Replacement Theology| Failure or Fulfillment! #23
We are continuing to demonstrate that in the NT, the writers, inspired by the Spirit, affirmed several key points. Go back and read the previous article to refresh your mind on that, but, the thing to keep in mind is that they all unequivocally affirm that their eschatological hopes, their hopes of the kingdom, resurrection and salvation, was not, in any way whatsoever, different from what God promised Israel in Torah. And they affirmed that those promises were being fulfilled in Christ and his body. In other words, they preached Fulfillment Theology, not Replacement Theology!
Establishing this truth can be done easily. A full development of this issue would become a huge project however, so, we will focus strictly on the book of Acts. For an investigation of other NT texts in which the writers cite key OT eschatological prophecies and affirm their fulfillment in Christ and the church, see my video series, “Some Great Old Testament Prophecies and Their Fulfillment.” You will be amazed at how emphatically the NT writers affirm the fulfillment of Israel’s Old Testament kingdom prophecies.
But for now, lets take a quick walk through the book of Acts, and hear from Peter and Paul.
Acts 2– This is that!
Joel 2:28f is one of the key Old Testament prophecies of the restoration of Israel, the salvation of the remnant, and the glory of Messiah. Joel predicted that in Israel’s last days, the Spirit would be poured out to raise Israel from the dead (cf. Ezekiel 37:12-14), and establish the kingdom.
In Acts 2, when the Spirit was poured out, the apostles were accused of being drunk. Peter responded: “These men are not drunk, as you suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day, but, this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel…” He then quotes Joel 2:28f verbatim. We thus have the inspired apostle affirming “this is that!”
You must understand that in spite of this very clear cut statement by Peter, Dispensationalists vehemently deny that Joel was in any way, fulfilled on Pentecost and subsequent to that day. Here are a few citations and comments (taken from my book Like Father Like Son, on Clouds of Glory) of Millennial writers who deny that Joel 2 is fulfilled, or began to be fulfilled in Acts 2.
Pentecost claims, “It seems better to understand that Peter is not citing the experience before them as the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy, so that they must be considered to be in the kingdom, but rather Peter is citing Joel’s prophecy to substantiate the fact, which Israel knew through her scriptures, that such an experience as filling by the Spirit was possible.” (Pentecost, Things To Come, 470). MacArthur says Peter, “probably meant merely that Pentecost was a preview of the Day of the Lord outpouring” (1999, 228). Ice claims that Joel 2 was, “partially fulfilled at the day of Pentecost” (Prophecy, 137), but will be actually fulfilled during the Tribulation period (Prophecy, 194). Finally, Jeffrey, commenting on the events of Pentecost says, “This supernatural empowerment of the Spirit was only the foretaste of the coming millennial kingdom.”
(I must include here a note about Ice’s comments. On November 25, 2001, I had a radio debate with Thomas Ice, and quoted from his Prophecy Watch, to the effect that Joel 2 was “partially fulfilled” on Pentecost. He strongly denied saying or believing what I had quoted, indicating that I had grossly misrepresented him. He stated that if anyone wanted to know what he “really believes” about Joel, they needed to contact him personally. I continued to quote from his book, and he kept denying that he believed Joel was partially fulfilled and that this was not in his book. I then asked if this meant that he put his name on books with which he disagreed, and he said “Yes!”
In follow up correspondence with Ice, I documented for him the page number of the quote, and he admitted that the book does say what I claimed, but that he had just missed that in the final editing. He then sent me a three page excerpt written by Arnold Fruchtenbaum, saying that it represents what he actually believes about Joel 2/Acts 2. Fruchtenbaum says that “Virtually nothing that happened in Acts 2 is predicted in Joel 2.”
This is incredible. Peter says “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel,” but Ice and Fruchtenbaum, along with virtually all millennialists, have the temerity to say that what Peter actually meant was: “This is not that which was spoken by the prophet Joel!” If Peter had wanted to express the fact that Joel was actually being fulfilled that day, we wonder, would Peter’s words have effectively communicated that idea? What is there about what Peter said that indicates that Joel was not being fulfilled?
The problem is that Peter did not say what the millennialists say he did. What he did say is devastating to the millennial view. Peter, by inspiration, affirmed that the last days foretold by the prophets were present in the first century. It is wrong to say that they are yet future today. Peter’s words could not be clearer: “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.” He did not say, “this is what it will be.” He did not say “this is a foretaste of fulfillment.” Nor did he say that the outpouring of the Spirit that day was only partial fulfillment of a yet future complete fulfillment of Joel. He did not say, “Virtually nothing of what you are seeing was predicted in Joel.” He said: “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.”
The millennial dilemma is acute. Peter said, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel,” but the millennialist says what he should have said, or what he really meant was, “This is not that which Joel predicted, this is only a foretaste of what Joel predicted.” If Peter wanted to say that Joel was truly being fulfilled that day would his words have effectively communicated that idea? What is there about what Peter said that indicates Joel was not being fulfilled?
So, what we have in Acts 2 is an clear-cut, undeniable claim by the inspired apostle that God’s promise of Israel’s last days restoration / kingdom was beginning to find its fulfillment – 2000 years ago. There is not a word, not a hint, of a clue, of a suggestion, that the kingdom promises had now been postponed. There is not a syllable expressed by Peter that what was happening was in place of God’s promises to Israel. What we have is the Holy Spirit inspiring Peter and the apostles to say: “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.” This means that Pentecost and the establishment of the church was not Replacement Theology at work. It was Fulfillment Theology!
More to come from Acts, so stay tuned!