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COVENANT BLESSING

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. —  Leave a comment

The covenantal foundation of eschatological hope encourages our anticipating God’s historical blessings in time and on earth. The biblical worldview concerns itself with the material world, the here and now. We see Christianity’s interest in the material here and now in God’s creating the earth and man’s body as material entities, and all “very good” (Gen 1:1–31; 2:7), in Christ’s coming in the flesh to redeem us (Ron 1:3; 9:5; 1Jn 4:1–), in his Word directing us for living in the present, material world (Ron 12:1–2; Eph 5:15–17; 2 Tim 3:16–17), and in God’s leaving us on earth for our fleshly sojourn and not removing us once we are redeemed (John 17:15; Job 14:5; 2 Cor 5:9–10). Due to these four observations, Christians have a genuine concern with their objective environment. And as we shall see, this comports well with the postmillennial outlook for history.

Furthermore, eventually all men will enter the spiritual world, the eternal realm (either heaven or hell) (2 Cor 5:8; Php 1:23; Lk 16:22–23). But again, prior to our entering the eternal state, all men live before God in the material world (2 Chr 16:9; Ps 33:13–15; Pro 15:3; Acts 17:28; Heb 4:13), which he creates for His own glory and as our place of habitation (Psa 24:1; 115:16; Pro 15:3; Dan 5:23; Acts 25:24–31; Rev 4:11)1 We may, therefore, expect his covenant sanctions (blessings for the righteous; curses for the unrighteous) in history.

In Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26 we see the objectivity of covenantal blessing, which undergirds the postmillennial eschatology. When God’s covenant people are faithful to his Law-word, he will bless them in all areas of life (Deut 28:1–14; Lev 26:3–20, 40–46). When they fail him, his curses will pursue them to overtake them (Dt 28:15–68; Lev 26:21–39).

A number of biblical references allude to God’s objective blessings. Among these blessings are reduced disease (Exo 15:26; 23:25; Deut 7:15; Psa 103:3), abundant food (Ex 23:24–25; Dt 8:7–9; Ps 67:6; Isa 30:23–24; 65:21–23; Jer 31:12; Eze 34:26–27; 36:29–38; Am 9:13; Zec 8:12ff), lengthened life spans (Deut 4:40; 5:33; 32:46, 47; Isa 65:20; Zec 8:), fruitful offspring (Deut 5:29; 7:13), economic prosperity (Deut 7:12–16; 8:18; 28:1–15; Ps 112:3; Pr 13:22), cultural stability, and social peace (Jos 1:5; Isa 2:4; Mic 4:3; Isa 11:6–9). In fact, such passages provide the biblical basis for historical progress: not just linear movement, but upwardly linear progress.

We must keep life’s material blessings in perspective. Nevertheless, Christ promises them for his people: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Mt. 6:33). He even promises His people that if they leave all for him, they will receive many times more in this life: “Then Peter said, ‘See, we have left all and followed You.’ So he said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come everlasting life’” (Lk 18:28–30).

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Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

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Ken is a Presbyterian pastor and the author or co-author of over thirty books, most on eschatology. He has been married since 1971, and has three children and several grandchildren. He is a graduate of Tennessee Temple University (B.A., 1973), Reformed Theological Seminary (M.Div., 1977), and Whitefield Theological Seminary (Th.M., 1986; Th.D., 1988). He currently pastors Living Hope Presbyterian Church (affiliated with the RPCGA) in Greer, SC. Much of his writing is in the field of eschatology, including his 600 page book, He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillennial Eschatology and his 400 page, Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation (his Th.D. dissertation). He contributed chapters to two Zondervan CounterPoints books on eschatological issues: Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond (edited by Darrell L. Bock) and Four Views on the Book of Revelation (edited by C. Marvin Pate). He also debated Thomas D. Ice in Kregel's The Great Tribulation: Past or Future? His books have been published by American Vision, Baker, Zondervan, Kregel, P & R, Greenhaven Press, Nordskog, Wipf & Stock, and several other publishers. He has published scores of articles in such publications as Tabletalk, Westminster Theological Journal, Evangelical Theological Society Journal, Banner of Truth, Christianity Today, Antithesis, Contra Mundum, and others. He has spoken at over 100 conferences in America, the Caribbean, and Australia. He is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and a Church Council Committee member of Coalition on Revival.

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