Through New Eyes by James B. Jordan

Probably the most influential biblical scholar who has shaped my understanding of the bible and of Christianity itself is James B. Jordan.

I always like to read Christian thinkers who try to define life as God wants us to. Jordan does this through his extremely detailed study of the Bible.

Below is a link to his book Through New Eyes. In this book Jordan explains the symbols of the Bible and how, through these symbols, we can understand who God is and what His plan is for this world. The book is originally available from Gary North’s website.

Here is the PDF book: through new eyes

Enjoy

In the Fullness of Time

hourglassBut when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
~Galatians 4:4-5 (NKJV)

Why couldn’t have Jesus been born to one of Eve’s virgin daughters?

Why did God “fumble” around with Israel for hundreds of years before finally sending the One person who could save humanity from its fallenness?

One answer that could be correct is that God wanted humanity to mature to a certain point before sending Jesus.

When Jesus did come, there were two important things that had happened by that time: 1) The Roman Empire had advanced to the furthest point humanity could ever hope to advance to without Jesus; 2) Israel had regressed to the lowest state it could ever regress to thus completely disqualifying them of their God given purpose in the world.

Let’s start with Israel. Israel was a kingdom of priests to the nations; to act as mediators between God and the world. Just as original humanity was created to image God to creation in wise stewardship, and image creation to God in thankful worship, so Israel was created to image God to the nations and the nations to God. When they followed that purpose they were at peace with the nations, but when they rebelled against it, they were at war with the nations.

The number one issue which turned the Israelites away from their calling was the worship of the gentile gods. Read through 1 & 2 Kings and see the pattern: Israel worshipped false gods, there was a time of discipline from God, there was repentance, things got better. Finally, God had enough and sent Israel into exile. If they weren’t going to fulfill their calling, they would lose their nation and position as mediators. The exile was temporary and Israel was later allowed to go back to Jerusalem, rebuild the city and the temple.

Notice, when reading the Old Testament, the Israelites didn’t deal with demons at all. Elijah didn’t go around casting out unclean spirits from individuals. The war was with the false gods.* However, when Jesus came onto the scene, there were demons everywhere, and Jesus never had to rebuke the Jews for their worship of Baal. This is illustrated in the parable found in Luke 11:24-26….

“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” (NKJV)

The Israelites were purged of their gentile god worship in the exile, and never fell into that again. But, by the time Jesus came, the Jewish people had fallen into something worse: they made their own religion into a false god. No longer were they acting as mediators between God and man, leading gentiles to salvation — now they were actively keeping people out of the kingdom through their false interpretation of their covenant with God (see Matthew 23:15). They couldn’t have made a more heinous mistake, and were worse off then than before the exile.

When reading Daniel 2 & 7 and Revelation 13, it can be seen that the Roman Empire was a conglomeration of the three empires which came before: Babylon, Persia, and Greece. After Babylon fell, Jerusalem and Judah became the spiritual heart (the Holy Land) of those empires. Israel was no longer a sovereign nation, but as far as God’s calling for the Jews was concerned, what came after the exile was more glorious than what was there before (see Jeremiah 31:31-40 and Zechariah 2:1-13).

The Roman Empire was the furthest development of those empires; it was the combined strength and wisdom of the greatest societies that existed before the rule of Jesus. Where was humanity to go from there but downward? It was time for the true King of the world to come and take His place. That is illustrated in Daniel 2 & 7 — the kingdom of God comes and crushes the old empires and consumes the world.

It is somewhat of a mystery** as to why God would want humanity to progress to a certain point before acting. That is true for our own personal lives as well. If God would act sooner, things would get better quicker, right? But, if humanity was created to grow and mature over time, then this action of God makes sense, to a certain degree anyway. Children don’t always understand the actions of their parents, at least not until they’re old enough to do so.

We must trust that in the fullness of time, or when the time is right, God will act, and the best possible outcome will result.

Here is a related message by James B. Jordan in which he discusses the maturation process of humanity…..

 

*I realize that there were demons behind those false gods.

**N.T. Wright in his book The Day the Revolution Began writes this:
“…the ‘continuing exile’ [the exile into Babylon and the continued subjugation under Gentile powers afterward] of Daniel 9 and many other texts, was not just a long, dreary process of waiting. It was the time in which the strange power called ‘Sin,’ the dark force unleashed by human idolatry, was doing its worst precisely in the people of God. God’s people were captive, enslaved, to Babylon and its successors and to the dark powers that stood behind them. What God was doing through the Torah [the law], in Israel, was to gather ‘Sin’ together into one place, so that it could then be condemned.” (Page 286)

***

Bible Theology Basics

basics

Here are some excellent articles by James Jordan regarding the basics of bible theology. This is not systematic theology. This is looking at the bible and letting it teach us directly what it is saying. Although the word ‘basic’ is used, you might be surprised at what you’ll learn from reading these articles.

There are eight articles to be read in succession. Here are the links…

Biblical Theology Basics #1

Biblical Theology Basics #2

Biblical Theology Basics #3

Biblical Theology Basics #4

Biblical Theology Basics #5

Biblical Theology Basics #6

Biblical Theology Basics #7

Biblical Theology Basics #8

The Vindication of Jesus Christ ~ Brief Book Review

vin
This is the best book I could recommend on Revelation. It is short and simple, but it may be confusing to anyone who is unfamiliar with eschatology and Jordan’s point of view on it.

Basically, Jordan teaches that Revelation describes events that happened in the first century, between AD 30 and AD 70. The climactic judgement/visitation of Jesus on the Jews happened in AD 70 with the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem which was also the end of the old world creation. We are now living in the new creation.

Jordan focuses on the symbols of Revelation and how they all come from the Old Testament. For example, 666 comes straight out of the book of 1 Kings.

Jordan also points out how the old creation was governed by angels, while the new is governed by the Church.

Jordan gave a series of lectures on Revelation which consists of 204 lectures and a 300+ page notebook. It can be found here.

The book can be found here.