Typology

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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The Cosmic Temple & Spiritualized Eschatology, Part 4

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Block’s Challenge

Recently the Old Testament scholar Daniel Block has vigorously challenged the whole Cosmic Temple thesis.1 Even if his counter-arguments are somewhat provisional,2 and he retains certain questionable positions on some matters (e.g. the presence of a covenant in Eden,3 violence beyond Eden,4 Jesus replacing the Jerusalem temple5), I think he has banged more than a couple of nails into the coffin. Allow me to set out several of his major criticisms:6

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The Cosmic Temple & Spiritualized Eschatology, Part 3

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Objections to the Cosmic Temple Motif in Scripture

In Beale’s book The Temple and the Church’s Mission, both the garden of Eden and the Jerusalem temple are types of the Church, which is confusingly called the literal non-physical temple.1 Beale’s thesis, which is fed by many ingeniously interpreted though vague allusions – mainly reliant upon reinterpreting OT texts by privileged interpretations of the NT – is that the OT stories of Adam, Abraham, and Israel recapitulate the same story of failure to extend God’s spiritual kingdom throughout the world. Jesus, the final Adam, the final Israel, and the final temple (though apparently not the final Abraham), will set everything to rights when He comes, and then it’s a wrap as far as this present creation is concerned.2

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The Cosmic Temple & Spiritualized Eschatology, Part 2

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Firmer Ground

Following the biblical narrative it appears that the design and furnishings of the tabernacle/temple have some correspondence with the Paradise which Adam forfeited. This “remembrance” would only increase the sense of what was lost and what the Promised One (Gen. 3:15) would restore. It would act as an encouragement to faith. And the expectation would only be heightened once it was also revealed that the sanctuary was modeled after one in heaven (Exod. 25:9; Heb. 8:1-5).1 These ideas taken together form the backdrop for viewing the earthly temple sanctuary as a place of meeting between God and (one) man.2 Once the Redeemer completes eventually His work3 however, all saints may enter the true Holy Place (cf. Rev. 21:21-26).

If this view is accepted then neither Eden nor the later temple should be seen, in the first place, as a model of the whole Cosmos, but as a “pattern” or “imitation” of “the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man.” (Heb. 8:2).4 Of course, if the true sanctuary does model the Cosmos then so would the copy.5

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The Cosmic Temple & Spiritualized Eschatology, Part 1

Israel’s temple was a symbolic shadow pointing to the eschatological “greater and more perfect tabernacle” (Heb. 9:11) in which Christ and the church would dwell and would form a part. If so, it would seem to be the wrong approach for Christians to look in hope to the building of another temple in Jerusalem composed of earthly “bricks and mortar” as a fulfillment of the OT temple prophecies. (G. K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, 634)

The above quotation presents one of the logical outcomes of adopting the position that the garden of Eden was designed as a “temple,” which in turn symbolized the created cosmos, which needed to be subordinated to its Creator. This micro-cosmos Eden “temple” was to be expanded by mankind, we are told, until it covered the surface area of planet earth. The tabernacle and the temple of Israel were related to the Eden “temple” in that they too were mini-cosmoses; yet they also functioned as types of the final temple, the church in Jesus Christ. The church is the new and real temple which is to expand its “sacred space” until it spreads over the whole of creation.

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