What is the thread woven through all of Scripture? What holds it all together? I don’t think there’s one correct answer, but there are wrong answers. One good answer is that God has created humanity for a purpose: to be his vice-regents, to help extend his rule and reign, but what does that mean? What does that look like? How might we describe that thread woven through human history? Answer: City of Man / City of God. Learn how the early chapters of Genesis weave this thread to the glory of God in Christ.
“The Kingdom of God is among you.” These are the words of Jesus. He spoke them nearly two-thousand years ago (Luke 17:21). The Apostle Peter predicted that many would start to wonder about Jesus’s promise to return – “They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation (2 Peter 3:4).”” Today, some hold that Jesus’s death was personally tragic. Why? He had believed that HE was instrumental in bringing about a new creation, but his cry of dereliction “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?” was an epiphany that his belief was not true – hence, personally tragic.
Liberal Christianity would say the entire NT corpus had ‘misjudged’ things (including Jesus); some now even deny Jesus’s second return. What are we to make of this? I think the text presents three types of delay, and we need ALL of them to truly understand:
1) Chronological (simple reading-not wrong per se just incomplete)
2) Maturational (things need to mature to completeness)
3) Theological (there are ‘reasons’ for His delay)
Interestingly, Peter did not just say, “Hang on…He’s coming soon!” He gave a theological explanation – THE DELAY is because of his mercy, forbearance, goodness, kindness and ‘his desire’ to SAVE! If we are going to let the text speak, then we must follow Peter’s path; we must see the deeper logic of his delay.
What will the delay look like? That depends a lot on one’s eschatology, e.g., postmillennialists will see things eventually improving, but most predict decline and apostasy (Jewish conversion too?). One thing for sure: All agree the church will undergo persecution. It has been designed for her to suffer. God’s reign will often look like defeat (just like the cross), and in this paradox, Christ rules and reigns!
THE PARADOX OF GLORY
(John 13:31-35; Exodus 33; Revelation 21:1-8)
If anything qualifies as a paradox, it is the cross of Jesus. “NOW is the Son of Man glorified,” yet when the moment came – all would forsake him, and even his closest and most trusted, would deny him. How is it that torture, humiliation, and yes – death, can be the NOW of glorification?
Good insight into the conundrum can be found in the thirty-third chapter of Exodus. There, Moses seems thick and stupid. God had said twice, that even if “for a single moment” he would join them on their journey to the promised land, he would “consume” them, for they are a “stiff-necked people” (Ex 33:5). God cannot abide sin. It cannot inhabit his presence; yet, Moses responds to this twice-repeated stark tragedy, by requesting that God go with them to the promise land (33:15). He seems to be asking for the very thing that will bring God’s judgment against them – ending their journey before it even begins!
The resolution appears to be in the fact that Moses “has found favor” with Yahweh (33:12). After all it was Moses who was “the friend of God,” and with whom he met in “the Tent of the Meeting” where Moses would meet with God face to face, as a friend meets a friend (33:7-12).
But wait! Moses wasn’t even allowed into the promised land because of his sin. Something does not fit; something is off kilter. Perhaps…