I was listening to a Christian radio talk show a few years ago. The host had a challenge on his hands. He believed the majority of the prophecies and promises made to Israel had either been fulfilled by the first century or cancelled due to the nation’s disobedience. He believed the church has replaced Israel and the Jews are history, so to speak. He believed there will be neither tribulation period of seven years nor a millennial period of a thousand years to follow. The host was dispensing covenant theology. His aforementioned challenge came in call after call from his listeners quoting scripture after scripture that flew smack into the face of his theology. He patiently pleaded with the audience to read the Bible and study more. Yes, he admitted, that verse and that verse and that verse do “seem” to say that and that and that, but read the Bible and study more and you will eventually agree with his theology. His point seemed to be that just as the Bible doesn’t use the word “Trinity” when referring to the Godhead, reading from Genesis through Revelation one will find the concept of the Trinity throughout the Scriptures, and can therefore conclude that it is God’s revealed truth about His triune nature, and a similar reading exercise will lead the Bible student to the truth of covenant/replacement theology.
His invitation caught my attention big time. The reason being, I had already done what he suggested, and his assertion flew smack into the face of my experience. At the time of the broadcast, I had read from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 eleven times. I had highlighted and noted my various Bible’s to death. All the while, I had never heard of Covenant Theology, Dispensational Theology nor any other kind of theology. In fact, I had no idea any such thing existed. I just read the Word of God as it was written. I took it literally where intended and symbolically where intended. I was no scholar or brainiac just a simple man and student. When I did become aware of these various theologies, I found I was right in line with the beliefs as expressed in our 5 part series on dispensational theology.
I’m glad to be where I am. I do not have to read my Bible literally, literally, literally, then, “Ohhh no, a future prophecy about Israel!!!” – read this symbolically, okay, back to literally, literally, then, “Ahhh, a tribulation reference!!!” – read this symbolically, okay, back to literally and so and so on.
Anyway, I confess to reading God’s Word over and over using a proper literal approach and, yes, it actually led me to a dispensational viewpoint and certainly not to any other. I’m sorry Mr. Radio Talk Show Host.
But…does it even matter? Well, if God didn’t want these truths known and understood would He have revealed them? It matters. We’ll look at just one example next time in A Grafted Branch.