God’s Theocratic Rule

Starting at the beginning means that we must start with Genesis. More specifically, we must start with the Garden of Eden. For all the things that one might say about this key period, the purpose of this series requires mention of one main (often overlooked) point. Namely, that the time in the Garden was a time of God’s theocratic rule.

This idea is often a bit of a jolt to the system. While the word ‘theocracy’ easily conjures up thoughts of Israel during their time at Mount Sinai, it doesn’t as readily send us to the very beginning. That said, some thought on the matter shows that the idea of theocracy should indeed point us to the Garden.

To be sure, theocracy is an involved state of affairs, but at its core it simply means that their is no distinct line drawn between cult (…and no, I don’t mean ‘cult’ cult. I mean: ‘sphere of religious worship’) and culture. In other words, during a time of theocracy, rather than distinguish between cult and culture, it is all rightly seen under one main kingdom rubric.

This of course, is very different to our current situation. When we as the church, talk about ‘culture’, we are talking about something that is decidedly outside of the ‘sphere of religious worship’; something then that the church has much need to engage with on mission. Once again however, this was not the case in the Garden of Eden. Cult and culture were one. All of life was properly under the banner of the religious sphere. Not to mention that at this point there was no sin present.

The other big issue in the Garden had to do with geography. That is, before the fall, God’s rule over His people had a distinctly geographical dimension to it (the garden itself). Once again, this is a vital component of what theocracy entails. If there isn’t a divinely sanctioned piece of real-estate involved, call it what you will, but it’s not a theocracy. So, while we do indeed find a biblical counterpart to this time during God’s rule over Israel–who lived in Canaan (the Promised Land);  and also a counterpart/fulfilment in God’s final rule over the new heavens and the new earth; it should also be emphasised that during the times in between, things were (or are) very, very different.

So then, before moving forward to further explore this difference, there are two main things to note as we set out on this journey through Scripture: a) that God’s rule in the Garden was a time of theocracy, and b) that God’s rule in the church is not a theocracy.

This is a colossal idea. The implications of which are far reaching for mission and cultural engagement. However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Paying careful attention to these first two observations, we’ll move on the next thing in the following post.

 

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The Story of Scripture

Last week I attended the A29 conference in Australia. It was a great privilege to serve as one of the speakers for this. But also, it was a super refreshing time for me personally; both to sit under such passionate gospel preaching, and to spend the week hanging out with my fellow A29 planters.

On the flipside of all this conference blessedness however, the blog has taken a backseat for the last two weeks (nope, I’m not quite at the level of blogging fluency that would allow me to write and travel at the same time). But now that I’m back at my desk, it is time to remedy the situation. I’ll start things off properly in the week to come. Until then, for your convenience, here’s the summary of the series that I’ve just finished:

The Story of Scripture

Part 1  – Creation and Probation

Part 2 – High Treason

Part 3 – Bad News and Good News

Part 4 – Light Shines Amidst the Darkness

Part 5 – From Humanity to a Specific Seed

Part 6 – Closer to Christ With Each Covenant

Part 7 – The Covenant at Sinai

Part 8 – God Saves

Part 9 – Saviour, Judge and King

Part 10 – A New Covenant for Sinners

Part 11 – Broken Silence

Part 12 – The Lion and the Lamb

Part 13 – The Crucifixion and Resurrection

Part 14 – Now We Work and Wait