Objections by Replacement Theology
Reformed Theology (i.e. Replacement Theology) would tell us that the church has replaced Israel, infant baptism has replaced circumcision, the body of believers has replaced the Israelite temple, and Sunday worship has replaced the seventh day Sabbath. This is simply not the case. The Sabbath has not been replaced by Sunday worship. The Sabbath will be reinstituted during the Millennial Kingdom. Because Israel as a nation is currently blinded to faith in their Messiah, Israel as a nation cannot currently please God with their Sabbaths. Romans 14:5-6 and Colossians 2:16 give believing Israelites the option of observing the Sabbath or forbearing to observe it. In the interim period before the establishment of the kingdom of heaven (when Israel will once again observe the Sabbath) believing Israelites may choose to observe the Sabbath and it will be as unto the LORD. Other Israelites may choose not to observe the Sabbath as prescribed in the Mosaic law understanding the spirit of the law in a much fuller sense.
I’ll try to give Replacement Theology a fair representation here. Some may object to the term, but I think it’s accurate. Maybe I should write the term Supersessionism, or "the church is the new Israel". There is a passage in Hebrews 4 which mentions the fact that God rested on the seventh day, then draws a comparison with Israel entering the rest of the promised land. Psalm 95 is quoted to show that Israel could not enter the land of rest because of unbelief. Then the analogy is made that anyone who believes has entered a type of rest because they have stopped working – in the sense that they have ceased from their own works. I would like to blog about Psalm 92-97 some time. All six chapters are one continuous psalm with the heading above 92 (A Psalm or Song for the Sabbath Day) being the title for the entire passage. I call it "The Sabbath Day Apocalypse". Psalm 98-99 is one psalm as well and mirrors the apocalyptic portion of 92-97. But I digress.
There is a straw man argument by A-Millennialists who hold to replacement theology that states that there is a problem with Pre-Millennialism because it espouses a return to types and shadows during the Millennial Kingdom. The way this argument works is that the Old Testament was full of types and shadows pointing to Christ. Once Christ came and died on the cross, there is no need for the types and shadows. So to believe in a future kingdom where there would be a physical temple, where sacrifices would be offered to the God of Israel, or where the Sabbath would be observed would be a return to the Old Testament economy. In this way, A-Millennialists can get out of any literal fulfillment of the prophecies concerning a Messianic Kingdom with Israel holding a place of prominence among all Gentile nations. This really is a straw man which does not do justice to the Pre-Millennial position. Note that I’m a Historical Pre-Millennialist and not a Dispensationalist.
First, types and shadows is a false label. When reading these blogs which try to point out this so called contradiction, see if they cite one Pre-Millennial source which believes that the Millennial Kingdom will be a return to Old Testament economy. They don’t cite any sources because no Pre-Millennialists believe that we will return to the Old Covenant during the Millennium. Instead, Israel as a nation will participate in the New Covenant in the blood of Israel’s Messiah during the Messianic Kingdom. The Abrahamic Covenant is not done away with in Messiah, but fulfilled. The law (covenant at Sinai) has not been done away with in Messiah either, but has been fulfilled. It is not a question of no longer being under the Old Covenant, but being under a fulfilled Old Covenant by participating in the New Covenant.
Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
The mistake is in thinking that the Old Covenant somehow doesn’t apply any more, or if it does, only in a strictly spiritual sense. This is actually the same error that dispensationalists make (those scriptures don’t apply) but Replacement Theologians fail to understand the comparison. This was not the hermeneutic of the New Testament writers. They saw the presentation/rejection of Messiah to Israel as being proof that there would be a future restoration of Israel, Acts 3:12-26. Notice the use of the phrase "prophet like Moses". In Acts 7, Stephen used this same analogy giving greater details. First Moses presented himself to the nation of Israel, but was rejected. After the forty years expire, the same prophet who was rejected by his own people comes back at the sign of the flame of fire to his people to deliver them. At that time, God pours out His wrath through plagues like the world has never seen. Stephen’s point is well understood by his audience. He points out that their rejection of Jesus ensures that He IS the Messiah and will come back to the nation of Israel after the interim period. There is no spiritualizing the OT here. Acts 15:14-18 is another problematic passage for trying to spiritualize the OT prophets. Amos is cited to show that when Messiah returns, there will be Gentiles already called by the name of the LORD. James applies this to Messianic Gentiles within the church. The tabernacle spoken of is not spiritualized to mean the church since the church is those called by the name of the LORD.
What was the Sabbath in the Old Testament? It was an observance designed to point backward to creation. To observe the Sabbath was to recognize God as Creator over the heaven, the earth, and everything in them. So when Messiah comes again, what would be the purpose of observing the Sabbath? Would it not be to recognize God as Creator? When Messiah establishes His kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven, we will not be returning to a shadow. We will have Messiah here on earth teaching us what the Sabbath is truly all about. This won’t be a shadow Sabbath. It will be the true Sabbath, because He is the true Sabbath. His laws will be written on the hearts of all within His kingdom. Since we will have the Sabbath inscribed on our very being, when we observe the Sabbath, it will not be a shadow but the substance.
The argument also falsely assumes that we no longer have any types or shadows, but have the reality right now. This is not so. We have plenty of types and shadows in the present time. The church has been raised to heavenly places which is a shadow of the true Kingdom of Heaven which will be established here on earth when Messiah returns. We observe the LORD’s table which symbolizes the community of the body of Christ until we eat and drink with Him in His kingdom, I Corinthians 10:16-17, Matthew 26:29, which will be the true community. We have Messiah in our hearts now, but in the Messianic Kingdom, Messiah will be physically reigning in our midst. He will fulfill the prophecies to Israel which state, "I will be their God and they shall be my people." That is the essence of participation in the New Covenant, Jeremiah 31:31-35, 32:37-41.
This is not to say that we do not possess Messiah in His substance. We have the indwelling Holy Spirit which is the Spirit of Messiah. But we only have a down payment of what is to come, Ephesians 1:13-14. We have been redeemed in truth, but we await the redemption of the purchased possession in totality, Romans 8:23, Ephesians 1:14, 4:30. Believers have been resurrected spiritually, but look forward to a physical resurrection when Christ returns.
But for our study, we must look at the Sabbath. What is the Sabbath a shadow of? What is it a type of? The only passage which gives us any information on this is Hebrews 4:1-11. Within this passage we see two types of rest in the Old Testament. There is the Sabbath rest wherein God Himself rested. We also see entrance into the promised land being an entrance into rest. Faith is the key to allow mankind to enter into that rest (Sabbath and promised land) but only in a spiritual sense of ceasing from sinfulness. But the passage clearly states that the reason why the Psalmist spoke of entering into that rest is because Joshua did not give the people true rest. The writer to the Hebrews here plainly states that there remains a rest for the people of God, Hebrews 4:9. The writer to the Hebrews still believed the shadow was to be fulfilled in the future some time. So the argument of types and shadows falsely assumes that we have the substance of true Sabbath rest now when the writer is stating that the people of God do NOT. And just for a bonus, most A-Millennialists will insist that the Abrahamic Covenant was fulfilled when Joshua conquered the promised land. The psalmist and the writer to the Hebrews both disagree, as well as Dr. Luke, (see Luke 1:72-75).
In summary, the Sabbath is an observance which recognizes God as Creator. That Sabbath rest was where Adam and Eve experienced true fellowship with their Creator. There is a future Sabbath which can only be entered into by faith. Christians have the down payment of that future Sabbath by the Holy Spirit. Those who have the Holy Spirit can presently cease from their own works and spiritually enter that Sabbath rest. The future Sabbath rest will be brought to earth from heaven when Messiah establishes His kingdom. It will exist within the New Jerusalem, but also as a weekly observance throughout the time span of the Millennial Kingdom. The nation of Israel will observe the Sabbath which will be an example to Gentile nations. Gentile nations will not be forced to observe the Sabbath, but may if they so desire. To say that Pre-Millennialism believes in a return to types and shadows is to mischaracterize the position as well as fail to understand the current unfulfilled nature of the Sabbath rest.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman