I was reading the other night from a book on eschatology. The author holds to an Amillennial position which is fine since I do also. He quoted S. D. Gordon from his book (Quiet Talks About Jesus) on page 114 and I quote, "It can be said at once that His dying was not God's own plan. It was conceived somewhere else and yielded to by God. God has a plan of atonement by which men who were willing could be saved from sin and its effect." If you were wondering like I did what that other plan for salvation could have been he goes on to answer it for us. "That plan is given in the Old Hebrew code. To the tabernacle or temple, under prescribed regulations, a man could bring some animal which he owned. The man brought that which was his own. It represented him." This is said in the context that if the Jews had accepted his offer of the kingdom he wouldn't have had to die on the cross.
I find such a position shocking for at least two reasons. First of all it means the OT types of the shedding the blood of bulls and goats were not actually types at all. They actually did take away sin to make one justified before God. Instead of types I guess it was just a coincidence that all those OT sacrifices looked so much like the death on the cross of the "Lamb" of God. One wonders if his Bible even had Hebrews 10:1 in it, "For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near." Then if we read the next few verses we are left with little doubt that Gordon is completely off the mark. Heb 10:2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? Heb 10:3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. Heb 10:4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Heb 10:5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, "Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; Heb 10:6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Heb 10:7 Then I said, 'Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.'" Heb 10:8 When he said above, "You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings" (these are offered according to the law), Heb 10:9 then he added, "Behold, I have come to do your will." He does away with the first in order to establish the second. Heb 10:10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
Which leads me to the second thing, he believed that there was salvation possible outside of Christ; Christ is just an added way. But worse than that he said above that it wasn't God's plan but conceived somewhere else and yielded to by God! So as all false doctrines do, this hits at the very heart of the person of God and it is hard for me to see how anyone who holds this isn't an out and out heretic. But I will leave any of you to defend whether he was or not.
Now I am pretty sure that most dispensationalist, who care anyway, do not hold to this position. It is interesting though that Gordon is still quoted on some of their websites. But this begs the question, what would have happened if the Jews had accepted the kingdom Jesus was announcing (not just offering by the way)? Quite obviously he would not have been crucified since it took a deliberate, concerted effort by the Jewish rulers to get that done. Rome fought them all the way. No way would the crucifixion had happened if Jesus had been nationally popular and the Jewish officials had accepted him as the promised Messiah.
So either way you are faced with a dilemma that strikes at the very heart of the sovereignty of God and whether all he ordains will happen or whether God has merely set things in motion and it is up to man to let him have his way or not. It should be clear what position Gordon held. And if we look for an even more influential leader of Dispensationalism who realized that this position only has these two outcomes we can quote L. S. Chafer who without controversy was very dominate in modern day Dispensationalism. He wrote, "It was a bona fide offer, and, had they received him as their King, the nations's hopes would have been realized." It was obvious that their hopes during Jesus day was a Messiah who was not going to be crucified, but destroy the Roman rule. In fact, as far as they were concerned crucifixion cursed him and disqualified him from being the Messiah. This is why the gospel was offensive to them. Even the Disciples held this view and were offended every time he spoke of his coming death.
What Chafer is getting at is that if they had accepted his "offer" Jesus could not have been crucified. At least this must be the only legitimate conclusion a Bible student can arrive at. And by the way, to say that God knew ahead of time that they would refuse the offer means God didn't ordain all things, he merely looked ahead at what man would do and devised some make/shift plan to offset it. And so my main point in writing this article is that if there are any readers out there that hold to Dispensationalism I would ask you to consider what this position forces you to dabble in; it demeans God's person and makes his work nonessential for salvation. I am not saying that everyone who holds to the position believes that; I am just saying it is a position that cannot stand up to serious Bible study.
As far as what do we do with the kingdom Christ and John the Baptist came announcing first to the Jews? It should be abundantly obvious that they were not offering a literal Jewish kingdom with all the Old Covenant trappings and sacrifices. Time does not allow us to show that this was never the kingdom prophesied of in the Old Testament to begin with. But I will offer this New Testament proof. Jesus made it a point to tell Nicodemus (who Jesus said should have known this since he was a teacher of Israel) that if one wants to get into the kingdom he was preaching about one had to be born again because it is spiritual in nature. He also made it a point to tell him that being a Jew had no bearing as to whether you got in or not. Thus the entire Old Covenant, Law and sacrifices and Jewish identity was never meant to continue but to come to an end with Christ as he establishes his spiritual kingdom based on much better promises and it comes with much better power.