Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Dispensationalism, Part 2

You may listen to the audio version of this study on SoundCloud.

Picking up in our study of dispensationalism, we continue to look at the essential beliefs of this lens of Biblical interpretation. Last time, we looked at essential belief that the primary meaning of any passage in the Bible is found in that passage of the Bible. The New Testament does not reinterpret or transcend the passages in the Old Testament in any way that would override or cancel the original intent of the author. Again, that is a high view of Scripture that simply means that the author said what he meant and meant what he said when he said it and who he said it to.

Today, we look at the next essential belief which is that types do exist but national Israel is not an inferior type that is superseded by the church. That just simply means that the church never replaces Israel. The study of typology is a special kind of symbolism. A symbol is something that represents something else. We can define a type as a “prophetic symbol” because all types are representations of something yet future. For example, Adam is a type of Jesus as we are told by the Apostle Paul in Romans 5:14 and 1 Corinthians 15:45. The flood of Genesis 6-7 is used as a type of baptism 1 Peter 3:20-21, etc. Another way of putting it is that types by definition involve God intended correspondences between Old Testament persons, places, things, and events with New Testament realities.

Those who do not embrace dispensationalism in favor of covenant theology will say the exact opposite and say that Old Testament types do indeed superceed New Testament realities. For example, they will say that Old Testament Israel was a type of the church and now everything that was for them has transitioned to the church. In other words, the church has replaced Israel. They say that this happened on the day of Pentecost. Dispensationalists categorically reject that notion.

The bottom line is that we believe that God made unconditional covenants and promises to Israel that must be and will be fulfilled. In Jeremiah 31:35-37, it says, "Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The Lord of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me forever. Thus saith the Lord; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the Lord." That sounds like a pretty iron-clad promise to me. Also, Paul said in Romans 9:4-5, "Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen." As dispensationalists, we believe God's very integrity is in question here. Why would God make promises to one group, pull the proverbial carpet out from under them, and give them to another? Seriously?

Paul said in Romans 11:28-29, "As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance." He says that God's promises are without repentance. That means irrevocable. Paul told the Galatians that once a covenant "has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it (Galatians 3:15). Some will argue that the covenants made to Israel were only for that generation to which he made it. No, the Bible makes it clear that the covenants were trans-generational Deutoronomy 30:1-10 and Leviticus 26:40-45. Also, the salvation and restoration of Israel are reaffirmed over and over in the New Testament (Mat 19:28; 23:39; Acts 1:6; 3:19-21; and Rom 11:26-27). If Israel is the transcended type that those of the covenant theology persuasion say, why does the New Testament make so much about Israel's glorious future? The obvious answer is that Israel still has a glorious future and they are wrong. 

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