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Gospel of John: Jesus the I Am, Walking on the Water

October 1, 2012 7 comments

Just a few interesting things to note from S. Lewis Johnson’s study of the gospel of John, now in chapter 6 — the account of Jesus walking on the water.

When Jesus speaks to the frightened disciples:  the expression “It is I” refers back to Exodus 3 and God’s words to Moses in the burning bush:  I am who I am.  Here we also note the time period, described by John, that it was near the time of the Passover.  The Jews’ Passover ceremony included emphasis on Isaiah 43:2: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you.  Here the disciples were, literally passing through the waters and experiencing a storm on the sea of Galilee.  Jesus came to them, walking on the water, providing them a real-life picture of the promise from that Passover text in Isaiah.

This was the second incident of a storm in the boat.  In the first one, Jesus was with them, asleep.  But this time they were on their own, and terrified at seeing the figure walking on the water.  Here too is a picture of our growth as we experience the storms of life:  this situation as more difficult than the previous one, and a challenge to grow.  I have seen the spiritual application of this in my own life as well, that the challenges in my early Christian years were much easier than later experiences.

John’s account of Jesus walking on the water specifically mentions that immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.” The other accounts do not mention this, and S. Lewis Johnson here observed that John is especially considered the apostle of love.  This description expresses John’s great love for His Lord. After all, when you’re in love, the time spent with that person passes by so quickly: the time after Jesus joined them on the boat went by so quick, that John describes it as immediately.

For a typology lesson, SLJ also notes the parallels between this incident and this church age followed by Christ’s Second Coming.  I never saw this in the text, and certainly do not base my belief and understanding on this typology alone (and we have plenty of other texts for doctrinal support of the Second Coming), but the observation is interesting to consider:

I think this story is not only history and it’s not only parable in the sense that we find spiritual principles in it, but it may also be designed to be something of a prophecy of the course of this age.  The disciples are on the sea, toiling in the midst of difficulties, the Lord Jesus is on the mountain praying; but there is a climactic triumphant conclusion.

Well, if you think for just a moment, that’s characteristic of this age.  We are in the boat in the midst of the storms of life.  The Lord Jesus is at the right hand of the Father, therefore living to make intercession for the saints of God; guaranteeing that they are all going to reach the predestined determination that the will of God has set for us.  The church is in the midst of the nations of the world and in a tremendous struggle.  We are in the world but not of the world, engaged in the struggle for the souls of men.

But the Lord Jesus is going to return at the fourth watch when things appear to be very difficult and as if there’s no true conclusion to be reached.  He is going to come.  And sad to say some are not going to recognize him when he does come.  Some are going to think perhaps that it is a ghost.  But he’s going to come and he’s going to still the storms of this human existence and he’s going to establish his kingdom upon the earth.

The Kingdom of God: David and Solomon as Types of Christ

March 27, 2012 Leave a comment

I continue to appreciate Horner-style genre Bible reading, for the repetition and increasing overall familiarity with scripture.  Often I notice particular verses and parallels that I might not have picked up on from separate single-passage reading.

One day in my reading, for instance, I noted the following similar passages:

  • Romans 16:20  “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”
  • 1 Kings 5:3 “You know that David … because of the warfare with which his enemies surrounded him, until the Lord put them under the soles of his feet.

The interesting point I noted here is the David-Solomon pair as a type of Christ in His future reign upon the Earth.  Romans 16:20 references the fulfillment, what Christ will actually do in the future.

As I’ve been reading again through the books of Kings and Chronicles, and thinking more about the Kingdom (see this recent post), I’ve noticed even more clearly the typology of the David-Solomon set and the functions and actions of each.  Together, David and Solomon represent aspects of Christ’s future work:  first the warfare against His enemies and putting them down (King David), immediately followed by the wonderful time of peace and prosperity as pictured in the Kingdom of Solomon.

As pointed out in this previous post, true types (examples or pictures) can be defined by three characteristics:

  • correspondences between people, things (or institutions), or events
  • historicity: not allegory of things that did not historically happen
  • predictiveness:  God works according to the patterns that are revealed in the Old Testament; the types of the Old Testament point forward to the ultimate fulfillment.

1 and 2 Chronicles especially point out the distinction between the two, with several statements about the fact that David was a man of war and could not build the temple, and Solomon would be the man of peace (1 Chronicles 22:7-10, and 1 Chronicles 28:3-6).  1 Kings 5:3 (above) directly shows David as the type of Christ: who had enemies, and warfare, until the Lord put them under his (David’s) feet.

It is so true, as Richard Mayhue said, that the doctrine of the Kingdom of God is the most neglected and misunderstood theme in the Bible.  So much of the Old Testament includes the kingdom theme, including the many passages showing the Kingdom type as played out in Israel’s kings, plus the parallel scriptures written centuries later, by the prophets, describing a future kingdom so much like the one depicted in type by King Solomon.

The first several chapters in 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles provide some great descriptions of some of what we can look forward to when Christ has put all His enemies under His feet and begins to reign:  wealth (1 Kings 4:20-28, 1 Kings 10:14-23, 2 Chronicles 9:13-22), peace (1 Kings 4:24-25; reference Micah 4:4), a king who reigns with wisdom (1 Kings 3), and people from the other nations coming to Jerusalem, bringing tribute and seeking his wisdom (1 Kings 4:21, 1 Kings 10: 23-25), and praising the true God, Solomon’s God and ours (1 Kings 10:1-10;  Matthew 12:42 ) the King and Lord Jesus Christ, the “greater than Solomon.”

The following is just a sampling, a table showing several of these parallels between the Old Testament type and the future fulfillment.

Scripture Teaching OT Type Future Fulfillment
Enemies Under Feet 1 Kings 5:3 1 Corinthians 15:25-27;
Romans 16:20
A Kingdom of Peace 1 Kings 4:24-25 Micah 4:4
Nations Coming to Bring
Tribute
1 Kings 4:21; 1 Kings
10:23-25
Zechariah 14:16; Haggai 2:7;
Isaiah 60:3-7
Fleet of Ships at Tarshish,
bringing silver and gold
1 Kings 10:22 Isaiah 60:9
The House Filled With Glory 2 Chronicles 5:13-14 Haggai 2:7

Bible Teachers and Their Use of Typology

February 3, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve recently added daily reading of a few devotional books:  Spurgeon’s Morning & Evening, ICR’s “Days of Praise,” and John MacArthur’s “Life of Christ, vol. 2.”  MacArthur’s devotional book, in particular, includes some specific points of his teaching, and so I’ve become aware of slight differences between otherwise like-minded teachers.  For example, in a recent devotional (Jan. 18), MacArthur referred to the account of Jesus coming out of Egypt in Matthew 2:13-15 as fulfillment of Hosea 11:1.  He went on to say:

This is a type, a nonverbal prediction from the Old Testament that illustrates something about Christ without specifically describing it.  However, we can’t credibly label a person or event a genuine Old Testament type except as Scripture itself informs us of it.

Here he differs from S. Lewis Johnson, who frequently employed “types” or illustrations using a specific definition and pattern for valid types — and not restricted to only those types mentioned in the NT.  Consider the following, from a previous blog here:

Typology is really just another word for “illustration” or “example,” and has specific characteristics, including historicity and pattern, with correspondences between people, things (or institutions), or events.  The type is found in the Old Testament, a historical reality, as distinguished from allegory, of which John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progess” is a classic example.  According to S. Lewis Johnson, types are not restricted to only those which are explicitly pointed out in the New Testament (I have heard that claim before), but still must follow the pattern established by the definition.

As I considered these different ideas, an “a-ha” moment came as I recalled a connection between S. Lewis Johnson and J.C. Ryle.  At about the same time I had learned, from both S. Lewis Johnson and J.C. Ryle, of the “type” comparison between 1 Samuel David — after his anointing by Samuel, before becoming King — and our Lord Jesus in this present age.   Then I also remembered J.C. Ryle’s Holiness chapter 20, in which he mentioned several more of these “types” from the Old Testament that relate to Christ either in His First or Second Coming.

Obviously, MacArthur’s restricted definition, relying (only) on the explicit NT teaching, would fail to see these types or illustrations.  Gotquestions.org also takes this more limited definition, one that sees “types” as something different from “illustrations.”

We should point out the difference between an illustration and a type. A type is always identified as such in the New Testament. A Bible student finding correlations between an Old Testament story and the life of Christ is simply finding illustrations, not types. In other words, typology is determined by Scripture. The Holy Spirit inspired the use of types; illustrations and analogies are the result of man’s study. For example, many people see parallels between Joseph (Genesis 37-45) and Jesus. The humiliation and subsequent glorification of Joseph seem to correspond to the death and resurrection of Christ. However, the New Testament never uses Joseph as a model of Christ; therefore, Joseph’s story is properly called an illustration, but not a type, of Christ.

Based on what I’ve studied thus far, though, I would agree with SLJ’s point that types really are illustrations — and that people often tend to get terms confused, as in the above from Gotquestions, and try to make “types” something different or more complicated.

The following website, Victorian Web, has good information concerning typology as practiced by 19th century Anglican preachers including J.C. Ryle — and thus the Biblical tradition that S. Lewis Johnson continued into the late 20th century.  A few excerpts:

Unlike allegory, which interprets one thing as in reality signifying another, typology traces the connections and similarities between two unique events, each of which is equally real.  . . .
Typical interpretations of Scripture differ from allegorical ones of the first or fabulous kind, in that they indispensably require the reality of the facts or circumstances stated in the original narrative. And they differ also from the other, in requiring, beside this, that the same truth or principle be embodied alike in the type and the antitype. The typical is not properly a different or higher sense, but a different or higher application of the same sense.

I’ve only begun to look at this, and the Victorian Web articles contain much more information (much of it rather technical).  Yet now I observe an overall difference that correlates with different notions of typology: one’s general interest in the Old Testament versus the New.  It appears that those who make a distinction — that “types” are of a “higher level” than standard “illustrations” – do not spend as much time teaching directly from the Old Testament passages and do not point out the interesting parallels in the “non-type illustrations.”  My sample is admittedly small: John MacArthur’s view of “types” separate from illustrations, versus S. Lewis Johnson, Spurgeon and Ryle — all of whom, as far as I can tell, made no such distinctions between “true types” and “only illustrations.”

At any rate, I have greatly appreciated the Old Testament teaching from the latter group, who (unhindered by a rule that types are only those things mentioned in the NT) often pointed out some very interesting parallels, types (illustrations) of NT truths in the many events that are not specifically referred to as official types by the NT writers.

MacArthur has primarily taught only from the NT (true, much of that was because of his book contract to produce a complete set of NT commentaries), and for Bible reading recommends multiple repeated reading through the NT books yet only one reading per year through the Old Testament. By contrast, S. Lewis Johnson and the other teachers at Believer’s Chapel have taught many expository series through OT books. J.C. Ryle wrote of the importance of the Old Testament, that we should beware of undervaluing the Old Testament, which is just as valuable as the new.  Spurgeon, another who frequently related the events of the Old Testament as types of NT truth, gave generally equal treatment to passages from both the Old and New Testament — as seen in his sermons as well as his devotionals and his writings on the Psalms.

More Illustrations from Daniel: Chapters 4 and 6

January 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Continuing with S. Lewis Johnson’s Daniel series, here are some highlights from Daniel 4.

In the application part of Biblical Interpretation, we can learn these 5 things from Nebuchadnezzar’s experience (Daniel 4:34-35):
1.  The eternal self-existence of God:    He praises the Most High and honors Him who lives forever
2.  God has an eternal kingdom and eternal throne:   For His dominion … His kingdom endures
3.  The Nothingness of Mankind:   All the inhabitants of earth are accounted as nothing
4.  The Divine Power is at Work Sovereignly:  He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth
5.  God’s Fiat / God’s Decree is Irresistible:   No one can strike against His hand.

Another good point:  how long must we endure the discipline?  As long as it takes for you to learn the lesson.  In Nebuchadnezzar’s case it was 7 years — but sometimes God’s hand of discipline lasts even longer than that.  Paul was given a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, and no time limit is specified for how long he had to endure it.

Back to SLJ’s use of typology, we come to Daniel 6, the well-known story of Daniel in the Lions Den, and some interesting similarities between Daniel’s story and God’s people Israel.  Daniel’s personal experience here parallels that of human history, in that other people are often jealous of the Jews, as the other governing leaders were of Daniel.  Daniel also represents those placed in captivity (Israel), among the lions (the Gentiles).  The overall story also suggests the future Great Tribulation and the deliverance of the Jews from it.

The Book of Daniel: Illustrations of the Future Great Tribulation

January 3, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m currently listening to S. Lewis Johnson’s series through Daniel, a 16 part series he did in 1979, and have completed the first six chapters.  These are familiar chapters to many Bible students, in a book that is commonly divided into two parts: Historical — chapters 1-6, and Prophetic — chapters 7 – 12.

S. Lewis Johnson suggests a slightly different outline, one that notes the interesting use of Arabic language for chapters 2 through 7 — the chapters which have to do with the nations outside of Israel:
Chapter 1:  Introduction
Chapters 2-7:  Concerning the Gentile nations
Chapters 8-12:  Concerning Israel

I previously blogged through John MacArthur’s Daniel series, from transcripts I read back in early 2009, when I was still learning about premillennialism and didn’t yet understand how everything fits together.  That series helped me understand some of the basics, especially what the Bible has to say concerning the rise and fall of the various nations throughout history — and that God’s future kingdom is just as physical and just as much a part of human history as the human kingdoms described in Daniel.  At that time I was still “unlearning” the amillennialist / preterist scheme which sees the final kingdom in Daniel 2 as relating to Christ’s First Coming.  But as MacArthur often pointed out in that series, in Daniel chapter 2 God’s kingdom is one that will play out in human history, in the same realm as the kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome.

S. Lewis Johnson’s Daniel series is more concise, and yet he brings out some interesting ways in which we can relate the historical events in Daniel (types) to the future events associated with Christ’s Second Advent.

But first, three principles of Bible Interpretation:
1.  Primary interpretation:  the history and grammar of the text
2.  Present application:  Paul and others in NT said that the OT was written for our instruction, and that includes application to us
3.  Prophetic Revelation:  passages in OT that look on to the final consummation of events in the future

Following SLJ’s established definition concerning the proper use of types (or illustrations), we can note the following correspondences in Daniel 3:

  • Nebuchadnezzar setting up his image of gold — like the AntiChrist who is to come
  • The Image Itself — like the Abomination of Desolation
  • The Three Hebrews — the nation Israel in the Great Tribulation
  • The Fiery Furnace — suggesting the Great Tribulation itself
  • The Deliverance by “one like the son of the gods” — like the Second Coming deliverance of our Lord Jesus, by which He delivers Israel from the tribulation judgments

In this chapter the number 6 (the number of man) predominates:  “60 cubits tall and 6 cubits wide” (the dimensions of Nebuchadnezzar’s image) brings to mind the man-made worship in Babylon, the place where man’s worship began (Genesis 11) and where it will end as well (Revelation 18).

Daniel 4 can also be seen as a Typical presentation of the future — of the Gentiles in the last days:

  • Tree:   often symbolic of a man of great power and influence.
  • Nebuchadnezzar:    typical of Gentile world dominion
  • “Chop down the tree” — end of Gentile world power, and the madness of Gentiles during the Great Tribulation (the seal, trumpet and bowl judgments)
  • leave the stump — no complete destruction of Gentiles during the Great Tribulation; some are preserved, and experience blessing afterwards in the Millennial Kingdom
  • “till 7 times” — 7 years, which interestingly enough is the same time period as that of the period of judgment in the future — ref. Daniel 9 and Daniel’s 70th week.

For next time:  the application of Daniel 4, and lessons from Daniel 6 (the Lions Den).

J.C. Ryle: The Lord Jesus During this Present Dispensation — Like David in 1 Samuel

December 1, 2010 Leave a comment

From “Coming Events and Present Duties,” chapter 2 “Occupy Till I Come”:

The Lord Jesus during the present dispensation is like David between the time of His anointing and Saul’s death. He has the promise of the kingdom, but He has not yet received the crown and throne (1 Sam. 22:1, 2).

He is followed by a few, and those often neither great nor wise, but they are a faithful people. He is persecuted by His enemies, and oft times driven into the wilderness, and yet His party is never quite destroyed. But He has none of the visible signs of the kingdom at present: no earthly glory, majesty, greatness, obedience. The vast majority of mankind see no beauty in Him: they will not have this man to reign over them. His people are not honored for their Master’s sake: they walk the earth like princes in disguise. His kingdom is not yet come: His will is not yet done on earth excepting by a little flock. It is not the day of His power. The Lord Jesus is biding His time.

Reader, I entreat you to grasp firmly this truth, for truth I believe it to be. Great delusion abounds on the subject of Christ’s kingdom. Take heed lest any man deceive you by purely traditional teachings about prophetical truth. Hymns are composed and sung which darken God’s counsel on this subject by words without knowledge. Texts are wrested from their true meaning, and accommodated to the present order of things, which are not justly applicable to any but the period of the second advent. Beware of the mischievous infection of this habit of text-wresting. Beware of the sapping effect of beautiful poetry, in which unfulfilled promises of glory are twisted and adapted to the present dispensation. Settle it down in your mind that Christ’s kingdom is yet to come. His arrows are not yet sharp in the hearts of His enemies. The day of His power has not yet begun. He is gathering out a people to carry the cross and walk in His steps; but the time of His coronation has not yet arrived. But just as the Lord Jesus, like the nobleman, “went to receive a kingdom,” so, like the nobleman, the Lord Jesus intends one day “to return.”

Isaiah 53: The Five Stanzas, and the Five Offerings of Leviticus

November 22, 2010 Leave a comment

With Isaiah 52:13 -53:12 the S. Lewis Johnson Isaiah series reaches a high point in Biblical prophecy: the most quoted and referenced passage from OT prophecy, in the New Testament.  This is a well-known text, and yet even here I learned many interesting things from the SLJ Isaiah series.

This passage consists of 5 strophes, or stanzas — 5 facets of the saving work of Jesus Christ.  Each set contains three verses, and the verses increase in length as we go through all five.  The first words of each of the stanzas sets the theme for the verses that follow.

  • Isaiah 52:13-15 — The Suffering Messiah, Successful:  “Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted.”
  • Isaiah 53:1-3 — The Suffering Messiah, Misunderstood:  “Who has believed what he has heard from us?”
  • Isaiah 53:4-6 — The Suffering Messiah, Substitutionary  (or, A Substitute):  “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows”
  • Isaiah 53:7-9 –The Suffering Messiah, Submissive:  “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,”
  • Isaiah 53:10-12 —  The Suffering Messiah, Foreordained (or Planned, or Purposed):  “it pleased the Lord to bruise/crush Him”

These five stanzas also show similarity to the five Old Testament offerings as described in Leviticus 1 – 5.

  • The Burnt Offering (Leviticus 1):  this offering illustrates the one who is whole-hearted to do the will of God.  Here in Isaiah 52:13-15 we see the will of God: Christ’s death, resurrection, ascension and cession
  • The Meal Offering (Leviticus 2):  the meal offering represents, in the fine flour, the perfect humanity and character of Jesus Christ.  Great Christian men of our history, such as Luther and Calvin, were not as fine flour, but had their faults, their coarseness.  Jesus is a “man of sorrows,” the fine flour.
  • The Peace Offering (Leviticus 3):  In Isaiah 53, the substitute is smited — a violent striking.  The peace offering represents an atonement that issues in peace.  Isaiah 53: “upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.”
  • The Sin Offering (Leviticus 4):  In the sin offering, the transgression of Israel was covered.  Part of the animal burned, but the body taken outside the camp and destroyed.  Jesus was the sin offering, executed outside the city.
  • The Trespass (Guilt) Offering (Leviticus 5):  In Isaiah 53:10 “when his soul makes an offering for guilt,” the same Hebrew word for guilt is used here, as the Hebrew word for the guilt offering in Leviticus.

 

The “Miscellaneous” Sermons: One-time, Non-Series messages

August 30, 2010 Leave a comment

It still amazes and delights me to see, over and over, that a good expository preacher always delivers a good message, at a consistent high level.  I noted this some time ago, in reference to Phil Johnson’s sermon on Psalm 2 — a message he delivered when he was “busy” and only had a half-day to prepare a message, so turned to a Psalm, something easier to prepare — and then delivered a great verse-by-verse expository message.

Recently I completed S. Lewis Johnson’s “Lessons from the Life of David” series, and before starting the next longer series (Isaiah) I am taking a break to listen to some of his “miscellaneous” messages, one-time sermons he gave — in this case a sampling from the Old Testament, including Psalm 40, Isaiah 9, Psalm 84, Psalm 100, and Genesis 49.  Since these are one-time, separate messages from various times in his ministry, I really didn’t expect as much as I do when coming to a full in-depth series.  But I was pleasantly surprised after listening to the Psalm 40 message, and again I am impressed with his depth of teaching — a lighter content than, say, the Divine Purpose series, but a good message nonetheless.  The weak preacher (who casually remarks that he hadn’t even heard the term “hermeneutics” until he was 50 — and considering the consistent lack of depth, I believe it) can never attain to the level even of a good preacher’s one-time, non-series message through one of the Psalms.  It does relate to each person’s talents and fruit; one who lacks a basic foundation for teaching and preaching, will consistently remain at that level; and the preacher who is solidly grounded in his biblical understanding will always deliver a good sermon with the “meat” that growing believers thrive on.

SLJ probably delivered the Psalm 40 message in the early to mid-1980s.  He sounds younger than in the “Lessons from the Life of David” series (by which time he was 75 years old, in 1991), and he mentions a particular preacher, Vance Havner, as one who is still alive and preaching though now in his 80s.  (An Internet reference noted that Havner was born in 1901 and died in 1986.)

Among the main points of this message:  Psalm 40 is a Messianic psalm, and we look at David as a type of Christ — though not a perfect type, as the type can never be completely like the real thing.  C.S. Lewis thought that the reference in verse 12 to “mine iniquities have taken hold upon me” meant that these were sins imputed to the Lord Jesus on the cross.  Yet, S. Lewis Johnson points out,

never does any writer of the New Testament, never does any gospel writer, never does any apostle, never does our Lord himself, sanction the application of any passage of the Old Testament to him, to Christ, in which that writer confesses and deplores his own sinfulness.  So this would be absolutely unique.  It would be a situation in which the Old Testament writer speaks of the sinfulness of himself and that passage would be referred to the Lord Jesus, and it would be the only illustration of that….

David is a typical figure; he is the king of Israel.  And in this he represents the Lord Jesus who is the king, not only of Israel but also of all who shall reign with him in the kingdom that is to come.  Being a typical figure, he does not illustrate our Lord perfectly.  No type ever perfectly represents the anti-type.  So David illustrates him in his life, in his office as king, in his life, and in his words but he does not illustrate our Lord in his whole life, nor in all his words.

This Psalm does not state the specific event associated with David’s deliverance, and that too provides us benefit, that we can apply the lesson in a general way.  David may have been delivered from a fight with a bear, but that deliverance really doesn’t relate to us in our 21st century city life.  The psalm talks about the “new song” that the Lord has given us, and so Johnson exhorts us to look beyond past deliverances — to look past the initial salvation experience and seek fresh experience in the Lord’s blessings to us.  As SLJ put it:  But after you’ve been a Christian for a little while you ought to have some new songs of deliverance, some new experiences of the grace of God, the result of fresh experiences with Him.

Biblical Covenants, Typology, and S. Lewis Johnson

July 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Through my study of the biblical covenants — the Abrahamic, Davidic, and New — I now increasingly notice biblical references to these covenants, with greater appreciation for our covenant-keeping God, the One who will deliver us in keeping with His word.  Understanding the great, divine purpose of God, and His faithfulness to these covenants, helps me to bear up under personal struggles, realizing again God’s wonderful sovereign grace, trusting that He will yet deliver on these wonderful promises — though for now (for a short time, this life) we have our light and momentary afflictions.

Returning to the biblical references, I note something S. Lewis Johnson has pointed out, that the term covenant appears over 300 times in the Old Testament, yet only 33 times in the New Testament — and over half of these are quotations from the Old Testament.  Yet recently I noticed one of the “covenant” references, in Ephesians 2:12 — we (Gentiles) were once excluded, foreigners to “the covenants of the promise” — an excellent New Testament reminder of the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants.

2 Samuel 7, the main passage dealing with the Davidic covenant, includes David’s wonderful praise (verses 18 – 29), in which David prays “O Lord God” — Adonai Yahweh in the Hebrew, and the same words used in Genesis, in reference to the original covenant with Abraham.

Exodus includes a few references to covenants, including an interesting one in 29:9, a promise to give the priesthood to Aaron’s descendants forever.  This one I can see as having ultimate fulfillment at the Second Coming, with the millennial temple and priestly service described in Ezekiel 40-48 and mentioned by other prophets such as Zechariah.

Exodus 31:17 is another strong covenant statement that mentions the covenant with Israel — and a statement of fact that God created  heaven and earth in six days:  “It (the sabbath) is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.”  Something so simple and straightforward, yet how many profess the name of Christ yet want to reject the very beginning of God’s word and argue that Genesis 1 is poetry.  In reading Exodus 31, it also strikes me as interesting that often the same people who scoff at the Genesis creation are the very ones who write off Israel and declare that God is finished with them.  Yet here the two ideas are inextricably linked:  the fact of God’s creation in six ordinary days, as a sign “forever” between God and “the people of Israel.”  Again, how obvious can something be and so many professed believers just don’t get it?  Israel still exists as a distinct, separate ethnic race, in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies such as Baalam’s prophecy (Numbers 23:9: behold, a people dwelling alone, and not counting itself among the nations!), and (from my recent reading) Ezekiel 20:32 (“What is in your mind shall never happen-the thought, ‘Let us be like the nations…’).  For as Psalm 89 assures us, the promise to David is sure — Like the moon it shall be established forever, a faithful witness in the skies.

Another interesting Old Testament covenant is the one between David and Jonathan, begun in 1 Samuel and fulfilled in 2 Samuel 9 with Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth.  S. Lewis Johnson again teaches good typology, pointing out the requirements of such types — historical, and with correspondences between the historical object and the New Testament equivalent.   Here, the parallels include:

  • David’s covenant purpose –> God’s eternal purposes — David as a type for God the Father
  • Jonathan (which means, “the Lord has given”) as God the Son
  • Mephibosheth — a name which means shame; one in shame, and crippled, representing us.
  • Delayed fulfillment of the covenant:  many years had gone by since David and Jonathan made the original covenant, yet just as surely as this covenant was later fulfilled, so will God’s covenant reach its fulfillment in the future
  • David’s search for those who are the object of the promises –> the Divine Initiative, that God is the one seeking us out.

Typology (from S. Lewis Johnson teachings)

June 2, 2010 Leave a comment

S. Lewis Johnson frequently taught on the subject of typology, and now after studying through several of his series I have a much clearer understanding of what typology is and is not.  I’m currently listening to two series, one a study through Old Testament narrative chapters (Lessons from the Life of David), the other a doctrinal study of “The Divine Purpose.”  In previous Old Testament series I encountered SLJ’s usage of typology as early as Genesis and again in the “Typology in  Leviticus” study.  The subject comes up rather frequently, such that this week included treatment of typology in both the David series, and in the doctrinal study (currently in the section about dispensational theology and the hermeneutic).

Typology is really just another word for “illustration” or “example,” and has specific characteristics, including historicity and pattern, with correspondences between people, things (or institutions), or events.  The type is found in the Old Testament, a historical reality, as distinguished from allegory, of which John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progess” is a classic example.  According to S. Lewis Johnson, types are not restricted to only those which are explicitly pointed out in the New Testament (I have heard that claim before), but still must follow the pattern established by the definition.

The Bible does not contain any true allegories — and here SLJ has discussed the case of Galatians 4:24.   Some translations use the word “allegorically” (such as the ESV), but the more accurate translation should be “typologically”  (or “figuratively” as in the NIV).  In any case, the reference in Galatians 4 is to an event (Genesis 21) that actually happened, unlike the story and characters of Pilgrim’s Progress.

What I find especially helpful in Johnson’s teaching, are his many actual expositions of a text, in which he gives a point-by-point typology, showing in a particular case all of the features of a “type.”  During the Genesis series he gave such an example from the life of Joseph, showing the correspondences between Joseph and what he did for his brothers, and what Jesus has done and will yet do.  In the “Lessons from the life of David” he points out similar correspondences between David in the wilderness and Jesus Christ during the present age.