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 What is spiritual, what is natural and what is literal?

Jeff, I would have posted in the other threads, but it seemed appropriate to start a new one because it is after all a different subject but one that I think we have to deal with if we are going to understand prophecy.

This is not a thread about the state of Israel. Please don't make it about the physical state of Israel. Down below I describe the difference between natural Israel and spiritual Israel from the point of view of the Scriptures. They are not one in the same. We are discussing scriptures, and what is meant by spiritual, natural and literal meanings.

The contrast in the Bible is not between the spiritual and the literal, but between the spiritual and the natural. Literal means "true to fact", so "Literal" can refer to that which is spiritual or natural. In other words scripture may be speaking about something which exists in the natural realm or it may be speaking about something which exists in the spiritual realm.

For instance: Satan and fallen angels literally exist, but you cannot see them in the natural except as their character is manifested in men. Literal does not mean you can see it with physical eyes. It just means it is absolutely true.

In another example, we read: ‘There was a war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels’ (Rev. 12:7). Also, that ‘we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places’ (Eph. 6:12).

This is literally (true to fact) in the spiritual realm.

So, understanding the difference between that which is spiritual, natural and literal is very important to understand since many proponents of futurism are sowing confusion by replacing the natural with "literal" and by not allowing the word "literal" to be used for spiritual realities. A "literal" interpretation does not call for something to be visible or material. All prophecies which refer to Israel, Jerusalem and Zion do not refer to that which is ONLY in the natural realm and should not be interpreted that way.

Jesus is referred to as a "Door", but is He literally a door?

He is referred to as a "Branch" in Zechariah, and the "Root of Jesse", in Isaiah and repeated in Romans by Paul.

Rom 15:12 And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.

Is Jesus reigning over the Gentiles physically? No. He is ruling and reigning over His Body, spiritually.

As I said before, literal means "True to fact". It is a reality!! In the natural realm or the spiritual realm, it is a reality.

Let the Word be the Word. Human reason as the final measure of truth strips the Gospel of it's supernatural, and the curse of the allegorical method obscures the true meaning of the Word of God. There has to be a balance and scripture provides that for us.

The Bible is not a mystery book but a Revelation to be understood. Revelation means to "uncover" or "reveal", meaning there are realities that cannot be seen that are revealed.

The NT is crystal clear regarding the "seed of Abraham". I don't think anyone here would argue that to whom "all the promises of God" belong are those who believe the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let's look at the Word of God.

Gal 3:7 Know ye therefore that THEY WHICH ARE OF FAITH, the same are the children of Abraham.

Gal 3:29 And IF ye be Christ's, THEN are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

I hope you can see that this is literally true (redundant) and yet it is a spiritual reality.

The New Testament also plainly reveals that Abraham had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac and Paul uses this to draw a distinction between natural "Israel", "Zion" and "Jerusalem" and also a spiritual counterpart of each. Just as Ishmael preceded Isaac but was cast out and not to be the "heir" with the son of the freewoman, even so natural Israel, Zion and Jerusalem preceded the spiritual realities of the same (Israel, Zion and Jerusalem). God's order in the working of His eternal purposes is first the natural and then the spiritual.

1 Cor 15:46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.

Hopefully, so far we are all agreeing with the plain reading of scripture.

And who is the "Heir", who is the TRUE ISRAEL OF GOD? It is no other than Jesus Christ, Himself. This is literally a spiritual reality. Jesus is the obedient Son and Paul shows us the promises were made to Jesus Christ.

Gal 3:16 Now to Abraham and his SEED were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; BUT AS OF ONE, AND TO THY SEED, WHICH IS JESUS CHRIST.

And if you and I are in Christ we are heirs with Christ so that all who are in Christ are the spiritual Israel, not the natural Israel.

Gal 3:29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

The Church does not replace natural Israel. This is error. Natural Israel coexists alongside spiritual Israel.

Circumcision or uncircumcision of the flesh mean nothing in spiritual Israel, circumcision of the heart (Rom 2:28), is what is important.
Gal 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
Gal 6:16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the ISRAEL OF GOD.

Paul again draws the distinction between Jerusalem below and Jerusalem above. He says the one below (natural Jerusalem) is in bondage with her children (natural Israel), but Jerusalem above is free and the mother of us all (spiritual Israel, those who have faith in Jesus Christ). Paul uses an allegory to reveal spiritual realities.

Gal 4:24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.
Gal 4:25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
Gal 4:26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

Hopefully, we are all still in agreement as it is pretty difficult to make of these verses some other interpretation.

Now, if you are going to say that the true Zion, of the city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem does not literally exist in the spiritual realm and that there is no literal "holy nation" and "royal priesthood" of which Peter speaks, then I can understand why many who believe in futurism find it difficult to understand Old Testament prophecies which speak of these spiritual realities name above which are RIGHT NOW IN EXISTENCE.

Zechariah 3, is referring to Jesus Christ
Zechariah 6, "the Man whose name is the BRANCH" who shall build the temple of the Lord"; "He shall bear the glory, and He shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne.".

I think we all agree that this prophecy was fulfilled and is presently being fulfilled, now. (Heb 2:9, 8:1). And the prophet goes on to say that crowns shall be given also to certain men, whom he names, and that “they that are far off” (a scriptural designation of Gentiles, see Acts 2:39 and Eph 2:13), ‘shall come and build in the temple of the Lord.’

Furthermore, in Zechariah 9:9 we have the familiar passage: ‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion… behold, thy King cometh unto thee’; and we know to a certainty, from Luke 19:38, that that prophecy was fulfilled when Christ came to Jerusalem to die for our salvation.

Zechariah 13:7-9 is speaking about the atoning death of Christ. Smite the Shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered (also in Matt 26:31).

Zechariah 14:8 - ‘And it shall be in that day that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former (or eastern) sea [the Caspian], and half of them towards the hinder sea” [the Mediterranean] – in other words, both eastward and westward – ‘in summer and in winter it shall be’ – that is, all the year round.

What was Zechariah talking about?
During a visit to Jerusalem, at the season of one of the feasts, ‘in the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried saying, If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink, he that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water’ (John 7:37-38).

I wonder what the "literal" crowd thinks of rivers of living water flowing out of one's belly?

‘And many nations shall be joined unto the Lord IN THAT DAY’ (Zech 2:11).
Act 3:24 Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these DAYS.

What is the single most important day in human history? The day Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world.

And so, when Zechariah says (13:1) ‘In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleaness,’ we understand clearly that he is foretelling the cross of Christ; as very plainly appears from verse 7, ‘Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and against the Man that is My Fellow, says the Lord of hosts; smite the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.’

Where futurists say 2/3 of Jewish people will die at the 2nd Coming of Christ? What does the Word say?

Zech 13:8
‘And it shall come to pass that in all the land, says the Lord, two parts shall be cut off, and die; but the third part shall be left therein.’ And in agreement with this prophecy, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, were ‘cut off’; but a third part, the disciples of Christ, were left. And as to these, the prophecy goes on to say: ‘And I will bring the third part through the fire and will refine them as silver is refined’ (1 Pet. 1:6 and 4:12); and further ‘they shall call on My Name and I will hear them. I will say, it is My people; and they shall say, the Lord is My God’ (Rom. 11:1,2).

Since the resurrection of Christ, Jews and Gentiles are being "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone; in whom all the building, fitly framed together, grows into an holy temple in the Lord". (1 Pet 1:20,21)

With all this in view, Zechariah's prophecies explained by the New Testament scriptures, how can I believe in futurism, (another age after the Church age where certain people are given another chance at salvation) and the verses I have named above in Zechariah have a clear spiritual fulfillment in this age via NT scriptures? I would have to completely ignore how scripture is interpreting scripture. I would have to literally ignore what is happening in the spiritual realm.

Anyway, I have never heard of Joel Richardson, and my time is limited during the week, so you will have to give me some details on him and specifically what to read as I just can't sit down and read a book. Maybe you can some of a few of his most important premises.

 2016/4/3 19:20

 Re: What is spiritual, what is natural and what is literal?

Good Lord Julius,
I have to admit, I didn't even read your (VERY LONG) post, because it's disingenious. I feel it's crafty, but dishonest (just being real brother). "This is not about Israel, please don't make it about let me build my case for Preterist/Supercessionism/Replacement Theology..." If you want to be taken serious by me, maybe be willing to read the book I recommended. To state your article isn't what it's clearly getting at, is well.......dishonest/sneaky. I'm not trying to be harsh or obstinate, just honest.
God Bless,

 2016/4/3 19:41

 Re: The gang

the devil is very crafty Jeff, You are catching on to those here

 2016/4/3 19:59



Please! If we can't talk about what is spiritual and natural and what is the meaning of literal, then why discuss?

And if we can't talk about why OT prophecies which are clearly fulfilled with NT scripture witness, then we are both speaking a language neither understands.

So, you think all the prophecies in Zechariah are awaiting a physical fulfillment sometime in the future and the NT scripture witness to those verses are being taken out of context?! That is a rhetorical question/statement, no need to answer because I already know from your initial response what you think. And I was not expecting your response.

I don't think you see the danger in a large part of the Church ignoring the spiritual fulfillment of OT scriptures and then making up a future dispensation where these scriptures are supposed to be fulfilled and at what a horrible cost to natural Israel. Self-fulfilling prophecy of John Hagee who is calling for an Armageddon in the Middle East. He thinks he can hasten the day of Christ by precipitating Armageddon and 70 million listen to him. This belief will bring so much harm to natural Israel. Whether you see that or not, that is what I am seeing in the future with this theology. But, my post was not about that. If you and I can't get on the same sheet of music as to the difference between spiritual and natural and what literal means, then we are wasting our time.

So, you and others get to freely talk about future events, but no one is allowed to contest what you say with scriptures lest they be ridiculed. They can only agree with you because if they disagree they are dogged with unkind remarks and lies and slander. Do you like that? Is that what you want?

docs does not believe like I do and he has not acted in any way hostile such as others. He has been the only one in the forum courageous enough to speak up when slander and lies and accusations and just plain evil speech is hurled. We try to have conversations and he tries to also but the threads are always ambushed so we can never get into any coherent thought process and conversations about eschatology. Everything ends up being "choppy" and no one really ends up knowing the whole story, (what we believe).

You did not even address the topic of what is spiritual, natural and literal. I can only surmise you did not have an answer for the scripture witness in the NT and that is why you reverted to name calling and judging my motives. Wow! Easy way out since a few others have become expert at name calling (they don't have any substance to talk about) and now you are joining them. Is this a taste of the behaviour of the Church in the end times towards Christians that don't believe as you and others regarding future events? Apparently so. And I can see that very few Christians will be brave enough to speak up. Are the evil attitudes that are coming out now a taste of things to come? People who don't believe your eschatology will be branded as Jew haters? If the comments of 3 or 4 other characters and then your comments are a preview of what people can expect who don't embrace your views, then I don't see your views as bearing good fruit at all. Why do you and others have to bully people into submission and ridicule them into believing as you believe? Rhetorical question. Please don't attempt to answer.

That's it I guess, and I will just be reading all of your eschatological views without responding, else if you can't handle something I say, then unkind accusations of dishonest, sneaky or grouping me with murderers from the past will take place. I guess all I can say is enjoy your unchallenged eschatology and all the high fives you are getting. I won't address you personally again in your eschatology threads.

Just being real, brother.

 2016/4/3 22:03


That's fine, I will discuss. My point is/was that you were clearly deceitful in your intent with, "I'm not talking about Israel...." When you CLEARLY are bringing up the subject for that EXACT purpose. I'll read the 25 paragraphs you sent as soon as I get a chance. And I haven't laid out endless articles, paragraphs, etc. espousing "my eschatological views" like I have noticed you now do over and over and over and over. There's been more of this literal vs symbolic, Phillip Mauro, etc. laid out then you can shake a stick at lately. It's not me pushing, but you.

I do believe some things were fulfilled. I do believe some things are literal & some symbolic. I believe some were partially fulfilled in type of art of dual fulfillment prophecies with still more to come. But you still haven't answered my 2 (Short) simple questions on Romans 11 (clearly not symbolic), or Acts 1?

And my posting Spurgeon just now today was the first premillineal view article I have EVER posted on SI. So I'm not cramming it down your throat. And I try to treat you kindly, resepctfully, graciously, etc. even when you make comments directed at me, are sarcastic (which has been a few times now), etc. Fact is, if you look back at the threads over the last several weeks, it's you accusing, piping off at me (which I acknowledged but didn't return in kind), etc. My point is that I'm not cramming my views down your throat. I feel more like am choking trying to keep you from cramming yours down mine. And when it's bad enough for you to disguise your intent in deceit to try to continue on, I gotta say something.

And as far as The list of hateful murderous supercessationists who advocated genocide down through history, it just is what it is. Send me the nonexistent list of Premillineals who advocated genocide in the name of Christ. If You know a tree by its fruit has any similance to this issue, it ain't looking good for your view. Just saying.

Anyways brother, I'll read all your long extensive articles & answer your questions as soon as you answer my 2 questions on Romans 11 & Acts 1.
God Bless,

 2016/4/3 23:02

Joined: 2008/5/3
Posts: 435

 Re: Zech 13:8

Julius21 said:

"Zech 13:8
‘And it shall come to pass that in all the land, says the Lord, two parts shall be cut off, and die; but the third part shall be left therein.’ And in agreement with this prophecy, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, were ‘cut off’; but a third part, the disciples of Christ, were left."

You disgregard the context of Zech 13:8 and create your own context. There is no reference anywhere that the disciples of Christ are consided to be a "third part" of anything in any context. The real prophecy continues to explain what Zech 13:8 is about:

Zechariah 14:2  For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.

3  Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.

4  And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.

That's the real context, and your interpretation belongs in fantasy land, and not in the scriptures section of a Christian forum, you are making stuff up as you move along with your theories.

References to any "third part" do not appear in the gospels but a lot in the book of revelation, and ONLY there in the NT. None of those 9 refer to a time of 70 AD, unless you create or follow a big dellusion first and then try to squeeze them all in.

 2016/4/3 23:21Profile


And please don't compare what I believe to John Haggee. He believes in the falsity of dual covenantal theology. I don't believe that. So, once again, using some unrelated extreme straw man isn't helpful. I don't believe what John Haggee believes. I wrote down & quoted people who do believe as you believe. So their theology led to their statements, & then to their actions or their incitement of others to those ends. I don't believe in the same theology as John Haggee. Not even close.

Like I said, I believe the same way as John Bunyan, Charles Spurgeon, Horatious Bonar, JC Ryle, George Mueller, Robert Murray Mcheyene, Michael Brown, Art Katz, Corrie Ten Boom & her family, Dietrech Bonheiffer, etc., etc., etc.

 2016/4/4 0:46


Jeff, do you believe 2/3 of the state of Israel will be destroyed just before the Messiah comes? Do you believe the Scriptures teach that?

What do historical books put the number at that were destroyed in 70AD?

 2016/4/4 1:51

Joined: 2008/5/3
Posts: 435


You ask the wrong question. You want historic events to validate your belief system.

To get out of any possible error you would have to believe what a prophet Of God says first of all, thats what believers do, and not vice versa, and then look into history to check if any of your historical books mentioned something like this to happen:

"Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.

And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south."

That you cannot explain historically from past events unless you break the basic understanding of what the expressions here mean. I guess in order to complete that error you would have to transfer this into a pseudo spiritual view where the Lord might have fought nations in spirit, and his feet did stand on the mount, just not in the sense that anybody could verify it. Then there would be witnesses - a record of it - and we would have a reason to discuss it. Since it's not about His first coming where the intention never had anything to do with fighting nations. So why then close the mind to it to fit a theory?

 2016/4/4 6:14Profile

Joined: 2012/2/8
Posts: 5675



I recommend that you read Matthew Henry's commentary of Zechariah 14. Even if you disagree with his interpretation (I am sure you will) AT MINIMUM it shows that a extremely respected commentator has a different viewpoint that is perfectly sound and reasonable.

It is therefore wise not to be so dogmatic about such issues. Why not rather have a preference for a certain interpretation, but at the same time in the back of your mind realize that you might be incorrect.

When it comes to "end time" prophecies that are exceedingly difficult and mysterious, this would seem to be the best course of action.


 2016/4/4 8:37Profile

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