Responding to the Critics: Exposing the Error of Howard Denham #5
As promised in the previous installment of this series on Responding to the Critics, I want to examine the prophecy of Hosea to demonstrate the egregious error of Howard Denham, hateful and caustic critic of Covenant Eschatology. Consider the following.
- Hosea said that Israel would be saved- remarried – in the last days (2:19f; 3:1-5). Jesus appeared in the last days. That is, he appeared, not in the Christian age, but in the last days of the Old Covenant age (Galatians 4:4; Hebrews 1:1). As I demonstrate in my book, The Last Days Identified, the Christian age is NOT the last days of Scripture. That concept is totally foreign to the Bible.
2. Hosea foretold the building of the Messianic Temple (Hosea 3). The Messianic Temple was “under construction” – not complete – but under construction, from at least Pentecost onward. This is confirmed in a host of NT passages such as Ephesians 2:19f; 1 Peter 2, etc.. Now, let me just say that if the Messianic Temple was not finished, then Israel was not yet remarried, because the Temple was the very symbol of the covenant – both in the Old and New Covenants.
3. Hosea foretold the restoration of the “Ephod” (Hosea 3:5). Under the Old Law, the Ephod seems to have been the means by which the priests received revelation from the Lord. There is some uncertainty about the precise function, but revealing the Lord’s will seems to have been involved. (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/3668-breastplate-of-the-high-priest).
Hosea’s prediction that the Ephod would be restored is tantamount to a prediction of the restoration of the prophetic office in the last days.
Needless to say, this is destructive to Denham’s view that the Christian age is the last days. If the prophetic office was to be restored in the last days, and if the last days = the Christian age, that demands that the prophetic office was / is to be restored in the Christian age! But of course, Denham does not believe that the prophetic office is functioning today, in the Christian age. He believes that the charismatic gifts of the Spirit ended long ago.
The NT witness is that the prophetic office was restored beginning with John the Baptizer. He was a prophet and was full of the Spirit from the womb (Luke 1:15). This establishes our point that the Christian age is not the last days. If the prophetic Spirit was to be restored in the last days, then since John was a prophet, full of the Spirit, and he prophesied before Pentecost, then patently, the last days existed prior to Pentecost.
4. Jesus shed his blood to establish the New Covenant (Matthew 26:26f). And here, we find a tremendous problem for Denham’s paradigm. Remember that Denham believes that God was through with Israel at the cross! God divorced Israel at the cross! He did not marry her there; he divorced her in spite of the fact that he was confirming the promised New Covenant (remarriage covenant) by shedding his blood! Denham refuses to see that the New Covenant was the promise of God’s remarriage to Israel. But, this is fatal to his entire eschatology.
Now, if Denham claims that God married Israel at Pentecost– which is untenable as we will show – then the fact that the only ones present on Pentecost were Jews / Israelites to whom the OT promises of the Wedding were given, establishes my point that the Wedding promise had to be fulfilled to Old Covenant Israel– Israel after the flesh! They would be both Israel after the flesh, and, Israel after the Spirit.
5. The remarriage would be when “David” would rule in the kingdom (Hosea 3:5-6). According to Peter in Acts 2:29f Jesus had been raised from the dead to sit on the throne of David in the heavenly places. He would “rule in the midst of your enemies” (Psalms 110:1-4) until his enemies would be put under his feet at the coming of the Lord. It is at his parousia to put down the last enemy that the wedding would take place.
From these points, it is clear that when we come to the NT record, the time for the fulfillment of Hosea had come. The question naturally arises then, if the time for the Wedding / Remarriage of Israel had arrived in the first century, when was the Wedding to take place? To answer that, we re-focus on Hosea and then turn to Isaiah 62 (We will look at Isaiah 62 in our next installment of this series on Responding to the Critics. We will then examine the New Testament testimony about when the Wedding was to take place.
In Hosea, as we have seen, YHVH is depicted as married to Old Covenant Israel. Due to her unfaithfulness to the marriage covenant (Torah) YHVH “Bring charges, bring charges against her. For she is not my wife and I am not her husband” (Hosea 2:1-2).
Now, when the Lord brought those charges against his harlot wife, we are told that He departed from her:
“For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, And like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear them and go away; I will take them away, and no one shall rescue. 15 I will return again to My place Till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.” (Hosea 5:14-15).
Not only did the Lord “depart” from Israel but He put her to “Death.” He was going to be like a young lion that would attack and no one would spare. In chapter 6:5-6, Israel says the Lord killed her, by the word of His mouth.
So, in Hosea, we find the Divorce, the Departure and the Death of the ten northern tribes. This is clearly not a physical divorce, a physical departure or a physical death. It is vital to grasp the covenantal setting and context of these realities. For more on this, see my book, Elijah Has Come: A Solution to Romans 11:25-27.
For brevity, then, we note that the remarriage would be at the “return” of the Lord. Now, if the departure of the Lord was a withdrawal of covenantal blessings – and not a physical return of a visible body– then does this not demand that the return would be of the nature? Thus, the remarriage of Israel would be at the coming / return of the Lord to restore covenantal blessings. But remember, that restoration would not be nationalistic, geo-political, theocratic restoration! It would restoration through a New Covenant that would be radically different from the first covenant. Israel was going to be transformed.