Optical illusions in the history of redemption

One of the things I appreciate most about Jonathan Edwards was his rich use of illustrations. This fit with his view that the Old Testament and the created world was full of illustrations (or types) of Christ: “when we are delighted with flowery meadows and gentle breezes of wind, we may consider that we only see the emanations of the sweet benevolence of Jesus Christ; when we behold the fragrant rose and lily, we see his love and purity…” (from his Miscellanies).

As I was reading The Theology of Jonathan Edwards I came across an illustration that I think sheds a lot of light on the progress of the work of redemption (Edwards viewed all of history as displaying Christ’s redemption; from creation to the end of time): “the universe is the chariot in which [Christ] rides, and makes progress towards the last end of all things on the wheels of his providence…[at times] the under part of the wheel of a chariot seems to run backward, but it is not so.” When the world around us, and the church within the world, seem to be moving Christ’s work of redemption backward, it is really just like the rims of a car (probably easier to picture than a chariot!) that appear to be moving backward when the car itself is moving forward. What a great illustration of Christ riding his work-of-redemption chariot unstoppably onward.

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