The Kingdom of God in the Beginning

These posts will deal with the revelation of God as a King establishing His Kingdom. In this post we will survey this claim tracking it through Genesis 1-11. You should read your bible before reading this and see if these things are so. The (much shorter) audio for this story can be found here (download or listen) starting around 1:02:50.

We know and we worship a very powerful God. He created the vastness of our universe and governs the infinitesimal parts (Hebrews 1:3). He is a King and his throne is in the heavens (Psalm 103:19). He made everything, and then hovered over its formlessness.

He spent the first seven days of Creation on the throne giving the edicts of a King to His creation. He has established right and rule over all of it. He assigned its functions and deemed their worth. He tested and judged it. He saw that it was good.

Yet in all of God’s creative power, He saw fit to create a being that would share in His likeness. A being that, like Him, would maintain some degree of rule and reign. A being that would also be an “us.” He made man in His image, in His image He made them. And He gave them dominion by the blessing of His word. And He showed them love by His blessing. And He established their steps in front of them. He loved them with an everlasting love. He walked with them.

He showed them that He is to be trusted, that His Word is true and powerful. That He is a King to be honored and revered. He was a King that was with them in the Garden, in His Temple.

He displayed His Kingship over man by giving them a word of warning. More like a command. Eat anything and do anything. Just don’t eat that. Trust Me.

His Word is truth. His Word is steadfast. His Word is right. His Word was challenged.

A snake. It was a snake that uttered the first lie. He first perverted God’s eternal Word, and then He craftily contradicted it. He appealed to that side of man that was hungry for more power, more control, more rule. That side of man that is suspicious of his King. That side that is prone to doubt, and prone to leave the God he loves. Then man fell in. And great was that fall.

The fall into the ocean of doubt left a mountainous wake. We no longer trust God. We don’t know Him. We don’t see Him. We hurt. We labor. We do it all in vain. We go back to the dust from which we were created. And yet we continue, by the sweat of our brow and by the pain of our love.

God could have destroyed them there. He has the power to un-make them. Instead, He made them a promise and some coats. They didn’t realize it, but this was designed to point to a better Man. A faithful Man in whom there is no deceit nor shadow of change. A Man tempted, but a Man who would prevail. A Man that would suffer bruises, but would not neglect to administer the final blow. A Man whose covering would truly shield us from our frigid shame. A Man who was there in the beginning. A Man who not only trusted the Word, but who is the Word.

And so they were exiled from the presence of God. They suffered the murder of their own son, not realizing that this, too, pointed to a better Son who also was going to be murdered. A Son that will one day put an end to all murder. A Prince of Peace, as it were.

And so evil continued. It went from nonexistent to the status quo in the matter of a generation. And it increased. It was pitiful. Sorrowful, even. So terrible that if you could have seen it, or if you could really see it today, you’d have wished there was nothing there. Nothing is at least better than this. The King took note, and then He acted.

Not a faithful subject among them. They had all neglected the King. Yet He liked one of them. And because He liked him, He spared him. A big boat would carry him to safety. Noah could even take his family, and a few thousand animals.

And God uncreated the world. Where once land had emerged, it was now covered again with water. And a dove hovered over the face of the deep. And then land emerged. The dove returned with a message of peace.

The earth was allowed to teem again. Noah was given rule over it. There was freshness in the air. A new thing had been done. A new promise had been made. The spectrum in the sky had been assigned its function. The Warrior King had set down His bow in a symbol of amnesty.

Still, in all its drama, the “recreation” was a disappointment. The boat couldn’t have been the King’s true vehicle of deliverance. Surely there must be a better and more sufficient device in which we can find refuge from His wrath. There must be something better emerging from the water than the same old land, any dove could find that. Show me the Dove who can locate where the truly new life is found. Show me the Dove who descended on Him (Matthew 3:16-17).

And because it was insufficient, the earth’s underkings quickly went back to what they did best. They sought power, fortune, fame, and status. Tall things have always been impressive, so they constructed a city and manufactured a tower. One tall enough to even withstand a flood of biblical proportions.

Yet the cities of man have never compared to the Garden of God. The kings of this world can only think of height when the Kingdom of God demands that we lay ourselves low. And so the true King confused them. He gave them over to themselves, that they might seek their own glory, confusing their own languages, starting their own wars, and creating their own misery. Zealously sitting upon their own thrones.

But in the multiplicity of voices, the King is making for Himself a beautiful song with a harmony of voices that will see, proclaim, and admire His greatness someday in the fullness of peace (Revelation 7:9-10).

And this will start with an old man and his barren wife.

Getting Started – A Brief Explanation of Biblical Theology

I want to try and set forth a brief case for why biblical theology is needed within a local church body and explain the principles that guide and shape it. Wish me luck, because there are a lot of things that could be said about either of these.
For starters, I think it’s worth mentioning that biblical theology is just a name that we have given to a certain way of understanding the bible. It is, however, how the bible has been properly understood and interpreted since the time of the New Testament authors (and Old Testament, for that matter).

In the next couple of weeks, I hope to establish that this is the right way of understanding the bible through these blog posts and in our Sunday seminars (which, in case you forgot, are starting this Sunday and will continue for five weeks).  My hope and prayer for this is that it will clarify and inform our personal reading of Scripture, which in turn will be fuel for heart-filled worship and benefit anyone involved in a local church.

Biblical theology steps back and views the forest for the trees. That’s not to say that it neglects the trees, though. Without the trees you have no forest. But if you have no idea that you’re in a forest in the first place, the trees look daunting, unfamiliar, and tough to climb. Biblical theology provides a map by which you can find your way through the forest, and in so doing, see the glory of each of the individual trees much more clearly.

This is accomplished by viewing Scripture in a particular way. Instead of seeing the bible as a collection of 66 books and poems and letters that are disjointed and unfamiliar to each other, biblical theology teaches us that the bible is really one book by one author telling one story.

What is the story? It is the story of a King and his Kingdom. It is a story about God and His people.  It is a story that begins in the beginning (Genesis 1:1) and ends when all things are made new (Revelation 21:5). And it is a story that traces God’s plans and intentions throughout all of this.

Put more succinctly, it is the story of God redeeming people from every tribe, language, people and nation (Revelation 5:9) through the blood of His eternal Son (John 1:2) to the praise of His glorious grace (Ephesians 1:5-6).

This story, in my opinion, unfolds beautifully throughout the bible, and I hope to be able to show that to you here and in the seminars.

A few things to note about the seminars:

Timing: We’ll be getting started between 12:30 and 1:00pm every Sunday for the next few Sundays. The reason I chose this time is because I hope it will serve to extend Sunday fellowship among the people of the Crossing as well as some friends from nearby churches. The first seminar will have lunch provided, but after that I invite you to bring your lunch to the seminar so you can eat and fellowship with people as we gather around God’s word.

You will need to come ready to think. God has given us minds that are best employed when they are in service to Him (Matthew 22:37). Be ready to learn a lot of new words. You’ll be hearing about things like exegesis, hermeneutics, systematics, progressive revelation, typology, covenantal arrangements, epochs, eras and many other things that may be unfamiliar to you now, but will quickly become part of your vocabulary.

Notes are not necessary, but helpful.

You don’t need to come to all of the seminars; they should stand alone well enough, but will be best when done all together.

You can go as far as you want with it. I’ll advise literature and provide optional assignments that I think will be highly beneficial.

My desire is not to preach, but to facilitate some informative conversations. So come ready to share what you think and any questions that may arise.

Lastly, by way of personal appeal, I have grown deeply in my appreciation for God’s Word since having been introduced to these concepts. I hope this course will benefit you all in same way by increasing your love and the ability to savor the grace of God. That’s why we’re doing this. That’s why we should do all things (Psalm 34:8).