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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Implications & Applications; the Marriage of Heaven & Earth

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth!  
For the Lord has spoken: “I have nourished and brought up children, 
And they have rebelled against Me; The ox knows its owner  
And the donkey its master’s crib; [ but ] Israel does not know, My people do not consider.
Isaiah 1:2 & 3 

One might consider, in light of Covenant Theology, including the hyperbolic language of Covenant Eschatology & Covenant Protology ( AKA, Covenant Creation ) that the heavens & earth spoken of here & elsewhere in Scripture refer, not to the material creation ( the sky & the land, to be precise ), but to the priests of the Temple ( Tabernacle ) & what we refer to in today's jargon as the 'laity'! I realize that though this kind of statement is defensible from a more careful reading of Scripture, not many Christians in today's theological landscape would agree or dare to make such a stand. Though it is not clear to many Christians that the Creation Account in Genesis 1 & 2 refers to the Creation of Covenant, rather than of the material elements, it is becoming more & more clear to others that such is the case!

Much of the problem, especially with Western ( American ) Christians, is that we have attempted to ( anachronistically almost, as we do in other parts of Scripture ) take Ancient Near Eastern literature & translate into both our Western literature & culture! The result has been anything from a simple misunderstanding of Jesus' teachings ( serious enough ) to outright war, base on a faulty eschatology, among other things. With the understanding that Covenant Theology gives, the understanding that the creation in view in the earliest parts of Scripture was the beginning of the Creator's plan to invest Himself in His Creation, we may begin to view these Scriptures in a different light!

The main complaint against Covenant Protology, against the notion that the Creation Account is NOT a referent to the material creation, is that IF indeed it is not, then the material creation was NOT made by the Creator-God we read about in Scripture, 'Yahweh' by Name! This is NOT the case by any means, though I must admit that some who are of a certain persuasion have reached such conclusions. Covenant Creation, rather than weakening the case of our Creator-God's good Creation, strengthens this position by showing that the Creator of all things has shown Himself to be a Relational God & entered His Creation by making a marrriage with it!

By holding to the position that I outlined earlier, saying that we ( here in America, especially ) have attempted to translate Ancient Near Eastern literature using our Western mindset, I am NOT saying that we have misinterpreted everything based on this faux pas! By no means have we done such a thing; there is much universal truth to be gleaned from the pages of Scripture, in particular, the teachings of Jesus, but we have come to understand that much of what we thought was so is not so, through further study of both Original Language & Audience Relevance. We may, without compunction or reservation, wholeheartedly aver that our Creator-God, our Heavenly Father DID form, from nothing, all that we see & all that we don't see!

If then, one considers that the terms 'heaven' & 'earth' referred to the spiritual leadership of Israel & the 'common' man ( or woman ), what import does that have in today's theological landscape; what application can or should be made considering the implications? Some have already, based on a Fulfilled Eschatology, made the application of the cessation of the priest versus laity distinction; this may not be wrong in & of itself, though some may have taken this to extremes, with a haphazard & careless approach to Christian ( Kingdom ) Living!

The Marriage of Heaven & Earth, as we have noted in previous posts, means that the Creator of all has invested Himself, as our Heavenly Father, into ( the midst of ) His good Creation! This is not to say that all are in blessed relation to our Heavenly Father since this Marriage has taken place, but that He now dwells in the midst of His good Creation, in His New Temple, where His People, those who enjoy the blessings of His Covenant, are His Priests. 'The Priesthood of the Believer' though maybe a bit stale & ambiguous by now, is a true statement nonetheless. Since the Marriage HAS taken place, the traditional distinction between priest & laity no longer exists; every man is a priest to his own household & within the household of faith!

May we continue to make this traditional distinction & appoint elders in every city, as the apostles did in the Early Church? As there is need & the need is fairly apparent, elders should be appointed as leaders in the Community, not as superior to the 'laity', but as more mature men & women, teaching the younger generation the blessedness of the Christian ( Kingdom ) Life. This is no different than what the apostle Paul taught, although we must consider his circumstances in his other writings. In consideration of these matters, we may always find clear instruction in the written Revelation of the Word of God, but we should also consider these Truths within ourselves, that which is written on our 'hearts'!


Charles Haddon Shank

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