The Lord is a Warrior: Reading Joshua with Revelation and Revelation with Joshua

priestcolor-e1570208304330.jpgIn his illuminating book Gospel Typology in Joshua and Revelation: A Whore and Her Scarlet, Seven Trumpets Sound, A Great City Falls, [1] Warren Gage makes a sevenfold comparison between the books of Joshua and Revelation. In particular, he compares the destruction of Jericho to the destruction of Babylon. What follows is a summary (with biblical texts) of his observations. Continue reading

Reading Genesis 1-11

Today I preached Genesis 1-11: “In the Beginning: Creation, Corruption, and Christ.”  I love this section of Scripture because it is pregnant with so many themes that are developed in the rest of the Bible.  For instance, you can see the whole pattern of Creation-Fall-Redemption-New Creation if you pay careful attention to the literary structures of the passage. The Gospel of Genesis by Warren Gage is an excellent resource to help outline these themes.  So is Bruce Waltke’s illuminating outline below (An Old Testament Theology [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007], 307-08).

What Gage and Waltke show is how Genesis 1-11 teaches us to read the rest of the Bible.  The explicit metanarrative in Scripture moves from Creation to New Creation, falling with sin, rising with Christ.  Notice how in the outline below that Noah and Abraham come as Christ-figures who anticipate the greater rest (Matt 11:28) and the fulfillment of all the promises (2 Cor 1:20).

Creation: Genesis 1:1 – 6:8

A Creation out of chaotic water with divine blessing (1:1-2:3)

B Sin involving nakedness, seeing/covering nakedness; curse (2:4-3:24)

C Division of humanity into the people of God and the enemies of God (3:15-4:16)

D No descendents of sinful of murdered younger, righteous Abel (4:8)

E Descendents of sinful Cain: builds a city (4:17-24)

F Descendents of chosen son Seth: ten generations to Noah (5:1-32)

G Downfall: unlawful unions – men & women / marriage (6:1-4)

H Brief introduction to a faithful savior: Noah (6:5-8)

Re-Creation: Genesis 6:9-11:32

A’ Creation out of chaotic water with divine blessing (6:9-9:19)

B’ Sin involving nakedness, seeing/covering nakedness; curse (9:20-23)

C’ Division of humanity into the people of God and the enemies of God (9:24-27)

D’ Descendents of younger, righteous Japheth (10:1-5)

E’ Descendents of sinful son Ham: builds multiple cities (10:6-20)

F’ Descendents of chosen son Shem: ten generations to Terah (10:21-32)

G’ Downfall: unlawful union – men / government (11:1-9)

H’ Brief introduction to a faithful savior, Abram (11:27-32)

Our God is worthy of infinite praise for he is patient with sinners and perfect in his wisdom to bring salvation in his Son from eternity past to eternity future.  With Paul we sing:  “Oh, the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”  Genesis 1-11 is an astounding passage that flickers with the light of God, light that will only grow brighter as the Scriptures continue until the light of the world comes to dwell with man (John 1:1-14).

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

The Gospel of Genesis (Review)

Warren Austin Gage, The Gospel of Genesis: Studies in Protology and Eschatology (Winona Lake, IN: Carpenter Books, 1984). 

If you like Gregory Beale, Meredith Kline, and William Dumbrell, then you will like Warren Austin Gage.  Advocating typology, predictive prophecy, and God’s sovereign designs over history, Dr. Gage, Old Testament professor at Knox Theological Seminary, constructs a compelling case for biblical protology in his illuminating little book, The Gospel of Genesis.

Packed with biblical allusions and intertextual connections, Gage demonstrates how the first seven chapters of Genesis set a pattern that is picked up throughout the rest of the Bible.  The pattern is five-fold and corresponds with five major doctrinal loci: God, Man, Sin, Redemption (individual and corporate), and Judgment (5).  Speaking of these protological structures, he writes:

The thesis of this chapter [which goes on to outline the rest of the book] is that the chronicle of prediluvian history (Genesis 1-7) is composed of five theologically fundamental narratives, each of which finds consecutive, synthetic parallel in the history (and prophecy) of the postdiluvian world.  Consequently, by understanding the historical movement initiated in early Genesis, we may discern the relationship between the beginning and the ending of biblical history (9).

Fleshing out his thesis, Gage shows in chapters 3-7 how Moses lays out the archtypal storyline in Genesis 1-7: 

  1. YHWH’s speaks the cosmos into existence, the six days of work followed by the Sabbath rest stamps on creation a divine pattern for life on the earth (1:1-2:3);
  2. The triune God creates Adam and Eve in his image and commissions them as vice-regents over the earth (1:26-31; 2:4ff); this is followed by the their covenant-breaking, disobedient fall (3:1-14);
  3. The sovereign judge of the universe pronounces a curse on all creation, but with the redemptive promise that a serpent-crushing seed would come to save his people (3:15-19)
  4. Community and ecclesiology (i.e. the gathering of men) begins with the establishment of two lines of men–the sons of Cain and the sons of Seth– which parallel the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman (3:15; 4:1ff); and
  5. God’s retributive justice is manifested in the watery judgment of the earth and all its evil inhabitants.  Here, God’s wrath destroys all those living in flagrant unrighteousness, yet this ‘day of the Lord’ YHWH saves a remnant of people (Moses et al) from whom he will establish a new humanity (6:1ff). 

This pattern, Gage argues, sets the pattern for biblical history, and where space permits, he shows how Abraham, David, and Jesus fulfill these patterns in later history.  But making his case even stronger, Gage also shows how in the days of Noah, this five-fold cycle is reduplicated (Gen. 8-11).  Much like Irenaeus’ vision of Christ’s work of recapitulation, Gage shows how these patterns in history are not accidental, but rather intentional.  As Isaiah 46:9-10 says of YHWH, “For I am God, and there is no other’ I am God, and there is not one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.”  This is what he calls “protology”–the study of first things. 

Now, if you accept this reading of Genesis 1-7, it admittedly impacts the entire way that you read Scripture.  Over against theological systems like Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology, which derive their interpretive methods from dogmatic considerations derived from later revelation (and church history), a protological/eschatological reading of the Biblical narrative is much more inductive.  It argues for a cyclical reading of God’s redemption and revelation that finds its key within the Scriptures itself.  Accordingly, this approach is helpful for ‘getting a feel’ for the big picture in redemptive history; however, like any system of interpretation, it might force the reader using this schema to misinterpret or bend biblical data for the sake of the pattern. 

Certainly, responses to Gage may very.  There will be “literalists” who would charge Gage with allegory, speculative typology, and spurious biblical connections.  For instance, his acceptance of a chiastic pattern in biblical theology makes his presentation of history very orderly and economic, perhaps too unified.  But to those who make such a case, it may be asked, “What kind of history should we expect from the maker of heaven and earth, the sovereign over history, the author of our salvation?”  Everything about God commends order, structure, symmetry, and divine intentionality.  So it would make sense that God would structure all of history according to his eternal plans of glorifying Himself by saving sinnners. 

With that said, it could be conceded that some of his interpretive moves and interconnections may not warranted, but that does not make illegitimate his overarching thesis.  These criticisms are more a matter of isolated passages, and not interpretive method.  On the whole, I think Gage’s argument stands up.  It provides a helpful rubric for reading the Bible, starting with Genesis and moving towards the climax of history in the two advents of Jesus Christ.   It commends a high view of inspiration and scriptural authority.  It moves all things to find their end in Christ, and it compels the biblical reader to see what God has been and is now doing.  In my estimation, it is a very helpful approach to understanding and applying biblical theology on a macro-scale.

For more on the subject of protology see J.V. Fesko, Last Things First; on recapitulation: Irenaeus, Against Heresies; on reading the Bible as it presents itself: Richard Lints, The Fabric of Theology; and on the connection between Genesis and Revelation: G.K. Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission.

Sola Deo Gloria, dss