The use of Scripture in Christian Zionism: a critical examination. Pt. 7
The NT hermeneutical appropriation of the OT: Snapshots (b)
To continue my analysis of the early Churches uses the OT, let’s look a little closer at how the matter of the ‘Land’ and ‘Temple’ are treated in the two passages in the NT. Again, the focus is on the hermeneutical moment.
Land in Rom 4.
Paul can claim in Romans 4:13: ‘For the promise that he [Abraham] would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith’. Did you get that? The promise that he would inherit the world. What was the promise God made to Abram actually (cf. Gen. 12)? To give him the specific strip of land in Canaan, of course.
So what is going on? This incongruity apparently doesn’t appear to bother Paul because he reads the OT through the Christ-event. The promise has been fulfilled in Christ, promises that, in light of Christ, were meant to suggest a universal reading all along.
To summarise far too much too quickly: it mustn’t be forgotten that God chose Israel to be a light to the nations; the world was always his concern, not just this land and this nation as an absolute end in themselves (cf. e.g. Gen 12:1-3, Isa 42:6; 49:6 etc.). Yet Paul realizes that this nation’s mission has been fulfilled and thus set in motion in Christ (ergo, including those who are in Christ), and so now God’s purpose through Christ is as testimony to the whole creation (cf. the structure of thought in Col and Eph – I can expand on this if anyone wants). God’s light has indeed dawned through his chosen Messiah of Israel to all the nations. Understood as a narrative, Paul is suggesting that in Christ we see the climax of a story, the reached end of a plan set in motion long ago. From the specific one sees, through Christ, the universal intentions that God had all along (Wright expands on these points in his Romans commentary. And for an interesting parallel analysis – at least to my mind – cf. Barth, Church Dogmatics, IV, 1)
(Image from http://www.eretzyisroel.org/~jkatz/landofisrael.html)
Labels: Christian Zionism