Old Testament: Eschatology or Christology?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by asterisktom, Feb 16, 2012.

  1. asterisktom

    asterisktom
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    Old Testament: Eschatology or Christology?

    Of course, the correct answer to the question is: Both. There is both eschatology and Christology in the Old Testament. But the reason why I write this article is to point out an overlooked point. Many passages that we were taught as referring to the "end times" or the "Tribulation Period" (the quotes around those terms will be explained later) actually refer to Christ.

    The problem with much of today's futurist theology is that it muddies insight into many of the passages that refer to Christ and His work through His church. Major passages in Isaiah, Daniel, Zechariah, etc. have been switched around from Messianic promises to Anti-christian prophecies and sensational (and fictional!) scenarios. In short: the main message of the Old Testament is Christ, not Antichrist.

    A possible concession from some readers is that, although most of Old Testament prophecy pointed to Christ and the time of the Gospel, there are also double fulfillments, the latter fulfillment still to come in our time. Some readers have told me that Joel's prophecy is like this, being fulfilled both in Acts 2 and in modern times. But this is not proven from Scripture. Yes, there are double prophecies. Isa. 7:14, for example, does have double fulfillment. But here is an important difference between the modern view of double prophecies and the Bible's: If there is a double fulfillment, it is so that the lesser fulfillment can point to the greater fulfillment - in Christ. Most Old Testament prophecy points to Christ, to his earthly ministry, Incarnation, ministry, Calvary, resurrection, as well as to his post-ascension work as Prophet, Priest and King.

    Here is the real danger of bad eschatology: Because it requires validating verses from the Bible it has no choice but to take away and neutralize many promises that speak of Christ and pour totally foreign meaning into them. By doing this they are actually dismissing their Christ-honoring purpose. The Old Testament is full of reference to Christ, and many of us miss the huge majority of these references. That is why Jesus said to the two disciples, Luke 24:25-27:



    "O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
    Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?"


    And then he provided an important clue as to how to view the Old Testament:


    "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself."


    The Old Testament, from Moses to all the prophets speak of "things concerning" Christ. Daniel is a prophet. Many of the passages which sensational authors are "seeing" as end-time events, Antichrist, final showdowns, etc - are actually speaking of Christ.

    How many modern authors and preachers have mangled Daniel 9!
    Only years after being a Christian did I discover what most Christians used to always know:
    The Prince who is to come is Christ, not Antichrist.
    The Covenant that is confirmed with the many is the New Covenant in Christ.
    The sacrifice and offering was brought to an end when He said "It is finished!"

    No wonder that the post 1st-century Jewish Rabbis drew a dark line around this chapter (as well as Isaiah 53) - it witnessed too forthrightly of their Messiah!

    Many of us just need to take a moratorium from reading eschatological thrillers and junky tracts and seriously dive into Scripture - and cleanse, cleanse, cleanse away all the accumulated scum of man's teaching that has built up in our minds.

    Once the difference between what the Bible says and what John Hagee, Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye, John Macarthur - or any other system-driven teacher says become apparent you will be amazed at how clearly and how strongly God's Word speaks of Christ.



    Christ's admonition to the Jews in John 5:46 also comes to mind:


    "For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me."

    "But", you might counter "what about Israel? It seems that you are also doing away with many of God's promises to His covenant people. This is replacement theology."

    Israel as a nation served it's purpose, just the same way their religion served it's purpose.They were tools that God used. They were to point to Christ and the Cross. Once that was done, then going back to Judaism - in any form - is as much idolatry as as worshiping Nehushtan, that thing of brass (brazen serpent).

    Does this do away with Israel as nation? Well, yes, in a very real sense it does. It does away with that , the erstwhile covenant-nation, in order to give the believers among that nation something infinitely better: new life in Christ (see Acts 15:11; Eph. 2:11-22). The Israel of God, the inner wall of partition having been done away in Christ, rejoices in their Messiah. This is not replacement, but fulfillment theology.



    God was never interested in any land. He was "interested" in those whom He set His love on from the beginning, the elect, from both Jews and Gentiles, 1 Peter 1:2; Eph. 1:4. It was never about the land. That is just the sort of lower view that Isaiah 55 tries to correct ("My thoughts are higher than your thoughts"). The Jews (both ancient and many modern, as well as many Dispensationalists) fix their focus on the temple, the people, the Law and "this holy place" (Acts 6:13-14; John 2:18- 21; Acts 21:27- 28) . But Christ speaks rather of the Temple of His body, the church, the heavenly Jerusalem, the New Covenant and the holy nations of priests and kings - Christians! There will never ever again be a holy place. We have the promise of Christ on that, John 4:19-24.

    I had a hard time, at first, in accepting this view because it went against my desire for a literal reading of the Bible. I was taught - maybe you were too - that those who see Scripture as being mainly "spiritual" are also those who "allegorize away" the "plain meaning" of Scripture - and head down the slippery slope of outright denial and unbelief. But to my relief, the opposite seemed to happen: Once I recognized the spiritual nature of Scripture it opened it up so much more to an understanding of Christ.



    For many, "spiritual" is almost a pejorative word, but it really is the key to understanding God's Word. Those who have had similar experiences know what I am talking about.



    People need to get back to reading their Bibles, purposefully, like they are studying for a test (which they are), diligently, interestedly (not perfunctorily), and lovingly. We need, not to be spoon-fed and path-led by pastors, goose-bumped by authors, but built up by Truth - Christ. We need to search out the Word of God like Diogenes with his lantern. He is still searching, but we have found our Honest Man. We need to read God's Word this way. And we all need to encourage each other to do this, and to keep doing it. That is where the real preparation comes from.

    As we drawn nearer to God He draws nearer to us, engracing us to live right.
     
  2. Iconoclast

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    #2 Iconoclast, Feb 16, 2012
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  3. thomas15

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    ***sigh***
     
  4. HankD

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    Tom! You come on like gangbusters (what else is new :) ).

    How are you?

    Tell us about China (so far away) and what you are doing there if you are allowed.

    Are they looking over your shoulder?

    We went to a Chinese restaurant last week, they had one fork in the entire place. I finally figured out how to eat my soup.

    I don't think I could survive with just chopsticks.

    HankD
     
  5. asterisktom

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    How are you, Hank? Good to hear from you. And thanks for the thumbs up, Iconoclast.

    There is a jack-booted thug with a tight-fitting Mao hat just outside my cubicle. He opens the door when he hears typing, so I better make this quick...

    Actually, I haven't had any problems at all. We are enjoying our first weeks here. There is a lot of strangeness to absorb and deal with. Fortunately, I am here with my wife, so that eases the transition.

    I am teaching oral English, classes of all ages. This involves everything from jumping up and down (teaching "exercise" to 10-year olds) to discussing the text - and subtext - of Orwell's "1984" with a sole twenty year-old student. Its a lot of fun.

    We attended one service that we could find, but it was not to our liking. A picture of this, as well as lots more, are at my Flickr site here.

    Chopsticks are no longer a problem. Learning the language is - and especially the characters. But we are making encouraging progress.
     
    #5 asterisktom, Feb 17, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 17, 2012
  6. HankD

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    All is well here. Having dental work done, not my favorite thing.

    Glad your helpmeet is able to be with you in the great land of China.

    Orwell! One of my favorites (besides 1984) Down and Out in Paris and London. It will make you laugh.
    Happy doublethinking.

    Great pictures on the Flickr site, I will return to see more.

    Aint digital photography great? No film to buy or process!

    LOL, the maniquins in one of the pics look very caucasian.


    Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.​

    In Christ
    HankD​
     
    #6 HankD, Feb 18, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2012
  7. kyredneck

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    "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself."

    That's the sermon, or discourse, I would love the most to hear.

    Enjoyed this post Tom.

    (watch those commies) :)
     
  8. DaChaser1

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    so were the prophecies of God in Ezeckiel 37/isaiah 66/Malachi 4 already all fulfilled by God?
     
  9. thomas15

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    You are not supposed to ask that question.

    “I the LORD do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty.

    Malachi 3:6-7
     
  10. DaChaser1

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    Ah, i see! Forgot that when God said isreal in NT, He really meant Church!
     
  11. thomas15

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    yes you forgot!
     
  12. thomas15

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    Does anyone know what the big problem today is? The Economy? No, Lack of Values?, No. Declining church attendence?, NO. Middle east terrorism?, NO.

    I will tell you what the big problem today is, no I will let *tom tell you...

    The problem is the muddy dispies!
     
  13. DaChaser1

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    yes, we fail to gave gotten the revelation that God calls things one thing in bible, but really meant it to something else!

    It all goes back to that stupid thing we tend to do of accepting a "wooden,literal" interpretation of the Bible!
     
  14. thomas15

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    We need our Hank Hanegraaff code de-coder ring!
     
  15. HankD

    HankD
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    sigh!


    Anyway Tom, after viewing your photo site it seems we have a somewhat similar family background.

    My family is of Italian descent.
    My father was an officer in the US Army Air Corps and fought against the Axis powers in WWII.
    Others of my family were in Italy during WWII and fought against the Allies.


    HankD
     
    #15 HankD, Feb 20, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2012
  16. asterisktom

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    Hi Hank,

    I meant to get back to you sooner than this, but things have been pretty hectic here. For being a part-time job there sure is a lot of time being devoted to it! But it will get easier once I am able to optimize my routine. Today is my first day off in about two weeks.

    Yes, I see we do have similar backgrounds. You also have remembered much of your family history. I think that is a good thing.

    About those Caucasian mannakins you mentioned (previously): It is interesting that they seem to be common in stores here. Westerners, like Leonardo DeCaprio, also figure prominently in huge billboards in the cities. Yet when I walk by I still get the wide-eyed stares (if "wide-eyed" is the term to use for Orientals!). One old man even unabashedly did a Tim Conway shuffle around me to see, I guess, if I wasn't perhaps so strange-looking on the other side.

    Work and related "hecticity" aside, we are both thoroughly enjoying our time here.

    I am also glad, when opportunity presents, to offer salt where it is definitely needed.
     
    #16 asterisktom, Feb 20, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 20, 2012
  17. HankD

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    Yea, we get a tiny bit of that when we visit Hawaii, caucasians being a definite minority gendering subtle overtones of disdain for our presence (though they appreciate our tourism money).

    Similar situation now when we visit the San Jose, CA area of my wife's family. Blue eyes are in the minority (her family is Ukranian).

    She too has old family heirloom documents in Russian and Ukranian with faded pictures from the past. Many look surprisingly Jewish in their attire and such is the family rumor on her side though only the Christian strain came over to dream the American dream.

    On my own mother's side there is also Jewish blood through her mother my grandmother (roots in Germany) but her husband, my maternal grandfather is Italian (Gianna Balboni).

    My father's side is 100% Italian.

    So, we are Heinz-57 varieties.

    Glad you can share some salt in the great land of China, hope more opportunites present themselves.

    HankD
     
    #17 HankD, Feb 21, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2012

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