Should the biblical promises related to Christmas be interpreted literally or spiritually? Find out with Dr. David Reagan and Nathan Jones on the show Christ in Prophecy.
Air Date: December 24, 2017
To order, call 1-972-736-3567 (M-F, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. CST), or select the resource below to order online.
Dr. Reagan: Are you aware of the fact that there are some biblical promises related to Christmas that most Christians either don’t know about, or have forgotten? Stay tuned for a discussion of the forgotten promises of Christmas.
Dr. Reagan: Greetings in the name of Jesus, our Blessed Hope, and welcome to Christ in Prophecy. My colleague, Nathan Jones, and I want to talk with you about what I call the forgotten promises of Christmas. Yes, folks, you heard me right, I said the forgotten promises of Christmas. Now, I’m sure you’re wondering what in the world that’s all about, so let’s get right to the point. Nathan, let’s take a look at the scripture in which I think there are some forgotten promises of Christmas. Let’s have you read Luke chapter 1 beginning with verse 26.
Nathan Jones: Verse 26, alright. “Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’ But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.'”
Dr. Reagan: Ok, thank you, Nathan. Now, Nathan, folks, this particular passage has seven promises in it, I want you to notice these promises very carefully. First, Mary will conceive and give birth to a son. Second, He will be named Jesus. Third, He will be great. Fourth, He will be called the Son of the Most High. Five, He will be given the throne of David. Six, He will reign over the house of Jacob forever. And seven, there will be no end to His kingdom. Ok, Nathan, of these seven prophecies which have been fulfilled? Any?
Nathan Jones: The first four of the seven have been fulfilled.
Dr. Reagan: Ok, let’s go through them for a moment. Mary will conceive and give birth to a son.
Nathan Jones: Well that’s obvious the virgin birth happened, Jesus was born. Mary did have a son. Second that His name would be Jesus and that is Yeshua in Hebrew which means the salvation of God.
Dr. Reagan: And that was His name.
Nathan Jones: That was His name.
Dr. Reagan: Alright, what was the third one?
Nathan Jones: The third one would that He would be great. Now, history certainly attests that right? After all our whole calendar system is based on the birth of Jesus Christ.
Dr. Reagan: That’s right, we measure time from Jesus.
Nathan Jones: Right, even we can change it to CE and–
Dr. Reagan: Which is one of the reasons I believe the book of Daniel reveals that the Antichrist is going to change the calendar in the end times because he doesn’t want it referring to Jesus.
Nathan Jones: Well, like I was saying the Humanists can try to get rid to AD and BC but the Antichrist is going to get rid of any reference to Jesus birth.
Dr. Reagan: Right. Ok, the fourth one, He’ll be called the Son of the Most High which means He would be called the Son of God.
Nathan Jones: Yes, He would be the Son of God and God in the flesh. That He resurrected from the dead proves His divinity.
Dr. Reagan: And He claimed that, that He was God in the flesh.
Nathan Jones: He and the Father are one.
Dr. Reagan: Ok, that leaves us three. The three that are left are: He will be given the throne of David, He’ll reign over the house of Jacob forever, and they’ll be no end to His kingdom. Now what about those three, have they been fulfilled like the first four?
Nathan Jones: They have not. They still have a future fulfillment, a future literal fulfillment to be specific.
Dr. Reagan: So, you’re saying that one day Jesus will sit on the throne of David in Jerusalem?
Nathan Jones: Right. Now some people say that He ascended into Heaven and He sits on the throne of God. But the throne of God, and the throne of David is different.
Dr. Reagan: Yes.
Nathan Jones: The Throne of David is in Jerusalem.
Dr. Reagan: Yes, the scriptures always make it clear that the throne of David is one place, and one place only Jerusalem. And that He’s sitting by His Father’s right hand, on His Father’s throne. But He speaks about the fact that one day He will come and sit on His throne, just as He sat on His Father’s throne. And it says He’ll reign over the house of Jacob forever. And He’s certainly not ruling over that house right now, they’re in rebellion to Him, because the house of Jacob is the Jewish people.
Nathan Jones: Right. Right. When Christ sets up His kingdom the Jewish people will even have His name inscribed on their bells and pots they, all of them will know Jesus if they don’t know Him now.
Dr. Reagan: And that is certainly not fulfilled now. Well, that leaves us with these three that are unfulfilled. But you know Nathan the thing about it that’s interesting is that both the Catholic Church, and the majority of all Protestant denominations argue that those three have been fulfilled. They argue that those three were fulfilled symbolically, spiritually, in the Church. And that the house of Jacob is the Church, and not the Jewish people. And that Jesus is reigning on the throne of David right now over the Church, and therefore all of these prophecies have been fulfilled. What is your response to that?
Nathan Jones: Well, why would the first four be literally fulfilled, and then the last three be symbolically fulfilled? How do you symbolically fulfill Isaiah 24:23, “Then the moon will be disgraced, And the sun ashamed; For the Lord of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and before His elders, gloriously.” You’ve been to Jerusalem over 40 times have you see Jesus reigning from Jerusalem?
Dr. Reagan: Well, you know if you’re going to say that– well first of all the point you made is a very good one. The first four were fulfilled literally, exactly what they meant.
Nathan Jones: Oh, yeah.
Dr. Reagan: Why should we shift gears when we get to the last three and say, “Oh, well those don’t mean what they say?” Those have been fulfilled symbolically and spiritually in the Church. You know I grew up in a church that taught me that. From the time I can remember the first 30 years I was going to church I was taught the Bible means exactly what it says from beginning to end, unless it is talking about the future. In which case it never means what it says, you have to spiritualize it. But, Nathan, if you spiritualize Scripture, and spiritualize prophecy then how can you ever know when it was fulfilled?
Nathan Jones: You don’t. You have to make up your own meanings, and that is the great fallacy with spiritualizing the Bible, you become god. You decide what is true and what is false, and that is heretical.
Dr. Reagan: Well, it sure is.
Nathan Jones: I mean it really is.
Dr. Reagan: But it is so convenient when you can just say, “Well, it doesn’t really mean this, or it really doesn’t mean that.” You take for example the book of Revelation says that the Millennium is going to last a 1,000 years and it says that some six times, over and over, and over, and over. And people say, “Well, that doesn’t really mean a 1,000 years. It just means a long period of time.” So you know the Millennium started back when Jesus was on the cross and it is going to continue until He returns. But a 1,000 years doesn’t mean a 1,000 years. But the thing that is interesting is that when you go to Old Testament prophecy, and for example Daniel discovered the scroll of Jeremiah that said the captivity was going to last 70 years and they were in the 69th year, he didn’t say, “Oh, well, you know 70 years, never means 70, Bible prophecy never means what it says that could be 7,000 years or 700 years or it could just mean anything.” No, he took it to mean 70 years.
Nathan Jones: Well, Isaiah 40:4-5, “Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth.” And you read in the Tribulation about a number of earthquakes that flatten the mountains and raise the valleys. So, that the Millennial Kingdom will be a lot of plains and Jerusalem will be raised up as the highest mountain. Now, that is a physical description of the land. How do you spiritualize geography?
Dr. Reagan: Well, it happens. I’ve read people who have spiritualized it because there is this obsession with spiritualizing anything that has to do with the future, because there is a rejection really of what the Bible teaches about end times. Well, folks, those who take the position that the last three promises made to Mary have been fulfilled spiritually in the Church are what we call Amillennialists; these are the people who argue that there is not going to be any future reign of Jesus on this earth because we are living in the Millennium right now. That’s right they argue that we are living in the Millennium now. In just a moment were going to take a look at this Amillennial viewpoint in detail.
Dr. Reagan: Okay, folks, let’s get right to the issue. The Amillennial viewpoint, the one that is held by the Catholic Church and by the majority of Protestant denominations maintains that we are living in the Millennium right now. Well, what about it, Nathan, are we living in the Millennium right now?
Nathan Jones: I think you only have to read the Bible about the Kingdom of Christ to realize that we are not living in the Kingdom of Christ, or in other words the Millennial Kingdom right now. Especially Ezekiel chapter 40-48 describes a much larger Jerusalem, it describes a Millennial Temple that would actually cover the city of Jerusalem today. It talks about a river that flows out of Jerusalem into the Dead Sea and into the Mediterranean Sea. And that the Dead Sea is alive, people are fishing in the Dead Sea. I’ve been to the Dead Sea, it is dead.
Dr. Reagan: Well, I’m afraid you just don’t understand Bible prophecy, Nathan because those who have an Amillennial viewpoint say that that description of the future Temple which it goes into great detail.
Nathan Jones: Great detail.
Dr. Reagan: That is simply a description of the Church. And that that river that is flowing out is the proclamation of the Gospel to all the world. And as it hits the Dead Sea and the Dead Sea become alive, that is talking about how the Gospel transforms the life of an individual.
Nathan Jones: Well, why would the Gospel need to go out when in the Millennial Kingdom everybody knows Jesus? The whole world has the knowledge of Jesus because Jesus is ruling from Jerusalem and all the nations go up and visit Him once a year, and if they don’t the rain is held back. Now, I don’t know about you but I don’t go to Jerusalem once a year to visit Jesus, He’s not there.
Dr. Reagan: Well, it’s just that when you interpret prophecy the way Amillennials interpret it, it just becomes meaningless. I mean here is a description of the future Temple in great detail. Great detail. And to just simply say oh, no, that is just a reference to the Church. Well, God knows how to communicate, He wants to communicate. You don’t have to have a PhD in hermeneutics to understand God’s Word. You have to have the Holy Spirit to understand it in depth.
Nathan Jones: How do they explain then that Satan will be bound in a pit for a 1,000 years? Because if no one is being deceived–
Dr. Reagan: Oh, that is very simple Nathan, you just don’t understand how to interpret prophecy in a spiritualized way.
Nathan Jones: Ok, help me, put my spiritual eyes on.
Dr. Reagan: What happened is that as a result of the death of Jesus on the cross a believer today receives the power of the Holy Spirit and that binds Satan.
Nathan Jones: Oh, what about Jesus landing on the Mount of Olives and splitting it into two? I’ve been to the Mount of Olives it is not split in two. When He comes back it is supposed to be split in two.
Dr. Reagan: Well, again one of the greatest theologians of the 20th Century explained that. Nathan is talking here folks about a prophecy that is in Zechariah chapter 14 that says Jesus is going to come back to the Mount of Olives, and when His foot touches it is going to split. And his position was well the Mount of Olives stands for the human heart, and the return of Jesus is just simply you receiving Jesus as your Lord and Savior. And when His foot–when you do that your heart splits in contrition and the enemy forces around your heart are destroyed. You just don’t have the imagination that is necessary for symbolic interpretation.
Nathan Jones: Well, the problem is though as I look at the First Coming prophecies, and they were all fulfilled literally, these don’t make any sense if we take a literal interpretation of the Bible.
Dr. Reagan: Well, that is a good point, Nathan. And I just want to emphasize that point because, again, I grew up in a church that told me Second Coming prophecies never means what it says. And then one day when I was probably about 30 years old I finally started reading the Minor Prophets, that you’re an expert on. And I got over to the book of Zechariah and started reading it and it has just one prophecy after another, after another concerning the First Coming of Jesus and they were all literally fulfilled.
Nathan Jones: Yes, all of them.
Dr. Reagan: It says for example He is going to come into Jerusalem on a donkey. He’ll be hailed as a king. That He’d be betrayed. Betrayed by a friend. Betrayed for 30 pieces of silver. He’d be lifted up. He’d be pierced. And it suddenly occurred to me you don’t have to be a rocket scientist that if all the First Coming prophecies in the book of Zechariah meant what they said, the Second Coming prophecies must mean what they say.
Nathan Jones: And thank goodness because I don’t know about you but living in this time period is not the Millennial Kingdom. This is not how I want to see Jesus Christ ruling and reigning on earth, with wars all over the planets and riots.
Dr. Reagan: Well, people go to the book of Revelation, Christians do to read about the Millennium well that’s not where you read about the Millennium.
Nathan Jones: Right. Correct.
Dr. Reagan: Most Christians don’t read the Old Testament, they don’t know the Old Testament. You want to find out folks about what the Bible says about the Millennium what you do is you go to the Old Testament and you find out about it in great detail. The only information we have in the New Testament that is additional is the information that the Millennium is going to last 1,000 years. But if you go to the book of Isaiah and the book of Isaiah is full of dreams, and visions, and words of the Lord concerning. And it says that peace, righteousness, and justice will flood the earth as the waters cover the sea. Do we see peace, righteousness, and justice flooding the earth today?
Nathan Jones: No, not at all. Or what about the animals where the child can play in the vipers, the ox–the lion is eating straw like the ox. You’ve got the wolf lying down with the lamb, maybe not the lion with the lamb, but the wolf with the lamb. In other words it is a time of peace or the people taking their swords and beating them into plowshares. We’re always on the verge of a major war.
Dr. Reagan: What you have to do is spiritualize every bit of that to argue that we are living in the Millennium now. You know I have a friend Arnold Fruchtenbaum, you know Arnold he’s spoken at our conferences. He’s a Messianic Jew. And Arnold one time was giving a talk about the Millennium and he said, “You know I just can’t understand these folks talk about we’re living in the Millennium right now,” he said, “I don’t like to say this if I’m living in the Millennium right now I’m living in the slum area.” Because I mean it talks about peace, righteousness, and justice flooding the earth. And we have anything in the world but that today.
Nathan Jones: I know. I know. And it’s sad that those who purposely, now I think like you said growing up you probably didn’t know better, right? Because you were taught that and that is what you were meant to believe. But I think when you actually start reading the Bible and taking it for its literal interpretation all of a sudden that Amillennialism falls away, and you can take it as the wonderful promises that the Millennial Kingdom offers.
Dr. Reagan: Well, I remember when I was only 12 years old I had my first confrontation. I was just flipping one day through the scriptures, and I grew up what was called a New Testament church, we never studied the Old Testament. So I am flipping over there and I find Zechariah 14, and it says that when the Messiah comes He comes to the Mount of Olives, foot touches the mountain splits in half, speaks a supernatural word, Antichrist and his forces destroyed. And it says in verse 9, “On that day He will become King over all the earth.” And I thought this is amazing because every sermon I had ever heard said that there is not one verse in the Bible that even implies that the Messiah will ever put His foot on this earth again.
So, I got my Bible and I went to see my preacher. And I sat down with him. I’m only 12 years old and I’m scared to death. And I said, “You know you say there is not a verse in the Bible that says that the Lord will ever put His foot on the earth again. What about Zechariah 14?” And I remember he turned over there and he read it, and he read it and I thought he was never going to say anything. And he kept reading it, and reading it and finally he looked up and he put his finger in my face and said, “Son, I want to tell you something I don’t know what this means, but I’ll guarantee you one thing it does not mean what it says.” Well, I thought hey, I thought the Bible meant what it said from beginning to end. But that is what people do when they start playing games with it. You know I believe, and I put out a video about this called, “The Beginning and the Ending.” But it is a video about how the two areas of the Bible that are most abused are the beginning and the ending. The beginning is spiritualized saying, oh, well, it wasn’t six days of Creation it was six million years, or six billion years, or whoever knows what. But it certainly was not six days. And the ending all spiritualized. If you start out spiritualizing you’re probably going to end up spiritualizing.
Dr. Reagan: And then you don’t believe anything in the middle.
Nathan Jones: Well and then if, you know, if the beginning doesn’t mean what it says, if the ending doesn’t mean what it says then how do I know that the story of the resurrection is true? I mean, you’ve got to take God’s Word to mean what it says. And it is just simple plain sense meaning, and not apply the imagination to say, “Well, no, it means a 1,000 different things than what it says.”
Dr. Reagan: Why do believe that some people want to deny Jesus His Millennial Kingdom? That He just comes back, we all go to Heaven and history is over.
Nathan Jones: Well, I think one of the reasons is because the Bible indicates that it is going to be a Kingdom where He is going to fulfill all of His promises to the Jewish people.
Dr. Reagan: Oh, ok.
Nathan Jones: So, He is going to reign in Jerusalem. David is going to reign over Israel in His glorified body. The law of God will go forth to all the nations through the Jewish people. People will come to Jerusalem to celebrate Jesus. And Jesus is going to fulfill all of His promises to the Jewish people. That is what the Bible teaches. Well, if you don’t believe that God still loves the Jewish people, if you believe God has washed His hands of them and has no purpose left for them. And that they have been completely replaced by the Church, then you cannot believe what the Bible says about the end times and about the Jewishness of the Kingdom that Jesus is coming to establish.
Dr. Reagan: Because the Jewish people will be a priestly people during the Millennial Kingdom, right?
Nathan Jones: That’s right.
Dr. Reagan: They’ll be esteemed and honored among the nations.
Nathan Jones: And these will be people who are believers in Yeshua.
Dr. Reagan: Yeah, they are believers, they are not unbelievers, believing Jews.
Nathan Jones: Yeah, they’re believers. And but the majority of professing Christians in the world today, both Catholic and Protestant are into what’s called Replacement Theology, and therefore they argue that God has washed His hands of the Jewish people. He has no purpose left for them. That they are Christ killers. That the Church has replaced the Jewish people. And it wasn’t until the early 1800’s when Dispensational Theology was developed that people began to argue, oh, no, no God still loves the Jewish people, all you have to do is read Romans 9-11 which says over, and over, He loves them, He still has a purpose for them. He’s still going to bring a great remnant to salvation, which is going to occur at the end of the Tribulation. He has not replaced them with the Church, and that one day He’s going to fulfill every promise He has ever made to them. Instead those in Replacement Theology say, oh, no, all those promises have been transferred to the Church. Well, if those promises don’t mean what they say, and if they really were promises to the Church and not the Jewish people how do we know God is going to fulfill the promises He’s made the Church? Because He’s made a lot of promises to us.
Dr. Reagan: Yes, that could backfire.
Nathan Jones: Well, absolutely. You could say, well He doesn’t really mean those, they are really promises to somebody else. No, they are promises to us. There are promises to the Jews that He is going to fulfill. There are promises to the Church that He is going to fulfill. And I believe God is faithful. I believe He will fulfill every promise He has made, and one of those is Jesus is coming to reign in glory, and majesty from Mount Zion in Jerusalem. And the whole world is going to be flooded with peace, righteousness, and justice as the waters cover the sea.
Dr. Reagan: Amen. So Amillennialism robs the Jewish people their position, and in turn ends up robbing Jesus of His victory, and then the Church our victory through Christ.
Dr. Reagan: Welcome back folks to our discussion of the forgotten promises of Christmas. Forgotten because of the error of symbolic interpretation. Folks, Nathan has recently produced a very interesting and entertaining video about the danger of interpreting Bible prophecy symbolically and I’d like to share it with you at this point.
Inbox Video: Should Bible Prophecy Be Interpreted Literally or Symbolically?
Nathan Jones: Hello, I’m Eschatologist Nathan Jones, and here at Maranatha Labs, we research day and night to fight the deadly disease known as Symbolically. Those infected with this inhibitive condition are at first difficult to spot, for they look like any other Christian. Show them a symbol out of everyday life, and they can identify it with ease. But, show them a symbol taken from the Bible, particularly Bible prophecy, and the Bible translation portion of their brains are quickly overcome by Symbolically. When it comes to the interpretation of the Bible, patients with this debilitating affliction often struggle over the question: Should Bible Prophecy Be Interpreted Literally or Symbolically? In 9 out of 10 cases, those afflicted with Symbolically will intentionally spiritualize the Scriptures, choosing whatever interpretation that suits their fancy, and then argue automatically that the plain sense meanings found in the Bible are not their true meanings.
90% of those suffering under this inhibitive interpretive condition may experience:
1. A disturbing inability to believe that God knows how to communicate.
2. Compulsive desires to strip Bible verses away from their context.
3. Sudden spasms of detective work, searching for hidden meanings.
4. Manic mythologizing of the Genesis Creation and Revelation end times accounts.
5. And, delusions of grandeur, playing God by deciding what the Bible truly does or does not mean.
If you are suffering from Symbolically, there is hope. Ask your local Eschatologist about the fast acting Golden Rule of Interpretation. Yes, the Golden Rule of Interpretation is the cure that will guide you to a literal interpretation of the Bible. Just generously apply this motto every single time you read the Bible – “If the plain sense makes sense, don’t look for any other sense, lest you end up with nonsense.” And you, too, will be cured from spiritualizing Scriptures.
Once you’ve started implementing the Golden Rule of Interpretation, keep the Bible study portion of your brain healthy by applying the following eight treatments:
1. The Right Approach: Always approach the Scriptures with a childlike faith and an honest heart.
2. Be Filled By God’s Spirit: Before you open your Bible, ask the Holy Spirit to provide clear understanding.
3. The Inspiration of Scriptures: Because God Himself inspired the writers of the Bible, accept the truth that what they wrote must be without error.
4. Plain Sense Symbols: Let the Bible be its own best interpreter as to the meaning of its own symbols.
5. Context, Context, Context: Meanings of words in the Bible should always be determined by their context.
6. The Principle of Searching: All verses on a particular topic should be searched out, compared, and then reconciled. Never hang a doctrine on one isolated verse.
7. The Problem of Prefilling: Allow that some Bible prophecies are prefilled in symbolic type first before being completely fulfilled later on.
8. Telescoping Prophets: Understand that prophets often looked into the future and saw a series of prophetic events, not realizing they’d be separated by long time intervals.
There are side effects from using the Golden Rule of Interpretation: a deeper understanding of God, a new appreciation of the Bible, mental acuity, a richer faith, unbelievable hope, spiritual enlightenment, and, an inexpressible joy.
So fight the dreaded Symbolically with the Golden Rule of Interpretation – “If the plain sense makes sense, don’t look for any other sense, lest you end up with nonsense.” Why live with the heartbreak of confusion? Take the Golden Rule. Because He’s worth it.
No prescription necessary. Available to all ages.
Dr. Reagan: Outstanding video, Nathan! I tell you that was really great. Why don’t tell our folks about the Inbox series.
Nathan Jones: Ok, well, as you know as Web Minister I answer all the Bible prophecy questions that come into the ministry and sometimes you don’t like to read a long article. So, what I did along with my associate is create short video answers that hopefully are entertaining, they educate, enlighten, and hopefully inspire you to check it out on our website christinprophecy.org, or lamblion.com, and our YouTube Channel Christ in Prophecy.
Dr. Reagan: Ok, thank you. Folks, as we bring this program to a close let me assure you that God has not forgotten any of His promises He has made. And He intends to fulfill all of them for their plain sense meaning. We can be confident therefore that Jesus is returning to reign over this earth for a 1,000 years from Jerusalem. And that during that time the earth will be filled with peace, righteousness, and justice as the waters cover the sea. Well, folks, that’s our program for this week, I hope you will be back with us again next week. Until then this is Dave Reagan speaking for Lamb & Lion Ministries saying, “Look up, be watchful for our redemption is drawing near.”
End of Program