Zechariah and 1 Peter| A Comparative Study- The Messianic Temple #2
Our previous article investigated just a tiny bit of the relationship between Zechariah’s prediction of the Messianic Temple (6:13) and what Peter says in 1 Peter.
As we noted, the Old Testament repeatedly foretold the building of the Messianic Temple when the Kingdom of Messiah would be established. Passages such as Isaiah 2:2f anticipated that Temple. Likewise, Ezekiel 40f is one of the most famous predictions of the kingdom Temple under Messiah. A literal view of that Temple has led many Dispensationalists to posit a future restoration of a blood line priesthood, animal sacrifices, and basically, the entire cultus of the sacrificial system. We are told that there must in fact be a literal, future temple rebuilt in Jerusalem.
The question of the nature of the Messianic Temple is, however, not as simple as our Dispensational friends suggest. Remember that Peter says that the OT prophets did not understand either the time– or the manner– of what it was they were predicting! This is very challenging, because did not those OT prophets know what a “Temple” was? They had, in Zechariah’s day, a rebuilt temple, of stone, cedar, etc.. right there in front of them. And yet, amazingly, Zechariah foretold another temple that was future to him.
Peter cites Isaiah 8, Isaiah 28 and Psalms 118 in his discussion of the “spiritual house” the spiritual priesthood, and the spiritual sacrifices being offered in this Temple of God that they as “living stones” were being built up, as that Temple of God.
Let me remind the readers again that the Dispensationalists deny that the Old Covenant prophets foretold the establishment of a spiritual temple, a spiritual priesthood, spiritual sacrifices and living stones for constructing the Temple of God, the body of Christ.
Charles Ryrie, noted Dispensationalist, claimed that the church was: “something unknown in Old Testament times; it is a distinct entity in this present age.” (Charles Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today, (Chicago, Moody Press, 1965)135. The significance of this claim can hardly be over-emphasized.
Note the argument:
The church – as the Temple of God– was not foretold in the Old Testament (Dispensationalism).
Peter applied Isaiah 8, 28, and Psalms 118– prophecies of the Messianic Temple– to the spiritual body of Christ– the Temple.
Therefore, Dispensationalism is wrong to affirm that the OT never predicted the church as the spiritual Messianic Temple.
Peter’s citation of the OT prophecies of the Messianic Temple are critical to a proper undersanding of Biblical eschatology. In my book, The Elements Shall Melt With Fervent Heat, I have an extended discussion of Peter’s use of the Rejected Stone passages from the Old Tesament. In that book, I show that Jesus, Paul and Peter all agreed in their use of that motif. The significance of this is that both Jesus and Paul cited the same verses that Peter did, and they both did so in the context of impending judgment on Israel for rejecting that Stone. Here is a brief except from that study.
Peter’s Understanding of the Messianic Temple
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BoQ– Not only did Peter allude to Isaiah 28 in Acts 4, (see my book for that discussion) in 1 Peter 2:4f, the apostle tells his readers, “the diaspora,” “you also as living stones are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Notice his referent to the “building stones,”and his motif of building the new temple. This is a strongly Messianic motif taken from Isaiah 2-4, Ezekiel 37, 40-44, Zechariah 6, and other prophecies. For Peter, those promises that God would dwell among His people in a New Tabernacle were now being fulfilled in Christ. Not in old Jerusalem, but in the person of Jesus.
The apostle then proceeds to discuss the foundation upon which this new temple was being constructed: “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” This is Isaiah 28!
In Isaiah 28, YHVH was going to lay the precious cornerstone for the coming Messianic Temple. He was also going to do a strange work and come in judgment of Israel, even though the scoffers denied this. For Peter to quote Isaiah 28:16 is to call to the mind of his audience that although the blessings of Isaiah were being fulfilled, there was a dark cloud behind that silver lining. That cloud was impending judgment on Israel. This is corroborated by the next citation about the “Stone.”
In 1 Peter 2:7-8, Peter says that in fulfillment of Isaiah 28 and its promise that those of faith would be blessed, there was the other side of the coin. That meant the unbelievers would be crushed in judgment by the “Stone”: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,” and, ‘A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.’” This is a conflation of Psalms 118:22 and Isaiah 8:14. One message comes through loud and clear from Isaiah 8: judgment on Israel for rejecting the “Stone.”
In Matthew 21, Jesus cited Psalms 118 and Isaiah 8 to predict the judgment on Israel in AD 70: “The Kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to another nation…and whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind them to powder” (Matthew 21:43-44). Thus, Jesus applied Isaiah 8, and the “Stone” to the judgment on Israel. But remember, Peter, in 1 Peter 2 is quoting from that same verse, as well as Isaiah 28, another prophecy of judgment on Israel, to address his audience.
Consider this then:
✦Isaiah 28 foretold judgment on Israel for rejecting the Stone. (See my full discussion of this in my book).
✦Jesus applied Isaiah 28 to the impending judgment of Israel for rejecting the Stone.
✦Paul applied Isaiah 28 to the impending judgment of Israel for rejecting the Stone.
✦In Acts 4 Peter applied the Stone motif to the Jewish leaders, implying their coming destruction– and they understood that very well!
Are we to believe that in 1 Peter 2, Peter applies Isaiah 28 to a totally different judgment, of a totally different people, at a totally different time from how Isaiah, Jesus and Paul applied that prophecy? More, is he changing the application that he had himself made in Acts 4? If Peter was applying Isaiah 28 or Isaiah 8 differently, where is the evidence? Was Isaiah, Psalms, Zechariah predicting a different Messianic temple from that Peter had in mind? (EoQ)
The indisputable fact is that those OT prophecies and the NT application of those prophecies by the apostles of Jesus, demands a first century fulfillment in the spiritual Temple of the body of Christ. Christ is the Messianic Temple!
More to come!