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What’s the Point of the Millennium?

Mike Wittmer, a fellow premillennialist, once asked me what the millennium does. Why is it there?

As I was pondering the Big Story of the Bible in preparation to preach an overview kind of sermon recently, the thought began to take shape in my head that the millennium provides another point of contact–a typological point of contact–between Adam and Jesus. Consider the parallels:

Adam was in the undefiled garden, living before God in Eden. The garden was invaded and defiled by Satan. Adam and Eve did not withstand the temptation but sinned and were expelled from God’s presence.

In Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 Paul discusses the way that Adam was a type of the one to come, Jesus, whose obedience would match and overcome Adam’s disobedience. Paul also makes clear that whereas in Adam all die, in Christ all shall be made alive.

In his first coming, Jesus obeyed where Adam disobeyed and gave life where Adam gave death.

At his second coming (Rev 19), Jesus will cleanse the land of the serpent and his seed, restoring creation to an Eden-like state. The thousand year reign of Christ in Revelation 20:4–6 matches the thousand year life-spans of Adam and other pre-flood figures (cf. Gen 5).

Having reigned for a thousand years in an undefiled, cleansed creation, Jesus gets another chance to succeed where Adam failed. Adam lived in undefiled purity and innocence but sinned at Satan’s instigation. Having established a millennial kingdom, a golden age of undefiled innocence, Jesus has subdued the earth, filling and ruling over it as God commanded Adam to do, when Satan is released from the pit (Rev 20:7).

We are not told where Cain got his wife at the beginning, and we are not told where Satan got his followers at the end. But we can see a clear contrast between Adam and Jesus:

Adam in Eden failed to stand before the Satanic revolt. He sinned and was exiled from God’s presence.
Christ at the end of the millennium will stand fast against the Satanic revolt. He will conquer and bring about the new heaven and new earth, the new Jerusalem, the new and better Eden.

It seems, then, that the point of the millennium is to begin the renewal of creation that will be completed once Christ has triumphed in circumstances similar to those under which Adam was conquered. Adam sinned in Eden, but Jesus will overcome Satan at the end of the edenic millennium. Whereas Adam was driven from the garden, the conquest of Christ opens the way for the edening of all creation, in fulfillment of God’s eternal purpose.

“No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever” (Rev 22:3–5). 

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So there could be a Jesus: TGC Interview on Ezra–Nehemiah

Hearty thanks to Kathleen Nielson for interviewing me on Ezra–Nehemiah for the TGC blog in the run-up to the National Women’s Conference on Nehemiah. Here’s a bit from one of my responses, reflecting on the way that their concern for the nation’s purity ensured the birth of Jesus:
In the mystery of God’s providence, we have the efforts of Ezra and Nehemiah to thank for our Savior’s birth, life, death, and resurrection. God saved us through Jesus, and we see God’s sovereignty in tension with human responsibility as we consider how Ezra and Nehemiah worked to ensure that there would be a Joseph and a Mary so there could be a Jesus. They didn’t know that would be his name, but it was concern for him, hope for him, that drew Ezra and Nehemiah back to the Scriptures, kept them on their knees, compelled them to call the people to repent, and caused them to seek the rebuilding of people and wall.

The whole is here, and if you’re studying Nehemiah to prepare for the conference, how about we work through it together?

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SBTS Alumni Academy on Biblical Theology

Is there anything more important than the Bible? Jesus said Scripture can’t be broken, and he prayed that the Father would sanctify his people in the truth, then said, “Thy word is truth.”

God’s people need God’s word.

The word doesn’t work like a magic formula, however. We don’t just pass our eyes over a meaningless series of symbols. No, for the word to work it has to be understood.

To understand the Bible we need biblical theology.

Why? Because biblical theology enables us to understand the trees as they stand in the forest, and it enables us to see the shape of the forest formed by all those trees.

Biblical theology helps us see how the biblical authors understood the Scriptures and their own situations. Biblical theology shines the light on how later authors picked up the storyline started by earlier authors of Scripture, summarizing and interpreting it in their use of symbolism, imagery, typology, and significant patterns.

God has spoken to us in his word. We want to understand what he has said. God’s people need to hear his voice.

Are your ears trained to hear him?

We want to do biblical theology because we want to know God and love God’s people by giving them the fullness of what God has revealed in our preaching and teaching.

Join us at the next SBTS Alumni Academy for two days (Jan 8–9, 2015) of biblical theology. If we are to teach the nations to obey everything Jesus said, we have to understand what it means.

Register here, that all the ends of the earth might fear the Lord.

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An Excerpt from My Ezra–Nehemiah Book

Broadman and Holman allowed me to put an excerpt of my new book on Ezra–Nehemiah on Christianity.com. The chapter excerpted deals with how to live a wartime lifestyle on a millionaire’s budget. Here’s a bit:

Can you imagine slaughtering an ox a day? I don’t know how big Nehemiah’s herd of oxen was, but he referred to a twelve year period of time in 5:14. Twelve years multiplied by 365 days per year is 4,380 oxen. He either had a herd big enough to sustain that or he had the money to buy that many oxen. He also slaughtered six sheep per day, and in twelve years that’s 26,280 sheep.

This is enormous wealth. Nehemiah trusted God and loved God’s people, so he did not exploit the privileges of his office. But I see no indication at all that he felt the slightest bit guilty about having the means to sacrifice an ox, six sheep, and enjoy “all kinds of wine in abundance” every ten days (Neh 5:18). There are poor people in the land. Nehemiah does not give any indication that he feels wrong about being extravagantly wealthy while others are poor.

The rest is here.

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Reading a Chiasm Helically

In his brilliant and thought provoking book, Deep Exegesis, Peter Leithart writes (167):

“In a book happily back in print, John Breck argues that chiasms are not ‘balanced structures, but instead are dynamic literary devices. He suggests that chiasms should be read ‘helically,’ moving not just from A to B to C to B’ and so on, but from A to A’, B to B’, C to C’, and so on. Read in this way, the text has a centripetal pull toward the central section. The corresponding sections, Breck argues, are related in the same ways that the strophes of a verse of Hebrew poetry are related. He says there is a ‘what’s more’ relationship between the corresponding lines: A and, what is more, A’.”

[the Breck book to which Leithart refers is The Shape of Biblical Language: Chiasmus in the Scriptures and Beyond]

This idea of reading a chiasm “helically” (from “helical: of or shaped like a helix; spiral”) is exactly right.

I have argued that chiastic structures function this way across the books of Revelation and Daniel, and in my forthcoming book on the theology of Daniel, I suggest that Daniel’s chiastic structure influenced the choices John made in structuring Revelation chiastically.

This helical function can also be seen in the chiastic structure of 2 Samuel 21–24 (see GGSTJ, 174–75) and is likely at work anywhere you find a chiasm in the Bible.

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Spanish Translation of “The Skull Crushing Seed of the Woman”

I just keep cheering Saul Sarabia’s translation work into Spanish. I’m so grateful for the work he is doing on behalf of his fellow Spanish speakers, and so impressed with his industry. He has rendered yet another one of my essays, this time “The Skull Crushing Seed of the Woman,” into Spanish:

LA SIMIENTE DE LA MUJER -SIMIENTE APLASTADORA DE CRÁNEOS: UNA INTERPRETACIÓN INTRABÍBLICA DE GÉNESIS 3:15

Please point any Spanish brothers and sisters interested in the Bible to Saul’s labors on their behalf.

Here are the other essays Saul has translated into Spanish:

Discipulado Familiar en el Antiguo Testamento: Que la Generación venidera Alabe al Señor

Una Teología Bíblica de la Maternidad

La Teología Bíblica y Predicación

La Gloria de Dios en la Salvación a través del Juicio: ¿El Centro de la Teología Bíblica?

El Centro de la Teología Bíblica en Hechos: La Liberación y la Condenación ponen de Manifiesto lo Divino

La Simiente de la Mujer y la Bendición de Abraham

¿Estaba el Espíritu Santo dentro de los creyentes en el Antiguo Pacto?

La Iglesia Militante y su Guerra: No Somos Otro Grupo de Interés

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Spanish Translation of “Family Discipleship in the Old Testament”

All families of all nations need to know what the Scriptures say about the training and discipling of children, so I rejoice that Saul Sarabia L. has rendered my essay, “That the Coming Generation Might Praise the Lord,” into Spanish:

Discipulado Familiar en el Antiguo Testamento: Que la Generación venidera Alabe al Señor

And here are Saul’s previous translations:

The Glory of God in Salvation through Judgment

The Church Militant and Her Warfare

A Biblical Theology of Motherhood

Were Old Covenant Believers Indwelt by the Holy Spirit?

The Center of Biblical Theology in Acts

Biblical Theology and Preaching

The Seed of the Woman and the Blessing of Abraham

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Is the SBTS DMin in Biblical Theology for You?

A Guest Post from Miguel Echevarria:

Do you want to study biblical theology? Do you want to learn how to use it in your ministry? Would you like to be in cohort of men who have come to Southern for this very purpose? If so, we want to encourage you to enroll in Southern’s D.Min. in Biblical Theology.

The D.Min. in Biblical Theology will equip you to understand the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments in accordance with the intentions of its Spirit-inspired human authors. Jesus taught the authors of the New Testament how to understand the Old Testament, and Jesus himself learned to understand the Old Testament from the way the Old Testament Prophets interpreted Moses. Our aim is to enhance your understanding of the interpretive perspective that is reflected in the writings of the Old and New Testaments, the interpretive perspective Jesus taught his followers. This is what it means to pursue Christian interpretation of the Bible—which will help you be a more effective minister of God’s Word.

Here is the course of study.

Hebrew Review Course: This course is designed as a refresher for those who fulfilled basic Hebrew requirements during their MDiv programs.

Old Testament Theology: An examination of the interpretive perspective of the biblical authors in the OT. A particular focus will be placed upon the big story they presuppose and the imagery, symbolism, and patterns they use to summarize and further interpret that story.

Greek Review Course: This course is designed as a refresher for those who fulfilled basic Greek requirements during their MDiv programs.

New Testament Theology: An examination of the interpretive perspective of the biblical authors in the NT. A particular focus will be placed upon the big story they presuppose and the imagery, symbolism, and patterns they use to summarize and further interpret that story.

Use of the Old Testament in the Old Testament: An examination of the way later Old Testament authors interpret earlier Old Testament Scripture.

Use of the Old Testament in the New Testament: An examination of the way the New Testament authors interpret the Old Testament.

The D.Min. in Biblical Theology  will be led by Dr. Jim Hamilton and will begin July 2014. This is a modular program and the application deadline is March 15, 2014. Only a few spots remain. Click on the following link to apply. http://www.sbts.edu/future-students/start-your-application/

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Calvin on Typology

John Calvin’s essay “Christ Is the End of the Law” is included in Thy Word Is Still Truth, ed. Peter Lillback and Richard B. Gaffin. Calvin writes,

“For this is eternal life, to know the one and only true God, and Him who He sent, Jesus Christ, whom he constituted the beginning, the middle, and the end of our salvation. This One is Isaac the well-beloved Son of the Father, who was offered in sacrifice, and yet did not succumb to the power of death. This is the vigilant Shepherd Jacob, taking such great care of the sheep He has charge over. This is the good and pitiable Brother Joseph, who in His glory was not ashamed to recognize His brothers, however contemptible and abject as they were. This is the great Priest and Bishop Melchizedek, having made eternal sacrifice once for all. This is the sovereign Lawgiver Moses, writing His law on the tables of our hearts by His Spirit. This is the faithful Captain and Guide Joshua to conduct us to the promised land. This is the noble and victorious King David, subduing under His hand every rebellious power. This is the magnificent and triumphant King Solomon, governing His kingdom in peace and prosperity. This is the strong and mighty Samson, who, by His death, overwhelmed all His enemies.”

HT: John Michael Larue

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An Excerpt from What Is Biblical Theology?

biblicaltheology-slide_1

I’m grateful that The Gospel Coalition put up an excerpt from What Is Biblical Theology? Here’s the opening:

What is biblical theology?

I use the phrase biblical theology to refer to the interpretive perspective of the biblical authors. So what is an “interpretive perspective”? It’s the framework of assumptions and presuppositions, associations and identifications, truths, and symbols that are taken for granted as an author or speaker describes the world and the events that take place in it.

The rest.

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How Does Genesis Establish the World of Biblical Theology?

It was my privilege to discuss biblical theology and the book of Genesis with Steve Ham of Answers in Genesis.

Just as J. R. R. Tolkien set out the parameters of the world in which The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings would take place, so Genesis sets out the parameters of the world in which the true story takes place.

You can have a listen on this page, or download here.

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Spanish Translation of “A Biblical Theology of Motherhood”

I am so thankful that Saul Sarabia Lopez has translated my essay “A Biblical Theology of Motherhood” for his Spanish speaking brethren.

And I’m so thankful for biblical theology and for the role that mothers play in it. What a blessing to have a mother. What a blessing to be a mother. What a blessing to know the true story of the world. What a God! What a Savior! What mercy. What a blessing to have the Book.

Here’s the link to the Spanish translation: Una Teología Bíblica de la Maternidad

And here are good Saul’s other translations:

Were Old Covenant Believers Indwelt by the Holy Spirit?

The Center of Biblical Theology in Acts

Biblical Theology and Preaching

The Seed of the Woman and the Blessing of Abraham

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Spanish Translation of “Were Old Covenant Believers Indwelt by the Holy Spirit?”

Saul Sarabia Lopez has come through again! Here is his translation of my essay, “Were Old Covenant Believers Indwelt by the Holy Spirit?

¿Estaba el Espíritu Santo dentro de los creyentes en el Antiguo Pacto?

Here are the other essays he has translated (links go to posts where the Spanish translations can be found):

The Center of Biblical Theology in Acts

Biblical Theology and Preaching

The Seed of the Woman and the Blessing of Abraham

 

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C. S. Lewis and Biblical Theology

In his “Introduction” to Athanasius’s On the Incarnation, C. S. Lewis noted that “Every age has its own outlook.” Reading “the controversies of past ages,” Lewis was struck that “both sides were usually assuming without question a good deal which we should now absolutely deny. . . . they were all the time secretly united . . . by a great mass of common assumptions.”

I am convinced that the biblical authors have their own outlook and share a great mass of common assumptions. The task of biblical theology is to trace out the worldview that the biblical authors share with one another.

In What Is Biblical Theology?, I’m trying to get at the outlook, shared assumptions, in short, the worldview of the biblical authors, by examining the Bible’s story, symbols, patterns, and the church’s role in it all.

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Interview on and Review of What Is Biblical Theology?

Thanks to Matt Damico (whom you should follow here and here) and Aaron Hanbury and everyone at SBTS Communications who made this happen. Below are some videos that are interspersed in this interview, and Damico’s review is here.

If the task of biblical theology is to understand and embrace the interpretive perspective of the biblical authors, what’s an interpretive perspective?

How can biblical theology protect the people of God from Joel Osteen? (that wasn’t really the question, but it comes up in the answer):

How do the narrative and poetic portions of the Bible relate to each other? (HT: Stephen Dempster!)

How does biblical theology affect your preaching?

For more, I invite you to go on an adventure, to join the quest for the answer to the question: What Is Biblical Theology? 

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Once More on the Cover of What Is Biblical Theology?

I gave my take on the cover of What Is Biblical Theology?, and today Josh Dennis alerted me to a post on the same from the photographer who came up with the cover and executed it. Here’s a snippet:

By recreating the image and replacing the apple with a Bible, this application fit so well with “discovering theology.” The author of this book’s intentions involve studying the Bible’s symbols and patterns–thus finding out what is behind the Bible. Everything hides something else, and theology is more than words on a page in a bound book.

You can read the rest here, where you’ll also find the process through which the photographer went, some background photos, and other info, all of which lend further insight into the development of this phenomenal cover–and I can say that because I had nothing to do with it!

Thanks to Crossway Books and Brandon Hill Photos for their fine work.

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