the Key to Earth's Last days?
God help the Jews rebuild the Temple?
a coming tribulation period ,will
Jews from Israel play a leading role?
ONCE AGAIN conflict has riveted world
attention on the Holy Land, especially among those Christians who look to
the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple as a sign of the imminent Rapture.
Until recently, two obstacles remained. First, the lack of a perfect red
heifer required as a sacrifice for the laying of the Temple cornerstone.
Second, the Dome of the Rock, a Muslim holy place occupying the Temple
A scant month before hostilities
intensified, a farm in Israel witnessed the birth of a perfect red heifer.
Rabbis examined the calf and declared it suitable. That left the Dome of
the Rock as the only remaining obstacle.
During the recent fighting, a group of
Palestinians took hostages and holed up at the Church of the Nativity.
Israeli snipers and tanks surrounded the shrine. These actions fueled
speculation that renewed fighting in and around Jerusalem might provide a
similar situation at the Dome of the Rock, giving Israelis an excuse to
demolish the Muslim holy place and open the way to replace it with the
Iranís continued development of nuclear
weapons in defiance of the international community raised tensions
throughout the region. Iranís President
openly espouses an apocalyptic view of the
future, at least rhetorically welcoming nuclear war as a prelude to
the return of the Twelfth Imam.
Even the stoutly secular Washington Post newspaper featured a column
Iran, Arming for Armageddon.ď To many, the end of all things
Does the Bible predict such a chain of
events in the Holy Land? Will God help the Jews rebuild the Temple?
If God still focuses on Jerusalem and the
Jews, then all these events may have great significance. If not, they may
be a distraction, diverting our attention from truly momentous matters. So
the answers to all these issues revolve around one central question: Are
the Jews still the chosen people or does God now focus His activity on the
God did say, " ' "Israel is my firstborn
son." ' "(1) We know that in Bible times, the priesthood of the family
passed to the firstborn son. So, as the firstborn of God, the reasoning
goes, the Jews will always have a special relationship with God.
But this notion of special privilege
through birth repels many in our egalitarian society. They feel more
comfortable with Colossians 3:11: "There is no distinction between Greek
and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and
freeman, but Christ is all, and in all" (NAS).
How can we resolve the apparent
contradiction in these texts and know whether to focus on Israel or the
At least part of the answer lies in a
seldom-noted pronouncement by the apostle Paul: "The spiritual did not
come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual." (2) Paul used
Adam and Christ as his illustration. Adam, the first member of the human
race, is the "natural" Adam. Because of his sin, he passed on to all of
his natural children a legacy of sorrow and death. Christ came, Paul says,
as the second, "spiritual Adam." Because of His sinless life and perfect
sacrifice, He passes on to His spiritual children a legacy of joy and
Does Paul's argument concerning Adam and
Christ end with them, or does it extend further? The Old Testament
supplies surprising evidence.
As we mentioned earlier, during the time of
the patriarchs, spiritual leadership supposedly passed to the firstborn
son. We take that for granted, but now let's look at the evidence to see
how often it actually worked out that way. Let's start right at the
beginning, with Adam's sons. It seems obvious from their offerings and
God's verdict that firstborn Cain was not the spiritual son. Abel was!
In fact, Paul's pattern in which the
"natural" firstborn differs from the "spiritual" repeats itself again and
again. We are hard-pressed to find a single significant case where the
firstborn actually receives the birthright.
The kings repeat the principle, bearing
some further examination. The physically imposing Saul turned out to be a
spiritual fiasco. None of his descendants occupied the throne. David,
neither the first king of Israel nor the firstborn of his own family,
succeeded Saul. He became a prophet, making him a spiritual king and
progenitor of the royal line to which Christ was born.
Solomon followed David on the throne. But,
as we should now expect, Solomon was not David's first son. David had at
least six older sons.(3) And Solomon was not the first son of David by
Bathsheba. Their first died a few days after birth.(4) Solomon, as the
spiritual second king, became an example of piety and wisdom, representing
the "Golden Age" of Israel.
And it doesn't stop there. The natural
splendor of the first Temple pales in comparison to spiritual glory of the
smaller, second Temple. For while the Shekinah, the visible presence of
God illuminated the first Temple, Christ graced the second Temple with His
All these examples make it clear that Paul
has identified a crucial principle: whether it's a matter of patriarchs,
kings, Temples, or even "Adams," the second, when spiritual, supersedes
the first, when it's merely physical.
it is that a "spiritual" second Israel supersedes the physical first. When
the Jews claimed that their descent from Abraham merited a favorable
position for them in God's estimation, Jesus disputed their claim. He
said, " 'If you were Abraham's children, you would do the things Abraham
Paul elaborated on this idea: "Understand,
then, that those who believe are children of Abraham."(6) "A man is not a
Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and
physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is
circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit."(7)
The words of Christ and Paul both attest
that the Israel of faith, the spiritual Israel that was second in line,
supersedes the physical Israel that was first in line.
God still loves the Jews. He loves them as
He loves all His children. He offers salvation to Jews on precisely the
same basis as he does to anyone else. When Jews accept this priceless
offer, they become a part of spiritual Israel.
So, God does not focus exclusively on
"natural" Jews nor on present, natural Jerusalem. Neither should His
spiritual children pin their hopes on the events in modern Palestine.
Abraham himself, the father of the faithful, understood that no human-made
abode could ever be home. "He was looking forward to the city with
foundations, whose architect and builder is God."(8)
With Abraham and the faithful through the
ages we look not to this Jerusalem but to the New Jerusalem. There all
spiritual Israel, Jews and Gentiles alike, will live through all eternity.
Used by permission of the author. Ed
Dickerson is a free lance writer, teacher and international seminar
speaker who lives in Garrison, Iowa.
(1) Exodus 4:22
(2) 1 Corinthians 15:46
(3) 2 Samuel 3:2
(4) 2 Samuel 12:18
(5) See John 8:39
(6) Galatians 3:7, emphasis supplied
(7) Romans 2:28,29
(8) Hebrews 11:10