In Proposition 21, George Peters states:
“The Prophecies of the Kingdom, interpreted literally, sustain the expectations and hopes of the pious Jews.”
Place yourself in the shoes (or sandals in this case) of the Jewish people while they were in exile. They had been removed from the Promised Land due to their rejection of God’s commands. However, despite this judgment, they held on tight to the accompanying promise made by God of restoration. They also held fast to the promise of the coming of the Messiah to re-establish the Kingdom. As discussed yesterday, some Jews had the correct perspective on the kingdom and others did not but both anticipated the coming of a kingdom according to God’s promises to His people. The prophecies regarding the kingdom did indeed sustain the Jewish people in the exilic and post-exilic period. They remained steadfast in their conviction that the Davidic throne would be re-established and that the Messiah would take up residence on that throne.
The most notable observation Peters presents in Proposition 21 is the following:
“In view of the faith of the Jews, and from whence derived, it may well be asked: It is reasonable to suppose that God would give utterances by His prophets respecting a Kingdom, which, taken in their usual literal sense (making due allowance for the usage of figures common to all languages), positively denote the re-established, in a most glorious form under a Son of David’s, of David’s cast-down throne and kingdom, etc., and yet that all these assurances must be taken in a different sense? Men, eminent for ability and piety, tell us that such a transformation is demanded. They may, under the specious garb of “a higher sense” honestly think to elevate our notions of the predictions, but in reality it is a lowering of the sense actually contained in the Word; for attributing to it (through human authority) another sense, it virtually assumes the position that Holy Writ contains language and ideas that cannot be maintained; that God, foreknowing the result, intentionally conveyed one meaning whilst (like the Delphic oracle) another was intended.”
Peters here presents a pointed yet important point that I have often wondered myself. Why do so many who claim to take a literal approach to Scripture change course when it comes to a subject for instance such as the doctrine of the kingdom? The Jews certainly affirmed the prophecies speak of a literal kingdom being established by a literal Messiah. While there is certainly some element of symbolism inherent in the prophetic corpus (a point Peters rightly admits), there are some issues such as the kingdom that are clearly literal in nature and will be in fulfillment. Why do some have disdain for a literal approach to this doctrine? Peters correctly notes it is a matter of human authority; the personal perspective if you will of many eminent theologians throughout the years whose opinions have impacted our approach to doctrines such as this. It does not make much theological sense as Peters notes that God was attempting to say one thing but in reality is doing another. That was not the perspective of the authors of Scripture, those who held firm to the promise of the kingdom, and it should not be our approach either. The Messiah will return for his bride quite literally and will quite literally re-establish his kingdom. There is no reason to insert symbolism where a literal fulfillment is demanded.