Today’s object lesson is brought to you by the Biblical Archaeology Society.
It is often claimed that spiritual realities follow natural fulfilments. This is the case made by full preterists when claiming that the new heavens and earth came in AD70 as a result of the fall of Herod’s temple. Or again, that resurrection came about due to the fall of a building.
A verse often used to substantiate this teaching is 1 Corinthians 15:46:
Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
However, Paul’s meaning in 1 Cor. 15:46 is not that spiritual realities follow natural events, but that in the perception of mankind, the natural expression of pre-existent spiritual realities is followed by a full revelation of their eternal origin. Recall that the temple Moses built was a copy of that heavenly pattern shown to him on mount Sinai (Exodus 25:40; cf. Heb 8:5).
This is an important point, and speaks directly to the issue of when (and in which realm), precisely, prophetic consummation finds its fullness.
Using the imagery of Jesus Christ as the spiritual rock in the wilderness, we can see that though He walked among Israel at that time, He had not yet been revealed to them in His fulness. Therefore, He is said to “follow them” (I Cor. 10:4).
If we recognize that His place among His people didn’t come at His physical embodiment, but that this manifestation simply revealed God’s presence among His Body, then we can see how Bible prophecy is not “fulfilled” by the historical accomplishment of something consummated before creation in the council of the Trinity.
Of course, to give this lesson a flourish of the sort only possible through the tropological method employed by preterist idealism, we can then recognize that as members of the Body of Christ we, too, possess the blessings promised by the presence of Jesus in the wilderness. Though you cannot see Him, dear saint, He is with you. He is following you in your trials, and will reveal Himself when the time is right. Take it to the bank. You are not alone.
The material manifestation is evidence of the immaterial consummation. Notice how the declaration of Jesus that “blessed is he who has not seen, yet has believed” speaks to this primacy of the immaterial eternal in a variety of circumstances and contexts. Another powerful verse that speaks to eternal primacy in a hermeneutical way, while presenting that the pre-existing reality is to be followed by material manifestation, is 1 Peter 1:20. In this verse Peter speaks of Jesus Christ:
Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you
For further examination of the subject, take a look at this Biblical Archaeology article: Water from a Walking Rock – Biblical Archaeology Society
What does Paul mean in the Bible when he says that the Israelites drank “from the spiritual rock that followed them” during their wanderings in the wilderness?