Biblical Theology — 3/4
The Promised Kingdom/The Partial Kingdom
Last week we learned that at the end of Genesis 11, that the Kingdom of God (God’s people, in God’s place, under God’s rule, and enjoying God’s blessing) was in disarray. There was not a specific people of God, man had been banished from the Garden, man was rejecting the rule of God, and as a result was suffering the curse of God rather than His blessing. For purposes of our study of biblical theology (study of the unity of the message of the Bible), we have called this epoch (or age) — The Perished Kingdom.
In Genesis 3-12, we see, even in the midst of disaster, a ray of hope. We see the promise of the reestablishment of the Kingdom. Notice four examples of this hope:
1. A Eternal Plan
• Ephesians 1:3-6
• Even before the disobedience of Adam and Eve, before they or anything else even existed, God had already decided on a rescue operation. He had determined from eternity to call a people to Himself through His Son Jesus and restore everything under Him.
2. The Serpent Crusher
• Genesis 3:15
3. Amazing Grace
• Noahic Covenant (Gen. 6:18; 9:1-17)
• Two important words are used for the first time in the Bible — grace and covenant.
• Noah finds grace in the eyes of the Lord.
• God’s covenant distinguishes between those who are chosen as the objects of blessing, those who will somehow share this blessing, and those who are under judgment.
• God makes a unilateral covenant to preserve His creation and never again to destroy it by a flood.
4. The Promise
• Genesis 12:1-3
• John Stott writes: “It may truly be said without exaggeration that not only the rest of the Old Testament but the whole of the New Testament are an outworking of the promise made by God to Abraham.”
• There are four main elements to the promises made to Abraham — people (many descendants), land, God will be their God, and through them all the nations of the world will be blessed.
• Some important biblical themes are intertwined with the history of Abraham adn the covenant — grace, election, and faith.
The Kingdom of God
We see at the end of Genesis 12, that the restoration project has begun — we call this epoch “The Promised Kingdom.” The covenant with Abraham is a promise of the Kingdom of God:
• God’s people — Abraham’s descendants
• Live in God’s place — The promised land (Canaan)
• Under God’s rule — Abiding by God’s word
• Enjoying God’s blessing — Blessing to all nations
Genesis 13 – 1 Kings 11
In Genesis 13 through 1 Kings 11 we will cover the history of Israel from Abraham until the high point of the monarchy under Solomon. It is a period of over 1,000 years. We will see how God’s promise of the Kingdom — people, land, rule, and blessing — is partially fulfilled in the history of Israel.
While each of these promises is in view, it is fair to say that the focus of Genesis 12 to Exodus 18 is the “people promise”; Exodus 19 to the end of Leviticus, the “rule” and “blessing” promises; Numbers to Joshua, the “land” promise; and Judges to 2 Chronicles, the “king” promise (which is really a subset of the “rule” promise.
1. God’s People: Genesis 12 – Exodus 18
• “I will make you into a great nation” (Genesis 12:2)
• The story of Abraham and Isaac — we learn from Abraham’s example and trust in the gospel promises even when we cannot understand what God is doing in our own lives.
• The story of Jacob and Esau — we learn that God does not choose people on merit.
• The story of Joseph — we learn that God is control all along.
• The statement of God: “I am who I am” — we learn that the Bible does not just tell the story of God’s work of salvation. It also reveals God’s character. He is its hero from the beginning to the end. Our focus should not be — “What is it saying to me?” but “What does this tell me about God.”
• The story of the Passover — we learn that God saves through substitution.
• The crossing of the Red Sea — we learn that salvation is by conquest (Col. 2:15). It is by deliverance. It is the pattern of redemption.
2. God’s Rule and Blessing: Exodus 19 – Leviticus
• “I will bless you” (Genesis 12:2).
• The giving of the Law — we learn that (1) the Law is not intended to be the means by which anyone gets right with God (the Israelites are already God’s people through His grace; (2) their obedience to the Law is not to earn their salvation, it is a response to the salvation He has already achieved for them; (3) their obedience to the Law is not the path to membership in the covenant but it is required for the enjoyment of blessing within the covenant. If the Israelites are to know God’s blessing, they must be brought back under God’s rule. If the rejection of God’s law brings death and curse (separation from God), the restoration of the law enables life and blessing (relationship with God as He draws near again).
• The tabernacle — we learn that God’s people are able once more to enjoy His presence.
• The sacrificial system — we learn that God’s presence with His people is wonderful but it also creates a problem. How can a holy God live among a sinful people without destroying them? The sacrificial system is designed to deal with this problem. It introduces the concept of a mediator. It introduces the concept or reconciliation. Note: It will require a “better” sacrifice. It will require the perfect sacrifice of Christ on the cross.
3. God’s Place: Numbers to Joshua
• “To your offspring I will give this land” (Gen. 12:7)
• Numbers shows Israel’s disobedience and delay.
• Deuteronomy teaches Israel of the blessings they can expect if they are obedient and the curses they can expect if they are not.
• Joshua shows the conquest of the land and the need to remove corruption from the land.
4. God’s King: Judges to 2 Chronicles
• “….he will crush your head” (Gen. 3:15)
• Judges shows us Israel’s cycle of sin and grace.
• 1 Samuel shows us a false start in the attempt to raise up a king (Israel wants monarchy instead of a theocracy).
• 2 Samuel shows us the reign of David (“a man after His own heart” — 1 Samuel 13:14). It tells us of the Messiah to come from David’s line (2 Sam.7).
• 1 Kings 1 – 11 shows us Solomon and the golden age.
The Kingdom of God
We see at the end of 1 Kings 11, that a partial fulfillment of the Kingdom of God has been achieved. We see:
• God’s people — The Israelites
• Live in God’s place — The promised land (Canaan)
• Under God’s rule — The Law; A King
• Enjoying God’s blessing — Safety and a Blessing to All Nations
God’s work among the Israelites was never intended to be the final fulfillment of His gospel promises. It was only to serve as a model. The partial Kingdom was just a shadow of the perfect Kingdom that God will establish through Jesus Christ. It (Israel) points beyond itself to Him. God will soon reject Israel but He will not forget His promises. As we shall see in the next epoch, it is the role of the prophets to explain this great truth.
(Material borrowed from God’s Big Picture by Vaughan Roberts and According to Plan by Graeme Goldsworthy)