Monday, April 7, 2008

Substitute Sunday School Teaching

Our good friend and fearless adult Sunday School teacher, Mark, has asked me and another member of the class to take over for him while he takes some time to be with his wife and new little one. I am relishing the opportunity! Our class has been reading through the book of Judges, and I am working through the Samson narrative.

I thought teaching Samson was going to be pretty easy with very little preparation to be done. I couldn't have been more wrong. Shortly after consulting one of a number of commentaries, I realized that this book, and the Samson narrative especially, are some of the most difficult and poignant sections of Old Testament literature. after many hours of study, I realized I had only scratched the surface.

What makes the narrative so interesting is that it is set up in a series of parallelisms, layer upon layer. It is also simultaneously looking backward to the Law of Moses, and forward to the rest of Scripture - waiting for Messianic fulfillment. Without getting too in-depth, I will share with you some of what I have uncovered.

First, there are themes that are brought up in Judges that link the book to other sections of Scripture. Here is a short list of the themes with links in other places in parens.: S/son of promise theme - this theme deals with barrenness and fullness, and can be seen on a personal and corporate level throughout Scripture and looks forward to the giving of the Holy Spirit in power to all believers in the NT (Abr./Sarah - Isaac, Gen. 11:30, 15:1-17:22, 21:1-7; Jacob/Rachel - Joseph, Gen. 29:31, 30:22-24; Manoah/wife - Samson, Judges 13; Elkanah/Hannah - Samuel, 1 Sam. 1-2:11; the oracle concerning the Spirit, Isa. 49; Zechariah/Elizabeth - John, Lk. 1:5-25; Mary via the Spirit - Jesus, Lk. 1:26-55, 2:6-32). There is also the theme of deliverer - God raises up a man or nation to fulfill a promise he initiated and glorify himself despite the sin of his people (We see this in the Exodus narrative; in Joshua; in the judges, in the kings of Israel/Judah, Cyrus the Persian, and ultimately in Christ). A third theme is that of the Nazarite pledge (Numbers 6:1-12) - A man that God has raised up is consecrated for a time (or a lifetime in a few cases) and the stipulations of the pledge hold him to his promise before God. This pledge also looks forward to Christ, the one set apart by his nature, and Christians who are set apart by Christ's work and the Holy Spirit residing within them (Samson, Judges 13:7-14; Samuel, 1 Sam. 1;20-28, 1 Sam. 28:12-14; John, Lk. 1:15).

Second, There are specific geo-political reasons why the Israelites (and Samson, standing as a type for unrighteous Israel) are failing. The Arameans, Assyrians, and Arabians are pushing other people groups from the East, causing them to make raids and land-grabs in Canaan. The Sea People (Philistines?) from the Aegean attacked and were repulsed by Egypt, settling in the "Philistine Plain" near Gaza. From there, this group began raiding into the hill country and by the time of Samson (Jud. 13), they controlled the Israelites. The Canaanites were still existing in the land and all of these groups worshiped gods and goddesses that were tied to agricultural fertility. Because of the cyclical nature of rain and drought, there was a great temptation for the Israelites to also worship these gods for "insurance." Yet their disobedience brought upon them the curses proclaimed by the oracle of Moses in Deuteronomy. Thus the Israelites were caught in a cyclical system of sin and punishment. They would worship gods of rain and harvest, and God would shut off the rain and bring waste upon their harvests, so they would worship the foreign gods more. . .

For Samson, in the context of type of Israel, sight becomes an important issue. Just as Samson "sees" the philistine women and follows after them, and as he "sees" honey within the unclean carcass and eats it (eventually leading him to his downfall and the loss of his eyes), Israel has followed after what they have seen in the land. This will lead to their downfall as they are taken away from the promised land as prisoners centuries later.

In a further layer within the text, the account of the lion on the road to Timnah (Jud. 14:5-9) connects to the narrative of the Fall in Gen. 3:6. Just as Eve saw that the fruit was good, ate some, and gave some to her husband (the one responsible for her and her instruction) in rebellion against God, Samson saw honey within the ceremonially unclean animal's dead carcass, ate some and gave some to his parents. This act was sinful on many levels. It transgressed his Nazarite pledge, it contaminated him as an Israelite, it dishonored and defiled his parents (who he had already disobeyed). He has transgressed the law and he will find that God's discipline awaits. . .

Samson was to be raised up as a Christ type, a deliverer of the people, acting similarly to a king in that he was to turn their focus back to Yahweh. He should have led them in worship and right application of the Law. Instead, he is raised up as a type of the people, sinful and rebellious, interested only in what "looked good to his eyes." He stands as a prophetic symbol in his time, communicating the penalty of sin to the people. He also, conspicuously, will not bring peace to his people. They will not be delivered from the Philistines by Samson and will continue to fight them until another Christ type, a prophetic, priestly, king named David subjugates the Philistines.

These are only a few of the many aspects that are within this rich historical and prophetic story. I recommend that everyone read it, especially with the Law and Christ in mind.

13 comments:

Timothy L. Decker said...

Steve, what are the boundaries in which you place on typology? It is in my nature to err on the side of caution, so I stay away from typology unless it is clearly said to be so in Scripture (cf. Romans 5:14). I am not asking to be combative, but I am just curious as to what limits you place on typology.

I had a hard time understanding your point on the "S/son of promise theme" with "barrenness and fullness...looks forward to the giving of the Holy Spirit in power to all believers in the NT." Could you clarify your view and then tell me how those passages of Scripture point ahead to the giving of the Holy Spirit? I guess I am wondering about your hermeneutical basis for such an assertion.

I do love the book of Judges. I often ask people, "If the whole Bible were made into a movie, what would it be rated?" After reading Judges, it would have to be R for violence. Ehud's assasination of king Eglon is always a fun story to tell children. Have fun teaching a great book of the Bible.

Steven Douglas said...

Tim,

Yes, R for violence, and X for sexual content with all of the literal and spiritual "whoring" the people were doing at the pagan altars/temples/and high places.

I guess I would like to know what you mean by "limits." Going on without the clarification "lets" me get a little long winded. ;)

The OT and NT use "types" in order to get spiritual points across. This is especially common in prophetic oracles/narratives. Types can be people, animals, or objects. usually if it is one of the latter categories, I would call it "symbol." Either way, one thing stands in the place for another.

We can see types of Christ (otherwise called shadows or foreshadows) throughout the OT. There are Messianic themes that are associated with these foreshadowing types. The themes of deliverer, judge/king, priest/prophet, the filled barren womb, the Nazarite consecration, etc., are all fulfilled in Christ. The NT looks back upon and somewhat clarifies the OT. Yet much of the NT can be seen in the OT.

As it pertains to the giving of the Holy Spirit, the typology of Samson as Israel as a whole, falling into sin, and the narrator's focus on God's empowerment and grace upon this rebellious "deliverer," looks forward to the later historical books and prophetic books when we see kings empowered by the Holy Spirit in order to rule as son of God (lower-case "s"). The Prophets, too, spoke of the empowerment of the Spirit and looked forward to the day that the Spirit would be poured out in power upon all believers (Pentecost). While Judges does not come right out and explicitly say, "someday, there will be an outpouring all people...", it fits into the biblical development concerning God's empowerment of individuals through the Holy Spirit.

I see Judges as not just an historical book, but a prophetic one. It details the troubles of the people in the land, looking back on Deut. for its condemnation, while looking ahead for the right fulfillment of its themes judging/kingship/deliverence, etc.

As far as the S/son of promise theme goes, as I wrote before, there are recurring stories throughout OT/NT of the barren woman and God's promise to provide a child of promise (always male, always for a function). I listed where these incidents occur.

The son of promise (lower-case "s") is raised up for a specific purpose in the ongoing promises of God for his people (again I draw little distinction between Israel and NT believers, seeing the latter as true, ingrafted, Jews through belief in Christ). The Son of promise (Upper-case "s") is Christ the promise that all the other promises looked forward to. He fulfills, in completeness, the roles of all those who were sons of promise before him. So in this aspect, Christ is the promised Son.

Another aspect of the Son of promise is that prophetic theme of the Spirit brought upon believers in power in the last days. This use of "Son" is figurative, of course. I am not confusing the person of the Holy Spirit, here, with the person of Christ.

I think for the most part this comes from putting "two-and-two together;" seeing the development of thinking about the spirit throughout the OT, but my major reason for thinking this is Isaiah's oracle in ch. 49 and its basic continuation in Joel 2:25-32 and Acts 2.

The judges narrative is aching for the righteous deliverer who will save the people not from the oppression that cropped-up because of their sin, but from their sin itself. it is also aching for a righteous people who are each empowered and purified by the Spirit. Christ is our Son of promise in the most literal sense, but the people, who were barren for so long and only had the law written on stone, finally have their promised Holy Spirit who has written the Law upon our hearts. He, too, is a Son of promise.

Thanks for the note, Tim, and thanks for the encouragement. Now my only problem is to reduce all of the info into something maneagable to teach! Blessings, Brother.

Timothy L. Decker said...

I guess what scares me about the overuse of typology is that these conclusions are based on your own logic ("putting two and two together"). The first rule in hermeneutics is that similarities do not mean sameness. This kind of typology, in my estimation, goes beyond what the text is seeking to communicate (especially with the barren & filling idea of the Spirit). Staying with authorial intent, is it legitamate to say that Moses, Joshuan, and other historical writers were making a Messianic/typological point? I find it hard to understand it in that way. That is why Dispo's like me accuse you Covenentalists of spiritualizing.

So the coming of the Spirit prophesied in the OT is fulfilled on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2? I would love to discuss that more. I have a hard time holding to such a view (you can read a paper I wrote on the issue on Debating Theological Issues).

Steven Douglas said...

Yes, I can see that. Although we might accuse you guys of taking figurative texts too literally, especially when the millennium is concerned. ;)

You said it "scares" you. Why? Of course one must be careful and stick to biblical conventions and the Scriptures themselves (both the close and larger contexts). But it is not the same sort of thing as starting with an idea and putting it on the text as some groups are apt to do (like some Pentecostals, etc.). The Israelite people had an ongoing tradition and customs of interpretation that is frequently lost on Western Christians. We have to try, as much as we can, to get back to that when interpreting; bridging the gap. That is certainly my goal in the hermeneutical process. If we are too wooden in our hermeneutical approach, we lose a lot of major points and themes. If we go too far and apply what we think to the text, we can wind up in error, or worse, in heresy.

You said that "similarities do not mean sameness." I agree wholeheartedly. But when you are looking through Judges and they use the SAME phrase as Genesis and pick up SAME themes, we are meant to draw out the conclusion. That is why on my post I italicized the "saw," "ate," and "gave" of the Fall and Samson Narratives. Also, the opening of the Rock at Ramath-Lehi and his cry of "will your servant now die of thirst?", are to remind us of the people's grumbling and the Lord's providence at Meribah.

I think it is the looking forward aspect that you are questioning, though, right? But if you read through the NT with specific OT narratives in mind, we see the perfection of Christ in fulfilling these similar roles. If we also believe that God has planned both the fall and the salvation of mankind before the creation, we can certainly affirm that the former deliverers were types of the perfect deliverer. It isn't a matter of playing fast-and-loose with Scripture, but rather allowing Scripture to develop your thought process and using Scripture to interpret Scripture.

I am not saying you don't do this, of course, I wonder, though, If you aren't too wooden in your interpretive method. Please don't be insulted by my saying that, I just wonder if A FEW of your rules should give way A LITTLE. I hope I have expressed myself understandably, because I realize there were a few phrases in there that could be interpreted to mean something I don't mean. If we need to, let's keep talking about it until we get it nailed down. I appreciate the accountability you bring, Tim.

Timothy L. Decker said...

What scares me is that the authority is in the hands of the interpreter and not the text when typology is used w/o Scriptural support. Based on your logic alone do you come to these typological truths. The idea of Scripture interpreting Scripture is ok unless you have incorrect presuppositions or if the original Scripture being used is misinterpreted. Scripture for Scripture is better used for clear passages to help w/ the unclear.

You are correct in the looking forward aspect that concerns me. But not just in Christological truths as you mentioned with “former deliverers were types of the perfect deliverer.” I am also referring to ecclesiological truths. I don’t see Samson as a type. Yes both were deliverers, but the text does not state such a type. Therefore I am not willing to call the narrative of Samson a type in any way. At least this way, the text remains the authority and not the interpreter’s logic.

I am reading through L. S. Chafer’s Systematic Theology right now. He holds to types for the Church in the OT (Chafer represents the older Dispo view which was very underdeveloped). I reject such ecclesiological typology due to the mystery character of the Church. The Church wasn’t just hidden in the OT, but hidden in God (Eph. 3:9) and not revealed. In my opinion, it is incorrect to come up with any ecclesiological teachings from the OT.

Steven Douglas said...

What do you mean by "hidden in God"? and where do you get your biblical warrant for that? Do you believe nothing was revealed about the church age or about Christ's first coming in the OT or do you reserve all of what was said for a future kingdom (millennium) and strictly pertaining to Jews?

So you do not see Samson as any type whatsoever? Either for Israel or for a later Messiah? What then is the point of the text and how can it be applied (either for Jews living after the incidents or for Christians today)?

If he is not a type, and no expectation is warranted, all Judges is is an historical book, recording an event. That runs the risk of making us moralists. What I mean by that is, "We see this historical situation where Samson did something wrong and he was punished/allowed to be punished. So don't do wrong." Maybe even that would be too much. If there is a definite distinction between the OT and NT/today, we could not even say that that action/punishment relation still applies to us. We can only use the NT for application and the OT merely becomes an enriching story line.

I may be overstating your position (I certainly hope so), but that seems to be conclusion of that way of thinking to me. I think that there must be many unforseen areas where dispos and covenanters would disagree. I am glad, though that we are hashing this out. Let's keep it up.

Timothy L. Decker said...

What I am referring to is the revelation of the Church. It was said by Paul to be hidden in God in Eph. 3:9 (I mentioned that verse in my last comment). PD’s and some Covenant Premil’s will say that the Church revelation is only unrealized in the OT but not unrevealed (correct me if your view is different). But the very word “mystery” means something unrevealed (cf. Rom. 16:25-26). Thus, I have Biblical warrant in the Scripture I mentioned (Eph. 3:9) that says the Church revelation was a mystery hidden in God not the OT. Therefore, there is no revelation of the Church in the OT. Revelation of Christ is another matter. Christ didn’t live in the Church age, so in that way, this is unrelated. But there is much revelation to Christ in the OT.

I see much more practical application in Samson than you do I guess. There is a lot of practical truths that can be gleaned from Samson – finding a believing wife, don’t flirt with sin or a flirting sinner, keeping a vow made to God are just a few off the top of my head. The genre of a narrative seeks to communicate one overarching truth found in the entire context of the book. In the case of Judges, the emphasis is on God’s deliverance and power in that he can use anybody (a sinner, a left-handed man, a woman leader, etc.) to deliver His people which will bring worship not to the human agent but to the divine Redeemer. Every story is about a substandard judge who God uses to bring about Israel’s deliverance. Thus it is actually God doing the delivering. Now that’ll preach!

I think the error with your thinking (just my opinion) is that you see everything revolving around Christ and redemption. Thus you interpret this as a type of Christ. The dispo view is to see everything revolving around bringing glory to God. That seems to fit into the plain sense of Judges much better than a type/antitype scenario that can only be played out once the NT is written.

Steven Douglas said...

I certainly see the practical application of the text, but by your own methodology, I would suggest that the text gives way to moralisms, do this, don't do that. You and I both know that that is not what Christianity is about. By separating the OT from the NT, we would miss so much of the richness of our history as a redeemed people and also portrayals of the nature of Christ/the Father/the Holy Spirit (God).

I agree that one major "lesson" that we can take from these texts is that God can use anyone to deliver his people. But that also misses so much. First, that does not translate to us because God could not use just anyone to deliver his people spiritually, he had to use Christ, another person of the Trinity. Essentially, himself. God had to save man. Christians are not saved by their power and none can deliver us but Christ. There are attributes of Christ that we are made aware of by their absence in the judges. He would not be selfish, he would not value his own life, he would not lead people into wrong thinking/worship. God used humans to deliver the Israelites in the time of Judges, but it looked forward to a time when the righteous judge would arise and deliver his people. The fact that God himself is delivering his people, again, looks back to Deut. and forward to a clarification of this theme. The latter prophets and the NT, especially, bear out that it would have to be God that saved his people spiritually. There was an expectation (however unclear) for God to save his people in a final and spiritual way. These things may not be expressed explicitly, but they are certainly implicit in the text.

We are able to look back on these texts and (rightly) interpret them as types and themes, because we see the same types and themes crop up throughout Scripture into the NT. If these themes and types are perfected in Christ, should we not say that he is the fulfillment of them and that they looked forward to him? This is not reading with a man-made philosophy being added to the text but using the text to interpret the other texts (both backward and forward).

A last question concerning your last point. You said that the Dispo sees the texts as concerning bringing Glory to God. I would respond, how is God most glorified? I would suggest that it is through the willing and perfect obedience of Jesus Christ, dying to redeem a fallen people and justifying God's "very good" creation.

"For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Col. 1:19-20)"
Yes, I unashamedly see almost all of Scripture focusing on Christ's life, death, resurrection, ascension, and rule. The Bible is Christo-centric, why shouldn't I be? Christ brings glory to God, The Holy Spirit bears witness to God's plan and Christ's work and rule. If we divorce OT from NT, or Israel from the Gentile, we have missed the whole point of the Scriptures, that God would reconcile all things to himself (this includes all peoples) through the nation of Israel, Yeshua Hamashiah, Jesus the Messiah.

Timothy L. Decker said...

I just want to mention 3 passages that reach beyond Christocentrism. Christ Himself says in John 17 that He came to glorify the Father. Even Christ was not Christocentric but Doxocentric (don't know if that term is even a real term).

This is again seen in the kenosis passage. All of Christ's worship, praise, and adoration is not an end but a means to an end. The end in this case is "to the glory of God the Father." Thus it is not Christocentric but doxological beyond just Christ and redemption.

Lastly, I think of 1 Cor. 15:28. The future reign of Christ (vs. 25), the abolishment of death (vs. 26), and when all things are subjected to Christ; it is all done not as an end but a means to an end. Verse 28 explains that the end is "so that God may be all in all." After the plan of salvation/redemption is said and done with, there will always be the glory of God.

While Christianity is not about "do's and do not's" there are moral guidelines to adhere to which can be gleaned from the OT examples.

When you say that the overarching theme does not translate to us, you missed my point. I am not saying that this applies to spiritual salvation. It is about physical deliverance (the same is true in the case of Judges). I think it speaks volumes to the greatness of God not the inadequacies of the judges. The focus is on God, thus inferior people were used as deliverers to show that God is the one delivering. God is also all powerful not needing to rely on any of man's attributes. That is a lot of good theology. That translates right over to us. Even the spiritual aspect of salvation in God alone despite man's inadequacies is legit in my opinion.

I am just not able to see Christ everywhere that you do. It doesn't seem natural. It places the interpreter as the authority over the text. It undoubtedly leads to subjectivity. Your view of emphasis on Christ might be different than the next guy. Plus, you have authorial intent to deal with. But it is not likely that the narrative writers had in mind the typified Messiah. There are undoubtedly Scripture that deal nothing with Christ's redemption (i.e. Song of Solomon; that is unless you allegorize/spiritualize it) but still convey God's glory. The mere mention of angels has little to do with man's salvation. Yet angels are mentioned frequently because they have the same purpose as we do - bring God glory.

Something else pertaining to a redemptive centered hermeneutic; would you describe God's purpose of creation to save sinners? That seems unreasonable. It seems that the purpose of creation is to bring God glory. To do that, salvation would have to be offered and thus is only a means to glorification.

I only inended on writing the 1st paragraph. I just couldn't stop. That is why I seem incoherent and jump from one topic back to the other.

Steven Douglas said...

I will have to get into your texts at a later time, unfortunately. But a few thoughts.

You said, "God is also all powerful not needing to rely on any of man's attributes. That is a lot of good theology. That translates right over to us. Even the spiritual aspect of salvation in God alone despite man's inadequacies is legit in my opinion." How (in practice) does this translate right to us (I am not disagreeing but trying to get how you apply your logic here)?

You said, "I am just not able to see Christ everywhere that you do. It doesn't seem natural. It places the interpreter as the authority over the text. It undoubtedly leads to subjectivity." I am not saying that in the types, the OT writers all understood the Messianic theme that they wrote about. This is certainly the case in Psalm 22. It is obviously Messianic and had little to do with the author (David). The author never suffered the humiliations or the torture that he described. This is all orchestrated by God concerning the Messiah. We see this in the NT, both by the way that John explains the situation and by Jesus, himself, crying out the first line of the Psalm. It is obvious that the entire Psalm was menat in that moment. The Psalm, then, is prophetic and Messianic, and though the writer may never have meant his Psalm to be concerning actual events occurring 1,000 years later.

Judges, according to many scholars, is not merely a historical book but is considered part of the "former" prophetic books. I certainly am not the only one who sees the book looking forward for fulfillment.

You have mentioned, several times now, that viewing types places the interpretor as authority over the text rather than the author. I don't see where you are getting this. At no point in my method do I place myself as authority over the text. Rather I allow the text to speak all of what it is saying, even by implication, innuendo, and figurative language. The texts use them often in both the OT and NT, and other Scriptural texts must be viewed to explain them. Sometimes outside helps are also useful (Rabbinical sources, archaeology, Christian interpreters), although we cannot put them on the same level as Scripture.

Authorial intent is very, very important, but we must remember 2 Timothy 3:15-17, "from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures [pertaining to both OT/NT], which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
[Paul seems to be saying that the purpose of Scripture is salvation and that through Christ.]

Scripture, is from God and is designed outside of time to glorify God (through Christ). Is there salvation apart from the promise of Christ (in either the Old Testament or the New)? Paul would say, "NO!" This is portrayed in his Romans and Galatians passages on Abr. and faith. He says in Galatians 3:8-9, "The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: 'All nations will be blessed through you.' So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith." The promise was not specifically about Isaac (to see it that way would be to deny Paul's entire argument). The promise was rather concerning Christ, the child of promise and the true and righteous Israel.
Paul looks back upon the Abraham/Isaac narrative and sees . . . Christ! Would we say that he was wrong? I know you wouldn't. I do not place categories on the text that are not warranted by the texts themselves.

As to our bringing God glory and the creation account, We do not bring God glory. Christ does. We are in Christ and Christ brings God glory, justifying us before the Father. Our best works apart from God are completely reprehensible. "Without me, you can do nothing [good?]."

You asked, "would you describe God's purpose of creation to save sinners?" That is a very tricky and deep question that may be better saved for a future conversation. I will give a brief answer that will not do the question justice (due to time). Yes and no. I believe that God planned the fall and redemption before he created humanity. So yes, God created man with salvation in mind. To deny this would do damage to God's foreknowledge and predestination. This leads us to Arminianism and eventually to Semi-Pelagianism/Pelagianism, and Open-Theism.

Yet, at the same time, God created man in his image and "very good." There was no hint of sin in them, from what we can tell. Therefore, the plan of salvation could not be put into motion until they sinned. The sin, though, was planned and the outcome determined before they ever met the serpent. The Son performed/performs many functions, but he has always been the second person of the deity, and so he is by nature a faithful redeemer, even prior to and after his actual function as redeemer.

Steven Douglas said...

Tim,

I noticed this statement on one of your posts concerning Progressive Dispensationalism. "Most if not all Covenantal positions view the purpose of God to be soteriological and not doxological. While the statements of Covenantalists deny this claim, their teachings affirm it to be true."


I guess it really depends on your viewpoint. In the grand scheme, the purpose of God is whatever he wants it to be (that is, doxological). Yet practically speaking, how has he brought glory to himself? That is the question. It isn't what is the purpose of God, but how has God revealed his purposes to man and what has he done to glorify himself. The answer, then, is that the most glorifying thing God has done (from a Scriptural standpoint) is to redeem creation from the Fall.

The kingdom of God is doxological in focus, but Christ is the lens through which it is focused. The kingdom of God would be absolutely meaningless to us if we had not been redeemed through Christ's work.

To make such unyielding distinctions between the "revelatory periods" (which I disagree with anyway) leads itself (practically) toward thinking that God revealed himself to men according to men's reactions to God's last revelation. This means God reacts to men and has not planned all things from the beginning. It lends itself to Open-Theism.

If we see each covenant between God and man as a continuation/renewal of relationship that builds on a theme which is both soteriological and doxological, I believe we are closer to the heart of the text.

The promises to Abraham (offspring/Israel, son of promise/Isaac, nation blessing the nations) is only partially fulfilled in that scope. We must see, however, that the offspring/Israel/child of promise is, in a deeper sense, Jesus the Messiah, and that it is he who does what national Israel COULDN'T do; bless the nations. Only since Christ have the nations been blessed by the olive tree/grape vine of Israel.

The triune God brings glory to himself, by overcoming sin himself and redeeming humanity for himself. Your doxology is completely skewed if it isn't seated in Christ. What of John 14:6-21; 8:54; 17:1-10? Christ glorifies the Father. We glorify him through Christ alone.

Timothy L. Decker said...

Instaed of debating every point, let me just ask this: Is every portion of Scripture about Christ or redemption? By every I mean ever yod (jot) and stroke mark (tittle).

It's funny that every debate between a Covenanter and Dispo always comes back to hermeneutics.

Enjoying this brother. I was reading through some of your earlier posts (the ones you wrote before I knew about the rabbit). I was humbled and grateful to see an "advertisement" for my blog. Thank you.

Steven Douglas said...

Hey Tim,

Every jot and tittle? I would say, not directly. There are things that speak to its own time and place, and mean only what the author means and little else. But Scripture was all written down not as a mere history of a people or an exercise of Jews, but as a testament to the work of God in self-glorification and redemption of his creation. Christ is the fulfillment of the OT. He glorifies the Father, and is, in turn, glorified by the Father and by man. God the Father is glorified by man in Christ.

Every jot and tittle is not directly about Christ, but its overall purpose is redemptive in that it glorifies God and convicts man, pushing him to repentance and right relationhip/worship of the Father/Son/Holy Spirit.

Blessings, Brother.