How Was the Announcement of the Fall of Jerusalem the Gospel of the Kingdom? #12
The Fall of Jerusalem was The End of the Age of Shadows and Types – The Reality Came!
When asking and seeking answers to the question of how the message of the fall of Jerusalem could have been – or could be today – called “this Gospel of the Kingdom” it is critical to realize that Israel and the Old Covenant praxis (Sabbath, Circumcision, etc.) that identified her, set her apart from the nations, was typological. Those things foreshadowed the “better things to come,” as Paul expressed it in Colossians 2. (And don’t forget that Paul said those better things foreshadowed by the New Moons, feast days and Sabbaths, were “about to come”). That means that the shadow form of Israel was about to pass because what the types pointed to was about to become a reality.
But look again at this: the arrival of the “body,” the reality, meant the passing away of the shadow, the type. This answers the question posed just above: How could Jesus’ statement that the impending destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem was to be proclaimed as “gospel” i.e. good news, indeed, the “gospel of the kingdom”? After all, that horrific catastrophe was described by Jesus himself as the worst tribulation in the history of the world – the worst that would ever be? So, again, how was that, how could that be, good news?
The answer is to be found in the fact that the Old Covenant Temple, as well as the Old Covenant city of Jerusalem, was a type of the better, the heavenly, the “real” Temple of God. Simply stated, the passing of the Old could be “good news” because that passing meant that the “Real,” the “True,” was being established.
Notice Hebrews 8:1-2:
“Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.”
Did you catch it? The New Covenant Temple / Tabernacle that was established by Christ, which is unequivocally the church of the living God (1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:14-16; Ephesians 2:19f, etc.) is called the “True Tabernacle.” Let me give again Beale’s comments on Hebrews 8:1f:
“Hebrews refers to the heavenly tabernacle as ‘true’ because it is the fulfillment, not only of direct prophecies of the eschatological temple, but, of everything the Old Testament tabernacle and temples foreshadowed” (2004, 296).
Likewise, Lane says the use of “true”: “Implies genuine, of effective value, and the expression ‘true tabernacle’ is used in contrast not to what is false, but to what is symbolical and imperfect.” ( William Lane, Word Biblical Commentary, Hebrews 1-8, 47a, (Dallas; Word, 1991), 205+).
The fact that the Old Covenant Temple pointed to something else, something better, the “real” Temple of God, is shown in Hebrews 9:23-24:
“Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.”
Here, the writer sets before his audience that the heavenly Temple is the real one, and that it was what the earthy temple, “made with hands” looked forward to, foreshadowed.
Notice also that the text says that the heavenly temple was “better.” It was sanctified by “better sacrifices” (i.e the sacrifice of Jesus) than the Old Covenant Temple. There are two things that should impress us here.
Even in the Tanakh, we find the recognition that the earthly Temple, no matter how magnificent it might be, was totally insufficient to hold the Presence of YHVH. When he dedicated the wonderful Temple he had built, Solomon acknowledged this fact: “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27).
At a later period, after the destruction of that temple, Israel longed for the restoration of that glory. Yet, God warned them to not place too much emphasis on a physical edifice, and to look to Him: Thus says the Lord:
“Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist,” Says the Lord. “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word.” (Isaiah 66:1-3).
It is important to see that this text emphasized the importance of the heart (faith) as the criteria for the Presence of YHVH. Then, the text goes ahead to predict the coming destruction of the Old Covenant City– and the Temple that would reside there:
“Thus Says the Lord.: “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word. “He who kills a bull is as if he slays a man; He who sacrifices a lamb, as if he breaks a dog’s neck; He who offers a grain offering, as if he offers swine’s blood; He who burns incense, as if he blesses an idol. Just as they have chosen their own ways, And their soul delights in their abominations, So will I choose their delusions, And bring their fears on them; Because, when I called, no one answered, When I spoke they did not hear; But they did evil before My eyes, And chose that in which I do not delight.” Hear the word of the Lord, You who tremble at His word: “Your brethren who hated you, Who cast you out for My name’s sake, said, ‘Let the Lord be glorified, That we may see your joy.’ But they shall be ashamed.” The sound of noise from the city! A voice from the temple! The voice of the Lord, Who fully repays His enemies!” (My emphasis, DKP).
So, we have here a declaration by YHVH that the Old Covenant Temple was insufficient. It was not glorious enough. He likewise castigated Israel for refusing to hear Him (and Paul cites this verse and Isaiah 65:1-2) as being fulfilled in his day. We then find the prediction of a coming desolation of the city and the temple in the Day of the Lord. This is incredible!
With all due respect, I believe that every Dispensationalists should ponder these words carefully. I will not develop it here but, it is important to see that Isaiah 66 falsifies the Dispensational postponement doctrine. In the text, YHVH was predicting the coming of the Lord for both the salvation and the judgment of Israel. He foretold the New Creation. And notice that in v. 9, the Lord said: “Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not bring forth?” This “birth” is clearly the kingdom following the “birth pains of Messiah.” YHVH was asserting that He would not fail. He would not postpone. He would not only bring Israel to the time of birth, He would bring forth his purpose – the kingdom! This is fatal to Dispensationalism.
Essentially from the beginning, YHVH told Israel that physical temples were not what He wanted. They could not hold Him. How could it be possible that YHVH wants to one day rebuild a temple when He constantly emphasized how insufficient any physical edifice was, and how, in contrast, He desires to dwell with those of faith? He told them that the Old Covenant Temple pointed to something else, something “better” than the glorious Temples constructed in Jerusalem.
So, given the indisputable fact that the New Testament teaches us that the church of the living God is the True Temple to which the Old Temple looked, why in the world would anyone look with eager expectation to the rebuilding of a physical temple in Jerusalem? Physical temples can never be the True Temple of God! And neither can the literal city of Jerusalem. It cannot be the True City of God because it always – always – pointed to the True City of God, the “heavenly Jerusalem.” The gospel of the kingdom is that the New Covenant Temple is here; God dwells with us!
Herein lies the answer to our question that we posed earlier in regard to the fact that Jesus said the prediction of the impending destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple: How could Jesus call the impending destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple the “good news of the kingdom” (Matthew 24:14)? He could call it “this gospel (good news) of the kingdom” because the removal of the Old Covenant Temple and City meant that the long anticipated New Covenant and City would be fully realized with the demise of the Old.
It would also be good news to his followers, because while the rulers of the Old Covenant world would become “the enemies of the Cross” (1 Corinthians 2:6f; Philippians 3:16-18) and cause a world-wide persecution against the followers of Jesus, with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, the organized persecution of the saints was shattered. Good news indeed.
Once the Dispensational world realizes and accepts the typological and shadow nature of Israel and her world, Dispensationalism itself falls to the ground. Christ and the gospel world is – as we have shown – what Israel and her world pointed to. We have proven, from Scripture, that even Dispensationalists (unwittingly) agree that the Old Covenant did in fact predict the establishment of the church and the Gospel as the New Covenant. So, when Christ, the mediator of the New Covenant arrived, the Old Covenant world was supposed to pass away – yes, be replaced – with the everlasting Gospel of Christ. Look again at the list of the types and shadows of the Old Covenant world of Israel.
✔ The Old Covenant itself was supposed to be “replaced” by the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31; Hebrews 8).
✔ The Old Covenant land was supposed to be “replaced” by the heavenly “father land” (Hebrews 11).
✔ The Old Covenant City was supposed to be “replaced” by the “heavenly Jerusalem” the city of the Living God” (Hebrews 12:21f).
✔ The Old Covenant physical circumcision was supposed to be “replaced” by the circumcision of the heart. (Romans 2:28f; Philippians 3:1-5, etc.). The subject of circumcision is troubling for the Dispensational world. It is an issue that they simply do not like to discuss since under the Gospel, physical circumcision is forbidden. Yet, Dispensationalism posits the restoration of that mandate. This demands that in the proposed future kingdom, a believer in Christ has the choice: be circumcised and forfeit Christ’s grace, or, refuse to be circumcised, and incur God’s wrath! There is no way to harmonize the Dispensational view of the kingdom and the doctrine of physical circumcision.
✔ The Old Covenant genealogically restricted priesthood was supposed to be “replaced” by the nation of priests, “he has made us to be a kingdom of priests” (Revelation 1:5f).
✔ The Old Covenant, ineffective animal sacrifices were supposed to be “replaced” by the perfect, one time for all time, sacrifice of Jesus (Hebrews 10:5f). It is more than baffling and disturbing to realize that there are those who now posit a return to Torah keeping. This includes animal sacrifices. The writer of Hebrews says that YHVH never had pleasure in animal sacrifices and they could never take away sin. He added that once forgiveness was actualized, “there is no more offering for sin” (Hebrews 10:5f). Thus, when it is insisted that Torah be observed, with its animal sacrifices, this is tantamount to saying that there is no forgiveness of sin today. The Dispensational posit of animal sacrifices in the proposed millennium is equally disturbing.
✔ The Old Covenant physical Temple was supposed to be “replaced” by the True Tabernacle that God pitched, and not man (Hebrews 8:1-2).
✔ The Old Covenant physical people was supposed to be “replaced” by the people yet to be created (Psalms 102; Isaiah 43; Isaiah 65, etc.).
Be sure to get a copy of my new book, One Root, One Kingdom – All Nations! for a full discussion of the issue of Replacement Theology. While it is surely wrong to speak of the replacement of Old Covenant Israel, based on the premise of her failure, it is Biblically sound, solid and sure, that God originally intended for Israel’s distinctive role to be temporary. When she had accomplished her purpose, to bring the Messiah to the world, that salvation, which was “to the Jew first” would then flow to the nations.
All of this was God’s plan from the very beginning. Thus, to reiterate, Replacement Theology is as Biblical as it can be. Not in the sense that God ripped Israel’s promises from her and gave them to someone else, as posited by Amillennialists and Postmillennialists. No, that is a false doctrine. As Paul affirmed in Romans 11, YHVH was faithful to those Old Covenant promises. This is replacement through fulfillment. The Dispensationalists must come to grips with a proper understanding of Romans 11:25-27. That is that God’s faithfulness to Old Covenant Israel always included the termination of the Old Covenant world. The end of the shadows, the fulfillment of the types, demanded that the limited, exclusivistic nation give way to the long promised people that would include all men, any person. We will not go into further detail on that, since I think we have established it beyond dispute.
But, someone may say that while it may be true that the land, the city, the temple, etc. were all types and shadows of the coming better things (which is a fatal admission when properly considered) but, that does not prove that Israel herself was a type or shadow of another people, a new people.
We should not miss the connection between the message of the coming dissolution of the Temple and the “kingdom” message: “This gospel of the kingdom must be preached…” What this means is that while far too many “commentators” deride the significance of the destruction of the City and Temple as merely a local judgment with virtually no spiritual significance, to Jesus, there is a direct, inseparable connection between that cataclysmic event and the kingdom.
In Luke 21:28-32, the connection is clear: the New Covenant Kingdom of heaven would come in power and glory – in its full manifestation- at the passing of the Old Covenant Kingdom! See Isaiah 65:8-19. That is the gospel of the kingdom. It is the best news possible!