Sinai and Zion: How Learning the Terrain of God’s Holy Hill Helps Us Read Isaiah

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[This blogpost is one of many on Isaiah, this month’s focus book in the Via Emmaus Bible Reading Plan. For more resources on Isaiah, see here].

In the book of Isaiah, the word “Zion” and the concept of the Lord’s holy mountain is prominent. Yet, Zion is not something that only appears in Isaiah, it is a theme that runs through Scripture. In the days ahead, I hope to put a few notes down on this concept.

For starters, consider the observations of Stephen Dempster, author of Dominion and Dynasty: A Study in Old Testament Theology. Describing the connection between Zion and Sinai, he writes (on an old blog that had so much promise . . . but little fulfillment :-):

I have been just reading and thinking about the whole relation between Sinai and Zion. Hartmut Gese’s chapter on The Law in his book Essays in Biblical Theology is extremely stimulating. . . . Gese makes the point that the Torah given at Sinai was given to one nation and there was an exclusive emphasis on it—a wall of separation was erected between the Holy and the Unholy. When the covenant was made and the atonement was made, representatives of Israel were allowed to ascend the mountain and eat and drink with God. The text clearly says that they saw God and were not harmed (ch. 24). They had unbroken fellowship with their Creator. Continue reading

Redemption in the Key of D(avid): A One-Page Guide To Reading the Psalms Canonically

Yesterday I taught through the Psalms.  150 Psalms in about an hour.  It was a fast-paced survey of how the Psalter moves…

from the suffering and glory of the historical David in Psalms 1-72
to fall of David’s house and Israel’s exile because of their covenant breaking in
Psalms 73-89
to a YHWH-centered interlude in
Psalms 90-106 which promises redemption and recovery of God’s people because of God’s covenant faithfulness and steadfast love…
to finally the messianic hope of another greater David to come in
Psalms 107-150.

Overall, reading the Psalter as one glorious story of redemption– “Redemption in the Key of D(avid),” you might say– is an illuminating and I would argue the most biblical way to read the Psalms.

It is evident that the Psalms are more than the ancient Israelites equivalent to a WOW Worship CD.  It is not a random compilation of the best hits from the Temple.  The (chrono)logical arrangement of the Psalter is impressive. As Old Testament scholars are helping us see, the content of the Psalms tells us the story of redemptive history, looking back to the David of history and anticipating the eschatological David to come who is God himself (Psalm 110:1; cf Psalm 45:6,).  In other words, while each Psalm is captivating in its own right, set in its own historical, put together,  it becomes evident that a larger story is being told.

To help my church and anyone else who is interested, I have put my notes online, which include a one page outline of the Psalter according to its canonical arrangement.  If it can serve you as a helpful ‘bookmark’ or ‘roadmap,’ please print it out and stick in your Bible to help see how the Psalms fit together to point us to Christ.

It is amazing to see Christ in all of Scripture, and anything that pastor-teachers can do to show how all the Bible leads to Christ will always encourage the faith of our people.  Here are the notes:

Psalms: Redemption in the Key of D(avid)
A Canonical Reading of the Psalter
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For more on this subject see, John Walton’s JETS article (1991), “Psalms: A Cantata About the Davidic Covenant,”Paul House’s chapter on the Psalms in his Old Testament Theology, and Stephen Dempster’s section on the Psalms in Dominion and Dynasty. I bet Jim Hamilton will also have a great chapter on this when his book, God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment comes out this Fall.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

Biblical Theology is Coming to WordPress

Drs. Jim Hamilton, T.D. “Desi” Alexander, Stephen Dempster, and Michael Bird have started a biblical theological blog on WordPress. Here is how they describe their blog, biblicaltheology.wordpress.com:

This blog exists for the glory of God, in service to the church, to promote the study and discussion of biblical theology’s history, methodology, aims, achievements, developments, direction, and points of contact with other approaches to the study of the Bible.

Sounds good. I have added this to my google reader and look forward to keeping up with the conversation.

Sola Deo Gloria, dss