Replacement Theology| Replacing the Shadow with the Body
Please be sure to read the previous installments of this series, beginning here. It is important to understand that the Dispensational charge of Replacement Theology against non Millennial groups is actually an attempt to divert attention away the fact that no one teaches replacement theology more than Dispensationalists. As we have seen, they believe that in the future, God will replace the church with Old Covenant Israel.
While the Dispensationalists are adamant that replacement theology is not Biblical and depreciates Israel’s central role in God’s plan, in the previous installments we have demonstrated from the Old Testament – from God’s promises to Israel – that it was always YHVH’s intent and promise to replace the Old Covenant realities with the New. While that “replacement” would be traumatic and destructive of the Old World, the New Covenant realities are better, much better, than the Old Covenant realities. This is why it is wrong for Dispensationalists to cling to the Old Covenant realities.
The millennial insistence that national Israel must be restored in earthly splendor misses God’s ultimate purpose for Israel. She was not the goal, Israel was the foreshadowing image, the precursor, of what God was preparing. He used Israel to prepare the way for the “better things,” fully intending that when those better things arrived, the Old Covenant form would be cast aside. Having fulfilled her purpose, God’s exclusive Theocratic relationship with ethnic Israel would end. This contrast between the Old and the New is to be found everywhere in scripture, if we are attuned to it.
Replacement Theology| Shadow versus Reality
John the apostle wrote: “The law came through Moses, grace and truth came through Christ” (John 1:17). What was John saying? Was he saying that Torah and Israel were not true, that they were not “truth”? On one level that is precisely what he was saying, on another level, he was not saying that at all! Here is what we mean.
Bales expressed the thought here: “The worship in Spirit and truth (John 4:20f, dkp) is in contrast with the worship in Jerusalem. The hour was coming when they would not worship in Jerusalem. This does not mean according to the Spirt’s teaching and sincerity. For such worship had to take place even under the Old Testament. God never tolerated insincerity and the traditions of men. …In what sense of ‘spirit and truth’ is there a contrast between the Old and New Testaments? Let us remember that John records that truth came through Christ but the law through Moses (John1:17). But what Moses taught was the truth of God. What then does this mean? The Old Testament was filled with carnal ordinances (Heb. 9:9-10). These were to last only until the time of reformation. The New Testament is a spiritual system without the elaborate ritualism and ceremony of the Old Testament system. Furthermore, the Old Testament system was not the truth, in the sense that it was not the reality. It was a system of shadows, of types; while the New Testament is the true, the very image (Hebrews 9:23-24; 10:1)” (James D. Bales, New Interpretation of Old Testament Prophecy, (Searcy, Harding College Press, 1950)4). Beale agrees with this assessment , commenting on Hebrews 8:1: “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” (Greg Beale, The Temple and Church’s Ministry, (Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, Ill. 2004)296.
Beale also comments on how the OT tabernacle was not “true” because it was temporary, but that the church, as the New Temple, “cannot be changed, nor can it ever pass away.” — “The former temple was not the ‘true one’ because it was a mere shadow of the one to come but because it would cease to exist. To believe that a physical temple will be built after the eschatological one has been inaugurated would be to return to the former ‘shadowy’ stage of temple existence. Once the end-time, eternal temple that corresponds to the reality of the heavenly one comes, it would be a strange reversal for God to commend a return to the shadows. To believe that Israel’s temple or one rebuilt by human hands would last forever is a false view because it mistakes the symbolic temple (Hebrews 9:8-10) for the real one (Hebrews 9:11).” What we find then is that God always intended to replace the Old Covenant things with the “true” things of Christ. This is not a negative “replacement doctrine” but, a transition from the shadow to the reality.
Berkoff wrote of Old Covenant Israel, “The theocratic nation itself was merely a type, a shadow of the spiritual realities of a better day, and, therefore, destined to vanish as soon as the antitype made its appearance. The restoration of the ancient theocracy in the future would simply mean the recurrence of the type.” (Louis Berkhoff, The Kingdom of God,170+ cited by Cecil Lowry, Whither Israel, (Birmingham, Ala., “Christians Awake Newsletter”)11). This truth seems totally lost on the Dispensational world.
The Old Covenant system was not “the truth” because it was a type, a shadow, and the type and the shadow is never as good as the body, the reality! The implications of realizing that Old Covenant Israel and everything about here was a mere shadow are stunningly revolutionary. You simply must catch the power of this point! If this point is true – and it patently is – then the Dispensational charge that replacement theology is dangerous is totally falsified, because God never intended to establish the shadow, the type, as the eternal reality. He always intended to replace the shadow with the truth, the reality. Be sure to get a copy of my book, Like Father Like Son, On Clouds of Glory, in which provide a wealth of documentation showing that Israel was the shadow, destined by YHVH to be replaced by the “body.”
So, if Israel and everything about her was typological, pointing to something beyond her, something better than her, then all talk about the horrors of “replacement theology” is misguided, because it is never a bad thing (certainly not in this case) to speak of putting aside the shadow and embracing the reality! We will continue our discussion of replacement theology in the light of the shadow -v- reality context in our next installment, so stay tuned!