[This post is part of the Eschatology series]
Having talked about an overall kind of philosophy of eschatology, here is a brief (very!) overview of the drama of redemption. It essentially breaks out into this section on old creation, or creation and fall, followed by a discussion of new creation and redemption. What is then addressed is the overlap, which results from the new creation starting in the middle of the old, but we’ll get to that in a later post. Anyway, let’s start at the beginning:
In the beginning God created the earth and man perfectly (Genesis 1:1-2:3). It is hard to say how long this lasted, but man fell into sin probably within hours and God promised redemption to fix the problem. We see this in Genesis 3, although it is interesting to note that the proto-evangelion promised in Genesis 3:15 is not a hope that anyone else in the Old Testament refers back to after Eve does initially. Man’s sin eventually got so out of hand God had to pick a representative and his family to save and scratch the rest (see Genesis 6:1 and following). This set up a pattern of God picking a covenant mediator or representative. The Noahic covenant is still binding on the nations in general, (symbolized by the fact we still see rainbows, and God judges the nations for shedding blood) but later God picked another individual, Abraham and made a covenant with him and promised to bless all peoples through him (Genesis 12, 15, 17, 22). As an extension of that covenant, God also made the Mosaic covenant with the sons of Abraham, now called the nation of Israel, after rescuing them from Egypt. This is seen in Exodus 20-24, again in Deuteronomy 5, 12-25, the former being the initial law and applicable case laws, while the latter was the re-giving of the law in the same form, but with expanded and slightly different case laws reflecting a new cultural milieu. Later in Israel’s history God made a covenant through her greatest king David, in order to continue his line forever (2 Samuel 7). This was the last formal covenant made in the Old Testament, but because of Israel’s repeated failure to keep the terms of the Old Covenant, God promised that one day He would make a New Covenant with them (Jeremiah 31-34 is the main reference).
This New Covenant was ratified by the Incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ, on the night of His betrayal. This is seen in Matthew 26:17-29; Luke 22:7-23; Mark 14:12-25 and a fuller treatment in John 14-17. In Him, not only was a New Covenant enacted, but all of the Old Covenant promises found their fulfillment. The explicit reference to this is 2 Corinthians 1:20, but this is not to say they all found their fulfillment immediately, rather that Christ was now the mediator through which they would all find fulfillment. Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, by the will of the Father, came into the world in order to reveal God to men, fulfill the prophecies of the Old Testament, to become the Redeemer of this lost world, and to inaugurate the Kingdom of God (this is from the DTS statement, and also see Luke 1:30-35, John 1:1-18, 3:16; Luke 4:16-21; Matthew 6:9-13; 11:4-5; 12; 12:28; Mark 2:10; Romans 14:17). He did so by living a perfect sinless life and then dying on the cross for our sins and then on the third day, rising from the dead by the power of God (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Upon rising from the dead, Jesus received a glorified body which is the pattern that those who believe will follow, and the start of the New Creation (John 20:20; 1 Corinthians 15:20-23; Philippians 3:20-21).
Where I differ from the dispensational understanding in all of this is that I would see Christ’s bringing of the kingdom at His first advent also accomplished the binding of Satan (spoken of in Revelation 20:1-3 cf Luke 10:18). The angel in Revelation 20 may also be the restrainer in 2 Thessalonians 2:7, as those passages can be seen as parallel on this interpretation. So currently, Satan is bound from deceiving the nations, thus now allowing the gospel to advance, but this in no way means he is now inactive, but is still the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4) and still able to work within the limits imposed on him by God. This is the first hint in what I’ve said so far of an already/not yet dynamic. Satan is already restrained in some way, but not yet completely destroyed. To see this principle elsewhere, we’ll need to further explore the New Creation.