Why dreams? Maybe it’s the inactive winter season, or the lack of much intellectual activity. For whatever reason, I’ve started dreaming. These dreams take me outside of the present, into the ancient past (prequel?)—and also into my own future (sequel?).
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Episode 2 (?)
My book Subjects of the Kingdom begins in the past with quotations from the 1st century CE, but it moves quickly into the 19th century, spending significant time there before continuing into the 20th and 21st centuries. It all centers on Christ. It is filled with Christ-oriented thinking. For me, and for anyone interested in being a subject in the Kingdom today, there is no other center-point but Jesus the Messiah.
I don’t actually think I’m equal to the task of writing a prequel to the book, but I can dream. . . .
To understand the relationship between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, one needs to know the background. Strangely similarly, the Kingdom of God before Jesus is a significant area for background exploration. To understand the nature of God’s reign and rule, and the relationship between God and His people, one should learn something of the history of His work with the covenant people prior to Jesus. Such a study will be richly informative. So . . . with a tip of the hat to George Lucas . . .
Long, long, ago, in a covenantal sphere now spiritually far away, the Reign of God was just as much a reality . . . and I have recently had the opportunity to explore some Israelite theological history, largely through the teaching of two others.
On Tuesday mornings where I live, about eight men meet around a conference table. We listen to a recorded sermon and then discuss aspects for a few minutes. During these considerations, some very deep topics have arisen. The lessons have so far woven their way through 1Samuel and are moving through 2Samuel now. I have learned and re-learned much from Israel’s history. Borrowing from the somewhat familiar syntax of the great prophet Yoda, many things taken in have I. (Links to a couple of weblogged posts may be found here.) Considering the state of God’s covenant people at the time of Samuel, Saul, and David is a rich experience. The Davidic Kingdom merits a book in itself! (For an inspiring, instructional audio presentation about “The House of David” by Tony Buford, go here.)
Now, the word “prequel,” relatively new to the English language, suggest a creative work that presents developmental narrative, so the viewer/reader will ultimately come to understand the resultant status quo. Famously, the first Star Wars movie turned out to be episode #4 (of a presumed 9 total). Following episode 4 were the sequel episodes 5 and 6. Later, the prequel episodes 1, 2, and 3 were produced in order to explain the scenario that existed by the time of episode 4. Had I the wherewithal and background, I would write a new book—a prequel—to deal with Kingdom-related subjects in the Hebrew Bible (a/k/a “Old Testament.”) It would be my prequel.
Since the subject of God’s Kingdom has become pervasive in my thinking—and particularly so in the last year—I frequently experience a sense of mission to continue in the work of presenting this Kingdom, along with the ramifications of its history and present realities. Were I to write a prequel, the story would begin in the Garden of Eden. Then it would move fairly rapidly into the era of the Abrahamic Covenant, mentioning Melchizedek (“king of righteousness”). The Mosaic covenant would receive thorough treatment. The seeming crescendo from the time of the Judges into the Kings would present opportunity for intense, extensive analysis.
Indeed, part of me wishes I could write a prequel. I am persuaded of this: in coming to understand the Kingdom of God, a believer can become more secure in God and grounded in well-founded theology. He will also likely be able to deal more effectively (and with less depression) with life on earth. If more people would read about the Kingdom of God than attended all the Star Wars movies combined, the world would be changed—both now and forevermore. (A guy can dream, right?)
Fortunately, I don’t really need to concern myself with writing a prequel. Others have already written such material, and I can benefit from their work. In addition to the presentations by Tony Buford mentioned above, I am spending time in John Bright’s The Kingdom of God: The Biblical Concept and Its Meaning for the Church. Written in 1953, it is a remarkable work that first capably moves through the historical time of ancient Israel’s kingdoms. It seeks to clarify the relationship between being (1) “covenant people” and (2) citizens of the Israelite “state.” The contents of Bright’s book include, but are not limited to, these topics:
- A Kingdom Under Judgment
- The Broken Covenant and the New Covenant
- Holy Commonwealth and Apocalyptic Kingdom
- The Kingdom at Hand: Jesus the Messiah
Dovetailing Bright’s keen, impassioned observations with weekly expository excursions in 1st and 2nd Samuel, I am gaining in insight. While I’m thankful both for both learning opportunities—and for a vague feeling of reprieve from the compulsion to write a prequel—my wheels are turning.