The Story of Scripture, from Adam to Jesus, is the Story of Israel! If you follow my meanderings at all, this is not an unfamiliar notion to you. The concept that our first parents, Adam & Eve, were not the first human beings to traverse the planet is not a new one, though among most Christians, it is a fairly radical notion. Scientists, especially those who cling to the theory of evolution, have purported for ages that mankind has roamed the earth for tens of thousands of years. The notion that Adam & Eve were not the first humans to inhabit the region we know as the Near East is an idea whose time has come; the fact that they were simply the first ones through whom the Creator God deemed to enter into His Creation, is a radical one indeed, so radical, in fact, that it may just end up transforming our theological landscape!
The question has come before this blogger recently, of why we are reading the Hebrew & Greek Scriptures, rather than learning about the life of the Buddha, or other Ancient Near Eastern 'gods' ( or their servants ). Why are we, here in America, studying the Bible rather than the Q'ran? As I discussed in one of my recent posts, it is because of 'The Resonance of the Story'! As I discussed, the Story of Israel is really the story of humanity. The Story of Scripture, though it tells about how the God of Creation chose to make His Purpose known through a special people, the children of Israel, or Jacob, actually mirrors humanity very well, as it records the rise & fall of many an individual, corporate body & empire!
Following the Story of Israel, from Adam's Fall in the Garden to the Fall of the Corporate Body of Israel, from the murder of Abel to the murder of Zechariah, we may note a pattern throughout that resonates within us, even here in America, so far removed from the original subject matter. From the first prophecy of a messiah ( Genesis 3:15 ), to when that longed-for Messiah came 'in the fullness of time', as recorded in the Synoptic Gospels, we see a pattern throughout, prophecies which pointed to & were indicative of a time to come when the Creator God would dwell with His People, as pictured in the tabernacle & the Temple. We've covered this ground before, but as He walked with Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden ( the original Temple ), so He would again, through Jesus, walk among His People &; indeed, fashion them into His New Temple!
As we have been blessed, at Covenant Community Church, by the ministrations of our two teaching elders, we have become fairly familiar with the Exodus Theme that runs throughout Scripture. The Captivity of Israel, in its many iterations, was typical of the bondage that the human race has been embroiled in since its inception! The Fall of Adam & Eve in the Garden, especially when read with the understanding that it is apocalyptic literature & Ancient Near Eastern at that, should resonate with anyone who reads the account in Genesis 3. The following accounts of the murder of Abel, the Falls of Noah & Abraham, the wilderness wanderings of the children of Israel & their fleshly struggles throughout those wanderings, the times of the Judges & Kings, all leading up to the Final Exodus of the Israel of God & the Birth of the Promised One in the midst of captivity & His ministry remind us all of our own struggles & search for salvation!
The Exodus, from Egypt, of the children of Israel, although traditionally understood as historical narrative, has come under critical fire in the past few decades, as there seems to be no evidence, aside from Scripture, that it ever occurred exactly as we read it in the biblical narrative! There can be found, with some speculation, records of similar events that happened around the same time, but the main weight, which we can ascertain from a cursory reading of the Greek Scriptures, is that the events of the first Exodus ( from Egypt ) served as a picture of the Final Exodus that Jesus ( who was the Great Anti-type ) led His People in, an Exodus from the Bondage of Sin & Death!
The Creator God not only walks with His People once again, He has made us His Temple, His Dwelling on Earth! The Pattern of Prophecy, as we have noted previously, pointed to this Reality & still today, as the Scriptures are carefully read, resonates within the hearts of true believers, reminding us of this Chief End of Man ( kind ). As the Israel of God, the True Temple where He now resides in His fullness & having been made aware of our true, spiritual nature, we serve as the purveyors of His Love. It is when we fail to share that Love that we notice problems such as are recorded in the pages of Scripture!
The Hebrew Scriptures, standing alone, would indeed paint a far different theological landscape than that which we admire today! Though much of our orthodox doctrines are still based on the teachings of the Hebrew Scriptures, it is widely accepted that most of what was prophesied in them was fulfilled in the Christ. We, here in America follow the Scriptures rather than the Q'ran because of what I'll call 'The Fulfillment Factor'! 'The New is in the Old concealed, the Old is in the New revealed'. This is a true & noteworthy statement; Jesus, or the Messiah of Israel, being prophesied in the Hebrew Scriptures, was truly & finally revealed in the Greek Scriptures. In the Q'ran, we see no such thing: like many Christians, we may note that the Blessed Hope of Islam lies primarily in the 'afterlife'. Unlike most Jews, these Christians believe that though the Messiah came as prophesied, He must come again to finish His work of Redemption. The Realization that He came as promised & prepared us as His Dwelling ( place ), His New Temple, helps us to understand that His work, to Redeem Israel, WAS finished; now we simply fulfill ( continue ) that work!
Charles Haddon Shank