Jesus and the Land

Well, I’m back from a longer-than-expected hiatus. I blame my NT exegetical. On with the show:

When we move from the Old Testament to the New, we encounter the issue of how to apply what the OT has said about Israel to us today. As Goldsworthy argues, the OT is not about us, it is about Christ. “The prime question to put to any text is about how it testifies to Jesus. Only then can we ask how it makes real his rule over us, and makes real his presence with us so that we are conformed more and more to his image.” (Hermeneutics 252)

So far in our examination of war, we have identified four major themes – faithfulness, the land, God’s providential sovereignty, and his judgement. In this section, we will examine how these  OT themes are fulfilled in Christ. As a consequence, we can consider how they can inform Christian thinking about war.

There is little direct teaching about the land in the New Testament. However, the concept undergirds many NT themes , especially Jesus’ teaching about the Kingdom of God. As Goldsworthy demonstrates, Kingdom (‘God’s people, in God’s place, under God’s rule’) is a powerful unifying theme for biblical theology (Goldsworthy Tril 53-54). However, the new Kingdom instituted by Christ is not limited to a single area of territory (Goldsworthy Tril 112-115). The Temple – that powerful symbol of the inhabitation of the land – is replaced by the person of Jesus , in whom God dwells amongst his people. With the advent of the Spirit, God’s presence is now amongst his people -the church. At the same time, the place of God’s rule of his people is no longer a nation, but a community spread throughout the nations. Thus land, and possession of land, are no longer aspects of what it means to be God’s people.

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