Tuesday, April 1, 2014

God's Glory in the Exodus

I'm 107 pages in to Hamilton's God's Glory in Salvation Through Judgment (only 500ish more to go!). I'm using this great book as a tool to go through the entire Bible, cover to cover, and focus on this central theme that Hamilton proposes. I've just completed the section on Exodus. Below are some of the quotes that really stuck out to me. I've had a bunch of conversations with Jude about this book and more specifically about Jim Hamilton (Jude read this book in 2012). We've both come to the conclusion that Hamilton's books are very easy to read considering how smart he is. What I mean by that is that my experience with authors who have a high level of formal education in their specific fields is that for the average person (ie. me!) they can be very difficult to read. I find I don't have any of the "inside information" that would allow me to follow their thought patterns (I don't speak Hebrew, Greek, or have a PhD in hermeneutics!). Hamilton is not this way. He is clear, concise, and his passion for the Bible is infectious. Read this book (and his others)!

But is what Yahweh does to Pharaoh just? From the perspective of the biblical authors, all humans creatures owe their Creator thanks and praise (e.g., Rom. 1:21) No human creatures successfully give God the glory and thank due him (3:23). Therefore all human creatures stand under God's condemnation. The severity of the judgement meted out matches the unspeakable evil of refusing to honor God as God and render him thanks. He does not owe mercy. The only thing he owes in justice, and the gravity of the heinousness of disregarding the infinite worth and beneficence of God calls for punishment that fits the crime. If God does not visit a just punishment, it shows that he has as little regard for himself as the creatures who have refused to honor him as God and give thanks to him. God shows his own great worth by visiting due justice against Egypt, and he shows his love by mercying Israel.

Yahweh's declaration of his name in Exodus 34, which is the revelation of his glory, informs the places in the Bible before and after this incident where Yahweh states his intention of making known to people that he is Yahweh. To know that he is Yahweh is to know that he is merciful and gracious, not clearing the guilty but punishing iniquity. To know that he is Yahweh is to know his name, his character. To know that he is Yahweh is to know his goodness—goodness that upholds what is right. If he does not uphold what is right, he is not good. If he does not keep his word, he is not faithful and cannot be trusted. Yahweh's righteousness, therefore, is an essential component of his love. An unrighteous, unfaithful god is not a loving god bur a scary, unpredictable horror in the likeness of the ancient Near Eastern deities or the gods of the Greco-Roman pantheon. But Yahweh is righteous, faithful, and loving. Even when his holiness demands the death of transgressors, this is an expression of his goodness and love as it upholds his faithfulness and shows him trustworthy.

Israel is saved through judgment, and the tabernacle, with its implements of sacrifice, makes it possible for the glorious Yahweh to take up residence—no longer outside the camp (cf. 33:7), but in their midst. Salvation comes through judgment and leads to the experience of the glory of God, a glory so overwhelming that it dictates the movements of those who perceive it. Israel has constructed the tabernacle "as Yahweh had commanded Moses." Thus, in obedience to Yahweh's word, they have built a microcosm—a symbolic picture of the cosmos on a reduced scale. The tabernacle symbolically depicts the world that God has made, and when his people obey him, God does for the tabernacle what he will do for the world: he fills it which his glory. The filling of the tabernacle with the glory of Yahweh is a proleptic enactment of the earth being filled with the glory of Yahweh. This is why the world exists.

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