The Great Hermeneutical Rule Of Interpreting Prophecy—Continued
It ought to be fully evident that Jesus is the only One Who gives us the key of knowledge, so that we as His church may have the proper understanding of all that the prophets have spoken, in various times and diverse situations (Luke 24:25, 26). He was not simply a better teacher than the Scribes and Pharisees were; He was the One Who, admittedly, spoke not as the Scribes and Pharisees, whereas He spoke with authority which demanded obedience. He was the prophet, Whom all must hear, as He gave Divine answers on earth (Matt. 7:29; Mark 1:22).
Yes, He was different! Radically different from the Scribes and Pharisees, yea, from any other man. He was Immanuel, God with us, the Word made flesh.
Did not the very demon-world and all the powers of hell obey His word of authority? (Mark 1:26).
The populous adjudged that He spoke a “new doctrine,” whereas even the demons obeyed Him with trembling and hellish fear. Yes, He was the One Who was mighty in work and deed before God and all the people. And so His work and word is all authority, and these works testified of Him that He was the mighty and true Prophet of God Who should come into the world (Mark 16:20; Heb. 2:4). Even when Paul preaches this word it does not lose its power (I Cor. 2:4, 5).
Yes, this Jesus is the true Prophet of God! The very prophecies in the Old Testament are words which Jesus spoke through the prophets by His Spirit (I Peter 1:11). He is the chief Prophet Who reveals to us the secret counsel of God concerning our redemption. For is the Christ not the “I Am” before Abraham “became” on the scene of history in Ur of the Chaldees? (John 8:58). And does not John testify of the greatness of the One coming after him as being “before him”? (John 1:15). This Christ wrote His own suffering and death in the Old Testament Scriptures by the prophets. He is the One Who cries in Psalm 40:7, “Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart.” And this great Prophet, the eternal Son, speaks here, yea, God spoke in these last days in a Son! (Heb. 1:1, 2).
Truly, by the prophets Christ has us see the tremendous activity of holy men as they searched out and inquired diligently of the sufferings to come upon Him, and of the glory of His kingdom to follow! And in all of the Scriptures this glory is Christ’s reward for suffering the inexpressible anguish and torments of hell for us, His people! (Isaiah 53:10, 11, 12; Phil. 2:9; Heb. 2:9).
We are taught by the Scriptures that these prophets, holy men of God, knew very well that what they struggled to see in the searchlight of prophecy lay in the future, in the fullness of time. They were not speaking of the -things which would be realized in their own time. Abraham looked to a city which has foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God. He looked for a better country, that is an heavenly (Heb. 11:10, 14-16). That is the secret of their pilgrimage! They looked with earnest expectation of hope for a better country. He saw Christ’s day from afar; he rejoiced greatly to see Christ’s day, yea, he saw it in the prophetic word of promise, “In thee and in thy seed shall all nations be blessed” (Gen. 12:3; Gen. 17:6-8). Abraham never thought of the promise as being fulfilled in terms of a mere earthly kingdom for his natural descendants from Isaac. Such, as we shall point out in depth, was the vain dream of the Jews of Jesus’ day, and such is the vain teaching of Premillennialism, especially of what is known as Dispensationalism, following in the footsteps of Darby and Scofield: But father Abraham distants himself from such as these!
Well we take notice of this and be warned!
But to return.
Did not father Jacob, when he was too blind to see with his natural eyes, see in the prophetic light the future glory of the twelve patriarchs? Yes, he gathers these sons about his bed and blesses them. And is the future greatness of Israel not in Judah, from whom the Christ is born? (Heb. 7:14). Yes, our Lord sprang out of Judah. And this Jacob saw crystal- clear in his prophetic vision, and he said, “Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies. . . . The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come, and unto Him shall the gathering of the people be” (Gen. 49:10). Yes, dimly Jacob saw the sufferings to come upon Christ and the glory to follow. It will be the glory of His New Testament church, as later seen by Isaiah, the Seer, some seven hundred years before Christ. Do we not read, “and the Gentiles shall come to Thy light, and kings to the brightness of Thy rising. Lift up Thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves, they come to Thee: Thy sons shall come from afar…. and the wealth of the nations shall come to Thee” (Isaiah 60:3-4)?
Truly the “people” shall be gathered unto Shiloh, as He comes out of Judah!
Judah, thou art he!
And did not even that wicked Balaam prophesy of the sufferings to come upon Christ and of the glory to follow? In most beautiful poetic strains Balaam says in the Spirit of prophecy, “I shall see Him but not now: I shall behold but not nigh; there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.”
Yes, it was revealed unto the prophets that they spoke of things to be fulfilled, things that shall befall the twelve tribes in the latter days when Shiloh shall come!
How did these prophets know this?
The Bible tells us that this fact of the future glory of Israel among the “nations” in the New Testament times was “revealed unto them.” That is what we read in I Peter 1:12, “Unto whom (the prophets) it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the Gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, which things the angels desire to look into.”
Here we have it told to us in clear and unmistakable language that the prophets indeed had the “church” of the New Testament in mind when they prophesied in the Old Testament. Not simply did they surmise that they were speaking of great things, but they were fully certain of this by Divine revelation. This was, so to speak, a disclosing already of the great “mystery” hid in God from the ages, and which was fully disclosed in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and in His glorious ascension to heaven.
The verb “revealed” in the Greek is “apokaluphee.” The basic meaning of this verb is to remove the cover which hides something from our view. It was an act of God’s special revelation to all the prophets. Not only does the more sure word of prophecy shine more and more unto the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (II Peter 1:19), but while the prophets searched out and inquired of that mystery of the Cross and glorification of Christ, they were told, informed from their very message, that these things all lay in the perspective of the prophecy of Noah: “. . .God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem, and Canaan shall be his servant” (Gen. 9:27). Only a deliberate passing over, or what is worse, an outright denial, can be blind to this truth blazoned on every page of prophecy: that the prophets were receiving the Gospel message which should be preached by the apostles, who would be moved and led by the Spirit of Christ sent down from heaven!
Let him that reads take note!
When we, therefore, hear Jesus interpreting all the Scriptures to the travelers to Emmaus and to the disciples in the upper room on the evening of the resurrection day, we can only be amazed that they did not understand that the Christ must suffer all these things to enter into His kingdom for our salvation!
Only unbelief in all the Scriptures explains such slowness of heart.
And it is only stark unbelief concerning all that the Scriptures teach which today denies that all the Old Testament Scriptures are prophetic of the Cross, death, resurrection, and glorification of the Son of God in the flesh. Truly, what was true of these dear disciples after three years of teaching by Jesus is still true today in those who fail to preach the full counsel of God in regard to the doctrines of the Bible as they culminate in the final return of Christ to make all things new! The real rule of Christ’s hermeneutics is: The Scripturesinterpret the Scriptures! Ever He says: have ye not read?
When Jesus, therefore, opened the minds of His disciples, breathing on them the Spirit (John 20:22), then they understood that they could go and preach the kingdom of heaven. They were no longer limited to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt. 10:6), but now they will be His witnesses in all the world, beginning at Jerusalem; yes, it will be from Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth!
Japheth shall dwell in the tents of Shem (Gen. 9:27).
In Abraham shall all kindreds of the earth be blessed (Gen. 12:3).
And now all things shall too be better! It will be a better sacrifice, a better priesthood after the order of Melchizedek, a better temple, a better worship of a truly cleansed conscience from dead works to serve the living God. For in the great hermeneutic of Jesus the disciples are told that they shall, according to what is written, preach repentance in Christ’s Name among all nations, beginning in Jerusalem!
Earthly Jerusalem is not the city toward which all things are moving, but it is the city where the Holy Spirit is poured out upon the church, so that from out of this earthly city the glad tidings, which were promised to the fathers might herald forth clear and strong!