Zion is the world ajar.
Zion is the world set on a double hinge. God gives a push, the door goes swinging, and the world opens wide.
Zion is neither here nor there. Its the threshold, the go-between.
The scriptures don’t reveal this world or another. They reveal Zion and Zion is this world opening onto another. The scriptures are a revelation in precisely this sense and they reveal Zion only to the extent that the door swings in both directions, showing and ushering in turn.
In this sense, we misunderstand the scriptures if we insist too voraciously on their historicity because, historically, they have always been a revelation that breaches history itself.
Say we insist on the primitive meaning of a scriptural text. That’s fine – so long as we understand that it’s most primitive function, even for the original recipients, was to break into Pharaoh’s history and demand that it let God’s people go. Scripture opened, even in the first instance, as a historical fact, out onto Zion.
Scripture, for us, here and now, is not meant to open a door from our present back into that same historicity of Pharaoh’s world. From the start, it was meant to usher Israel out of that world. Scripture is meant to open the present, our present, onto the same Zion toward which Israel fled. We don’t share the same pagan history with ancient Israel, we share the same commitment to the historical reality of Zion. To insist on the historicity of scripture is not to insist on the historical accuracy of their account of Pharaoh’s world, but on the historical reality of that world left ajar and recast by God’s persistent promise of Zion.
Reflecting in this spirit on what he calls the “writings of Zion,” Jim Faulconer puts it this way in Faith, Philosophy, Scripture (Maxwell Institute, 2010):
The scriptures as a whole are meaningful to us only because their primitive meaning is not determinative. Scripture is God’s revelation to us, now, as well as to its original hearers. Its meaning, therefore, must go beyond the particular ideas and settings of the original writer. However inspired he was, he did not – could not – see all the ways in which the scriptures can be likened to each of our lives in particular. He did not see all the meanings implicate in his writing. However, he did not need to. All he needed to do was record the defective way of being of Israel (as well as the possibility of its being otherwise), for we could then understand our own being as a type and a shadow of what the Lord has revealed through Israel. Just as it was for the children of Lehi, to liken scripture to ourselves is to compare the way of being that it reveals with our own way of being. As revelations of God’s interactions with his people, the scriptures come to us as a call, a call to consider another way of being than that we currently inhabit, in other words, a call to repentance. By opening a new range of possible meanings, scripture outlines an alternative way of being-in-the-world. (142-143)
The scripties don’t accurately reveal this world as defective. They reveal this defective world as redeemable.
The scriptures show your backyard, but planted with Zion. We don’t share historical backyards with ancient Israel. We share the historical reality of Zion.