Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Proverbs 10:30 --- Christ's Fulfillment of the Land

Proverbs 10:30
The righteous will never be removed,   
but the wicked will not dwell in the land.

Douglas Sean O'Donnell writes, "In his commentary on Isaiah, the church father Jerome wrote, 'To be ignorant of the Scripture is to ignorant of Christ.' Jerome was right.  If we know nothing of the Word of God we will know nothing of the Son of God. . . . Jerome's saying, however, can be reversed to make just as pointed a point: 'To be ignorant of Christ is to ignorant of Scripture.' For isn't this the claim of Jesus himself?  In John 5:39-40 Jesus rebuked the Pharisees with these words; 'You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.'" O'Donnell goes on to ask, "So, are the books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job about Jesus?"  O'Donnell answers his own question, "Jesus says so."[1]

Our last proverb taught us that Jesus is the way and the refuge for his people.  Our proverb for today, read in the light of Christ's fulfillment, teaches us that Jesus fulfills all the promises related to the land in the Old Testament.

The land promise was very important to Israel.  You cannot have a nation or a kingdom without land.  A kingdom consists of a king, a people, and a place.  In fact, a good definition of God's kingdom is God's king (Christ), ruling his people, in his place, under his rule and blessing.  But where is the place --- the land --- now that Jesus has come?

The place according to the New Testament is in Christ.  213 times the apostle Paul uses this phrase.  Believers live in Christ.  We abide in him, the way the Old Testament believer lived in the land.  Psalm 37:3 says:

            Trust in the Lord, and do good;
                dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.

By faith we now dwell in Christ.  He is our home.  By the Spirit, we have been baptized into Christ.  We are planted in him by faith.  Faith has united us to our Lord, and just as the faithful Israelite was to "befriend" or cultivate faithfulness in the land, so are we to learn to abide with Christ our Lord.  Waltke puts it like this: "The land of Canaan, though impersonal, had a sacramental value, for in the land, sanctified by God's unique presence, Israel had experienced her unique relationship with God.  That sacramental value is now experienced more richly in our being in Christ.  Paul's 'in Christ' . . . was for him the massive, Christologized fulfillment of the land promise."[2]

What has happened in the New Testament is that the land has been Christified.  There has been a Christification of the land and the temple.  The attachment of the Israelite to the land of Canaan has been replaced by an attachment to Jesus Christ.  Waltke puts it like this: "The promise that Israel will inherit a land flowing with milk and honey becomes a metaphor for the milk and honey of life in Christ, a participation in heaven itself and in a world that is beyond what saints could imagine or think."[3]

But has the idea of place been done away with by this Christification of the land?  No, there still is, and still will be a place in the future.  Our place is wherever Jesus Christ, fully human and fully divine, is.  Where is Jesus right now?  He is in heaven at the right hand of God.  How then can we be with him now, since he is in heaven and we are on earth?  The answer is the Holy Spirit who is given to us.  Christ indwells us by his Spirit, and the Spirit lifts us by faith to indwell our Lord in heaven.  Every time we pray, do we not enter into the presence of the Father and the Son?  Already we dwell with our Lord by faith, for we are baptized and joined to him.

But what about the future?  Won't there be a new heaven and earth?  Yes, there will be, for the land has also been eschatologized in Christ.  The better country that Abraham and all of the Old Testament saints were looking for (Hebrews 11:8-10, 13-16) will be fulfilled in the new heaven and earth.  Of that place, Revelation 21:1-3 and 22:3-5 says:

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God."

"No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever."




[1] Douglas Sean O'Donnell, The Beginning and End of Wisdom: Preaching Christ from the First and Last Chapters of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job, 30-31.
[2] Bruce Waltke, An Old Testament Theology: an exegetical, canonical, and thematic approach, 576.

[3] Ibid., 586.

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