Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Abrahamic Covenant, by Dr. George B. Fletcher, Ch. 2

Chapter II
     In the study of the Old Testament there are certain sound principles of exegesis that should guide us in the search for Truth.
The First Principle
     It is sound exegesis to harmonize the Old Testament with the higher light of the New Testament, .and not vice versa. Whatever Christ taught by His Holy Spirit through the apostles is final, authoritative, and infallible. Therefore, we cannot go first hand to the prophecies in order to explain the New Testament by them. We must enter the prophecies with the New Testament key, by which they are opened to us either by express quotations, the history of facts, or by doctrine. Consequently, the prophecies in general will not admit of a strict and natural interpreta­tion, when applying them to the affairs of the New Testa­ment. This would lead us into the very error of the Jews and Judaizing professors, who minded earthly things, and affected a worldly kingdom. "Because they knew Him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, they have fulfilled them in condemning Him" (Acts 13:27). Hence, the necessity of attending dili­gently and adhering strictly to the apostle's explication of the prophecies, as well as types of the Old Testament. As the apostles were the able ministers of the New Testa­ment (2 Cor. 3:6.). So they had the infallible inspiration of the Spirit of Truth, whereby they sufficiently qualified to explain and apply the prophetic word according to its true intent and meaning.
The Second Principle
     We are taught in 1 Cor. 15:46: 'Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual." Everything under the legal economy framed and established by means of the faithful ministry of Moses, was f or a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after," namely, under the gospel (Heb.3:5.). Moreover, the law had a shadow of good things to come .(Heb. 10·:l), but the body is of Christ ( Col. 2:: 17). Thus, many things were typical: Abraham' s seed, the nation of Israel, the land, circumcision, the Old Covenant, the Tabernacle, the Priesthood, the Sacrifi­ces, the Sabbath, etc.
The Third Principle
     Divine Revelation is progressive, ''But the path of the just is as a shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Prov. 4:18). There is no going back, but always a going forward to something more glorious. There will never be a restoration of the "divers washings", "carnal ordinances", "beggarly elements", and ''worldly sanctuary" with its sacrifices and Levitical priesthood, and the "middle wall of partition" between Jew and Gentile (Heb. 9,:1, 10; Gal. 4:9; Eph. 2:14). "Such carnal, worldly, Mosaic distinctions have gone and gone forever,· It· seems to us that those who assert otherwise preach a revived Talmudic Judaism and ancient Rabbinism, and not the message of the New Testament."
The Fourth Principle
     The Old Covenant, which was the sole and only basis of the national relationship of Israel to God was a temporary arrangement, and has vanished away, never to be restored. "In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away" (Heb. 8:13). Thus was dissolved the national relationship to God of the nation Israel after the flesh. The O1d Covenant was made with a nation after the flesh, with the promise of material blessings in the land of Canaan, and therefore, could not be eternal. Under the New Covenant, which is spiritual and therefore eternal, national distinctions were wiped out, and the flesh is set aside forever. Christianity transcends, supersedes, and fulfills Judaism. The scaffold of the Mosaic economy of things has been torn down, having served its purpose (Gal. 3·:19; Heb. 9:6-10); and now "the building (the Church) fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for the habitation of God through the Spirit" (Eph. 2-:21, 22). "Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout ALL AGES, world without end. Amen" (Eph. 3:21). Apart from the Gospel of Christ it is evident there is nothing special in the future for the Jews in national covenant relationship with God. The last commissions or Christ to His disciples offers salvation to the Jew as an individual on the same terms that it does to the Gentile. There is no future special bargain offer to either one in national capacity (Matt. 28:19, 20; Lu. 24: 47, 48). "But the scripture hath concluded all (both Jew and Gentile) under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe" -- whether Jew or Gentile (Gal. 3:22). This does not mean that there will never be a day when great numbers of Jews will be saved. It does mean that whenever God saves, Jew or Gentile, it will be individually by the gospel before Christ comes the second time, and they will be added to the Church.
The Fifth Principle
     The great object and end of the prophetic dispensa­tion, as declared in l Pet. 1: 10, 11, was to ''testify beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow." Christ directs the Jews to search the scriptures, and says, "they are they which testify of me" (John 5:39). His disciples were greatly disconcerted by His death: but after His resurrection He blames them for their slowness of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken; and asks, "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses, and all the prophets, he expounded unto them·in all the scriptures, the things concerning himself" (Lu. 24: 26, 27). And He tells them, "These are the words which I spake unto you, whi1e I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which are written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms concerning me" (Lu. 2·4:44). The apostle Peter, having adduced the testi­mony of Moses, adds "Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel, and those that follow after as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days (Acts 3:22-25). And in general, he says, "To him give all the prophets witness" (Acts 10 :43). Paul declares that in preaching the gospel, or "witnessing both to small and great," he was "saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come; that Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people and to the Gentiles" (Acts 26 :22, 23). From these passages it is evident, that the great scope and ultimate design of prophecy in general, was to bear testimony to Christ, and the affairs of His kingdom (Heb. 10:7; Ps. 40:7), which is nowhere in the New Testament spoken of as an earthly, Israelitish, or political one (John 18:36). And this is what the angel means when he says to John, "The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy" (Rev. 19:10), which imports, that the testimony concerning Jesus is the real scope and that it has its ultimate accomplishment in Him, and in the affairs of His government.

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