Sunday, September 1, 2013

So Simple Even a Theonomist Could Understand

But Then There's Washington

R.J. Rushdoony

Greg L. Bahnsen, Ph.D.
Greg Bahnsen

]The other day our grandsons were talking economics. One said that if you managed a toy store, you could get toys for free. The other said that, if you use “a card” to buy something, then you don’t have to pay for it. Both then pointed out how much money they had made when they ran a lemonade stand for a few hours.

As grandparents, who raised five sons on a preacher’s salary (the old fashioned kind of preacher’s salary), their grandmother and I felt an obligation to disabuse them of their economic views. We  explained that, while managers and other employees might get discounts, they did not get toys for free. Even the owner did not get toys for free. We told them that, when you use a credit card, you have to pay it off at the end of the month, and, if you don’t, you have to pay even more than what the item cost. We pointed out about their little capitalistic venture that their mother bought the lemonade ingredients and cups, that a neighbor made the cookies, that “customers” gave them big bills and told them to keep the change, and that, if any of those things had been been different, they would have lost money.

Some economic realities are simple enough that even young children can understand. Or so it would seem. But then there’s Washington and its dependents.

It occurs to me that the same it is true about interpreting the Old Testament and applying it to the present age. It’s really not that difficult.

Let me lay it out:

1. God chose Abraham and made a covenant with him and his descendants to be their God, to give them a land, and to make them a nation.
 2. The people were the Jews, the land was Canaan, and the nation was Israel.
3. The people were formed into a nation when Moses led the Abraham's descendants out Egyptian slavery, when God made a covenant with them at Sinai, when God took up residence among them in the tabernacle (later temple), when God gave them moral (10 Commandments) religious (ceremonial) and national (judicial) laws, when God settled them in the land through conquest, and when God established them in the land as his special nation under Davidic kings.
 4. Ethnic Israel constituted the people of God; national Israel was the kingdom of God, Canaan was territory given to ethnic Israel for its life as the kingdom. Israel was unique among the nations of the earth. No other people were God's people; no other nation God's kingdom; no other land God's land.
5. The denunciations and curses against Israel’s enemies and the wars of vengeance and conquest carried out against them were against them them as enemies of God, God’s people, and God’s kingdom.
 6. The curses and blessings God pronounced in relation to Israel were directed to them as his unique people and nation. The curses were against Israel for breaking God's covenant with the nation, and the blessings were promised to Israel for keeping covenant with the God who had made them his people and his kingdom on earth.
7. God planned always to fulfil the Davidic kingship in Jesus the Messiah and Savior, to incorporate elect Gentiles into the people of God, and to spread his kingdom among all the nations of the earth. It is in Christ that God fulfills his promise to make Abraham's people more numerous than the sands of the seashore and stars of the sky (the church) and to give Abraham the whole earth (a kingdom without borders), and his promise to give to David an everlasting kingship and kingdom (the Messianic kingship).
8. Jesus rejected political conceptions of his Messiahship and kingdom. He did not come to make war against the Romans or any other nation. He did not come to re-establish ethnic and national Israel within territory of Canaan, to give Israel preeminence among the nations, or to form a new kingdom with territorial aspirations or a distinctive national polity. Neither Jesus nor his apostles organized political movements, or sought to bring the nations and governments of the world into conformity with the political order and laws of Israel, or otherwise to subject the nations or their governments to the Messianic rule.
 9. The form of the people of God after the coming of Christ is not ethnic but spiritual. The form of the kingdom of God in the New Testament is not national but spiritual. The people of God transcend race and ethnicity and the kingdom of God transcends territory and nation.  
10. The New Testament people of God are the elect of every nation, both Jew and Gentile. The New Testament kingdom of God is the church. The elect whether Jew or Gentile are a spiritual ethnicity. The church is a spiritual nation, the Israel of God. The government of the church is Christ's spiritual reign by his Word and Spirit through men who are called to spiritual service. God-called, Spirit-equipped leaders use spiritual weapons - the Word, the sacraments, the keys of the kingdom - to wage spiritual warfare in order to conquer by grace God’s enemies and to protect and provide for God’s people under Christ's saving rule. The kingdom of God is given expression in the church and not in any earthly nation or alliance of nations or in any government or political order. Israel has ceased to be the kingdom of God; her laws have expired with her; she has not been replaced by any nation or group of nations, and her unique position has been given to the church as church.
 11. Ethnic and national Israel today are not Israel as Israel was under the Old Testament order. The United States is not Israel. No nation is the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God does not have ethnic, national, or territorial dimensions. The church is Israel.
12. The church and state are independent of one another. Neither seeks or should seek to construct a government or laws for the other, to use the other for its own ends, to control the other, or to instruct the other. Each should leave the other alone. What the church wants from the government is sufficient societal order to allow her meetings to be conducted unmolested and to allow her people to live quiet and godly lives and the freedom of the church to go about her unique mission. What the government has a right to expect from the church is the instructing of her members to submit to government as God’s minister in the civil realm.The church is under Christ’s rule as Redeemer and Messiah. The government is under Christ’s rule as Creator and Sovereign.
So to sum up:
1. The people of God are the elect of every nation. 
2. The land God has given for the establishment of his kingdom is the whole earth without regard to nations or governments. 
3. The King of God's kingdom is Christ who rules now by means of his Word and Spirit through men he calls to church office.
4.The kingdom of God is the church.

1. When you preach about Old Testament ethnic and national Israel, preach about the church.
 2When you preach about the Old Testament kingship preach about Christ’s Messianic rule, present and future.  
3. When you preach about the land, territorial Israel, preach about the trans-territorial spiritual kingdom of the present and the kingdom yet to come that will encompass the news heavens and earth. 
4. When you preach the laws of the kingdom preach them to the church about the church's life.
5. When you preach about the threats and promises to Israel relate them to the church as God's covenant people and kingdom. 
6. When you preach from the prophets relate their messages to Israel to the church and their messages to Israel’s enemies to the enemies of the church.

It’s so simple even I get it. Even a theonomist should get it. But then there's grandkids,Washington, and economics.

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