Dirt & Dominion: Sacred Space in the New Covenant Age
Robert E. Cruickshank Jr
[This is an excerpt from my message at Berean Bible Church on July 31, 2022]
According to 1 Peter 2:9, we are now that Holy Nation (Jews and Gentiles alike). And, the land we inherit isn’t just the land of Canaan anymore. Holy Ground isn’t restricted to the Land of Israel. God has dissolved those boundaries, reclaimed the disinherited nations, and defeated their gods. That’s part of what’s “new” about the “New Heavens and New Earth.”
The Golden City of Revelation 21, the New Jerusalem, is 1500 miles wide by 1500 miles long. It’s the same number of square miles as the Roman empire, or the known world at the time.
And as much as Dispensationalists would want us to believe that the New Jerusalem is the Biblical equivalent of a Borg Cube hovering over the earth, that’s not what the cubical imagery is about. The significance of the cubical shape of the city is that it matches the shape of the Holy of holies in the tabernacle and temple (1 Kgs 6:20).
The Holy of Holies was where the manifest presence of Yahweh resided, and it was overlaid with pure gold (1 Kings 16:20). “As golden cubes,” writes Desmond Alexander, “the Holy of Holies and New Jerusalem are clearly connected.”
G.K. Beale captures the significance of the imagery: “…God’s tabernacling presence, formerly limited to the holy of holies, was to be extended throughout the whole earth.” Or, as Ken Gentry puts it: “The new Jerusalem is a symbol of the redeemed people of God,” the people “in whom God dwells (Rev 21:3).”
In other words, sacred space is no longer limited to the Holy of Holies, in the temple, in earthly Jerusalem. The shape and size of the city are meant to telegraph the idea that sacred space is anywhere, on the face of the planet, that a true believer is.
Compare this with how it was in the Old Testament, in the Old Heavens and Earth. We don’t need to look any further than the story of Naaman in 2 Kings 5. Elisha heals Namaan of his leprosy, and Namaan says:
“Please let a load of dirt, on a pair of mules be given to your servant, for your servant will never again bring a burnt offering and sacrifice to other gods, but only to Yahweh” (2 Kings 5:17).
He wants as much dirt (from the land of Israel) as his mules can carry to take back home with him to Syria. Why? It makes no sense. Dirt is the most abundant substance on earth. They didn’t have dirt in Syria? Why would he ask for dirt? Because of his vow to sacrifice only to Yahweh alone and to no other gods (2 Kg. 5:17). That dirt from Israel was holy ground, it was Yahweh’s turf. He needed dirt from the land of Israel to connect with the God of Israel.
Guess what? We don’t need to haul dirt from Israel anymore to come to Him. It’s all Yahweh’s territory now, and anyone can be a part of His family right here and right now. Regardless of the color of our skin or where we live on this planet, we all belong to one of the nations that He has reclaimed, through His Son, Jesus Christ. And He did it all between His first and Second Coming in the first century.
And now that Golden City of Revelation 21 is supposed to expand and fill the whole earth. And the kings of the earth should be bringing the glory and honor of the nations into that Golden City (Rev. 21:24-25), into the City of the Great King. The King who, through His death, burial and resurrection became the Ruler of the Kings of the Earth (Rev. 1:5).
But if this is true, if Preterism is true, that means we have work to do. And people don’t want to that.
For example: John MacArthur writes: “Reclaiming the culture is a pointless, futile exercise. I am convinced we are living in a post-Christian society—a civilization that exists under God’s judgment…abundant evidence suggests that God has abandoned this culture to its own depravity…God’s purpose in this world—and the church’s only legitimate commission— is the proclamation of the message of sin and salvation to individuals, whom God sovereignly redeems and calls out of the world.”
Well, of course we’re living in a post-Christian society. It’s a post-Christian society caused by Christians abandoning society. So, how do we respond to this “post-Christian society,” caused by this Dispensational Eschatology? Their answer is to just continue down the same path that got us here in the first place.
What they really want is for someone to agree with them in order to justify their complacency. As Mike Sullivan says:
“It makes the sleeping giant of the Evangelical Church numb to getting involved in our culture and politics because they expect things to simply get worse so that they can get ‘raptured’ just before it gets really bad. After all, ‘you don’t polish brass on a sinking ship.’ We MUST get involved in our politics and be the salt and light of this great country and that of the world!”
William Bell puts it this way: “Finding ways to improve the world in which we live is the mandate of fulfilled eschatology.”
The truth is that believers today don’t want to do anything about the state of our culture and the condition of the world. They want to think that things are supposed to be this way, because these are the “end times,” and they have no other goal in life other than to wait for Jesus to come and rescue them out of the world.
In the meantime, Jesus is waiting for His People to wake up and start changing the world. He’ll do it through us, but He’s not going to do it for us.Revelation 1:5 says Jesus Christ is, right here and right now, “the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.”
As David Chilton said: “As the Firstborn, Christ possesses the crown rights of all creation: ‘All authority in heaven and earth has been given to Me,” He claimed (Matt. 28:18). All nations have been granted to Him as His inheritance, and the kings of earth are under court order to submit to Him (Ps. 2:8-12).” And we are His representatives who are supposed to be issuing this “court order” to the world! We are His image bearers.