A 600 Page Book in 500 Words

Crossway had me fill out an Author Questionnaire on God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment: A Biblical Theology, and one of the things they asked me do was summarize the book in 500 words. I thought back to this today as I wrote up a 500 word summary of another book for another Author Questionnaire for Crossway.

God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment weighed in around 280,000 words. This next one is a short synthesis of the Bible’s big story, the symbolism used to summarize and interpret that story, and the patterns that emerge across it. It’s provisionally entitled What Is Biblical Theology?, and it weighs less that 25,000 words.

So here’s my attempt to summarize God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment, a 280,000 word book that came to about 600 pages, in about 500 words:

Exodus 34:6–7 is determinative for the thesis of this book. When Moses asked to see God’s glory, God proclaimed his name and declared himself to be merciful and just. This experience of the glory of God profoundly shaped the first biblical author on record, establishing God’s glory in justice and mercy as the center of his theology, with justice highlighting mercy. Subsequent biblical authors learned and embraced this from Moses.

The wide angle story of the Old Testament is one of salvation through judgment. Adam sinned and was judged with exile from the garden and God’s presence, but the words of judgment brought a glimmer of hope: the seed of the woman would crush the serpent’s head. Like Adam, Israel (having been saved through the judgment of Egypt) sinned and was exiled from the land and God’s presence. The judgment at the exile had been preceded by promises of the salvation that would come through and after judgment, as the prophets pointed to a new exodus and return from exile. God acted for the sake of his own name. He showed justice, making his mercy precious, displaying his goodness and showing his glory. Israel experienced a partial, physical return from exile, but they had not yet returned from the exile from Eden.

The wide angle story of the New Testament presents the death of Jesus as the deepest, darkest moment of the exile—when the temple was destroyed and he became the curse. Here the justice of God was displayed, as the one who had redone the history of Israel right came under the full weight of God’s justice on behalf of his people. Jesus died as the Passover lamb, and his resurrection inaugurated the return from exile. This is no mere physical return. No, this is the return that will take those sojourning through the wilderness to the new and better Eden, the new heaven and new earth, where the dwelling of God will be with men.

When Jesus comes to consummate the story, he will come with judgment for his enemies, and through that judgment he will save his people. God will be glorified in salvation through judgment. Thus, the glory of God in salvation through judgment encapsulates the plot of the meta-narrative set forth in the Bible.

God’s glory in salvation through judgment is the plot of the Bible’s narrative, and it also informs the Wisdom of the Old Testament. The simple are urged to behold God’s justice against the wicked, turn from folly, and experience salvation through the announcement of God’s certain justice. Individuals who believe unto salvation are embracing this very message: they become convinced that God will judge their sin, and feeling the crushing weight of God’s judgment they flee to him for mercy, trust in what he has accomplished in Christ on the cross, and are saved by faith. The redeemed, saved through judgment, respond by glorifying God.

The glory of God in salvation through judgment is the center of biblical theology.

If you’ve read this book, what do you think of my attempt to summarize it? Would you leave anything out that I put in, add, or change anything?

If you’ll be at ETS this fall, watch for info on the Biblical Theology Session that will discuss God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment and Gentry and Wellum’s Kingdom through Covenant. There’s time between now and November to read both!

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