We are examining and dispelling the commonly held view that when Paul speaks of the resurrection at “the end” that he must have had the end of time, or at least the end of human history in mind. Be sure to go back and read the previous articles in order to understand what we are establishing: #1 #2 #3 #4 #5.
In the previous article, we examine the doctrine of the harvest as the time of the end. Paul said Christ was the first fruit, and this is undeniably “harvest” imagery. This motif is definitely related to the end times, as Matthew 13 shows. Jesus said “harvest is at the end of the age.” Of course, if is stunning to realize that more and more Dominionist now acknowledge that Matthew 13 referred to the end of the Old Covenant age in AD 70, while seeking (desperately) to see another, different harvest and another, different end in 1 Corinthians 15. And of course, they do this even though they are at odds with creeds and church history in this regard! They cannot document this view of Matthew 13 in the creeds, and yet, they tell us they are creedal, and that preterists are heretics because we don’t agree with the creeds. As my friend Jack Scott is fond of saying: “What is wrong with this picture?”
For now, we want to focus on “the end” in light of the Harvest, Christ as the first fruit and the association with Israel’s festal calendar. This is an incredibly important tie in, but, is more often than not, ignored by amillennialists and Dominionists alike.
The NT writers affirm that Christ was the “first to be raised from the dead.” As we saw in the last installment, commentators see a huge problem with this statement, because if the focus of Jesus’ resurrection is a physical resurrection, then clearly, Paul was wrong to say Jesus was the first to be raised. Gentry, along with many others, claim that what Paul meant was that while Jesus was patently not the first person to be raised from the dead physically, he was “of a different order.” Many commentators claim that what Paul meant by his statement is that Christ was the first one to be raised in an incorruptible body. This view is false to the core. See my book Like Father Like Son, On Clouds of Glory, for an in-depth study of the nature of Christ’s post resurrection, pre-ascension body. There is simply no justification for the idea that Jesus’ post resurrection, pre-ascension body was in any way whatsoever different from his pre-death body. But, back to our point.
Paul’s referent to Jesus being the first fruit of the harvest is an undeniable allusion to Israel’s Festal Calendar. No Jew of his day could read that statement and not think immediately of the Feast Days of Israel, and what they foreshadowed. This is absolutely critical for any proper interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15– and yet, it is one of the most ignored facts in the commentaries.
There were seven feast days in Israel’s cultic calendar. Virtually all commentators acknowledge that the first four were fulfilled in the death / resurrection of Christ and Pentecost (Pentecost was the Feast of Firstfruit, by the way).
The last three feast days in Israel’s calendar were:
1.) Rosh HaShanah, the feast of Trumpets, foreshadowing the Day of Judgment.
2.) Yom Kippur– The Day of Atonement.
3.) Succot, The Feast of Tabernacles, otherwise called the Feast of In-gathering, or the Feast of Harvest. This feast typified the resurrection.
Amazingly, in the amillennial and postmillennial schools, while “lip service” is often given to the significance of the first four feasts and their fulfillment, the last three feast days are all but ignored, and this is a huge, glaring and fatal oversight in these paradigms.
It is critical to understand that those feast days were types and shadows of “the good things that are about to come” (Colossians 2:14-16). In the Greek text, Paul uses the present active indicative when he said that those feast days were still, when he wrote, still shadows and types of the things to come. In addition, he said the things foreshadowed in those New Moons, Feast Days and Sabbaths, was “about to come” (from mello, with the infinitive). Similarly, in Hebrews 9:6-10 the writer says that Israel’s cultus, built around those feast days, would stand valid until what they foreshadowed came to a reality at “the time of reformation.”
So, here is what this means:
Israel’s festal calendar foreshadowed the realities of Christ.
The first four of Israel’s typological feast days were fulfilled in Jesus death-resurrection and Pentecost.
The last three of Israel’s feast days foreshadowed the eschatological consummation, including the Day of Judgment, the Day of Salvation and the Resurrection.
Israel’s festal calendar was, without any question whatsoever, an integral part of “the law.” I would kindly suggest that anyone that would deny this is simply desperate and willing to pervert Biblical facts.
Jesus said that not one single iota of Torah, “the law” would pass away until it was all (not some, or even most of it) was fulfilled (Matthew 5:17-18).
Thus, if what those feast days foreshadowed – the Day of Judgment, the final salvation, and the Resurrection– has not become a reality (fulfilled) then the entirety of the Law of Moses, including the entirety of those festal observations, remains valid and binding today.
I suggested above that the feast days are an incredible problem for the amillennial and postmillenial adherents, although in most cases they have either never seen the problem, or, in the case of some, they refuse to see the problem. Let me illustrate.
In my July, 2012 formal debate with Joel McDurmon of American Vision, I made the argument on the Sabbaths and Feast Days. McDurmon refused to deal with the issue in any substantive manner. He admitted that he believes the seventh day Sabbath mandates have been abrogated, however. I repeatedly challenged him to give us exegetical justification his claim that some parts of the law have passed, and yet, that to which those praxis pointed– eternal salvation / resurrection – have not come to pass. McDurmon could offer not one word of justification. He was clearly entrapped by his own theology. Be sure to get a copy of the McDurmon -V- Preston debate book, or DVDs to see how McDurmon sought to avoid the issue of the Sabbath and the Feast Days.
In a similar vein, in my September, 2013 formal debate with Steve Gregg, held in Denver, Colorado, I also made the argument in regard to the typological nature of the Feast Days, and Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:17-18. Like McDurmon, but with a totally different attitude and demeanor, Gregg also said he believes that the Sabbath has been abrogated. Yet, he does not believe that the resurrection, foreshadowed by the Festal Sabbaths, has been fulfilled. Ordering instructions for the DVDs of that debate, one of the friendliest discussions I have ever had, can be found here.
The daunting challenge for both paradigms is to offer some exegetical proof and justification for saying that Israel’s Festal Calendar has been abrogated and yet, what her three eschatological feasts pointed to, has not been fulfilled.
Notice now the application to our topic of “then comes the end.” The “end” in 1 Corinthians 15 is patently the harvest, of which Christ was the first fruit. Jesus’ resurrection was foreshadowed in Israel’s festal calendar, and that resurrection had to take place to fulfill that typology. I know of no commentator that would deny this.
Yet, what happens? On the one hand we are told that the first four of the Feast Days was fulfilled, on time, and that fulfillment was absolutely necessary to fulfill “the law.” Then, however, because of misguided concepts about when the Law passed, the last three feast days are all but ignored, relegated to total oblivion, as if they were meaningless in God’s schema. (As a prime example of this, see my written debate with Kurt Simmons on the passing of the Law. When I presented my arguments on the Feast Days, Simmons totally ignored them. His claim that Torah passed at the cross is nullified by the necessity for the eschatological fulfillment of the last three feast days).
If it was absolutely necessary for the first four feast days to be fulfilled, as virtually all admit, then upon what principle, upon what evidence, can it be claimed that the final three feast days do not (did not) have to be fulfilled before Torah could pass? To suggest that this is so is highly specious and totally without warrant.
Let me put it as succinctly as possible:
The final three feast days in Israel’s festal calendar foreshadowed the Day of Judgment, Atonement and the Resurrection (i.e. “The end” of 1 Corinthians 15:19ff).
Those feast days were a fundamental element of “the law.”
Not one jot or one tittle could pass from the law until it was all fulfilled– Jesus.
Therefore, not one jot or one tittle could pass from the law until the final three feast days of Israel’s festal calendar were fulfilled, i.e. that which they foreshadowed, (i.e. “The end” of 1 Corinthians 15:19ff) came to a reality.
It is simply undeniable that “the end” in 1 Corinthians 15 was nothing other than the final fulfillment of Israel’s typological Festal Calendar. The failure of futurists, especially the amillennialists and postmillennialists, to deal with the doctrine of Israel, Torah, and Israel’s feast days, is a fatal flaw in those futurist eschatologies.