The New Covenant with Israel, Part II

False Interpretations…

In Part I of this Blog topic we examined God’s dealings with Israel, and we saw that Jesus Christ came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets.  In the “Sermon on the Mount,” He said this:

“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.  For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.  (Matthew 5:17-18)

If all has been fulfilled concerning Jesus the Messiah, the focus of God’s plan, then all has been fulfilled for Israel all the Law was kept perfectly by Christ. All the sins of the people were poured out and atoned for by Christ, the Lamb of God. Therefore, the law is no longer the way to righteousness.  

Christ Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Thus, all people must look to Christ, not law-keeping, to find righteousness, or right standing, with God:  “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4).

After His resurrection, Jesus further explained to His disciples what His purpose was in His ministry on Earth, making clear that His work was accomplished, just as He said while dying, “It is finished” (John 19:30).

These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.  (Luke 24:43-45)

…Lead to False Teachings

Apparently, some Bible teachers who focus on “End Times” prophecy disagree, however, saying that God’s purposes with the Law of Moses still need to be completed.  These teachers resort to interpretive extremes, then display their complicated misreadings of prophetic passages on charts or diagrams to simplify their complex models (see an example below).

For example, the teaching that follows even predicts as many as four or more resurrections from the dead:

The Bible does not teach one resurrection or even two resurrections in number. Rather, it teaches that there will be two resurrections in type which will be conducted in stages, resulting in several resurrections — at least four, to be specific.(http://www.raptureready.com/featured/reagan/dr8.html)

 

Israel Restored?

One of the most problematic misreadings, in my opinion, is the attempt to “rebuild” ancient Israel.  They seek to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem so that sacrifices may be resumed and the people may continue to follow the laws of the Old Covenant with sacrifices, thus ensuring their salvation.  This teaching contradicts the statement Jesus made to the Jewish leaders before the crucifixion, for He said, “Your house is left to you desolate” (Matthew 23:38).  In fact, Jesus predicted the complete destruction of the Temple, a prophecy fulfilled a mere forty years later, for indeed in A.D. 70, not one stone was left on another after Titus’s army destroyed the Temple.  

This teaching not only contradicts Jesus’ own prophecies before His crucifixion about the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, but also sides with those the Apostle Paul calls “accursed,” for these teachers want the Jews to be able to continue following the Laws of Moses.  Here is Paul’s judgment:  

For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.” Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faith.” However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “He who practices them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”— in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.  (Galatians 3:10-14)

 

The Gap Theory

In addition, with no exegetical justification, they insert a “gap” of what has currently amounted to about 2,000 years between the 69th and 70th weeks in Daniel’s “Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks.” This is the passage: 

Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place. So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.  (Daniel 9:24-27)

They also attribute the works of Messiah the Prince in this passage to  “the prince who is to come,” or the one they designate the Anti-Christ, making him the one who makes and end of sin, makes atonement for iniquity, and brings in everlasting righteousness.  They have taught these extreme interpretations and more, while making improbable predictions of future events,and even incorporating astrology (an occult practice forbidden under the Old Covenant), such as adding “blood” moons, into their presentations and publications.  

 

More Examples of False Teachings

What follows here are some examples of false teachings based on misinterpretations:

1.  British Israelism:

This teaching states that all of the British peoples from Australia to New Zealand, from England to the United States, are the direct lineal descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel and hence the inheritors of the promises of the Old Covenant.  Yet, Paul writes clearly that the Lord is no longer sees either Jews or gentiles, but rather a new, born-again Body of Believers, who will inherit the fullness of the promises made to Abraham through Christ Jesus:  

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3:27-29)

2.  Jews Rule the World:

The theory that present day Israel will one day rule the world from Jerusalem.  Jesus Himself or even a resurrected King David,  according to some teachers, will return again to sit on a throne that is yet to be constructed. When the Old Testament prophecies are read only from a historical perspective, rather than focusing on covenant relationships, these teachers believe and teach that there will be a future time of national Israel’s rule as head over all the nations.

Yet, after the resurrection of Christ Jesus, when the disciples asked if He would restore the kingdom to Israel at that time, Jesus redirects their thinking to another level than the mere political.  He said, “You shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).  Jesus tells them that their focus should not concern national borders or cultures and that He Himself is the fulfillment of all the promises in the Old Testament: 

 “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.  (Luke 24:44-48)

Thus,  Christ’s rejection by the Jews was not only part God’s original plan, but also Jesus told His disciples that His Kingdom was not of this world.  

In his Letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul makes clear that Christ’s kingdom cannot be bounded either by human wisdom or international borders:  

 In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. (Ephesians 1:8-10)

Paul also wrote that he prays that Believers in Christ Jesus will understand this “mystery” of God’s will.  As shown in the following passage below, Christ’s coronation has already occurred in the Heavenlies.  Since Christ currently reigns over His spiritual kingdom from the right hand of God, not only in Paul’s age  but “also in the one to come,” there is no need for Him to be enthroned  on earth, especially since He now rules in a glorified body, the Head over all believers, whether Jew or Gentile:

 These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,  above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:17-23)

 3.   Renewed Sacrifices

It is taught that the Jews will again make sacrifices for sin in a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem, or possibly a “Holy Place.” These sacrifices would essentially render void or inadequate the sacrifice of Christ for the salvation of all.  (See the note below from an actual web site which proclaims this teaching.)

However, the Scriptures are clear that the Old Covenant has been fulfilled and the New Covenant has come, as prophesied in Jeremiah (see 31:31-34).  And the writer to the Hebrews in the New Testament is clear in stating that the old sacrifices for sin were mere copies of the one true sacrifice for sin offered by our High Priest, Christ Jesus:

For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. (Hebrews 9:24-26)

Why would God desire the Jews to return to a copy, or prototype, when the real version exists and has replaced the mere copies?  Those who advocate for renewed sacrifices are in line with the false teachers Paul exposes in his letter to the Galatians, for they advocated a continued following of Old Testament practices. 

To teach that the Old Covenant commandments are acceptable to God is to divide what God has joined together in Christ. And this teaching directly contradicts Jesus’ statement to the woman at the well: “An hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father . . . an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers” (John 4:21, 23).

4.  Daniel’s Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks

In a prediction that incorporates their misreading of the Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks in Daniel 9 (see above), some teachers claim that the Anti-Christ will one day make a bargain that will lead to Armageddon and the final destruction of the world before the Messiah returns.  

II Thessalonians 2:1-17, however, is a passage which is also used to support the idea that the Anti-Christ will appear in the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem.  This prediction is problematic, however, because II Thessalonians was most likely written before A.D. 70, a date which allows for the prophecy to refer to the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, the son of Vespasian and a future Emperor, not to any future temple in this age. 

Instead, it makes much more sense, therefore, for the “prince who is to come” or the “man of lawlessness” (found in Daniel 9 or II Thesalonians 2) to refer to Titus, the future Emperor of Rome, when he brought about the complete destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.   

5.  The 2,000 year Gap

Some end times prophecy teachers refer to the present day Church Age period as a kind of “interlude” in the progress of Israel’s prophesied history, still believed to be God’s primary purpose.  They somehow hold to the idea that the blood of lambs and goats is needed by the Jews who are still under the Old Covenant, making these sacrifices equal to the blood of Christ.  In effect, they say, the Jews were offered the Kingdom that was promised when Jesus appeared at His first advent, but they rejected Christ the Messiah, even to the point of crucifying Him.  

This rejection led God the Father to implement another plan, they say, since His will was not received by the Jews.  Thus, the Church Age was implemented, though God will yet revive the promises to Israel, giving them another opportunity to repent before Christ comes again, when a “remnant” of the Jews will be saved.  

They believe that the Old Covenant of the Law of Moses still needs to be fulfilled, that Jews during the supposed seven-year tribulation period will still be saved through sacrifices in a rebuilt temple, in spite of the teachings in Hebrews that such sacrifices cannot ever cleanse the sins of the people completely.   

Incredibly, some teachers even believe that the new converts saved during the supposed Tribulation Period of Seven Years will not be part of the Body of Christ in Heaven, but will live and rule from Jerusalem during the Millenium, another symbolic or figurative concept from the Book of Revelation that has been made literal.  

The Olive Tree

However, the prophecy of the Apostle Paul in Romans remains:

For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,

     “The Deliverer will come from Zion,
     He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.”
      “This is My covenant with them,
     When I take away their sins.”

From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.  (Romans 11:25-29)

No, God has not forsaken Israel, though, He through Christ the Messiah, was rejected.  All Israel will be saved, consisting of both Jews and Gentiles who have been grafted into the Olive Tree.  Christ came to save us and to unite Jews and Gentiles into one body “by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man” (Eph 2:15).  

This is a mystery, Paul writes, but we must understand this mystery in context with the rest of the teachings of the Scriptures about the covenants God has made with His people, both Jews and Gentiles.  Above all, we must not be “wise in our own estimation,” as Paul warns, but rightly divide the Word of Truth.  

The Church is one and the same with New Covenant Israel – one redeemed people,  heirs to the covenants of promise through Jesus Christ:

Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.(Ephesians 2:11-16)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes:

1.  The problem with interpretations or predictions like the one that follows here is that a future event is supposedly prophesied for the present age when the prophecy was delivered, an event that occurred long ago in A.D. 70.  While Antiochus Epiphanes is mentioned in the writer’s explanation below, Titus is not even mentioned or alluded to, even though he and his forces thoroughly destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem.   It’s possible that some prophecies may have more than one fulfillment, but the evidence needs to be more compelling than mere suppositions to support odd or unusual readings of Scripture.  This teaching again refers to Daniel 9:24-27, which is discussed above in this blog article.  

Here is the passage:   

Yes, 1,290 days before Jesus Christ’s second coming, animal sacrifices will again be cut off! Jesus warns us as Christians to be alert to an end-time abomination of desolation! Just as Antiochus Epiphanes profaned the Temple in 167 and cut off the sacrifices, so will a profane authority cut off Jewish sacrifices in the future! In fact, the Apostle Paul warns of a great false prophet that will stand in the holy place. “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3–4).  

 Source:  http://www.tomorrowsworld.org/magazines/2009/january-february/five-prophetic-signs-for-the-middle-east

 2.  This table is one of very many others you can find, though not nearly as complicated.  It shows the typical dispensational view of the End Times, including the 2,000 year gap (in this case the “Unrevealed Parenthesis”) between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy in Chapter 9:24-27.  This gap has been inserted merely to satisfy the misguided ideas of prophecy teachers who are trying to make sense of their own misinterpretations.  

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  1. Biblical Mysteries Revealed » The Kingdom of God: Revelation Part II — June 7, 2015 @ 8:19 pm

  2. Biblical Mysteries Revealed » Kingdom of God: Revelation, Part IV — June 24, 2015 @ 3:53 pm

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