And I will put enmityWhat do these have in common?
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel." (Gen 3:15)
"Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. (Mal 4:5)
3A voice is calling,
"Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness;
Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.
4"Let every valley be lifted up,
And every mountain and hill be made low;
And let the rough ground become a plain,
And the rugged terrain a broad valley;
5Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
And all flesh will see it together;
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken." (Is 403-5)
• Each was a prophecy of the first coming of Christ.
• None was fulfilled literally.
As we look back, we are comforted that there are so many (over 140) Messianic prophesies, and it doesn’t bother us that they were not fulfilled in a literal sense. Christ came and defeated Satan on the cross, but as far as we know he didn’t literally bruise him on the head.
This points out, according Loraine Boettner, a wrong headed view of prophesy. Its main purpose is not to give us a glimpse into the future, that is secondary. The primary purpose is to provide comfort and to strengthen our faith when we look back at prophesy that has been fulfilled.
We should keep that in mind when it comes to prophesy that has yet to be fulfilled.
Much prophecy, if taken literally, does point to a future restoration of Israel as something more than a political entity. However, if that prophecy is spiritualized, much like the Messianic prophecies provided above, then we can interpret the fulfillment to be in terms of the church (the "new" Israel) rather than the literal nation of Israel. For example, take Isaiah’s prophesy of a new heaven and earth (Is 65:17-25).
Taken literally, this passage is in support of the restoration of the nation of Israel in glory, not in the advancement of the church.
I know there is a reluctance to sacrifice a literal interpretation of prophesies. But keep in mind that, as mentioned, many Messianic prophesies were fulfilled spiritually. Also, in the form of a warning, the rejection of Christ by the Jews could be explained by the fact that they were waiting for and insisting upon a literal fulfillment of the restoration of the nation to glory.
Prophesies concerning a "golden age" for Israel will be fulfilled, but not in Israel the nation, but rather in Christ’s church.