biblical roadmaps

Jeremiah 33:14-16

For Sunday, November 29, 2009
First Sunday of Advent (starting Year C)

““ ‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness.’”

(Jeremiah 33:14–16 NIV)

Passages like this are fascinating because to be understood they point to the need for a roadmap for understanding the Bible as a whole. The context here is this: the kingly line of David had been cut off leaving only the stump of a tree. Yet a shoot would spring forth from that stump and grow to provide eternal and enduring refuge for God’s people. Most if not all Christians agree that the shoot is Messiah, and that Messiah is Jesus.

What we don’t all agree on is what Jeremiah had in mind when he says, “Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety.” Is this a promise already fulfilled when the Jews returned to Jerusalem under Persian King Cyrus? Or is it a promise being fulfilled in our own day with the establishment of the modern State of Israel? Or is it a future promise, and if so, is it to be fulfilled with reference to the nation-state of Israel, or with regard to the church as spiritual Israel?

There is a wonderful chart and article in Wikipedia to help you determine whose roadmap you want to use. The chart appears at the beginning of this post.

The article contains a good summary of a number of hermeneutical roadmaps of the Bible. They are:

  • Supersessionist
  • Covenant Theology
  • Kingdom-Dominion Theology
  • Dispensational
  • Allegorical
The two that I find most compelling are Covenant Theology and Kingdom-Dominion Theology. Between these two I find Kingdom-Dominion Theology most persuasive. It suggests that the incarnation of Christ is the center point of all of history and that the overarching theme of Scripture is the Kingdom of God, meaning the establishment of God’s rule over God’s people in God’s place.

Here is how this roadmap makes sense of passages such as Jeremiah 33:

In the New Testament, God’s rule is exercised through Jesus Christ the King, who is also the “temple” of God (John 2:19-21), over his people the Church (of which Israel was a type). Salvation for all people in all times is found by trusting (explicitly or implicitly) in Jesus. Thus, Abraham, Moses, David, and all Christians today are saved by the same faith. The Jews are regarded as special in God’s plan (as in Romans and Ephesians) and yet the Old Testament prophecies regarding Israel find their fulfillment in Jesus and the Church rather than in a literal restoration of Israel.[1]

If you haven’t already chosen a biblical roadmap for yourself, let this be the week that you pick one by which to navigate your understanding of Scripture as well as the very trajectory of your own life. A secular culture which has lost its way as well as its very belief in a destination desperately needs people who know where they are going and what to expect along the way.


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