Hosea, Zechariah and 1 Peter| A Comparative Study- The Messianic Temple #3
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.
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.
I want to suggest that 1 Peter becomes the definitive hermeneutical guide to understanding the Messianic Temple. Remember that Peter says the OT prophets did not understand either the time– or the manner (the nature)– of what it was they were predicting! Thus, when our Dispensational friends insist that when the OT foretold the restoration of the temple, and that temple must mean a physical edifice since that is what existed in the days of the prophets, this flies in the face of what Peter said.
The question of the nature of the Messianic Temple is, therefore, not as simple as our Dispensational friends suggest. In Zechariah’s day there stood a rebuilt temple, of stone, cedar, etc.. right there in front of them. Animal sacrifices were once again being offered by the Levitical priesthood. And yet, amazingly, Zechariah foretold another temple that was future to him (6:13).
In this installment, I want to seque from Zechariah to another OT prophecy of the Messianic Temple, Hosea 3:4-6. We will examine Hosea in the light of 1 Peter because when we do, it is both exciting and important to see the comparisons. What is apparent is that Peter seemed to have the text of Hosea 3 in front of him as he wrote chapter 2 of his epistle:
Hosea and the Messianic Temple
“For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days.”
Hosea was writing to and about the diaspora of the ten northern tribes. That is, in Hosea they were about to be “swallowed up by the nations” (8:8) and scattered, becoming pilgrims and wanderers among the nations. Likewise, Peter was writing to the diaspora, those who had been scattered (1 Peter 1:1-2) and who were wanderers, pilgrims among the nations (cf. 1 Peter 2:11 which seems to be a direct echo of Hosea 9:17). These are the same people, the same “audience.”
Notice now the direct correspondence between Hosea (along with Zechariah) and 1 Peter.
To reiterate the point above: both Hosea and Peter were focused on God’s promises to the diaspora, Israel scattered among the nations– and the promised Messianic Temple.
Hosea said that Israel would remain a long time:
Without Temple – Peter, citing numerous OT prophecies of the Messianic Temple, says it was even when he wrote, being built up a spiritual house. The chief cornerstone, rejected by the builders, had been laid.
Peter was affirming that the long time without a temple was coming to a close! Israel’s longed for Temple was under construction. Not, to be sure in the anticipated manner, but, in fulfillment of God’s real purpose, plan and promise.
Without altar or sacrifices – Not only was Israel’s long time without a Temple coming to its end, the time of true sacrifice, on the true altar had come! This was stunning, to say the least. Our Dispensational friends tell us that animal, bloody sacrifices are to be offered in the Messianic Temple, appealing to Ezekiel 40ff. But, Peter says that the sacrifices of the Temple of Christ are the spiritual sacrifices being offered up in the spiritual Temple. Be sure to read my series of articles on Hebrews 13:15, in which I investigate the idea of the radical new nature of the Messianic sacrifices in the Temple. You can begin reading that series here.
Without a priesthood – Under Torah, the priesthood was confined to the tribe of Levi. Yet, in several OT prophecies, one catches a glimpse of a radical, revolutionary change that would take place in the Messianic Temple. Foreigners would be able to ascend the altar and offer acceptable sacrifices! (Isaiah 60). Even Eunuchs would be welcomed into the Temple (Isaiah 56– cf. Acts 8 and get a copy of my MP3 study “Acts and the Restoration of Israel” for an exciting investigation of this idea).
The fact is that Peter is showing, through inspiration of the Spirit, the true meaning of the OT prophecies of the Messianic Temple and its new priesthood.
Without an ephod or teraphim – The Ephod was the “instrument” through which the priests often received revelation from the Lord. It held the Urim and Thummim. So, what Hosea was saying is that the prophetic voice would cease from Israel until the last days!
It is significant that Israel seemed to have a widespread belief that the prophetic Spirit had abandoned the nation after the time of Malachi, and that He would not return until the last days. The prophetic office would be revived with Elijah (Malachi 4:5-6) who would be the forerunner of Messiah, the kingdom and the resurrection. See my article on the significance of the outpouring of the Spirit in Acts.
Peter of course, was affirming that he and the apostles had been given that prophetic Spirit! And, he clearly says that the OT prophets did not understand either the time or the manner of the things that they foretold, but, that he and the other apostles were revealing the true nature and the time that those OT prophets spoke of. The importance of this cannot be over-emphasized!
Peter was saying that while the OT prophets foretold the Temple, the priesthood, the sacrifices, etc., that they did not fully understand what they foretold. They were told that those things– under Messiah– were not for their own times. Israel would be without those things for “many days” until the coming of Messiah. But, Messiah would come in the last days and build that promised Temple, establish again the true altar on which acceptable sacrifices could be offered. (Take note how YHVH had come to despise the sacrifices of the Old Covenant cultus, as a result of Israel’s sin, Isaiah 1; Amos 5-8; and even later, in the days of Malachi chapter 1).
So, Israel would remain without those things until the coming of “David” their Messiah, who of course, in the context is the one that would “restore” all of those things. We thus have, implicitly, the promise of Zechariah 6:13 where the Davidic king would sit on the throne in the Messianic Temple, and serve as king and priest.
Until the last days – Notice that like Zechariah who said those promised events were still in his future, Hosea, written well before Zechariah, said that Israel would remain without those blessings until Messiah came in the last days and “restored” them.
Take particular note that in Acts 2, Peter quoted from the promise of Joel– the promise of the outpouring of the Spirit in the last days– and said “this is that.” In other words, the last days foretold by Hosea, the days when “the ephod” would be restored– (the return of the prophetic office) had arrived! Peter was not saying “The Christian age has arrived, in which Israel’s promises are put on hold.” He was saying that the last days, the time of the fulfillment of YHVH’s promises to Israel had arrived.
Furthermore, we are told repeatedly, by other writers, that Christ had come “in these last days” (Hebrews 1:1) and at the end of the age (Hebrews 9:26). Peter said, through that prophesied revelatory Spirit, that he was living in the very times foretold by those OT prophets (Acts 3:23)!
Be sure to get a copy of my book The Last Days Identified, for a definitive study of the last days. This book proves that we are not today in the last days, and that the “last days” of scripture never refers to the Christian age.
So, the promised Messiah, of the lineage of David, had come. He had come in the anticipated last days. He was the chief cornerstone of the promised Messianic temple that was “under construction” when Peter wrote. True, spiritual sacrifices were now being offered on the spiritual temple, by a new priesthood, through the king and priest who now sat on the throne, awaiting the imminent revelation of his glory.
1 Peter thus becomes the definitive, hermeneutical guide to understanding the nature of the Messianic Kingdom, the Messianic Temple and the framework of the last days.
Peter clearly did not have any kind of nationalistic restoration of Israel in mind. He had not literal, physical temple in mind. He did not have a return to the physical land in mind. His words patently eschewed that Old Covenant cultus, temple and system. Through inspiration of the Spirit, Peter realized that the typological nature of those Old Covenant realities– the better things to which they pointed– had now come to realization in the living Temple of the body of Christ! This is the true tabernacle (Temple) which Messiah has created, not man, and has truly become “the house of prayer for all nations.” The body of Christ is the true Messianic Temple.