20
Mar
2018

From the Sea to the Conquest

There may not be any better theologian who masters the art of viewing the overarching biblical story of redemption than that of G.K. Beale. Every time I read his New Testament Biblical Theology, my mind is filled with renewed astonishment at the way in which Jesus came to fulfill everything that was preparatory and anticipatory in the Old Testament. When he comes to deal specifically with Jesus as the Last Adam and true Israel in his baptism and then subsequent casting out of demons in the Gospel records, Beale ties together the redemptive-historical story of the Exodus and conquest of Canaan to the new exodus and new creation. He notes:

“Jesus’s baptism signifies not only the beginning of a new exodus but also a new creation, since he has come to reverse the curses of the fall (through his healings, cross, and resurrection), the first act of which is to defeat the devil during the wilderness temptations, to which both Adam and Israel had succumbed. After his baptism, Jesus steps directly into the land of promise to begin his new creation/exodus mission after his baptism, which…is but a foreshadowing of the ultimate promised land of the new creation. Thus, Christ begins to rule over the powers of evil in beginning fulfillment of the Adamic commission to rule and subdue and in contrast to the first Adam, who was ruled over and subdued by the serpent.”1

The Apostle Paul explains that the Red Sea crossing was, for the Israelites, baptism when he says that all of that generation was “baptized in Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (1 Cor. 10:1-4). Just as God parted the waters on earth with a strong wind at the creation, so He parted the waters of the Red Sea when He brought His people out of bondage and made them a new creation unto himself. They crossed the sea on dry land–a detail of no small biblical-theological significance. All of this pointed forward to the spiritual exodus (Luke 9:31) and new creation (2 Cor. 5:17) that Christ brought about by passing through the waters of baptism at the Jordan as the representative of his new creation people whom he redeemed by his bloody baptism at the cross (Mark 10:38). Jesus was destroyed by the flood waters of God’s wrath in his baptism on the cross, just as the enemies of God and His church were destroyed in the waters of the Red Sea. God the Father dealt with His Son as the sin-bearing representative of His people at the cross. In the resurrection, Jesus brought his people through the waters of God’s wrath and out into the world of new creation grace.

Again, Beale ties together the Adam/Israel structure of Old Testament revelation when he notes the importance of Christ’s obedience in his baptism. He writes:

“In conjunction with this OT pattern of the exodus and…new creation, that Jesus’s baptism was part of his work “to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt. 3:15) seems to allude to the fact that he came to set right what Israel and Adam had done wrong; he was coming successfully to obey, in contrast to Israel’s former disobedience, as well as that ultimately of Israel’s progenitors, Adam and Noah. “By his baptism Jesus affirms his determination to do his assigned work” as God’s “servant” in restoring Israel and being a light to the nations (note the reference to Abraham in Matt. 3:9, which continues the subtheme of Jesus’s mission, which includes salvation of the gentiles).”2

After his baptism, Jesus stepped out into the promised land and cast out demons on a recurrent basis. This mirrored what Israel was supposed to do when God brought them across the Jordan and into the promised land. Beale explains this redemptive-historical observation when he writes:

“The defeat of the devil in the wilderness may also be viewed secondarily to be Jesus’s first act of conquering the latter-day “Canaanites in the promised land” as true Israel. One might question whether this idea is present in the temptation account, since the major theme, as we noted above, is that of Jesus resisting temptations to sin to which Israel surrendered. The theme of temptation certainly is highlighted in that each of the three OT citations from Deuteronomy refers to the manner in which Israel should have responded to its temptations but did not. However, a closer inspection of each of the Deuteronomy contexts reveals the goal of God’s desire for the people of Israel to remain faithful in the face of their temptations: they would “go in and possess the good land which the Lord swore” to give “by driving out all your enemies from before you” (Deut. 6:18–19). It is plausible that Jesus had in mind this common purpose of each of the three contexts.

Consequently, Jesus’s victory over temptation appears to have prepared him to conquer the one who was the ultimate satanic prince of the Canaanites and of all wicked nations and to conquer the land in a way that Israel had not been able to do. His very resistance to these satanic allurements was the very beginning of his defeat of the devil. Jesus’s ministry of casting out demons continues his holy warfare as the true Israel. His exorcisms were an expression of his incipient, though decisive, defeat of Satan, who had brought creation into captivity through his deception of Adam and Eve. This is perhaps part of the significance of the parable of the binding of the strong man (Matt. 12:29 // Mark 3:27). By casting out the devil and his forces, Jesus was accomplishing the latter-day defeat of Satan that Adam should have accomplished in the first garden.”3

Our hope of salvation and the eternal inheritance is based solely on the work that Jesus accomplished from his baptism in the Jordan to his baptism at the cross. From his temptation in the wilderness to his overthrowing Satan’s kingdom in his death and resurrection, Jesus laid hold of the promise of the eternal inheritance in the better Promised Land of the New Heavens and the New Earth. By faith in him, we are secured for the enjoyment of all that he accomplished.

 

1. Beale, G. K. (2011). A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New (p. 414). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

2. Beale, G. K. (2011). A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New (p. 416). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

3. Beale, G. K. (2011). A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New (pp. 419–420). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

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