A ‘Millennial’ Temple OR A Spiritual People–Which?

Is it possible that Israel was the "parenthesis" in God's purpose rather than the Church?

One of the primary disagreements within the study of “last things” (eschatology) involves the Old Testament descriptions of God’s people and how these prophetic pictures are seen as realized in the final chapters of the book of Revelation.
Understanding the relationship between what was foretold in the OT is the very foundation of what is realized in the NT. The OT, from the time of Adam and Eve onward is rooted in what the Bible refers to as “the natural” while the NT from the time of the Cross onward is described as “the spiritual.” The apostle Paul makes this distinction quite clear: “However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual” (I Cor. 15:46). Redemptive history was progressive in revealing the entire scope and intent of God’s “purpose of the ages” (Eph. 3:11).
It has been the common approach of most scholars and theologians to create an unfortunate mixture of natural and spiritual that gives the impression that redemptive history was somehow ‘sidetracked’ or ‘conditioned’ upon Israel’s acceptance or rejection of Jesus as Messiah at the time of His entrance into the world, “born of a woman, born under the law” (Gal. 4:4).

Thus, with the establishment of the church an extended period of “parenthesis” has taken place, now lasting 2,000 years in duration, with the description of the church as a “mystery” rather than the very realization of God’s redemptive purpose in redemption, reconciliation, and restoration of what had been lost “in Adam.” Notice this comment from John F. Walvoord, former President of Dallas Theological Seminary:

“the present age is a parenthesis or a time period not predicted by the Old Testament and therefore not fulfilling or advancing the program of events revealed in the Old Testament foreview.”[1]

There is no question that the “promises made to the fathers” (Rom. 15:8) were Israel-centric in nature, but were to fully and completely realized in what was being accomplished during the forty-year period between the Cross and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE when “all things written” (Luke 21:22) were fulfilled.
The imbalance created by modern-day eschatological speculation places the time of fulfillment outside the progression of redemptive history itself. The “natural” seed of Abraham (Israel) was the actual “parenthesis” designed to bring about and to manifest the “spiritual” scope of God’s purpose itself! It is important for students of God’s Word to note that in the apostle Paul’s statement of “…the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual” (I Cor. 15:46) there is never any indication of a “yet future” return to the natural aspect, as was the case with Israel “according to the flesh” (Rom. 9:3, 5; Gal. 4:23, 29).

Instead, the realization of the “promises made to the fathers” (Rom. 15:8), as described in the allegory of Sarah/Hagar and Isaac/Ishmael (Gal. 4:21-31) demonstrates redemptive history was to be fulfilled and manifested in the “one body” (Eph. 4:4)–the “house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (I Tim. 3:15) Notice what Paul describes as the redemptive reality:

“Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “CAST OUT THE BONDWOMAN AND HER SON, FOR THE SON OF THE BONDWOMAN SHALL NOT BE HEIR WITH THE SON OF THE FREEWOMAN.” So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free” (Gal. 4:28-31).

Moreover, those who contend the church as the “mystery” imply that God, in the OT, never mentioned or indicated its establishment:

“Of importance to premillennialism is the obvious conclusions that if God’s present dealings with the body of Christ do not fulfill His promises concerning the kingdom age then a future fulfillment is demanded. The central concept of the church as the body of Christ including Jew and Gentile on an equal basis is described as a mystery in this passage. As such, it is described as “not made known” and “hid in God” until the time of the New Testament. This one passage certainly constitutes a stumbling block to any interpretation which attempts to find millennial kingdom promises fulfilled in the present age.” [2]

Since the apostle Paul refers to believers as “children of promise” (Gal. 4:28), it affirms that those not “according to the flesh” (Rom. 8:1, 4, 5; Gal. 4:23) as “children of promise” were to be considered “according to the Spirit” (Gal. 4:23, 29). This is because the Divine order of fulfillment is that the natural (“according to the flesh) preceded those spiritual (according to the Spirit).
The recent events taking place as a war in the Middle East are being seen by many as the ultimate “sign of the times” (Matt. 16:3) that a return to the natural is imminent, with a physical, material, millennial kingdom involving a supposed ‘restoration’ of Israel with the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem, and the division between Jew/Gentile once again, with a temple, priesthood, and system involving animal sacrifices as was the case under the Old Covenant.
Prior to his sacrificial “death of the Cross” (Phil. 2:8), Jesus pronounced the finality of Israel as the “parenthesis” of redemptive history saying, “Your house is left to you desolate” (Matt. 23:38; Luke 13:35), and “the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it” (Matt. 21:43). The establishment of the church and the Kingdom was foretold to be “at hand” (Matt. 3:2; 4:17; 10:7; Mark 1:15) and that some ‘standing there’ would be alive at the time to witness its arrival “in power” (Matt. 16:27, 28; Mark 9:1).
The “signs of the times” (Matt. 16:3) were to take place during “this generation” (Matt. 23:36; 24:34) of those contemporaries of Jesus and His apostles and were accomplished at the “end of the age” (Matt. 24:3; 28:20) in the timemanner, and for the very purpose foretold in the OT and manifested fully and completely in the NT in those events that occurred between the Cross and 70 CE.–nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. — LARRY SIEGLE
ENDNOTES
  1. John F. Walvoord, Premillennialism and the Church as a Mystery (https://bible.org/…/millennial-series-part-20…)
  2. Ibid.

  2 comments for “A ‘Millennial’ Temple OR A Spiritual People–Which?

  1. I need to to thank you for this wonderful read!!
    I absolutely loved every bit of it. I have got you
    saved as a favorite to check out new things you post…

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