by Young Oon Kim
Biblical Clues To History Of Restoration
If history has a purposive character and records God's mighty acts, is there any way that we can understand how God will exercise His proper sovereignty? Can one discover God's blueprint for the future?
Many people today would say that there is no way to predict what will take place tomorrow. Everything is in flux. We make or destroy our own future because we are endowed with free will. There is no set plan, no sure direction to the course of human events.
Even Christians sometimes assert that the future is a mystery whose secret no man will discover. History is in the hands of God whose providence is inscrutable. How can mere humans presume to know the innermost secrets of the utterly transcendent God? "His ways are not our ways nor his thoughts our thoughts," Barth used to insist, to prove the fathomless transcendence of the Wholly Other.
Yet Christians have also made two other affirmations. First, the Judeo-Christian tradition asserts that God makes His will known in history and that history is headed toward a definite goal which God has determined from the beginning. Second, both Jews and Christians claim that the Scriptures contain divine revelation: literally, an unveiling of God's purpose for man and all creation. If so, then the Bible should contain important clues to the goal of history as well as God's means to bring about its realization. Since God acts in history and the Scriptures are supposed to reveal His long-range plans, Christians cannot logically affirm the total incomprehensibility of God or the complete hiddenness of His ultimate purpose. For this reason, Unification theology assumes that the fundamental clues to salvation-history can be discovered through an inspired interpretation of the Biblical literature.
What then are rules for a proper scriptural hermeneutics? How do we discover the Word of God within the words of the Bible, to use neo-orthodox terminology?
For Unification theology, the Adam and Eve account is especially important for understanding human nature and destiny. Once the opening chapters of Genesis are correctly interpreted, one can understand the source of man's present misery and future glory.
How did God expect Adam to perform his role in creation? According to the Bible, Yahweh intended for the primal couple to enjoy forever the bliss of Eden by establishing a foundation of faith and a foundation of substance. Through inward faith in God and outward concrete obedience to the divine will, Adam and Eve could have grown in wisdom and stature, in favor with God and each other. Upon this internal and external foundation, the first human couple could have created abase of four positions, making possible a God-centered family in a God-centered world. With the realization of the original purpose for creation, God's will would then be carried out on earth as it is in heaven. At the heart of the messianic theology of both the Old Testament and the New is the conviction that creation's ultimate goal can and must be reached through a restored partnership between God and man. God will be able to usher in the New Age once man sets up foundations of faith and substance. These represent the fundamental prerequisites for the advent of the messianic age in its full splendor. Hence from the very moment of Adam's fall, God has been acting in history to find a way to grant man the three blessings promised originally to Adam. The Scriptures should be studied from this perspective. Their chief message concerns the means by which fallen man can be restored in order that God's joy might be full.
After telling the story of Adam and Eve, Genesis relates the disastrous conflict between their two sons. Here too Divine Principle sees an important historical lesson. Although the deadly struggle between Cain, Adam's firstborn, and Abel, his second, may have several levels of symbolic meaning-for example, the natural animosity between the nomadic herdsman and the settled farmer-its chief purpose is to show how enmity between brothers can frustrate the divine aim for creation. In the Judeo-Christian tradition Cain has long symbolized fallen man's hostility to God and destructive hatred of others. Abel by contrast is often thought of as God's suffering servant and martyr for the cause of righteousness.
Unification theology goes along with this common view yet uncovers far more profound implications to the story. If Abel sides with God and Cain becomes the willing tool of Satan, how will it ever be possible for a divided mankind to establish God's kingdom? How can Abel overcome his brother's animosity and become an effective servant of God? Cain used violence to get what he wanted, only to discover that his hatred had alienated him from God and all men. Abel's task was to win his brother over with love. As for Cain, he felt rejected, alienated from God and resentful of his younger brother. Because of hurt pride and jealousy, he exploded with anger and killed Abel. What should Cain have done? In spite of his damaged pride, resentment and bitterness, Cain should have overcome them in devoted service to his brother and God. By carrying out their specific portions of responsibility, Cain and Abel could have repaired the damage done by their fallen parents, been themselves reconciled to their Creator, and provided God with an opportunity to fulfill His ideal for creation.
Throughout history a struggle goes on between Cain and Abel. This destructive rivalry takes place at every level-individual, family, national and global-as a manifestation of the cosmic struggle between God and Satan. Yet the only way for God to triumph over His opposition is to find someone who can effectively subjugate the power of evil through service, humility and love. Abel's tragedy reflects the universal human predicament, because he failed to demonstrate the triumphant power of selfless love. How can God's will be done until someone can show us the way to overcome man's inhumanity to man?
How do the Scriptures explain God's method for restoring mankind? What is the Biblical plan of salvation? God's first step is to locate a central figure through whom He can manifest His will and exercise His sovereignty. After Adam's fall, God searches for someone in Adam's family. But even Abel's death does not discourage Him. As the Old Testament reports, God turns to Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses-and finally Jesus-to become the agents of His redemptive will.
Thus we see that God works through central figures in order to carry out His will. That is one of the most important lessons of Scripture. The Bible records how energetically and persistently God acts in history to embody His will on the individual, family, tribal, national and global levels. From Adam's time to our own day, God has been laboring to bring into harmony earth and heaven. Hence, Divine Principle interprets the program of restoration as a return to God's original principle of creation.
A second rule governing God's salvific method is often overlooked these days, although it was clearly recognized by some of the church fathers and many rabbinic commentators. If one reads the Bible carefully, he will notice how certain numbers are repeated over and over again in Judeo-Christian salvation-history. Some of these mystical numbers are 3, 4, 7, 10, 12, 40, 70, 120 and 400.
Let me give a few examples. Adam has 3 sons (Cain, Abel and Seth), Noah has 3 sons (Shem, Ham and Japheth) and Jesus has 3 chief disciples (Peter, James and John). Jacob has 12 sons, Moses unites the 12 tribes and Jesus chooses 12 apostles. The flood during Noah's time lasts 40 days, the Hebrews spend 40 years in the wilderness and Jesus is tempted by the Devil for 40 days. There are 70 members in Jacob's family, Moses appoints 70 elders and Jesus sends 70 disciples to proclaim the coming kingdom. Can these numbers be only accidental? Or are they clues to how God works in restoring mankind? Divine Principle concludes that a careful study of the oft-repeated numbers in the Bible would reveal the necessary conditions which must be met for God to liberate man from satanic bondage.
If certain mystical numbers are important in discovering the scriptural plan of salvation, they also suggest that God works in stages to bring about His kingdom. As there are three stages of formation, growth and perfection in the world of nature, so history can be similarly divided into an Old Testament Age, a New Testament Age and a Messianic Age to come. That is, history follows a more or less definite pattern. This is the third important lesson taught by Scripture.
For Jewish believers, the heart of Scripture is the Torah: the Law revealed by God in order for men to find lasting happiness through obedience to the divine commandments. Christians usually look at the Old Testament quite differently. For them, Jewish salvation-history is of lasting significance primarily because it shows how God prepared Israel for the advent of the Messiah. Christians therefore traditionally have given most attention to a messianic interpretation of the ancient Hebrew sacred writings. This is also the method followed by Divine Principle.
Since the middle of the 19th century, a third kind of exegesis has often supplanted both of these older methods. Instead of looking at Scripture theologically, most scholars have tried to understand it historically. As useful as the historical -critical method may be in seeing the various parts of the Bible in the context of their social, political and intellectual background, it tends to overlook the basic religious value of the sacred texts. Even after one sees a Biblical passage in the light of its cultural environment, the question must still be raised: What is God's Word for our time?
From the standpoint of Unification theology, the main purpose of the Old Testament is to show how God and man cooperate to restore a fallen world through the payment of indemnity. After Adam and Abel, five Old Testament heroes proved to be the central figures in the providential course of restoration: Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses. Because of the intense faith and determination of these men, God was able to begin repairing the damage caused by the Fall.
What was the specific contribution made to restoration by each of these central figures? Divine Principle treats the way they served as 7 God's instruments in considerable detail. For our purposes, it is only necessary to summarize their achievements. Because of his faith in God and his determination to obey the commandment to build the ark in spite of insurmountable difficulties, Noah was able to lay a foundation of faith on the individual level. By following the same course of indemnity, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob succeeded in laying a foundation of restoration on the family level. Finally, with the same sort of zeal in extricating the Hebrew tribes from satanic slavery, Moses was able to extend the base for restoration to the national level. According to Unification theology, these achievements are the most important features of Old Testament religious life and thought, for these five central figures prepared the way for the mission of Jesus to restore man on the worldwide level.
Behind the achievements of Noah, the three Hebrew patriarchs and Moses, one can recognize several basic laws which operate in the redemptive process: 1) God is determined to restore His sovereignty over creation and complete His original purpose. 2) Man is given his own portion of responsibility which he must carry out. 3) How much God is able to accomplish depends upon the extent to which man does his part. 4) The greater the mission given to a central figure, the more difficult the temptations he must overcome. 5) When a central figure fails, his successor must indemnify the entire course previously taken before going ahead to extend the process of restoration. 6) In order to realize God's purpose, man must be prepared to resist the wiles of Satan.
As many Biblical scholars have pointed out, this Judaic understanding of history assumes that the course of human events corresponds to a definite pattern. By learning the lessons of the past, we can have some idea of what will occur in the future. God's actions are never irrational or arbitrary but rather reveal a plan, the Scriptures declare.
This means that the general pattern of restoration in the Old Testament Age will be repeated to a marked degree in the New Testament Age inaugurated by the advent of Jesus Christ. If we study carefully the way God and man worked together to make the world ready for the arrival of Jesus we can see how God has continued preparing for the Messianic Age right up to the present day.
What are the special merits of this Divine Principle view? First of all, it reaffirms in a striking way the value and authority of the Biblical revelation. Secondly, Unification theology uses the Biblical faith that God acts in history as a clue to the redemptive character of all history. Thirdly, by so doing, it corrects the inadequacies of the standard Protestant notion that somehow God ceased speaking and acting as soon as the Scriptures were written. While recognizing the revelatory authority of the Scriptures, Unification theology applies the Biblical message to explain the continuing redemptive activity of God in the contemporary world.
What was the course of restoration through indemnity which prepared the necessary foundation for the mission of Jesus?
1 . Four centuries of Egyptian slavery
2. Age of the Hebrew Judges
3. The united Hebrew monarchy
4. The divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah
5. The Babylonian captivity and return from exile
6. Four centuries of preparation for the Messiah's appearance.
According to Divine Principle, the redemptive activity of God. and man working together since the death of Jesus on the cross has taken a parallel course of restoration through indemnity. If this is true, then our own day is a time of unprecedented promise.
7 Divine Principle, pp. 239-342.
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