Dr. S. Lewis Johnson provides analysis and criticism of theology which does not take literally the prophecies of the Old Testament when they are referenced in the New.
[Prayer] Father, we turn again to Thee with thanksgiving. We are grateful for the word of God which is such a light for us, which is of such help to us in seeking to follow Thy will. We thank Thee for the way in which it points us to our Lord Jesus Christ. And we thank Thee for its teaching concerning the Holy Spirit as the true and ultimate interpreter of the word that he has inspired. We ask Lord, that Thou would enable us to think his thoughts after him. May our class this evening be a class in which we learn from the word of God and learn not only the facts which are important, but also learn of him of whom that word speaks. Give us Lord the spirit of submission to him in our Christian life.
We especially pray Thy blessing upon [name redacted] in the hospital at the present time. We ask Thy blessing upon him. We ask that Thou will give the doctors wisdom as the minister to him and to his family, we pray for them, supply all of their needs. We ask Lord that through this experience Thou wilt glorify Thy name. Give healing as it should please Thee. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
[Message] For those of you who may not know it, [name redacted] is in the Intensive Care Unit at the Richardson Medical Center with internal bleeding. And so in your prayers you might remember [name redacted] and his family.
The subject for tonight is “George Ladd and the Spiritualization of Prophetic Scripture.” And we’re turning tonight for a scriptural passage, which we will also refer to in the message tonight, to Matthew chapter 2, verse 13 through verse 15. So if you will take your New Testaments and turn there, I’d like to read these three verses which will be part of our study tonight. The apostle writes in Matthew 2:13,
“Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, ‘Arise, take the Child and His mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.
And he arose, he took the Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, “Out of Egypt did I call My Son.”’”
Now, you’ll recognize that last statement there, “out of Egypt did I call My Son,” as a quotation from Hosea chapter 11, and verse 1. So our subject is “George Ladd and the Spiritualization of Prophetic Scripture.” The debate over the millennial issue is still with us, and probably will be with us throughout our lifetime until the Lord comes again. Personally I’m still confident that there will be an empire of the thousand years. If you ask why I would say for these reasons, among others; first, the early church believed that. As far as we can tell, there is no person in the early church immediately following the apostles who believed anything but that there would be a kingdom of God upon the earth. It’s not really until the time of Augustine that we have serious doubts about that question, and even Augustine himself, as he says, originally a believer in a kingdom of God upon the earth.
Now, I take that to be very significant, because I think not only were those in the early church the closest to the apostles but also they represent the ongoing tradition of the apostles. And those of you who have heard me enough, or a lot, as some of you have, you’ll know that I think it is important for us to pay attention to the way that the church has come to understand Scriptures. Because ultimately it is the Holy Spirit that teaches us, and therefore it would be unlikely that the whole church should believe for a lengthy period of time things contrary to the word of God. We may expect the Holy Spirit to teach accurately and to teach definitely and to teach intensively. And I think that is ultimately what we learn from church history.
There are many things in the early church that were settled by the counsels, things that have to do with the deity of Christ, things that have to do with the trinity, and other aspects of Christian doctrine. And those have stayed with us down through the centuries. Occasionally you will hear of a little movement here or there designed to change or rewrite some of the councilor decisions, but as a rule it generally falls flat. So the early church believed such.
I think the historic covenants, the Abrahamic covenant, the Davidic covenant, and the new covenant studied in the light of sound hermeneutical principles demand a kingdom of God upon the earth. If one reads the Abrahamic promises, traces them all the way through the Old and the New Testaments, I think that the conclusion to which we would come. I know there are individuals who would say we do not have in the New Testament, though they may acknowledge that we are truly children of Abraham by faith, that the New Testament contains any promises containing the land. And since in the New Testament there’s no promise specifically that the children of Abraham, spiritual children, will inherit the land, is that not an indication that the land promises are to be separated from the other promises. There seems to be lurking behind this demand a false principle, namely that we shouldn’t give heed to the Old Testament unless its content is repeated in the New Testament. I think the apostles would have immediately thrown up their hands in surprise at that, for you must remember that the apostles only had the Old Testament. For them the Scriptures were the Old Testament Scriptures. So far as we can tell the only person who perhaps had some would be Peter. And the reference in 2 Peter 3 is a debated reference, and so we have to keep that in abeyance. But at any rate, the idea that we shouldn’t give heed to the Old Testament unless its content is repeated in the New is not a principle of the word of God. In fact, it would seem to be the opposite.
I think the correct principle is that we should not consider anything in the Old Testament invalid and we should not discard any of it, the apostles’ Bible, unless we are specifically told to do so by the New Testament. For example, in the case of the Mosaic Law, aspects concerning the cult, that is the Levitical cultists. We are told in the Epistle to the Hebrews, we are told in the Epistle to the Galatians, and the Epistle to the Romans that certain aspects of the Mosaic Law are no longer valid for us, and so in that respect the New Testament does tell us that certain things are no longer to be followed. But it seems to me the correct principle is that nothing in the Old Testament should be considered invalid, nothing should be discarded, unless the New Testament specifically tells us to do so. So the Old Testament is our Bible just as the New Testament is.
The ethnic future of Israel, which the apostle clearly teaches in Romans chapter 11, and I think in other passages as well, supports the idea of the empire of a thousand years on the earth for this reason. The passages that speak of the ethnic future of Israel also speak that at the time Israel is caused by the Lord to turn to him, they are also given promises of a form of preeminence in the kingdom that shall follow on the earth. So we cannot say legitimately, I think, Israel has a future but they don’t have the kind of future that is set forth in the chapters of the Old Testament as well as the New that speak of it, such as Isaiah chapter 60 and 61 along through that section; Zechariah chapter 14, which speak of an ethnic future of Israel; Amos, Micah and so on in many passages. Also, the Book of Revelation agrees. We have already seen in our studies on Sunday that in the great vision of chapters 4 and 5 when the words of the heavenly beings are set forth one of the things that they say is that they shall reign upon the earth, Revelation chapter 5, I believe in verse 8 maybe verse 10. Then Revelation chapter 20 verses 4 through 6 set out in detail the kingdom of God upon the earth, the thousand year kingdom.
And finally biblical hermeneutics, that is the principles on interpretation of the word of God, with the use of the Old Testament in the New Testament, the principles by which we deal with the Old Testament leads to the empire of the thousand years. In other words, if we follow a grammatical, historical, theological interpretation of the Scriptures we should come precisely to a kingdom of God upon the earth. Spiritualization of the Scriptures, a plank of Amillennialism, is in my opinion absent from the New Testament use of the Old Testament. In other words, we don’t have any justification for turning to a passage of the Old Testament that say has to do with Israel, and then saying in a New Testament context in which that passage might be cited that that now is a passage that that is now a passage that concerns the church. If the passage has to do with Israel, it has to do with Israel. We are not justified in reinterpreting the Old Testament passages and make them say church if they have said Israel. So far as I know there has never been anyone who has demonstrated that the term Israel means anything than Israel. So if one considers the great mass of evidence, there’s hardly any doubt but that a grammatical, historical, theological interpretation of the prophetic word will eliminate the principle of spiritualization. That is a plank of, for example, Amillennialism.
Now, we are coming to our subject. That is a kind of introduction to is, because it belongs with all of this. George Ladd was professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California for many years. A highly respected New Testament scholar; I’ve read a number of his books and generally speaking they’re very good. He’s written a New Testament theology that’s probably recognized as the finest of the New Testament biblical theologies of evangelicals. He wrote other books that have to do with different aspects of biblical criticism. He specialized in his own way in things that had to do with the prophetic word. And he wrote a number of books that had to do with them. He was a premillennialism, but he was a historic premillennialist. That is, not a dispensational premillennialist, but a historic dispensationalist. He was a shaky one, as we shall see, but nevertheless his faith was in premillennialism. He believed in the empire of the thousand years. But as I say, he was anti-dispensational.
Someone asked him and he replied in one of his books, why in the light of the fact that he was not a dispensational theologian and actually had not too many texts that he thought supported premillennialism why he remained a premillennialist. And he said, “Romans 11:26 and Revelation 24 through 26” kept him in the premillennial camp. As a matter of fact, Romans 11:26 only indirectly touches that issue. I must confess I was a little surprised when he said that, because that’s the text that says, “And so all Israel shall be saved.” It does say that Israel has an ethnic future, and if we go on to argue as I did, that if Israel has an ethnic future according to the Scriptures, then the other things those same Scriptures say about Israel’s predominance in that kingdom would indicate a premillennial position. But so far as I know Professor Ladd never made that point. But the other passage was a passage that surely supported his point, and that was Revelation chapter 20, and verse 1 through 6.
But another feature of Professor Ladd’s views was this, that he acknowledged that the New Testament did reinterpret certain of the Old Testament prophecies. In other words, he would have agreed in a limited fashion with the principle of spiritualization, very limited by nevertheless he acknowledged that. Now, if you concede that, it’s perfectly all right to concede it in a limited way as Professor Ladd did and still hold to a premillennial position. One could do that, but of course, the logic of it makes his views a bit shaky. The concession wouldn’t overthrow premillennialism, but it would force a regrouping of the defense of premillennialism.
Now, these are some of the things that Professor Ladd said, and I’ll give you some of the flavor of it. He said, “The fact is that the New Testament frequently interprets the Old Testament prophecies in a way not suggested by the Old Testament context. In other words, the New Testament authors used passages from the Old Testament in a way that one can hardly find justifiable from simply reading the Old Testament passage.” He felt that this was a “basic watershed between dispensational and non-dispensational theology explaining,” not that point but his general position, explaining, and these are his words that follow, “Dispensationalism forms its eschatology by a literal interpretation of the Old Testament and then fits the New Testament into it. A non-dispensational eschatology,” that’s his eschatology, “forms its theology from the explicit teaching of the New Testament.” I don’t know why, you know, we are never unbiased, any of us. I’ve been known to be biased. [Laughter] But we are never unbiased, but I was a little, I must say I smile when I read that, because it would seem that if you were going to be logical you would say, or consistent, a non-dispensational eschatology forms its theology from the explicit of the New Testament.” Well dispensationalism forms its eschatology by a literal interpretation of the Old Testament and then fits the New Testament into it.
Why didn’t he say, “A non-dispensational eschatology forms its theology from the explicit teaching of the New Testament and fits the Old Testament into it.” That’s precisely what he did; because he goes on to say that the New Testament writers reinterpreted the Old Testament. He just doesn’t say it. He felt that there were “unavoidable indications” that promises made to Israel are fulfilled in the Christian church. Clark Pennick, a very well known evangelical scholar, a Canadian and a professor at a Canadian university now has, in speaking about the text said these words, “Let us by all means begin with the original sense and meaning of the text.” And then he adds in the next paragraph, “But when we do that the first thing we discover is the dynamism of the text itself. Not only is its basic meaning forward looking, the text itself records a very dynamic process of revelation in which the saving message once given,” that’s the Old Testament context and the Old Testament passage, “gets continually and constantly,” notice these words, “updated, refocused, and occasionally revised. Just consider,” he says, “the progression between Old and New Testament, how the coming of the Messiah introduced crucial reinterpretations into the earlier revelational process.” Now you must read those things carefully.
If you’re not involved in this, it’s not surprising that you may not be able to note the things that really make the issue plain and clear. But what Professor Pennick is saying is that the New Testament reinterprets the Old Testament, not in the sense that it throws further light on the Old Testament. We all know that reading the New Testament and seeing the texts in the New Testament in which the Old Testament is interpreted, we know of course that we see things in the Old Testament that we may not have seen. But when you say reinterpretation you are saying that the interpretation that was there or seemed to be there has changed. In other words, it has been corrupted, as he says, refocused, and occasionally revised. Now, you would know from this that Professor Pennick does not believe that the Scriptures are without error. Because you couldn’t hold to that kind of attitude toward the Old Testament without believing that the Scriptures were in part error, in error from time to time. So this is really part of the issue with Professor Pennick.
Now George Ladd uses the same kind of language, that is reinterpretation. What’s Ladd’s evidence for the reinterpretation of the Old Testament? Three passages Professor Ladd brings forwards in one of his books. These are the three that we want to look at now and see if we can really see that there has been a reinterpretation of what the Old Testament has said. The three passages that Professor Ladd says are evidence for reinterpretation, evidence for taking a passage in the Old Testament in a different sense in its New Testament context than it appeared to have in its Old Testament context. First of all, the quotation of Hosea chapter 11, and verse 1, in the passage we read in our brief Scripture reading, Matthew chapter 2, verse 15; and then in Matthew chapter 8, verses 14 through 17; the citation from Isaiah chapter 53 and verse 4 there. And finally the citation from Hosea chapter 2, and a little part of it from chapter 1, and Romans chapter 9, and verse 25 and 26. So we are turning to them, and we’re asking the question, this is the thing that should be in my mind, is Matthew’s use of Hosea a distortion? That word, incidentally, is used with reference to this by them. So I’m not adding something. They’ve used the term distortion. Or, now this shouldn’t go out of this room, do, Dewey Beagle another of the interpreters, an evangelical believes the same thing, and George Ladd, we could add Clark Pennick, know the Scriptures better than the apostles? Now, that’s really mean isn’t it? That’s pretty harsh. So I’ll take that back. [Laughter] Dr. Pennick, if you hear me, I take it back. I don’t know that under circumstances you would want to take the position that you understand the Scripture better than the apostles. But at least in these passages there might be that question.
Now, we’re turning first of all to Matthew chapter 2, verse 7 through 15; that’s the general context, and Hosea chapter 11, verse 1. Now, I think you can see if you read the passage in Hosea chapter 11, verse 1, you can see why there should be some interesting questions about this particular use of Scripture in Matthew chapter 2. In Hosea chapter 11, and verse 1 these are the words that we read in context there. “When Israel was a youth I loved him,” Hosea wrote, “and out of Egypt I called my Son.” Now, Professor Beagle says that there is not the slightest hint that the statement of Hosea 11:1 was intended as a prophecy. Professor Ladd repeats that, and so do a number of others who take this position. In other words, Hosea 11:1 is a passage in which Hosea looks over the past, how God called Israel out of the land Egypt at the time of the Exodus.
If we look at the simple context here in chapter 2, it’s the context of the arrival of the Magi, their inquiry in Jerusalem as set forth in verse 2, “Where is he that is born king of the Jews?” Herod’s alarm over this when the answer is given by the scribes, then his command to the Magi in verses 7 and 8, where he calls them to him and ascertains from them the time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem; he had heard that the scribes had said that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. So he sent them to Bethlehem, and then Matthew records their visit in verses 9 through 12. He records also God’s warnings to them and to Joseph and the flight to Egypt. And then Matthew says in verse 15 that “Joseph and his family were in Egypt until the death of Herod, that what was spoken by the Lord the prophet might be fulfilled saying, Out of Egypt did I call my Son.” Now you can see that there isn’t anything in the Hosea passage that seems to suggest that this is anything but a reference to the past, but yet Matthew finds in that text justification for our Lord’s trip to Egypt with Joseph and his family and also of his return. In other words, he says in verse 15 that “what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet my be fulfilled.” So he regards the trip of Joseph and his family into Egypt as being a fulfillment of the prophetic word.
In what way, one might ask? In what way is this the fulfillment? Well the majority of evangelicals, by far the majority, have seen Matthew’s use of Hosea as typical. That is, Matthew refers to the historical event that took place in the past to which Hosea refers, and using the fact of historical correspondence, which is the nature of a type. For example, in the Old Testament David is a type of Christ. He’s a historical figure, and David’s history in the Old Testament corresponds to the history of Christ. He was chosen by God to rule and reign. He entered into his office. He ruled and reigned, and he is a recognized type of Christ. Joseph was a type of Christ and the same thing was true, a historic figure but his life corresponded to the life of our Lord. Various other kinds of types, there are types of persons, there are types of events. The Exodus, for example, is a type of the cross of Christ in that it was God’s means of deliverance, and Peter even refers to our Lord’s death as his exodus in 2 Peter chapter 1. And then institutions are typical, too. The tabernacle being typical of many of the things that have to do with the redemption in Christ.
Now, evangelicals have looked at Matthew’s use of Hosea and they have said, “This is a typical event.” That is, it’s a historical event that corresponds to a future redemptive event. Typology being a form of prophecy. And post millennialists, amillennialists; even Roman Catholics have generally labeled this use here as typical. If I had, if it was necessary we could talk about the number of commentator who have seen, and I’ll just mention some of them. A.B.Bruce who was not a premillennialist; James Morrison, not a premillennialist; William Hendrickson, an amillennialist; actually Professor Morris, a Roman Catholic, has a very extensive treatment of this in which he gives many reasons why that event was a typical event. Derrick Kitner, who writes on Hosea, not a premillennialist; Plummer, Professor Brown, the leading Roman Catholic living interpreter. Robert Gundry, who has probably written the most significant book, by far, on the use of the Old Testament in Matthew. And so we’re not talking about something that’s a rare interpretation, it’s the mass of the interpreters view points. Israel’s history is a typical representation of the Messiah’s history. He’s the representative Israelite, and therefore in him Israel’s history is recapitulated and anticipated; the Messianic future seen in his preservation and restoration to the land.
So is the use of the Old Testament in a typical sense. Matthew is not trying to say that this is the fulfillment of the Old Testament text in the sense of predictive prophecy. Fulfilled is used in the New Testament in many places in this sense. That is fulfilled typically. Augustine made the famous statement that “In the Old Testament the New Testament lies concealed, while in the new the Old lies revealed.” R.W. Dale said many years ago, “The institutions of the Old Testament are to a large extent a dictionary in which I learn the true sense of the language of the New.” And a modern interpreter has said, “Old Testament is the true Bible, and the New Testament is its explanatory glossary.” That is, it’s from the New Testament that we are able to fill in things in the Old Testament, not reinterpret it, but fill in the things that the Old Testament has not said. So I find nothing in this passage, and the great mass of interpreters find nothing in this passage that suggests that a typical understanding of this passage is not perfectly satisfactory. If that’s all that Professor Ladd has to support his idea of spiritualization, it certainly is a weak position.
He has another text, and this one is found in Matthew chapter 8, and verse 14 through verse 17. And I’ll turn there now and read Matthew 8, verse 14 through verse 17. And we read, “And when Jesus had come to Peter’s home he saw his mother in law lying sick in bed with a fever, and he touched her hand and the fever left her. And she arose and began to wait on him. And when evening had come they brought to him many who were demon possessed and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were ill in order that what was spoken through Isaiah the Prophet might be fulfilled saying, He himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.” Now, you’ll recognize that as coming from the great servant of Jehovah, him, in Isaiah chapter 53. And it’s verse 4, and I’ll read the verse; in the New American Standard Bible Version it reads, “Surely our griefs he himself bore, and our sorrows he carried. Yet we ourselves esteemed him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” Ladd says with regard to this, that the New Testament reinterprets the Old Testament in a way not suggested by the Old Testament context.
Let me say a word about the New Testament context. You are familiar with this part of Matthew, I hope. You may remember that in the earlier chapters of Matthew after we have the Sermon on the Mount, then Matthew seeks to show by virtue of a series of miracles and signs that Jesus performed, that he was qualified to be the Messiah according to Scripture. For the Scripture said that when he came he would perform signs and miracles. They are set forth in the Book of Isaiah incidentally in more than one place. And so Matthew setting out nine, I believe, signs seeks to show that these are Messianic signs. They point him out as the Messiah. So in moving from the Sermon on the Mount to the miracles someone has said, “We move from Messiah’s teaching to Messiah’s touch.” That is the miracles that he performed, his credentials of kingship are offered to demonstrate his right to the office.
Now, one of them is the miracle that is described here, and in fact this one is really a number of miracles described together. When evening was come they brought to him many who were demon possessed, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were healed in order that Isaiah’s prophecy might be fulfilled, he himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases. Sometimes we ask the question, is healing in the atonement? Of course healing is in the atonement. If there is going to be any healing at all, it has to be in the atonement. But that’s not really the answer that answers all of the questions, because usually that’s asked in the context of some miracles claimed by a charismatic church. And since they point to a passage like this and say, “We are performing wonders and signs, isn’t healing in the atonement?” I have to answer, “Yes, healing is in the atonement.” But there isn’t anything in the New Testament that says healing is in the atonement for now. That’s the point. In other words, any kind of healing is grounded in that atonement, and ultimately the great healing is the resurrection of the body. That’s grounded in the atonement. So we answer yes, healing is in the atonement, but not for now. At the resurrection we all will believe that healing is in the atonement, because we will be delivered from this body that we have now, which as the years go by, seems to need more and more healing. Isn’t that right? Well, there are there people who agree. The rest of you have beautiful bodies you are satisfied with. You’d probably even like to have them after the resurrection, would you? No, I hope you get a new body. I hope you do.
Well, now is Isaiah 53:4 reinterpreted here? Professor Ladd says it is. We know Isaiah 53 as the Mount Everest of Messianic prophecy. We know it as concerning Christ, the king, the Messiah. Evangelicalism has very largely contended that. You probably do not know any evangelical who would not say that Isaiah 53 has to do with the Messianic King. But Professor Ladd denies it. He says this is not a reference to the Messianic King. Incidentally, Mr. Spurgeon said, “If the Messiah be not right visible here, then this chapter is dark as midnight.” That’s the way that most of us feel. If we had to read this, and some were to tell us that doesn’t have to do with Christ. We would think this would be a very dark chapter.
Ladd states and these are his precise words, Isaiah 53 “is not a prophecy of the Messiah.” Now, if it’s not a prophecy of the Messiah, and Matthew uses it as he does, then I think I can understand why he might say that the New Testament reinterprets the Old Testament. Because it’s clear that Matthew regards that as a prophecy of the Messiah. So he would say, and does say, “Matthew has reinterpreted a passage that doesn’t refer to the Messiah.” You might ask why, why does he say that? Well, first of all, Professor Ladd says that the Old Testament teaches that the Messiah is to conquer and rule in the earth, but the servant of Jehovah whose history is set for here in Isaiah chapter 53 is one who is meek and lowly. So sense the Messiah is to rule and conquer and Isaiah 53 presents a suffering servant who is meek and lowly, then this couldn’t be a reference to the Messiah. That’s astonishing. I confess. I find that most astonishing. Anyone who reads the Old Testament for a lengthy period of time will know that in the Old Testament there are a number of names for the Messiah. We have names like the Branch, the Son, the Son of Man, and I think also Servant. These are passages of the Servant of Jehovah and other passages; chapter 42, chapter 49, chapter 50. And to affirm just because the term Messiah is not found here and because, as he says, he appears meek and lowly, therefore this is not a prophecy of the Messiah is a logical inconsistency. In other words, if a passage has to do with the Messiah, it doesn’t always have to have the term Messiah. If the term Messiah is known by three or four different names clearly.
But as a matter of fact, if you read this chapter carefully you’ll see that he does conquer and rule. Notice the 12th verse. I wonder if Professor Ladd overlooked this. “Therefore,” Isaiah says, in the light of the ministry, the suffering ministry of the servant, “therefore I will allot him a portion with the great, and he will divide the booty with the strong.” In other words, he’s one of those who conquer, and therefore he’s one who divides the spoils of the victory, because he poured out himself to death and was numbered with the transgressors yet he bore himself the sin of many and interceded for the transgressors. Perhaps Professor Ladd would like to say, “Well it doesn’t say that he used his implements of warfare,” but it’s plainly by virtue of what he does on the cross, which was a conflict. And as presented in other places in the New Testament as a warfare, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah we read about in the Book of Revelation, that he overcomes.
Ladd goes on to say that the servant, he can understand therefore that the servant may be a reference to the nation Israel. Now, that is an interpretation that has been given by many liberal interpreters, and particularly Jewish interpreters. Although they have some other interpretations as well. Because you can see if you wanted to defend the position of Judaism it would be nice if you could rule out Isaiah 53. This chapter is not read in Judaism in the public readings to my knowledge. I know it wasn’t for many, many centuries, it was never read. It always produced questions.
Now, if Professor Ladd’s views really are that, he says he can understand how a person can believe that the suffering servant was Israel; I would want to ask immediately, “Do you mean to tell me that the nation Israel can offer a substitutionary penal sacrifice for sins.” That’s what’s presented in this chapter. Look at the 6th verse. “All of us like sheep have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way. But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him.” Or go back a bit. “He was pierced through for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The chastening for our well being fell upon him, and by his scourging we are healed.” One would have to stretch the text a considerable distance to affirm that we are healed by the suffering of the nation Israel. So I find that very hard to understand. As a matter of fact, this individual is stated in chapter 49, verse 1 and verse 3 to be Emmanuel indirectly and also to be God’s servant Israel; but not the Israel that we know as Israel but the true Israel, the true prince with God.
At any rate, very few would follow Professor Ladd in this, but think a moment. How is Isaiah 53 used in the New Testament? Well let me recount some of the things. Our Lord refers to Isaiah 53, he refers it to himself. He says that text has to do with him more than once. Luke chapter 22 verse 37; Matthew chapter 26, verse 26 through verse 29 in the last Passover, first Lord’s Supper he cites from this 12th verse and applies it to himself; Acts chapter 8, Philip the evangelist arrives on the scene as the Ethiopian eunuch is reading Isaiah 53 and beginning at that very passage he interprets that text as a reference to Jesus Christ. Matthew chapter 3 and verse 17 when God says, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” he refers to the suffering servant of Jehovah. Isaiah 42, the same person of whom Isaiah 53 is speaking about. So there’s clear evidence that Isaiah 53 is a passage of the Messiah, and that the New Testament refers it to our Lord Jesus Christ. So when Matthew then applies it to Christ he’s not reinterpreting the Old Testament. He’s not finding something there that’s not there; it’s there.
You know, one of the most interesting things about Isaiah 53 to me is the fact that Arent Saline [ph 47:48], a German interpreter spent his life, he was a very learned man, spent his life writing articles about Isaiah 53 trying to avoid the obvious it almost appears. He had in his academic career papers and works that set forth four different interpretations of Isaiah 53. He said one time it referred to Moses; that was his last interpretation. He said one time it referred Jehoiakim. He said at another time it referred to Zerubbabel. At one point he said the servant did not die. That is the person of whom Isaiah was writing; he did not die. When he says he was cut off from the land of living it means simply that he went outside the land of Palestine. But he gave that up later and he admitted that the servant did die. But he himself died not having come to an understanding. His final interpretation was that the servant was the prophet, the so called second Isaiah and again he did admit that the servant had died. He was making some progress at least. When he died, then of course he came to an understanding of the person about whom that chapter is written.
One final passage is Romans 9:25-26, and the quotation from Hosea there; and the passage in Hosea is a passage which has to do with the future of Isaiah. I’ll read the passage in Hosea first, it’s chapter 2, verse 23 and chapter 1 verse 11 are combined by the apostle in his quotation, which we’ll finally look at. But in Hosea chapter 2, verse 23 we read, “And I will sow her for myself in the land; I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion. And I will say to those who were not my people, you are my people, and they will say Thou art my God.” And verse 11 of chapter 1 also bears on this, “And the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel will be gathered together, and they will appoint for themselves one leader,” I’m sorry it’s verse 10, “yet the number of the sons of Israel will be like the sands of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And it will come about that in the place where it is said to them, You are not my people, it will be said to them you are the sons of the living God.”
Now, when you turn over to Romans chapter 9, and verse 25 and verse 26 the Apostle Paul in that chapter refers to Hosea chapter 2, verse 23 and includes a part of verse 10 of chapter 1. Chapter 9, I’m sure you know the earlier part of it, I’ll say just a word about it. But in verse 25 he says, “As he says also” in Hosea “I will call those who are not my people my people, and her who was not beloved beloved, and it shall be in that place where it was said to them, You are not my people, there they shall be called sons of the living God.” Now, I must say that Professor Ladd’s best illustration is this one. This is one of the best in the New Testament. If you wanted to find a passage in which an Old Testament passage appears to be given a different sense in the New Testament, this would be the one; Romans 9: 25-26. He calls it a most vivid illustration of the application of Old Testament prophecies to the church.
Now, because our time is flitting away rapidly, let me just sum up Romans chapter 9 for you. Paul is explaining the Jewish failure, their unbelief, in the present. As a result of what he has said in chapters 1 through 8 the question would arise, is Paul’s gospel true? And if Paul’s gospel is true, then the Jewish promises seem to be nullified. But if the Jewish promises are not nullified, if they are still to be carried out by God, then Paul’s gospel seems to be false, because Israel is largely absent from everything that he says. So is it possible to still hold to Paul’s gospel and at the same time still hold that the promises have not been nullified? Paul, of course, answers that these alternative, we don’t have to decide between them, it’s both true and true that my gospel is true, and the promises have not been nullified. And in chapter 11 particularly he will deal with that point.
Now in chapter 9 through chapter 11 he seeks to answer those questions. And as you knew he starts out, he goes all the way back to the Book of Genesis and points out that history shows that not all Israelites were ever intended in the word of God to be saved. That is, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called.” It’s the elect Israelites. He’s not talking about Gentiles, when he says, “Not all who are of Israel these are Israel” he doesn’t mean when he says, “Not all who are Israel, these are Israel” he doesn’t mean that they are Gentiles who are Israelites. He means that there are two kinds of Israelites. There are those who believe, and there are those who do not believe. And then he traces the history and then he comes finally to, “Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated,” and that raises those great questions which we don’t have time to talk about in verse 14 and verse 19 where he says, “What shall we say then, there is no injustice with God is there? May it never be.” And then in verse 19 after has has sad, “So then he has mercy on whom he desires, and he hardens whom he desires, you will say to me then why does he still find fault for who resists his will?” He goes on to point out that God’s longsuffering and he has continued to carry out his purpose in longsuffering goodness and mercy. Regardless of the problems or questions you might have, that’s not a question.
And he concludes in verses 24 and 25 by saying, talking about vessels of glory which he’s prepared beforehand, “Even us whom he also called, not from among the Jews only, but also from among the Gentiles.” Now, in other words, the witness of prophecy shows vessels of mercy called from both Jews and Gentiles. And now in the light of Hosea, what is meant by these words that follow? He cites Hosea to prove the point “Even us whom he also called, not from among the Jews only but also from among the Gentiles.” We know from reading Hosea that Hosea was the prophet of unconditional love. If there is anything set forth in the Old Testament in support of that one finds Hosea supporting that. He was the prophet with the unfaithful wife, divinely designed by the Lord God to speak to Israel’s spiritual harlotry and their unfaithful love and show what his love was as over against their love.
Both of these texts now that are cited in support of that are texts that seem to affirm ethnic Israel’s restoration to ancient favored nation status. And I think that’s true. These texts do have to do with Israel, and they have to do with their future. But now, it’s clear that the emphasis rests in these verses on sovereign calling. The point at issue then that Professor Ladd would raise, and others would seek to answer, is Paul seems to take passages which in the Old Testament apply to Israel, and he applies them in the New Testament to Gentiles. Because he says in verse 24, “Even us whom he also called not from among Jews only but also from among Gentiles.” And then in verse 27 says, “And Israel cries out concerning Israel.” So it surely looks as if Paul has taken passages which in the Old Testament refer to Israel, and he has used them here in connection with Gentile salvation. Does that not prove Professor Ladd’s point? Is he not applying citations about Israel to the Gentiles? What’s the consequence of that? If the Ladd’s right is it not then right to call the church spiritual Israel?
Well, now let me try to answer this. I’m going to go two or three minutes over. Let’s acknowledge that these two verses have to do with the nation Israel. But now the question arises, in what way do they have to do with Israel? In other words, is he saying that those passages in the Old Testament are fulfilled in Gentile salvation? Well, as a matter of fact he doesn’t use the term fulfilled, all he says in verse 25 is “As he says also in Hosea.” In other words, he’s not claiming fulfillment in the predictive sense, as fulfilled in Gentiles in the predictive sense he doesn’t say that; or as applied analogically to the Gentiles, that is illustratively to the Gentiles. Now you can do that in two ways, you can, as some of the great interpreters have done, take this as an analogical use of the Old Testament. For example Sandian Hedlam [ph 59:25], John Murray who was a post millennialist, he would have been happy with I guess the interpretation. Sandian Hedlam, not a premillennialist. Hodge also a post millennialist, no premillennial bias here. They refer these texts to Gentile salvation analogically. And Hodge goes out of his way to say that’s perfectly legitimate.
Hodge says, I’m going to quote his words, he says that verses of the ten tribes are “applicable to others in like circumstances or of like character. This method of interpreting and applying Scripture is both common and correct. A general truth stated in reference to a particular class of persons is to be considered as intended to apply to all those whose character and circumstances are the same. Though the forms or words of the original annunciation may not be applicable to all embraced within the scope of the general sentiment.” In other words, Hodge says there is a principle here that may be applied to situations that are similar in the two cases.
I suggest that that is perfectly justifiable, but I’m going to suggest a little different twist to it. I’m not alone in this. I’m going to suggest a slightly different view point, also analogical. I suggest that the point of this chapter is not chiefly God’s call of both Jews and Gentiles, but rather the principle of sovereign grace in the rejection and reception of men. You go back over chapter 9 and you will not find a development of the relationship between Jews and Gentiles here. That follows in chapter 11. Here all he’s saying is divine sovereign grace has determined that certain individuals shall be saved and the history of the Old Testament bears that out. In other words, it’s God’s sovereign grace in the rejection and reception of all men if called, all the men who are called. The Gentiles are mentioned only incidentally. He drops them and starts talking again about Israel. He just uses them as an illustration. It’s a beautiful illustration of course, because it’s the illustration of Hosea’s teaching concerning God’s sovereign grace in dealing with Israel. How did he deal with Israel? Hosea says he allured Israel. He spoke comfortably to them. And he won them by his sovereign love to the confession of his name as their Lord and Savior. They have now apostatized from it.
So what I suggest to you is that Paul uses this passage to use that principle. He’s trying to say even us whom he’s also called, not from the Jews only but also from among the Gentiles, and think of how God has called men in the Old Testament as he called the Israelites. And incidentally, that calling is not a past calling or even a present calling but the context of Hosea makes it plain it’s a future calling consummated then. He’s saying the principle by which Israel was brought to me is the principle by which both Jews and Gentiles are brought to me and Israelites, you Israelites of whom I’m writing, if you think that men are become God’s men by virtue of the works of the Law of Moses you’ve missed the whole point. So this is a passage used analogically to underline sovereign grace in the rejection and inception of men, and verses 27 and 30 go on to underline his chief interest in Israel.
So it appears to me then, to sum it up, that Professor Ladd’s example fails of demonstration. He’s made two mistakes. He conceives Paul is arguing primarily the relation of Jews and Gentiles in the divine purpose. As I say, that’s found in chapter 11. Now it’s his sovereignty in his dealings with Israel as illustrated also in Gentile calling. You notice the use of the term calling. It’s found in verse 24, “Even us whom he also called.” Then as he says also in Hosea, “I will call those who are not my people.” And verse 26, “There they shall be called sons of the living God.” That’s the point. And he’s now taken Hosea as referring to salvation now. That is, Professor Ladd has. In the context Hosea refers to the future. There are no legitimate reasons then to deny to Paul the analogical use of Hosea to support the calling of the remnant and the Gentiles in his day. His sovereign calling unites the ages. There are no crucial reinterpretations of the Old Testament in the New Testament, only inspired interpretations. The Holy Spirit is the final arbiter in biblical interpretations.
I’ll just read two comments and close. John Ball, who lived in the 17th century said, “We are not tied to the expositions of the fathers or councils for the finding out of the sense of Scripture. The Holy Ghost speaking in the Scripture is the only faithful interpreter of Scripture.” In the late 19th century southern theologian John Gerardo said, “The Holy Spirit speaking in the Scriptures is the supreme judge of controversies in religion, the supreme rule is the Scriptures, the supreme judge of the meaning of the rule is the Holy Ghost speaking in the Scriptures. This is the watchword of Protestantism.” I suggest to you that Professor Ladd and many others have listened too long to modern liberal interpreters and have not paid sufficient attention to the apostle’s use of the Old Testament.
Sorry to keep you over. I probably have destroyed the tape ministry. But I had to finish. Let’s close with a word of prayer.
[Prayer] Father we are grateful to Thee for the word of God. We thank Thee and praise Thee for the clarity with which the word of God is…
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