One of the subjects that has been truly eye opening for me as of late is the subject of biblical typology or symbolism. Two books in particular have impacted the way I view this subject: Peter Leithart’s A House for My Name & James Jordan’s Through New Eyes. Both of these books focus heavily on the covenant structure of the Old Testament and highlight different patterns of the covenant sequence. One of the main patters that both authors pull out (but especially Jordan) is the pattern of creation & recreation. In short Jordan sees each new covenant as a formation of a new world, a new heavens and a new earth. One example in which Jordan sees this is the covenant that God makes with Abraham.
God told Abram, ” I will make your decendants as the dust of the earth; so that as anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your defendants can also be numbered (Genesis 13:16). God also told Abram that his seed would be like the stars of the heavens in quality (Genesis 15:5) and quantity (Genesis 22:17). Thus, the people of Abraham, would be a new heavens and a new earth. (pg. 189)
As a modern day American Christian, I never thought beyond the mere surface of these passages where God makes his promises to Abraham. The blinders of Modernism have kept the current church in the West away from developing a richer view of the scriptures, especially in our ability to read the covenant structure of the Old Testament. The modernist inclination is to take these two promises (descendants as numerous as dust and stars) and take them literally. We would perhaps try some sort of astrological experiment to determine how many stars were visible in the ancient middle east and assume this were what God were talking about before we attempted to fit these promises in with the greater narrative God is working in the history of His people.
What Jordan does so skillfully is make real connections between words and themes that the modern mind is so averse to. When we read about dust and stars we too readily think of physical substance rather than wonder where these objects have been highlighted in the Bible before. In Biblical typology sand and stars will remind the reader of the heavens and the earth and will call the reader to see that God is creating a new covenant, even a new world, in the descendants of Abraham!
Food for thought.