Does Dispensationalism Allow to Be Fulfilled
The Very Prophecies It says Must Be Fulfilled?
by Bob Pickle
Prophecies About Israel
Before the New
Left Behind gave a lot of publicity to the view known as
"Dispensationalism." Fathered by John Nelson Nelson Darby in the first half of the nineteenth century,
Dispensationalism is a
package consisting of several integrated components:
The first 69 weeks of Daniel 9 began with the 20th
year of Artaxerxes and ended about the crucifixion of Christ.
The 70th week is yet future.
The prince that confirms the covenant in Dan. 9:27 is
a future antichrist who will stop the sacrifices in a rebuilt temple
Prophecy ceased when the Jews rejected Christ.
Prophecy will resume after the secret rapture.
We are living in the church age during which salvation
is dealt with quite differently than at a previous time.
The problems of #1 and #2 are dealt with in our paper on Sir
Robert Anderson. What we want to look at here is what
Dispensationalism says about the prophecies concerning Israel. Indeed,
this aspect of Dispensationalism is a primary reason why the theory
dies so hard.
Unfulfilled Prophecies About Israel
Some of the Old Testament prophecies regarding Israel appear not to
be fulfilled. Such prophecies are typically explained by
non-dispensationalists in one of three ways:
- The prophecy really was fulfilled after the Jews returned from
Babylon in the sixth century BC.
- The prophecy was conditional and never will be fulfilled.
- The prophecy will be fulfilled toward spiritual Israel (the
church), not ethnic Israel.
A fourth explanation will be proposed shortly.
Dispensationalists typically strongly object to the idea
of Old Testament prophecies being fulfilled toward the church. They also
object to the idea of such prophecies being conditional and never being
fulfilled. Yet the very fact that Dispensationalism's timeline itself
does not allow these prophecies to be fulfilled is a fatal flaw of the
The Problem of Ezekiel
Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.
Ezekiel in his last chapters describes a battle with Gog
and Magog, a temple, and a city. The entire prophecy is a showcase for
Dispensationalism. It has never happened yet, and it must happen, the
Before the New Earth's Creation
From our paper on the circumference
of the earth, it can readily be seen that what Ezekiel was
describing was a small scale model of the new earth. In technical
terminology, Ezekiel's city, temple, and map were types or symbols of
the antitypical New Jerusalem, temple, and new earth. Thus, if Ezekiel's
temple is ever to be built, it must be built before the new earth is
created. There would be no point in having two temples and two cities in
the new earth. There would be no point in having the type be built after
the antitype becomes a reality.
A natural reading of Revelation 20 and 21 indicates that
the new earth will be created at the end of the 1000-year millennium. So
1000 years after the second coming, the new earth will be created.
Ezekiel's temple must therefore be built before the end of the 1000
Before the Second Coming
At the second coming, every island and mountain are
moved out of their places (Rev. 6:14; 16:20). This means that the crust
of the earth will disintegrate. In order for the earth to be inhabitable
following the second coming, the earth would have to be recreated at the
beginning of the 1000 years. Yet there is no indication that there will
be any restoration of the earth at that time. Therefore, Ezekiel's
temple must be rebuilt before the second coming.
As brought out in our paper on the circumference
of the earth, Ezekiel's temple, if the prophecy is to be
fulfilled as it reads, must be rebuilt outside Jerusalem to the north
(Ezek. 45:1-6). Jerusalem will need to be totally rebuilt in the form of
a perfect square, with three gates to a side (Ezek. 48:31-34). It must
be 4,500 cubits square, or 1.5 miles square. The temple must lie at
least 1.5 miles to the north of Jerusalem's walls.
While dispensationalists would generally say that this
prophecy must be fulfilled, they have failed to consider these aspects
of the prophecy. No one expects these details to be fulfilled this side
of the second coming. Instead, the common expectation is that the
antichrist will enter into a 7-year covenant with the Jews and the
temple will be rebuilt on the Temple Mount inside the city. At the end
of that 7-year period, so the theory goes, the second coming will take
Thus while this prophecy must be fulfilled before the
second coming if it is ever going to be, Dispensationalism provides no
place before the second coming for it to be fulfilled. It provides no
place for a square city with a temple 1.5 miles to the north.
Type and Antitype
How should we view Ezekiel's prophecy? Now for the
proposal of a fourth explanation. Ezekiel' yet unfulfilled prophecy is clearly a
type of the new earth. Therefore we may say that it is a prophecy about
a conditional type of an unconditional antitype. Because of Israel's
sins, the type will never take place, though the antitype will
definitely come to pass.