Two Reasons Why “Israel” Can Possibly Be a Spiritual Term for the “People of God”

Theological continuity between the testaments will no doubt create a close relationship between the Church and Israel. Viewing a “big-picture” theological portrait of the testaments, will provide a close relationship between the Church and Israel. I want to propose a continuity of a few theological thoughts that appear early in the OT and frequently reappear in the OT and NT undergoing various modifications. I don’t have another framework to think through, other than “theological modes”. That is, a theological thought will use a vehicle to communicate theology and this theological thought will frequently reappear throughout the testaments but with varying vehicles of communications.

Take for example the “vehicle” of Eden. Eden is viewed as the initial dwelling place of God; Beale, in The Temple and the Mission of the Church, views Eden as the first temple. However, throughout Isaiah and Ezekiel, Eden is subsequently viewed as a place of refreshment for the people of God in Exile as a land far off. Yet it will be the renewed created order (heavens and earth) in the remote future that will provide the fullest expression of Eden-like realities (God’s dwelling place, trees of healing, endless rivers, etc.). Though not fully explained in this small paragraph, Eden initially, as a physical place, also serves as a vehicle of sinless life and possibly an initial temple; the mode changed to refer to a land that would provide refreshment to those in Exile and final culmination with the New Heavens and New Earth.

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