eschatology

Entering The Kingdom of God

The teaching of the Bible concerning the kingdom of God is far too vast to exhaust in a blog series. However, entering into the kingdom is crucial. It is something every person who has ever lived will face. Although I won’t be delving too far into the nature of the kingdom of God, others have handled that marvelously and I would commend them to you. Dr. Alva J. McClain wrote his work, The Greatness of the Kingdom (Winona Lake: BMH Books, 1959; 1974), which is the definitive work on the subject. For a series of lectures dealing with aspects of the kingdom, consult the Faculty Lecture Series from The Master’s Seminary. These works cover this immense teaching wonderfully. To the person who needs to understand God’s kingdom, this is where to go.

However, with all of that, I have concluded that there needs to be a fresh look at aspects of the Kingdom of God that have rarely been discussed. That is not to say that they have never been discussed until I came along. It is to say, rather, that the discussions that often accompany the considerations of the little series that I am beginning oftentimes becomes so muddled that a person either is tired of talking about it, and the last man standing (who is usually the one with the most stamina) wins. Or, people forget what it is they are discussing since the whirlwind of opinions and views on the matter convolute it something fierce.

I want to consider the subject from a broad stroke perspective, and fine tune it a bit to specifics so that there is no question as to the teaching of the Word of God on the matter.

Here are the items I will deal with in this series:

  1. What is the Kingdom of God?
  2. Where did it come from?
  3. What does it look like?
  4. How can it be entered?

The auxiliary items that are needed to understand along with the above are:

  1. Nature of eternal life.
  2. Election.
  3. Salvation.
  4. The “problem” of evil (Theodicy).
  5. The eternal state.

Starting next post, I will explain the kingdom of God from key passages in both Old and New Testaments. I believe that, given the prominence that the Kingdom of God plays in both testaments, and given the fact that the Lord came preaching it (Matthew 4:17; 13; Mark 10:14-15; Luke 9:2; John 3:3, 5; 18:36), as well as Paul and the other apostles so very often (Acts 28:30-31; cf 8:12; Hebrews 12:28; James 2:5; 2 Peter 1:11; Revelation 1:6, 9 etc.), then we must give great attention to it in order to understand it and preach it also (Matthew 24:14).

So, starting next post, we will begin getting a handle on this topic so that God’s glory can, again, be on display in the gospel of the kingdom (Matthew 4:23).

Challenging Covenantalism: The Future Of Israel According To Daniel.

We have been considering the false claims of Covenant Theology. The assertions are summarized as follows:

  • God made a covenant with Adam.
  • God made a covenant with the elect.
  • God made a covenant with Christ.
  • Israel, as a national entity, is subsumed by the church, the true Israel.
  • All of history will be consummated into the eternal state apart from a Millennial Reign of Christ.
  • All of Scripture, but primarily the prophetic portions, are subject to a “type and shadows” hermeneutic.
  • The actual covenants of Scripture, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, and New mostly, are simply expressions of the asserted Covenant of Redemption and, therefore, are of lesser importance.

These assertions, as demonstrated beforehand, are false. The assertions are based primarily upon a contrived philosophical belief system using passages of Scripture shaped the way they want. I am glad that Covenantalists support the dire need for sound hermeneutics. I just wish they would extend that to these issues.

At this point, I want to take a bit of a break and work on a subject that will be helpful to our discussion concerning the future of Israel. It also ties the covenants discussed beforehand together. Further, this discussion will demonstrate for us a hermeneutic that is sound and supported by the Lord Himself.

We are going to discuss Daniel’s Seventy Weeks’ vision as interpreted to him by Gabriel. The passage is found in Daniel 9:24-27. This little section is so very intense in its information and intense in its implications, that it deserves treatment in this discussion. It concerns God’s timetable for Daniel’s “people and [his] holy city” (Daniel 9:24).

Daniel 9:24-27

24 “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.

25 “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.

26 “Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.

27 “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”

Daniel is in Babylon. He has been there since the first deportation to Babylon in 605 B.C (Daniel 1:1). Daniel was approximately 15 years old when deported. He would go on to become learned in the literature and language of the Chaldeans (1:4) along with his friends. After three years of education in the Babylonian culture, they would become personal servants to the King Nebuchadnezzar (1:5).

In the first year of King Darius’ reign, Daniel had the Torah and other portions of the OT writings before him, including the writings of Jeremiah, who prophesied just prior to and during the initial years of the siege of Babylon (see Jeremiah 25:3; 32:24ff) against Jerusalem. Daniel, being broken over the condition of his people and his city, goes back to the books of the Law in order to understand what will happen with Israel. He notices in Jeremiah that the judgment of God is for seventy years-one year for each Sabbath-year they refused to follow (Daniel 9:2; cf. Jeremiah 25:11,12; 34:12-17). Calculating from the original siege 70 years, he realizes that framework of time is coming to an end. The year of Nebuchadnezzar’s first siege was 605 B.C. Seventy years from that arrives at 535 B.C. Daniel wrote this prophecy in 539 B.C. (see 9:1-2). Thus, he was nearing the end of the seventy years’ exile to Babylon. It is also historically accepted that Daniel died just before the return of the exiles. Thus, he prays to God concerning his sins and those of his people Israel. They have sinned, committed iniquity, and acted wickedly (9:5). He asks that God forgive them and consider their desolate condition (9:16-18). For His name’s sake, Daniel begs that God take action for the restoration of His people and His city (9:19). In the midst of his prayer, Gabriel attends to Daniel and teaches him what God will do with His people and His holy city.

This prophecy gives us the comprehensive picture of the nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem. It is vast, detailed, and accurate. Gabriel says, “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city.” Remember, Daniel’s prayer was concerning God’s people and holy city (9:19). So, in response to that concern of this saint, God gives him understanding about the decree. This decree is about Israel, the nation, and the holy city, Jerusalem. It is not related to the Gentiles specifically. However, as we determined with the covenants, what happens to the nation of Israel alters the entire planet.

One note here concerning hermeneutics of this passage. Just like Daniel could read the prophet Jeremiah and understand “seventy years” as “seventy years” and not seventy ages of time or some indeterminable amount of time, so we too must see these numbers in Daniel 9:24-27 as exactly what the natural reading of the text demands-literal, plain, precise, non-figurative language.

Israel is in exile because they refused to keep the Sabbath Year. It was a part of the Law that Israel would take a year off from farming every seven years in order to refresh the land (Leviticus 25:1-8). Israel refused to do this at least 70 times during their 860 years of existence (Exodus from Egypt, 1446 B.C. to Babylonian captivity/destruction of Jerusalem, 586 B.C.). Because of this, Israel would be in exile to make up for the 70 years that they worked instead of resting from their labors (Jeremiah 34:12-17). The issue was the Sabbath-Year rest. That same motif is used in verses 24-27 as well. Before the exile, the cycle of Sabbath-Year rest was used for calculating their punishment. Post-exile, the Sabbath-Year rest would also be used to communicate their future. So, seventy “sevens,” or “periods of sevens” is in view here. Specifically, seventy periods of seven-year cycles corroborating with the Sabbath-Year rest of the Law. Further, the use of the Sabbath-Year rest as a judgment was spoken of in the Law of Moses. Moses taught in Leviticus 26:34-35

34 ‘Then the land will enjoy its sabbaths all the days of the desolation, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths.

35 ‘All the days of its desolation it will observe the rest which it did not observe on your sabbaths, while you were living on it.

 

Thus, it is completely natural to consider these as seventy cycles of seven-year periods of the Sabbath-Year instruction.

Further, at the end of the 490 years, six things will happen:

  • “To finish the transgression”: to complete the ordained transgressions of Israel.
  • “To make and end of sin”: to stop sin.
  • “To make atonement for iniquity”: to ultimately atone for Israel’s iniquity.
  • “To bring in everlasting righteousness”: to introduce the righteousness of eternity.
  • “To seal up vision and prophecy”: to end these components of God’s plan.
  • “To anoint the most holy place”: to install the most holy permanently.

Thus, the seventy sevens equaling 490 years will exist from the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. At the end of such time, all six of these magnificent actions will be introduced. Obviously, that has not happened yet. We are still waiting.

Next time, we will discover more specifics about the starting point of this 490 year period and what will happen during.

Challenging Covenantalism: Type/Antitype

As I mentioned before the Types and Shadows (T/S) hermeneutic has devastated the church landscape because of its over-spiritualization and incessant allegorization of biblical truth. The indication of this hermeneutic is that few passages in the Old Testament actually mean what they say. We looked last time at the example of the temple in Ezekiel 40-48. In that section, God explicitly tells Ezekiel to write these things down, in detail, and communicate/teach them to Israel (43:10-11). Because God had said this, it would appear that God did not want these things to be allegory for a future, immaterial, spiritual reality. I wonder if Israel would have considered these measurements such?

In order to rightly understand the types of the Scripture, we must get our information from the Scriptures. The idea of “shadow” is indeed in Scripture. However, it has a very different meaning than what is assumed by CT. To begin, I want to look at a passage of Scripture that is the foundation for a proper understanding of this issue, Exodus 25:8-9. It has to do with the tabernacle which Moses was to build. A cursory study of these things will instruct us, to a large degree, how to properly understand what is meant by types and shadows.

In the Exodus 24, the people confirmed their covenant with God and they affirmed that they were willing and able to keep the covenant brought to them from God through Moses. In chapter 25, God is speaking and says to Moses,

Exodus 25:8–9 (NASB95)

Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it.

It is a magnificent thought that God would dwell in a sanctuary among the people of Israel. The sanctuary of which God speaks is the Tabernacle which dimensions and construction is covered in chapters 25-32 and picked up again in chapters 35-40 where it is ultimately erected (Exodus 40:17-33). Much could be said about this Tabernacle, but what needs to be pointed out is that this Tabernacle, and eventually the Temple itself (1 Chronicles 28:19), was a “pattern.” This Hebrew word for “pattern” has a general definition of a model, or image, or detailed schematic. However, it also has the more basic definition, and is used as such, of “likeness.”  It is used often when the word “likeness” is used in the OT (however not in Genesis 1:26). The twenty times this particular word is used, it more often than not refers to the replication of something that already exists. For example, Moses uses this word in Deuteronomy 4:16-18 in this manner. The children of Israel were not supposed to make a “likeness” of any animal on the earth to be a graven image such that they worship it. The likeness does not refer to actually making a living animal. It means that they are not to make a copy of something that exists in actuality. Their graven images would have been a replica, a type, a picture, or a likeness of actual animals. It is also used in this manner in 2 Kings 16:10-18 in reference to the model altar built by Urijah patterned after the actual one in Damascus.

local to the Pentateuch, Moses uses this word five times. Three of the five times it refers to the replicas of the animals that the children of Israel were not to copy. The other two times it refers to the construction of the Tabernacle. Joshua also uses the word in the sense of the replica of something that exists (Joshua 22:28). This section speaks of the altar that the sons of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh built by the Jordan River away from Shiloh, where the Tabernacle was. They constructed this altar not for worshipping, but simply as a pointer back to the true altar in the Tabernacle (vv. 21-29). Thus, the altar in Gilead was a copy, replica, or scaled model of the true altar in the Tabernacle.

What does this mean? This means that the Tabernacle, and the Temple, were both patterns, or replicas of the true Temple in heaven, from where Moses and David received their detailed drawings. They were not original designs and they were not, in actuality, the true temple. The true temple is in heaven in some form. The Tabernacle and Temple that was constructed by the sons of Israel were simply copies, or “shadows,” of that Temple in heaven.

The shadow understanding is preeminent in the mind of the writer of Hebrews. It is here that we are taught the correct understanding of what the Bible actually means about types and shadows.

Hebrews 8:4–5 (NASB95)

Now if He were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law; who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, “See,” He says, “that you make all things according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.”

The priest in the OT Tabernacle served a literal, physical dwelling. This is not a literary picture conjured up to teach us a moral lesson. The Tabernacle, as defined by inspired Scripture, was a “copy and shadow of heavenly things…for, ‘See,’ He says, ‘that you make all things according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.” Thus, we are told that the Tabernacle/Temple were both made as replicas of a heavenly Temple in some way. Again, this is not a literary figure, or allegory or allusion. This was an actual building with real people ministering in it and God actually dwelt there. The point that I think needs to be understood is that the shadow aspect of this scenario demands one-for-one correspondence. That is, the Tabernacle was the resemblance or “shadow” of the actual, or “true temple” (cf. Hebrews 8:2; 9:11, 24). The earthly Tabernacle was not simply an allegory or literary figure of a greater truth about heaven. It was an exact replica of a heavenly Temple.

Further, the pattern of the earthly Tabernacle was for the purpose of teaching something about God, Christ, atonement, justice, grace, etc.… To simply look at this as literary tools glosses over their real intent, which is instruction. For example, the death of bulls and goats surely teaches us that one day a final substitute will come. However, the greater instruction is that a substitute is needed. The fact that He will come is taught in comprehensive fashion through other Scriptures, not simply in a “figure.”

It appears that CT takes “types and shadows” to refer to existential philosophy that may be literarily represented in Scripture, but is now replaced by the antitype. It is interesting that the New Testament uses the word “type” (tupos), fifteen times. Some examples of “type” include:

  • Acts 7:43-44; Stephen indicates that Israel took “types” of false gods along with them. Moses also was told that he was to build a “type” of the Tabernacle as told by God.
  • Acts 23:25; the body of the letter from Claudius had a “type.”
  • Romans 5:14; Adam was a “type” of Christ.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:6; Israel was a “type” for us to follow.
  • Philippians 3:17; godly men are to be “types” for us to follow (1 Thessalonians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 3:9; 1 Timothy 4:12; Titus 2:7).
  • 1 Peter 5:3; elders are to be “types” to the flock.

The use of this word indicates a “pattern,” or “model,” or “an example that was, or is to be, followed.” In each case, however, there is an actual person at the heart of the type, and not simply a figure.

Another example refers to topics like the one covered in the previous post. Ezekiel 40-48 is the description of a Temple given in actual dimensions with actual land divisions and actual sacrifices being offered. As stated in the previous post, the perspective of the CT scheme is that of “Types and Shadows” (T/S). That is, the “Temple” found in Ezekiel 40-48 is merely a literary type or shadow of the antitype of the non-physical Temple structure on the New Earth. Dr. Riddlebarger writes,

“In other words, I believe Ezekiel is giving us a picture of the new earth in the prophetic terms with which his readers were familiar (Hoekema, The Bible and Future, 205). This is a picture of the new earth as the dwelling of God. Ezekiel prophesies it in earthly terms (complete with all the temple utensils), while John describes its fulfilled version (in eschatological terms)”

(http://kimriddlebarger.squarespace.com/the-latest-post/2008/1/16/eschatology-q-a-what-about-ezekiels-vision-of-the-temple-eze.html#comment1556909 accessed 10/29/2012).

The statement made here is classical T/S interpretation. A passage in the OT does not mean what a straight-forward reading of the passage indicates. It, thus, holds a greater antitypical meaning foreign to the reader (since the words do not mean what they appear to mean). This is not sound Bible interpretation.

It would be better, and more in line with the sense of Scripture that we understand “type” as a “pattern” or “model/example,” depending upon the context, than a license to change the meaning of one text to fit the allegorized spiritual-meaning of another text contrived by the imagination of the interpreter.

Paul gives us a clear understanding in the locus classicus Colossians 2:17. Here he writes that food, drink, in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day are all “shadows” of that which is coming. This word “shadow” is exactly what it sounds like. It is an outline cast by a solid form once light hits the form. Thus, these components of Temple activity, regulation, and worship are all the shadow cast by the “substance,” the Lord Jesus Christ. What does this mean? It means that access to God was allowed by these activities, but they did not truly allow for the atonement that was required. Only Jesus Christ truly atones for sins such that access to the Father can be made. Or, to put it another way,

Hebrews 9:8–14 (NASB95)

The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, which is a symbol (παραβολή, ‘parabole’: a teaching tool) for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation. But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come (they were still “to come” at the time of the writer), He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

That which is coming is absolute, permanent, unhindered access to the Father in His Temple (which He is-Revelation 21:22. However, the personal dwelling of God on the New Earth does not contradict a rebuilt Temple in the Millennium, as per Ezekiel40-48) because of the efficacy of the obedience of Jesus Christ, God’s Son. Thus, the foods, drinks, sacrifices, and even the Sabbath-Day taught us concerning the need for atonement as well as the work that God would accomplish through the Messiah.

In future posts, we will be examining further the reality of Jesus Christ and His work in light of a true interpretation of Scripture. We will see that the program for the future is not simply a spiritual anti-type for the “typical” language of shadowy references in the OT. If were such, we would not have a perspicuous Scripture. We would have a kind of literature that carries a meaning beyond the words on the page that only the learned elite can figure out.

Challenging Covenantalism: The Error of Type/Antitype Hermeneutics-pt.1

This series has sought to introduce the reality that the covenantal framework of Covenant Theology is more a contrivance of man than it is a fact of Scripture. The unbiblical nature of CT has led many, especially in recent years, to confusion more than enlightenment. The confusion that CT exhibits does not promote sanctification. God only sanctifies by truth, not error (John 17:17). Thus, the sanctification that God expects from His children is minimal in those who hold to CT, compared to those who have a right understanding of Scripture.

I have attempted to explain the proposition that

“…the positions and teachings as found in CT …are a departure from authentic, biblical, revelation. That is, although many components contained in CT are obviously true, e.g. man’s fall in Adam, election, Jew and Gentile in one body the church, that does not give license to take liberties with God’s Word to introduce teachings that are not found in Scripture, which CT has done. The result of introducing these teachings is a confusion over the nature of the church, eschatological realities, the work of God in the actual covenants listed in Scripture, as well as a number of activities which are affected by what one does with OT passages (e.g. parenting) which all in turn upset households who have been challenged to rethink the clear and straightforward teaching of Scripture on these issues, and many others. The result of this influence of dealing with Scripture is confusion and doubt, since the CT position in many aspects is not true, and therefore lack sanctifying power in the life of a believer (John 17:17). Overall, CT advocates different doctrines, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, nor with the doctrine conforming to godliness (1 Timothy 6:20-21) and therefore upset the faith of many by their confident assertions based upon philosophical musings and self-styled hermeneutical gymnastics which suit their assumptions.”

The significance of the error of CT results in confusion on many fronts. However, one teaching that particularly concerns me has to do with the understanding of who Jesus Christ is, especially as He is “found” in the Old Testament (OT). This post will concern itself with a very brief overview of my concerns. An accurate presentation of the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as the eternal plan of the Father, as carried out in Christ, will be forthcoming in future posts.

Put simply, since there is no “Covenant of Grace,” then Jesus Christ is not the mediator of that covenant. It is true that He is the mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5), the only One. However, that office does not extend from the so-called Covenant of Grace. Dr. Kim Riddlebarger has written:

“It is important to carefully consider the fact that the covenant of grace has a personal mediator–Jesus Christ–who is revealed to us in the types and shadows of the Old Testament through Moses’ office as mediator of that covenant God makes with Israel at Mount Sinai, as well as through the kingship of David and his rule over Israel, and even through the sacrifices for sin offered to God by the priests of Israel. All of these Old Testament events foreshadow the coming of God in human flesh.” (http://wscal.edu/blog/entry/3638>  accessed 10/16/2012).

Let’s consider this statement, which itself is a mixture of truth and error. First of all, since the Scripture does not contain a covenant of grace, discussed in former posts, then the “fact” of the mediatorial nature of Christ of that covenant is not actually a “fact.” It is not true. However, that does not mean that Christ is not a mediator. It simply means that the economy which He mediates is not referring to that present by this contrived covenant. Further, Dr. Riddlebarger, as do most, if not all, CT adherents, believes in an highly extended, spiritualized “types and shadows” (T/S) condition of the OT when it comes to the presence of Christ found there. In other words, Jesus is explained in “types and shadows” in the OT, which appears to be a code-word for allegory, which is actually mythological in nature. The “types and shadows” hermeneutic is a large stone in the foundation of the hermeneutic of CT which has led to so much error. What tends to happen with the T/S hermeneutic is that few things in the OT are actually what they appear to be. Thus, they are treated as a kind of literary and not as historical fact.

One  example is Dr. Riddlebarger’s treatment of the temple as prophesied in Ezekiel 40-48. Although treating this fully is not possible in this format, there are a number of issues that I want to address by way of example of the use of T/S hermeneutic. The issue which Dr. Riddlebarger is addressing is the nature of the temple of which Ezekiel writes in chapters 40-48 of his prophecy. The position of CT can be summed up in this statement made by Dr. Riddlebarger, “First, the prophecy cannot be interpreted literally and still make any sense” (Unless otherwise noted, the rest of the citations will be from http://kimriddlebarger.squarespace.com/the-latest-post/2008/1/16/eschatology-q-a-what-about-ezekiels-vision-of-the-temple-eze.html#comment1556909 , accessed 10/16/2012). I would suggest that he is right, in a way. The prophecy, as interpreted by a T/S hermeneutic, makes no sense. The hermeneutical shift, from literal plain language to mythical, which CT demands takes place when speaking of prophetic events, creates and maintains confusion. It does not clarify. Let me address a few points to demonstrate what I mean:

  1. Ezekiel is taken to a “high mountain” at the beginning of his prophecy (40:2). The assumption that this vision is non-literal begins with Dr. Riddlebarger’s observation that since there is no high mountain near Jerusalem, we should right away conclude that this section is to be taken non-literally. He writes, “Given the nature of Ezekiel’s prophecy, this language should alert us to the fact that what follows is given the symbolic geography of the prophet.” However, if we take the text with authority and sufficiency, we see that it is upon this same high mountain that stands a city-like structure. So, Ezekiel is on the very same high mountain as the city. Thus, if that high mountain does not exists, neither does this city nor its contents. The “high mountain” is spoken of many times in Scripture, especially in relation to future events (Is. 2:2, 3; Ezek. 17:23; 20:40; 37:22; Micah 4:1; Rev. 21:10). Thus, the Scripture makes sense when understood (and believed) just as it is written. There was a high mountain upon which stands a city. Upon this mountain, “In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was taken, on that same day…” Ezekiel is shown an interactive vision by the “hand of the Lord.”

  2. Ezekiel also finishes his vision with the declaration that the city will have a name. The name of the city will  be “The Lord is there” (Ezekiel 48:35). Dr. Riddlebarger (with supportive reference to Dr. Gregory .K. Beale) comments that this proves “[that] something much greater than a localized temple in Jerusalem during the millennium” is in view. What is being said is that since the city takes a name that the Lord is there, and the Lord is obviously spiritually superior to a geographical city on this planet, then this must refer to something more than a city on a mountain. This interpretation fails to give rightful authority to the Scripture. The vision indicates that the city is 18,000 cubits round about. It also names the gates of the city in previous verses (vv.30-34). Previous to that it lays out the portions for the literal tribes of Israel, as well as for other leaders along with the division of the land (vv.1-29). Are we to assume that because the city is named by God “the Lord is there” then all that information is meaningless, or spiritual (which, when used by CT, is the same thing as meaningless since it demands that words in the OT cannot mean what they say in normal language)? Further, the Lord is there and will remain there forever (Ezekiel 43:1-7; cf. Isaiah 12:6; 14:32; 24:23; Jer. 3:17; 8:19; 14:9; Ezek. 35:10; Joel 3:21; Zech. 2:10; 14; Rev 21:3; 22:3). Are we to assume that all these other passages, and more, are also some lesser-quality revelation that fails to accurately describe what is actually happening or going to happen?

  3. Further, Dr. Riddlebarger states, “Finally, it is obvious that Revelation 21 presents Ezekiel’s vision in its consummated fulfillment…” That is, Ezekiel’s temple is simply a lower-quality temple than John’s temple in Revelation 21. The vision that Ezekiel is given, apparently, was never meant to be take literally as a temple that would occupy time and space. It is obvious, he states, that the readers of Ezekiel’s vision really should not see that vision as true, real, or accurately representing what God will actually do at some point in the future. Yet God says, “As for you, son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and let them measure the plan. If they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the design of the house, its structure, its exits, its entrances, all its designs, all its statutes, and all its laws. And write it in their sight, so that they may observe its whole design and all its statutes and do them” (43:10-11; emphasis mine). God commanded Ezekiel to take the vision, write it all down, in detail, and explain it to Israel. Finally, God will dwell among them forever (Ezekiel 37:26–28; 43:7), as promised beforehand (Exodus 25:8; 29:45; Leviticus 26:12; Numbers 5:3; Deuteronomy 12:11). The differences and distinctions between the temple vision of Ezekiel and the temple vision of Revelation are significant enough, when taken correctly, to be referring to two different temples.

What is important to comprehend in this small list of illustrations is:

  1. Those who hold to this hermeneutical position (T/S) do so of their own authority. This kind of “type/antitype” is foreign to Scripture.
  2. Those who hold to this hermeneutical position often evade the real issues. Much of their thinking is built upon the presupposition that things aren’t as they seem. Thus, their thinking is also unclear and inconsistent. Their unstable thinking is taken by the untaught as profound.
  3. Those who hold to this hermeneutical position do not believe in inerrancy. Otherwise, they would tremble at the Word of God instead of making it mean what they want.
  4. Those who hold to this hermeneutical position lead others astray creating confusion instead of worship. Because of their philosophical thoughts, these men are often idolized and esteemed by others, especially in their own academic circles. However, God does not esteem them. Their praise will not be from God (“Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven”-Matthew 5:19).

I will explain, from Scripture, the truth about types and antitypes in my next post. For now, please consider the assertion of these men. To say that the types of the OT are fully realized in the antitypes of the NT is to deny the perspicuity (clarity) and inerrancy of the OT and thus Scripture itself (2 Timothy 3:16a). It is to impose an undue, foreign, structure upon the unity of the Scripture that, then, distorts the Scripture. Thus, once the Scripture is distorted, it is unrecognizable, although all the biblical verbiage is used. We must not settle for anything less than the absolute authority of Scripture over man; the inerrant nature of every word in Scripture; the glory of God in His Word; and the exact meaning of the authors in Scripture as consistent and non-contradictive in both testaments. Otherwise, we really cannot believe/understand the Scripture, unless these men “enlighten us.” In that case, we have run right back to Rome. The uneducated and unenlightened have so much to learn, if the Scripture does not mean exactly what it says, to the word, in both testaments.

The Future And The Gospel.

Current Evangelicalism’s understanding of the gospel is shallow at best. Is it any wonder that that is the case when speaking of the gospel, we usually hear something like this, “Trust Jesus as Savior”, or, “Invite Jesus into your heart.” What is interesting about these appeals is that they are not truly biblical concepts. Certainly, we are to trust in the Lord, and certainly we are to call upon the name of the Lord. However, these formulas are not referring to that. They are often, if not always, understood and presented as a kind of mantra that is repeated in hopes that Jesus will respond in like manner and obey. Further, oftentimes we make a certain distinction between the gospel and future things. Again, this is superficial, arbitrary, and unbiblical. To distance the future of the world from the gospel itself is to have a shallow view of the gospel. In this post, I hope to demonstrate that the gospel is brought to fulfillment in the events that will take place yet to come. To separate the two, the gospel and eschatological events, is short-sighted.

To begin, turn to Galatians 3:8. Paul writes a very amazing thing here that serves as our starting point.

      8      The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.”

This Scripture is interesting on many levels. First of all, the Scripture is the preacher. Second, the justification of the Gentiles was a foundational component of the Abrahamic promise/blessing. That is fascinating in light of the fact that oftentimes the Jews of the OT are seen hating the Gentiles. Did they forget/disregard God’s promise to justify them? But, for our purposes here, Paul makes a correlation between the Abrahamic promise and the gospel that I don’t hear in many evangelistic sermons. The proclamation of the gospel to Abraham is summed up by Paul (and Moses, for that matter) as, “All the nations will be blessed in you.” This reference is from Genesis 12:3. It is the foundation of the Hebrew nation in that it is from this promise and subsequent covenant that the nation is formed. The Jews were not delivered from Egypt, and consequently made their own Theocratic nation because they were wonderful people (see Deuteronomy 7:7). He chose them and delivered them because He had made a covenant with Abraham, based upon the promise of Genesis 12:3, and God cannot break His covenant, although Israel did (see Deuteronomy 7:8). This blessing that God promised to all the nations through Abraham is summed up by Paul as justification by faith. What that means is, the calling, sanctification, regeneration, glorification (all OT terms by the way), which is what we all understand as the benefits of the gospel, are bound up in Genesis 12:3.

But what else does it mean, especially in regards to future things? The promise of God is that He will restore Israel as a demonstration of His perfect ability to keep His promise, in spite of Israel’s unfaithfulness and rebellion. That restoration of Israel is promised and prophesied and will come to pass. Isaiah prophesied,

         1      The word which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
         2      Now it will come about that
      In the last days
      The mountain of the house of the LORD
      Will be established as the chief of the mountains,
      And will be raised above the hills;
      And all the nations will stream to it.
            3      And many peoples will come and say,
      “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
      To the house of the God of Jacob;
      That He may teach us concerning His ways
      And that we may walk in His paths.”
      For the law will go forth from Zion
      And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
            4      And He will judge between the nations,
      And will render decisions for many peoples;
      And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
      Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
      And never again will they learn war.

Is 2:1–4 (cf. Micah 4:1-5).

Joel writes,

         1      “For behold, in those days and at that time,
      When I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem,
            2      I will gather all the nations
      And bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat.
      Then I will enter into judgment with them there
      On behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel,
      Whom they have scattered among the nations;
      And they have divided up My land.
            3      “They have also cast lots for My people,
      Traded a boy for a harlot
      And sold a girl for wine that they may drink.

Joel 3:1–3.

 

The entire chapter of Zechariah 14 is a prophecy concerning the Lord’s judgment on the nations that attack Jerusalem and the restoration of the earth so that Israel will prosper, according to His covenant with them.

All of this (and the entire literature of the prophets lists all these things in detail and with tremendous clarity) is a result of the promise to Abraham, “In you all the nations of the earth will be blessed.” Paul writes in Romans 11:11-12, with exclamation, “

   11      I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. 
   12      Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!

Israel has rejected their Messiah. That has lead to Christ being preached among the Gentiles exclusively (as per the Abrahamic promise). However, there is coming a time when they, Israel, will not reject her King but will bow down Him (Romans 11:25-27)! In that day, according to the prophets, all the world will be affected. The earth will be leveled, Jerusalem will be raised up higher, all the nations will be subjected to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and judge by Him, and worship will once again resume in the Temple (see Zechariah 14). All of this because God promised to bless Israel and the nations through Abraham (since Israel is a nation of the earth which is included in the “all nations” of Genesis 12:3).

If, then, the gospel is Genesis 12:3, as Paul says it is, then I would have to conclude that the gospel of Jesus Christ has eschatological ramifications! We cannot separate the gospel from future events. In doing so will do damage to the gospel, and thus the promise of God.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: