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Did the Prophets Write of the Church?

Updated on March 18, 2014
Prophets,  Artist: Fra Angelico. Completion Date: 1447. Chapel of San Brizio, Duomo, Orvieto. Style: Early Renaissance. Technique: fresco. Material: wall
Prophets, Artist: Fra Angelico. Completion Date: 1447. Chapel of San Brizio, Duomo, Orvieto. Style: Early Renaissance. Technique: fresco. Material: wall

The Prophets Speak of the Church

The Prophets Speak of the Church”

"Surely the LORD God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secrets unto his servants the prophets" (Amos the Prophet, Amos 3:7)

In continuing my correspondence on the subject of Kingdom Theology it is needful to establish firmly in your hearts and minds just what the Kingdom is.

Dispensationalism sees the Church as only a parenthesis in God’s program of redemption; therefore, does not accept the Church as the prophesied Messianic Kingdom of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). According to these teachers of fables, God will establish His Kingdom upon the earth only with the physical nation of Israel—after the Church has been removed from the equation. In this view, God’s primary program is exclusively with physical Israel. According to them the Church is nowhere seen in the promises of the Hebrew Scripture (the Old Testament), nor in the book of Revelation after chapter four, verse one. In this view the Bride of Christ is but an afterthought of God; an, “Oh, by the way...” event. Something for God to do while the Jews come to their collective senses: repent and return to Him. At that time, according to Dispensationalism, God will dispatch of the Church (i.e. the rapture) and turn again to be Israel’s loving husband. At that time, resuming the kingdom program that He suspended when He divorced her, at the time she had murdered Him. (Never mind that the law of God forbids a husband to take back a wife once divorced – Deuteronomy 24:1-4.)

It seems to me that such a doctrine borders on blasphemy. It relegates the Bride of Christ to second class, plan B, status. Because Dispensationalism sees all Israel as temporarily rejected and cast away, it sees the Church as the afterbirth of the Holy Spirit’s miscarried pregnancy with Israel. Of course the disciple of Christ must feel the affront this teaching presents to the Church. God is omniscient, knowing the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:9-10), there is no plan B with Him!

These teachers make two assumptions that are both false: assumption number one is that the church is never spoken of in the Old Testament; assumption number two is that all kingdom promises of the Hebrew Scriptures can only be fulfilled in, and by, the physical nation of Israel. These assumptions constitute the Wall of Defense that encloses Dispensationalism’s teachings of: pre-tribulation rapture; seven year tribulation; first and second resurrection – former for the saints, latter for the wicked; and a literal thousand year reign of Christ upon the earth. It is to this wall that I intend to marshal the machinery of war and set the battering rams to work.

Chart by Clarence Larkin (1850–1924) showing how the OT prophets did not see the Church hidden in the valley between the two comings of Christ.
Chart by Clarence Larkin (1850–1924) showing how the OT prophets did not see the Church hidden in the valley between the two comings of Christ.

The Walls of Dispensationalism are Assailed

First, that the Seers of the Hebrew Scriptures did not see the Lord’s Church is a thought unthinkable. For the prophet Amos tells us that the Lord will do nothing unless He reveals it first to His prophets (Amos 3:7). Now, since the Church has maintained a presence in the earth for 2000 years, one of two things is true, if Dispensationalism is valid. Namely:

  1. Amos was wrong and is therefore disqualified as a true prophet; in which case the veracity of the entire Bible is brought into question. Or,
  2. Amos is a true prophet and the Church is not a work of God in the earth – in which case it is a work of the devil.

But, since all concerned do, in truth, accept Amos as a true prophet, consequently the wall enclosing Dispensationalism begins to shake.

If the Church is the work of God in the earth, the prophets must have seen it and written concerning it. So, we turn our attention to the ancient Seers. What did they see?!

No less than four of the premier prophets stand forth and man the engines that slam against the defenses of Fable town. Each of the four addresses both components of the wall: namely, 1) that the Church is never spoken of in the Old Testament, and 2) that all Kingdom promises of the Old Testament can only be fulfilled in, and by, the physical nation of Israel.

(Both of the above assumptions are founded upon a misconceived premise, i.e. that all of Israel rejected Christ and was, therefore, rejected by Him; that, consequently, the Church was established with the Gentiles; in which case the Kingdom promises made to Israel are yet to be fulfilled. This is not true. A sharp distinction must be made between the Israel of Promise [Romans 9:6-8; Galatians 4:22-31] – also called the elect [Romans 11:2-5, 7], and the Israel of Unbelief [Romans 11:7-10, 23]. The Church was, indeed, established with the Israel of Promise [the elect] as the passages above show; therefore, the Kingdom promises of the Old Testament are either fulfilled, or being fulfilled in the Church – the true Israel of God [Galatians 6:16].)

  • Prophet One: Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 31:31-34 the prophet foretold of a “New Covenant” that the LORD would make with the “House of Israel” and with the House of Judah”. According to the author of the New Testament book of Hebrews this prophecy was fulfilled by Christ’s work on the cross of Calvary (Hebrews 8:6-12 compare to Matthew 26:28) and realized in the Church; which is the “House of Israel” and the “House of Judah”. That is to say: the covenant of Calvary was, indeed, made with Israel. Thus, the Israel of Promise was not rejected – only the Israel of Unbelief. The Church, therefore, is the covenanted Israel; the Gentiles have access only through a grafting process (Romans 11), or one could say: “adoption” (see Romans 8:15, 23; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5).
  • Prophet Two: Joel. In Joel 2:28-32 the prophet tells of a time when Israel would be restored in a Messianic Age. According to Joel this would happen after the time of judgment. In this time of restoration the Spirit of God would be poured out upon “all flesh,” namely the Jews and Gentiles alike (see verses 28 and 32). According to the Apostle Peter this prophecy began to be fulfilled on the day of Pentecost AD 30. It was established with the Israel of Promise, called by Joel “the remnant.” Compare this to Romans 11:1-5 where Paul writes; “I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” Thus, the birthday of the Church was in fact the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. According to the prophet Joel and the apostle Peter the restoration of Israel, and the establishing of the Messianic Kingdom, began on the day of Pentecost AD 30 as recorded in Acts 2.
  • Prophet Three: Amos. In Amos 9:11-1 the prophet foretold of a golden Messianic Age when the “tabernacle of David” would be rebuilt. At such a time the Gentiles would come to know the LORD. James, the half brother of our Lord, recognized the Church as the fulfillment of this prophecy (see Acts 15:14-17). According to the Prophet Amos and the Apostle James (the brother of Christ) the Church is, in point of fact, the “tabernacle of David”, i.e. the Messianic Kingdom. Prophet 4: Malachi. In Malachi 1:11-12 the prophet foretells of a time in the Messianic Kingdom when “in every place incense shall be offered” in the name of the LORD, “and a pure offering” would be offered. In verse 12 Malachi calls this pure offering the “table of the LORD”. According to the Apostle Paul this Messianic Promise is fulfilled each time members of the Lord’s Church observe the Lord’s Supper (see 1 Corinthians 10:16-21). For a deeper look (beyond the veil) of Malachi’s prophecy and how it relates to the Christian Eucharist compare Romans 15:16 to 1 Corinthians 10:17-18 (see foot note #25). According to the Prophet Malachi and the Apostle Paul the church is the Messianic Kingdom establishing the name of the LORD among the heathen (Gentiles) by offering a “pure offering” (namely, Jesus Christ) “in every place” (throughout the earth).


Breaching of Jerusalem's Middle Wall By Titus, AD 70.
Breaching of Jerusalem's Middle Wall By Titus, AD 70.

The Walls of Dispensationalism Fall

Having unleashed the force of the prophets and apostles against the walls of Dispensationalism it is evident, to even the casual student, that said walls have been breached. Future articles will proceed through the breach and clear the ground ahead, for the truth of Apostolic Kingdom Theology.

Apostolically Speaking

☩ J L Hayes


Own this book by Bishop Jerry Hayes

Letters to my Children on Apostolic Kingdom Theology: An Apostolic Answer to Dispensationalism Concerning the Mission of the Lord's Church and End-Time Events
Letters to my Children on Apostolic Kingdom Theology: An Apostolic Answer to Dispensationalism Concerning the Mission of the Lord's Church and End-Time Events

After spending over forty years in the dispensational doctrine, and having raise my children in that theological framework, I became a convinced adherent to a "kingdom" theology that recognizes the Church as the Israel of God, and that the first century actually saw the fulfillment of most of Matthew chapter 24. "Letters to My Children on Apostolic Kingdom Theology" is a compilation of twenty four letters written to my children explaining my journey, and showing how we were led astray from the apostolic teaching of Scripture to embrace a view recently come into the Lord's church, of which the apostles knew nothing. These "Letters" provide a systematic approach to Apostolic Eschatological study of Scripture. It is sure to interest all students of Scriptures. ☩ Jerry Hayes

 

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      Jerry Lynn Hayes Sr 3 years ago from Texas City, Texas

      It seems to me that such a doctrine borders on blasphemy. It relegates the Bride of Christ to second class, plan B, status. Because Dispensationalism sees all Israel as temporarily rejected and cast away, it sees the Church as the afterbirth of the Holy Spirit’s miscarried pregnancy with Israel. Of course the disciple of Christ must feel the affront this teaching presents to the Church. God is omniscient, knowing the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:9-10), there is no plan B with Him!

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      Charles 2 years ago

      Discerning who is a true prophet ruiqeres endless humility and the willingness to let go of, or at least deeply question, all the comforting conventions of our time. The gift of the true prophet is the experience of uncertainty it calls us deeper into life, generates awe at Life's unspeakable beauty, and calls forth sometimes unsuspected capacities for love.

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