When I began this work, I was still employed at a university. In fact, it can be said that I have been at this for several decades – taking notes and formulating various ideas for understanding the underpinnings of the Jewish and Christian faiths. It never escaped me that the message of the Christ, Jesus the Son, was prefigured in so many ways by the revelations of truth that were provided in the Old Testament (OT). In fact, the New Testament (NT) quotes the OT extensively to demonstrate to us that the story is continuous. Well, now I am retired from the academic life and can turn my attention even more fully to matters of truth to be found in holy writ.
Volume one was published before the time of my retirement. Publishing volume two now seems to provide fitting book-ends to the end of that life and the beginning of whatever may be ahead of my wife and me. In the same sense there is a significant shift in the patriarchal narrative between the volumes. In volume one, much groundwork was laid for understanding why Abraham was so important to the plan of God. I also spent considerable time developing a paradigm for consideration of the eternal nature of the relationships that make the holy nation a possibility. That was necessary to strip away the ambiguity through which we typically filter our perception of important matters in scripture. In the end, each individual is in a distinct and unique relationship with God and with His will in the person’s life. This was worked so deeply into the life of Abraham, that great patriarch of the faith.
In this volume, the focus will shift from Abraham to his successors. God’s work didn’t end with Abraham. In a sense, because Abram was the first man to whom God began to enunciate the “great nation,” we might consider him its founder insofar as the human efforts are concerned. But one man is not a nation. It takes a people to make a nation.
We find ourselves living in a time when there are many ideas about what it takes to make a nation or to be a people. Ideas concerning political management of peoples are quite varied. None of these, it seems to me, are of the stuff of God’s actual interest although many purport to be. How often men appeal to the authority of God’s name to justify their own sense of how men are to organized at the “national” level. It turns out that God too has ideas about nationhood and He selected the family of a nomadic herder to begin to bring those things to be in the earth.
The process was difficult because whatever form of nationhood we have faces the question of longevity. God has in place a kingdom that is eternal in nature. Because His kingdom is eternal, He seems to have thought it a good idea to make it visible in the Creation. In order to do that, He needed people to be its citizens. Thus began that work, which is still in the mind of God and was still under discussion at the end of the time of writing of the NT.
It seems God did not desire to borrow a culture for His great and holy nation from the nations of man. So, in selecting Abram to be the first human seed of that nation, he selected a man into whom He could place a culture that was not like the culture of the peoples among whom He lived. In order to accomplish that, God took from Abram everything that was his original culture and began to build the new, desired culture into him. In that way, God’s nation would nave God’s culture at its core. When the one man was ready, God began to populate that which was to come.
Sinai, the Levitical system and the compromises of the Christian church have so obscured this original culture that it can no longer be recognized. But the seed is present and eternal. We know that Jesus is THE seed of Abraham. In Him, in the fullness of time, I know that we will see what the Kingdom of God, the Holy Nation (the great nation promised to Abram) looks like. We will experience the tangibility of its presence in the earth. Perhaps this will not be very far advanced within my lifetime, but it will be seen and inhabited in the earth. The dawning of that truth in my mind did not happen at an early age, nor did it come easily. Only with great effort over many years has the Spirit of God placed these things in my conscious mind.
In the preface to volume one I went into some of the personal history that got me here. That story continues. As I suppose is true of many writers, the capture of the thing in written form is not the end of its revelation to the spirit. The ways of God are many, and often mysterious to our minds.
It is to that end that I live. There is a role for me to play in the revelation of the culture of the Kingdom. It is my great blessing to bear, and live under, the grace granted to me to be a party (in however small a way) of the revelation of the ways of Our God. I pray that you will receive my work with that motivation in mind.