Monday, October 1, 2007
'Because the Time is Near' by John MacArthur. Part 5.
We have been forced to be fairly negative about this book by Dr. MacArthur. We do not like to do so, but feel that in all fairness we must. Yet there are good elements to it. We have already noted his recognition of the symbolic in places and his acceptance that the seven Churches are just that, seven first-century Churches. We are also very glad that he has avoided the well-known pitfall of interpreting Revelation by the newspaper. Gone are attempts to find Russia in the text, locusts turned into helicopters, and microchips implanted in the forehead. He does, however, cling to the tradition of a future rebuilt temple where faithful Jews will worship God. In other words, he expects a return to the types and shadows of the ceremonial law. We do not. The blood of Christ has been shed, and all the sacrifices of the Old Testament done away with. When Our Lord cried out 'It is Finished!' the Temple economy was ended for ever. There will never be another High Priest after the order of Aaron.
We know that Dispensationalists like to point to the description of the Man of Sin in 2 Thessalonisns 2.4, sitting in 'the Temple of God' as a proof text that the temple will be rebuilt. However Paul uses the word 'Temple' to describe the Church elsewhere in his writings, not the Jerusalem temple. Thus the Man of Sin is seen sitting in the Church of God, usurping God's position.
We should be more sympathetic if the Dispensationalists said that this temple was built by unbelieving Jews. After all, those who do not believe that Jesus Christ made an end to the sacrifices of the old dispensation by His death (see the book of Hebrews), are at the moment in an awful position, with no temple, no sacrifice, and therefore no remission of sins (for without the shedding of blood there is no remission). But for the sacrifices of bulls and of rams to be restored by those whose sins have been forgiven by the once-for-all sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus is preposterous.
We would note that most of the references to the Temple in Revelation are to the heavenly temple (Rev. 3.12, 11.19, 14.15, 15.5, 15.8, 16.1), and the refrence in 11.1 is ambiguous. Is it the heavenly Temple? Or is it a Temple that was still standing in Jerusalerm, as the Preterist writers say? It is hard to tell. Certainly Dr. MacArthur's description of the Tribulation Temple on P. 180 has little connection to the text. Once again, it seems to us that Dr. MacArthur is operating on the basis of an unbiblical tradition here, not on the basis of the Word of God. We have read the Bible through several times and cannot find in it any sign that the types and shadows of the ceremonial law will ever be revived.
As for the idea that the Temple of Ezekiel's vision will ever stasnd upon the earth, the deimensions of this structure are so enormous that it would occupy far more of the land of Israel than even the most fevered end-times speculator is willing to grant.
We should thank God that He will not put us back under the yoke of the Law, but has brought in freedom in Christ.