Ezekiel’s Temple will not be Built in a Future Millennium

IMG_3756

The Prophet Ezekiel, Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564) Source: Art and the Bible

Introduction

Many years ago, I enthusiastically embraced and taught the theory of Dispensationalism, adamant that it was the correct interpretation of the ‘end times’. However, in my naiveté I did not make time to study all its implications.

I re-examined this teaching in recent years and my findings left me astonished. In particular, the alarm bells rang when I discovered the most shocking disclosure concerning Ezekiel’s temple… Ezekiel 40-48 To propagate a teaching that insists on Ezekiel’s temple being erected during a future millennium, complete with the re-introduction of animal sacrifices, is contrary to the teachings of Christ. I am convinced, if Christians viewed the bigger picture the result would be a mass exodus from the ranks of Dispensationalism.

There are many books and articles readily available as to why Ezekiel’s temple should be understood either literally or figuratively. I will simply explain my understanding of Ezekiel’s vision, based on the precept taught in Psalm 127:1.

Ezekiel the Prophet

Ezekiel was one of the most remarkable prophets of the Old Testament, he was a priest… Ezekiel 1:3 and ‘a watchman unto the house of Israel’… Ezekiel 3:17 He was captive in Babylon from 597 BC. The duration of the captivity was the 70 years between 606-536 BC. His contemporaries were Daniel and Jeremiah.

Many of his visions and prophecies were accompanied by demonstrative, symbolic actions to accentuate his message. For example, he remained dumb for periods of time… Ezekiel 3:26 lay on his side for a year…Ezekiel 4:4 ate unclean and disgusting food… Ezekiel 4:14-15 shaved his head and beard… Ezekiel 5:1

Ezekiel’s Temple and Ordinances

Eze 43:9-11 KJV Now let them put away their whoredom, and the carcases of their kings, far from me, and I will dwell in the midst of them for ever. 10 Thou son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the pattern. 11 And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, shew them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them.

In my opinion, Ezekiel’s vision was to shame Old Covenant Israel by reminding them of the presence of the Lord they had previously enjoyed, but lost through idolatry. Restoration was possible by returning to the Lord, the vision portrayed the blessings that awaited a repentant Old Covenant Israel after the Babylonian captivity.

The Restoration of Animal Sacrificies

Eze 44:11 KJV Yet they shall be ministers in my sanctuary, having charge at the gates of the house, and ministering to the house: they shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister unto them.

Heb 10:11-12 KJV And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

A Quote from John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible

Hebrews 10:12 ‘for ever sat down on the right hand of God; as having done his work effectually, and that with acceptance; and therefore is placed as a token of honour at the right hand of God, where he sits enjoying rest, ease, and pleasure, and that for ever; all which is opposed to the priests rifice being effectual to take away sin, when theirs was not.’

On Animal Sacrifices

Dr Spargimino, SRM, wrote ‘These animal sacrifices are ritual—another kind of ritual—but ritual nevertheless. And there is still a place and function for ritual. In the Millennial Kingdom, the Lord Jesus Christ will rule with a rod of iron. The New Covenant theocracy promised by God will retain its distinctive Jewish features. After all, the Millennial Kingdom is about Israel. There is a promised land in which Israel dwells in peace and security. The Millennial Age is not the Church Age. We shouldn’t seek to understand its features in terms of the Church Age. During the Millennium, the Church Age is no more. Even though outward submission to these outward ceremonies and rituals will not be proof of a new heart, such ceremonies will exhibit a spirit of submission to the government of the Millennial King, the Lord Jesus Christ.’ Southwest Radio Ministry

I am astonished by this statement and embarrassed to admit I once encouraged Dispensationalism. For Christians to consent to such a teaching is beyond the pale. Alarm bells should be ringing in ears of every Christian who accedes to Dispensationalism’s doctrine. Consider this scenario, the Lord Jesus Christ (God the Son) the High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, physically sitting in Jerusalem while thousands of animal sacrifices are offered by a Levitical priesthood, in a temple made with hands.

Restoration of the Levitical Priesthood

Eze 43:19 KJV And thou shalt give to the priests the Levites that be of the seed of Zadok, which approach unto me, to minister unto me, saith the Lord GOD, a young bullock for a sin offering.

Heb 7:15-17 KJV And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, 16 Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. 17 For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

According to Dispensationalism, at Christ’s return our great High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, will step aside while the restored Levitical priesthood offer animal sacrifices in Ezekiel’s temple.

Restoration of Circumcision

Eze 44:9 KJV Thus saith the Lord GOD; No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary, of any stranger that is among the children of Israel.

Gal 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

Christ made all things new. However, it is proposed by Dispensationalism that circumcision is reinstated during a future millennium period. Judaisers, Paul’s great adversary, constantly undermined his teaching insisting circumcision should be incorporated into Christianity. Should born again believers endorse this doctrine? Certainly, not.

Except the LORD Build the House

Psa 127:1 KJV A Song of degrees for Solomon. Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

A Quote from Jamieson, Fausset, Brown

Psa 127:1-5 ‘The theme of this Psalm, that human enterprises only succeed by the divine blessing, was probably associated with the building of the temple by Solomon, its author. It may have been adopted in this view, as suited to this series especially, as appropriately expressing the sentiments of God’s worshippers in relation to the erection of the second temple.’

Moses was Chosen and Commanded

Exo 36:1 KJV Then wrought Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whom the LORD put wisdom and understanding to know how to work all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, according to all that the LORD had commanded.

Moses, chosen of God… Psalm 106:23 received a detailed pattern and commandment to build the tabernacle. The Lord also imparted wisdom and understanding to the skilled workers assigned to the task… Exodus 25:9

Solomon was Chosen and Commanded

1Ch 28:6 KJV And he said unto me, Solomon thy son, he shall build my house and my courts: for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father.

Solomon built the temple because God chose and commanded him.

1Ch 28:10-12 KJV Take heed now; for the LORD hath chosen thee to build an house for the sanctuary: be strong, and do it. 11 Then David gave to Solomon his son the pattern of the porch, and of the houses thereof, and of the treasuries thereof, and of the upper chambers thereof, and of the inner parlours thereof, and of the place of the mercy seat, 12 And the pattern of all that he had by the spirit, of the courts of the house of the LORD, and of all the chambers round about, of the treasuries of the house of God, and of the treasuries of the dedicated things:

Similar to Moses, the same criterion applied to David for the building of the temple with its treasures; in due course, he gave his son Solomon the pattern he had received from the Lord.

The Holy Spirit’s Involvement

It is reasonable to assume that the Holy Spirit would have inspired and guided Zerubbabel in the building of Ezekiel’s Temple, had it been God’s will.

Zerubbabel was Chosen and Commanded

Hag 2:23 KJV In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the LORD, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of hosts.

God chose and commanded Zerrubabel to rebuild the temple.

Zerubbabel was to rebuild at the end of the Babylonian captivity. So why did he not build the temple Ezekiel saw in his vision, after all, he had the opportunity and the vacant site. The Lord neither commanded nor equipped him to build it.

It was in accordance with God’s plan and purpose that the second temple be of lesser stature in comparison to Solomon’s, to bring Israel to a place of humility and repentance.

Zec 4:6 KJV Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.

The Holy Spirit was actively involved in the construction of each sanctuary.

Irrespective of his divine calling, Zerubbabel had many obstacles to overcome. However, the Word of the Lord to him was, ’Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts’.

Zec 4:9-10 KJV The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. 10 For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Zechariah 4:10 ‘Who hath despised the day of small things? – The poverty, weakness, and unbefriended state of the Jews. It was said, “What do these feeble Jews?” “Will they build,” etc.? No. But God will build by them, and perfect his building too. And shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel – He is master builder under God, the grand architect. Those seven – are the eyes of the Lord – Either referring to his particular and especial providence; or to those ministering spirits, whom he has employed in behalf of the Jews, to dispense the blessings of that providence. See 2Ch_16:9 (note); Pro_15:3 (note); Zec_3:9 (note).’

Although it was smaller and less impressive, the Lord was pleased with the result.

Hag 2:3 KJV Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?

A Quote from Josephus Antiquities of the Jews

Now the priests and Levites, and the elder part of the families, recollecting with themselves how much greater and more sumptuous the old temple had been, seeing that now made how much inferior it was, on account of their poverty, to that which had been built of old considered with themselves how much their happy state was sunk below what it had been of old, as well as their temple. Hereupon they were disconsolate, and not able to contain their grief, and proceeded so far as to lament and shed tears on those accounts; but the people in general were contented with their present condition; and because they were allowed to build them a temple, they desired no more, and neither regarded nor remembered, nor indeed at all tormented themselves with the comparison of that and the former temple, as if this were below their expectations; but the wailing of the old men and of the priests, on account of the deficiency of the temple, in their opinion, if compared with that which had been demolished, overcome the sounds of the trumpets and the rejoicing of the people.’

There were those who lamented over its inferiority because they remembered Solomon’s magnificent temple, which was their pride and joy. After all, what would the neighbours think of them now!

Although the second temple lacked the furnishings and splendour of the original, the Lord Jesus Christ graced it with His presence during His ministry.

Herod was not Chosen or Commanded!

Psa 127:1 KJV A Song of degrees for Solomon. Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

Joh 2:20 KJV Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?

The Lord did not choose or command Herod; his labour was therefore in vain. This is a lesson for those who tamper with the things of God.

Herod’s motive was to win favour with the religious leaders, and strengthen his control over Judaea. However, the completion of his reconstructed temple was in AD 63, but it remained for only seven years!

Why Did Jesus Never Mention Ezekiel’s Temple?

During my research, I failed to find any direct quotes from the Book of Ezekiel in the Gospels.

Jesus came to the Jews preaching the Kingdom of God and taught constantly about the many aspects of the Kingdom, often quoting from numerous Old Testament books. If the building of Ezekiel’s temple was a major contributing factor in the overall plan and purpose of God, surely it is reasonable to expect Jesus to have quoted from Ezekiel.

Jesus and the Temple

Joh 4:21-23 KJV Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

Whether Jew, Samaritan or Gentile, an imminent transformation was about to take place that would have a profound effect on all the nations. The temple in Jerusalem would no longer be the focal point of worship.

Notice how imminent this change was, Jesus said ‘the hour cometh’, followed by ‘the hour cometh, and now is’. The fulfilment of His prediction took place during the lifetime of His generation, initially on the Day of Pentecost and absolutely at the inauguration of the New Covenant in AD 70. Old Covenant Israel ceased when the temple and Jerusalem were destroyed and the nation dispersed.

Joh 2:21-22 KJV But he spake of the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

John 2:21 ‘temple of his body — in which was enshrined the glory of the eternal Word. (See on Joh_1:14). By its resurrection the true Temple of God upon earth was reared up, of which the stone one was but a shadow; so that the allusion is not quite exclusively to Himself, but takes in that Temple of which He is the foundation, and all believers are the “lively stones.” (1Pe_2:4, 1Pe_2:5).’ — Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary

Mat 5:18 KJV For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Jesus fulfilled all the promises of the Law and the Prophets to Old Covenant Israel prior to it vanishing away… Hebrews 8:13 There is not ‘one jot or one tittle’ remaining to be fulfilled, including Ezekiel’s vision.

Conclusion

The Lord neither chose nor commanded anyone to construct Ezekiel’s temple.

It is not sound doctrinally for Dispensationalism to teach that because Ezekiel’s temple has never been built, it must therefore be built in a future millennium. The same criterion applies as it did to the tabernacle of Moses, the temple of Solomon, and the temple of Zerubbabel; ‘Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it’.

Heb 9:11 KJV But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;

The Temple of the New Covenant Age is spiritual, not made with hands, in which worship in the Holy Spirit is an integral part.

Dispensationalism’s concept of temple worship during a millennium clearly contradicts and undermines the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.

What do you think?

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s