Was the Church Prophesied in the Old Testament?
It always boggles my mind a bit when I read Preterists or Covenant/Reformed Theologians who thoroughly believe that the Church was prophesied in the Old Testament (the Hebrew Bible). It tends to annoy me because their exegesis appears to be so wrong. Of course, if you are a Preterist, Covenant, or Reformed Theologian, then you’ll likely take umbrage at my comments. Sorry about that.
I was reading one individual’s statements the other day to learn (once again) that the idea that the Church was not prophesied in the OT is based on the “postponement theory.” This is the idea, generally speaking, that some believe that God had to put Plan B into effect on numerous occasions throughout Scripture because of alleged “failure,” either on His part or on the part of humanity. [Sigh…]
The truth of the matter is that while humanity has demonstrably failed too many times to mention, God has never once failed! To assume or imply this is ludicrous. God simply has not, nor is capable of failure. To think that is to denigrate God Himself.
Then why, for instance, are their two advents of Jesus? Why did He come the first time, only to have to leave and come back (at some point in the future) if there was no failure? This idea is predicated on the belief that “…Jesus came intending to establish an earthly kingdom, but his plans were thwarted by the disbelieving Jews. So instead he established the church as a temporary ‘Plan B’ until he could come again and give his plans for a kingdom another try.” 
That comment angers me. If there are people who actually believe that God was incapable of completing His plans in Jesus the first time He came to this planet, they are – forgive me – complete morons and do not understand the power of God. There was no Plan B here. It does not exist.
Jesus came, lived a completely sinless life, died a terribly painful death on Calvary’s cross, and rose again because death could not hold Him. He uttered the words “It is finished” from the cross, indicated that He had done everything He needed to do and the Father was fully pleased with Him. The redemptive purposes of God were fully met.
This is biblically indisputable. Yet, apparently, we have people who actually believe that God has failure in His plans, necessitating Him to come up with various backup plans that help Him in a pinch, when things don’t go according to His original plans. What absolute garbage, based completely on human arrogance and hubris!
God never has need for a Plan B, C, or D. His first plan is always the best plan and it will always come to fruition! It may appear to puny man that God puts in plan B, but that is truly never the case.
Let’s go back to the Garden of Eden. God set it up perfectly, created two human beings who were esthetically perfect, but had not yet been “tested.” Did God wait on the sidelines with wringing hands asking the other members of the Godhead and the angels, “Oh, what will Adam and Eve do?” Did He, in the counsel of the Godhead say, “Okay, here’s what we will do if/when they fall”? How absolutely absurd to even think it.
God knew beyond doubt that Adam and Eve would succumb to the Tempter’s snare. He knew it would happen and that was part of Plan A. God did not have to “go with Plan B” after the infraction had been accomplished. What an insult to God to say otherwise.
It is the same with the Church. Did Jesus not truly complete what He was meant to complete during His first advent, requiring Him to put Plan B into effect so that He made plans to return again in the future to complete what He started 2,000 years ago, but failed to complete then? Again, this type of thinking is patently ABSURD. Either He is God who knows all and controls all, or He is not.
Here’s the type of reasoning we get from the Preterist/Covenant crowd: “The idea that Jesus is coming again to set up an earthly kingdom is premised on the belief that his first mission to earth was a failure. He wanted to set up that kingdom the first time, but he failed, and instead we got the church.”
WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! The idea that Jesus is coming again has NOTHING to do with any belief that His first mission was a failure! The idea that Jesus is coming again has everything to do with what we are told in Scripture. There are too many places to note where either Jesus Himself said He was coming again (physically – every eye will see Him, cf. Matthew 24), or someone else said it! The Second Coming has nothing to do with any purported or assumed failure on Jesus’ part. He did NOT fail.
The Second Coming is not some “Plan B” that God opted to put into action, once it was determined that the first coming failed to complete the mission. Jesus completed that mission and the Second Coming is a separate mission altogether in which He will establish His physical rule over the earth, from His human father’s (David) throne.
The same writer I have quoted twice now makes this comment: “The church has always been part of God’s plan.”  Of COURSE it is! Like the fall of man, the two advents of Jesus, the Church has always been part of God’s glorious plan! However, does this mean that the Church was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament)? Not on your life!
Here’s a point to consider: whatever God tells humanity, He also winds up telling Satan. Just because the Church was always part of God’s wonderful plan, does NOT mean that God felt the need to broadcast it before its time.
The writer I’ve been quoting seems to lack understanding. He states, “Ephesians 3 tells us that ‘the church’ was established according to ‘the eternal purpose’ of God in Christ to make known his manifold wisdom. You cannot read Ephesians 3 and come away believing that the church was an accident.” 
I have absolutely no qualms with that statement above. None. However, the writer makes an error in judgment by implying that because the Church was always part of God’s plan, God must have broadcast that idea at some point before Jesus. This is simply not true. There was no broadcast. There was no prophecy about the Church. The only way a person can arrive at such a conclusion is to allegorize Scripture until it means something it does not mean. Too many Preterists, Covenant, and Reformed Theologians do just that.
This same writer then goes into the book of Daniel and extrapolated numerous verses and sections in that book in an attempt to prove that Daniel was actually talking about the Church and not the restored nation of Israel. He specifically refers to Daniel 7:13-14, claiming that this “kingdom” referenced here is the Church. What absolute nonsense!
The idea that men like Daniel, Isaiah, or Ezekiel were actually talking about the Church (and not a restored Israel) is ludicrous. Again, this can only be assumed when the interpreter allegorizes Scripture, making it say something it does not say.
The problem has to do – in my opinion – with the way people view God and what they believe to be His highest purpose. For many, salvation/redemption is God’s highest purpose. For these people, this is why He does anything. He loves humanity so much that He designed a plan that finds its fulfillment completely in the atonement process. This is completely egocentric.
Yes, salvation is extremely important. The process of redemption is wonderful. It is beautiful. It showcases our God who loves us so much that He is willing to do whatever it costs to free us from our sin-laden life and nature. The importance of this should not be undermined. However, I do not believe that this is God’s highest purpose at all.
I believe God’s highest purpose in anything and everything He does is related to one thing and one thing only: to bring glory to His Name. This is why He does what He does. Yes, He loves us and determined a way to offer salvation to the lost and dying. BUT, He did so not so that we can sit around thinking how important and worthy we are that God obviously did not want us to go to hell. He did so because in the end, the entire universe along with every creature will bring full glory to Him for who He is and for His perfect character!
It’s not about PEOPLE. It’s not about US. It’s not about humanity! It’s about God. People have a problem with this because they wrongly believe that if this was God’s highest purpose, wouldn’t it smack of egoism? If we were talking about human beings, the answer is without equivocation, yes. We are not talking about human beings. We are talking about Infinite, Holy, Just, Perfect, Omniscient, Omnipresent GOD!
How can God NOT know all things from the beginning? How can God NOT know that Adam and Eve would fall? How could God NOT know that Jesus would be rejected (which was actually part of His plan)?
Come on, people. There is NO Plan B (C, D, or E) with God. It’s ALL Plan A. The way some theologians teach it, the Church existed in the OT simply because Paul tells us in Ephesians that the Church was always part of His plan. Just because the Church was always part of His plan, does NOT mean that He prophesied about it. Again, the only way you can arrive to that conclusion is by allegorizing Scripture and the writer I’ve quoted does that consistently, using Daniel, Isaiah, and many other books from the Hebrew Bible to attempt to “prove” that the Church is known there. It’s foolhardy. By doing this, Israel has no validity any longer. The nation’s leaders rejected Jesus roughly 2,000 years ago, so God’s patience came to an end and judged Israel, never to deal with them again as a nation. Instead, He now deals with the Church.
The Church and Israel are not mutually exclusive unless the interpreter allegorizes them away. That’s the only way this can be accomplished. This is also predicated on the belief that God’s highest purposes are found in salvation.
For more, I would recommend my book His Highest Purposes, which can be downloaded free of charge (as a PDF) here: http://studygrowknow.com/highest.html. It can also be purchased as a soft cover if that is preferred, but why not avail yourself of the free version? It’s completely free and you don’t even need to register or send me an email. Just click on the PDF icon and download to your computer.
It is tragic that so many people seem to have such a low view of God. We tend to want to understand things from humanity’s perspective instead of simply agreeing to agree with God even when we don’t fully understand what is happening. That makes sense, doesn’t it? After all, we are dealing the Infinite and our finite minds simply cannot comprehend all that God is and does.
May we endeavor to strive (through His Spirit) to understand what His Word tells us and where we cannot understand it, simply accept it.
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