Covenantal “Shape”, Not Chaotic Fallenness
I am currently reading a book marked by remarkable genius on one hand and hopeless ignorance on the other. The book is THE FIRST MODERNS, by Dr. William Everdell, a 1997 publication. Everdell’s genius is clearly shown in his exceptional knowledge of the people and movements that led us out of the late 19th century into the MODERN age. The ignorance I must also note relates to the author’s lack of Biblical perspective. He sees no real hope for our world so far as finding lasting truth, deep certainties on which we can build our lives, our communities our nations. Because Everdell is convinced that no philosophical system is able to establish truth we can live by THE FIRST MODERNS are leading us into the kind of hopeless future which I characterized in my last blog as “shapeless”.
Everdell’s book is very helpful to me. In spite of the specific weakness I find in this book, it is a mistake if we do not pay attention to such literature. A professor of history at St. Ann’s school in Brooklyn, Dr. Everdell has given us a culturally insightful and personally sensitive account of the men and women who led us out of one age into the next. As Christians we fail to understand our own age and the way history is moving if we do not read the Everdells of our world. But we do need to address the serious flaws we find in this book and so many others like it. .
We can do that through the Bible. How thankful we should be for the Book God has given us. What immense value we find, for instance, in the simple scriptural statement, “GOD IS LOVE.” From this I John 4:8 and 16 statement the beauty and power of God’s Covenant is impressed on our hearts. It is God’s Covenant Love that gives enduring “shape” to our lives. Yes, I am repeatedly using that simple little word “shape” because I think it helps us see that life in God’s Image has truly beautiful shape, form, structure. This is the “shape” he is giving us and our world through the New Creation, the work Jesus began when He stepped out of the tomb. Jesus is writing God’s love into our hearts, forming us in His image and enabling us to pass this amazing love on as we labor beside him in the Kingdom He is building.
I concluded blog #25, noting that God gave us marriage as a key picture of God’s love for us. We noted that marriage is the climactic gift of God to Adam and Eve. It was climactic because it was the absolutely indispensable example of Covenant Love in God’s own life-style. Of course the differences between God and man are infinite in every way, but at the same time we should see the human marriage relationship as wonderfully analogous to the relations the God-head enjoy within the Trinity. That means that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are bound together in a covenantal relationship so similar to marriage that there is no better way to demonstrate it than by human marriage. The Covenantal vows we take in marriage reflect the Covenantal love that God is eternally experiencing within the Trinity.
Does this sound “too earthy” to you? Do you think that human marriage is so physical that it can have no heavenly equivalent ? You are not alone if you do. My suspicion is that a great number of us think this way, perhaps most of us. I want to persuade you that the whole Bible depends on this analogy between human marriage and the relationship within the Trinity. An exhaustive study of that truth cannot be done here but let it suffice for the moment to note that marriage is (1) the grand climax of the first two chapters of the Bible, (2) is frequently featured in the prophets as an example of our relationship with God, (3) is a part of the climactic conclusion of scripture at the “marriage supper of the Lamb”, Rev. 19:6-9.
God authrorized this kind of heavenly earthiness. He authorized Moses to begin the 4th chapter of Genesis, “Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she conceived…” Then this kind of language occurs so frequently in the rest of scripture, that we have to conclude, that God had no embarrassment whatsoever in using such sexually explicit language. HE WAS/IS EARTHY! Praise the Lord! That is why we can understand Him!
More in our next blog.