(This is the second part of a series. The first article in this series can be found here.)

But What About the Bible?

The question still remains, is there a Biblical reason to expect the good news of salvation coming with the pronouncement of a new king? While you can find the expectation of God as king of the Israelite people in various places throughout the Bible, we’re going to focus mainly on a couple examples from the book of Isaiah. First, we should probably build a little bit of a background for what we’re about to talk about. When YHWH entered into covenant with Israel He committed to “working with and living among the Israelites”[1] so long as they continued to uphold their end of the covenant. Sadly, they did not. Because of their disobedience the people of Israel and Judah were both sent into exile. While they were exiled separately, they all ended up under the control of the Babylonian empire. They were separated from their land and from their religious practice. But Isaiah was being spoken to by God and he had a message that was going to change everything. The prophet Isaiah had been given a word of hope. The prophet Isaiah was a מְבַשֶּׂ֣רֶת (m’besaret): a herald of good news. N.T. Wright describes Isaiah’s good news this way:

Isaiah’s good news went like this: The one true God is on the move again! He has overcome all the powers of the world—the dark powers that enslave and corrupt and destroy genuine human life. He has overcome every obstacle that stands in the way of his people being restored to their land and their status as his people. And that means nothing can now stand in the way of his long-planned new creation. Finally all the ancient promises are going to come true. And in the middle of it all, at the heart of the good news, stands this promise: this God is coming back in person, and all nations will see his glory. This good news isn’t about a mere human emperor. It is about the return of the true king, the God of all creation.[2]

Isaiah 40:9-10 is where we see the beginnings of this good news:

Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. (Isa 40:9-10, ESV) (emphasis added)

Isaiah is not only prophesying the good news of an end to exile and a return to the land, he’s also prophesying, “Behold your God!”, and “Behold the Lord GOD comes…”. God, Himself, is going to come to release them from their exile. This is the promise given. This… is good news, indeed!

Over the next 12 chapters Isaiah keeps bringing the promises of salvation and an end to exile. Then, in chapter 52, we reach our denouement:

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy. When the LORD returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes. Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem, for the LORD has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. The LORD will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God. (Isa 52:7-10, NIV)

We see the beautiful picture of a messenger running to deliver the message of that good news which has been promised for the last 12 chapters. He has redeemed Jerusalem. He has comforted his people. But, more than that all the nations of the earth will be shown the salvation of our God.

This is the good news of God coming to live among his people, King of all the earth.

This is the good news of God coming to live among his people, King of all the earth.

New Creation

The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.

(Psa 103:19, ESV)

Now that we’ve seen God returning to live among his people is shown to be the good news we should probably look into where this idea even comes from.

Was there ever a time where God lived among his people? Where he actually walked in their midst?

There’s an obvious answer: The Garden of Eden. Since Adam fell God has consistently been presenting humanity with opportunities to come closer to him, as they were in the garden. At first there were sacrifices. We first see Cain and Abel giving sacrifices to God, and though we’re not privy to the conversation, they were obviously provided with direction as to what kind of sacrifice would be acceptable to YHWH. Noah offers a sacrifice to God after the ark safely lands on dry ground. We see Abraham, entirely familiar with a sacrificial system, before the Mosaic Law was given on Sinai. Then there’s a gamechanger that happens at Sinai; not only are instructions given for a sacrificial system, but the Israelites are also given instructions on how to be a temple for YHWH’s presence to live in.

Something which is easily missed is how the pattern of the temple lines up with the pattern of the garden in Eden. There’s a lot more to this but, to cover it quickly, in the temple there are three areas listed which have increasing levels of holiness the further in you go: There’s the outer level which is The Outer Court and then as you move further in there’s the Holy Place, where you find the menorah and the table of showbread; and finally you reach the Holy of Holies, where the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat (the very throne of God) reside.

Likewise, in what is considered the temple of creation, you first reach the boundary of Eden; and as you go further in you will find the boundary of the garden in Eden; and finally, at the innermost part of Eden, you will find the midst of the garden, where the Tree of Life is located.

The temple sufficed for quite a long time but eventually, as Isaiah prophesied, YHWH was going to return so that he could rule and reign while being in the midst of the people. When YHWH, through Yeshua, fulfilled that Isaiah 52 prophecy (not to mention the Isaiah 53 prophecies…) he inaugurated a new creation. As the Son of Man he became the second, or last, Adam (1 Cor 15:45-49). This is an entirely new creation (2 Cor 5:17), where the physical and the spiritual mix and intermingle. Not only did Yeshua physically come to earth and live in the midst of his people, we each have become tiny temples (1 Cor 6:19). A temple, historically, is a place where a god dwells; we now have the Holy Spirit of the living God dwelling within us (Rom 8:9).

This aligns well with the theme within the gospel of YHWH, the Supreme King, coming to rule and reign in the midst the people. Through the new creation, inaugurated at the death, burial, and resurrection, the gospel has moved forward after Messiah’s ascension and promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit. The people, both corporately and personally, have become temples for YHWH by result of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling in the lives of those allegiant to Yeshua their king.

 

(The Conclusion of this series will be available next Friday)

 

Resources Leaned On For This Article

Obviously, the Bible

(Just a disclaimer that I don’t fully agree with someone just because I list them below. These are just sources which I found helpful.)

Beale, G. K. 2014. The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Beale, G. K., and Mitchell Kim. 2014. God Dwells Among Us: Expanding Eden to the Ends of the Earth. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Dye, Dinah. 2018. The Temple Revealed in the Garden: Priests and Kings. Foundations in Torah.

Walton, John H. 2010. The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Wright, N. T. 2015. Simply Good News: Why the Gospel Is News and What Makes It Good. Harper Collins.

Wright, N. T. 2008. Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. Zondervan.

[1] Wright, N. T. 2015. Simply Good News: Why the Gospel Is News and What Makes It Good. Harper Collins, 33.

[2] Ibid, 33-34.

 

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About the Seeking Scripture Team: We are a group of believers from all walks of the faith, saved by grace alone through faith in our Messiah. While we are of one accord in many things, we are all works in progress and lifelong learners. Therefore the opinions of one may not always represent the opinions of all.

Aaron Baker