Old Testament

The Covenantal Landscape of the Old Testament, Part 1

A view of the Valley of Jezreel as seen from Mt. Carmel

From the forthcoming book The Words of the Covenant: Old Testament Expectation. Read the series.

If one surveys the contents of the Old Testament with both eyes upon the divine covenants, what one comes away with is a massive sense of expectation. The simply-worded Creation chapter (Gen. 1) displays a purpose and goal for the world which God is moving forward. The simplicity of the wording conveys an important hermeneutical truth; that what God does is directly in line with what He says (i.e. God’s words equal God’s actions). This can be tested in numerous points throughout the Old Testament (e.g. Gen. 1:3, 6-7, 11-12, 26-31; 6:7-13; 11:7-9; 2 Ki. 1:3-4, 16-17; 5:10, 14; Dan. 4:16, 25, 32-33).

This movement towards a goal is seemingly interrupted by the calamitous fall of our first parents and the autonomous thinking that it brought about. While seeming innocuous, this default of naive independence from the authority of God and His words has led mankind to every false notion and violent act in our bloody history. It has also caused God’s people to recalibrate what God has said by passing it through the apparatus of independent interpretation. In the long term this is what is chiefly responsible for the varied schools of thought in Christian theology. But in the Hebrew Bible it was a major cause, through reevaluation of God’s word, for Israel’s defection.

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Ancient 'outlaw temple' discovered in Israel: Dated to First Temple Period

"This temple was likely built around 900 B.C. and operated for a few hundred years, until its demise in the early sixth century B.C., according to Kisilevitz and her co-researcher, who wrote about it in the January/February issue of the Biblical Archaeology Review magazine." - LiveScience

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Covenant in Ezekiel, Part 5

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A Literal Reading

The structure of Ezekiel reaches its crescendo in the theme of the returning Glory to the Temple in Ezekiel 43:1-7.1 This return must be linked with the abandonment of Solomon’s Temple by the Glory-cloud in chapter 11. There is a narrative-theological arc extending from Ezekiel 8 and 11 over to Ezekiel 43.

This arc from a literal temple to what is often taken to be a spiritual temple at the end of the book, looks hermeneutically unbalanced and forced upon the prophet’s words. But if this arc and the other details in this section can be adequately accounted for by not spiritualizing them, then the theological fallout is immense.2 The strongly covenantal connections involved would, for example, stimulate a long overdue examination of God’s eternal covenant of peace with Phinehas (Num. 25:10-13) and his descendants the Zadokites (cf. 1 Chron. 6:4-8).

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Covenant in Ezekiel, Part 4

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Gog and Magog Against Israel

There has been a lot of debate about Ezekiel 38 and 39. Those who think they ought to be read symbolically appeal to the apocalyptic character of the descriptions.1 But it appears sometimes that appeals to certain genres are a little too convenient; the word being placed over the text like a kind of detour sign in the middle of a road, preventing people from drawing the “wrong” conclusion. Other expositors find little difficulty with unpacking the details of the two oracles, other than the identification of the names and places.2 Stuart, Alexander, and others have shown that it is unwise to attempt to identify “Rosh” in these chapters with modern Russia. No one can pinpoint “Rosh” as an ancient land,3 and students of the Bible are not to try to surmise predictions of future nations from mere names. We are not to read Holy Scripture like the quatrains of Nostradamus. All commentators seem to agree that Ezekiel 38-39 is for the purpose of reasserting God’s defense of Israel.4

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