Monday Musings for September 17, 2018

Good morning, Musers,

In the Bible, Ancient Israel and the Church have much in common, but Israel lived under the law — a shadowy time (Hebrews 10:1) where God was teaching them through types and symbols, while we live under grace — an age of light where many of those types and symbols have been fulfilled. Another difference is that we have a fuller revelation — both in time and via the New Testament Scripture. So, where the Jews saw redemption through the lens of mercy, we see it through the lens of grace. But isn’t redemption redemption?

Whatever the lens, even God’s general revelation was enough to condemn people that missed the power and divinity displayed in God’s physical creation (Romans 1:18-20). But when we add his special revelation (Hebrews 4:12) — in addition to the testimony of his Son (John 1:14) and the indwelling Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19) — the definition of redemption is pretty clear. But is it?

We must be careful not to let obfuscation creep into our discussions, so let me ask: what does it even mean that we are redeemed? … because different people talk about it differently. Is being redeemed the equivalent of being saved? I ask because Korah was redeemed from Egypt with all the other Jews… yet God later destroyed him! (Numbers 16). And what about concepts like the atonement, election, predestination, foreordination, free will and salvation? How do these all work together to define redemption?

Those are all good questions, and we touch on them today. A Christian fellow was wondering how Israel’s flight from Egypt relates to the New Testament thinking about redemption because there are many parallels between Israel and the Body of Christ. But we are talking different ages here — the age of law versus the age of grace — so any number of things may be different. But what about the important things… the core things?

That’s a good question… one that makes me ponder the limits of symbolism and biblical typology. How far should we push symbolism and analogy? For instance, I love the image of the blood on the doorposts during Israel’s flight from Egypt. It prefigures Jesus’ blood, and it’s not hard to see how that seminal event affects our understanding of the atonement. But we need to be a little careful with how we handle such foreshadowings.

Symbols inform but they do not define… and if we let them do their jobs without pressing them for precise information, we’ll be fine. Just as God didn’t spell everything out for the Jews, so he keeps things from us (1 Corinthians 13:9-10). We’re just in a place of more complete… but still incomplete… knowledge — and praise be to God, he protects the earnest seeker.

To read the article referenced above, visit the link below.

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