Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Various Times of the Kingdom

I read Brad Young's booklet entitled The Jewish Background to the Lord's Prayer. What stood out to me was Young's commentary on "Thy Kingdom come". Young does not appear to think that Jesus thought of the Kingdom of God in terms of an impending eschaton. On page 13, Young refers to Exodus 15:18, which associates God's Kingdom with the Exodus event. According to Young, God manifested his eternal kingship when he delivered Israel from Egypt at the sea. Young also quotes rabbinic sayings about taking on the yoke of the Kingdom, which means obeying the Torah. Young does believe that Jesus held to the concept that the Son of Man would come and inaugurate an era of peace, but he does not seem to equate the coming of the Kingdom of God with that.

I found Young's argument to be attractive because it made me wonder: have there been various times in history when God has brought his Kingdom near, even though those times were not the "end-times" per se? God manifested his kingship at the Exodus. The ancient Israelites every year celebrated God becoming king (at least if you accept Sigmund Mowinckel's argument that certain Psalms concerned an annual New Year's festival). The birth of Samuel marked a time of God's liberation of Israel from her enemies (the Philistines). I wrote in a post here that John Meier argues that Jesus thought the end was near because he and his disciples left their normal lives behind and issued warnings. But that happened previously in the Bible, and it was not the time of the end. Elisha left behind his job and family to follow Elijah and become a prophet, for example.

At the same time, I'm not convinced by Young's divorcing of the Kingdom of God from the coming of the Son of Man. Mark 9:1 says that some won't taste death until they see the Kingdom of God come with power. Matthew 16:28 says that some won't taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom. The coming of the Kingdom of God and the coming of the Son of Man appear to be the same thing, on some level.

2 comments:

  1. Some good thoughts there, thanks. There are arguments for and against the Transfiguration being the seeing the coming in power.

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  2. That's interesting. I tend to think that it wasn't that at first, but it became that at a redactional stage, since, right after Jesus says a few will see the Kingdom come in power, there is a reference to the Transfiguration occurring a certain number of days later.

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