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Is ‘Oops’ in God’s Vocabulary?

14 Oct
oops

from Google Images

I have been involved in an eschatological study of Jesus’ Parable of the Wicked Tenants (Matthew 21:33-46). In it Jesus tells a story of wicked vinedressers who kill the servants of the lord of the vine, finally slaying his son in an effort to steal the vine for themselves. The parable depicts the Jewish authorities as the wicked tenants or vinedressers, and Jesus as the son of the lord of the vine, and the lord is God and the vine is his Kingdom (Israel). Jesus’ point was the Kingdom would be taken from those wicked tenants (the Jewish authorities listening to Jesus) and given to a nation that would produce the fruits (Matthew 21:43), which clearly depicts a 70 AD fulfillment.

Perhaps a foundational doctrine of dispensationalism is that the establishment of the Kingdom of God was postponed due to Jewish unbelief. In other words, it could not have been fulfilled in 70 AD with the destruction of the Temple, because a literal, physical fulfillment is necessary. Notice what two scholarly proponents of this idea say:

“The times of the Gentiles” will be terminated upon the personal return of Christ at Armageddon, at which point He will set up the millennial kingdom centered in Jerusalem. That kingdom is now officially postponed by Christ because of Jewish unbelief.[1]

…and the second scholar:

I believe the Scriptures teach that Israel could have obtained her much sought after Messianic kingdom by recognizing Jesus as the Messiah. We all know the sad reality—the Jews rejected Jesus. As a result the kingdom is no longer near but postponed, awaiting Jewish belief, which will occur at the end of the Tribulation.[2]

So, did God really withdraw his offer of the Messianic Kingdom, and was the prophetic countdown suspended due to Jewish unbelief in the first century AD? Was God caught off guard by the rejection of the Jews and found it impossible to do as he had planned to do? Dispensationalism tells us that the church of God wasn’t predicted in the Old Testament. In other words, it is a complete surprise in the New Testament.[3] It is a “parenthesis” in history between Israel’s rejection of the Kingdom of God to that time when God again begins to deal with the world through the nation of Israel.[4] Is “oops!” in God’s vocabulary?

The problem with the postponement theory is that the Messianic rejection and the destruction of the Temple was predicted by Daniel (Daniel 9:26-27). The scheme of the wicked tenants was known and predicted centuries before Christ. So, if it was known, why isn’t there any clear indication that the Kingdom of God would be delayed? Why did Jesus predict he would come in the glory of his Father with his angels and judge every man according to his works in the expected lifetime of the people who listened to him (Matthew 16:27-28), if the Kingdom of God was to be delayed for cir. 2000 years (and counting)?

Moreover, Jesus cited Psalm 118:22-23 when he addressed the Jewish authorities in Matthew 21:42. Although the builders did, indeed, reject Jesus as the Messiah, the scripture says it was the Lord’s doing! How could it be argued that the rejection of the Kingdom wasn’t known in the Old Testament, when both Daniel 9 and Psalm 118 predict that rejection? If the rejection of the Kingdom was known, how could Jesus come preaching the time was fulfilled and the Kingdom of God was at hand (Mark 1:14-15)? If the Kingdom of God was postponed, why would Jesus tell those listening to him that some of them would not die until they saw the Kingdom of God come in power (Mark 9:1; Luke 9:27)? Moreover, why would Jesus send out his disciples to preach the Kingdom of God, and, if it was rejected, tell those men that the Kingdom had come near to them (Luke 10:9-10). The postponement theory simply doesn’t make sense.

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[1] John Phillips, Exploring the Gospel of Matthew; “The Mysteries of the Kingdom (13:1-52); page 241.

[2] Thomas Ice, The Great Tribulation—Past Or Future?: Two Evangelicals Debate the Question; page 115.

[3] See: The Church not the Subject of Old Testament Prophecy, and Let Us Reason Ministries.

[4] See: Dispensationalism and What Is Dispensationalism.

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2018 in 70 AD Eschatology

 

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