Be sure to read the first, introductory article in this short series. The claim is often made, sometimes stridently, that Bible prophecy must be interpreted literally, and that to interpret is figuratively is a distortion of scripture. However, this is simply specious and misguided.
We have examined the ministry of John the Baptizer as the fulfillment of Isaiah 40, and demonstrated that John did not, in any way, fulfill the language of Isaiah 40 “literally.” But there is more.
Consider Jesus’ Ministry as Well
The Old Covenant contains many prophecies of the building of the Messianic Temple. In fact, this is a hugely important topic.
Our dispensational friends insist on a yet future building of a physical temple located in the city of Jerusalem. And, they tell us that the Old Covenant never predicted the establishment of the church as the Messianic Temple. With this in mind, consider Jesus and the Messianic Temple. (Also, be sure to get a copy of the Preterist Pilgrim Weekend of 2013 DVDs. The theme was The Tabernacle of God is With Man, and several of the speeches powerfully demonstrated that the OT prophecies were clearly fulfilled spiritually in Christ and the church. Contact me to order.
Psalms 118:22-24– “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.”
This prophecy foretold the rejection of the “chief cornerstone” of the foundation of the Messianic Temple. It would be rejected by the “builders” but, after rejection would become the chief cornerstone.
Are we dealing with a literal massive stone that at some point in the future will be initially rejected by the builders of the millennial temple, but after closer inspection will then become the literal, physical master cornerstone? Let’s allow the New Testament writers to answer that.
Read Acts 4:10-12: “Let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
There are some critical issues to consider here.
1.) Take note that Peter said that the OT prophets did not know either the time or the manner of the fulfillment of their prophecies (1 Peter 1:10-12). Now, if the OT prophets did not know the time or the manner (nature) of the fulfillment of the prophecies, this falsifies the claim that we must interpret the OT in a woodenly literal way. After all, the OT prophets knew what a stone was, did they not? They knew, from a literalistic perspective, what the Temple of the Lord was, did they not? So, according to the objection under consideration, when Psalms 118 foretold the rejection of the chief cornerstone becoming the foundation of the Messianic Temple then the Psalmist knew precisely what he was predicting, right? Not according to Peter!
2.) How did Peter, through the Spirit, interpret the prophecy of the rejected Stone becoming the foundation of the Messianic Temple? (For an in-depth study of the Rejected Stone motif see my book The Elements Shall Melt With Fervent Heat. He said that rejected Stone was none other than the living Christ, rejected by “you the builders!” See Matthew 21:42 where Jesus likewise applied the Psalm to himself.
Notice also Isaiah 28:16: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; Whoever believes will not act hastily.”
This is patently a prediction of the Messianic Temple, which, our premillennial friends tell us, can be nothing but a literal temple made of physical stone. And remember that they tell us that the church cannot be the Temple of Messiah predicted in the Old Covenant. But, how do the New Testament writers interpret this prophecy? Just like Psalms 118:22 they say that Jesus is the living foundation stone of the Messianic Temple.
In Romans 9:33 Paul cites Isaiah 28 (and Isaiah 8:14 another prediction of the Messianic Temple) and applies the prophecy to Jesus’ rejection by the Jews and the fact that Jesus was the sure foundation stone that would save those who trust in him.
Likewise, in 1 Peter 2:6f the apostle cites almost all of the OT prophecies of the foundation stone and applies them directly to Jesus, his rejection, but ensuing exaltation. He likewise says that his audience was “living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Christ” (2:5). You can order a special CD with my lesson in the Romancing the “Rejected” Stone, by contacting me. This lesson is a very, very powerful study of the “Rejected Stone” motif in scripture, and shows the first century fulfillment of not only the Messianic Temple, but, the destruction of the Old Covenant Temple. Contact me personally for ordering.
So, Christ was the precious chosen foundation stone, and the living people were living stones built on that spiritual living foundation stone of Jesus the Messiah, and they were offering up spiritual sacrifices in that spiritual house!
How then did Peter, inspired by the Spirit, interpret the Old Covenant promises and prophecies of the Messianic Temple? He interpreted them as spiritually, fulfilled in Christ the living foundation stone.
It is undeniably true therefore, that we have here the spiritual fulfillment of Old Covenant prophecies, and they were fulfilled in Christ’s body, the church. On this alone the objection is falsified, but of course, there is much more, and we will examine that in the next installment.