LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Sunday, May 27, 2007

What you see depends on what you're looking for

A recent comment suggesting that there is “progression from Old to New, but not reinterpretation.” – asserting that the NT texts do not reinterpret the OT, but “compliment” them, led me to expound on the subject a bit more in this post.

Prophets of the Old Testament anticipated a time when Israel would be restored to her former greatness.

The prophet Isaiah spoke of a future restoration of Israel in these terms: “But you, O Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend, I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant,’ I have chosen you and have not rejected you.” (41:8-9) The same promise is reiterated in 42:6 when the Lord declared of his servant, “I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles.”

Dispensationalists, who interpret such passages literally, assign the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecies to a future earthly millennium in which Israel will coexist the Gentiles under the reign of the Davidic king. Is this how the NT authors interpreted these messianic prophecies regarding the servant of the Lord? And Who is this servant of the Lord – the nation of Israel or Jesus, Israel’s true King?

Matthew saw in Jesus' casting out of demons and healing the sick the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecies of a suffering servant who would take upon himself our infirmities and carry our diseases. Luke spoke in Acts 3:13 of Jesus as the servant of God. When the Ethiopian eunuch read Isaiah 53 and asked Philip about whom this prophecy referred, Philip told him that this passage was about Jesus (Acts 8:34-35).

The prophet Hosea quoted God as saying, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son,” (11:1) but Matthew told us that Hosea’s prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus’ parents took him to Egypt for a time to protect him from Herod. It was Matthew, not an “overspiritualizing amillenarian” who took a passage from Hosea that referred to Israel and told his readers that it was fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

Peter told of how “the prophets, who spoke…searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.” (1 Peter 1:10-12)

According to many New Testament writers, Jesus was the true servant, the true Son, and the true Israel of God. Insomuch as we are “in Christ,” we too are the Israel of God. We are His chosen. We are His servants whom He has called from the farthest corners of the earth, and His kingdom is expanding with new souls each day.

Reinterpreting the OT? No. The NT authors did not “re”interpret, but properly interpreted prophetic passages pointing to Christ – our Savior who spoke most often in spiritual terms to people desiring an earthly kingdom.


Blogger mark pierson said...

"Reinterpreting the OT? No. The NT authors did not “re”interpret, but properly interpreted prophetic passages pointing to Christ – our Savior who spoke most often in spiritual terms to people desiring an earthly kingdom."


One thing that people like to slam Amills with is "spiritualizing" the OT. I think that to be a cop-out, the easy way around an argument w/o actually engaging your ideas. I am not currently Amil. I am Historic Premil. I do appreciate your presentation of the Amil position. I have not once been tempted to charge you with "spiritualizing" anything. Your hermeneutic should be given a fair hearing. Please feel completely free to continue presenting the Amil position at bluecollar. I love it. I am so glad that over the years I have gone on to discover alternatives to the Pre Trib. Rapture eschatology scene. I could never defend that position with a clear conscience while attending churches that subscribed to that system.

I am currently in flux, waiting to jump ship from Historic Premill when Amill clears up more for me on Rev. 20. I am willing to take years before I declare my final position, if that is possible.

May 27, 2007 9:10 PM

Blogger mark pierson said...

I also think that when you are looking for something the New Testament doesn't teach that you should be looking for, then you are operating on pure speculation - man-made, waste of time, unscriptural, speculation.

May 27, 2007 9:41 PM

Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Susan, as you know, a massive amount of passages can be produced from the OT that predicts an earthly kingdom in Israel where the Davidic King would reign from Jerusalem. The topography of Israel, the Temple, the Israelites, and surrounding nations are all described in detail during this kingdom period. You are assigning a different meaning to these promises because you say there will be no earthly kingdom and the ethnic Jews are no longer God’s chosen people. Reinterpret: “assign a new or different meaning to.”

Mark, I don’t think it is bad to say that amillers “spiritualize” certain texts when they themselves claim to do so. However, “spiritualizer” and “literalist” have been used as pejorative terms that serve to broad-brush a perspective. I don’t care for that, but I think describing an interpretation as spiritual, typological, or literal is valid.

May 27, 2007 9:52 PM

Blogger Susan said...

I never said that ethnic Jews are no longer God's chosen people. Those who share the faith of Abraham, he who Jesus said looked forward to His day and rejoiced to see it, are His chosen - both Jew and Gentile. And they together are true Israel, those who are "in Christ."
I'm sure "massive volumes" from the OT could be produced re: the kingdom, but many many texts from the NT - which should be our compass IF we are followers and disciples of Jesus - must be our guide through the OT.
There's plenty of Law spelled out in the Torah as well, but we use the NT to properly apply it today. Likewise, we should do the same with our expectations of the kingdom - seeking those things that are above, where Christ IS - now, reigning - and not on things of the earth. Including the current nation of Israel. We should look first to the latest revelation to interpret the former things.

May 27, 2007 10:24 PM

Blogger Susan said...

Also, I'm not assigning a different meaning to promises in the OT because there will be a new heavens and a new earth.
Additionally, the NT said Abraham looked forward to a "heavenly" city - not an earthly one.

May 27, 2007 10:26 PM

Blogger Susan said...

My understanding of the term "literal" has more to do with the genre of literature to which something applies - poetry, prophecy, history, etc.
But the term "literal" has come to take on a new meaning (reinterpretaion? ;-) as in "actual" or "real."
And I think this has served to alieniate the term "spiritual" as something "unreal" or not exactly "actual," when in fact, we have volumes to the contrary in Scripture.
I too do not favor the word "over-spiritualizing" text or even "spiritualizing" text. After all, the disciple whom Jesus loved was the one who wrote in such spiritual terms as to be set apart from the rest of the 'synoptic' gospel accounts.
I believe Jesus is this day very real in a glorified body, but reigning - truly reigning in control, not just interceding on our behalf - over His very real and very 'literal' Spiritual kingdom. What is regeneration and being "born again" if not spiritual?
Why does dispensationalism focus so much on the things of earth and timeframes (7 years, 1,000 years), etc.? I think we are admonished to seek the things that are above, and for good reason.

May 27, 2007 10:33 PM

Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Question: do you understand Abraham's "heavenly" city to be on the "new earth"?

"Why does dispensationalism focus so much on the things of earth and timeframes (7 years, 1,000 years), etc.?"

Personally, I think that is a false characterization. Van Impe, Lahaye, and Lindsey are extremists.

May 27, 2007 11:00 PM

Blogger Susan said...

The answer to your question is I don't know.
I'm not sure the 7-yr, 1,000-yr focus is extreme. I hear a lot of focus on the word "millenium" among dispensationalists. I admit to not having yet finished the books (both Prog Disp by Bock and Understanding Dispensationalists by Poythress), but I hear a lot about the millenium. Even a system such as amilleniallism that doesn't stick to the 'literal' 1,000-year scheme defines itself by that term. Presumably in response to the premill systems, inc disp.

May 27, 2007 11:04 PM

Blogger Susan said...

Just one last thought re: "reinterpreting,"
when Jesus said "you have heard it said, 'do not murder,' but I say to you that anyone who hates is guilty of murder..." (in essence, not exact quote),
was he "reinterpreting?"
I don't believe so. I believe that he was interpreting fully - providing the entire essence of the Law in that one case.
And that's what I believe the NT apostles and writers did - not "re"interpret but provide the full and proper interpretation - much of which is spiritual.
I just don't see why dispensationalists focus so very much on the land of this earth, on the OT, and on time-frames (but I guess prog disps don't do so much the latter?), when NT writers - especially Jesus - provide much more information on how He fulfills so much prophecy.
Didn't Christ explain how we are temples? Again, it's not a 'literal' (used in the common sense of the word) understanding - but spiritual - and yet all this focus is put on rebuilding an earthly temple. For what?

May 27, 2007 11:08 PM

Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Jesus was no reinterpreting there. His words complimented, but did not change the understanding of the old.

The future temple is a "focus" (so-called) because it is foretold in the OT and NT (Revelation). It seems like a consistent teaching in both testaments. When believers are described as temples, it is in the context of sanctification, not measurements (Ezek 40-48) :-)

May 27, 2007 11:19 PM

Blogger Susan said...

Then, Jonathan, do I understand you correctly that you think when amillenialists see OT prophecy fulfilled in spiritual terms, that they are "reinterpreting" Scripture to take on a new meaning that is not in the text itself - even when interpreted by NT apostles (such as John) and writers?

May 27, 2007 11:33 PM

Blogger Susan said...

Incidentally, I think it's understating Jesus' words to say they merely "complimented" the Law - in the case of murder and hate.
To compliment is to simply run alongside - like Coke and chips, to cite a trite example.
But Jesus expanded on the issue - he fulfilled the issue, bringing it full circle, as it were.
"Complimenting" the idea of murder by equating it with hate seems to downgrade the essence of what Jesus was saying - which is, in its essence, spiritual - the heart of the matter.

May 27, 2007 11:35 PM

Blogger Susan said...

You seem really hung up on Ezekiel 40-48. I know they have a lot of detail in them, but I'll have to go back and read what some other authors have to say about it. Maybe I can post about it at some point, thanks to Mark's kind invitation to participate here.

May 27, 2007 11:37 PM

Blogger jazzycat said...

Susan and Mark,
This is very interesting and it seems to be a series you have going here. If you have others ready to post, I can postpone my 6 part/6 day series. Just let me know.


May 27, 2007 11:57 PM

Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

(1) If reinterpret means to “assign a new or different meaning to,” then yes you are reinterpreting the promises of the OT kingdom. The rub is that I do not see the NT authors supporting your position - so the reinterpreting is unwarranted.

(2) I still like the word, "compliment."

(3) Good, that's why I keep quoting it.

I'm off of work in 45 mintues!!! As we say back in Alabama, "I'm wore slap out."

May 28, 2007 12:08 AM

Blogger Susan said...

Go ahead and start your series.
As they say in Alabama... :-)

May 28, 2007 9:06 AM

Blogger mark pierson said...

Wayne, feel free to start your series. I can't wait to see it!

Susan, I read "Understanding Dispensationalist's" by Poythress. Great read. In the last chapters please take note how Poythress challenges the "One People of God" Dispys to drop their dispensational label.

May 28, 2007 9:44 AM

Blogger jazzycat said...

In Mississippi we call it "dog tired"........ Now Jazzy does not relate to that. The first thing she does when she goes outside is plop down in a chair.

Mark and Susan,
O.K. I'll start in the morning. It is the basic gospel where I respond to a question that an atheist blog posed, "What is a true Christian." Not surprisingly he has it all wrong.


May 28, 2007 11:27 AM


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