Over the last couple of days, so many people have been calling in and vociferously communicating that we need to continue adhering to the civil and ceremonial laws we find in the Old Testament. I’m surprised at how popular that sentiment is in modern evangelical Christianity.
I was in fact discussing with one man just the other day Jesus Christ’s words, “Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from the outside cannot defile him, because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Mark 7:18-19a). Jesus Christ in saying this meant it is not shellfish that makes you unclean; rather, it is those things that proceed from the heart. Mark, of course, parenthetically adds in saying this, Jesus “declared all foods clean” (Mark 7:9b). Well, the man’s response was that’s a parenthetical remark and therefore it holds no weight whatsoever. But that is a most egregious error. We should never revert back to Old Testament types and shadows, which have been gloriously fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
In Christ the Old Covenant order, including temple sacrifices are obsolete. They disappeared in the light of Jesus Christ. The type and shadow of the first and second temples, they don’t find their substance in some kind of Tribulation temple followed by another temple—a Millennial temple. They find their substance in a church built of living stones comprised of both Jew and Gentile with Jesus Christ Himself the capstone. Jesus made this typological relation to the temple when He said “one greater than the temple is here.” All Old Covenant types and shadows, including the Holy Land, the Holy City, and the Holy Temple have been fulfilled in the Holy Christ. There is no need or use for a rebuilt temple with reinstituted temple sacrifices. There is no need to go back to type and shadow.
The teaching that the temple must be rebuilt and that temple sacrifices must be reinstituted not only stands in direct opposition to the Book of Hebrews but it undermines the central hope of the Christian faith, which of course is the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ for all sins—past, present, and future. If our evangelical death march towards the endgame of Armageddon is to be subverted it will be because believers recommit themselves to faithful exegesis to mining what the Holy Spirit has breathed into the text as opposed to superimposing our models onto the text.
My prayer, of course, is that the Holy Spirit gives us clear minds and open hearts as we plug into the power of Scriptural synergy daily by interpreting Scripture in light of Scripture. At the end of the day we must always ask ourselves the question: “Are we willing to sacrifice our treasured traditions on the altar of biblical fidelity, or has tradition become our god?” Perish the thought.