Series - Covenants

Covenant in Isaiah, Part 6

This post continues a series of extracts from a draft chapter in the book The Words of the Covenant: A Biblical Theology, Vol. 1 (forthcoming, d.v.). Read the series.

The Kingdom of God and the New Heaven and New Earth

The prediction of a new heaven and a new earth seems to throw a spanner in the works of those interpreters who think they see a kingdom-age after the second coming of Christ but before the New Creation. I think McClain is right in saying that the prophet simply views the kingdom-age and the New Creation together.1 And it is true that the Prophets do place events together which consequently are seen to be separated by millennia. The prophecies concerning the first and second comings of Christ are cases in point. Isaiah 65:17-25 predicts not only a new heaven and earth, it also predicts death and sin, though in a greatly modified setting where children and sinners die at a hundred years of age (Isa. 65:20). But Isaiah has already said that God will abolish death (Isa. 25:8). What is to be done? I think both should be taken literally, although they don’t seem to belong together. Are we to believe that death and sin are still in evidence in the New Creation? But what of the efficacy of the finished work of Christ?

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Covenant in Isaiah, Part 5

This post continues a series of extracts from a draft chapter in the book The Words of the Covenant: A Biblical Theology, Vol. 1 (forthcoming, d.v.). Read the series.

God and Israel: A Special Bond

Isaiah 54 is a reminder to Israel that she bears a special relationship to Yahweh, who is both her Redeemer and Husband (Isa. 54:5). This role of husband has been seen already in Hosea (2:16) and will be repeated in Jeremiah (Jer. 3:14, 31:32).

It is no coincidence that what might properly be labelled “New covenant blessings” follow the atoning work of the Suffering Servant. The overtures of God to Israel ought to be taken for what they plainly are: a promise of a perpetual bond guaranteed by the covenant faithfulness of God. Like all the prophets, Isaiah is not backward in showing Israel her sin. But again, like the other prophets, he is a prophet of hope: “But My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed” (Isa. 54:10).1 The “covenant of peace”—which is an expression that is appended to the redeemed priesthood in Numbers 25:12 and Ezekiel 37:26, or to restored Israel depicted as a haven in Ezekiel 34:25—is in Isaiah 54:10 a reference to God’s people as restored and protected (Isa. 54:17). But each use of the phrase is prophetic and concerns the things to come when the New covenant is enacted.

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Covenant in Isaiah, Part 4

This post continues a series of extracts from a draft chapter in the book The Words of the Covenant: A Biblical Theology, Vol. 1 (forthcoming, d.v.). Read the series.

The Suffering Servant

God’s Servant reappears in Isaiah 52:13-53:12. This passage is of great significance because in it the Holy Spirit puts emphasis not on the reign of Messiah (if I may at this place call Him that), but upon His sufferings. It is a singular fact that the Old Testament prophecies are more concerned with the reign of the coming Ruler than with his death. This point has even caused interpreters to question whether we are dealing with the same person or with two “servants, ” a sufferer and a conqueror. This passage answers that question decisively I think.

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Covenant in Isaiah, Part 3

This post and those to follow are extracts from a draft chapter in the book The Words of the Covenant: A Biblical Theology, Vol. 1 (forthcoming, d.v.). Read the series.

The Intertwining of the Covenants: A Little Summary of the Coming Kingdom

In these kinds of passages Isaiah presents a picture of the future kingdom of the Branch that is glorious in many respects. It is fair and just and safe and beautiful. After the initial battles, there will be a realization of the dream of world peace, brought about by the great mass of people turning to the true God—a New covenant era.

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Covenant in Isaiah, Part 2

This post and those to follow are extracts from a draft chapter in the book The Words of the Covenant: A Biblical Theology, Vol. 1 (forthcoming, d.v.). Read the series.

Isaiah 11

A great monarch, called the “Branch” (Isa. 11:1. Cf. 4:2) will be possessed of the Holy Spirit (11:2). His wisdom and justice will be equal to Yahweh (11:2-4). Already Isaiah has taught us that this person will be miraculously conceived by a virgin (7:14 cf. Gen. 3:15), and no wonder, because He will be “Immanuel”—God with us.

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Covenant in Isaiah, Part 1

This post and those to follow are extracts from a draft chapter in the book The Words of the Covenant: A Biblical Theology, Vol. 1 (forthcoming, d.v.). Read the series.

The prophet Isaiah prosecuted his ministry between around 755 to 685 B.C.1 Isaiah has a lot to say about both the developing picture of the Creation Project and the person of the promised King who will reign upon the earth. His presentation of both of these broad themes furthers the developmental picture of the covenant program greatly.

The Prophet Before His God

Isaiah’s encounter with the Lord in chapter 6 of his book helps us to understand the rest of what he had to say.2 The prophet is confronted by the unimaginably majestic vision of the throne room of God, being brought face to face with the King of the universe (Isa. 6:5b). In this environment he quickly becomes acutely aware of his own decrepitude and unworthiness. He is a sort of microcosm of the people of Israel to whom he is sent, and to every reader of his work.

The vision of the holy King in Isaiah 6 grants a glimpse of God, albeit terrifying, but with a lining of hope, that not only enables us to make (some) sense of God’s difficult words in the book, but also invites us to examine ourselves personally and corporately.3

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The Book of Psalms and the Biblical Covenants (Part 5)

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The Christology of the Psalms continued …

Christ’s Resurrection and Ascension

Christ’s Resurrection and Ascension in Psalms 16:10 (resurrection), and 68:18 (ascension).

Psalm 16:10: “For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.”

It is not fully apparent in Psalm 16 just who the “Holy One” is. David is the author of the psalm, but would David call himself “the Holy One”? It is this passage the apostle Peter quotes and applies directly to the Risen Christ in Acts 2:25-30. Sheol was the place of departed souls and generally has negative connotations in the OT. David appears to be speaking of it, not as a place of his temporary punishment, but of separation still from the presence of God. If this is true then the hope of resurrection, and an ascension of some kind, is certainly in David’s mind as he writes, and it is this that Peter picks up and uses.

Psalm 68:18: “You have ascended on high, You have led captivity captive; You have received gifts among men, Even from the rebellious, That the LORD God might dwell there.”

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The Book of Psalms and the Biblical Covenants (Part 4)

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The Christology of the Psalms

Everyone knows that from an evangelical perspective there are a number of psalms that are designated “Messianic.” In surveying some of the categories above, it has already been impossible to avoid encountering the doctrine of Christ. Christology surfaces in many of the Psalms, although the main “Messianic Psalms” are Psalms 2, 22, 69, 110, and 118. These five are so-called mainly because they are employed by the New Testament writers to relate in some way to aspects of Jesus Christ’s life and ministry.1 If we quickly survey these five Psalms we find that,

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