The Bible’s Search for Order

In a recent post, I quoted some of the conclusion Graham A Cole’s book ‘God the Peacemaker’. Graham closes his book with a quote of the late Bill Dumbrell. Bill, like Graham, was one of my lecturers when I was at Moore College (1989-92). Bill was also my College Chaplains and he and his wife, Norma, were a wonderful support not only at College but in the years that followed. We were privileged to have Bill preach many times at St Stephen’s. He would often refer to Genesis 1-2 as key for understanding the entire bible which is heading toward and wrapped up in the divine vision of Revelation 21-22. Here are Bill’s final comments in his stimulating summary of biblical theology:

“In the epilog of Revelation 22:6-21 John and his guide are outside the city, that is, in the present reality to which they have come. Sanctioned by Jesus as faithful and true (v 6), the prophecy is to remain open for all to read, for the time is short until Jesus comes again (vv 7, 10).

“At the end of the canon, we have returned to the beginning with an overplus. The divisions within human society since Babel have been removed. The new people of God, Jews and Gentiles together have been located in a new sacred space. This is the very end to which the tentative beginning of Genesis 1-2 had pointed.”

Bill then briefly summarises the role of Israel in this movement and then writes:

“The history of salvation has ended, and the journey has been long. We have moved from creation and Adam to Israel and redemption, to Jesus as suffering Israel, to the creation of a new people of God through the cross and resurrection of Jesus. We have moved through the call of the Gentiles to come into the new people of God, through the difficulties of the overlap of the ages, into the reality of the new age itself.

“The biblical search for order is now at an end. Though the divine intention for humankind and the world had been signalled by Genesis 1-2, God patiently bore with sinful humankind until finally imposing order at the end of the canon. The movement in the Bible from creation to the new creation was made possible only by the fact that God was in Christ, in the historical factor of the cross outside the city of Jerusalem in the midpoint of salvation history, reconciling the world unto himself.” (WJ Dumbrell, The Search for Order, 346).

The wonder and excitement of this vision is captured in Graham Cole’s response:

“Is the project worth it? Yes! If it glorifies the triune God and results in a creature as close to being God as a creature can logically possibly become, a creature who is not merely innocently good but morally good, a creature who is not merely God’s servant but God’s child. Creation is on tiptoe, awaiting the very revelation (Romans 8:19).” (G Cole, God the Peacemaker, 231).


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