Category Archives: Eschatology

Revelation by Steve Camp

Steve Camp, yes that Steve Camp is the Teaching Pastor at The Cross Church in Palm City, FL has begun a series in Revelation.

Here are the sermons:

  1. “The Victor” Rev 1:1-3 – The Prologue – November 4, 2012
  2. The Exalted King (pt 1) – November 11, 2012
  3. The Exalted King, Part 2 – November 18, 2012
  4. The Exalted King, Part 3 – November 25, 2012
  5. The Vision of the Glorified Son – December 2, 2012
  6. The Vision of the Glorified Son, Pt 2 – December 9, 2012
  7. Pergamum – The Compromised Church – December 30th, 2012
  8. Thyatira – The Church That Tolerates Sin – January 6, 2013

Note: This list will be updated as time permits. You can also see the complete list as updated here.

A Gospel-Centered Manifesto Part 3

A right eschatology does not liberate us from the present; it liberates us for the present.

An Aside: Apocalyptic language and metaphor

As Matthew Malcolm4 shares,

If you’ve encountered the opinion that unless we interpret the Bible “literally” we are not doing justice to it, this could be a useful resource:

The Charge of Replacement Theology

What I’m finding is that those who charge Amillennialists as “Replacement Theologians” are establishing a straw man argument. The non-Amillennialist does not rebut the actual arguments of the Amillennialist, chiefly, the remnant of Israel is One, namely Jesus. He is the True Remnant of Israel, the True Israelite: read this post for details.

Because Jesus is the True Israelite (the True Remnant of Israel), everyone who believes in Jesus the Christ (the Messiah) becomes one (i.e. there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift).

This means that both Jew and Gentile are joint-heirs with Christ. This is not replacement theology. This is exactly the way it was meant to be in the first place.

Another way to look at it: Because Jesus is the True Remnant of One of Israel, Israel is expanded to include both Jew and Gentile, hence, this is Expansion Theology.

OR if you would like to keep pressing the point, Jesus replaces Israel (the unfaithful son) as the Faithful Son, the True Israel and then all who are joined in Him by faith becomes the New Israel — the two becoming one new man in Jesus:

Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated 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 once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. ~Ephesians 2:11-22

The BIG Question

The big question non-Amillennialists need to answer is,

How is Jesus not the True Remnant of Israel– a Remnant of One?

This is not a liberal / Conservative Discussion

Charles Spurgeon5 (a Premillennialist but not a Dispensationalist) explains,

Distinctions have been drawn by certain exceedingly wise men (measured by their own estimate of themselves), between the people of God who lived before the coming of Christ, and those who lived afterwards. We have even heard it asserted that those who lived before the coming of Christ so not belong to the church of God! We never know what we shall hear next, and perhaps it is a mercy that these absurdities are revealed at one time, in order that we may be able to endure their stupidity without dying of amazement. Why, every child of God in every place stands on the same footing; the Lord has not some children best beloved, some second-rate offspring, and others whom he hardly cares about. These who saw Christ’s day before it came, had a great difference as to what they knew, and perhaps in the same measure a difference as to what they enjoyed while on earth meditating upon Christ; but they were all washed in the same blood, all redeemed with the same ransom price, and made members of the same body. Israel in the covenant of grace is not natural Israel, but all believers in all ages. Before the first advent, all the types and shadows all pointed one way—they pointed to Christ, and to him all the saints looked with hope. Those who lived before Christ were not saved with a different salvation to that which shall come to us. They exercised faith as we must; that faith struggled as ours struggles, and that faith obtained its reward as ours shall.

Promises / Fulfillment

I have never read a persuasive argument for why we should have such a hard distinction between Israel and the Church. Because of the documentation I have presented, I am more convinced than ever that just as Israel is used in different ways (due to context – i.e. Israel as nation, Israel as true Spiritual Israel), the Church is used in different senses (i.e. physical representation of God’s people, the Church universal aka Spiritual Israel.

I do not see how we can get around this when there are promises made to Israel yet applied to the church.

Promises Made to Israel Fulfilled in the Church

Promise to Israel

Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, Which cannot be measured or numbered. And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ There it shall be said to them, ‘You are sons of the living God. –Hosea 1:10

Fulfillment in the church

What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? As He says also in Hosea: ‘I will call them My people, who were not My people, And her beloved, who was not beloved.’ ‘And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ There they shall be called sons of the living God. –Romans 9:22-26

Promise to Israel

Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth, And I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy; Then I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they shall say, ‘You are my God!’ –Hosea 2:23

Fulfillment in the church

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. –1 Peter 2:9-10

Promise to Israel

On that day I will raise up The tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, And repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, And rebuild it as in the days of old; –Amos 9:11

Fulfillment in the church

Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. ‘And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written: ‘After this I will return And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, And I will set it up; So that the rest of mankind may seek the LORD, Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says the LORD who does all these things.’ ‘Known to God from eternity are all His works. –Acts 15:14-18

Spoken to Israel, Applied to the Church
Spoken to Israel

And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. ‘And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the LORD has said, Among the remnant whom the LORD calls. –Joel 2:28-32

Applied to the church

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place…’But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved. –Acts 2:1,16-21

Spoken to Israel

And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel. –Exodus 19:6

Applied to the church

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; –1 Peter 2:9

Spoken to Israel

My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people. –Ezekiel 37:27

Applied to the church

And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people. –2 Corinthians 6:16

Spoken to Israel

Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. –Leviticus 19:2

Applied to the church

but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’ –1 Peter 1:15-16

Spoken to Israel

Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah– –Jeremiah 31:31

Applied to the church

Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.’ –Luke 22:20

Self-Condemnation of Dispensationalism

Charles Ryrie, in his early writings, makes this significant statement:

If the church does not have a new covenant, then she is fulfilling Israel’s promises, for it has been clearly shown that the Old Testament teaching on the new covenant is that it is for Israel. If the church is fulfilling Israel’s promises as contained in the new covenant or anywhere else in the Scriptures, then [dispensational] premillennialism is condemned. One might well ask why there are not two aspects to the one new covenant. This is the position held by many premillennialists, but we agree that the amillennialist has every right to say of this view that it is a practical admission that the new covenant is fulfilled in and to the church.

This is why I am not a Dispensationalist. This is why I am Amillennialist because everything I see revolves around Christ and the Amillennial position expresses that most clearly.

References

1See more about a Christological Focus in An Amillennial Rebuttal to Dispensationalism 2.
2The Greatest Challenge and Privilege of OT Preaching by Mike Bullmore Senior Pastor of CrossWay Community Church in Bristol, Wisconsin.
3Dispensationalists should “Re-interpret” by Bobby Grow and here is the article Bobby links to: « Sign this petitionMilbank on Gay Marriage »
Fundamentalist hermeneutics serves a secular, atheistic agenda
by Matthew Malcolm
4Apocalyptic language and metaphor by Matthew Malcolm
5Spurgeon, “Jesus Christ Immutable,” MTP, 15:8. via Charles H. Spurgeon and the Nation of Israel: A Non-Dispensational Perspective on a Literal National Restoration by by Dennis Swanson

See A Gospel-Centered Manifesto Part One
See A Gospel-Centered Manifesto Part 2
SEe A Gospel-Centered Manifesto Part 3

A Gospel-Centered Manifesto Part 2

Christological Focus1

But the greatest challenge (and the greatest privilege) in preaching the Old Testament is finding the way that it points to Christ and bringing that to the congregation in a way that clearly honors the Old Testament passage and makes much of Christ. This is not a call for importing some artificial connection to Jesus whenever we preach. Just the opposite. This calls for understanding and expositing the specific ways in which Old Testament passages point to Christ. But it does presuppose, based on Jesus’ own words in John 5 and Luke 24, that every passage of the Old Testament does indeed point to him.2

Literal Hermeneutic is a Both/And

The goal is to read and preach both Testaments literally (contextual, historical, genre, redemptively) in such a way that it does justice to both the passage and to Christ. Some hermeneutic styles primarily focus on the Old Testament and let that re-interpret the New Testament. The problem with this hermeneutic (and they claim their hermeneutic is literal) is they fail to fully be literal with the New Testament texts which deal with or shed light upon the Old Testament passages in question.

This hermeneutic is nation-of-Israel-centric which eclipses Christ and all He has accomplished for both Jew and Gentile alike.

Further, the problem with this approach is that it arrives at interpretations which are later contradicted by the New Testament.

It misses the point completely

There is a reason Matthew (and all the other NT Authors) go to great lengths to demonstrate Jesus is the point of the Old Testament. We have explained in detail a few times before. Certainty abounds that Jesus is a true Israelite, but not just a true Israelite; Jesus is the True Israelite Who fulfills everything Israel the nation failed to do.

This is not reading into the Old Testament nor reading into what Matthew’s point is really about. It is recognizing the reality Matthew is expressing and taking his cues as a pattern for our hermeneutics precisely because he is inspired and we are not.

Jesus is the Fulfillment, Culmination, and Mediator of the Promises to Israel

We discussed this in detail previously. Because Jesus is the True Israelite, all who believe in Him (both Israelite (modern or ancient) and Gentile alike) become joint-heirs with Christ and all that He inherits is ours.

In essence, to interpret the Scriptures “literally” simply means to interpret them as literature in light of Jesus.

Reinterpreting Scripture

Bobby Grow shares this point, i.e. Jesus is the point of the all Scripture3:

Jesus understood the Old Testament Scriptures, and the promises therein, as finding their reality and fulfillment and purpose in him. He believed that the Scriptures, and the Old Testament promises to his covenant people were all about him; and that they were personally fulfilled in him. For example, as I was reading through Deuteronomy this evening, the concept of “land” and blessing and “Yahweh’s people” kept popping up. Like the Jewish zealots of Jesus’ day, dispensationalists collapse this promise of blessing in the land for Yahweh’s people into a geo-political and “literal” promise that is yet (and is currently) to be fulfilled by the Jewish people in present day Israel (a sign of this fulfillment, for dispensationalists, is the re-establishment of the nation of Israel in 1948). But if we re-interpret these promises as if their fulfillment has come to reality in Jesus Christ, then the promise of blessing in the land for Yahweh’s covenant people will be understood to have fulfillment in and through the obedient humanity of Christ as the new man; the new and obedient Israel (Eph. 2:11ff); and in the New Heavens and New Earth, the Heavenly Jerusalem, as described in Revelation 21–22. So there is a literal fulfillment after all, but it has already been fulfilled (the now and not yet aspect of the kingdom … or the in-between time we inhabit currently) penultimately in Christ’s first advent, and yet ultimately in Christ’s second advent and the consummation of all things.

One of the problems for dispensationalists is that they understand “literal” through a neo-Platonic lens; so that there is a hard distinction between the spiritual heavenly realm and the physical earthly realm. What the dispensationalist fails to appreciate, properly, is that if we interpret all of reality and the purpose of creation through the analogy of the incarnation and the hypostatic union between the divine and human; that the hard distinction between heaven and earth is not a viable option. If you will, the dividing wall has been broken, and all things have become One in Christ.

Is It Scientifically Verifiable?

Bobby links to another article3 of which Matthew Malcolm shares,

So where did the axiom (interpreting the Bible literally) come from? I think it comes from the way in which fundamentalism buys the modernist-enlightenment claim that the only “real” truth is that which is precisely, scientifically verifiable. And so it follows that if the Bible is truth, it ought to fit the bill – it ought to be precisely interpretable with a single, “literal” meaning…

The pastoral problem with this well-meaning but mis-cued axiom is that it sets people up for confusion and disenchantment.

To illustrate: in a human conversation, we are open to a variety of fluid meanings and trajectories and levels. Someone might say, “no pun intended!” – but as they say this, they are (perhaps quite intentionally) drawing attention to the fact that they made a pun – thus highlighting the dual levels on which it may be heard. This is complex, but it’s a part of normal human communication. If we are open to this sort of complexity in the words of humans, why should we deny it in the Word of God?

To deny the New Testament from re-interpreting the Old Testament through Jesus (the Mediator), we lose our literal hermeneutic.

A Gospel-Centered Manifesto

What does Gospel-Centered mean? you ask.

First, let’s define the Gospel

The Gospel is,

The Person and Work of Jesus; Jesus, Who is God, was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life (fulfilling everything God demands of us), yet died on the cross and became sin for us, paid for our sin and guilt with His life, was buried, and on the third day rose again according to the Scriptures.

This is the Gospel in a nutshell.

But what does “Gospel-Centered” mean?

In essence, Gospel-Centered means the Gospel is placed front and center of our theology and life. The Gospel is that which makes everything else make sense.

What is the justification of being Gospel-Centered?

  1. We see a pattern in Scripture
  2. Jude specifically cites Jesus as the One who led the Israelites out of Egypt
  3. The author of Hebrews sees Christ as the mediator of the fulfillment of all the promises (Hebrews 1:1-4; Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 12:24)
  4. The Glory of God Demands it

Let’s park on The Glory of God for a bit

Fact: God’s glory is the root of all I see in Scripture.

This is the paradigm by which I read and interpret Scripture. I determine the genre and interpret the text both literally and theologically with this overarching question:

How does this text reveal God’s glory?

Think of it this way. All of history and all of Scripture is hinged upon the Glory of God; but more specifically, everything hinges on the Glory of God in Christ.

I love what Jeremy Weaver says about the glory of God as our hermeneutic:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'”) And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. (John 1:14-18) Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:8-9)

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. (Hebrews 1:1-4)

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6) He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, (Colossians 1:13-19)

This means that my hermeneutic now becomes Christological in nature.

This conclusion is supported by the following verses:

And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:25-27)

If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not deemed true. There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from people. But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” (John 5:31-47) But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:14-15)

From these verses we learn that Scripture is not only about God’s glory, it is about the One through whom He has most perfectly revealed His glory, that is, His only Son. All of Scripture is about Him. I find Bryan Chapell’s statement most helpful when looking for Christ in the Scriptures.

“In its context, every passage possesses one or more of four redemptive foci. Every text is predictive of the work of Christ, preparatory for the work of Christ, reflective of the work of Christ, and/or resultant of the work of Christ.” Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the expository Sermon (1994; Grand Rapids: Baker Books), 275.

  1. Predictive: these passages include specific prophecies, Messianic Psalms, and many of the ceremonial laws, which make no specific reference to Christ and yet are revealed to be about Christ when we read the New Testament.
  2. Preparatory: Some of the Old Testament passages were meant to prepare God’s people for the coming of Christ. God’s covenants with man in Old Testament were preparatory in this sense.
  3. Reflective: According to Chappell,

    “Where the text neither plainly predicts nor prepares for the Redeemer’s work the expositor simply should explain how the text reflects key facets of the redemptive message…What does this text reflect of: God’s nature that provides the ministry of Christ; and/or human nature that requires the ministry of Christ?” Ibid., 277.

  4. Resultant: These are passages that tell us how we should live based upon Christ’s work. It is important to recognize that these are not guidelines for earning God’s favor, but the results of the heart set free by Christ. (Points 1-4 summarized from Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon, by Bryan Chapell, pp.275-279.)

Now, none of what has been written in this post is to the neglect of the literal interpretation of Scripture. It is all founded upon the literal reading of texts in their historical contexts. It is not a method of reading Christ into the text (eisogesis), finding where He really is in the text. For example, in Genesis 1 Christ. But if we read John 1 literally we find that He is there. And further, if we read the passages listed above literally, then we must conclude that Christ permeates the pages of both the Old and New Testaments. And to interpret Scripture ignoring this fact is to miss the point altogether.

See A Gospel-Centered Manifesto Part 2
SEe A Gospel-Centered Manifesto Part 3

Imminency

One of the reasons why people reject Postmillennialism is that its ideas don’t allow Christians to truly expect the return of Christ within their own lifetime. O T Allis writes:

If, according to Postmillenialist or Whitbyan view, the millennium is wholly future and is to precede the advent, it is absurd, they [Premillennialists] tell us, to speak of expecting or watching for the coming of the Lord. This argument is not without weight. Amillennialists feel this objection to the Postmillennial view quite as strongly as do Premillenialists. … Belief in a still future spiritual millennium does undoubtedly tend to weaken the Christians’ expectancy of the coming, by referring to a remote future” (Prophecy and the Church, 167).

What most folk don’t realize is that this argument from imminency not only works against Postmillennialism but it also gives problems for Premillennialists. For the New Testament tells us that we shouldn’t only be looking for the coming of the Lord, but we should also be “looking for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). Christians are told to be “looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning and the elements will melt with intense heat” (2 Peter 3:12).

Now, the New Heavens and New Earth mentioned in these verses cannot be a reference to the Pre-Millennium. This is because this New Creation is said to occur after “the earth and its works will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). No Premillennialist believes that a brand new Earth is put in place when the Millennium begins. Instead, this happens after the Millennium is over.

Another imminency argument comes from Acts 24:15. There the Apostle Paul tells us that he “looks for … a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.” Again, neither Postmillennialism nor Premillennialism lets us “look for” a resurrection of BOTH saved and unsaved, as if it were a possible event within our lifetimes. Only Amillennialism permits this.

Therefore, we are told by an Apostle to “look for” the eternal state as though we can expect it as an event within our lifetime. The only eschatology that allows Christians to do so is Amillennialism. My friend, whatever your prophetic system, are you obeying the words of the Apostle? Can you honestly and sincerely say that you are looking for and earnestly desiring the New Heavens and New Earth? If not, then perhaps one of the reasons for this is that your system won’t let you. If this be the case, then let’s change the system in order that we may be more biblical.

Was the Old Testament Premillennial?

I think it is a safe thing to say that all (as in all) theologians agree the Old Testament authors were premillennial in their understanding of Eschatology.

However, some theologians would deduce (wrongly) we need to be premillennial, as well.

Concession

Since the OT authors wrote their prophecies before Christ’s first Advent, they were premillennial.

But, when Christ came, the millennium began at His resurrection.

So, the NT authors have inherently become post-millennial but not necessarily PostMillennial.

Matthew 24

For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. ~Matthew 24:37-42

Who is taken?

Many commentators explain that those who are taken are the righteous, particularly taken via rapture.

I am not convinced.

Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”

And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all—so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.” And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” ~Luke 17:20-37

The parallel passage in Luke 17 sheds light on our view of Matthew 24. We find in Luke 17 that the people who were eating and drinking and being given in marriage: the wicked are the ones swept away / taken.

Luke 17 shares significant evidence contrary to popular belief about Matthew 24

Matthew 13 establishes a similar idea.

Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” ~Matthew 13:30

Who are the ones gathered first? The weeds, not the wheat. What’s more, when they are gathered (taken away), they are taken to be burned.

Further, Luke 17 states, “And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” ~Luke 17:37. In other words, they are taken away where death reigns.

Contrary to popular belief, we want to be left behind.

Two Age Model

It is entirely unfortunate that the KJV should translate the Greek word αἰών as “world,” for generations of English-speaking Christians have come and gone without realizing what the Scriptures teach regarding the number of remaining epochs. While there is some semantic overlap between αἰών and κόσμος (cf. Ephesians 2:2), the two words are not merely synonymous. Thus, it is best to translate αἰών as “age” so that it is referring to a time period, not a cosmological arrangement per se. When we do this, as in the NASB, an interesting pattern emerges that was not so easily seen before.

The Scriptures uniformly speak of only two remaining ages in which all will be said and done.

These periods are described as “This Age” and “the Age to Come.” Christ taught that anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven “either in This Age or in the Age to Come” (Matthew 12:32). Those who make sacrifices for Christ shall “receive a hundred times as much now in This present Age … and in the Age to Come eternal life” (Mark 10:30, Luke 18:30). Paul wrote that Christ has been exalted above all authorities, powers, and names “not only in This Age but also in the One to Come” (Ephesians 1:21). Regarding the topic of marriage, the Lord Jesus tell us that “the sons of This Age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to That Age and the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage” (Luke 20:34-35). This last text is an important revelation, for it teaches plainly that a physical resurrection occurs at the juncture between the two Ages.

Sometimes one of the Ages is mentioned without the other. For example, Christ rescues believers “from This present evil Age” (Galatians 1:4). Satan is called “the god of This Age” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Christians are not to “be conformed to This Age but be transformed” (Romans 12:2). The reason why Demas forsook Paul was because he “loved This present Age” (2 Timothy 4:10). Likewise, it is possible for people to taste of “the powers of The Age to Come” and still fall away from Christ (Hebrews 6:5-6).

Also, there are places where This Age is simply called “the Age.” One example is the recurring phrase “the end of the Age” (Matthew 13:39, 49, 24:3, 28:20). Likewise, part of the reason why those who hear the Gospel can ultimately reject it is because of “the cares of the Age” (Matthew 13:22, Mark 4:19). And the people who remain unbelievers are referred to as “the sons of the Age” (Luke 16:8). In all these cases it is best to interpret the definite article as following a demonstrative usage. Thus, any reference to “the Age” can be properly translated as “This Age” without doing any damage to the text.

Now, the fact that there are two remaining Ages fits in perfectly with Amillennialism. The Amillennial scheme holds that This Age is a reference to the entire period of time prior to Christ’s second advent, after which we are ushered into the New Heavens and New Earth or, in other words, the Age to Come. At the juncture between these two Ages, there would be a general resurrection and general judgment. Thus, Amillennialism very nicely accounts for this picture of two Ages. (The astute reader will immediately recognize that postmillennialism also fits in with the two Ages pattern, but in a little bit I will show why it fails to match it perfectly.)

Why should the two Ages teaching be a reason against Premillennialism?

It is apparent that the Premillennial scheme requires that there be three remaining Ages, each being qualitatively distinct from the others. The millennium is said to be not as “earthly” as This Age nor is it as “heavenly” as the Age to Come, but instead occupies a sort of middle ground both in character and time of fulfillment. It thus constitutes its own qualitatively distinct epoch, which is differentiated from the two Ages that are plainly taught in Scripture. This supposed existence of a third Age is problematic for Premillennialism.

The only premillennialist who seems to have ever come to grips with this conundrum is George Eldon Ladd in his book The Gospel of the Kingdom. Ladd uses the concept of telescoping to explain how the millennium can be an intervening Age between This Age and the Age to Come (36-39). This at first sounds plausible, especially when considering how telescoping is a real phenomenon in Scripture.

But this also has its problems

When, for instance, Christ taught that the sin against the Spirit won’t ever be forgiven, whether in This Age or in the Age to Come, He clearly views the two Ages as exhausting all of time and eternity. If there is really a 1000 years separating the two, then the assumptions behind Lord Jesus’ teaching are no longer quite so accurate (cf. Mark 3:29).

But Ladd is not finished yet. It is at this point that he comes through with a pure stroke of genius. Ladd envisions the two Ages as overlapping with each other, and he then views this non-empty intersection as being the millennium itself (see his diagrams on ages 38 and 42). I have to say that I’m very impressed with this nifty device for escaping the problem of having three Ages instead of two. Seeing two sets intersect can indeed give the appearance of a third set in between them. Admittedly, this maneuver does preserve Christ’s perception of the two Ages as covering all of time and eternity.

However, this attempt at a solution has one fatal flaw. In his scheme Ladd requires that This Age not come to full and complete closure until the millennium is over. But Ladd forgot that the Lord Jesus consistently taught that the final consummation of This Age occurs at the Second Coming (Matthew 13:39, 49, 24:3, 28:20). Therefore, This Age must end when the millennium supposedly begins — not when the millennium is supposed to finish, as Ladd requires. This would seem to force Ladd back to square one in his attempts at reconciling his Premillennialism with the Bible’s teaching of just two remaining Ages.

How does this contradict Postmillennialism?

Well, it goes back to the fact that Postmillennialism teaches that there will be a transformation of This Age apart from the second coming of Christ. It asserts that the general character of This Age is getting better and will eventually become holy and righteous prior to the Age’s consummation.

But as we have seen already, this appears to contradict the uniform teaching of the New Testament concerning the moral nature of This Age. Satan is the god of This Age (2 Corinthians 4:4). We are not to be conformed to This Age (Romans 12:2). This Age is opposite and antithetical to the light (Luke 16:8). It is an age of evil (Galatians 1:4). To walk according to This Age is the same as being dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1-2).

Postmillennialism requires a radical re-orientation of verses like these in order for its assertions to hold up.

Amillennialism is naturally able to account for the doctrine of the two Ages. Any other eschatological scheme requires explanations of a strained nature.

Nate Claiborne sums this issue up nicely1:

In summary of the two ages, this age is marked by home, fields, families, marrying and being given in marriage, people being blinded to the truth by the god of this age, evil in our hearts and in the world, Christ’s present heavenly reign, the command to not be conformed to this age and live godly live, and the promise that Christ will by the Spirit be with us until the end of the age (see Matthew 28:20; Luke 10:30; 20:34; Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Galatians 1:4; Ephesians 1:20-21, Titus 2:12). At Christ’s Second coming, this age is brought to a close and a new age, that has been present as a promise of the future fulfillment, completely overtakes it. In the meantime, we are living in the overlap, having been given a down payment of our inheritance, but still awaiting its ultimate realization.

This Age

  1. Matthew 12:32 – No forgiveness for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit
  2. Matthew 24:3 – The end of the age will be preceded by signs
  3. Matthew 28:20 – Christ will be with us until the end of the age
  4. Luke 18:30 – There are material rewards given to us in this life
  5. Luke 20:34 – The people of this age marry and are given in marriage
  6. Mark 10:30 – The present age is an age of homes, fields, and families
  7. Romans 12:2 – We are not to be conformed to the pattern of this world (age)
  8. 1 Corinthians 1:20 – Philosophy is the wisdom of this age
  9. 1 Corinthians 2:6-8 – Wisdom and rulers are of this age
  10. 2 Corinthians 4:4 – Satan is the god of this age who has blinded the minds of men and women
  11. Galatians 1:4 – The present age is evil
  12. Ephesians 1:21 – Christ reigns in present age
  13. Ephesians 2:2 – The ways of this world (age) are evil
  14. 1 Timothy 6:17 – Those who are rich in this age, are not to hope in their wealth for the next
  15. Titus 2:12 – We are to live Godly lives in the present age

In every instance the qualities associated with “this age” are temporal in nature. These texts describe the present course of history before the return of Christ and are things which pass away at his return.

Age to Come

  1. Matthew 12:32 – No forgiveness for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit
  2. Matthew 13:40 – The weeds will be thrown into the fire
  3. Mark 10:30 – Eternal life as a reward
  4. Luke 18:30 – Eternal life as a reward
  5. Luke 20:35 – No marriage or giving in marriage
  6. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – Evil doers will not inherit the kingdom of God
  7. 1 Corinthians 15:50 – Flesh and blood will not inherit the kingdom of God
  8. Galatians 5:21 – Those who live evil lives will not inherit the kingdom
  9. Ephesians 1:21 – Christ will reign in age to come
  10. Ephesians 5:5 – Immoral people will not inherit kingdom of God
  11. 1 Thessalonians 2:12 – We are encouraged to live lives worthy of the kingdom
  12. 2 Thessalonians 1:5 – Faith will count you worthy of the kingdom of God
  13. 1 Timothy 6:19 – The coming age has life that is truly life
  14. 2 Timothy 4:18 – The Lord will bring us to kingdom of God

In marked contrast to “this age” the qualities assigned to the age to come are all eternal (or non-temporal) in nature. These references are clearly describing the future eschatological state of believers (and nonbelievers if you factor in the references to judgment).

This Age Or The Age To Come

  1. Matthew 12:32 – There is no forgiveness for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit
  2. The use of this phrase “either in this age or in the age to come” is intended to exhaust all of time and eternity.

The Line of “Demarcation” Between the Two Ages

  1. Matthew 13:39 – The harvest is the end of the age, and the angels are the harvesters
  2. Matthew 13:40 – The weeds will be burned in the fire at the end of the age (judgment)
  3. Matthew 13:49 – The angels will separate the wicked from the righteous

The Resurrection
The first coming of Christ and his resurrection ensured that in the present age, Christians are already raised with him. Christ’s resurrection from the dead also ensured that we believers will be raised bodily at the end of the age. ~ Kim Riddlebarger, A Case for Amillennialism

1 Corinthians 15:42-44 – So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

Hebrews 9:27-28 – And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

We are clearly dealing with two ages; the current age in which we find two kingdoms in conflict and the future glorious age in which we live eternally with our great King (Matthew 12:32; Luke 18:29-30; 20:34-35; Ephesians 1:21; Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 1:20; 2:6-8; 3:8; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Galatians 1:4; Ephesians 2:2; 1 Timothy 6:17; Titus 2:12; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 15:50; Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 5:5; 1 Thessalonians 2:2, 2 Thessalonians 1:5; 2 Timothy 4:18).

References
1The Overlap of Ages in The Kingdom by Nate Claiborne

What about Acts 2?

Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”’
Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified. ~Acts 2:29-36

According to Peter in Acts 2, Jesus is sitting on David’s throne.

Here is the main point Peter makes,

Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ

I do not know how to read this statement any other way than how it is plainly written. Peter is proclaiming that Jesus is, in fact, sitting on David’s throne by (and because of) His resurrection.

How do you understand this passage?

A Discussion of Literalism

We are told we are to take everything literally in Scripture. What is meant, by this kind of literalism, is a wooden literalism. But does that really fit how Scripture uses words and meaning?

Let’s take a look at some examples

Solomon

so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. ~1 Kings 3:12

Scripture tells us that Solomon was king like no other that preceded him or would ever follow him.

Note what is said of Hezekiah who would follow Solomon:

Hezekiah

After him was none like him among all the kings of Judah , nor any that were before him. ~2 Kings 18:5

And what of Josiah who follows many years later?

Josiah

like unto him was there no king before him, . . . neither after him arose there any like him. ~2 Kings 23:25

What do we make of Jesus’ words regarding himself?

Jesus

… she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. ~Matthew 12:42

Wait! Weren’t we told that no one greater than Solomon would ever come after him? Or Hezekiah? Or Josiah? This form of poetic language is used to prove the point of the greatness of the one to whom the author is referring. This is an all too common form of language and should be understood within the context it is being used.

…For under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what has been done against Jerusalem. ~Daniel 9:12

Really? Was what happened to Jerusalem the worst thing that has ever happened to any city under Heaven? What about Jericho? What about Sodom? For that matter, what about the entire world during the Noahic flood? Or what about what happened to the Egyptians at the hand of God?

There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again. ~Exodus 11:6

If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away… ~Matthew 5:29

Who believes this passage is saying what the words actually say, or do people understand it as hyperbole?

The king [Solomon] made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar as plentiful as sycamore-fig trees in the foothills. ~2 Chronicles 1:15

I’m sure silver and gold may not have been as common as rocks, but the point is that Solomon was very rich, and his kingdom luxurious.

Let’s look at a few other passages

So the Pharisees said to one another, ‘See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!’ ~John 12:19

Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. ~John 21:25

It will never be inhabited or lived in for all generations; no Arab will pitch his tent there; no shepherds will make their flocks lie down there. ~Isaiah 13:20

Yet we know that long since the Old Testament judgment upon Babylon, people have in fact lived there.

Ezekiel 26:14 says,

And I will make you a bare rock; you will be a place for the spreading of the nets. You will be built no more, for I the Lord have spoken.

Yet long afterwards, Jesus ministered there, as did the apostles (Matthew 15:21-28, Mark 3:8, Luke 6:17, Acts 21:3).

This is hyperbolic, poetic talk regarding powerful judgment. Such language is for dramatic effect, and is not meant to be taken in a wooden, literal sense.

So there is no need to compare all calamities throughout history with the tribulation in 70 A.D. to see what the “worst tribulation of all time” is. If we simply compare Scripture with Scripture, and if we understand that the Bible often uses hyperbole, then it becomes quite clear that Jesus was using hyperbole in Matthew 24:21. The language used there is virtually identical to the language used in Ezekiel 5:9, Daniel 9:12, 2 Kings 18:5, 2 Kings 23:25, etc. So the intention of Matthew 24:21 is not to compare the Great Tribulation with every other calamity of all time. Jesus was simply saying that it was going to be really, really bad.1

What did the Old testament say about the Babylonian exile?

And because of all your abominations I will do with you what I have never yet done, and the like of which I will never do again. ~Ezekiel 5:9

This is obviously quite similar to the words Jesus uses to describe something about to happen to the same people…the Jews. Also regarding the Babylonian exile…

For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. ~Matthew 24:21

A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.’ ~Isaiah 40:3

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’ ~Matthew 3:1-3

If Matthew had not interpreted Isaiah 40:3 for us, we would still be looking for someone to make a straight highway in the desert for the Lord.

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. ~Zechariah 9:9

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, ‘Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.’ 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

5 ‘Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden. 6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. 8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.’ ~Matthew 21:1-11

Zechariah 9:9 was fulfilled when Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem. Since Jesus was not a physical King as the Jews expected, they rejected Him as king.

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. ~Malachi 4:5

He answered, ‘Elijah does come, and he will restore all things. 12 But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands.’ 13 Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist. ~Matthew 17:11-13

Jesus himself stated in Matthew 17:11-13 that John the Baptist was Elijah. If Malachi 4:5 had not been interpreted for us by the Lord, we would still be looking for Elijah to come.

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. 29 Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.

30 And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls. ~Joel 2:28-32

But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
17 And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. 21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. ~Acts 2:16-21

Peter claims that Joel’s prophecy, Joel 2:28-32, was fulfilled at Pentecost (Acts 2:16-21). There are some that try to claim that only part of this prophecy was fulfilled at Pentecost and the rest will be fulfilled later. If this were true we would have to admit that they were given more insight to the scriptures than Peter, for he did not say that this is part of Joel’s prophecy and the rest will follow, but “this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.”

I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. 10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. 11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. ~Psalm 16:8-11

When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. ~2 Samuel 7:12

Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. ~Acts 2:30-31

Peter continues with the Old Testament prediction that Jesus as king would someday sit on David’s throne (Psalms 16:8-11; 2 Samuel 7: 12) and declared it fulfilled by the resurrection of Christ.

Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? ~Genesis 18:18

And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed.’ ~Galatians 3:8

Paul claims that the promise made to Abraham and his seed that through him all nations would be blessed, Genesis 18:18, has been fulfilled in the saving of gentiles, Galatians 3:8. The promise was not to be fulfilled through Abraham’s fleshly descendants, but his spiritual seed. Also in this same chapter of Galatians Paul explained that the promises that God made to Abraham was not to his physical descendants as of many but one which was Christ. This means that the land and blessings that God promised to Abraham’s fleshly descendants was to be through faith in the coming Messiah. This is why Joshua said in Joshua 23:15 “Therefore it shall come to pass, that as all good things are come upon you, which the LORD your God promised you; so shall the LORD bring upon you all evil things, until he has destroyed you from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you. 16 When ye have transgressed the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed yourselves to them; then shall the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and ye shall perish quickly from off the good land which he hath given unto you.” The Jews cannot anymore have the promises made to Abraham and his descendants without Christ, than we can have salvation and the blessings promised to God’s people without Christ2.

Ezekiel 40-48 —> Hebrews

When the New Testament book of Hebrews teaches that the Old Testament system of sacrifices is forever replaced by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, then Ezekiel chapters 40-48 should be interpreted as being fulfilled instead of looking for a future fulfillment. These are only a few of the many scriptures where the New Testament writers interpreted the Old Testament prophecies in a non-physical way.

References
1Hyperbole in the Bible
2Why I Believe Eschatology the Way I Do by Orval Heath