On the Psalter (an interlude)

Sometimes it’s the blindingly obvious stuff you miss when reading scripture. Today I had a few minutes to explore more fully Geerhardus Vos’ article, “Eschatology of the Psalter” (Princeton Theological Review, January 1920). I felt myself, all at once, “strangely warmed” by a truth that would be old news to a high school Bible student: the entire hope of the Old Testament, in all its variegated richness, clusters around the arrival of Messiah. Now, maybe we need immediately to qualify this and point out that there are really two arrivals of Messiah, one in grace and the other in glory, one for salvation and the other for judgment, one as an infant and the other as the King, one as Savior and the other as Judge. Fine, but let us not too hastily overlook the fact that the Old Testament sees absolutely grand stuff on the horizon of its future, and that it expects (in a rather undifferentiated way) that Messiah will usher in all of it when He comes.

Under the tutelage of the apostles, we rightly understand that the fullness of the new heavens and new earth anticipated by the prophets will arrive only when Messiah returns. But I think perhaps we owe to Dispensationalism, rather than the apostles, the idea that the glories of the prophesied kingdom will appear only after we rise to meet Him in the air. If it sounds as if I’m contradicting myself, I’m not. One can maintain that the promise of Christ’s appearing (the second time) is His people’s glorious hope, while still maintaining that His ruling of the nations – as the psalms and prophets said He would – is to occur, and is already occurring, in the present messianic age. The point here is simple (and it’s something, incidentally, on which “amils” and “postmils” ought to be able to agree): Jesus is someday going to deliver a kingdom up to His Father, and it’s going to be a kingdom recognizable by the standards supplied in the Old Testament. God really has raised Christ from the dead “and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come” (Eph 1:20–21); and that phrase “in this age” is seriously important.

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