will fully give everyone his just measure who is not found in Him because his very nature demands it (Jer 51:56). How magnificent is our God? What was to be Satan’s greatest victory was ultimately God’s greatest triumph!
    Nonetheless, believers around the world are persecuted and killed on a daily basis on account of Christ. However, the Lord will not forget what has been done to the saints. Nor will he forget all those that rejected his true Anointed One, Christ. In 1 Sam 26:9,10 David understood at some level the severity of killing one that the Lord has put his hand upon. Throughout Israel’s history, the nations along with some of its prominent figures were commonly referred to as the “anointed one.” Yet, all showed their inadequacy to hold this title, ultimately pointing toward a future individual who would truly be dedicated to God because he was God Himself (Dan 9:25, 26). As co-heirs with the Anointed One, we stand in Christ. Therefore, anyone who opposes us ultimately opposes the Lord because we are his ambassadors on this Earth.
    Not only do we see that the OT authors had a biblical theological perspective on revenge, but those living under the New Covenant as well. In Romans 12:20 the Apostle Paul is quoting from Proverbs 25:21, 22 in the wisdom literature. In speaking to the Church at Rome, Paul is now transforming this passage through the cross event to show the dynamic change that has occurred in light of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Through his life ministry he not only showed us how to live as a responsible human being under God’s rule-he did it on behalf as our perfect High Priest and King. He lived a life of complete integrity and true wisdom so that he can now represent us to the Father as wise, righteous, holy and redeemed vessels (Pro. 8, 1 Cor. 1:30, 2 Cor. 8:21). And through the Spirit we can now live a life above reproach (heaping burning coals on their heads) as subjects properly submitted to the rule of our King and Lord, Christ Jesus. We must understand that because we are not perfect on our own merit, we can’t demand that standard of anyone else, let alone be hypocritical about any offense that we have committed ourselves. However, this charge can’t be laid at the Lord’s feet because he alone is capable of administering infallible justice that is not swayed and corrupted by sin. Our present brand of justice is always tainted by sin, even as redeemed creatures. That is why the writer of Hebrews can proclaim with fearful reverence “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Heb. 10:30) He understood that no man can fathom or even remotely imagine what it will be like to stand bare and naked before the universe’s Supreme Avenger on that great day with full consciousness of his utter wretchedness.

    “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)

    As new creatures in Christ we are now able to respond with genuine, sincere goodness and love toward evil because we know that ultimately the Lord is already victorious. We acknowledge that the evil that still exists in the world remains because the old age has not been done away with even though its destruction is certain. Therefore, we may rest in the assurance that the Lord will act in accordance with his character to make all things right at the appointed time. Ultimately, we don’t attempt to overstep God’s sovereign judgment and seek our own revenge so “that (we) may know this is Your hand, that You, Lord, have done it.” (Psalm 109:27)

  18. Chad
    August 26, 2007 at 9:19 am

    Ferron,

    I understand what you are trying to say, but let me make a few comments.

    I would caution you in developing a Christian worldview of any given thing within in our culture. While it is true that we should have a Christian perspective of all things, often forming a worldview on any given topic can be subject to speculation and fanciful application. I think you have done this on a number for fronts.

    1.) While it is true that God knows, ordains, and controls all things, I think it would be a stretch to argue that Basketball was part of the original creation mandate and to argue that it is a God-honoring thing. Yes, we honor God in what we do, but you have to make a more compelling case for that as well as how it is part of God’s original creation plan.

    2.) You state that God invented basketball. While all things ultimately come from God, does God really care about basketball in the sense that you have described?

    3.) You imply that basketball will be in the new heavens and new earth, but how do you know? There are many good things in this world, when redeemed, may follow into the new creation, but we don’t know what these things are and to speculate is just that–speculation.

    4.) I fear that at some level you are asking questions and giving answers that the Bible is not primarily concerned with. Certainly the Bible is concerned with sin, imago Dei, et al, but does the Bible concern itself with sports?

    5.) While you are certainly free to post comments and thoughts, please reserve this blog and post for themes of BT, not worldview perspectives on basketball or the like.

    Please don’t take my comments personally, but simply something to think about and refine.

    Chad

  19. Ferron
    August 27, 2007 at 7:17 am

    Thank for the comments in regard to the worldview article. I will refrain from those in the future. I appreciate the critique and pointing out certain things that I had not thought about as I wrote the article.

    FM

  20. John Meade
    August 30, 2007 at 2:09 pm

    Well, if no one is going to mention the land theme, then I guess I can make some passing comments about it.

    Of course the Bible begins with the creation of land, the heavens and the EARTH. Furthermore, Man is created to rule the earth and to bring God’s kingdom all the way to the ends of the earth (notice the kingly theme’s tie to this one). The rule of God was to spread to the ends of the earth. Noah in Gen. 9 is recommissioned for the same mission, though we know that he fails to be God’s proper representative since he lives in a fallen world.

    Trying not to jump to far ahead, but Psalm 2:8 says that the Messiah’s reign will stretch to the ends of the earth. This Messiah will be the new Adam, who will rule justly etc.

    In the mean time, God promises Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob a land for their descendents. This land begins to become known as an inheritance, for the children of Israel were to inherit it in continuity with the promises made to the patriarchs. See Numbers 34:2 and Deuteronomy 3:28 as representative texts for this theme.

    I was reading 2 Macc. 2 the other day, and there is a very clear reference to Moses looking over the inheritance. In context it is clear that the promised land is in view.

    The OT itself makes this connection between land and inheritance. The Inter-testamental period has at least this one reference, and I am sure there are more. What about the NT?

    Again, much more can be said, and maybe I will write one of the articles on this theme, but 1 Peter 1:3-5 is very clear what this inheritance is, and more importantly for some, where it can be found, “3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

    I ask the Dispensationalists out there, what is so important about that little piece of real estate in the Middle East? Peter is writing to Gentiles (and maybe Jews) about the fulfilled/antitypical inheritance. I will say more at a later date.

    Blessings,
    John

  21. Arlab
    September 3, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    Here’s a few:

    Marriage

    Revelation – “wedding of the lamb”
    The mystery – Eph. 5:32
    In the prophets – primarily in the negative, as adultery. Prime example: Hosea.

    The remnant

    After the flood
    Out of Sodm
    Out of Egypt (the entire Israelite population)
    From Assyria (Hezekiah)
    Returning from Babylon
    In prophecy

    The second

    The “second Adam” (Christ)
    Able vs. Cain
    Issac vs. Ishmael
    Jacob vs. Esau
    Ephraim vs. Mannasseh
    Rachel vs. Leah
    David vs. Saul
    Judah vs. Israel

  22. Arlan
    September 3, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    Sorry, fat-fingered my own name–should be Arlan, not Arlab.

    Doh!

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