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Introduction to Biblical Worldview Part 1

Introduction to Biblical Worldview Part 1

Biblical Worldview Course – 2a

 

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Beginning with Genesis 1:1, this session begins to layout the worldview through which the patriarchs, prophets, and apostles understood the promises of God established in the covenants.

 

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INTRODUCTION TO BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW

REVIEW

REVIEW

A.    In the previous session we looked at the role that a worldview has on our perception, interaction, and response to reality. A worldview is essentially a complex system of assumptions that we all have about reality. Because we all ‘see in part’ our mind fills in the blanks.

1.    “the culturally structured assumptions, values, and commitments/allegiances underlying a people’s perception of reality and their responses to those perceptions.”[1]

2.    “the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing natural philosophy; fundamental, existential, and normative postulates; or themes, values, emotions, and ethics.”[2]

B.    Both the ability to perceive these strongholds of the mind and to overcome them are a work of the Holy Spirit. All worldviews, not birthed by the Holy Spirit through repentance, are essentially demonic and simply serve to keep men from the knowledge of the Creator’s true nature and slaves to the god of this age.

5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, (2Cr 10:5 NASB)

C.   The worldview within the Western world (including the Western Church) is essentially Platonic. This view teaches a strong distinction between an etherealized ‘realm of ideals’ and a material ‘perceptual realm’.

D.   This worldview, while introduced by Plato and Socrates, was introduced into the frame work of Western theology through a man named Origen of Alexandria. The vehicle by which it happened was a school of theology which was founded by Clement and later lead by Origen.

E.    The school taught this Platonic worldview as a means of understanding the Scripture. The primary means of synthesizing Christianity with Platonism was by the introduction of the allegorical interpretation of Scripture.[3]

F.    The impact of this school upon theology was far reaching. Heaven, was first relegated to the etherealized ‘intelligible realm’, rendering it immaterial and practically irrelevant. The observable creation was relegated to the physical and corrupt ‘perceptual realm’, thus making the heavens and the earth completely incompatible by nature.

G.   The logical end of creation as a whole was the annihilation of the perceptual realm, and the absorption of what was once material into the realm of ‘true spirits’. This created a framework of thought which viewed a literal second coming of Christ back to the earth as impossible. Thus perverting the eschatology and hope of the church.


[1] Charles Kraft, Anthropology for Christian Witness (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1996), 52

[2] Gary B. Palmer, Toward A Theory of Cultural Linguistics (University of Texas Press, 1996), 114.

[3] Although Philo (20 B.C.—50 A.D.) was the first to introduce the allegorical interpretation of the Jewish Scriptures, it’s influence on Christianity for the first 200 years after the ascension were insignificant. The School of Alexandria became the first place within Christianity to present the allegorical interpretation with the agenda to synthesize it with Greek philosophy.

BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW: THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH

BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW: THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH

The decisive question of Christian testimony is not whether it is palatable, but whether it is true.—Thomas C. Oden

A.    Even with the church, the belief that the Scripture can or should establish us within a sound worldview it is really somewhat rare. The assumption is that the men who wrote the Scripture were inspired by God to give us theology, but they were ignorant in regards to most matters of worldview, cosmology (the layout of the cosmos), and science.

B.    The Scripture is able to keep us subjectively on the path of righteousness, but it is also fully capable of giving us the whole playing field upon which we are playing.

105 Your word is a lamp to my feet (subjective) And a light to my path (objective). (Psa 119:105 NASB)

C.   In the past several years there has been a lot of effort put into various works attempting to restore a “Biblical worldview” within which to interpret the Scriptures—primarily the Apostolic writings[1]. While there have been many helpful discoveries and insights, almost all of them ignore the core assumption upon which all others rest—metaphysics.

D.   Metaphysics is simply the answer to two questions, “What is the sum total of reality?” and “What is it like?” Or “What is it’s nature?” Metaphysics is the primary and core assumption within all worldviews. For example, how would you ever communicate how a game of football is to be played if the person has no understanding of the dimensions of a football field? (Fishbowl Conundrum.)

E.    The Scripture begins with the interpretive key for all metaphysics. All theology is then interpreted within this core assumption. Thus, leaving us the central playing field upon which the fall, election, redemption, restoration, eschatology, etc… are established. Like the football field example, it is difficult to explain who Joe Montana is, what he is like, and what his heart is like unless we understand the court within which he plays.

14 … I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, 15 and I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. (Act 24:14-15 NIV)


[1] N.T. Wright is commonly associated with the “New Perspectives on Paul” movement—one of the largest movements attempting to uncover an authentic perspective on the first century paradigm within which the listeners would have heard the Gospel. While some have used the ‘new perspective’ as a means of furthering a liberal agenda (i.e. Krister Kendhal), some like Wright appear to have a more sincere love for the truth behind their pursuit of an alternate worldview.

THE HEAVENS—THE EXPANSE AMIDST THE WATERS

THE HEAVENS—THE EXPANSE AMIDST THE WATERS

1 In the beginning God created the heavens (heb. ‘shamayim’, KJV ‘heaven’) and the earth. 2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters…6 Then God said, “Let there be an expanse (heb. raquia’) in the midst of the waters (heb. ‘mayim’), and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. 8 God called the expanse heaven (heb. ‘shamayim’, NIV/NRSV/NLT ‘sky’)…. (Gen 1:1-8 NASB)

A.    The heavens are an expanse (heb. ‘raquia’)[1] which lies in the midst of the waters. At the time of creation, the Lord created an expanse or He cleared a space in the midst of the cosmic waters so that He could dwell there.

5 Thus says God the LORD, Who created the heavens (heb. ‘shamayim’) and stretched them out, Who spread out the earth and its offspring, Who gives breath to the people on it And spirit to those who walk in it, (Isa 42:5 NASB)

21 Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been declared to you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? 22 It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens (heb. ‘shamayim’) like a curtain And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. 23 He it is who reduces rulers to nothing, Who makes the judges of the earth meaningless. (Isa 40:21-23 NASB)

1 Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, You are very great; You are clothed with splendor and majesty, 2 Covering Yourself with light as with a cloak, Stretching out heaven (heb. ‘shamayim’) like a tent curtain. 3 He lays the beams (heb. ‘qarah’, NLT ‘rafters’) of His upper chambers (heb. ‘aliyah’) in the waters; … (Psa 104:1-3 NASB)

1 Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; Praise Him in the heights! 2 Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts! 3 Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all stars of light! 4 Praise Him, highest heavens (heb. ‘shamay—h’shamayim’), And the waters that are above the heavens! 5 Let them praise the name of the LORD, For He commanded and they were created. (Psa 148:1-5 NASB)

B.    The heavens are located geographically above the earth.

17 I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. (Gen 6:17 NIV)

39 “Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other. (Deu 4:39 NASB)

1 Now when Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the house. (2Ch 7:1 NASB)

11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” (Act 1:11 NASB)

C.   The heavens (the ‘shamayim’) are the dwelling place of God.

15 ‘Look down from Your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel… (Deu 26:15 NASB)

30 “Listen to the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place; hear in heaven Your dwelling place; hear and forgive. (1Ki 8:30 NASB)

1 Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, You are very great; You are clothed with splendor and majesty, 2 Covering Yourself with light as with a cloak, Stretching out heaven (heb. ‘shamayim’) like a tent curtain. 3 He lays the beams (heb. ‘qarah’, NLT ‘rafters’) of His upper chambers (heb. ‘aliyah’) in the waters; … (Psa 104:1-3 NASB)

D.   Moreover, the Scripture also clearly portrays the heavens as a physical location. Heaven is not a “realm”[2] of ideas, concepts, or principles as Plato, Origen, and Augustine would have us construe them. Rather, God fashioned a dwelling place for Himself within the metaphysical construct where He dwells there in the heights of the heavens.

1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. 5 Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. (Isa 6:1-6 NASB)

9 “I kept looking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow And the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire. 10 “A river of fire was flowing And coming out from before Him; Thousands upon thousands were attending Him, And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; The court sat, And the books were opened. (Dan 7:9-10 NASB)

9 Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, 10 and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself. 11 Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel; and they saw God, and they ate and drank. 12 Now the LORD said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and remain there…” 9 According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it. (Exd 24:9-12, 25:9 NASB)

E.    While we’ve not touched on the full theological implications of the clarification of the Biblical worldview and cosmology, even these few verses that we have gone over here have a dramatic impact on the way that we view God. Theology is simply the study of the way God is. The way you think about God, and thus interpret the rest of the Scripture about Him, is radically different based on where He chooses to dwell.

F.    It not only affects the way that we view His heart, but there are dramatic implications on the way He interacts with creation if He dwells within it. We may have been trained to process it theologically, but there is a significant breakdown between the God who is enthroned directly above the football field (using the prior analogy) observing all of the affairs of men, and the God who lives in another ‘realm’ and is thus completely removed.

G.   The actual dwelling place of God is a physical place located in the highest of heavens. This is frequently called in the Scripture the ‘heaven of the heavens’ or ‘shamay h’shamayim’.

14 “Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the highest heavens (heb. shamay h’shamayim), the earth and all that is in it. (Deu 10:14 NASB)

15 For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place… (Isa 57:15 NASB)

2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago–whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows–such a man was caught up to the third heaven. (2Cr 12:2 NASB)


[1] The heavens are frequently described in figurative language as having windows (Gen 7:11; 2Kings 7:2…), gates (Gen 28:7), doors (Psa 78:23), pillars (Job 26:11), and foundations (2Sam 22:8). They are stretched out and spread out like a tent or a curtain (Isa 40:22). The use of such figurative language no more necessitates the adoption of a pagan cosmology than does the modern use of the term ‘sunrise’ imply astronomical ignorance… Thus a disobedient Israel would find the heavens to be like iron (Lev 26:19) or like bronze (Deut 28:23), not yielding the much-needed rain. Note that if the heavens were conceived of as a metallic vault, as is commonly suggested from Gen 1:8, 14 etc., the above passages would be meaningless, since the skies would already be metal. The word raqîa° (q.v.) comes from the verb meaning ‘to hammer out’ and ‘stretch (a piece of metal) out’ as an overlay. It is the idea of spreading out that carries over to the noun, not the idea of a metallic substance. ‘Expanse’ is an acceptable translation.” (“shāmayim,” TWOT, 2407a)

[2] The phrase ‘heavenly realm’ or ‘realm of heaven’ is entirely absent from the Scriptures. While the word ‘realm’ implies the jurisdiction of an actual government, the phrase ‘heavenly realm’ became a means of reinforcing the assumption of it’s immateriality. The NIV uses the phrase ‘heavenly realm’ throughout the book of Ephesians to translate the Greek epouranious—which is simply the plural form of heaven.

THE THRONE OF GOD IN THE HEAVENS

THE THRONE OF GOD IN THE HEAVENS

A.    The heavens are not simply the dwelling place of God, but the physical center of his Government. When He made the heavens and the earth, God established His own throne in the heavens. He established His throne and thus, His kingdom in the highest heavens.

19 The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. (Psa 103:19 ESV)

2 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne. (Rev 4:2 NASB)

2 The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together Against the LORD and against His Anointed… 4 He who sits (Heb. ‘yashab’ NIV ‘enthroned’) in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them. (Psa 2:2, 4 NASB)

1 A Song of Ascents. To You I lift up my eyes, O You who are enthroned in the heavens! (Psa 123:1 NASB)

B.    After creating the earth, the heavens and everything that dwells inside of them, the Lord rested on the seventh day—sitting down as the supreme ruler of everything created[1]. Thus the throne is often referenced in context to creation and it’s inhabitants.

2 By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested[2] (Heb. ‘shabbot’) on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. (Gen 2:2 NASB)

15 Hezekiah prayed before the LORD and said, “O LORD, the God of Israel, who are enthroned (Heb. ‘yashab’) above the cherubim, You are the God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth (cf. Gen 11—tower of Babel). You have made heaven and earth. (2Ki 19:15 NASB)

4 The LORD is high above all nations; His glory is above the heavens. 5 Who is like the LORD our God, Who is enthroned on high, 6 Who humbles Himself to behold The things that are in heaven and in the earth? (Psa 113:4-6 NASB)

21 Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been declared to you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? 22 It is He who sits (Heb. ‘yashab’, NIV ‘enthroned’) above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. (Isa 40:21-22 NASB)


[1] Although it is not thoroughly developed in the Scripture, there is not any reference to God’s throne existing prior to creation. The simple logic of this being that there first needed to be subjects over which to govern.

[2] The Hebrew words ‘yashab’ and ‘shabbot’, while not etymologically related, fit within the same semantic domain. They are related much like the association with sitting as the means of resting.

THE HEAVENLY TEMPLE

THE HEAVENLY TEMPLE

A.    The terminology of the temple is very common in our current understanding of the Old Testament worship. We seldom, however, consider an actual temple in the height of the heavens as the prototype from which it originated.

B.    When upon Mt. Sinai, Moses was shown a pattern that he was then commanded to replicate on the earth. What he was shown was an actual physical temple in the height of the heavens.

9 Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, 10 and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself. 11 Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel; and they saw God, and they ate and drank. 12 Now the LORD said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and remain there…” 9 According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it. (Exd 24:9-12, 25:9 NASB)

1 Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2 a minister in the sanctuary and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man. 4…there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law; 5 who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, “SEE,” He says, “THAT YOU MAKE all things ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN WHICH WAS SHOWN YOU ON THE MOUNTAIN.” (Hbr 8:1-5 NASB)

24 For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; (Hbr 9:24 NASB)

C.   Five of the psalms of David reference God’s temple. The problem with a casual reading of these passages is that there was no temple during David’s lifetime. Thus, he must have been referencing something different.

7 But as for me, by Your abundant lovingkindness I will enter Your house, At Your holy temple I will bow in reverence for You. (Psa 5:7 NASB)

6 In my distress I called upon the LORD, And cried to my God for help; He heard my voice out of His temple, And my cry for help before Him came into His ears. (Psa 18:6 NASB)

4 One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple. (Psa 27:4 NASB)

4 How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You To dwell in Your courts. We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Your holy temple. (Psa 65:4 NASB)

2 I will bow down toward Your holy temple And give thanks to Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word according to all Your name. (Psa 138:2 NASB)

D.   The word used by David—here translated ‘temple’—is clearly not a reference to the temporary dwelling of the tabernacle which resided in Gibeon during his lifetime or the tent which he erected on Mt. Zion known as David’s tabernacle.

E.    The word used here, hekal, always refers to a physical structure or a complex. The words used to describe both the tabernacle of David and the tabernacle of Moses fit into a totally separate semantic domain. Thus, the use of hekal as a substitute for either of these words would be similar to looking at a camping tent and exclaiming, What a beautiful building!

F.    Moreover, the word hekal, Sumerian/Akkadian in it’s origen, does not even necessarily mean a religious structure. Of the 80 times that this word is used in the Hebrew Old Testament, 23 are translated “nave” or “palace” in the ESV. Thus, in three of the five references, David uses the adjective ‘qadas’ (translated ‘holy’) to associate the holy nature of the building or complex.

G.   This presents us with a more accurate understanding of what David and the Patriarchs before Him understood. In the highest heavens there is a palace or temple in which God dwells. It is here specifically, and not heaven generically, where God dwells and where He has set His throne.

4 The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD’S throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. (Psa 11:4 NASB)

2 Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry to You for help, When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary. (Psa 28:2 NASB)

9in his temple all cry, “Glory!” 10 The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever. (Psa 29:9-10 ESV)

2 Hear, O peoples, all of you; Listen, O earth and all it contains, And let the Lord GOD be a witness against you, The Lord from His holy temple. 3 For behold, the LORD is coming forth from His place. He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth. (Mic 1:2-3 NASB)

1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. … 4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. (Isa 6:1, 4 NASB)[1]


[1] Isaiah is simply seeing what Leviticus 16 reveals through shadows about the Day of Atonement. i.e the Day of the Lord. The throne, the angels above, the smoke filling the room, etc… Thus, Isaiah sees that his life is in danger as he beholds the Lord getting ready to release the day of the Lord. Also see the full revelation of this moment in Rev. 15:5-8.

Bill Scofield Bill Scofield (52 Posts)

Bill is husband to Charis, and father to their 6 children. He is a Bible teacher, elder, and missions trainer.


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