How do we tell the story of the Bible? Let’s keep it simple: the Reformed focus on covenant, the Lutherans on Gospel and Law, low church evangelicals on personal redemption … and we could go on. What Walsh and Keesmaat do is tell the story of the Bible through the lens of empire (see Colossians Remixed). Here is what they find:
Exodus 15:1 is a thematic verse for the origins of Israel’s faith: “horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.” “Who is Yahweh? The One who overthrows empire, that’s who!” (66). And the two themes of the OT are “monotheism” and “election” or creation and exodus (liberation).
Is it not the case that the lens we choose through which to view the Bible shapes what we see? Is any one lens adequate? Do we need a the spectacles with many lenses? How valuable is an empire lens?
In Egypt, the story is about God electing Israel and liberating Israel from empire (Egypt).
At Sinai, the story is the creation of a people who will be a counterreality and a countercommunity to empire.
In the Land Israel wants a king — an empire — and Israel suffers for it.
The prophets tell the story of Israel’s complicity with empire.
God’s answer is Exile and off they go because of empire-building and corruption.
Jeremiah exhorts them to “seek the welfare of the city” so they can be the counterreality.
With Jesus we see the establishment of the counterempire: the kingdom of God. Everything Empire gets turned upside down.