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Dispensationalism vs. Old Testament Types

May 16, 2007

When John was cast into prison, Jesus began to preach the Kingdom in Galilee (Mark 1:14). While John was still ministering, Jesus restrained Himself, for we find that at the marriage feast of Cana, He said, "My hour has not yet come" (John 2:4).

The Kingdom that Jesus preached was quite different from the Kingdom that the people were expecting. He said that it came without observation and that it was located "within you" (Luke 17:20, 21). He also told Pilate in John 18:36 that His Kingdom was "not of this world" (cosmos), otherwise His servants would be fighting for it.

That is a particularly significant statement, because, whatever He meant, we can see that He did not approve the use of violence and military fighting to establish His Kingdom. That was a radical departure from current thinking in that day. It also runs contrary to the modern Zionist method of establishing their "kingdom," which the Dispensationalists support.

Dispensationalism teaches that Jesus presented them with the idea of the Kingdom, but that the people rejected it by rejecting Him. (So far so good.) They further teach, then, that the Kingdom was postponed to a future time, and that meanwhile God established an interim, temporary plan that would include "the gentiles." This is based upon the idea that the Kingdom is really a Jewish Kingdom, and that what we have had during the past 2,000 years is NOT the Kingdom at all.

In other words, if it is not an exclusively Jewish Kingdom, then it is no Kingdom at all.

The first problem with this view is that Jesus NEVER presented the people with a Jewish Kingdom. How could they reject a Kingdom that was never offered to them? In fact, He presented them with a Kingdom that was totally unacceptable to them. That was why they rejected it. The Dispensationalists try to tell us that in the latter days Jesus will change His mind and give them the type of Kingdom that the Jews have always wanted, rather than requiring the Jews to change their view.

Thus, the Dispensationalists believe in the same type of Kingdom that was to be found in rabbinic Judaism--a narrow, exclusive Kingdom ruled by Jews, in which all others become their servants or slaves.

Because Dispensationalism relegates the Old Testament to the Jews and casts aside the law, the view does not understand the Scriptures and particularly the Old Testament types and shadows that would make the New Testament clear.

First, they seem to reject totally the statement by the Apostle Paul in Galatians 4 that the old Jerusalem is Hagar and that the adherents of Judaism are "Ishmaelites" who persecute the (Christian) children of Sarah. Paul says that the story of Hagar and Sarah, along with their children, is an "allegory" (Gal. 4:24), designed to teach us New Testament truth. But it is a truth unknown to Dispensationalists, who think that in the end the children of Hagar will inherit the Kingdom and that the children of Sarah will be disinherited.

Second, they do not understand the type and shadow of King Saul. Saul was crowned on the day of "wheat harvest" (1 Sam. 12:17), which is Pentecost. This makes him a type of the Church under Pentecost during the Pentecostal Age. The Dispensationalists would call this the "Age of Grace."

Saul was a legitimate king in an established Kingdom, and he was anointed by Samuel at the direction of God Himself. But if Saul represents the Church during this "interim" period, how can it be said that the Kingdom was postponed to the future? Scofield tries to make us believe that the Kingdom stopped being preached after Jesus' offer was rejected. But we read in the book of Acts:

1. Jesus Himself taught the Kingdom to the disciples after His resurrection (Acts 1:3).

2. Philip taught the Kingdom of God in Samaria (Acts 8:12).

3. Paul preached the Kingdom of God in Ephesus (Acts 19:8).

4. Paul continued preaching the Kingdom of God in Rome (Acts 28:31).

How, then, was the Kingdom of God postponed, when it is plain to see that the Kingdom of God continued to be preached long after the cross?

The story of King Saul is not an allegory about a Jewish Kingdom, but about a Pentecostal Kingdom. That is why Saul was crowned on the feast of Pentecost. It was not a perfect Kingdom, by any means, but it was certainly a real Kingdom.

We must also view Saul in association with King David, because there are certainly two phases of the Kingdom--a progression of the Kingdom, if you will. Dispensationalists recognize David as a type of the Kingdom, but fail to recognize Saul. And in not taking Saul into account, they fail to understand the Davidic phase of the Kingdom.

Saul reigned 40 years and died when David was 30 years old (2 Sam. 5:4). That means David was not yet even born when Saul began to reign. Thus, this type and shadow has no place for a "postponement" of the Kingdom. It is NOT the case that David offered Israel a Kingdom, which was rejected--and therefore, God postponed David's rule and chose Saul for 40 years in the interim.

The type and shadow does not fit at all with either Dispensationalism in general or the "Gap Theory" in particular.

Saul serves as the primary type of the Church during the past 2,000 years. By way of contrast, if we want to see the type and shadow of this "Age of Grace" as it pertains to the Jews, we must go to the story of David and Absalom.

As I have shown in many other writings, including chapter 6 of The Struggle for the Birthright, the story of Absalom usurping the throne of David with the help of Ahithophel was the primary type and shadow of the New Testament conflict over the throne. Jesus played the role of David, the chief priests played the role of Absalom, and Judas played the role of Ahithophel.

In this story, Absalom rejected David as King and overthrew him for a time (2 Sam. 15). David left Jerusalem and made a sacrifice on the "top" (rosh = "head, skull") of the Mount of Olives (2 Sam. 15:32), establishing the type of Christ's crucifixion on that same spot many years later.

Likewise, Ahithophel later hanged himself (2 Sam. 17:23), even as Judas also hanged himself many years later (Matt. 27:5). When David wrote about Ahithophel in Psalm 69:25 and 109:8, these same psalms were quoted in Acts 1:20 and shown to be prophetic of Judas.

Absalom usurped the throne, but David took the Kingdom with him. The Kingdom of God was "within" him. The Kingdom is resident in the rightful heir to the throne, not to the usurpers. David later returned to take back his throne, and Absalom was killed (2 Sam. 18:15).

If Dispensationalist teaching were correct, then the story of Absalom would have had a very different outcome. Absalom would have repented and "accepted" David as king, and David would have returned to Jerusalem, making Absalom the chief executor of the throne! Ahithophel would not have committed suicide, but would have been given a special place of honor for helping Absalom! No doubt the Dispensationalists wish that would happen, for they have played the role of Ahithophel and Judas in the past century in the struggle for the Birthright.

The bottom line is that the Old Testament types and shadows do not support the foundational teachings of Dispensationalism. If they had known the Scriptures, they would not have made such colossal blunders. This illustrates for us the importance of knowing and understanding the Old Testament and not relegating it to the dustbin of history in a past "Age of Law."

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Category: Commentary

Dr. Stephen Jones

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