Wednesday, 19 July 2017


'News' about a rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem reminds me a bit of End Times predictions - always coming, but never quite happens. 

As for men qualifying to serve as Levitical priests today - no-one today (nor ever again in the future) can qualify, applying the Tenakh's (the Hebrew Old Testament's) own criteria. (A would-be priest had to be able to present written genealogies proving his direct descent all the way back to Levi - or else he was rejected from serving as priest, as if he was polluted.) 

Some Christians get excited by such 'news', based on a certain take on Old Testament prophecy - but I'm not convinced it was the Apostles' take on the prophecies. The Apostles asserted that Messiah has already made the Levitical priesthood obsolete. 

Some people answer that the Jews will rebuild the Temple in unbelief. But that's not what the Old Testament prophecies said. The prophecies said God was commissioning its rebuilding; it was God who was urging it; God Himself was reinstating the Levitical priesthood, after the captivity - complete with sacrifices, to atone for sin (not just for 'memorial'). 

God was urging the Jews of the captivity to believe the prophecies of Zechariah and Haggai and Ezekiel, and get to it. And they did - the Jews carried out all that. And it was all entirely appropriate at that time, seeing the Old Covenant still stood. But it's no longer appropriate, now that the real thing has come.

And there's another problem with placing its fulfilment in the future. In the historical context of those things having been fulfilled, Messiah was to come, according to Zechariah. So, if we place the fulfilment of those things in the future (as many today are saying), it means Jesus was too early in history to be Messiah. That's the Orthodox-Jewish take on prophecy - but it wasn't the Apostles'! They quoted parts of Zechariah and claimed those parts were fulfilled in front of their very eyes. That was part of the basis of the claim of the Gospel.

Other parts of Zechariah quite possibly might be about the future still. Remember though that Zechariah was partly describing vision, and sometimes writing in the apocalyptic genre, not in straight prose - so parts of what he wrote required interpretation. Even the Jews understood that. 

So according to the Apostles, there was past, present and future in prophecies such as Zechariah's. So Old Testament Scripture needs to be "rightly divided", Paul said. I'm just not sure that we always do so the way the Apostles did. 

As a rule of thumb: if the way we interpret it tends to keep the focus clearly on JESUS, then we're probably dividing it right - but if it instead takes us back to shadowy things (like the Law, the Old Covenant, Levitical worship, etc) then we're probably not dividing it right, the way the Apostles did.

Some Jews may very well build a replica temple in Jerusalem - but if they do, it wouldn't necessarily fulfil any specific Bible Prophecy that had been about the rebuilding of the previous temple. 

This doesn't take any thing away from modern Israelis by the way - the new covenant God has made with Israel was based on better promises, not worse promises!

Many Israelis have already believed - the thing for the rest to do, is to get with the plan! Nothing else will do. 

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