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A Commentary both on The Genesis Genealogy and An Forgotten Encounter
Everyone who has received salvation, including laypeople, pastors with a special calling, and theologians, must continue to study the inspired revelation, the Word of God, throughout their lives and apply what they have learned. Just as food is essential for the sustenance of life, this effort is essential for our spiritual survival. Among the various approaches available for correct understanding and application of the Word, total trust and faith in the word as well as persistent effort and research are imperative. This is an absolute calling that all Christians must respond to in gratitude for the Lord's grace and love.
Therefore, all Christians (including pastors and theologians), as debtors to God's grace, must always walk with the Word as the deer pants for the water brooks (Ps 42:1). it is not an easy task to discover a coherent theme and gain penetrating insight on the revealed word. This is because of the long duration of time, historical circumstances, and the varied experiences and educational backgrounds of the authors during the recording of the inspired Word. it is impossible to comprehend God's profound will with our limited capacity, even through persistent readings and studies of the Word. At the Second Coming of the Lord, in the last days, when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away (1 Cor 13:10). I sincerely long for the day of the Lord's coming. Maranatha!
Andrew J. Tesia
Recently, Rev. Abraham Park attempted something that no one has attempted before, through two books: The Genesis Genealogies and The Covenant of the Torch. They are sure to astonish the world.
I first met Rev. Park about ten years ago at a world missions conference that I attended through the invitation of my friend Rev. Andrew Phipps. I was greatly blessed as I listened to Rev. Park, through the powerful work of the Holy Spirit, preach vividly about Jesus christ's suffering and crucifixion. I later heard some negative criticism against Rev. Park, and so I became reserved and watched him from a distance to discern what kind of person he is. Over the past ten years, I have heard his sermons about four times. I was greatly inspired and truly received grace each time I heard his messages. My soul, which had dried up from conventional faith, felt revived, like a fish thrown back into the water. The more I observed Rev. Park, the more I lamented that such a godly and faithful man and true pastor has to go through the frustration of being misunderstood. Then one day, Rev. Phipps gave me two manuscripts that Rev. park authored. I read them right away. I could not put them down until I finished reading them. They are simply marvelous. After reading them, I was deeply ashamed that I had not completely accepted Rev. Park as a true servant of God. Hence, with an apologetic heart, I write this commentary.
Rev. Park uses the covenantal links to dynamically unfold the enormous biblical discourse, which no one can come close to endeavoring, from the perspective of God's redemptive plan. He logically and perfectly depicts this theme as the central theme of Christian theology as well as the theme of his own faith and theological belief. This surely is the result of his lifelong devotion to prayer and his study of the Word with gratitude for the Lord's grace. he has read the Bible hundreds of times since his calling, and his books are compilations of the Word of God and the spiritual mysteries of the Bible that he was awoken to through the process. Through the two books, we pastors and theologians will have to examine ourselves to see if we have lived our lives fulfilling the tasks we were given. At times, we must lend our ears to his discussions and confront the challenges.
First, by clearly organizing the bible from the salvation and covenant perspective, Rev. park has attempted something that has not been attempted during the two thousand years of the church's history. There are countless biblical commentaries and interpretations available. Furthermore, many pastors are studying and preaching the Bible based on various existing theological frameworks, typically those based on Calvinism and orthodox theology founded upon conservative faith. Nevertheless, once cannot help but be amazed at Rev. Park's work, which approaches the Bible, the original text of Christianity, as a great discourse and unfolds it coherently from the covenantal perspective. His two books truly reveal the essence of his immense theological beliefs and the perfect and logical development of his competence. More than anything, it is shocking to see a man of little scholarship (as he confesses to be) explain the profound Word in such a clear and easy way. It is amazing to see how both The Genesis Genealogies and The covenant of the Torch are so perfectly arranged and harmonized. The mathematical calculations of the chronological years in history since the time of Adam cause readers to marvel at his immense effort and achievement, although further discussions my be needed as new archaeological discoveries are made. His achievement is truly a stern admonition to pastors and theologians who profess to be what they call "conservative" but have spent and are spending their time in denominational power struggles rather than working to fulfill their God-given tasks. A tearful, contrite heart is required.
Second, Rev. Park is now in his early eighties, but in both The Genesis Genealogies and The Covenant of the Torch he pours out the spiritual mysteries of the Bible that he was awoken to in a clear, detailed, and powerful literary style. Readers will be overtaken by a magical spell of continuous tension and anticipation that leaves them breathless and motionless. Above all, his literary style has powerful spiritual charisma that attracts the readers' attention. I believe that this is because Rev. Park himself has lived his whole life captured by the Word. Hence, his sermons call to min the great "Prince of Preachers" who shook up not only England but also all the rest of the world in the mid-nineteenth century, Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Spurgeon was faced with the challenges of a time that was rapidly inclining toward the liberal left, and solitarily he poured out the Word of God into the minds of people through his sermons from the pulpit and his written works. The thousands who congregated at the London Central Baptist Church were captivated by his sermons as they listened breathlessly, with the exception of occasional bursts of acclamation and shouts of joy. The Word of grace that he had received he proclaimed with great strength and zeal, like a spiritual lion's roar. Unfortunately, he spent long, heartbreaking years facing much dissension, misunderstandings, disputes, and refutations. Nevertheless, with conviction in the Word of God, he pushed on with his pastoral ministry, standing firmly upon the orthodox belief of Calvinism.
Language represents one's beliefs. In that respect, Rev. Park my actually be the wizard of language that the Lord has sent to us during these turbid times where the Word of God has become scarce, and good and evil hard to distinguish. Despite his advanced age, his skill and ability to freely narrate the Word of God in his own words stand unrivaled. He is undeniably a faithful servant of God, completely captured by the Word and inspired by salvation.
Third, the foundation of Rev. park's faith and theology was established through unspeakable suffering and affliction. Through times of trial and isolation he looked only upon God and trusted only in Him. He concentrated solely on faithfully raising his sheep- the congregation entrusted to him. He was captivated by a strong sense of calling and was unable to escape God's hands even for one moment. he spent many years in solitude as a result of unfounded accusations and jealousy. Nevertheless, he fully dedicated inspiration in one hand and God's sovereign authority in the other. As is well known, St. Augustine spent his youth is dissipation and pagan philosophy. He was even dedicated to Manichaeism at one time. However, after he met the Lord, he put an end to his old way of life and completely dedicated himself to the Lord. He gave thanks for the grace and love of the Lord of creation and found peace through repentance. Who among us today can criticize him, ostracize him, and condemn him as libertine or a heretic? The grace and blessings that the church has received through him over the past fifteen hundred years of church history are immeasurable. How his Confessions have consoled many Christians, especially those who were struggling! He is considered one of the few preeminent figures of church history. There is no such thing as a perfect person in this world. I find Rev. Park's two books to be as moving as St. Augustine's Confessions, and readers will discover a yearning for God burning like an active volcano.
Fourth, the core of Christian theology is the progression from prophecy to fulfillment toward completion through the interpretation of the Bible using the Bible. At the center of this development is the variety of types that appear in the Old testament, Christ's suffering and crucifixion and completion through the second coming in the end. Through his great suffering and trials Rev. park has developed a strong yearning for the return of the Lord and His glory. This is illustrated in his description of the patriarchs from Abraham to Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, and to Moses and Joshua after the exodus. It will be depicted in greater detail in books to follow. Therefore, his understanding of the biblical history of redemption, which is the covenantal belief, is based completely on the Bible. This is possible because he was educated and trained in a conservative theological seminary and denomination. That is why, even in his advanced age, he has embarked on this great project that no one else has dared to attempt. Truthfully, who among us, whether pastor or theologian, can coherently unravel this great discourse?
Rev. Park's well-versed knowledge of God's Word, the Bible, throw a great challenge to theologians whose knowledge is limited to one are of theology, for the Bible needs to be understood thoroughly and in its entirety. Theologians generally are very proficient in the areas of their study and research, but Rev. park shows his spiritual power and knowledge in all areas of theology, which enables him to freely and appropriately use different parts of the Bible.
This is a lifelong project that Rev. Park has solely endeavored as part of his unyielding vow with god in response to the grace and love that he has received. His head and heart are filled with the Bible and the fervent zeal to think and live with the Word. In this sojourner's world we have discovered an old servant struggling to pour himself out as a drink offering on the Lord's altar, just like the apostle Paul.
Fifth, the well-organized logic and real challenges and applications of Rev. Park's work are distinguished yet natural. The details and motivating power come from his many years of experience and lifelong pastoral ministry.
His applications are concise and entirely based on the Bible. Although he uses very concise and plain language, his sentences contain a concentrated form of theological depth that no other pastor or theologian can mimic. He addresses highly debated issues that even theologians cannot easily address, such as the relationship between Abraham and Jacob, the relationship between Judah and Joseph, and the various themes that develop through Moses' life. His discoveries that the duration of the construction of Noah's ark was less than the well-accepted 120 years and of the forty-two camp sites during the israelites' wilderness journey are the first of their kind since the time of Noah and Moses. This is a marvelous and celebrated achievement unimaginable even for a scholar who has dedicated his entire life to the study of the Bible and theology.
Unfolding the great discourse using a concise sermon format and storytelling style stands out in the world of theology, which places importance on logic and proof based on scholarship. Rev. Park unravels this discourse smoothly and with the sincerity of a grandfather narrating a story to his grandchild. His thorough insight of the bible gives him the agility to maneuver through it and the ability to visually illustrate the Old and New Testaments as with a computer. His analysis of heretofore unresolved theological issues can easily be considered a masterpiece.
Finally, what is most urgently needed in all the churches today? Proper understanding of the Bible and its application in life are necessary to overcome the long period of stagnation. This is the goal that the church needs to pursue in the rapidly changing twenty-first century in order to recover the lost glory of old. For this purpose, we must first learn to live out the Word of God, develop our theological awareness and revitalize the redemptive movement. Frankly, an understanding of the inspired Word of revelation, the Bible and effective application in life are the universal hope of all pastors. Learning to effectively deliver the Word from the pulpit is a lifelong assignment for pastors. To be able to do this, they must first gain through knowledge of the Bible. This knowledge refers not merely to literal interpretation, but also to the ability to see the entire flow and to accurately reveal the meaning of each part. Another crucial task is to shed light on how the revelations of the Bible are fulfilled in history. Paradoxically, we are living in an age where the Word of God is overflowing and scarce at the same time. Thus, we must fathom the depth of God's will through the redemptive and covenantal approach. Thus, I joyfully recommend Rev. Park's The Genesis Genealogies and The Covenant of the Torch to all the churches of the world, for they not only satisfy the spiritual aspirations of thirsting Christians, but also are an absolute necessity for those who desire a more mature life of faith. I pray that you read these books once and receive a double portion of blessings.
President of the Research Institute of Reformed Theology.
Initially, upon receiving a request to provide a commentary for Rev. Park's The Covenant of the Torch, I hesitated, thinking that I was not the right person, and so I politely declined.
First, I neither knew the author nor had much recollection of his writings. Not only do Rev. Park and I belong to different denominations, but also we have significant differences in our views on scripture, theology, and distinctives of the Faith. Rev. Park is a pastor who has spent all of his life serving a church of conservative faith, whereas I am a professor who has spent his life teaching progressive theological views in lecture halls. Hence, he probably understood the scriptures as God's Word and a historic documentation of God's administration from the perspective of his pastoral work and experience, whereas I came to understand the Scriptures as a historic documentation of God's administration from the perspective of mere theological reasoning.
Second ,Rev Park's book is about Old Testament Scriptures. Therefore, for me, whose expertise is in church history, writing a review of this book seemed to exceed my scholarly limits. I thought that a proper commentator on this book must be an expert in the Old Testament.
Dr. Jae-Yong Joo
Why, the, did I decide to write this commentary? Primarily, it was because of my curiosity and intellectual craving for a book that stood in stark contrast with my theological camp, my faith expression, and my academic expertise. I alos want to grow theologically and spiritually through this book.
Consequently, I now feel greatly honored and ever more thankful to have met Rev. park and built a friendship with him, albeit through the printed word. Most of all, as stated in his book The Genesis Genealogies, he confesses that the patriarchs' footsteps of faith had come alive and moved before him. He stayed awake for many nights, overwhelmed and inspired by God's grace. He also confesses in the foreword of The Covenant of the Torch that he vowed before God 47 years ago tat he would pray for two hours and read the Scriptures for three hours daily.
To this day, he has not missed a single day of fulfilling that promise. He has uncompromisingly walked on a solitary road, focusing only on the Scriptures. In the face of these confessions of faith, I cannot help but feel a sense of shame as a theologian, and I have acquired and admiration for the author's life of faith.
Moreover, a pastor's life in Korea is overwhelmingly busy and physically demanding, sparing little if any time to write books. Yet, despite his advanced age of over 80 years, Rev. park has published a second book soon after his first one. His scholarly passion truly inspires me. Having experienced God's grace, he has lived such an inspirational walk of faith that he would give up his own life for God. In The Genesis Genealogies, he stated that these books are not a work of theological research but a compilation of his sermons of grace that he had received, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, as he prayed and read the Scriptures hundreds of times. However, after seeing the books' contents, I now realize that they are a work of revealed theology, attained through a deep meditation of the Scriptures and prayer.
From The Genesis Genealogies and The Covenant of the Torch, it becomes evident that the author views the Old Testament Scriptures through God's administration in redemption history. In truth, not just the Old Testament, but all 66 books of the Scriptures-from Genesis to Revelation- encompass dissimilar generational histories and mankind's disparate societal, political, and economic living environments. These books were written by unrelated scribes or authors. Even so, the Scriptures are confessions of faith by those who received God's revelation and experienced His administration in redemption history. Hence, God's administration in redemption history is the theme above all themes in the scriptures. God desired to reveal His administration in redemption history through the patriarchs, the prophets, His chosen servants, and Jesus Christ. Calling upon God as the creator is the expression and the basis for God's administration in redemption history. At the center of this divine administration stands Jesus Christ. From this perspective, it is especially remarkable that The Covenant of the Torch begins with a section titled "Jesus Christ, the Center of the God's Administration of Redemption."
In his series covering God's administration in redemption history, the author places a special emphasis on covenants, particularly the "covenant of the torch," which God established with Abraham. God established various covenants with the Israelites. Among them, their core belief is "I will be your God, and will be my people." The relationship between God and the Israelites is a contractual relationship. The history of Israelites begins with this contract, of which the most tangible incident is the exodus. The principle of a contract is keeping it; a contract is not meant to be breached. Therefore, both God and man must keep this contract. The reason why the author places a special emphasis on the covenant of the torch established with Abraham is that God's administration of redemptive history is most evident in this covenant.
Through his exploration of the covenant of the torch, the author strives to assure the readers that God never breaches a covenant once it is entered. even when the Israelites breached it, God kept it to the end. After settling in Canaan, the Israelites sinned by forgetting God and worshiping Baal. Israelite rulers sinned with their uprighteousness and corruption by politically and economically oppressing and exploiting their people. The prophets cried out that they must remember their God, and they prophesied about His judgment. However, because of the contract that God had entered with them, He had to forgive and receive them again. This is the way of God's "covenantal love."
Man, preciously created in God's image, had fallen and was expelled from the Garden of Eden, thereby losing the image of God, the blessings contained in God's covenant, and the memory of his beautiful life of grace. Therefore, the author stresses that finding what had been lost and meeting God again is the ultimate purpose in human life. An encounter with God is the most crucial beginning and the living force that will determine human lives. At the center of this lies the covenant of the torch.
The Covenant of the Torch is composed of five parts and a conclusion. The author covers God's administration, His covenant in redemptive history, its final fulfillment, and in conclusion, the future fulfillment of the covenant. The author reviews the history of the covenant revealed through the lives of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, covers events within this history from the exodus to the conquest of Canaan, and then describes the covenant's final fulfillment through Abraham and his descendants. However, the author emphasizes that the covenant of the torch does not end here. The covenant continues perpetually through Psalm 105. This is the blessing contained in God's administration in the history of redemption. Hence, we who live in the present rate not excluded from this blessing. However, one must faithfully keep the contract with God, which is to observe God's commandments until the day of the coming of His kingdom.
Rev. Park notes that he is a pastor, not a theologian, and is also over 80 years old. Nevertheless, it is astonishing that he is interpreting the important words in the Old Testament from the original scriptural language and is using the Scriptures to interpret the Scriptures. Furthermore, the various charts and tools provided by the author, including a map that composed after having personally explored the actual sites in Israel, add to the merit of this book, remaining as precious resources that will greatly assist its readers. These resources abundantly assist in carrying out his intentions in the chronological composition of this book.
If I were to point out the difference between my own historical vies and those of the author, I would say that he seems to describe God's history of redemption s a chronology, viewing "problems in the chronology" as the most fundamental and significant issue in God's history of redemption. Thus, most of his work shows his research on the chronology of the patriarchs; the history of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph; the period of life in Egypt; and the chronology of the exodus. Through such a chronological approach, God's work of redemption seen in the Old Testament may be understood as historical facts. However, I would point out, from the perspective of historical science, that chronological research is a measure, a tool for understanding history, and is not the actual history in itself. Hence, in my opinion, the importance lies in the interpretation of the contents of the chronology. From that interpretation, God's administration can become the history of redemption. God's redemptive history is based not on chronos (man's time), but on kairos (God's time). God's redemptive history is really a study of eschatology. Eschatological events bear implications beyond being merely chronological events.
However, because The Covenant of the Torch is thoroughly based on the revelation that the Scriptures are the Word of God, my differing viewpoint removes no merit from this book. It is my wish that other pastors of the churches around the world would, like the author, search for unfathomable valleys of grace through deep meditations on the Scriptures along with their ministry, sincerely preach what they discovered before God, and then publish their works. This is because I am quite certain that the more such books are published for believers to read, the more the churches can grow into God-fearing churches firmly grounded in the Scriptures. The faith of a believer must be rational, but at the same time, a believer must be able to experience the dimension of a world that transcends rationality. In other words, one must experience heaven on this earth. From the beginning to the end of this book, the author stresses and places his concern upon the sincerity toward the Scriptures. The scriptural content clearly imparts its redemptive implications through the history of humanity.
Through this book, I, along with Rev. Park, have great anticipation for all its readers: "Through their remaining years, may the passionate encounter perpetually continue by the grace of Jesus Christ's redemption in the interminable, flaming torch of God's never-ending love."
Emiritus Professor of Hanshin University
Chair of the Theological Research Center
Former President and Professor of Hanshin University
President of Korean Professors Mutual Society.