Replacement Theology

www.GotQuestions.org

Question: “What is replacement theology?”

Answer: Replacement theology essentially teaches that the church has replaced Israel in God’s plan. Adherents of replacement theology believe the Jews are no longer God’s chosen people, and God does not have specific future plans for the nation of Israel. All the different views of the relationship between the church and Israel can be divided into two camps: either the church is a continuation of Israel (replacement/covenant theology), or the church is completely different and distinct from Israel (dispensationalism/premillennialism).

Replacement theology teaches that the church is the replacement for Israel and that the many promises made to Israel in the Bible are fulfilled in the Christian church, not in Israel. So, the prophecies in Scripture concerning the blessing and restoration of Israel to the Promised Land are “spiritualized” or “allegorized” into promises of God’s blessing for the church. Major problems exist with this view, such as the continuing existence of the Jewish people throughout the centuries and especially with the revival of the modern state of Israel. If Israel has been condemned by God, and there is no future for the Jewish nation, how do we explain the supernatural survival of the Jewish people over the past 2000 years despite the many attempts to destroy them? How do we explain why and how Israel reappeared as a nation in the 20th century after not existing for 1900 years?

The view that Israel and the church are different is clearly taught in the New Testament. Biblically speaking, the church is completely different and distinct from Israel, and the two are never to be confused or used interchangeably. We are taught from Scripture that the church is an entirely new creation that came into being on the day of Pentecost and will continue until it is taken to heaven at the rapture (Ephesians 1:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). The church has no relationship to the curses and blessings for Israel. The covenants, promises, and warnings are valid only for Israel. Israel has been temporarily set aside in God’s program during these past 2000 years of dispersion.

After the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), God will restore Israel as the primary focus of His plan. The first event at this time is the tribulation (Revelation chapters 6-19). The world will be judged for rejecting Christ, while Israel is prepared through the trials of the great tribulation for the second coming of the Messiah. Then, when Christ does return to the earth, at the end of the tribulation, Israel will be ready to receive Him. The remnant of Israel which survives the tribulation will be saved, and the Lord will establish His kingdom on this earth with Jerusalem as its capital. With Christ reigning as King, Israel will be the leading nation, and representatives from all nations will come to Jerusalem to honor and worship the King—Jesus Christ. The church will return with Christ and will reign with Him for a literal thousand years (Revelation 20:1-5).

Both the Old Testament and the New Testament support a premillennial/dispensational understanding of God’s plan for Israel. Even so, the strongest support for premillennialism is found in the clear teaching of Revelation 20:1-7, where it says six times that Christ’s kingdom will last 1000 years. After the tribulation the Lord will return and establish His kingdom with the nation of Israel, Christ will reign over the whole earth, and Israel will be the leader of the nations. The church will reign with Him for a literal thousand years. The church has not replaced Israel in God’s plan. While God may be focusing His attention primarily on the church in this dispensation of grace, God has not forgotten Israel and will one day restore Israel to His intended role as the nation He has chosen (Romans 11).

© Copyright 2002-2012 Got Questions Ministries.

REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY

by Dr. Renald E. Showers
Bible Teacher & Conference Speaker with Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Inc.

THE BIBLE CLEARLY teaches that God is truth, and true. And the word true means He’s exactly
what He claims to be. He doesn’t misrepresent Himself. God is truth which is another way of
saying, God is Ultimate Reality. And since God is truth and ultimate reality, He’s also the ultimate
source of truth for mankind. But tragically, beginning about the end of World War I there began to
grow, at least in our western culture and society, a growing denial of the existence of the personal
Sovereign Creator God of the Bible. And, of course, one of the expressions of that—very popular in the
1960s—was the “God Is Dead Movement,” but that was just one such expression. So that we have a lot
of people, at least in the western world today who basically are atheistic, or at least agnostic. Many say,
“There is no such God.” Others say, “Well maybe there is, but I can’t be sure about it.” Others say,
“Well, maybe there is such a God, but He’s totally irrelevant to our modern world and society today.”
And, those concepts, very foundational to life and reality, have produced some very interesting
consequences. One of the consequences that we are witnessing today is a denial of objective truth that’s
binding upon all of mankind.
What do we mean by objective truth? It is truth that stands as truth by itself, and it is the same
truth for all of mankind regardless of your culture, regardless of your race, regardless of your nation,
regardless of your language. It’s unchanging truth that is the same for all of mankind, and all mankind
is responsible to be aware of it and conduct life accordingly.
Put another way: objective truth is truth that was not invented by man. It’s outside of man, and
therefore, it’s unchanging, and it’s the same for all mankind whatsoever. And so we have an increasing
denial of objective truth today, and that in turn has produced another denial—a denial of an objective
standard for evaluating whether something is right or whether something is wrong.
How many times have you heard this expressed? “No one has a right to impose his or her concept
of right or wrong upon another person. There is no absolute truth: truth is relative. It is subjective. It’s
up to each individual to determine for himself or herself what is truth. What is truth for this person is
not truth for anybody else. And you might disagree with each other. And so there is no truth, no
objective truth, no objective standard by which we can evaluate whether something is right or whether
something is wrong.”
A good illustration of this: sometime ago U.S. News & World Report published an article about a
professor who taught modern Western history at an American college. He said, years ago when they
would deal with Naziism and the Holocaust, students would be horrified that there could be people that
could be so brutal to systematically eliminate millions of people from the face of the earth. But he said,
now today, students will say, “Well, I don’t necessarily like what the Nazis did, but how can I say that
what they did is wrong? We don’t have any objective standards to determine whether something is
right or is wrong. Maybe, if it served a good purpose for them, it was all right for them to eliminate six
million Jews and millions of Gentile people as well.”
Then the article went on to quote a lady who was a literature teacher for many years. She said that
every year she would have the students read a fictional story about a farming community in
Midwestern America. Every Fall they would require all the farming people from the area to come
together to determine which person would be their human sacrifice that year to guarantee a good
harvest of crops. This professor of literature said in past years students were horrified at the idea that
Edited message by Dr. Renald E. Showers:

REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY

Somebody could think that it was legitimate to have human sacrifice, but she said now they’re saying,
“Well, I wouldn’t want to be sacrificed like that, but if it’s their religion, or if it’s their culture, I can’t
say that’s wrong.”
Both this history professor and the literature professor were saying, “Our young people coming to
us today have lost their moral compass. They don’t think it’s wrong to sacrifice a human being, but
they get bent all out of shape about killing a whale or killing a seal.” In other words, mankind isn’t
really the most significant life form upon the face of the earth.
Now, this whole concept has had a tremendous impact particularly in two areas. One area,
Literature, and the other area, History. Let’s think a little bit about Literature. Here’s a concept that
many have today and is being taught in university classrooms as: “The meaning that a writer intended
to communicate in a document he’s written is not important. Instead what is important is this: what
meaning does the reader derive from reading that document? What meaning does the reader assign to
that document? What meaning does the reader want that document to say?”
Before this kind of thought took place, the whole idea of reading a piece of literature was, “I want
to understand what the writer meant by this. What concepts or meaning is the writer wanting to
communicate to his readers?” To try to determine what the writer intended, you would give a literal
interpretation. You’d give the words that he’s using common ordinary meanings that would have
basically the same meaning among people. But now, no, you don’t have to give the words their
common ordinary meaning. It’s not important what the writer was trying to say. It’s important what it
says to you or what it means to you personally. And so, in a sense, you impose your meaning upon that
work regardless of what the writer had to say.
Now, as you can imagine, that can be a disaster when you go to interpret this piece of literature—
God’s Word. A disaster if you believe that it is not important what the human writers were intending to
communicate when they penned the Words of Scripture; if you believe all that’s important is what I
think it should say, or what I want it to say, or what is meaningful to me whatsoever.
Concerning God’s Word, it’s even more important to determine, not what the human writers
intended to write, but what meaning the ultimate Author of the Scriptures intended to communicate,
namely the Holy Spirit. Turn with me if you would please to 1 Corinthians chapter two.
In 1 Corinthians chapter two Paul was writing to Greeks, who put great stock on man made wisdom.
And Paul, starting out in chapter two, verse one, says,
And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom,
declaring unto you the testimony of God. (2) For I determined not to know any thing among you,
save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. (3) And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in
much trembling. (4) And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s
wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: (5) That your faith should not stand in
the wisdom of men [which by the way, is always changing]—that your faith not stand [not have
it’s foundation] in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
So he said, when I came to you to present my message, I wasn’t presenting it to you in man made
wisdom—philosophical jargon. I know that’s what you’d like to hear as Greeks, but I determined not to
give it to you that way. He probably was thinking, “Some of them are going to say, ‘Well, then what
did you present to us if it wasn’t wisdom?’” Well, notice what he says, verse seven: “But we speak the
wisdom of God.” “I wasn’t giving you man made wisdom, but I was giving you wisdom, the wisdom of
God. That was my job, to present to you what the Ultimate Reality, the Ultimate Source of truth,
Almighty God has to say to you as human beings.”
Edited message by Dr. Renald E. Showers: REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY
He goes on to indicate that he and other apostles and New Testament prophets derived this wisdom
of God by revelation. The Holy Spirit delivered by Divine revelation this truth that God wanted
mankind to have and delivered it to apostles and New Testament prophets who would record that.
But then notice what he says when we come to verse 13. Having talked about all this revelational
truth that was freely given to us of God, he says, verse 13: “Which things we also speak.” Paul thereby
was saying, “We apostles received this revelational truth from God. Now it’s our job to deliver it to
you exactly the way God delivered it to us, without changing it, without adding, without deleting from
it.” “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy
Ghost teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”
The Greek word translated “comparing” has the idea of combining. What he says is, “When we
present the revelational wisdom that God communicated to us through the Holy Spirit, revealed to us
through the Holy Spirit, we are presenting that to you not with words that man dictates, but what the
Holy Spirit indicates we should use as words to communicate this truth, combining the Spirit revealed
thoughts with Spirit prompted words. When I came to you, and I had the job of communicating to you
in understandable fashion Divine truth that God revealed to me through the Holy Spirit as an apostle of
Christ, the Holy Spirit was working with me, supernaturally enabling me to combine the Spirit
revealed truth He revealed to me with the Spirit prompted words that He wanted me to use to
communicate that truth, so it comes across to you accurately, exactly the way God wanted it to be
understood.”
Paul thereby was saying that the ultimate source of the Scriptures is the Holy Spirit, not man. Peter
said, “Holy men wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” As a result, if a person says, “What we
read in this Book, it’s not important what the authors meant; those ideas aren’t important. What’s
important is what I get out of it personally or what it means to me personally. And I want it to mean
what I want it to say.” That person thereby is rejecting the work of the Holy Spirit, the Ultimate
Author, and that has very serious consequences.
What is now prevalent within our culture and society is this concept: that the meaning the writer
intended to communicate, what he has written, is not important. What’s important is what the reader
thinks about it, what the reader gets out of it and wants it to mean.
The other area that’s affected by this concept is the realm of history. Very liberal, radical, even
Marxist, history professors in universities are revising history, contrary to what actually happened.
They tell students that what actually happened is not important. “What’s important is what we think
should have happened back then, or what we wish had happened back then.” So they’re totally revising
history. The reason they do it is because they have an agenda in mind that they want to bombard upon
young minds in order to use these young people to change society the way they want society to be
changed. They will purposely revise what actually happened in history and totally mislead the young
people to fit their agenda—revisionism.
Once you go down that route, there’s no absolute truth that is the same for everybody, regardless of
your culture, your race, your nation, what period of history, what language you have. There’s no
absolute standard of right and wrong by which you can determine whether something is right or wrong.
Once you go down that path with these changes taking place, you’ve automatically stepped out of the
realm of reality, and your thoughts now are contrary to reality. That’s what happens.
I want to give you some examples of this present trend, first from the secular realm and then from
the religious realm.
An example of the way this has changed the approach to literature and what meaning you derive
from literature is the present trend in our courts in the United States. Activist judges claim the intention
Edited message by Dr. Renald E. Showers: REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY   

of the authors of the United States Constitution is not important. What they intended to be true for our
nation and how it would operate according to law is not important. What is important is that we have
the right to change the literal interpretation of the Constitution to apply it to society today. They say the
Constitution is a living organism, and, therefore, it can be changed any way we want it to be changed in
order to fit the way we want Law to go today and the way we want society to move today in America.
That’s true of some of the judges, the liberal ones, in the United States Supreme Court. And that’s true
of judges on other levels throughout our whole legal system in America. They’re activist judges
because they have an agenda. “We don’t like what has been true of our nation in the past. We want to
impose our socialistic philosophy upon the nation and change it; and, therefore, we don’t have to be
concerned about what the authors of the U.S. Constitution intended to be carried out legally in our
country.”
They will do this to try to enforce their own life view and their concept of what they want society to
be upon the rest of the nation. This is an instance of radically changing the intended meaning of
literature, namely the literature we call the United States Constitution.
Another example of this trend from the secular realm is from revisionist history. There are people
today who are denying the reality of the Holocaust of World War II. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the
leader of Iran, insists the Holocaust never took place. He claims the Jews have perpetrated this hoax for
their own purposes in the world.
Contrary to reality there are history professors in America who totally deny that the Holocaust ever
took place. Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem has all the official handwritten records of the
Nazis, records of every Jew they eliminated—six million of them. Their names, what articles of
clothing they brought to the prison camps with them and all the rest. There they are, all the official
German records; and yet people say that never happened. That’s a fiction. There are still Jewish people
who were in those concentration camps alive today who by God’s grace survived, and they’ve got the
tattoos and marks on their bodies that demonstrate it happened. They were there, and they lost
members of their family. And yet these revisionists say that never happened. That’s purely a myth that
the Jews have tried to perpetrate upon society to have complete control of society and make society go
the way they want it to go. Revisionism—completely contrary to reality of what has taken place.
Now, some examples from the religious realm. First is Islam’s relationship to Israel. Muslims
historically have said that they believe the Pentateuch, the five Books of Moses, are God’s Word. They
believe that many of the Psalms in the Bible are God’s Word. They believe that significant portions of
the Gospels of the New Testament are God’s Word, but they also say those portions of the Bible have
been corrupted from what they were originally, and they’ve been changed from what they were
originally.
In Genesis 17 God promised to establish the Abrahamic Covenant with Isaac and his descendants
(Israel), not with Ishmael and his descendants (the Arabs). The Muslims say that’s one place where
Genesis is corrupted, for God really promised to make the covenant with Ishmael and his descendants,
not Isaac and his descendants.” And so the Abrahamic covenant, they say, is between God and the Arab
people, not with the people of Israel. Revisionism—revisionism of historic literature there.
Muslims claim that the Jews had no connection to the land of Israel; that Solomon’s Temple was
not built by true Jews. Solomon’s Temple was built rather by Canaanites at the Temple Mount at
Jerusalem. The Jewish Temple that they did have in ancient times was over at Nablus or maybe in
Bethlehem, but not in the Temple Mount. They also claim that the true Hebrews that God entered into
relationships with were Arab Bedouin tribesmen living over in Arabia. They claim that the Jews that
are in the land today are descendants of the Khazar Turks. They’re weren’t the true Hebrews. Actually
the true Hebrews were the Arab Palestinian people. Another example of revisionist history.
Edited message by Dr. Renald E. Showers: REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY  !

Yasser Arafat—incredible—created a non-existent Canaanite king that he called “Salem.” Notice,
the tie-in with Jerusalem: Jeru Salem. On radio he spoke very magnificently, movingly about the
incredible character of this Palestinian “Salem,” who was their forefather.
There is a Jewish organization in Israel called Palestinian Media Watch. Every day they are
listening to all the Palestinian broadcasts, telecasts, all the literature that they are producing, and
everything else to see what the Palestinians are thinking with regard to Israel. As a result of listening to
all these things the Palestinians are saying, this is what the Jewish Palestinian Media Watch says: “By
turning Canaanites and Israelites into Arabs and Judaism of ancient Israel into Islam, the Palestinian
authority takes authentic Jewish history which was documented by thousands of years of continuous
literature and crosses out the word Jewish where it appears in the ancient literature and substitutes the
word Arab in place of where the word Jewish appeared in ancient literature.” Totally revising actual
history.
One of the key Muslim religious leaders in the Middle East said, “The Palestinians go way back to
the Garden of Eden.” Muslims are trying desperately to get rid of all evidence that there was any
Jewish relationship to Jerusalem, to the Temple and to the Land. Over the last several years they’ve
been digging underneath the Temple Mount. And they’re taking out of there artifacts that go back to
the time of Solomon when the first temple was built, truckloads of it, and they’re taking it out and
dumping it like garbage on the countryside.
How are they able to do that? When Israel gained control of the whole city of Jerusalem in ’67,
including the Temple Mount, they gave authority over the Temple Mount to the Muslim religious
leaders in the Land of Israel. And the Israeli government has allowed the Muslim religious leaders of
Islam in Israel to continue exercising complete authority over that Temple Mount. And so the Muslims
determine who may go up in there; who may not go up in there. Now Israel had a practical reason for
doing that, because they knew if they took that Temple Mount away from Muslim authority, they’d
have a Jihad of hundreds of millions of Muslims all over the world coming against them. They didn’t
want that. And so they’ve allowed the Muslims to have complete control over the Temple Mount, and
that’s why the Muslims have been doing what they can, digging underneath the Temple Mount to the
point that there’s one whole section that they are fearful may collapse. And they are trying to get rid of
all archeological evidence that the Jews had anything to do with that Land or the Temple Mount in past
history.
There is one prominent Jewish archeologist who is taking teams of people out to that garbage
dump, and they’re spending hours and days and weeks sifting through all this stuff that the Muslims
have dumped out there to get some of the artifacts. So they are finding artifacts which go back in
Israel’s history and that demonstrate that Jews have been there ever since they invaded the land of
Canaan. There have always been Jews there. Even in captivities there was always a remnant of Jews
left in that land up to modern day times. An example in the religious realm of history revisionism by
Muslims with regard to Israel and its right to the land.
Now, let me take another example of Revisionism (or if you want to call it Replacement, replacing
one concept with another) in denominationalism. Up until 1920, the Presbyterian Church USA had a
very solid Bible-based doctrinal statement that Presbyterian clergymen were compelled to abide by in
order to remain ordained within the Presbyterian Church. Now granted it had Covenant Theology in it,
but in other areas they were very sound on what the Bible is, its Divine inspirational authority. They
were very sound on who Jesus is, what He did on the Cross and bodily resurrection and all the rest.
In the 1920s, they began trying to get all of the Presbyterian clergy to sign the doctrinal statement
that they’re in complete agreement with it. The leadership of the denomination, which at that time were
conservative and Bible-based, were shocked to find how many of their clergy could not legitimately
Edited message by Dr. Renald E. Showers: REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY  

sign that doctrinal statement. Many of them were younger men who had come recently out of their
Presbyterian theological seminaries. And a lot of these young men said, “If we have to sign that we
agree with the literal interpretation of this doctrinal statement, we can’t sign. The only way we can sign
it is if you will allow us to interpret the meaning of that doctrinal statement the way we want it to
mean. If you will allow that, we will sign it.” Tragically, because there were so many of the
Presbyterian pastorate by that time who were that way, the leadership said, “we can’t lose all these
men. This will destroy the denomination.” So they caved in to that pressure and allowed them to sign it
with tongue in cheek, “I can sign it as long as you allow me to interpret it the way I want it to read and
the way I want it to be understood, but not giving it a literal interpretation and understanding.”
Church historians say that was the turning point in the Presbyterian Church USA from a
denomination that had been doctrinally sound for many, many decades, even centuries, to one in which
liberalism could sweep in tremendously and incredibly change that denomination over several decades.
Another area in which this trend has made an impact in religious circles has been religious
feminism. Let me deal first with Liberal religious feminism. Time magazine, probably about ten to
twelve years ago, ran a fascinating article on the impact that feminism is having in some mainstream
denominations, the more liberal denominations. They pointed out that their feminist beliefs have gone
to the point where now some of these women, some of whom are theology teachers in seminaries, are
raising the question, “Is it possible for a woman to be saved through the death of a male Savior?” And
many of these women concluded, “No, a woman cannot be saved through the death of a male Savior.”
As a result, they developed a new crucifix with a woman nailed to the cross, and they called her
Christa.
Religious feminism is affecting the whole realm of theology. In 1993, the Presbyterian Church
USA, along with some other groups, sponsored a conference called The Re-imaging Conference.1 The
purpose of it was for women in different denominational churches to gather together and re-imagine
what the church would be like if it were the way they wanted the church to be.
Here are some statements that were made at that conference. One woman who was a Lutheran
pastor made this statement, “We did not last night name the name of Jesus. Nor have we done anything
in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit,” and there was laughter and loud applause.
Then a lady who was a professor of theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York said
this, “I don’t think we need a theory of atonement at all. Jesus came for life. Atonement has to do so
much with death. I don’t think we need folks hanging on crosses and blood dripping and weird stuff.”
There was a Korean lady, a theology professor in Seoul, Korea, who said this, “When we do pronic
healing, we believe that this life giving energy came from god, and it’s everywhere. It’s in the sun, it’s
in the ocean, it’s from the ground, it’s from the trees. If you feel very tired, you feel you don’t have any
more energy to give, what you do is sit in silence. Maybe you go to a big tree, ask permission from tree,
‘Give me some of your life energy,’ or ask the sun to give you some life energy.” That’s Pantheism.
God is all. All is God. Nature is God.
Then there was another lady who stood up and gave her personal name and said, “I am co-covener
of the CLOUT Council. CLOUT stands for Christian Lesbians Out Together.” Loud applause. She
went on to say, “We are keenly, painfully aware that the world is not safe for lesbian women, and often
the least safe place is the church. How can we together re-imagine our churches so that every woman
may claim her voice, her gifts, her loves, her wholeness. We invite at this time every lesbian, bi-sexual,
trans-sexual woman who’s willing and able to come forward quickly and encircling this podium facing
out as a circle.” And as women came forward loud applause erupted and lasted for minutes. Then a
Roman Catholic lady, who was very much involved in theological issues, stood up and said, “We need
Edited message by Dr. Renald E. Showers: REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY  ”

to reinvent the family.” And I won’t read to you in this mixed audience her idea of how we need to
reinvent the family. Absolutely incredible!
Then, according to this article, the most shocking thing of this Re-imaging Conference was the
communion service. They used milk and honey as the elements in the communion service. And the
leader of this service sang, “Our mother Sophia, we are women in your image.” The crowd sang the
refrain, “Sophia, creator god. Let your milk and honey flow, Sophia, creator god. Shower us with your
love.” Female god, Sophia.
Incidently, the Time magazine article claimed one woman who had been very vocal at first, an
advocate of the whole feminist movement within mainline denominations said, “Whoa, wait a minute.
This is going too far. This is paganism. This is not Christianity at all.” And said, “I want no part of
this.” But it’s changing even the realm of theology today, because again, we want it to be the way we
want it to be, not what the Scriptures say. Now that would be Liberal Feminism.
Let me deal a little bit with Evangelical Feminism. Some women who claim to be evangelicals
have had two different approaches to what the Bible says about distinctive roles of male and female.
One group says, “Well the Bible does say, ‘Yes, that there are distinctive roles that God has related
between males and females,’ but that’s where the Bible is in error. That’s erroneous.” But once you say
that, there goes inspiration of the Scriptures out the window. That was their way, of evangelicals, trying
to deal with what the Bible says about distinctive roles God has created for male and female.
Other evangelical feminists said, “No, we believe the Bible is Divinely inspired of God and
therefore authoritative.” What they say is, “Paul was not in error in what he said. However, we must
interpret what he said about distinctive roles God has ordained in light of culture at that particular time,
and let the culture determine what Paul meant by those statements.” The problem with that approach is
this: every reason Paul gave (for example in 1 Corinthians eleven, 1 Timothy, and Titus) for distinctive
roles that God has ordained between male and female are all non cultural reasons. Not one of them is a
cultural reason for those distinctive roles that were given in the Scriptures. So again, it’s a revisionism
and a replacement of what the Bible is saying.
If you’re going to give the Bible a literal, historical, grammatical interpretation, you’ll come out
right in the end. But if you don’t like that, and you want to change the way you approach it, you’re
going to come out contrary to the original meaning of the Scriptures that the Holy Spirit determined
when He prompted, for example, the apostle Paul to write what he wrote; and even things that were
written in the Old Testament that talk about how God ordained distinctive roles at the time of Creation
between male and female.
Then, another area of this line of thinking— revisionism, changing, replacing the literal meaning of
things—has been the ordaining of homosexual clergy now in mainline denominational churches. What
they say is this. “When the Bible says that a man is not to lie with another man as he would with a
woman, that’s not forbidding all forms of homosexual relationships. It’s only forbidding if one person
enforces this upon another person. That’s what God’s condemning in the Bible. But if two men consent
to this kind of relationship, or two women consent to this kind of relationship with each other, that’s
okay from God’s viewpoint. It’s only if one party is trying to enforce this against the will of another
party that’s being condemned by the Bible.”
Well, where does the Bible say that? In the Old Testament God clearly states, “A man is not to lie
with a man the way he would lie with a woman.” Can’t we understand language? That’s all it says. No
exceptions. But to get around it, they say, “It’s not what the writer wrote and intended that’s important.
What’s important is, what does it say to me, and what do I want it to say.”
Edited message by Dr. Renald E. Showers: REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY  #

We also have a problem today with a movement called Progressive Dispensationalism. There’s
some replacement going on in that as well and reinterpreting some passages of Scripture that are very
clear. A number of years ago, I was ministering at a particular place in another state of our country, and
it so happened that two of the major proponents of Progressive Dispensationalism were at that same
place at that time. When I arrived at the place where I was to minister, there was a note waiting for me
which said I was to meet with these two men on one of the days that I was there, and I did.
Let me give you some background so you understand why I was told I was to meet with them.
Several months before that, while I was teaching full time at Philadelphia College of Bible, the men of
the Bible Department of the college got together to discuss this whole new trend called Progressive
Dispensationalism. And every one of us said, “We are totally opposed to Progressive
Dispensationalism because we believe it is contrary to Scripture.”
Somehow between then and the time I was where these two proponents of Progressive
Dispensationalism were located, word had gotten to them that the Bible men at Philadelphia College of
Bible were opposed to what they were proposing. When I met with them, they said, “We understand
that the Bible men at Philadelphia College of Bible don’t like Progressive Dispensationalism.” I said,
“You’re right, we don’t.” And they said, “Well, why?” I said, “Because we’re convinced it’s contrary
to Scripture.” They said, “Well, in what way?” And I said, “Well, for one thing your view claims that,
when Jesus ascended to Heaven and sat down beside God on His throne, Jesus was thereby sitting
down upon the throne of David. As a result you’re equating God’s throne with the throne of David.”
And the one man said, “Well, what’s wrong with that?” I said, “Thirty some years after Jesus ascended
to Heaven and sat down beside God on His throne, He said in Revelation, chapter three, verse 21: ‘To
Him that overcomes I will [emphasis added] (now this is future tense) grant Him to sit with Me on My
throne just as I overcame and the Father granted Me to sit with Him on His throne.’”
And I said, “If language means anything, Jesus is drawing a clear distinction here between the
Father’s throne, where He’s seated now, and His throne that He’s going to sit upon to rule the earth in
the future.” One of those men gave a response to that, and to this day I still don’t understand what he
was saying. It seemed to me it was such a nebulous response that made no sense to me whatsoever. But
here’s a clear statement that Jesus Himself made, drawing a distinction between His throne He will sit
upon in the future and the Father’s throne where He’s seated right now. To my way of thinking, the
only way you can get around that is to reinterpret that passage and not give it its literal meaning.
Progressive Dispensationalism’s slogan is “Already Not Yet.” What they’re saying is, “There’s a
sense in which the Kingdom of God that was foretold for the future in the Old Testament is already
here. That future Kingdom of God is already here in spiritual form, but there’s a sense in which it’s not
yet here. It’s not yet here in political form.” The only way you can have some aspect of it already here,
is if Christ right now is on the throne of David, because the Bible makes it very clear that the Kingdom
is not set up until Jesus is on His throne that was promised to Him.
Remember what Gabriel said to Mary [Luke 1:32-33], “He will receive the throne of His ancestor
David to sit upon.” So again, not giving words their common ordinary meaning—literal
interpretation—but making it say what you want it to say, not what it actually says. And so there at
least, you have to say, “Well the intention of Jesus in that statement of Revelation 3:21 is not
important. What is important is what it means to us.”
Now, what I want to do for most of the rest of the time this afternoon is deal with what we’ve
normally called Replacement Theology. That’s the view that says, “Because Israel rejected Jesus in
His first coming, God has forever rejected the nation of Israel, and He has no present program for the
nation of Israel. There’s no future program for the nation of Israel. God has replaced Israel with the
Church, and therefore, the Church is now God’s Israel. They’re the people of God, and so the Church
Edited message by Dr. Renald E. Showers: REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY  $

now inherits all the promises that God gave to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the people of Israel, for
example, in the Abrahamic Covenant.”
I want to point out that this view of Replacement Theology is not new. It actually began less than
100 years after the Apostles were gone from the scene. Less than 100 years after the Apostle John died
in 100 AD, there were prominent church leaders who began this whole concept that God’s done with
Israel, and the Church is now God’s Israel.
I have some specific quotes, so I’m going to read a good part of this. I trust you’ll bear with me on
this, because I want to be accurate in what I’m presenting.
Church historians point out that for the first several years the church was totally Jewish in
membership. The Book of Acts makes that very clear. But, as a result of persecution by unbelieving
Jews in Jerusalem, Jewish believers, such as Stephen and others, were scattered out of Jerusalem.
Some of them took the Gospel to the Samaritans. Peter, Acts chapter ten, was required by the Holy
Spirit to go to the home of a Gentile, Cornelius, and open the door to Gentiles to get saved and come
into the Church.
As a result, by the end of the first century the Church was primarily Gentile in membership. Once
the Church became predominantly Gentile in membership, it began to experience significant changes in
contrast to what it was when mainly Jewish in membership.
Within 100 years after the Apostles of Jesus Christ were gone, the majority of Gentile Christians
regarded the Jewish Scriptures as authoritative. But many of the Gentile Christians began to think, “of
themselves as the true spiritual heirs of Israel and claimed for themselves the promises which the
Hebrews felt that Yahweh had made to them.”
Adolph Harnak who was probably the world’s foremost church historian in the late 1800s and early
1900s made this statement: “The Christians held the Jews having been rejected by God, they
themselves, [in other words, the Christians] had become the chosen people.” In other words, these
Christians began claiming that God permanently ended Israel’s unique relationship with Him as a
nation and replaced it with the Church as His unique people, and thus, the Christians were now the
Israel of God.
Some Gentile Church leaders within 100 years after the Apostles were gone were very anti-Semitic.
Because they were, they played a key role in this significant shift away from the original understanding
of the Scriptures regarding the nation of Israel’s relationship with God. In response to Jewish attacks
against Christian beliefs some of these church leaders resorted to new methods of Biblical
interpretation and wrote rebuttals with varying degrees of anti-Semitic content. In other words, the
rebuttals against the adversary Jews were rather anti-Semitic.
For example, Justin Martyr, who lived from 100 to 165 AD and was a Christian apologist, defended
Christianity against its enemies. He made the following claim in his work entitled, Dialogue of Justin
Martyr with Trypho, a Jew: The Christians “are the true Israelitic race.”
He also asserted that the Biblical expression, “the seed of Jacob,” when properly understood, now
refers to the Christians, not to the Jews. And church historians point out that was a significant shift in
understanding the Scriptures from what they had been originally. Tertullian, another prominent church
leader, who lived from c155 to c225 AD and was located in North Africa, wrote a work called An
Answer to the Jews. This was an anti-Semitic discourse. He interpreted God’s statements to Rebekah
concerning her twins, Esau and Jacob in her womb, in the following manner: Esau, the older brother
represents the Jews; Jacob, the younger brother represents the Christians. Considering what God said
about Esau and Jacob, “The older brother will serve the younger brother,” Tertullian said, “This
Edited message by Dr. Renald E. Showers: REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY
indicates that God thereby revealed that the Christians would overcome the Jews, and the Jews would
serve the Christians.” He thereby allegorized God’s statement contrary to what God intended.
Origen, who lived from 185 to 253 AD, was the president of the very influential school of theology
at Alexandria, Egypt. Origen greatly influenced the church’s acceptance of the allegorical and
spiritualizing method of interpreting the Bible. This method stands in contrast to the literal, historical,
grammatical method. And this method permitted him to read almost any meaning he desired into the
language of the Bible. It allowed him to claim that the word “Israel” in the Bible can mean the Church,
not national Israel.
That method also led him into heresy in some areas of doctrine. For example, he rejected the
concept of physical resurrection and believed in universal salvation for all human beings and fallen
angels. His allegorizing, spiritualizing method permitted him to come up with those concepts contrary
to the Bible.
Church historian Philip Schaff, who’s written a multi-volume set on Church History, made this
statement about Origen’s approach to interpreting the Bible: “His great defect is the neglect of the
grammatical, historical sense and his constant desire to find a hidden mystic meaning. His allegorical
interpretation is ingenious but often runs far away from the text and degenerates into the merest
caprice.”
Dionysus, who was a disciple of Origen and lived from 190 to 264 AD, became a very influential
bishop of the Church at Alexandria, Egypt. He succeeded in asserting that an allegorical interpretation
of the prophets is the only legitimate exegesis of what the prophets said in the Old Testament, not the
historical, grammatical, or literal method in determining what they said.
Cyprian, who lived from 195 to 258 AD and was the bishop of a church in Carthage, North Africa,
wrote Three Books of Testimonies Against The Jews. He stated that he “endeavored to show that the
Jews according to what had before been foretold had departed from God. The Jews had departed from
God and had lost God’s favor which had been given them in past time and had been promised them for
the future while the Christians had succeeded to their place.” In other words, the Christians had
inherited the place the Jews had with God, “deserving well of the Lord by faith and coming out of all
nations and from the whole world.” He, much like Tertullian, had interpreted God’s statements to
Rebekah about her twins, Esau and Jacob in her womb, in the following allegorical manner, “Esau the
older brother represents the Jews. Jacob the younger brother represents the Christians.” And the
implication of that is this, the Christians have inherited the birthright that the Jews forfeited.
Remember Jacob inherited Esau’s birthright, because Esau forfeited it to his brother. He also declared
that the Gentiles rather than the Jews obtained the Kingdom of Heaven.
John Chrysostom, a very prominent preacher in the Eastern Church, was the bishop of the huge
Sancta Sophia Church in Constantinople, in what today is Turkey. He lived from 347 to 407 AD. He
delivered messages which have been printed word for word, entitled, Against The Jews. According to
the Jewish Encyclopedia, Chrysostom, Cyril, the bishop of Alexandra, and Ambrose, the bishop of
Milan “potently affected the fate of the Jewish people.” Chrysostom viciously attacked the Jews in
some of his messages. These are just some samples of how Replacement Theology developed quite
early in the history of the Church.
Having given those examples, I want to point out two major effects that Replacement Theology had
upon the Church. For the next several centuries Replacement Theology played a significant role in
producing major changes in two areas of organized Christendom: Ecclesiology and Eschatology.
Replacement Theology prompted some dramatic changes in Ecclesiology. Ecclesiology addresses
such issues as: What is the Church? What’s its nature? What’s its function? There’s a scholar in
Edited message by Dr. Renald E. Showers: REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY  

Europe, Dr. Ronald Diprose. He’s originally from Australia. He took a Master’s Degree of Theology at
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, north of Chicago, then went to Europe to a theological school, and
did his Ph.D. work there in theology. In his doctoral dissertation, he dealt with the subject of Israel and
the Church. His dissertation has been published with the title Israel and The Church. He quotes far
more of these church leaders than I have here, and he shows how their Replacement Theology played a
key role in the development of the whole Roman Catholic system.
As a result of Gentile leaders concluding that the Church is now the Israel of God, they began to
appropriate to the Church things that God had instituted specifically for the nation of Israel. For
example, they began to say, “Since the Church is now Israel, since God gave Israel a priesthood, then
He must want the Church to have a priesthood.” They began changing the titles of church leaders, such
as pastors, to priests. Then they said, “Since God gave Israel a multi-tiered priesthood with one high
priest at the top, and layers of priesthood underneath, He must want the Church to have a multi-tiered
priesthood with one high priest at the top and layers of priesthood underneath.” Slowly but surely they
began to develop more and more of the hierarchy until they had come to one man at the top, namely the
Pope.
Then they said, “Since God gave Israel continuing blood sacrifices, He must want the Church to
have continuing blood sacrifices. But now, it can’t be animals. We have to relate it to Christ.” So
slowly but surely they began changing the significance of the Communion service. Instead of the bread
and wine simply representing the body and blood of Christ, they began saying that there’s a miracle
that takes place when communion is observed in which the bread is converted into the literal flesh of
Christ, and the wine is converted into the literal blood of Christ, so that every time Communion is
observed Jesus is being sacrificed again and again and again as a continuing blood sacrifice for the sins
of the people. And that led to the Catholic view of transubstantiation. Trans means across,
substantiation, substance. In one sense, this bread is transferred over into flesh. In another sense, this
wine is transferred over into blood. And that led to the whole service of the Mass within the Roman
Catholic Church.
Thus, Replacement Theology played a key role in changing Ecclesiology, the nature and function of
the church; but it also played a key role in changing Eschatology. In the area of Eschatology early
replacement theology prompted the rejection of the Church’s original view called Chiliasm. Chiliasm
is from a Greek word which means one thousand. And Chiliasm was the view that today we call
premillennialism. It’s the view that in the future Jesus Christ will return bodily to the earth, set up a
literal, political Kingdom of God upon the face of the earth and rule the world for God for the last one
thousand years of history. Church historians across the board from many denominations all agree that
was the original eschatological view of the Church—Chiliasm, what we call premillennialism.
Chiliasm was the predominant view of Orthodox Christianity from the first until the third century
AD. But as early as 170 AD, some leaders of the Greek church in the eastern part of the empire began
to reject Chiliasm. There was a strong anti-Semitic spirit in the eastern church. Because many Jews of
Jesus’ day rejected Him, and many of their successors refused to believe in Him, Gentile church
leaders in the eastern church increasingly began to call Jews “Christ killers” and developed a strong
bias against anything Jewish. And because the Church’s original view of Chiliasm was the same
eschatological hope that had motivated Jews for centuries, these Gentile church leaders began calling
Chiliasm a Jewish view. And they said, “Because it’s Jewish, it must be rejected.” They began to
stigmatize it as a Jewish view, and some even went so far as to say, “It’s heretical.”
Some even rejected the prophetic Scriptures from which Chiliasm was derived. For example,
Dionysus, the student of Origen, who was the bishop of the church of Alexandria in Egypt, believed
that the rejection of Jewish Chiliasm would never be secure so long as the Apocalypse of John (the
Edited message by Dr. Renald E. Showers: REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY  

Book of Revelation) passed for an apostolic writing and kept its place in the Bible. And so this church
bishop went on an all out crusade to prejudice the Greek Church against the canonicity (the Divine
inspiration) of the Book of Revelation, and he succeeded to the point that the Eastern Church (the
Greek Church) totally removed the Book of Revelation from the Bible in the Fourth Century, and kept
it out for several centuries up into the Middle Ages, until finally Chiliasm was finally buried within the
Eastern Church. Once Chiliasm was buried, they put it [the Apocalypse] back into the Canon of
Scripture. That was the Eastern Church.
The Western, or Latin Church, held onto Chiliasm longer than the Greek Church of the east. In the
west, Chiliasm was still a point of orthodoxy in the Fourth Century. In other words, in the 300s AD, if
you were in the western church and you didn’t believe in Chiliasm, you were regarded as being
contrary to the orthodox teaching of the church.
But after the Fourth Century, the western church began to join the revolt against Chiliasm.
Teaching from the Greek church was brought to the West by influential church leaders such as Jerome
and Ambrose. As a result of being taught by Greek theologians of the east for several years, Jerome,
who lived from 345 to 420 AD, declared that he had been delivered from “Jewish opinions,” and he
ridiculed the early beliefs of the Church in Chiliasm.
Ambrose, who lived from 340 to 397 AD and was a very influential bishop in Milan, Italy, said the
Jews were “a type of the infidel.” He regarded the soul of Jewish people to be irrevocably perverse and
incapable of any good thought and asserted that burning a Jewish synagogue was not a crime.
Ambrose was the spiritual mentor of Augustine. Augustine got saved indirectly as a result of the
preaching of Ambrose, and then Ambrose discipled Augustine for a while. In fact, in the City of Milan
today there is a huge Roman Catholic Cathedral called The Duomo, built in the 1300s. A number of
years ago, when they were digging out for a subway system in Milan, a huge hole opened up. When the
diggers went inside, they saw ruins underneath this big cathedral. They called in the archeologists, and
research demonstrated these were the ruins of a Christian church building that had been built maybe in
the late 300s, early 400s AD. They also found out this is where Ambrose baptized Augustine. And if
you get down there, it surely wasn’t sprinkling. It’s a huge baptistry with steps going down into it. So
he had great influence upon Augustine, and Augustine became the bishop of Hippo in North Africa.
Church historians say that Augustine influenced the future direction of organized Christendom more
than any person since the apostle Paul. It appears that Ambrose’s anti-Semitic views impacted the
thinking of Augustine. Augustine published a work called, Tract Against the Jews. It was so influential
that derogatory arguments against Jews throughout the Middle Ages were usually called Augustinian.
In the early years of his Christian faith, Augustine adopted the Chiliasm view of the early church,
but later he rejected it. It appears that the anti-Semitic views of Ambrose and Jerome motivated him to
do so because of the thought that Chiliasm was Jewish. But another factor that prompted that was the
influence of Greek philosophy upon his thinking. Augustine was deeply immersed in all different forms
of Greek philosophy before he became a Christian, and when he became a Christian, he still was
enamored with it. One of the teachings of Greek philosophy was this: anything physical or material is
automatically evil because it’s physical or material. And only what is non-physical, non-material is
good. And so he began to incorporate that concept of Greek philosophy into his Christian theology, and
he said this, “If I take the Biblical passages on the Kingdom of God literally, they promise an earthly
political kingdom with great physical and material blessings. But because material and physical
blessings would be evil (because anything material or physical is evil), that’s carnal, and therefore,
there’s no way those Biblical passages can be taken literally about the future Kingdom of God.” To his
way of thinking, in order for the Kingdom of God to be good, it must be totally spiritual in nature.
Edited message by Dr. Renald E. Showers: REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY
One church historian said, “Thus for him the millennium had become a spiritual state into which
the church collectively had entered at Pentecost in which the individual Christian might already enjoy
through mystical communion with God.” In other words, he allegorized the future Kingdom of God
and said it’s totally a spiritual kingdom; and the Church is now that spiritual kingdom and that was set
up by Christ during His first coming; and so the Kingdom is already here in a spiritual form, and the
Church is that Kingdom.
In order to avoid the implications of some of the millennial passages of the Bible, he applied the
allegorical method of interpretation to the prophets and to the Revelation of Jesus Christ. For example,
Augustine interpreted the first resurrection that John refers to in Revelation, chapter twenty, as the
present spiritual resurrection of the soul which takes place at the new birth, not the future bodily
resurrection of people.
Covenant Theologians over the last decade have come out with a Covenant Theology Study Bible
called the Geneva Study Bible. When they come to that statement in Revelation twenty about the first
Resurrection after the Tribulation Period, their footnote says, “This is not physical resurrection. This is
the spiritual resurrection that happens when a person experiences the new birth.” However,
interestingly, they said this, “If perhaps it’s physical resurrection, then the premillennialists are
correct.” Interesting! But see again, “we are not going to give the words their normal, ordinary
meaning, because we don’t like that. We have to interpret it the way it’s meaningful to us, the way we
want it to be.” That’s what happened here.
The rejection of Chiliasm necessitated the development of a new eschatalogical view. And so
Augustine developed a new eschatological view called Amillennialism, which means no millennium.
This view denied a future earthly political Kingdom of God over which Christ will administer God’s
rule for the last thousand years of this present earth’s history. In this view Augustine developed the idea
that the Church is the Kingdom of God foretold in such Scriptures as Daniel 2, Daniel 7, Revelation
20. In his book called The City of God, he became the first person to teach the idea that the organized
catholic (universal) church is the Messianic Kingdom, and that the millennium began with the first
coming of Christ. According to this view, when Christ comes out of Heaven for His Second Coming,
that ends this earth’s history and everything goes immediately into the future eternal state.
The Roman Catholic church adopted, strongly advocated, and maintained Replacement Theology,
and also adopted and strongly advocated Augustine’s amillennial view throughout the Middle Ages.
And so the Roman Catholic Church, believing that it is the Kingdom of God on earth foretold in the
Bible, also believed that it had the right to enforce its beliefs and policies on all people, including
political rulers, pagans, and Jews. As a result, the Roman Catholic Church developed into a powerful,
religious, political machine that dominated every aspect of life in western Europe, even to the point of
setting up, dominating, removing and humiliating kings and emperors. And this played a key role in the
persecution of Jews by the Roman Catholic Church and Roman Catholic political rulers for centuries to
come.
Throughout the Middle Ages hundreds of thousands of Jews were massacred by organized
Christendom in the name of Jesus Christ. Jews were forced to get Christian baptism against their will.
“Either you get baptized and thereby become a Christian, or we execute you.” If they didn’t execute
them, and Jews refused to be baptized, then they would take the children of the Jews away from them.
“You are not allowed to raise them, because you would raise them as Jews.” They would put them in
Christian homes, so they would be raised as Christians. The Crusaders in England and France, before
they marched to the Middle East, slaughtered thousands of Jews in the name of Jesus Christ with the
cross as a symbol on their uniforms or their shields.
Edited message by Dr. Renald E. Showers: REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY
What about the Reformers? The Reformation began with Martin Luther in Germany in 1517. The
Reformers of the 16th century Protestant Reformation broke away from the Roman Catholic Church in
several key areas of ecclesiology and doctrine. However, having said that, they held on to the
eschatology of Amillennialism in the Roman Catholic Church. The Lutheran, Reformed, and Anglican
Reformers rejected Chiliasm (today known as Premillennialism) as being Jewish opinions. They
maintained the Amillennial view which the Roman Catholic Church adopted from Augustine.
Not all those reformers viciously attacked Jews. But Martin Luther was one major exception to
that. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, during his early years as a reformer, Luther was full of
compassion for the Jews’ misery and enthusiastic for their conversion to Christianity. But toward the
end of his life, he denounced them in unmeasured terms, saying that it is useless to convert any Jew
and accusing them of a relentless hatred of Christianity and of all the crimes which their enemies ever
charged them with such as, poisoning wells, ritual murder, cowardly assassination of their parents, etc.
He wished the princes, the political rulers of Europe, to persecute the Jews mercilessly and the
preachers in their churches to set mob violence against the Jews in their communities. He repeatedly
urged that their synagogues be burned and was sorry that he could not destroy them himself with
hellfire. He further advised that their houses be torn down, their books taken from them, their rabbis
prohibited from teaching, that no safe conduct be granted them, that their usury be prohibited, that their
public worship be interdicted (in other words, cut off), and that they be forced to do the hardest labor.
He admonished everybody to deal with them in a merciless manner even as Moses did who slew 3,000
of them in the wilderness. He admonished his readers not to have the slightest intercourse with Jews.
He said, “If I had power over them, I would assemble their most prominent men and demand that they
prove that we Christians do not worship the one God under the penalty of having their tongues torn out
through the back of their necks.” Luther argued that the sufferings of the Jews are the just punishment
for their rejection of Jesus.
When Adolph Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, he read Luther’s statements about the
Jews to the German people and said, “Look, even the greatest spiritual leader of our nation himself
said, ‘These people are the scourge of mankind, and for the good of mankind they should be totally
eliminated from the face of the earth.’” Luther gave fodder—weapons wordwise—for Hitler and the
Nazis to carry out their systematic elimination of Jews from Europe.
Covenant Theology began to develop as a system of theology in the Reformed churches of
Switzerland and Germany in the 16th and 17th centuries and then passed from there to the Netherlands,
Scotland and England. It was introduced to America primarily through the Puritans. Advocates of
Covenant Theology adopted Replacement Theology in relationship to the nation of Israel, and so as a
result, claim that, because Israel rejected Christ as its Messiah, God forever rejected the nation of Israel
as His people and replaced Israel with the Church as His people. Thus, the Church is now the Israel of
God, has inherited the blessings of God originally promised to national Israel. This meant that national
Israel lost forever rightful claim of ownership to the land that God gave to it in ancient times. If carried
to its logical conclusion, this also meant that the Church, including Gentiles, is the rightful owner of
that land. And Covenant Theology, at least some advocates of it, continue to hold that view today. Now
that doesn’t mean that they automatically hate the Jews. And it doesn’t mean that they believe that
Jews should be persecuted, but it does mean that their adoption of Replacement Theology has affected
their view of Israel’s ownership of the land and its right to exist as a nation in the Middle East. The
only way they can have that view is by employing an allegorical method of interpreting the Bible,
rather than the historical, grammatical method of interpreting the Bible.
They allegorize two areas of the Bible: passages related to national Israel and passages talking
about the prophetic future. So far, prophecies in the Bible that have already been fulfilled have been
fulfilled according to the historical, grammatical, literal interpretation of those passages, not an
Edited message by Dr. Renald E. Showers: REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY
Dr. Showers (October 4, 2007 ):
“Significant parts of the manuscript are either already in print (chapters
7 and 8 of the updated and revised edition of my book What On Earth
Is God Doing?) or scheduled to be in print (a book on Replacement
Theology— Israel And The Faithfulness Of God—that I finished
writing in January, and the Friends of Israel has agreed to publish).”
allegorical method. The fact that that is so, strongly implies that’s how God intends all the prophecies
in the Bible to be fulfilled, according to the historical, grammatical method, not an allegorical method.
Once you depart from the literal, historical, grammatical method of interpreting the Bible, you can
make the Bible say whatever you want it to say. You’ve lost your anchor. The historical, grammatical
method is kind of the wall around us to hold us in line, so we don’t depart from what the Holy Spirit
intended by the words of the Bible, that He enabled the writers of Scripture to combine with the
revealed truth that God had given. Again, see what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:13, “Which things also
we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth;
comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”
Let me close by recommending another book to you. Dr. Robert L. Thomas, who is the chief Greek
New Testament man at Master’s Seminary out in California, has published an excellent book entitled
Evangelical Hermeneutics: The New Versus the Old. It shows how today in evangelical circles there’s
drift away from proper methods of interpreting the Bible. It deals with how progressive
dispensationalism has drifted away from it. Feminism has drifted away from the proper interpretation
of the Bible. It even talks about how some missions are going too far in trying to contextualize the
meaning of Scripture to a culture.
God gave the Scriptures in language that all people over the world should be able to understand
once it’s translated literally into their language. And, if we’re going to allow culture to determine the
meaning of the Bible, then you’re not allowing the Bible to say what it wants to say. It should be that
the culture conforms to the truth of the Bible, not the Bible conforming to what manmade culture has to
say. So, you might want to see that book. It’s very thorough. It is sounding a warning about the way
evangelical Christianity is going right now, with the way it’s handling the Word of God, and not
sticking with the proper method of interpreting the Bible.
Father, we’ve had to deal with some heavy things here this afternoon, but if nothing else
comes across to us, we pray that we’ll walk away with this, with a determination that by
God’s grace we will handle Your holy Scriptures the way You desire them to be handled and
the way the Holy Spirit intended when He revealed Your truth to apostles and prophets and
then worked with them supernaturally, so that they would record the content of that revealed
truth with the exact words necessary for the meaning of that revealed truth to be presented
exactly the way You wanted people to understand it. Lord, that was great work by the Holy
Spirit. Forbid that any of us who have responsibility of handling Your Word or teaching
other people that we would sacrifice that work because of some whim that we wanted to say
something else than it’s actually saying. We thank You for Your Word and the Divine
authority that’s carried with it. And we pray that we will allow it with proper understanding
to be the ultimate authority over what we believe and over what we practice for Your honor
and glory.

Angelic Conflict (Jude 9)

 

Angelic Conflict (Jude 9) from John MacArthur on Vimeo.

macarthurcommentaries.com

Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties. But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (Jude 8–9)

Jude demonstrated the seriousness of the apostates’ irreverence by contrasting their behavior with that of Michael the archangel. As God’s most powerful angel and the protector of God’s people (cf. Dan. 10:13–21; 12:1), Michael did not demonstrate irreverence when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses. Michael knew that God could grant him power over Satan (cf. Rev. 12:7–9), yet he also understood that he was not to act beyond God’s prescribed limits. Out of respect for Satan’s status and power as the highest created being, Michael did not dare pronounce against him (Satan) a railing judgment as if he possessed sovereign dominion over him. In fact, he did nothing more than utter the words, “The Lord rebuke you!”

Michael’s response anticipated the example of the Angel of the Lord in Zechariah 3:2: “The Lord said to Satan, ‘The Lord rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?’”In the prophet Zechariah’s vision, Joshua the high priest—who along with Zerubbabel led the first group of Jews back from Babylonian captivity—was standing in heaven before the Angel of the Lord. The devil was also there, at the right hand of Joshua, accusing Joshua and the nation of Israel whom he represented.

Satan’s argument, based on Israel’s sinfulness, was that God should break His covenant promises (cf. Gen. 12:3, 7; 26:3–4; 28:14; Deut. 5:1–21; 2 Sam. 7:12; Ps. 89:3–4; cf. Rom. 9:4; Gal. 3:16). In response, the Angel of the Lord (the preincarnate Christ) defended Israel by deferring to God the Father and asking Him to rebuke Satan (cf. 1 John 2:1). And the Father honored the preincarnate Son. Instead of breaking His covenant with His chosen people, God reaffirmed His commitment to Israel’s future justification, promising to forgive Israel’s sin and clothe her with garments of righteousness (Zech. 3:3–5).

When Michael contended for the body of Moses, he did just what the Angel of the Lord did. His appeal to the Lord as sovereign apparently ended the dispute with Satan. Interestingly, this is the only place Scripture mentions this incident; the Old Testament provides no details about Moses’ death other than to say, “So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor; but no man knows his burial place to this day” (Deut. 34:5–6). Because God did not want anyone to preserve Moses’ body and venerate it, He gave Michael the responsibility of burying it where no one—including Satan—could find it. False teachers exercise no such restraint but pretend to have personal power over Satan and angelic beings…

Ezekiel’s Prophecy of the Temple


By Randall Price
One of the most crucial texts for the futurist interpretation of prophecy concerning Israel is the vision of the prophet Ezekiel in chapters 40-48. In this text the prophet presents God’s instructions for the construction of a new Temple to be built as part of the promise of Israel’s divine restoration. The concern of the exiles, as exemplified by Daniel’s prayer, was for a literal rebuilding of both the city of Jerusalem and its Temple (Daniel 9:3-19). Ezekiel’s prophecy of the Temple, delivered to these exiles, should be interpreted in light of this literal concern. Recognizing that the Second Temple constructed by the Jewish remnant that returned from the Exile (538-515 B.C.) did not implement Ezekiel’s detailed plan, Futurism, therefore, interprets the literal fulfillment of this prophecy eschatologically with the erection of a restoration Temple in the earthly Millennial Kingdom. This text is crucial to futurism because if literal interpretation fails with respect to this prophecy, then there is no reason to insist on a literal interpretation of any Old Testament prophecy, including messianic prophecy, which is an inseparable part of the restoration prophecies.
Despite this caution, the symbolic interpretation of this portion of Ezekiel’s prophecy is the dominant view advanced by critical scholars and conservative non-futurists (historicists, preterists, idealists) based on their contention that prophetic visions employ apocalyptic language that uses the literary device of hyperbole (exaggerated speech) to convey idealistic or symbolic, rather than literal, concepts. Therefore, non-futurists explain that the reason why the builders of the Second Temple did not follow Ezekiel’s plans for the Temple was because the Jewish audience understood apocalyptic as symbolic rather than literal. However, the symbolic school of interpretation is divided on what this symbolism was intended to portray. Some interpreters believe it was meant to preserve the memory of the First Temple through an idealistic remembrance, others say it idealistically describes the Second Temple, which was constructed upon the Jews return to Judah after the Exile (538-515 B.C.), while others see it illustrating a spiritual ideal (God’s dwelling in holiness in the midst of His people) or a spiritual reality (heaven, the eternal state, the Church). It is necessary to evaluate the symbolic school’s interpretive theories of this pivotal text and compare it with the literal school’s interpretation, to determine whether the intended fulfillment is to be understood as timeless (idealistic), to have occurred in the past (with the First or Second Temples), or is reserved for the eschatological age (the Millennial Temple).
An Idealistic Remembrance of the First Temple
This view draws its support from the need of the returning exiles, some of whom wept when the foundation of the Second Temple was laid, because they had seen the greater grandeur of the First Temple, and others, who born in the Captivity, lacked such a reference point in the past and therefore shouted for joy (Ezra 3:12-13), to share a common historical memory. To satisfy this need, Ezekiel shared his priestly memories in order to preserve the historical heritage of the Temple and its services for a new generation and to comfort them with the message that God was with them as He had been in the past. This interpretation raises a number of textual and historical objections.
First, Ezekiel states that this vision was communicated during the Captivity, not after the Return (Ezekiel 40:1-2). If it was given in the Exile and was meant to unite the Israelites in a common memory of the past and assure them of God’s presence, it apparently failed in its purpose since the Israelites were divided in their reaction to the construction of the Second Temple. The argument that God’s message was only received, but not delivered, by the prophet in the Exile, cannot be sustained in view of Ezekiel 11:25 which states “Then I told the exiles all the things that the Lord had shown me.” Although this applies to the judgment section of the book, is it reasonable to assume the prophet would share only the bad news (the destruction of the First Temple), but not the good news (the prophetic promise of a restored Temple)? However, it is clear that Ezekiel did deliver his prophetic vision to the exilic community, for God’s command to him was to describe the plan of the Temple to a still unrepentant “house of Israel” who had “defiled My holy name by their abominations” (Ezekiel 43:8). In fact, the purpose of Ezekiel’s description of the plans for the Temple is so “they may be ashamed of their iniquities” (Ezekiel 43:10-11). This is in harmony with the judgment of the book in which Ezekiel is commanded to deliver his message to “the sons of Israel, to a rebellious people who have rebelled against Me” (Ezekiel 2:3-4). By contrast, those who had returned to Judah to rebuild the Temple displayed repentance (Ezra 1:5; Haggai 1:12; Zechariah 1:6; cf. 2 Chronicles 6:38) and therefore could not have been the original recipients of Ezekiel’s message.
Second, there was no need for Ezekiel to give a description of the First Temple since such a description already existed, as preserved in the books of Kings and Chronicles (1 Kings 5:1-8:66; 2 Chronicles 2:1-7:22). Moreover, it is obvious from a comparison of the details given in both these texts that the description of the Temple and its services given by Ezekiel varies radically from the historical record of the construction of Solomon’s Temple and its services recorded by the traditional authors Jeremiah (Kings) and Ezra (Chronicles). These differences include unprecedented divergences in structure (immensely larger dimensions), style, and ceremony, as well as a river that flows eastward out of the Temple to refresh the arid areas of the Arabah and the Dead Sea (Ezekiel 47:1-12). Moreover, some of Ezekiel’s instructions for the Temple and its service contradict or are a departure from those in the Mosaic Law. For example, Ezekiel’s instruction to make the Altar of Burnt Offering with steps (Ezekiel 43:17) violates a specific commandment in the Mosaic ceremonial legislation against such a construction (Exodus 20:26). Some of the apparent departures from the Mosaic Law include the absence of the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies, no mention of the table for the shew-bread or lampstand in the outer Holy Place, no anointing oil within the Temple or its court, the absence of the High-Priesthood. These factors argue strongly that Ezekiel could not have had the First Temple in view since it was constructed in accordance with the Mosaic legislation (2 Kings 6:12; 8:56-58; 2 Chronicles 2:4; 6:16; 8:12-13).
A Plan for the Post-Exilic (Second) Temple
Another interpretation holds that Ezekiel’s description was a visionary plan for the rebuilding of the post-exilic (Second) Temple. This view argues that since the expectation of the exilic community was to rebuild the Temple and restore its service (Ezra 5:11-14), Ezekiel as their priest-in-exile provided these plans to enable them to do so. While this appears on the surface to be the logical position, it requires a non-literal interpretation because the post-exilic High Priest Zerubbabel did not literally employ these plans. However, the same objections to the previous view also apply, since Zerubbabel’s Second Temple was a reduced form of the Solomonic Temple and the reinstituted services were strictly in accordance with the Mosaic Law (Ezra 3:2-4; Nehemiah 8:1-18; 10:28-39). Too, if Ezekiel’s model
formed the basis, even symbolically, for the Second Temple, there should have been some reference to this in the post-exilic prophets who oversaw its construction. However, Ezra, Haggai, Zechariah, and Nehemiah, who led the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple, made no mention of Ezekiel’s prior instructions. This is quite inexplicable if the purpose for the prophecy was to provide the exiles returning from Babylon a description for renewing the Temple and its services. Moreover, if this were the case, these prophets, critical of the post-exilic delay in rebuilding the Temple, would certainly have included in their address to the exiles an appeal to rebuild based on Ezekiel’s Temple plans.
In response, this view has offered some areas of compatibility to the Second Temple, yet such would be expected for any rebuilding of the Temple, and again, the significant differences in topography, dimensions, details, and priestly performance with that of the Second Temple, including the fact that the post-exilic Land of Israel was never divided among the tribes as Ezekiel’s prophecy required, argue against the utilization of Ezekiel’s model. However, the most significant difference between Ezekiel’s Temple and the Second Temple was the absence of the Shekinah Glory. Ezekiel made the departure of the Shekinah the sign of God’s judgment on Israel (Ezekiel 10:18; 11:22-23) and envisioned its return as the sign of the Nation’s divine restoration (Ezekiel 43:1-7; 44:1-4; 48:35; cf. Ezekiel 37:25-28).
A Symbol of a Spiritual Reality
A final interpretation proposes that Ezekiel’s Temple is symbolic of either a spiritual ideal or a spiritual reality. No consensus exist among proponents as to what these symbols signify; consequently, Ezekiel’s vision has been said to represent variously the returned Israelite Nation, Jesus, the Church, Christ and the believing community, heaven, and the new heavens and the new earth. Among evangelical and Reformed non-futurists the most common symbol is of Christ as the spiritual temple, taking the statement in John 2:21 concerning “the temple of His body” as teaching that the resurrected Christ would replace the physical Temple in Jerusalem as the place where the presence of God would forevermore be centered. Similarly, the view that Ezekiel’s Temple symbolizes the Church on earth or the redeemed saints (Church) in heaven is based on New Testament texts that speak of the Church or Christians as a spiritual temple (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16-18; Ephesians 2:21-22). Again, this analogy is said to indicate that the spiritual organism of the Church replaced the material edifice of the Temple as the site of the indwelling presence of God (the Holy Spirit). In particular, the interpretation of the Temple as figurative of the righteous in heaven or the eternal state is based on a number of correspondences (proponents would say “parallels”) between Ezekiel 40-48 and Revelation 21-22. Both accounts are visionary and deal with Jerusalem; therefore, reading the Old Testament in light of the New Testament, especially with a Christological focus, the New Jerusalem of Revelation is read back into Ezekiel’s text.
A Critique of the Symbolic Interpretation
Beginning with the aforementioned use of the Old Testament in the New Testament, let us consider the weaknesses of symbolic view in these chapters. While there are a number of impressive correspondences between Ezekiel and Revelation, these would be expected in the shared nature and subject of the visions, especially if both shared an eschatological perspective. Therefore, when one considers these similarities through a comparison of the Millennial Temple and the Heavenly Temple one finds a literal fulfillment and completion of restoration: what was lost in the Garden of Eden (a place
on earth) is restored in the Temple of the Millennial Kingdom (a place on earth). Likewise, both are characterized by the divine presence and universal holiness (seen in the latter by a reversal of previous conditions). However, when we compare the text of Ezekiel with that of Revelation from a symbolic perspective, we find that there are more profound differences than striking similarities. The most significant difference is with the makeup of the objects described. Ezekiel’s description of the Temple (aside from its dimensions) is quite ordinary, with the Temple and it implements built of carved wood and common stones (Ezekiel 40:16, 22, 26, 34, 37, 42; 41:16-22, 25-26). It’s priests’ dress in linen, and sometimes wool (Ezekiel 44:17), sweat (Ezekiel 44:18), need to trim their hair (Ezekiel 44:20), marry (Ezekiel 44:22), need to be cleansed after contact with the dead (Ezekiel 44:25-27), and eat grain and meat (Ezekiel 44:29, 31). This sounds like an earthly arrangement both in structure and service. By contrast, John’s description in Revelation of the New Jerusalem is of a celestial city constructed of gold, pearls, and rare gemstones (Revelation 21:16-21), while its priests wear only white robes, never sleep, and never hunger or thirst (Revelation 7:14-16). Another significant contrast is that Ezekiel’s city has a well-defined structural Temple while in the New Jerusalem John said he “saw no temple in it” for its spiritual sanctuary will be comprised of “the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb” (Revelation 22:21). Yet another significant difference is Ezekiel’s declaration that in his new Temple there will be the reinstitution of the sacrificial system offering “peace offerings,” “guilt offerings,” “sin offerings” (Ezekiel 44:27) and “burnt offerings” of “fat and blood” (Ezekiel 44:15) “for atonement” (Ezekiel 43:19-20), with the priests and people alike keeping God’s appointed feasts and sabbaths” (Ezekiel 44:24). While Christ offered His the sacrifice of Himself in the heavenly Temple and is said to have sprinkled its vessels with blood (Hebrews 9:11, 21-26), there is no statement that the saints will offer sacrifices or celebrate the ceremonial feasts in the New Jerusalem.
This comparison reveals the greatest difficulty for the symbolic interpretation in attempting to explain the spiritual sense of the detailed architectural and geographical measurements, and the intricate instructions concerning priestly dress and the preparation of the sacrifices and offerings. For example, when the text says that eight steps led up to the vestibule of the inner court (Ezekiel 40:31), is it more appropriate to interpret this as a cryptic symbol or as an architectural measurement? It has no discernable sense if taken as a symbol, but the meaning is simply understood if it is part of an actual design. Both Moses (Exodus 25:8-40) and King David (1 Chronicles 28:11-19) were shown a visionary plan (Hebrew tabnit) of the sanctuary and went on to construct the literal Tabernacle and (with Solomon) Temple based on what they had seen. The descriptions of structures and vessels in these accounts are identical to that in Ezekiel and there is no reason to believe he was not shown the same divinely constructed model, as were they. In fact, the terms “plan” (Hebrew tabnit) and “design” (Hebrew tzurat) in Ezekiel 43:10-11 in the instructions concerning the visionary Temple are best understood as architectural terms that expect the activity of literal construction. Moreover, the claim that Ezekiel is here using figurative language does not explain why his measurements differ so radically from those of the only Temple (Solomon’s Temple) with which he and all the exiles were familiar. If it is an intended exaggeration for some symbolic purpose, what in the text determines for us this purpose? For the exiles, there would be far greater comfort in actual plans to rebuild the Temple (which demonstrated the tangible reality of restoration) than an intangible symbol that was not self-interpreting and therefore subject to various applications (as seen in the variety of interpretations in the symbolic school).
If Ezekiel’s only intention were to convey spiritual truth through visionary symbols, why would he diverge from accepted ritual standards and established Jewish law? This would not engender spiritual
contemplation but spiritual confusion, for how could such deviations from God’s holy requirements be understood spiritually? On the other hand, the returning exiles were quite familiar with Ezekiel’s priestly language from the descriptions of the Sanctuary and its service in the books of Exodus and Leviticus (as demonstrated by Jeremiah and Ezra’s recording of the Temple’s construction in the books of Kings and Chronicles). They would have expected to see these instructions literally fulfilled in the promised divine restoration in continuity with God’s previously revealed commands to rebuild. While one might object that the returning Jews could never have hoped to rebuild according to Ezekiel’s extraordinary design, there is no suggestion that this Temple was meant for the immediate return, which occurred during the time of Gentile dominion and was inferior in every respect, but was reserved for the eschatological age (as the preceding context of chapters 33-39 argues). Even though the post-exilic community would not experience the promised restoration, they could take real comfort in knowing that the God was with them and would fulfill this promise for their Nation at the end of the age. The same hope of Christ’s literal coming at the end of the age has encouraged the saints down through the millennia despite their failure to experience it in their generation.
Unless one has been predisposed to see the Church in the Old Testament through a presupposed theological system and to view ritual language as spiritually anticipating a “New [spiritual] Israel,” there is nothing in Ezekiel’s prophecy that corresponds to the New Testament Church. As mentioned earlier, Ezekiel 40-48 offers no textual clues that it is to be interpreted symbolically. The entire section is devoid of the kind of unrealistic features that would indicate figurative use, a fact that contrast dramatically with Ezekiel’s prolific use of symbols in the early chapters of his book. Indeed, these chapters are said to represent one of the greatest uses of symbols among the Prophets. For example, in the vision of chapter 1:4-28, Ezekiel is called upon by God to perform symbolic acts (concerning the siege and destruction of Jerusalem) such as eating a scroll (Ezekiel 2:8-3:3), writing on a brick and setting up an iron plate (Ezekiel 4:1-3), lying on his side (Ezekiel 4:4-8), cooking strange bread (Ezekiel 4:9-15), shaving his head and beard and burning the hair (Ezekiel 5:1-4), carrying baggage (Ezekiel 12:1-7), eating and drinking with trembling (Ezekiel 12:17-18), and restraint in mourning for his dead wife (Ezekiel 24:15-17). In addition, the book has a number of parables (chapters 15-17, 23-24, 34, 37), which by nature are meant to be understood figuratively (though applied literally).
As demonstrated by the many commentaries adopting the symbolic view, the diversity in interpretation reveals that no shared interpretation is possible. The lack of interpretive clues in these chapters results in the many details in the text being assigned arbitrary meanings or ignored as irrelevant or meaningless by the symbolic school. Yet, this result is the opposite of what the prophet himself desired: “Then I said, ‘Ah Lord God! They are saying of me, ‘Is he not just speaking parables?’” (Ezekiel 20:49). His concern was that they did not understand the literal interpretation of his symbolic acts (which demanded literal application), but only understood them as symbols (which would result in inaction and so spell their doom). However, some of the people did come to their senses and asked for the literal meaning: “And the people said to me, ‘Will you not tell us what these things that you are doing mean for us?’(Ezekiel 24:19). Therefore, while Ezekiel could have continued his symbolic imagery in chapters 40-48, and still had in mind a literal structure, the absence of language that would plainly indicate this (as previously), emphasizes his intention that this section be understood as a literal promise for the future.
The Promise of a Literal Eschatological Temple
Given the objections against the views of the symbolic school presented above, the only remaining option is to take Ezekiel chapters 40-48 literally and its application as eschatological, that is, for the period of the future restoration of National Israel during the Millennial Kingdom. A number of arguments based on internal and external evidence can be made in support of the literal and eschatological interpretation of this section.
(1) The literary unity of the book requires a literal Temple be understood throughout its chapters. Chapters 40-48 form an inseparable literary conclusion to the book. Although these chapters constitute a new vision in the prophecy, they are linked with chapters 1-39 in repeating earlier themes in a more detailed fashion. This linkage may be seen in the fact that the beginnings of both chapters 1 and 40 share a number of similar features. For example, Ezekiel’s vision of the presence of God in Babylon (Ezekiel 1:1; compare 8:1) finds it complement and completion in the vision in the Land of Israel (Ezekiel 40:2). In like manner, the problem created by the departure of God’s Presence in the opening section of the book (chapters 9-11) finds an anticipated resolution with its return in this section (Ezekiel 43:1-7). In fact, the concern for the Presence of God could be argued as the uniting theme of the entire text of Ezekiel. Without chapters 40-48 there is no answer to the outcome of Israel, and in particular Jerusalem and the Temple, no resolution to the Nation’s history of sacred scandal, and no grand finale to the divine drama centered from Sinai on the Chosen Nation.
Ezekiel’s prophecy of the future Temple is the means to restoring the Presence of God to Israel (a physical as well as spiritual concern). Its focus in the book falls into three divisions: (1) Prophecies of the Temple’s desecration and destruction (Ezekiel 4:1-24:27), (2) Prophecies of Israel’s return and restoration (Ezekiel 33:1-39:29), and (3) Prophecies of the Temple’s rebuilding and ritual (40:1-48:35). If it were a literal Temple (the First Temple) whose desecration and destruction was discussed in the first section of the book, the last section’s discussion of a Temple’s restoration would also expect a structure of the same kind. A comparative view of the exilic understanding of return from captivity reveals the prophets saw the rebuilding the physical Temple as essential to restoration (Daniel 9:20; 2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:2-11; Haggai 1:2-2:9; Zechariah 1:16; 6:12-15; 8:3). Would Ezekiel as a like-minded prophet (or God as the ultimate Author) have attempted to comfort his people’s physical and spiritual loss with anything other than the literal restoration of a Temple to which the Divine Presence could return?
If it is countered that chapters 40-48 are a spiritual vision and therefore not meant to be a literal reality, the literary structure of the book argues against this possibility. In chapters 8-11 all interpreters are in agreement that the literal First Temple in Jerusalem is in view. Although Ezekiel’s depiction of its desecration is visionary and serves as the basis for a spiritual warning to the exilic community of impending divine judgment, not one commentator doubts that an actual structure is described. Again, it must be emphasized that Ezekiel was not physically in Jerusalem when he reported these things, but in Babylon with the Judean exiles. It was “in the visions of God” that he was spiritually transported to Jerusalem (Ezekiel 8:3). Therefore, everything he mentions in this first section concerning the Temple, its “inner court” (8:3), “porch” (8:16), “altar” (8:16), “threshold” (9:3), and “East gate” (10:19), were all seen in a vision. Despite this fact, the symbolic school is unanimous in accepting this as a vision of the literal Temple. Why then in chapters 40-48, when the prophet, still “in the visions of God” (Ezekiel 40:2), mentions the exact same places in the same order: “inner court” (40:27), “porch” (40:48), “altar”
(43:18), and “East gate” (43:3), are these structures now declared to be only spiritual symbols? If the desecration and destruction of a literal Temple was described in a vision, the vision of the restoration and reconsecration of a Temple should also be understood as literal.
(2) The context of the Temple’s restoration requires an eschatological and literal interpretation. Chapters 40-48 open with a statement marking the specific date of Ezekiel’s vision: “the tenth of the month [of Tishri]” (Ezekiel 40:1). The Jewish Sages viewed the purpose of this chronological note as marking an eschatological context, since the tenth of Tishri is reckoned as a Jubilee year [Hebrew, yovel], and the date of Ezekiel’s vision was determined to be the first Day of Atonement [Hebrew, Yom Kippur] of the Jubilee year. Together, this date prefigured Israel’s Day of Redemption in both its physical (Land) and spiritual (repentance) aspects. Rabbi Joseph Breuer notes: “On that day, which summoned the subjugated and estranged among God’s people to accept freedom and called upon all the sons of Israel to return to their God, on that day it was given to the Prophet to behold a vision of the rebuilt, eternal Sanctuary of the future and to receive the basic instructions for the establishment of the State of God that would endure forever”(Sepher Yechezkel, 353). Therefore, from the very first verse the Rabbis considered the context both eschatological and literal.
The restored Presence of God with Israel in His Sanctuary (Ezekiel 37:26-28) appears as the climatic event in the restoration context of Ezekiel 33-37 as well as in chapters 40-48 where it returns to fill the Temple and consecrate it as God’s throne (Ezekiel 43:1-7). The Ezekiel 37 text reveals its eschatological setting by describing this restoration as a time when “David will [again] be king over them (Israel)” (verse 24), an “everlasting covenant of peace” (verse 26) will be established between God and Israel, God’s Sanctuary will [again] be in their midst” (verse 26), and “the nations will know I am the Lord” (verse 28). In particular, the “everlasting covenant of peace” (the idea being of security and well-being in the Hebrew term shalom) is unique, being described in more detail in Ezekiel 34:25-29 as Land-centered, completely eliminating harmful animals, guaranteeing security from any foreign invasion, and bringing unparalleled agricultural renewal accompanied by divinely-sent seasonal rains (cf. Zechariah 14:17). Such a covenant was never enacted with Israel in the past and therefore must have its fulfillment in the eschatological age (Millennial Kingdom).
The terms used for the Temple in Ezekiel 37:26-28 likewise indicate an eschatological setting. The Temple is called a mishkan, the Hebrew word used formerly for the Tabernacle, and said to be “over them” (Hebrew, ‘lyhm). This pictures God’s “sheltering Presence” as once the pitched Tabernacle in the wilderness protected the Israelite tribes. One of the false hopes of the past was in the inviolability of the Temple and its ability to preserve the disobedient Nation simply because it existed. In the future, however, the Nation will not sin and the Temple, with the Shekinah, will serve as the source of the Nation’s, and the world’s, prosperity and peace. The Temple is also called miqdash “Sanctuary,” emphasizing its holiness, and is said to be, like the covenant and the restoration of God’s Presence, “eternal” (verses 26, 28). Again, such a Temple could only find its fulfillment in the Millennial Kingdom where the protective “Glory-cloud” of God will return to fulfill this concept of the Temple (see Isaiah 4:5-6). This Temple, presented as part of the eternal covenant, in is that which is expanded upon in greater detail in the prophecy of chapters 40–48.1
1For additional confirmation of this connection see Mark F. Rooker, “Evidence from Ezekiel,” A Case for Premillennialism: A New Concensus, eds. Donald K. Campbell and Jeffrey L. Townsend (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992), pp. 128-129.
The fivefold repetition of “forever” in Ezekiel 37:25-28 serves to show the irreversibility of Israel’s new condition and experience. The Temple is presented here as part of the “eternal covenant,” undoubtedly a reference to the New Covenant. This may also apply to Ezekiel’s Temple since it is said to be built according to “the law of the house” (Ezekiel 43:12), an independent (new) law that rightly belongs to the New Covenant rather than the old.
The restoration Temple introduced in chapter 37 is expanded upon in greater detail in the prophecy of chapters 40—48 as a proleptic [anticipatory] corroboration of these promises. Understanding the nature of the promised restoration in Ezekiel 37 to be eschatological, the exilic community surely must have understood the nature of Ezekiel’s Temple in chapters 40-48 to be the same. For this reason, the rebuilding of the Second Temple did not attempt to implement the architectural design or priestly instructions since they were reserved for the eschatological age. Their assessment of the limited return and restoration they were experiencing under foreign clemency had to be weighed against several factors: (1) The larger proportion of the Jewish population had chosen to remain in Persia and Egypt, (2) Only 49,897 of the Jewish remnant had returned to Judah (Ezra 2:64-65), (3) the low level of spiritual life and commitment to rebuild the Temple and the walls of Jerusalem evident among the resident Jewish population in the Land (Ezra 3:6; 5:16; 9:1-4; Haggai 1:2-6; Nehemiah 1:3-7), (4) the opposition in the Land and from foreign authorities that postponed rebuilding and restoration of the city and Temple and the inferior state of the completed work (Haggai 1:9; 2:3; Ezra 3:12-13; 4:1-24; Nehemiah 4:7-12). These realities further confirmed that their return and rebuilding was not the fulfillment of the final restoration described in Ezekiel 40-48 but awaited the complete promise of restoration at the coming of the Messiah (Ezekiel 34:11-31). At that time a full regathering of the Jewish Remnant as well a national spiritual regeneration would be affected in keeping with the provisions of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:27-34, 38-40; 33:6-21) as Ezekiel had prophesied (Ezekiel 36:24-28; 37:1-14). If Ezekiel’s readers were interpreting his restoration program for the eschatological age, then they would understand the interruption of Ezekiel’s “Gog and Magog” battle (Ezekiel 38-39) between the discussions of the Temple in chapters 37:25-28 and 40-48. This literary placement not only helped the readers understand an eschatological context for the Temple prophecy, but added the assurance that, unlike the foreign invasions of the past, even this greatest of foreign invasions in the future would not prevent the final fulfillment of God’s plans for Jerusalem and the Temple.
(3) The description of the Temple indicates that it is to be a literal construction. The impression the reader has when reading in this section of precise measurements, the detailed design of its courts, pillars, galleries, rooms, chambers, doors, ornamentation, vessels, and the careful instructions concerning the priestly service, is that an actual Temple is intended. Despite this obvious reading, Daniel Block, one of the leading commentators on the book, has contended: “the description of the temple is not presented as a blueprint for some future building to be constructed with human hands … nowhere is anyone commanded to build it”(NICOT 2:505). Yet, in Ezekiel 43:10-11 it is clearly stated: “As for you, son of man [Ezekiel], describe the Temple to the house of Israel … and let them measure the plan … and do them.” These verses declare that those Jews who will live in the time of the final restoration (when the prophecy will be fulfilled) are to build the Temple according to Ezekiel’s instructions. Later in this context (43:13-27) when the same kind of architectural measurements as given for the Temple are given for the altar, it is stated that “these are the statutes for the altar on the day it is built …” (verse 18). Literary consistency (as well as logic) demands that if the altar of the Temple is to be built, then so must the Temple itself. This deduction is substantiated by the wording in the command
in Ezekiel 43:11 to the “house of Israel.” The words “observe its whole design and all its statutes, and do them” is parallel in expression to God’s original command to build a Sanctuary in Exodus 25:8-9. If Israel at the beginning of its national history interpreted God’s instructions to build the Tabernacle and carry out the priestly service literally, why would they not interpret its restatement in Ezekiel as literal? When a further comparison is made between the details for the construction of the Temple, buildings, and the sacrificial system in Ezekiel and those recorded elsewhere for the construction of the Tabernacle and First Temple and their service in Kings and Chronicles, there is no reason to take them as less literal or historical. Would the house of Israel be expected to interpret them in any manner other than that which was historically consistent with God’s previous revelation, especially in the absence of any textual guidelines for an alternate (symbolic) interpretation? There is a suitable test that can be applied to this question. If Ezekiel 40-48 is to be interpreted literally and the Temple plans are intended to function as blueprints, then it should be possible to construct an actual model based on these plans. Conversely, if these plans are merely symbolic and never expected to render an actual construction, then no such construction should be possible. But in fact, three-dimensional miniature scale models of Ezekiel’s Temple have been successfully built (see diagram). Is it conceivable that Ezekiel would have communicated such practical instructions if only spiritual or symbolic realities were intended?
Although commentators have long found symbolical and spiritual significance in the many details of the Tabernacle and Temple’s construction and ceremonies, no such symbolism is to be actually found in the biblical text. Of course, there is an analogous use of ritual language in relation to the spiritual service of the believer (Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19) and of the Spirit-filled Church (Ephesians 2:21-22), but this is not the same as typological usage in which a type is fulfilled by an antitype. Even in the Book of Hebrews, in which a comparison is made between Israel’s liturgical system and the believer’s gracious access in Christ, where such a symbolic significance might be expected, only a description of the Tabernacle and its furniture is given (Hebrews 9:1-5). This passage does refer to the “outer Tabernacle” as a “symbol” (Greek parabole, “figure,” “illustration”) for “the present time” (verses 8-9). While the interpretation of these verses are much debated, the main point is that the Levitical system was inferior in that it offered only limited and exclusive access to God’s Presence. However, this does not mean that the Levitical system did not accomplish the purpose for which God instituted it, nor that it could not be reinstituted with purpose in the future. Yet, even if the Scriptures were replete with symbolical and spiritual uses of the entire Levitical system with its Sanctuary, this would in no way affect their literal interpretation since they were, in fact, an historical structure and service. In the same way, finding spiritual or symbolic significance in Ezekiel’s Temple would not affect a literal interpretation. Therefore, even if one could impute symbolic meaning to the Temple and ritual descriptions in Ezekiel 40-48 (although there is no clues for this in the immediate text and no precedence for this in other texts), the interpretation should be considered as literal as were similar descriptions for previous Temples in Israel’s past.
(4) The eschatological interpretation of Ezekiel 40-48 is in harmony with other Old Testament prophetic passages. As a restoration text, Ezekiel 40-48 should exhibit traits familiar to and consonant with other such texts in the prophetic corpus. For example, in examining the text that commands the house of Israel to build the Temple (Ezekiel 43:10-11), we find that the time for this is stated to be after “they are ashamed of all that they have done.” The nature of this national “shame” as spiritual repentance was already defined in Ezekiel 36:22-38 as part of the regenerative work of the Spirit (verse 33). The occasion of this national repentance accords with numerous references in the Prophets (Isaiah 55:3-5; 66:7-9; Jeremiah 31:34; Hosea 3:4-5; Zechariah 12:10-13:2), as well as by Jesus (Matthew
24:30-31; Mark 13:26-27), Luke (Acts 3:19-21) and Paul (Romans 11:25-30). These Old Testament passages in their prophetic contexts reflect an ultimate hope for the Nation, which in continuity with the New Testament writers, must be projected into an eschatological Kingdom. This is especially so with respect to Ezekiel’s Temple when compared with similar accounts of a future Temple, a raised Temple Mount, and the transformed conditions for its worshippers in the prophetic books, most of which contain eschatological time markers (Isaiah 2:2-4; 56:6-7; 60:10-22; Jeremiah 3:16-17; 31:27-40; 33:14-18; Joel 3:18-21; Micah 4:1-8; Haggai 2:7-9; Zechariah 6:12-15; 14:16, 20-21. As a point of comparison we may consider the statements in Ezekiel 40-46 that speak of the sacrificial system and especially of making atonement for Israel through blood sacrifices. The symbolic school argues that interpreting Ezekiel 40-48 literally means that one must accept a future reinstatement of the sacrificial system, which they believe has been completely fulfilled by the sacrifice of Christ (Hebrews 9-10). While this theological conclusion can be debated, the immediate problem for those who take this position is that a number of other prophets also envisioned both a restored Temple and sacrifices in the eschatological future.
Prophecies of a Millennial Temple
Joel 3:18
Isaiah 2:3
Isaiah 60:13
Daniel 9:24
Haggai 2:7, 9
Prophecies of Sacrifices in Future Temple
Isaiah 56:6-7
Isaiah 60:7
Jeremiah 33:18
Zechariah 14:16-21
Moreover, not only is Ezekiel in concert with other prophets who predict the restoration of the Levitical priesthood in the future, but Ezekiel’s prophecy contains the most important statement of this fulfillment upon which messianic interpretation (which understands a literal fulfillment in Jesus Christ) depends. God promised to Zadok, the Aaronide high priest at the time of David and Solomon (1 Samuel 8:17; 15:24; 1 Kings 1:34; 1 Chronicles 12:29), and his descendants an everlasting priesthood (1 Samuel 2:35; 1 Kings 2:27, 35). This promise was the reconfirmation of similar promises made to Zadok’s ancestor Phinehas (Numbers 25:13), and Phinehas’ grandfather Aaron, the progenitor of the Israelite priesthood (Exodus 29:9; 40:15). The Zadokite priesthood was the dominant priesthood up until the time of the Maccabean Revolt, after which it was corrupted and replaced by political appointments to the priesthood under the Hasmonean dynasty. Thus, the last priests serving the Temple when it was last destroyed in A.D. 70 were not of the legitimate Zadokite line. Jewish sects like those at Qumran, who claimed to be Zadokite priests (1QS 5:2, 9; 1Qsa 1:2, 24; 2:3; 1Qsb 3:22), rejected the Jerusalem Temple and its priesthood and expected their priesthood to regain its position of service in a future Temple to be rebuilt after a climatic end time war in which the Hasmonean priests would be punished (1 QpHab 9:4-7; 4QpNah 1:11). Only Ezekiel unequivocally provides the fulfillment of the promise to the sons of Zadok by designating their priestly line to serve the Temple (Ezekiel 40:46; 44:15).
Ezekiel’s contemporary Jeremiah in his prophecy linked the perpetuity of the Levitical priesthood with the perpetuity of the Davidic dynasty and guaranteed it by the perpetuity of the earth’s rotation on its axis (Jeremiah 33:17-22). If Ezekiel’s prophecy of a future Zadokite priesthood is spiritualized, then, according to the textual link with Jeremiah’s prophecy, the promises of the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:13, 16) could also be spiritualized. This would put New Testament messianic fulfillment in jeopardy since Jesus’ messiahship is qualified by His Davidic descent and the promise that
He will be given David’s throne (Matthew 1:1; Luke 1:32-33; Acts 2:30-31; Romans 1:3). Consequently, if we accept a literal and eschatological fulfillment for the Levitical priesthood we must also accept it for the Temple that they serve, and in harmony with other prophets, Ezekiel depicts an eschatological restoration of which the Temple and its priesthood are an essential part.
Finally, the fulfillment of Ezekiel 40-48 cannot be limited to a temporary restoration such as that which occurred under the Persian administration of Darius I. If Ezekiel’s restoration was meant to find fulfillment in the Second Temple, then it must be considered a failure, unless one abandons literal interpretation, which the foregoing arguments will not allow. For this reason Jewish interpreters such as Rashi concluded that the post-exilic community did not experience the predicted restoration and that the Second Temple was not built according to Ezekiel’s plan: “The return to Israel in the days of Ezra could have been like the first time the Jewish people entered Israel in the days of Joshua …However, sin prevented this, for their repentance was imperfect. Since they were not worthy, they did not have permission to build the Temple, which was designated as the Temple for the eternal redemption, for when it will be built according to this design, the [divine] glory will rest upon it forever.”
Even though Ezekiel 40-48 lacks some of eschatological language associated with an eschatological context such as “on that day,” “in the latter days,” these phrases appear in chapters 34-37, and in the immediately preceding chapters (38-39). Moreover, the literary linkage of chapters 40-48 with other prophetic texts that concern the same theme, establishes an eschatological setting. Ezekiel’s descriptions include transformations and enlarged boundaries of the Land, Jerusalem, the Temple and priesthood (Ezekiel 44:1-31; 47:1-23; 48:1-35), the return of the Glory of God (Ezekiel 43:1-12), and the unprecedented change from the laws of the past (e.g., Ezekiel 43:17) also indicate that the time of fulfillment is eschatological. In addition, Ezekiel, in conjunction with several of the prophets, report extraordinary topographical changes that will occur to the Land of Israel provide the answer to this objection. During the Tribulation period the earth will experience violent changes as earthquakes alter both cities and terrain. One of the cities hardest hit is Jerusalem (Revelation 11:13), which will also suffer a mountain splitting earthquake at the end of the Tribulation with the ascent of Messiah to the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4-5). Zechariah also speaks of the flattening of huge portions of land and the elevation of Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:8, 10). Other prophets also say the Temple Mount itself will be raised up above all other mountains (see Isaiah 2:3; 60:14; 61:6; Zechariah 8:20-23). Ezekiel reflects these changes not only in its enlarged territory for the tribal allotments (Ezekiel 47:13-23; 48:1-14, 23-29), but also by the changes it describes taking place in the southern part of the country (Ezekiel 47:1-12). According to Jeremiah 3:17 and Zechariah 14:20-21 the entire city of Jerusalem will become the Throne of the Lord and be a dedicated holy place. This means that Ezekiel’s Temple will occupy an elevated and greatly expanded Temple Mount, which will include the former city of Jerusalem itself (Ezekiel 48:10). To the north of this will be the place of the priests (Ezekiel 48:11-12), south of the Temple will be the place of the Levites (Ezekiel 48:13-14), and south of this a new city will be built for workers out of the Israelite tribes (Ezekiel 48:18-19). To the east and west of it will be an administrative center for the prince (Ezekiel 48:21-22). In this list, one of the most distinguishing factors in Ezekiel’s Temple is that the restoration of the rest of Land of Israel appears to be sourced out of the Temple. In Ezekiel 47:1-12 fructated waters will flow from beneath the Sanctuary transforming the Dead Sea into a body of water teeming with aquatic life and from there possibly renewing all of the Land so that it resembles the Garden of Eden (Ezekiel 36:35). Therefore, given the predicted topographical changes predicted in the prophets, the new boundaries and dimensions of the Temple in Ezekiel 40-48 are realistic and expected.
(5) The theological resolution of progressive revelation demands that Ezekiel 40-48 be fulfilled literally and eschatologically. The demand for literary resolution argues that the departure of the Shekinah Glory in Ezekiel 9-11 be completed by its return in Ezekiel 43:1-7. Ezekiel presents the return of the Shekinah along the path of its previous departure, carefully describing the order of return to match the order of abandonment detailed in chapters 9-11: departure: Holy of Holies to Inner Court to Eastern Gate to east; return: east to Eastern Gate to Inner Court to Holy of Holies. This reverse progression was obviously intended to convey the sense that what had been lost (the Divine Presence) was being restored. None of Ezekiel’s original audience would have understood these two events other than as complementary events, the latter resolving the former. If (and no commentator doubts it) the Divine Presence literally left the First Temple before its destruction, why should not it literally return to the Final Temple after it’s rebuilding? However, theological resolution also demands this be literally fulfilled. Nowhere in Scripture (or in extra-biblical Jewish literature) is it stated that the Divine Presence filled the Second Temple as it did the Tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-35) and the First Temple (1 Kings 8:10-11; 2 Chronicles 5:13-14; 7:13). Rather, Jewish sources (e.g., Tosefta Yom Tov) made a point of its absence and relegated such a hope to the eschatological period. Progressive revelation also requires that the theological dilemma created for Israel by divine judgment in a literal exile be resolved by a divine grace in a literal return and restoration. These are the two sides of prophetic prediction in the prophets, of which Ezekiel is a part. The rebuilding of the Temple and its dedication by the installation of the Shekinah resolves is the center point of the restoration program because it rejoins God to His people restoring them to their chosen status as a holy Nation and a kingdom of priests as well as a light to the nations (cf. Ezekiel 37:27-28). If there is not a literal restoration (not a symbolic restoration through the Church) of what was literally lost through a national repentance toward the Messiah, national regeneration, return and restoration in a Messianic Kingdom, then the consummation in history is reduced to an ideal that makes all of the promises to Israel subject to reinterpretation rather than actual resolution. While the symbolic school has opted for this interpretation, it is not consistent with Scripture, as salvation history has been progressively revealed on an earthly stage with the promise of restoration understood to be experienced in the same place and with the same people as the penalty of judgment was imposed.
Since a literal fulfillment did not historically occur on the earthly stage with the return from exile to the extent it was originally predicted, the symbolic view argues that fulfillment must have been intended other than literal. However, the first advent of Christ did not historically fulfill all that was predicted to the extent originally predicted. The lack of Israel’s political and spiritual redemption, the continued domination of the Gentile nations, the absence of a messianic reign over a restored Jerusalem in perfect, universal peace and undefilable holiness, was, and continues to be, a major stumbling block for Jews. Yet, if these events will be fulfilled literally at His second advent, as were those at His first advent, then a prophetic postponement is to be understood. Regardless of one’s interpretive stance, all evangelical interpreters still accept a literal return of Christ and resurrection of the dead, yet these are as inseparable from Israel’s prophetic promises as those concerning the restoration of its Temple. Therefore, in order to consistently resolve the theological tension created by Israel’s failure, there must be a return of her fortunes (both physical and spiritual). In this resolution the prophecy of Ezekiel’s Temple figures prominently, concluding with the realization of restoration and the guarantee of its success by the declaration that “the Lord is there” (Ezekiel 48:35).

Rick Warren, Dr. Oz, and the Dangers of the Daniel Plan

By J. Hampton Keathley, III

The Angelic Conflict (Rev 12:1-17)
War on Earth: Phase I
(12:1-6)

With Revelation chapter 12 we begin another parenthetical and explanatory portion of Revelation that discusses seven great personages of the Tribulation, particularly of the last half. These seven personages of 12:1-14:20 are: (a) the woman who represents the nation Israel (12:1-27); (b) the great red dragon, a picture of Satan (12:3-4); (c) the male child, the Lord Jesus (12:5); (d) Michael who represents the holy angels (12:7); (e) the remnant of the woman, regenerate Israel (12:17); (f) the beast out of the sea, the world dictator (13:1-10); and (g) the beast out of the earth, the false prophet and religious leader of the world (12:11-17).

Chapter 12 is descriptive of warfare, but it is primarily a conflict involving angelic forces, particularly, the fallen angels or the demonic world under Satan’s authority. Of course, Satan often employs human means to accomplish his purposes (as with the persecution of Israel) but what we must always keep in mind, as this chapter reinforces, is that behind the scenes is our nefarious arch enemy, Satan and his demonic forces. The warfare of this chapter occurs first on earth (12:1-6), then in heaven (12:7-12), and finally on earth again (12:13-17). In chapter 12 we have a clear revelation of the ultimate cause and answer to the problem of the anti-Semitism which has been a grim recurrence from the very early beginnings of Israel’s history. Part of the reason for the hatred and persecution which the Jews have endured over the centuries is the divine judgment of God for disobedience and rejection of the Word (cf. Deut. 28:15-68 with Lev. 26:14f). But another reason is Satan’s long-time hatred of Israel as the source of Christ, the means of Satan’s defeat and condemnation. In Genesis 3:15 we have the prophecy of this conflict and God’s declaration of Satan’s defeat through the seed of the woman. The nation God chose for this, as seen in the covenant that God made with Abraham, was Israel. Thus, Israel has been the perpetual object of Satan’s hatred, the ultimate cause behind all anti-Semitism.
The First Sign in Heaven (1-2)

This is the first of a number of places where the word signs occurs in Revelation. Regarding the signs mentioned in this section of Revelation, 12-14, Alan Johnson writes:

In this section there is what might be called a Book of Signs. While no signs (shmeia; … ) appear in chapters 1 to 11, at least seven signs are mentioned in chapters 12 to 19 (cf. the seven signs in John 1-11). Three are in heaven (12:1, 3; 15:1); four on earth (13:13-14; 16:14; 19:20). Only one is a sign of good (12:1); the others are omens of evil or judgment from God. These signs explain and amplify previous material (e.g., the beast in 11:7 is more fully described in ch. 13) and also advance the drama to its final acts.

This intermediary section (chs. 12-13), preceding the final bowl judgments (15:1ff.), picks up and develops the theme of the persecution of God’s people, which has already appeared (3:10; 6:9-11; 7:14; 11:7-10). Chapter 12 gives us a glimpse into the dynamics of the persecution of God’s people under the symbolism of the dragon who wages war on the woman and her children (v. 17). Chapter 13 continues the same theme by telling of the persecution of the saints by the dragon-energized beasts …148

“And a great sign appeared in heaven.” “Sign,” as used here and in verse 3, is the Greek shmeion. It refers to something like a special event, an object, or even a miracle that is seen and that stands as a sign or symbol designed to reveal some special meaning, truth, or idea.

“A woman clothed with the sun …” There are four women mentioned in Revelation. These are (1) Jezebel (2:20), a woman who claimed to be a prophetess in the church of Thyatira, and who stands for false teachers within the church in the church age; (2) The harlot (17:4), the false religious system of the last days, apostate Christendom; (3) the bride (19:7), the true church, glorified and returning with Christ; and (4) the woman (12:1), the nation Israel.

As already indicated, the woman is the nation of Israel. This is evident for the following reasons: (1) Her description is reminiscent of Genesis 37:9-10 where these heavenly bodies, the sun and the moon, represent Jacob and Rachel. This identifies the woman with Israel and the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant. (2) The 12 stars in her crown would link her to the 12 tribes of Israel or the 12 sons of Jacob, the patriarchs of Israel. (3) In verse 2 she is seen with child, one who rules with a rod of iron (vs. 5). This can be none other than Christ, who as promised in Scripture, was from the nation of Israel (Matt. 1:1-25; cf. also Psalm 2:8-9; Rev. 2:27; 19:15). (4) That she is Israel, the nation, and not simply Mary, the mother of Jesus, is clear from the fact she will be persecuted in the last half of the Tribulation (vss. 6, 13-17). So the woman is the nation of Israel, the matrix and source of Messiah.

The description given here is not merely to identify her but to describe her in queenly terms because of Israel’s prominence in the plan of God and especially in the millennial reign of Christ. This identifies her with the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant (cf. Psalm 89:34-37).

Verse 2 describes the woman in travail, waiting to give birth to the Christ child. This undoubtedly refers to the sufferings of the nation and her troublesome and restless times at the first advent of Christ. She was even then suffering under not only the judgment of the deportations (see Matt. 1:11, 17) but the hatred of Satan. In fact, it was because of the Roman rule that Mary and Joseph had to make the trip to Bethlehem for the census during the winter when Christ was born.
The Second Sign in Heaven (3-6)

Immediately following the description of the queenly woman with child in suffering, another sign, a great red dragon, appears in heaven. This is not without special purpose. The secret and cause of all the anti-Semitism in the world is the presence and hatred of Satan. The red dragon is clearly identified in 12:9 and 20:2 as none other than Satan himself.

That the red dragon is called “great” points to the magnitude of Satan’s power and activity in the world. “Red” emphasizes his murderous and blood thirsty character and behavior throughout history (cf. John 8:44). “Dragon” pictures his ferocious and intensely cruel nature. “Having seven heads and ten horns” relates him to the ten nation confederation of the revived Roman empire, the system of the beast (13:1). “Seven diadems” speaks of his ruling power, but also usurped power and authority which he has and will have especially in the last days. Satan is really a dragon, a hideous beast. Today he often appears as an angel of light; he masks his true identity, but in the Tribulation he will be seen for what he really is.

In verse 4, we read that his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven. But to what does this refer? There are three possibilities:

(1) The stars are luminous bodies from heaven which are cast to earth as a judgment or as an act of anger by the dragon in the Tribulation. But the fallen stars are linked by implication at least with the rise and actions of the great red dragon.

(2) The stars are used metaphorically for heads of state gathered together under the dragon’s power to create his world rule. But the stars are cast to earth, they are not found on earth.

(3) The stars stand for fallen angels who revolted with Satan at his fall which many Bible expositors believe is described for us in Isaiah 14:12-17 and Ezekiel 28:12-14. “Star” is a term used in Scripture of angelic beings and specifically of Satan (cf. Job 38:7a; Isa. 14:12; Luke 10:18; Rev. 9:1). In the light of the context (Rev. 12:7), then, it is not unlikely that the stars represent one-third of the angels who rebelled with Satan and who became his chief emissaries in his fight and hatred against Israel and the purposes of God (cf. Daniel 10 for an illustration of the great conflict of angelic beings in regard to Israel).

“And the dragon stood before the woman (i.e., Israel) who was about to give birth …” Verse 4a takes us back to the beginning, to Satan’s original fall; now verse 4b skips hundreds of years and takes us forward to the first advent of Christ and Satan’s efforts to destroy the Christ Child. In between were numerous attacks in Satan’s attempt to defeat God’s purposes through the seed of the woman and especially with the Jews. (a) Many believe that in Genesis 6 Satan tried to infiltrate the human race in order to destroy the promise of Genesis 3:15 by corrupting the true humanity of mankind. (b) In Genesis 10 and 11 Satan instituted the politico-religious system of Babylon with its mother-child cult under Nimrod and his wife, Semiramus.149 (c) Then, through the rest of the Old Testament Satan attempted over and over again to defeat God’s purposes with Israel through Pharaoh, through Amalek, through Balak and Balaam, etc., but always to no avail. (d) Finally, in Matthew 2:13, after Messiah was born, he tried through Herod to destroy the baby Jesus by putting to death all the boy babies two years and under (Matt. 2:13-18).

“And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.” These words take us from the birth of Christ (verse 5a) to Christ’s ascension and session. Though the earthly life and death of Christ are not mentioned, this assumes the historic facts of the cross and the resurrection which were both necessary for Christ to defeat Satan and rule on the earth (cf. Heb. 2:14; Acts 17:30-31; John 16:10-11; 12:31-33). “Caught up to God and His throne,” the ascension and session, prove the facts of the cross and resurrection (Heb. 1:13). This is the proof of Satan’s failure and of Satan’s sure defeat (cf. Rom. 16:20). As Genesis 3:14-15 anticipates, Satan bruised Christ’s heel (the cross), but Christ crushed Satan’s head by His death and resurrection culminated by His ascension (cf. Col. 2:15). In between verses 5 and 6 intervenes the inter-advent age of the church and the first half of the Tribulation.

Verse 6 and the reference to the woman fleeing into the wilderness takes us to the trials of Israel in the last half of the Tribulation where she will be under great persecution for three and a half years, 1260 days. But we might ask, “What is the point of verse 6 to the whole picture thus far?”

The idea is this: since Satan failed to kill Christ, he will turn in dragon-like fury against the woman, Israel, and pour out his vengeance on her. Verses 13-17 give us the details of this persecution, but verses 7-12 point us to the immediate cause. Between Christ’s first and second advents, the church of Jesus Christ is the prominent figure in the plan of God. So much of Satan’s time and hatred is aimed at the church though the Jews still get their share as history so dramatically proves. But before the Tribulation begins the church will be raptured and out of the reach of Satan. However, something will occur in the middle of the Tribulation which will create the greatest anti-Semitism or Jewish persecution the world has ever known. This is described for us in the rest of this chapter.
War in Heaven
(12:7-12)
The First Opponent (7a)

The scene now shifts to heaven where a tremendous conflict occurs (though still future from our standpoint). The first opponent in this conflict is Michael and his angels. These are the holy angels of God led by Michael who is mentioned in Scripture in Daniel 10:13, 21; 12:1; Jude 9, and here. There are four things that are significant about Michael we might mention here:

(1) His name is a composition of an interrogative pronoun, mi, “who,” and a preposition, ke, “as or like,” and the noun El, “God.” Mi-cha-el, means “who is like God?” It poses a rhetorical and negative question, one demanding a negative answer. Who is like God? No one! This is significant for this angel’s very name and presence stands as a rebuke and refutation to Satan’s boast in Isaiah 14:14b, “I will make myself like the most High,” i.e., “I will be like God.” It is interesting that God sends this angel to defeat Satan.

(2) His position and responsibility: (a) His General Position: He is one of the chief princes (plural) (Dan. 10:13), which suggests he has a high position among the angels of God. In Daniel 12:1 he is called the great prince and in Jude 9 he is “the archangel,” i.e., first or chief of the angels. Here, in Revelation, we read of “Michael and his angels,” those under his authority. It appears that Michael became the chief commander and leader of the holy angels after Satan’s fall, He undoubtedly possesses great power and strength. (b) His special position and responsibility: In Daniel 12:1 he is called “your prince,” i.e., Daniel’s and Israel’s prince. In Jude 9 we are told of his dispute with Satan over the body of Moses, Israel’s law giver and leader of the people out of the bondage of Egypt. Here, in Revelation 12:1, we see Michael standing up to bring about another phase of Satan’s defeat in this future time that Jeremiah called, “Jacob’s Distress” (Jer. 30:5-7). All of this indicates that as chief prince he has a special responsibility as guardian of Israel, especially during the Tribulation. Without the protection of Michael, the Jews, who have miraculously remained a distinct people throughout all their persecutions, would have ceased to exist. Behind the power and work of Michael, however, is the sovereign authority and might of God, for “who is like God?”

(3) Until this point in the Tribulation, Michael never lays a hand on Satan. In Jude, regarding the dispute over the body of Moses, we are told that Michael said, “the Lord rebuke you.” He respected Satan’s might and dignity as a beautiful creation of God and he was acting in accordance with God’s purposes with Satan.

(4) But at this point in the Tribulation, however, Michael gets to do what he undoubtedly has longed to do for millenniums; he gets to boot Satan out of heaven.
The Second Opponent (7b, 9)

The second opponent in the conflict is of course the great dragon and his angels (the fallen angels), the demonic host under his charge. In verses 9 and 10 the dragon is both identified and described. His history and his character stand in striking contrast to Michael. Ironically, his history and his titles show how devoid he is of ever coming close to becoming like God.

Appellatives (Names) that Describe Satan

(1) “The great dragon” stresses Satan’s vicious and cruel character and emphasizes his end time activity and behavior.

(2) “The serpent of old” clearly identifies him as Satan and draws our attention to his crafty character. It reminds us of the garden of Eden, the fall of man, his usurpation of man’s rule on earth, and his constant activity of temptation and deception.

(3) “The devil” is the Greek diabolos and means “slanderer, defamer.” It reminds us of Satan’s activity to impugn the character of God (see Job 1) and to accuse believers for whom Christ died (cf. Rev. 12:10 and Rom. 8:34).

(4) “Satan” is the Greek satanas and is derived from the Hebrew satan which means “adversary.” It points to Satan as the opponent of God, of believers, and of all that is right and good. Satan may appear as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14), but it is only a sham of deception to further aid him in his work as the arch adversary and opponent of God. In 1 Peter 5:8 Satan is called “your adversary, the devil.” Here the word “adversary” is not satanas, but antidikos, and though similar in meaning, antidikos is more explicit. It specifically refers to “an opponent in a lawsuit.” It was used of a court scene where accusations are made. God has indicted Satan for his sin, found him guilty, and sentenced him to the lake of fire (Matt. 12:41). By the implications of Scripture, as in the titles of Satan and in the keen interest of angels in man (cf. Eph. 3:10; 1 Pet. 1:12), it appears that Satan has appealed the sentence and called God unfair, unjust, and unloving. He has impugned the character of the supreme judge. He stands as the defamer of God’s character, the accuser of believers, and our adversary in general.

(5) “Lucifer,” “Star of the Morning,” and “Son of the Dawn” (Isa. 14:12). The term “Lucifer” of the KJV is Helel which means literally “the shining one.” Ironically, it comes from the Hebrew verb halal meaning “to shine, boast, praise.” As the shining one Satan got his eyes off of God, the source and cause of his brilliance, and became proud and boastful instead of being full of praise to God. Whenever we boast, we are occupied with ourselves, but when we are full of praise to God we are occupied with Him. This name stresses Satan’s state before the fall, and the nature and cause of his fall, the sin of arrogance.

(6) “The evil one” (1 John 5:19). Here, the word “evil” is the Greek word poneros, an active noun that points to an active and malignant kind of evil. It refers to what is not only ugly and useless, but to that which is injurious and destructive. Satan, as the poneros one, is actively engaged in destruction, in causing pain, injury and death. He is like a cancer to the human race and no time in history will reveal this like the Tribulation.

(7) “The ruler of this world” (John 12:31). This description points to Satan as the unseen head and energy behind the arrangement of world affairs as they stand in total opposition to the arrangements and divine viewpoint set forth in the Word of God. This would include such things as internationalism, materialism, humanism, religionism, spiritualism (demonism), hedonism, etc.

(8) “The god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:4). This again emphasizes Satan’s rule and increased activity in the dispensation of the church which will be marked by a continual increase of apostasy and deception and by extreme moral degeneration. This title particularly associates him with blinding men to the good news of Jesus Christ.

(9) “The prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). This title is of particular importance because it points to Satan as the head of the demonic hosts (fallen angels) who operate night and day in our immediate atmosphere to fill it with satanic deception, satanic viewpoint, doubts, and temptations. The word “power” is singular and refers to the demonic forces as a corporate body that operate as one under the authority and power of Satan, their prince (Eph. 6:12). “Air” is the Greek word aer and most likely refers to the immediate atmosphere above the earth which evidently forms their base of operations and the domain of the demonic, their sphere of power, authority, activity, and influence. In other words, our atmosphere is the vehicle or medium of their evil operations and influence. This not only looks at the locality of Satan’s operations, but emblematically portrays the prevailing influence or evil atmosphere in which every individual and the world moves—a world atmosphere of demonic influence controlled by Satan.

(10) “Of the spirit that is now working” (Eph. 2:2). This is often taken as another title for Satan. When it is so understood, it is taken as an appositional phrase describing “the prince of the power,” i.e., a further description of the prince. So the prince is also the unholy spirit (1 Cor. 2:12) who apes the operations of his divine counterpart by working in the sons of disobedience in opposition to the Holy Spirit.150

Now it is true that Satan, as a fallen angel, is a spirit being, actually an unclean spirit, who works in the world to promote disobedience and unbelief in mankind, but because of the rules of Greek syntax, others believe that this is not a reference to Satan, but to an impersonal force or atmosphere Satan controls. The reason is simply this. For the phrase, “of the spirit,” to be appositional, one would expect this phrase to be in the accusative case, but it is in the genitive case. According to the principles of Greek syntax an appositional word or phrase would normally be in the same case as the noun or noun phrase it modifies, though there is the possibility for a different case by attraction to the word that precedes it. The word “prince,” arconta, is in the accusative case, but “of the spirit” is in the genitive case. So, as a genitive it describes another aspect of the prince’s (Satan’s) rule. The idea is that Satan controls unbelievers through an evil principle at work in the world. The result is a spirit of disobedience.

The last clause of verse 2, in this view, refers to the disposition, the outlook, the way of thinking and acting which one finds in the world of today. It is much like our phrase “the spirit of the age.” It is an outlook, a viewpoint, a disposition that Satan is constantly promoting. Note it is “in the sons of disobedience.” “Disobedience” is the Greek apeiqeia which means “disbelief, obstinate,” and so “disobedient.” Men are disobedient to Scripture because of a spirit of disbelief and stubbornness—they will not be persuaded by the admonitions, appeals and instructions of Scripture.

“Working” is the Greek energew, “to energize, be active, be at work.” It is in the present continuous tense. Satan is constantly at work to promote and produce his viewpoint in order to create disobedience in man. This will be at an all time high during the Tribulation. People are either being energized by the viewpoint and attitude of the world (Satan’s) which produces disobedience, or by the divine viewpoint of Scripture and the Holy Spirit which produces obedience. Notice in this regard that in Hebrews 4:12 we have energes, “active,” the noun form of the verb energhs. Then in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 Paul uses this same verb of the powerful activity of Scripture. Both of these passages emphasize the active, energizing and working power of the word of God in the lives of men.

(11) “Belial” (2 Cor. 6:15) is another name used of Satan. “Belial” is the Greek word beliar which comes from an Old Testament word meaning “worthless” or “hopeless ruin.” In 2 Corinthians 6:15 it is used as a name for Satan who is the epitome of worthlessness, hopeless ruin, and the source of all idolatry and the futile religious works of man.

(12) “Beelzebul” or “Beelzebub” or “Beelzeboul” (Mark 3:22; Matt. 12:24). There are three possible spellings of this word because of variant manuscripts and each spelling has a slightly different meaning so I have listed them all. (1) Beelzebul means “lord of the dung.” It is a name of reproach and uncleanness for Satan. (2) Beelzebub means “lord of the flies.” This has the same implication as the above. (3) Beelzeboul means the “lord of the dwelling.” This may portray Satan as the leader and head of the unclean spirits of demon possession! This best fits the context of Matthew 10:25 and 12:29 and has the best manuscript evidence behind it. Note that Matthew, Mark and Luke all define Beelzeboul as the prince of demons.

(13) “Abaddon” and “Apollyon” (Rev. 9:11). Abaddon is the Greek form and Apollyon is the Hebrew equivalent. They mean “destroyer” or “destruction.” As seen previously this name connects Satan with the demons of the Abyss (their leader) and their work of destruction on earth in the Tribulation. Primarily, however, it stresses his character and activity as the great source of destruction and ruin in the world.

Activities of Satan (9-12)
His Deception

In verse 9 Satan is spoken of as the one “who deceives the whole world.” The Greek text strongly stresses this as a continuous aspect of Satan’s character and activity. He is the deceiver. Then note that he deceives “the whole world,” literally, “the whole inhabited earth.” Satan, of course, is not omniscient nor omnipresent, but through his network of demonic powers and deceiving spirits he is able to operate all over the earth and at all times. Satan never takes a rest.

“Deceives” is the Greek planaw, a causative verb meaning “to lead astray, cause to wander, mislead, deceive, delude.” He causes men to miss the plan and truth of God by his many methods of deception as: (1) lying against the truth; he is the father of lies (John 8:44, Gen. 3:1-5); (2) denying the truth (cf. 1 John 4:3 with 2 Pet. 2:2); (3) counterfeiting or imitating the truth (2 Cor. 11:3-15); (4) perverting or distorting the truth (cf. 1 Tim. 4:1-5 with Gal. 3:1-3). Satan has many traps and tricks that he uses to deceive. These include the traps of occultism (things covered over, mysterious, hidden, the area of spiritism); religionism (man doing good deeds from a works mental attitude in order to get God’s blessing); the sin trap (luring people deeper and deeper into sin and rebellion with the lie that happiness comes in hedonism); the miraculous trap (i.e., if it is miraculous then God must be behind it); the emotionalism trap (seeking the experiences of emotionalism as a sign of spirituality and God’s blessing); and the materialism trap (happiness comes in the abundance of the things you possess). These are not all of Satan’s traps, but they comprise some of the major ones.

His Accusations

Verse 9. The atmosphere of our earth has been the special domain and sphere of Satan’s operations as Job 1:7; 2:2; and Ephesians 2:2 make clear. However, throughout our history and into the middle of the Tribulation Satan also has access into God’s presence, by God’s permissive will, to accuse believers. He has had access into the ultimate regions of heaven. This is clear from Job 1:6; 2:2 and Revelation 12:7f. In the middle of the Tribulation, following this angelic conflict in heaven, Satan and his angels will be “thrown down to earth” (Rev. 12:9). “Thrown down” in verse 9 in both incidences is the verb ballw, “to cast, throw” or “to put or place.” The accusing activity of Satan at this point will be brought to a close. This means the time of his judgment is drawing near (cf. Rev. 12:12 and 20:1-3).

Verse 10. At this point a voice is heard in heaven. It is a voice of praise announcing the millennial kingdom with its salvation accompanied by the power of God and authority of Christ. Salvation in this context refers not to one’s personal salvation from sin’s penalty, though this is included, but to deliverance from the reign of Satan and the Tribulation and to the completion of that which God will do to establish the reign and rule of Christ on earth.

With the casting down of Satan one more step, and a very important one at that, has been accomplished in moving toward the reign of God on earth. This must occur before peace can be established on earth. The angelic conflict and the slandering accusations of Satan that God has allowed throughout history to demonstrate His divine essence, especially His holiness, will at this point be just about over. Note that verse 10 gives the reason this step has been taken. It says “For the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, Who accuses them before God day and night.” “Accuser” is the Greek kathgoros and “who accuses” is a present adjectival participle of habitual characteristic action of the verb kathgorew. Both the noun and verb are used of the formal accusations in a legal battle or court scene (cf. Acts 23:30, 35; 24:2, 8, 13, 16, 18, 19; 25:5, 11, 16; John 8:10). These words are also used of informal accusations (Matt. 12:10; Luke 6:7).

In Satan’s accusations against believers, he is actually, according to the illustration of Job 1 and 2, attempting to malign and impugn the character of God. When believers sin, Satan accuses us before God. Perhaps it goes something like this: “There is John Doe, and he has just done such and such, and he is one of yours, why don’t you judge him,” or “There is Jane Doe, and she regularly does such and such. You see she doesn’t love you.”

The accusations are many and varied and they go on night and day, but the Lord Jesus stands there at God’s right hand to intercede and plead our case as our Advocate and Great High Priest (Rom. 8:34; 1 John 2:1-2). Perhaps Christ’s answer to these charges goes something like this: “Yes, they have sinned, and yes they do not love me as they should, but I have loved them, and I have died and paid the penalty for their sins—all of them. All aspects of God’s character and divine essence have been propitiated or satisfied by my person and work. Be gone Satan, you have no case. Your judgment, Satan, stands and God is holy, righteous, loving and just.”

In regard to the accusations of Satan, let’s remember that he likes to promote his own dirty work. Accusing others is one of his chief activities. Let’s not help him. Let’s leave the dirty work to him.

Verse 11. Though anticipating Satan’s wrath, this verse teaches us how Tribulation saints will overcome Satan and his attacks in the Tribulation. Three reasons are given for their victory over Satan. “Overcame” is a culminative aorist looking at the conclusion of their battles with Satan, i.e., the victory.

“They overcame by the blood of the Lamb.” The blood of the Lamb, the basis of victory, refers to the person and work of Christ on the cross. This is the place, point in time, and the means of Satan’s defeat (cf. John 16:8f; Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14). At the cross Jesus answered the accusations of Satan proving that God is perfectly consistent with His divine essence. The cross demonstrated that He is perfect righteousness, justice, holiness, love, mercy, and grace. Therefore men can always resist and overcome Satan if they will turn to Jesus Christ (see 1 John 5:4-6).

“And because of the word of their testimony” draws our attention to the activity that overcomes and defeats the attacks of Satan. The word of their testimony refers to the proclamation of the Word, Bible doctrine and the truth of Jesus Christ both by life and by lip. By the word of God known, believed, and applied by faith in consistent Christian living, believers are able to put to silence the accusations of Satan and to reveal him for what he is. Jesus Christ, our Advocate, answers his accusation in heaven, but we too can answer them by proclaiming and living the Word. Satan and his world system claim that God is not what man needs; the world claims man’s need is human knowledge, science, and the material things of life. But we demonstrate the world to be wrong when we do not live as materialists, when we love not the world nor the temporal things in the world (1 John 2:15-17). When we seek to live by God’s Holy Word and live as sojourners rather than by the temporal details of life, we counter Satan’s accusations (cf. Job 1 and 2 with Matt 4:4).

“And they did not love their life even unto death.” Here we see the attitude which overcomes Satan. In this statement, we see two vital attitudes of faith that give the capacity to serve the Lord regardless of what Satan might throw at us. First, there is the perspective of eternity that sees this life as a vapor, a training ground, and a preparation for eternity (1 Pet. 1:17-2:12). But this leads to a second attitude of faith, self sacrifice even unto death, for this life is not the end, it is only the beginning. Obviously then, lying at the foundation of such attitudes of faith is more Bible doctrine—the doctrine of death or dying, the doctrine of our eternal hope and our inheritance, an inheritance that is untouched by death, unstained by evil and unimpaired by time (1 Pet. 1:3-5; Matt. 6:19-21; 2 Cor. 4:16-18; 5:10).

Verse 12. In the middle of the Tribulation all hell will literally break loose on earth and this verse gives us the reason.

“On account of this” refers to the victory of the saints along with the casting down of Satan. Two things are said. First, there is to be rejoicing by the inhabitants of heaven. Satan no more can enter into the heavens and God’s kingdom is about to be established on earth with Satan put away. Second, a woe or warning is pronounced upon those living on the earth because Satan who will then be restricted to earth knows his time is short. Knowing this fact, he becomes exceedingly wrathful, all of which he will turn against the world. The verses which follow 12:13-13:18 describe part of the activity of his wrath.

In this section Satan as the great opponent of God is pitted against the Lord Jesus in the following ways: (a) As the accuser he stands in opposition to Christ as Priest and advocate of believers (Rev. 12). (b) As the dragon and source of the beast, the world dictator, he stands opposed to Christ as King of kings (Rev. 13:1-10). (c) As the source of the second beast he stands opposed to Christ as the Prophet, the one who truly reveals God (Rev. 13:11-18).
War on Earth: Phase II
(12:13-17)
The Persecution of the Woman (13-16)

With the mention of Satan’s wrath and his very short time, the scene moves back to earth and Satan’s final activities on earth before he is cast into the abyss (20:1-3). It is important to note that the persecution of the woman who is Israel (12:13-16), the persecution of the godly remnant of believers (12:17), and the rise of the system of the beast (13:1f) all proceed as a result of Satan’s expulsion from heaven and restriction to earth for the last half of the Tribulation.

Verse 13 shows us that it is when he realizes his time is short that Satan promotes his attack against Israel. His expulsion from heaven is proof of this. This is the motivating force behind many events that occur during the Tribulation, events that are all related in some way. For instance:

(1) It is probably at this point when the King of the North (which many believe is Russia or at least countries that lie in the southern portion of what used to be the Soviet Union) will move against Israel; this is one of the ways Satan tries to persecute the woman (cf. Ezek. 38:1-11; Dan. 9:27). This occurs when Israel is in peace and safety living in unwalled villages and trusting in the treaty with the Roman prince.

(2) God destroys the King of the North while evidently still on the mountains of Israel, before she and her allies ever get to Jerusalem (Ezek. 38:16-23). Ezekiel 39:1f could refer to a second invasion at the end of the Tribulation after Russia has somewhat recovered from the first defeat.

(3) This creates a vacuum in the power struggle of the world and the Roman prince now sees his chance for world dominion. This is where he makes his move as the beast under Satan’s direction. So he will then move into Palestine, break his treaty with Israel, commit the abomination of desolation and begin to persecute the woman, Israel (cf. Dan. 9:27b; 11:36-41; Matt. 24:15-22). All of this is the beginning of the Great Tribulation.

Verse 14. In this verse we see the first provision of divine deliverance figuratively portrayed as “the two wings of a great eagle.” This is based on two Old Testament passages, Exodus 19:4 and Deuteronomy 32:11-12, where God’s protection and deliverance of Israel is likened to an eagle who carried her to safety from the clutches of Egypt. So likewise, God will work to deliver Israel from the clutches of Satan. Matthew 24:16 refers to this same flight where Christ exhorts those in Judea to flee to the mountains when they see the abomination of desolation take place in the city of Jerusalem.

Some writers try to find an historical counterpart by which many of these events may take place. Hal Lindsey is an illustration of this. He suggests that this deliverance could refer to a massive airlift out of the country to some natural fortress like the ancient city of Petra, the city of the Rock in the Jordanian wilderness south of the Dead Sea. He also suggests “since the eagle is the national symbol of the United States, it is possible that the airlift will be made available by aircraft from the U.S. sixth fleet in the Mediterranean.”151

Regardless of how God will accomplish this, the point of verse 14 is that there will be some kind of supernatural care and deliverance. However, Zechariah 13:8 reminds us of a sobering truth; two-thirds of the nation of Israel in the land will perish. Evidently many will ignore the warning of Matthew 24:16 and refuse to flee. These will be put to death.

The length of this persecution and protection in the wilderness is described as “a time, and times, and half a time.” “Time” is singular and refers to one unit or year, “times” is plural and refers to two units or two years, and “half a time” is half a unit or six months. Again we have a reference to the last three and one-half years of the Tribulation (cf. Dan. 7:25; 12:7).

Verse 15. The water poured out like a river to destroy the woman figuratively refers to Satan’s all out effort to destroy the Nation in the greatest anti-Semitism the world has ever known. Regarding the flood here as literal water, Walvoord points out, “the contour of the Holy land, and the fact that Israel would probably not all flee in the same direction combine to make a physical interpretation … improbable.152

Verse 16 declares that the earth helps the woman by swallowing the flood. This would again figuratively refer to the nature of the terrain of the wilderness and the country around Palestine. This area is unpopulated, rocky, mountainous, and would provide for many places of refuge for fleeing people as with the city of Petra. In other words, in this way the earth would protect Israel and swallow up her persecutors.
The Persecution of the Godly Remnant (17)

Some see this verse as pointing to a geographic contrast between the persecution of Israel in the land (vss. 13-16) and Israel outside the land in other portions of the world (vs. 17). However, the contrast is more likely between the nation as a whole symbolized in the term “the woman” versus the godly and believing remnant, “the rest of her offspring who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (vs. 17). The godly remnant are believers in the Lord Jesus, those who during the Tribulation will turn to Christ. The word used here for the remnant translated by the NASB as “the rest” is not the same word used in Romans 9:27 (%upoleimma) or in Romans 11:5 (leimma). Here the word is loipon, but they all come from the same verb, leipw, and the context clearly shows that the believing and godly remnant are in view.

This verse serves to emphasize that the dragon will become totally frustrated and enraged over his inability to wipe out the woman, but he will become particularly angry with the believing remnant who will turned to Jesus Christ, believe the Word, and stand ready to die for their faith in the Savior.

From the standpoint of cause and effect, the way is now prepared for the events of chapter 13, the rise of the beast and his unholy system.

In this twelfth chapter we are given a kind of panoramic view of the angelic conflict and of the supernatural forces of darkness that are ever at work in the world and have been since the fall of Satan when he drew with him a host of angels who chose to follow Satan rather than God. Here is a sure fact of human history. Though generally unseen with the physical eye, it is quite clear through the revelation of God and occasionally obvious in certain demonic activity seen in the world in the demon possessed. Even then, many reject the cause as demonic and attribute it to some other paranormal source. But the Apostle Paul makes clear reference to this conflict in Ephesians 2:2 and again in 6:11-12. In Ephesians 6:11-12 we are told: “Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

But in Revelation 12 we also see the anticipation of Satan’s doom and that of his kingdom, though the rest of the story or the prophecy of his final doom is withheld until chapter 20. The great promise of the Bible is twofold: First, believers are victors through the victory of the Lord Jesus. Our need is to put on the full armor of God and to resist the devil in the victory of the Savior by always drawing near to the Lord. The second great promise is that Satan is a defeated foe whose days of freedom to create misery and pain and deception are numbered. Truly, may we rejoice with the heavens and those who dwell therein as they are told to do in 12:12. Why? For “The God of peace (the One who alone can give peace with God [reconciliation], the peace of God [the peace that comforts hearts], and world peace [an end to the turmoil we know today in our strife torn world]) will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you” (Rom. 16:20)

148 Alan Johnson, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12, Frank E. Gaebelein, general editor, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1981, p. 510.

149 For historical details regarding the mother-child cult, see The Two Babylons by Alexander Hislop, Loizeaux Brothers.

150 See Rienecker/Rogers, Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Regency, p. 534; Frank E. Gaebelein, General Editor, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Zondervan, p. 34; Everett F. Harrison, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, New Testament, Chicago: Moody Press, Electronic Media.

151 Hal Lindsey, There’s a New World Coming, Harvest House Publishers, p. 178.

152 John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Moody Press, Chicago, 1966, p. 195.
Studies in Revelation

Final, FINAL Days

Jdg 17:6 In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

DANIEL’S SEVENTY WEEKS, AMILLENNIAL INTERPRETATION


Written by J. Randall Price
The historical and theological developments which produced the amillennial interpretation of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks prophecy (Dan. 9:24-27) were the result of direct opposition to premillennialism which was considered Judaistic. The New Testament, early Jewish-Christian, and Patristic evidence supports premillennialism as the dominant eschatological view up until the third-century A.D. In the controversy over chiliasm, the hermeneutic of the Alexandrian school (followed by Augustine and consequently the Roman Catholic Church, the Protestant Reformed churches, and modern amillennialism), which was a non-literal, allegorical hermeneutic, was applied to the Seventy Weeks prophecy to prove the political and spiritual program for the Jewish People had ended with the first advent of Christ and had been replaced by the Church. While adopting an historicist approach, the amillennialists’ spiritual hermeneutic permits only a subjective application of events which in turn invites a broad spectrum of interpretation. This is particularly problematic for their interpretation of the seventieth week where the events do not fit with any known history (see traditional versus symbolic schools, below).
For the amillennialist, the focus of the Seventy Weeks passage is wholly christological. The six infinitives of verse 24 that form the purpose of the prophecy and establish its terminus ad quem (conclusion), are viewed as completed by Christ. The traditional school of amillennialism sees this completion having taken place in the seventieth week, which followed consecutively (and historically) after the sixty-nine weeks. Christological fulfillment occurred within the ministry of Christ or, at the latest, the time of the first preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles (i.e., Pentecost). The symbolic school, however, extends final fulfillment to an indefinite period, which includes the Second Advent and eternal state. In this case, the six statements represent the successive stages in the history of Christ’s Kingdom. In like manner, the last of the six prophetic goals: “to anoint the most holy [one],” is taken either as Christ’s own anointing by the Spirit (traditional school), or of the eschatological anointing of the new holy of holies (= Christ) in the New [heavenly] Jerusalem (symbolic school). While some amillennialists follow premillennialists in attempting to determine historical dates for the terminus a quo (commencement) and terminus ad quem (conclusion) of the 490 years (vs. 25), other amillennialists have concluded that the figure of 490 is only symbolic (7×7).
Amillennialists and premillennialists agree on the messianic interpretation of the “anointed prince” (vs. 25) as Jesus the Messiah, however, the reference to his being “cut off and having nothing” (vs. 26) is variously interpreted to apply to Jesus’ death (traditional school) or Jesus’ influence and prestige as Messiah (symbolic school). Most in the traditional school support their interpretation that Messiah was “cut off” in the middle of the seventieth week, by identifying “the prince who is to come” (vs. 26) with the one whose activity is described (the “he” of vs. 27) as occurring in “the middle of the week,” with Christ. On this basis, the “firm covenant” that this “prince” makes with “the many” is interpreted as the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-37) which Christ made with the Church. In this view the “the city” and “the sanctuary” are interpreted literally as Jerusalem and the Temple, while the destruction wrought by “the prince” is applied non-literally to Christ’s “pronouncements of destruction.” However, while E.J. Young agrees that the “he” of verse 27 refers to Christ, he identifies the “prince that shall come” with Titus, the commander of the Roman
forces in A.D. 68-70 who destroyed Jerusalem. In a dramatic departure from the traditional school, the symbolic school approximates the view of premillennialism and identifies “the prince that shall come” with the Antichrist and the “firm covenant” as one made in imitation of Christ and imposed on the masses (H.C. Leupold), or made to deceive people to follow him as God (C.F. Keil), but in any case is a covenant of terror and violence.
The difficulty with interpreting Christ’s being “cut off’ in the middle of the seventieth week again is present in the problem of resolving the statement of cessation of sacrifice and oblation as having occurred at this time. Recognizing that these sacrifices did not immediately stop with the death of Christ, but continued another forty years, amillennialists apply the meaning spiritually to either the “rending of the veil” in the Temple or the beginning of the preaching of the Gospel, both of which (in their view) delegitimitized the sacrificial system. Thus, according to Young, at Christ’s death Jerusalem “ceased to be a holy city” and its Temple was “no longer the house of God, but an abomination,” while the actual destruction of both was “but the outward manifestation of what had already been put into effect by our Lord’s death” (Daniel, 217-218). The New Testament, however, depicts a continued reverence for Jerusalem during the apostolic period as the center for the mother church (Acts 1:8; 15; Gal. 1:18-2:2) and the Temple as a place for Christian meeting (Acts 2:46; 3:1; 5:12-13), ritual festival observance (Acts 2:1; 20:6), and even worship (Acts 18:18; 21:23-26; 22:17; 24:11, 17-18). Amillennialists generally conclude that while the terminus ad quem of the sixty-nine weeks is Christ, the terminus ad quem of the seventy weeks is unstated in the text. However, the destruction of the desolator at the conclusion of verse 27 is stated as the event that terminates the desolations of the last half of the seventieth week, apparently concluding the week itself. Again, the amillennial interpretation has difficulty reconciling this event with historical events, For this reason, Young (traditional school) advises against an emphasis on dates, while Leupold (symbolic school) abandons any historic fulfillment to the seventieth week.
Bibliography
Michael Kalafian, The Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks of the Book of Daniel: A Critical Review of the Prophecy as Viewed by Three Major Theological Interpretations and the Impact of the Book of Daniel on Christology (New York: University of America Press, Inc., 1991), pp. 107-136, J. Barton Payne, Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1973), pp. 383-388, Charles L. Feinberg, Premillennialism or Amillennialism? (Wheaton, Illinois: Van Kampen Press, 1954), John F. Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom (Findlay, Ohio: Dunham, 1959), Abraham Kuyper, Chiliasm or the Doctrine of Premillennialism (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1934), C.F. Keil, Biblical Commentary on the Book of Daniel. Trans. M.G. Easton in A Commentary on the Old Testament 10 vols. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1973), 9:336-402, Edward J. Young, The Prophecies of Daniel: A Commentary (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1949), pp. 191-222, The Messianic Prophecies of Daniel (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1954), Philip Mauro, The Seventy Weeks and the great Tribulation. Revised ed. (Swengel, Pennsylvania: Reiner Publications, n.d.), H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Daniel (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1949), pp. 403-440, Oswalt T. Allis, Prophecy and the Church (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1949).

Chapter 3 THE TWO ADVENTS

 

Written By C I Scofield

 

When it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow I Peter 1: 11Whoever carefully considers Old Testament prophecies must be struck by two contrasting and seemingly contradictory lines of prediction concerning the coming Messiah. One body of prediction speaks of Him as coming in weakness and humiliation, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, as a root out of dry ground, having no form nor comeliness, nor beauty that He should be desired. His visage is to be marred, His hands and feet pierced, He is to be forsaken of man and of God, and to make His grave with the wicked. (See Ps. 22:1-18; Isa. 7:14; Isa. 53; Dan. 9:26; Zech. 13:6-7; Mark 14:27.)strength: Psa_32:3-4; Pro_17:22
tongue: Psa_69:3, Psa_69:21; Job_29:10; Lam_4:4; Joh_19:28
into the: Psa_30:9, Psa_104:29; Gen_3:19, Gen_18:27; Job_7:21, Job_10:9, Job_34:15; Isa_53:12; Dan_12:2; Mat_27:50; 1Co_15:3

The other line of prophecy foretells a splendid and resistless Sovereign, purging the earth with awful judgments, regathering dispersed Israel, restoring the throne of David in more than Solomon’s splendor, and introducing a reign of profound peace and perfect righteousness. (See Deut. 30:1-7; Isa. 11:1-2, 10-12; Isa. 9:6-7; Isa. 24:21-23; Isa. 40:9-11; Jer. 23:5-8; Dan. 7:13-14; Mic. 5:2; Matt. 1: 1; Matt. 2:2; Luke 1:31-33.)

In due time the fulfillment of messianic prophecy began with the birth of the virgin’s Son according to Isaiah, in Bethlehem according to Micah, and proceeded with perfect literalness unto the full accomplishment of every prediction of Messiah’s humiliation; for sin must first be put away, before the kingdom could be established. But the Jews would not receive their King in the form in which He was presented, “meek and sitting upon an ass and a colt the foal of an ass,” and they crucified Him. (See Zech. 9:9 with Matt. 21:1-5; John 19:15-16.)

But we must not conclude that the wickedness of man has baffled the deliberate purpose of God, for His counsels include a second advent of His Son, when the predictions concerning Messiah’s earthly glory will receive the same precise and literal fulfillment as did those which concerned His earthly sufferings. (See Hos. 3:4-5; Matt. 24:27-30; Luke 1:31-33; Acts 1:6-7; Acts 15:14-17.)

The Jews were slow of heart to believe all that the prophets had spoken concerning the sufferings of their Messiah; we are slow of heart to believe all that they have spoken concerning His glory. Surely the greater reproach is ours, for it ought to be easier to believe that the Son of God would come “in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory” than that He would come as the babe of Bethlehem and the carpenter of Nazareth. Indeed, we believe the latter because it has happened, not because the prophets foretold it, and it is time we ceased to reproach the Jews for their unbelief. If it be asked how they could possibly be blinded to the evident meaning of so many and such unequivocal predictions, the answer is that they were blinded in exactly the same way that many Christians are blinded to the equally evident meaning of a far greater number of predictions of His earthly glory, namely, by the process of “spiritualizing” Scripture. In other words, the ancient scribes told the people that the prophecies of Messiah’s sufferings were not to be interpreted literally, just as some modern scribes are telling the people that the prophecies of Messiah’s earthly glory are not to be literally interpreted.

The second advent is a promise to the church as well as to the Jew. Among the last words of comfort and exhortation addressed by our Lord to His perplexed and sorrowing disciples before He accomplished the sacrifice of the cross were these: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3).

Here the Lord speaks of His coming again in precisely the same terms as of His departure. The latter was, we know, personal and bodily. If we say that the former is impersonal and “spiritual,” surely to such a forced interpretation of simple language we ought to be constrained only by the most imperative and unqualified Scripture elsewhere. But no such passages exist. But we are not left to doubt upon this vital point, nor to draw conclusions of reason, however irresistible.

In the very moment of our Lord’s disappearance from the sight of His disciples, “Two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:10-11).

To the same purport is I Thess. 4:16-17: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

“For our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be cFor our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” (Phil. 3:20-21).

“Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (I John 3:2). “And behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Rev. 22:12).

For this “blessed hope” we are taught to “watch” (Mark 13:33, 35, 37; Matt. 24:42; 25:13), “wait” (I Thess. 1: 10), and be “ready” (Matt. 24:44). The last prayer in the Bible is one for Christ’s speedy return (Rev. 22:20).

By these Scriptures it abundantly appears that the second advent will be personal and bodily. Therefore it does not mean the death of the believer, nor the destruction of Jerusalem, nor the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, nor the gradual diffusion of Christianity, but that it is the “blessed hope” of the church, the time when sleeping saints will be raised, and, together with saints then living, who will be “changed” (I Cor. 15:51-52), caught up to meet the Lord-the time when we who are now the sons of God will be like Him and when faithful saints will be rewarded for works of faith, for His name’s sake, after they have been saved.

The following Scriptures will further bring into view the contrast between the two advents of our Lord. Compare the first advent with the second.
FIRST ADVENT

And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn (Luke 2:7).

But now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself (Heb. 9:26).

For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved (John 3:17).

And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world (John 12:47).
SECOND ADVENT

And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man, in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory (Matt. 24:30).

So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation (Heb. 9:28).

And to you who are troubled, rest with us: when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thess. 1:7-8).

Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead (Acts 17:31).

The student may multiply these contrasts almost indefinitely. Enough, however, has been put forth that both the promises to Israel and to the church imperatively require a return of our Lord to the earth.

It may be helpful to beginning Bible students to consider, briefly, the various theories which are put forward to oppose the scriptural doctrine of the personal and corporeal return, or second advent, of Christ.

It will, of course, be clearly understood that the Scriptures which speak of His visible and bodily appearing at the close of this dispensation must be distinguished from those which refer to His divine attributes of omniscience and omnipresence, by virtue of which He knows all things and is always present everywhere and of which such passages as Matthew 18:20 and Matthew 28:20 are examples. It is blessedly true that, in this sense, He is with us always, even unto the end of the age.

But the man Christ Jesus is now personally and corporeally at the right hand of God, as Acts 1:9-11 plainly declares: “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”

Stephen saw Him there: “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55-56). “When he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3). “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Col. 3: 1).

During the Franco-Prussian war Von MoItke, by his genius and skill and by a network of telegraph wires, was really present on every battlefield, though visibly and personally present in his office in Berlin. Later in the war he joined the army before Paris, after which his actual and visible presence was there. So our Lord, by virtue of His divine attributes, is really present with His church now, but He will be visibly and personally upon the earth at His second coming.
1. The prophecies concerning the return of the Lord were not fulfilled by the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, nor by His manifestation in powerful revivals and happy prayer meetings.

a. This interpretation practically nullifies the doctrine of the Trinity, making the Holy Spirit only a manifestation of Christ.

b. In Christ’s promise of the descent of the Spirit He distinctly speaks of Him as “another Comforter” (John 14:16), and in John 16:7 Christ says: “If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart I will send him unto you.”

c. The inspired writers of Acts, the Epistles, and of Revelation, mention the return of the Lord more than one hundred and fifty times after Pentecost, and always as yet future.

d. None of the events predicted to accompany the second advent of Christ occurred at Pentecost. These are: the resurrection of sleeping saints (I Cor. 15:22-23; 1 Thess. 4:13-16), the “change” of living believers, by which they “put on incorruption”, their vile bodies” being “fashioned like unto His glorious body,” and their being caught up to meet the Lord in the air (I Cor. 15:51-53; 1 Thess. 4:17; Phil. 3:20-21), and the mourning of all the tribes of the earth because of the visible coming of the Son of man in power and great glory (Matt. 24:29-30; Rev. 1:7).

These are the phenomena associated with the event of our Lord’s return. When He comes, these phenomena will be present. Not one of these things occurred at Pentecost, nor in any other manifestation of the Holy Spirit.

2. The conversion of a sinner is not the coming of the Lord.

One would think this theory too puerile to be seriously put forth as a sufficient explanation of prophecies so numerous and circumstantial.

a. According to Scripture this is exactly reversed. Conversion is the coming of a sinner to Christ, not the coming of Christ to a sinner (Matt. 11:28; John 5:40; John 7:37; John 6:37).

b. None of the events enumerated above, predicted to occur when the Lord returns, accompany the conversion of a sinner.

3. The death of a Christian is not the coming of Christ.

a. When the disciples understood the Lord to say that one of their number should tarry till He came, the saying went abroad among them that “that disciple should not die” (John 21:22-24).

b. The inspired writers always refer to a believer’s death as his departure. In not one instance is the coming of the Lord connected with a Christian’s death. (See Phil. 1:23; 2 Tim. 4:6; 2 Cor. 5:8.) Dying Stephen saw the heavens opened, and the Son of man, not coming but “standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55-56).

c. None of the events predicted to occur when the Lord returns accompany the death of a Christian.

4. The destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans was not the second coming of Christ.

a. In Matthew 24 and Luke 21 three events are foretold: the destruction of the temple, the coming of the Lord, and the end of the world (age). (See Matt. 24:3.) It was the needless confusion of these perfectly distinct things which gave rise to the notion that the fulfillment of one was the fulfillment of all.

b. The apostle John wrote the book of Revelation after the destruction of Jerusalem, but still speaks of the coming of the Lord as a future event (Rev. 1:4,7; 2:25; 3:11; 22:7,12,20). The last promise of the Bible is, “Surely, I come quickly”; the last prayer, “Even so, come Lord Jesus.”

c. None of the events predicted to occur when the Lord returns occurred when Jerusalem was destroyed. (See I Thess. 4:14-17 Matt. 24:29-31; Matt. 25:31-32.)

5. The diffusion of Christianity is not the second coming of Christ.

a. The diffusion of Christianity is gradual, whereas the Scriptures refer to the return of the Lord as sudden and unexpected (Matt. 24:27, 36-42, 44, 50; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 3:3).

b. The diffusion of Christianity is a process; Scripture invariably speaks of the return of the Lord as an event.

c. The diffusion of Christianity brings salvation to the wicked, whereas the coming of Christ is said to bring not salvation to them but “sudden destruction” (I Thess. 5:2, 3; 2 Thess. 1:7-10; Matt. 25:31- 46).

6. These alleged explanations and theories, though widespread, do not appear in the books of reputable theologians of any school or denomination, nor are they maintained by a single exegete of universally recognized eminence. These all maintain the bodily and visible second coming of Christ.

It is, however, sometimes said that this coming cannot occur until after the world has been converted by the preaching of the gospel and has submitted to the spiritual reign of Christ for one thousand years. It is submitted that this view is wholly erroneous for the following reasons.

a. Scripture clearly describes the condition of the earth at the second coming of Christ to be one of awful wickedness, not of millennial blessedness (Luke 17:26-32, with Gen. 6:5-7 and Gen. 13:13; Luke 18:8; Luke 21:25-27).

b. Scripture describes the whole course of this dispensation from the beginning to the end in such terms as to exclude the possibility of a converted world in any part of it (Matt. 13:36-43, 47-50; Matt. 25: 1 – 10; 1 Tim. 4: 1; 2 Tim. 3:1-9; 4:3-4; 2 Pet. 3:3-4; Jude 17-19).

c. The purpose of God in this dispensation is declared to be to “gather out of the Gentiles a people for his name,” not the conversion of the world. After this He “will return,” and then, and not before, will the world be converted. (See Acts 15:14-17; Matt. 24:14 ["for a witness"]; Rom. 1:5 ["among" not "of' all nations]; Rom. 11:14 ["some," not "all"]; I Cor. 9:22; Rev. 5:9 ["out of" not "all" of].)

d. It would be impossible to “watch” and “wait” for an event which we knew could not occur for more than one thousand years.

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