SPECIAL TOPIC: YHWH's ETERNAL REDEMPTIVE PLAN
I must admit to you the reader that I am biased at this point. My systematic theology is not Calvinism or Dispensationalism, but it is Great Commission evangelicalism (cf. Matt. 28:18-20; Luke 24:46-47; Acts 1:8). I believe God had an eternal plan for the redemption of all mankind (e.g., Gen. 3:15; 12:3; Exod 19:5-6; Jer. 31:31-34; Ezekiel 18; 36:22-39; Acts 2:23; 3:18; 4:28; 13:29; Rom. 3:9-18,19-20,21-31), all those created in His image and likeness (cf. Gen. 1:26-27). The covenants are united in Christ (cf. Gal. 3:28-29; Col. 3:11). Jesus is the mystery of God, hidden but now revealed (cf. Eph. 2:11-3:13)! The NT gospel, not Israel, is the key to Scripture.
This pre-understanding colors all my interpretations of Scripture. I read all texts through it! It is surely a bias (all interpreters have them!), but it is a scripturally-informed presupposition.
The focus of Genesis 1-2 is YHWH creating a place where He and His highest creation, mankind, can fellowship (cf. Gen. 1:26,27; 3:8). Physical creation is a stage for this interpersonal divine agenda.
1. St. Augustine characterized it as a divine-shaped hole in every person that can be filled only by God Himself.
2. C.S. Lewis called this planet "the touched planet," (i.e., prepared by God for humans).
The OT has many hints of this divine agenda.
1. Genesis 3:15 is the first promise that YHWH will not leave mankind in the terrible mess of sin and rebellion. It does not refer to Israel because there is no Israel, or covenant people, until the call of Abraham in Genesis 12.
2. Genesis 12:1-3 is YHWH's initial call and revelation to Abraham which will become the covenant people, Israel. But even in this initial call, God had an eye to the whole world. Notice verse 3!
3. In Exodus 20 (Deuteronomy 5) YHWH gave His law to Moses to guide His special people. Notice that in Exod. 19:5-6, YHWH reveals to Moses the unique relationship Israel will have. But also notice that they were chosen, like Abraham, to bless the world (cf. Exod. 19:5, "for all the earth is Mine"). Israel was to be a mechanism for the nations to know YHWH and be attracted to Him. Tragically they failed (cf. Ezek. 36:22-38).
4. In the Psalms – 22:27-28; 66:4; 86:9 (Rev. 15:4)
5. Through the prophets YHWH continued to reveal His universal redemptive plans.
a. Isaiah – 2:2-4; 12:4-5; 25:6-9; 42:6,10-12; 45:22; 49:5-6; 51:4-5; 56:6-8; 60:1-3; 66:18,23
b. Jeremiah – 3:17; 4:2; 12:15-16; 16:19
c. Micah 4:1-3
d. Malachi 1:11
This universal emphasis is facilitated by the emergence of the "new covenant" (cf. Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:22-38), which focuses on the mercy of YHWH, not the performance of fallen humans. There is a "new heart," a "new mind," and a "new spirit." Obedience is crucial but it is internal, not an external code only (cf. Rom. 3:21-31).
The NT clearly reinforces the universal redemptive plan in several ways.
1. The Great Commission – Matt. 28:18-20; Luke 24:46-47; Acts 1:8
2. God's eternal plan (i.e., predestined) – Luke 22:22; Acts 2:23; 3:18; 4:28; 13:29
3. God wants all humans to be saved – John 3:16; 4:42; Acts 10:34-35; 1 Tim. 2:4-6; Titus 2:11; 2 Pet. 3:9; 1 John 2:2; 4:14
4. Christ unites the OT and NT – Gal. 3:28-29; Eph. 2:11-3:13; Col. 3:11. All human barriers and distinctions are removed in Christ. Jesus is the "mystery of God," hidden but now revealed (Eph. 2:11-3:13).
The NT focuses on Jesus, not Israel. The gospel, not a nationality or geographical region, is central. Israel was the first revelation but Jesus is the ultimate revelation (cf. Matt. 5:17-48).
I hope you will take a moment to read the Special Topic: Why Do OT Covenant Promises Seem So Different from NT Covenant Promises. You can find it online at www.freebiblecommentary.org.
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