Replacement Theology- #25– The Messianic Temple–Fulfillment Not Failure!
As we have shared and documented, Dispensationalists vehemently deny that God promised that one day the exclusive, ethnic nation of Israel would be “replaced” by the all encompassing, all inclusive New Covenant people. (This is the proper understanding of “universalism.” Properly understood, “universalism” is the contrast between “Israel only” and “whosoever will may come.”).
We are currently showing from the book of Acts, and its citations of God’s Old Covenant promises made to Israel, that God was fulfilling Israel’s promises in Christ and the church. This truth is fatal to Dispensationalism.
One of the foundational Messianic motifs is that of the Messianic Kingdom Temple. Anyone even remotely familiar with modern Dispensationalism knows that the claim is made that the Jews in Jerusalem are “ready to be build” the Temple. All you have to do is “Google” Jerusalem Temple, and you will be astounded at the claims! In 1992 Randall Price and Thomas Ice co-authored a book, Ready To Rebuild: The Imminent Plan to Rebuild the Last Days Temple, (Eugene, Or. Harvest House). As the title suggests, they stated over 20 years ago that the Temple was about to be rebuilt in Jerusalem.
It is claimed that the priesthood is ready (in spite of no genealogical records existing that can confirm the existence of the Levites!). We are told that the Red Heifer– necessary for the purification of the priests, the instruments, the temple, etc. has been born. Of course, that claim has been made over and over and over again, ad infinitum, and every time, the claims have been falsified. See my article on the Red Heifer on my website for a careful analysis of the Red Heifer.
While a study of the Messianic Temple would entail far too large of a study, what I want to do ever so briefly, is focus on Acts and what it says about the Messianic Temple.
Keep in mind what we have shared repeatedly: Dispensationalists maintain that the Old Testament contains no prophecy, no prediction, no mention, of the Church of the Lord or its establishment. Absolutely no suggestion, no support for the idea that the church is the Kingdom Temple is promised to Israel in the OT. If therefore, it can be shown that the NT writers taught, as inspired truth, that the OT predictions of the Messianic Temple were being fulfilled in Christ and his body, then the foundation of Dispensational Zionism is destroyed. (And thus, their negative charge of Replacement Theology, is falsified). Here is the argument, stated logically and simply:
If it is the case that the OT foretold the establishment of the church of Christ, as the fulfillment of the OT prophecies of the Messianic Temple, then Dispensationalism is false.
It is the case that the OT foretold the establishment of the church of Christ, as the fulfillment of the OT prophecies of the Messianic Temple.
Therefore, Dispensationalism is false.
Let me now prove the minor premise.
Consider Psalms 118:19-24:
“Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go through them, And I will praise the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord, Through which the righteous shall enter. I will praise You, For You have answered me, And have become my salvation. 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.”
It is important to note that the references to the “gates of righteousness” are references to the Temple. (See Leslie Allen, Word Biblical Commentary, Psalms 101-150, (Waco, Word, 1993). As most commentators note, this passage was viewed as Messianic by the Jews and most assuredly applied that way in the NT. In the gospels for instance, the, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” citation, is found in Matthew 19; Mark 11; Luke 19:38; John 12:13. Jesus cited this in Matthew 23:39 as well, in a text that is grossly misapplied by the Dispensational world. They claim that Jesus was predicted the yet future restoration and conversion of national Israel. But, this is untenable and unwarranted. See my article on this.
Notice further that in Psalms, the writer speaks about the coming day of salvation. We should never overlook the fact that in Messianic prophecy, the day of salvation is the day of the resurrection (Isaiah 25:8-10)! It is likewise the “acceptable time” of the “restoration of Israel” (Isaiah 49:6-10) and Paul unequivocally stated that the Day of Salvation had arrived in the first century (2 Corinthians 6:1-3). I will not develop that here, but urge the reader to examine this issue carefully.
The writer then speaks of the rejected Stone becoming the Chief Corner Stone. The Corner Stone of what? The answer is easy and undeniable. It is the Chief Corner Stone of the Messianic Temple! So, here is the Psalmist predicting the Messianic Temple and ties it, somehow, some way, to the Rejected Corner Stone. How does this relate to our study of Replacement Theology? It is quite incredible.
Read Acts 4:9-12:
“If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, 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.”
Keep in mind what we have emphasized in this work: the NT writers were all Jews, and they tell us that their hope was nothing but the hope of Israel found in the Law! They knew nothing of a deferred, postponed or delayed fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel. And, they knew nothing of a Replacement Theology that said God’s promises to Israel had failed resulting in those promises being deferred to a time far beyond their days. They knew only the faithfulness of God and how He was fulfilling Israel’s promises in Christ.
How does Peter apply Psalms and the prophecy of the Rejected Stone? He said Jesus was that Stone, and that he had become the Chief Corner Stone!
You simply must catch the power of Peter’s statement!
If Jesus was the Rejected Stone– and Peter said he was – then Psalms predicted the rejection of Jesus by the Jews, and that rejection was part of God’s plan, all along! In other words, the rejection of Jesus by the Jews did not cause God to go “Oops! I did not know that would happen, so, let me withdraw the kingdom offer and go to Plan B– the church!” No, the rejection of Jesus– that Paul called the Wisdom of God and the power of God at work to confound the wise– was always God’s plan!
If Jesus had become the Chief Corner Stone – and Peter said he was – then Jesus Christ himself was / is the Chief Corner Stone of the Messianic Temple. However, it is beyond dispute– cannot even be argued- that Christ, the Living, Chief Corner Stone– was not the foundation of a literal, physical, edifice! He is the Living Chief Corner Stone of the Temple of God to be sure. But, as Paul and Peter both said, this Temple is a living Temple, being built on Christ and the apostles (Ephesians 2:19f) and, in which spiritual sacrifices are offered by a radically different spiritual priesthood, within that spiritual temple (1 Peter 2:4f)! For an in-depth study of Christ as the Rejected Corner Stone and its eschatological implications see my book, The Elements Shall Melt With Fervent Heat. Both Paul and Peter applied those OT prophecies of the Rejected Stone and the Temple to Christ and the church.
Notice what this proves:
1. It proves that the OT did predict the church. Peter, who had preached Christ and the church– Acts 2 – set forth Christ and the church as the fulfillment of Psalms 118.
2. It proves that the promised Messianic Temple was not a geo-centric, literal edifice of marble, gold and silver. It is the living body of Christ! He is the Temple of God!
3. It proves out point, made earlier, that the Old Covenant Temple was typological, a mere foreshadowing of the True Tabernacle, the heavenly Temple (Hebrews 8-9).
4. It proves therefore, that we are not waiting on a future Messianic physical temple in Jerusalem. Christ is the fulfillment of God’s Old Covenant promises concerning the Messianic Temple.
So, once again, the book of Acts shows, in powerful fashion, that God was keeping his promises to Israel. By quoting Psalms 118 and saying that Christ was fulfilling that prophecy, Peter was declaring that Israel’s day of salvation had arrived. To be sure, that fulfillment – that restoration – was not in the manner expected or desired by the Jews– or by modern Dispensationalists – but, nonetheless, in the way that God originally planned it all along.
God’s original plan was to replace the Old Covenant Temple with the New Covenant Temple, and Peter said that was taking place when he spoke in Acts 4. This is, to be sure, a kind of Replacement Theology, but, as noted, it was God’s plan all along.
More to come!