by Bill Nugent
Most people who study the Bible in depth would say that biblical Judaism did not end well. By biblical Judaism I mean the Torah Judaism of the Bible which was centered around animal sacrifices which were offered in the stone Temple located in Jerusalem. The time period was roughly 1500 BC to 33 AD. In this article I will use the term “biblical Judaism” and “dispensational age of law” interchangeably.
By the first century AD, Judaism had a corrupt priesthood, was rigidly legalistic and was oppressed by the Roman occupation. The Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD putting an end to the offering of animal blood sacrifices. At first glance, one could say that the dispensational age of law ended in corruption and tragedy.
However, I believe the scriptures show that in at least one aspect, biblical Judaism ended with great success. This aspect of the successful end of biblical Judaism has ENORMOUS prophetic and practical applications for us today as we near the end of the dispensation of grace which is the church age.
This one aspect of the triumph of biblical Judaism has to do with Jesus of Nazareth being the perfect Jew. Everyone knows that Jesus was (and is) a Jew. The Bible teaches that He was without sin. Hence, Jesus kept the Old Testament law perfectly. He was the only Jew ever to perfectly fulfill the Law. He rebuked the Pharisees over their man made Sabbath rules but He definitely kept God’s Sabbath commands. So what is the significance of Jesus being the perfect Jew? I will show you the striking prophetic ramifications.
To set up the teaching in this article let me give you a thumbnail sketch of Dispensationalism. Dispensationalism is a method of biblical interpretation that divides the Bible into time periods of history. It is in contrast to the more traditional Covenant Theology Method of biblical interpretation. Covenant Theology views the Bible through the lens of the several covenants made between God and man.
I will mention in passing that the dispensational premillennial method of biblical interpretation is the method that most clearly sees the crucially important role of the present Jewish state in the Middle East. Dispensationalists tend to be pro Israel while those who come from a covenantal perspective tend to place less emphasis on the continuing special role of the Jewish people. I will hasten to point out that there are genuine born again believers in both the dispensationalist and covenant persuasions.
Dispensationalists see seven major time periods (called “dispensations”) in the Bible. Each time period begins with a major move of God and the giving of commands followed by a period of time and a mass failure of large numbers of people to obey the commands. Each dispensation ends with a time of great tribulation or judgment on the failure of mankind to obey God’s commands. Each dispensation shows the failure of mankind to obey God by human effort and by implication shows man’s utter dependence on the grace of God.
The seven dispensations are as follows:
1) Innocence: Adam and Eve were given one command and they disobeyed the command and were cast out of Eden.
2) Conscience: The early patriarchs of Genesis lived by their consciences and were to obey the inward witness of right versus wrong. It ended in such rampant evil that God judged the whole earth with a flood. (Jesus later drew a parallel between the days of Noah and the days just before the end time great tribulation before His second coming.)
3) Government: Noah was given instructions to the effect that murderers were to be given the death penalty (Gen. 9:6). This implies the setting up of a court system and a human governmental restraint on evil. This ended with all the people gathered at Shinar building a tower to heaven. Judgment came on them to confuse their languages and they were scattered to the ends of the earth.
4) Promise: God chose Abraham, a righteous man who obeyed God and received the promise of the land of Canaan. It ended with Abraham’s descendants out of their promised land and enslaved in Egypt. Great judgment came on Egypt. (Many Bible teachers have pointed out the striking parallels between the ten plagues on Egypt and the prophecies of future judgments recorded in the book of revelation.)
5) Law: For the first time in history God’s laws are written down in exhaustive detail and given to a nation to obey. Moses, a righteous man in spite of personal failures (striking the rock twice, etc.) led the Israelites to the promised land. There followed centuries of failure and disobedience on the part of the Israelites that culminated in a 70 year exile in Babylon followed by a return to the land of Israel and more disobedience. At the end of the age of law the people were enslaved by the Romans in the promised land, the Pharisees were heartless legalists, the high priesthood was auctioned off by the Romans to the highest bidder and the Temple was filled with extortioning moneychangers. It ended with the Romans burning Jerusalem and the Temple. (Many Bible teachers have pointed out the striking parallels between the judgments on Israel in 70 AD and the prophecies of future judgments recorded in the book of Revelation.)
6) Grace: This age began with Jesus, the promised Messiah, dying for our sins and rising from the dead. The early church was pure, in spite of examples of individual failures (Ananias and Sapphira, etc.) and the church began to evangelize the world. This was followed by the Medieval period of centuries of increasing corruption and false doctrine. There followed a Reformation and the rise of a small end time church surrounded by corrupt elements of the great apostasy (abortion, gay marriage, decline of western civilization, etc.) and the rise of the man of sin described in Second Thessalonians 2:3. The judgment of a great tribulation, prophesied in the book of Revelation, will come on the whole world at the end of this dispensation in which we now live.
7) Millennial Reign of Messiah: This age begins at the second coming of Christ and the resurrection of the righteous saints who will rule and reign with Him for a thousand years. It is a period of spectacular world peace in which Isaiah 11:6-10 is fulfilled. It also, amazingly, ends in ignominious failure on the part of a large number (not all) of the people. Revelation 20:7-9 prophesies that they will surround the holy city and that great judgment will come upon them.
The purpose of this article is to show that in the fifth dispensation, the age of law, a major change occurred regarding the usual pattern of failure at the end of dispensations. Though biblical Judaism ended in failure on the part of the nation of Israel there was one individual in that nation that succeeded in fulfilling the Law of Moses down to the very last letter. His name is Jesus, the promised Messiah of Israel and He kept the Law perfectly. Jesus was Him “who did no sin” (I Peter 2:24). Jesus was the perfect Jew.
Furthermore I wish to show an amazing prophetic parallel. The church is referred to in scripture as the body of Christ. As the fifth dispensation ended with the perfect Jew, I believe the sixth dispensation ends with the perfect church! This perfect church will not be the whole church but will be a small portion of the church that comes to full stature in Christ (Ephesians 4:13). The New Testament refers to this in Romans 8:19 “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.”
The sons of God (born again Christians) who grow to full maturity in Christ will be the perfect church. The term “sons” does not exclude women. All of us are sons of God (Gal. 3:26) but none of us are yet fully sanctified. Those who come to full sanctification will be manifested (revealed) to all creation. God will use the manifested sons to do great works in the end times before the second coming of Christ. I’m tempted to teach on how the sons will climb the seven mountains of influence but I’ll leave that for another message.
Most Christians believe that the present age will end in failure with either the church being raptured out or barely muddling through the great tribulation in the end times. I believe that this implicit defeatism leads to lowered expectations and lowered effort on the part of Christians. Those who expect the church to be defeated are less likely to diligently seek the Lord for full sanctification. Jesus commands us to be perfect “Be ye therefore perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
So what are the prophetic and practical applications of Jesus being the perfect Jew?
As I’ve said, the prophetic parallel is that the present dispensation in which we now live will end with a perfect church or more specifically, a body of fully sanctified overcomers. Unfortunately, the perfect church will not be the whole church. It will be a remnant, an end-time army, a company of manifested sons of God.
The practical application of this is that each of us can set a goal of becoming fully sanctified! Aiming for full sanctification is better than settling for the mediocre status quo. We must be careful not to arrogantly claim to be fully sanctified when we have not yet attained it. We must humbly rely on the grace of God to grow unto full stature in Christ.
The “manifested sons” teaching has been a source of controversy in the church. John G. Lake was severely criticized for his role in promoting it. This is unfortunate as I believe it is clearly taught in scripture. I have taught on the manifestation of the sons of God for many years. I have always taught it from a conservative Christian perspective. My book The Cross, Self-Denial and the Manifestation of the Sons of God and my article, DTF Special Issue #7 “The Manifestation of the Sons of God and the Resurrection of the Dead” are both available for free download on my website ww.bnugent.org.
Steps to salvation:
Jesus said “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7).
Prayer to receive salvation:
“Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
To receive the salvation that Jesus purchased for us at the terrible cost of His suffering and death on our behalf I invite you to pray this simple prayer:
“Dear heavenly Father, I thank you for sending Jesus, the promised Messiah, to die for my sins. I admit that I am a sinner. I repent of my sins and I ask for your forgiveness on the basis of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I ask you to fill me with your Holy Spirit to empower me to serve you under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, Amen.”
If you prayed this prayer in the humble sincerity of your heart then you have received everlasting life, which includes power to live right in this life and entrance into heaven in the afterlife!