Our High Priest


(Revised 09-05-14, 3:03 am)

Editor: This article continues our examination of the flawed exegesis of Dispensational theology. (See also: Who is Israel?, Dispense the Truth and Is Satan Bound?)

Finding an evangelical seminary that is true to the historical interpretation of Scripture has been a daunting task — as hard, even, as trying to find a church that is faithful to the Word of God, and not to a Doctrinal Statement composed by an institutional hierarchy of deacons, or elders.

A noteworthy seminary in Southern California lists the following item in their Program Goals:

Upon successful completion of the Master of Arts in Biblical Studies Program students will be able to: Articulate dispensational theology and biblically defend their doctrinal position.

In their Doctrinal Position the seminary declares:

We believe that the Scriptures interpreted in their natural, literal sense reveal divinely determined dispensations or rules of life which define man’s responsibilities in successive administrations of God. These dispensations are divinely ordered stewardships by which God directs man according to His purpose. Three of these — the dispensation of law, the dispensation of the grace of God, and the dispensation of the kingdom — are the subjects of detailed revelation in Scripture.

The outline seems reasonable, but the finer points reveal a flawed doctrine that is somewhat responsible for division and denominationalism within the body of Christ.

In the 19th century, Dispensationalism was considered liberalism by the ecclesia. There are variations of the doctrine, but it essentially posited these climatic events: end of the age, rapture of the church, Great Tribulation, Millennial reign, and a rebuilt temple featuring the resumption of animal sacrifices. In fact, preparations are being made today, in Israel, to restore the Levitical priesthood.

If you examine dispensational theology with a discerning spirit it will become evident that the doctrine is supported by a liberal dose of eisegesis in that it imposes, or reads into, a literal interpretation of Scripture that is symbolic, metaphoric or allegoric.

Case in point: Why are animal sacrifices offered in the Millennial kingdom? Dispensational theologian John Walvoord answers:

The millennial sacrifices are no more expiatory than were the Mosaic sacrifices which preceded the cross. If it has been fitting for the church in the present age to have a memorial of the death of Christ in the Lord’s Supper, it is suggested that it would be suitable also to have a memorial of possibly a different character in the millennium in keeping with the Jewish characteristic of the period. [1]

Note, in keeping with the Jewish characteristic of the period, Walvoord reveals the dispensational scenario that once the church is removed from the world, Israel will again take center stage.

With regards to a memorial sacrament, the Eucharist was instituted by our Lord at the Last Supper:

And He took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me (Luke 22:19).

Walvoord liberally infers that because Communion is a memorial service during the dispensation of the church then it can be suggested that animal sacrifices might be a type of suitable remembrance in the Millennial kingdom.

Except there is absolutely no Scriptural validation for his assertion. To suggest that animal sacrifices will resume in a Millennial age is an offense to the sufferings of Christ.

If you examine the jots and tittles of dispensational thought you’ll discover multiple second comings, a couple of resurrections (separated by the Millennium), and two new covenants.

The well-known pastor of a mega-church in San Antonio preaches the hyper-dispensational slant that God has two plans of salvation — one for the church and another for Israel. After the church is raptured, God will fulfill all of His promises to the land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The Texas preacher makes it sound as if Israel is the center of God’s plan of salvation, and the church of Jesus Christ is nothing but a footnote.

What does it mean, then, when our Lord said that He fulfilled the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17)?

Let’s review the historical teaching of the church. YHWH revealed Himself to Israel. They were disobedient, cast into exile, rejected the Messiah — and the LORD, in His judgement against the nation in AD 70, brought an end to the Jewish age (and the covenant of Moses).

Intellectuals — including some who are seminary taught — might say our summary is ignorant, or too simplistic. But we know that the covenant of Christ made obsolete the covenant of Moses  (Hebrews 8:13).

HaMashiach Yeshua fulfilled the New Covenant spoken of by Jeremiah the prophet:

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”  (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

A popular Bible teacher — who graduated from a dispensational seminary — stated on his radio program that the new covenant spoken of in Jeremiah is separate and distinct from the New Covenant of Jesus Christ. [2]

When I partake of Communion I always associate the covenant in Jeremiah with the proclamation of our Lord at the Last Supper:

And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood (Luke 22:20).

The covenant declared by YHWH in the prophesy of Jeremiah is the same covenant established by Christ our Lord, yet the radio pastor said that the former would be enacted with Israel during the Millennial age, while the latter was contracted with believers at the dispensation of the church age.

A study of the Book of Hebrews will yield a wealth of spiritual insight with regards to the priestly fulfillment of Jesus Christ. Particularly relevant to this discourse would be chapter 8 wherein the writer (we surmise the Apostle Paul) details how the Lord, having taken His seat at the right hand of God, has become our High Priest — and having obtained a more excellent ministry has become the mediator of a better covenant (Hebrews 8:1, 8:6).

More pointedly, the writer of Hebrews quotes the passage in Jeremiah to substantiate that Jesus Christ is the new covenant so prophesied in the ancient text. Yeshua, having appeared as our High Priest, entered the heavenly tabernacle — not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12).

The sacrificial system, in practice, ended when YHWH brought judgement upon Israel in AD 70 — leaving the temple desolate for 2000 years. And so it will remain until the last day when the dead are resurrected either to life, or judgement (John 5:28-29).

A question that needs to be asked (and is deserving of its own essay): Where do we read in Scripture the validation, or assertion of a Millennial temple? The dispensational interpretation is that Ezekiel’s temple (detailed in chapters 40-47) is the Third Temple. The LORD, however, instructed Ezekiel to reveal the plans of the temple to bring shame to the children of Israel for their iniquities (Ezekiel 43:10).

Like dangling a carrot — this is what you could have if it weren’t for your disobedience.

We cannot dismiss that Ezekiel’s prophesy was revealed before the construction of the second temple (which never approached the grand design of the prophet’s vision) — the dimensions of his temple being of a heavenly scale, thus suggesting it was but a spiritual type existing only in the New Jerusalem after this present world has passed away.

What the Bible does teach is that Jesus Christ is our High Priest, and chief cornerstone of God’s holy tabernacle consisting of a body of believers (both Jew and Greek) who are the temple of the Holy Spirit — a temple that exceeds the grandeur of Ezekiel’s vision.

A temple that is not millennial, but eternal — and a clear example of how our High Priest fulfilled the Law and Prophets.

Notes:

1. John Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom (1983), p. 311-312

2. Walvoord was a contemporary of this popular radio preacher. They both graduated from the Dallas Theological Seminary where Walvoord served as president, and the preacher was a guest lecturer.

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4 thoughts on “Our High Priest

  1. FTA: The well-known pastor of a mega-church in San Antonio preaches the hyper-dispensational slant that God has two plans of salvation — one for the church and another for Israel. After the church is raptured, God will fulfill all of His promises to the land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
    ~~
    That would be Pastior hagee and he has since renounced it. However, he is a false teacher and should not be endorsed but avoided. I’m still waiting for him to eat his bible from cover to cover as he promised to do if the rapture did not happen by the end of 2007!

    Now, just who began this dispensational teaching???

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  2. Hi Sherry,

    Dispensationalists teach that their system of theology was taught by the apostles, but I’v never seen them quote the verses that support their claim.

    I read an article from the 1700’s that presented the idea of dispensational ages — Adam and Eve, Noah, Moses, Abraham, David and Messiah; but the Dispensational system that is taught by Pastor Hagee and others was introduced by John Nelson Darby (Plymouth Brethren) in the mid-1800’s.

    It was codified as church doctrine by Cyrus I. Scofield upon the publication of the Scofield Bible in 1909. His Bible became the reference Bible for the Dallas Theological Seminary (1924).

    DTS graduated many popular Bible teachers: David Jeremiah, Hal Lindsey, Charles Swindoll, J. Vernon McGee, Charles Ryrie, Tony Evans and John Walvoord.

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  3. Thank you. Had you mentioned Margaret MacDonald I would proceed no further in studying your take on dispensation theology since that is an old debunked meme of the anti-dispensation’s view.

    God bless you in all that you do for His kingdom, by His power and for His glory, amen!~

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