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

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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?

 

Jesus Never Mentioned a Millennium Temple

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The Revelation of St John, 13. The Adoration of the Lamb and the Hymn of the Chosen, Albrecht Durer (1471-1528)
Source: Albrecht Durer the Complete Works

Introduction

I believe many have departed from their New Covenant vocation in Christ, having been vigorously beset and influenced by proponents of dubious ‘end times’ fiction. Today, our understanding of the ‘end times’ is invariably based on empirical evidence and current world affairs.

Rev 21:22 KJV And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.

There is also an ill-founded fascination amongst many believers concerning the building of a temple in Jerusalem, whether a ‘tribulation period temple’ or ‘Ezekiel’s millennium temple’. An underlying misconception is ‘the sooner a temple is in Jerusalem, the sooner Christ will return’. By comparison, the importance of the New Covenant temple is virtually inconsequential. Surely, zeal for the spiritual temple would be more profitable than ‘end times’ speculation.

I will attempt to explain why I believe Ezekiel’s temple will never be built.

John 4:21

Joh 4:21 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.

The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb Are the Temple!

The New Covenant temple is ‘the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb’ and believers ‘in Christ’ offer the sacrifice of praise and worship through their induction into the Royal Priesthood… 1 Peter 2:9

I Make All Things New

Rev 21:5 KJV And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

Dispensationalism’s promulgation of a literal interpretation of Ezekiel’s ‘millennium’ temple is bewildering, incidentally, it includes the re-introduction of animal sacrifices, circumcision, the restoration of the Levitical priesthood, and the separation of Jew and Gentile.

During Christ’s earthly ministry, He never mentioned a 1000 years reign on earth or Ezekiel’s temple. Why would members of the Royal Priesthood contemplate the proliferation of an ideology that supports the restoration of Old Covenant ordinances? It beggars belief that Christians would undermine all that Jesus made ‘new’ by advocating a thousand years of what was forever removed.

Christ has fulfilled all the Law and the Prophets. He has made all things new.

The New Covenant

Jer 31:31-33 KJV Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Jeremiah prophesied the establishment of the New Covenant, which would include a spiritual experience accessible to all who put their trust in Christ, whether Jew or Gentile.

Eze 37:26 KJV Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.

Ezekiel prophesied that the New Covenant would be an everlasting covenant of peace, and according to Isaiah, the Prince of Peace is the Lord Jesus Christ… Isaiah 9:6

Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies of Jeremiah and Ezekiel!

The Tabernacle of God is With Men

Eze 37:27 KJV My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

A Quote from John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

Ezekiel 37:27 ‘By tabernacle – Jesus Christ, the true tabernacle, in whom dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.’

Paul

2Co 6:16 KJV And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

‘the temple of the living God’ Paul taught the fulfilment of Ezekiel 37:27 when he wrote to the Church at Corinth.

Peter

1Pe 2:5 KJV Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

While Peter wrote that those ‘in Christ’ are an integral part of a spiritual house, they are not only ‘lively stones’ but also ‘an holy priesthood’ in the spiritual temple of the New Covenant Age.

John

Rev 21:3 KJV And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

John also alluded to Ezekiel 37:27 in the Revelation, and thereby confirmed the temple of the New Covenant was the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy.

The Temple of His Body

Joh 2:20-21 KJV Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? 21 But he spake of the temple of his body.

A Quote from John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

John 2:21 ‘But he spoke of the temple of his body. Which was the anti-type of the material temple; and might well be called so, since the bodies of the saints are called temples, 1Co_3:16 2Co_6:16; and the human nature of Christ is called a tabernacle, Heb_8:2; and he himself, in prophecy, is said to be למקדש, “for a sanctuary”, or temple, Isa_8:14, and that because the fulness of the Godhead dwelt in him bodily, the train of the divine perfections filled the temple of his human nature, Col_2:9. And because here, as in the temple, God grants his presence, and communes with his saints, accepts of their prayers and praises, and all their spiritual sacrifices through him; and who is the oracle, the true “Urim” and “Thummim”, by whom he delivers his whole mind and will to his people.’

Heb 8:1-2 KJV Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such a high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; 2 A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.

The tabernacle in the wilderness with the pillar of cloud was evidence of God dwelling amongst His Old Covenant people. This glorious manifestation was but a type and foreshadow of the greater glory to come, the Lord Jesus Christ and His New Covenant people being the antitype.

The Hour Cometh, and Now Is

Joh 4:20-24 KJV Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 21 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. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

During His conversation with the woman of Samaria, Jesus revealed the time had come when God’s people would worship neither on Mount Gerizim nor in the temple at Jerusalem, but ‘in spirit and in truth’.

Surely, this nullifies Dispensationalism’s concept of a millennium temple.

‘the hour cometh, and now is’ This was a statement of imminence, not a prophetic word for those living thousands of years in the future.

John 4:21 ‘The hour cometh, etc. – The time was now at hand in which the spiritual worship of God was about to be established in the earth, and all the Jewish rites and ceremonies entirely abolished.’ — Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Bible

Adam Clarke’s comment is correct, but why did he not apply the same criterion to the Scriptures that declare an imminent return of Christ?

Statements of Imminence in Revelation 22

1. Revelation 22:6 ‘…must shortly be done…’
2. Revelation 22:7 ‘…Behold, I come quickly…’
3. Revelation 22:10 ‘…for the time is at hand…’
4. Revelation 22:12 ‘…And, behold, I come quickly…’
5. Revelation 22:20 ‘…Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus…’

Rev 22:6 KJV And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.

‘the things which must shortly be done’ The timeline when worship in the temple would end was AD 70. The destruction of the temple symbolised the end of the Old Covenant Age and the inauguration of the New.

Despite the five statements of imminence in Revelation 22, Dispensationalism, the theory renown for taking the Scriptures literally, repudiates these.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Revelation 22:6 ‘These sayings are faithful and true – See the preceding chapter, Rev_21:5. From this verse to the end of the chapter is reckoned the epilogue of this book.

1. The angel affirms the truth of all that had been spoken, Rev_22:6-11.

2. Jesus Christ confirms what has been affirmed, and pledges himself for the fulfillment of all the prophecies contained in it, Rev_22:12-17.

3. John cautions his readers against adding or diminishing, and concludes with the apostolical blessing, Rev_22:18-21.

The things which must shortly be done – There are many sayings in this book which, if taken literally, would intimate that the prophecies delivered in the whole of the Apocalypse were to be fulfilled in a short time after their delivery to John; and this is a strong support for the scheme of Wetstein, and those who maintain that the prophecies of this book all referred to those times in which the apostle lived, and to the disturbances which then took place, not only among the Jews, but in the Roman empire. What they all mean, and when and how they are to be fulfilled, God in heaven alone knows.’

‘God in heaven alone knows’ Adam Clarke made an honest assessment of Revelation 22:6, but with a surprising ambivalence. His reticence to affirm the clearly defined imminent time statements of Jesus repeated on five occasions in chapter 22, is a further example of approaching Scripture from a futurist presupposition. It is interesting to note he had no hesitation in implementing the imminence factor in his comment on John 4:21 in the previous segment.

Conclusion

Our understanding of Eschatology is vitally important because it influences our whole outlook and approach to the things appertaining to the Kingdom of God.

‘the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it’ On the premise that Jesus has made all things new, why do many believers yield to Dispensationalism’s ‘end times’ theory which entangles them in a system that postulates a return to the ‘old’ that has passed away?

What do you think?

Jesus Never Mentioned a Millennium Reign

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Saint John on Patmos, Van Limburg Brothers (1375-1416)
Source: Art and the Bible

Introduction

Act 1:3 KJV To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:

Jesus spoke ‘of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God’ during the forty days prior to His ascension. Yet, during His ministry, there is no record of Him ever mentioning a ‘thousand years reign on earth’. Surely, it is reasonable to assume Jesus would have mentioned it, if such an important doctrine existed in the plan and purpose of God.

Act 1:6 KJV When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?

Not only did Jesus never mention a thousand years reign on earth, He refrained from discussing the restoration of the kingdom to Israel.

Mat 21:43 KJV Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

Undeterred by Christ’s warning to the chief priests and the elders that ‘The kingdom of God shall be taken from you’, the disciples still felt the need to ask ‘wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel’. However, after the Day of Pentecost and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, the question never arose again.

Peter Preached by the Power of the Holy Spirit that God had Fulfilled His Promise to Israel Acts 2:29-36

Acts 2:29-36 KJV Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day. 30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. 32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. 33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. 34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool. 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne’ God promised David that from the fruit of his loins He would raise up the Messiah to sit on his throne over Israel.

received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost’ The outpouring of the promised Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost was evidence of the exalted Christ.

Heb 12:2 KJV Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The writer to the Hebrews wrote in the present tense Jesus ‘is set down at the right hand of the throne of God’. The King was already reigning from His heavenly throne before the epistle was written.

Rev 1:18-19 KJV I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. 19 Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;

John said at the commencement of the Revelation that Jesus possessed the keys of Hades and Death. Jesus, having already been raised to the throne, was about to make manifest the Kingdom of God with power, the theme of the Revelation.

Jesus was not Waiting for a Future Millennium Kingdom

Luk 19:11-15 KJV He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. 13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.

It is interesting to note, in this parable the nobleman ‘went into a far country to receive a kingdom and to return’, Jesus also received His Kingdom after His ascension, prior to His return… Matthew 16:28; Mark 9:1; Matthew 26:64; Revelation 1:7

A Quote from Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

Luke 19:12 ‘A certain nobleman – A prince; a man descended from kings, and having a title, therefore, to succeed in the kingdom. Went into a far country … – This expression is derived from the state of things in Judea in the time of the Saviour. Judea was subject to the Romans, having been conquered by Pompey about sixty years before Christ. It was, however, governed by “Jews,” who held the government “under” the Romans. It was necessary that the prince or king should receive a recognition of his right to the kingdom by the Roman emperor and, in order to this, that he should go to Rome; or, as it is said here, that he might receive to himself a kingdom. This actually occurred several times. Archelaus, a son of Herod the Great, about the time of the birth of Jesus, went to Rome to obtain a confirmation of the title which his father had left him, and succeeded in doing it. Herod the Great, his father, had done the same thing before to secure the aid and countenance of Antony. Agrippa the younger, grandson of Herod the Great, went to Rome also to obtain the favor of Tiberius, and to be confirmed in his government. Such instances, having frequently occurred, would make this parable perfectly intelligible to those to whom it was addressed. By the nobleman, here, is undoubtedly represented the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ; by his going into a far country is denoted his going to heaven, to the right hand of his Father, “before” he should “fully” set up his kingdom and establish his reign among men.’

Did Jeremiah the Prophet get it Wrong? Of Course He Didn’t

Jer 22:30 KJV Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.

The Kingdom of Judah had lapsed into apostasy again, God finally removed the ‘Kings’ by sending Coniah, also called ‘Jeconiah’, into captivity in Babylon. God decreed ‘no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah’.

Jesus is a descendant of Jeconiah… Matthew 1:11-16 and the rightful heir to David’s throne, but He will not physically reign in Judah.

Jesus Reigns on David’s Throne in the Heavenly Realm!

Nevertheless, Dispensationalism persists in teaching contrary to Scripture.

Why Did Paul Never Mention a Thousand Years Reign on Earth?

2Co 12:4 KJV How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

Even after his ‘paradise’ experience, Paul still never mentioned such a doctrine.

Act 20:27 KJV For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.

Paul was convinced he had preached all the ‘council of God’, yet he never mentioned a thousand years reign of Christ on Earth.

John Never Mentioned a Thousand Years Reign of Christ!

Rev 20:4 KJV And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Neither the Old nor the New Testament mention a thousand years reign of Christ on Earth.

The ‘thousand years reign’ is not mentioned in Revelation 20:4, as many imagine. On the contrary, the Scriptures proclaim Christ’s reign is everlasting.

Revelation 20 is not about how long Jesus will reign, but about a specific period when the martyrs would reign with Him from His heavenly throne.

On closer examination we find ‘they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years’. John described the souls of the martyrs who paid the ultimate price for their loyalty to Christ. Many suffered during the great tribulation, having refused to deny the Lord and worship the beast.

Can this dubious interpretation of a ‘millennium’ be a major doctrine of the Faith? This teaching contains hidden ramifications rarely taught to unsuspecting believers in Christ.

Chilioi’ and ‘Chilias’ What Difference Does it Make?

John wrote the Greek word ‘chilioi’ in Revelation 20:4 ‘and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand (chilioi) years’, he did not write ‘and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand (chilias) years’. So what is the difference?

A Quote from Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionary

‘G5507 ÷ßëéïé chilioi khil’-ee-oy Plural of uncertain affinity; a thousand: – thousand.’
‘G5505 ÷éëéÜò chilias khil-ee-as’ From G5507; one thousand (“chiliad”): – thousand.’
Chilioi’ is unique in its plurality, its etymology is not from any known numeric value, and it is unique in its usage of the word ‘thousand’.

In Revelation 20, ‘thousand’ was always ‘chilioi’, not the numerical 1000 ‘chilias’. John had good cause for using ‘chilioi’ in preference to ‘chilias’, because the Holy Spirit inspired him.

‘chilioi’ is an adjective whereas ‘chilias’ is a noun. As an adjective ‘chilioi’ is descriptive and therefore more suitable for figurative speech and described an undefined period.

Apocalyptic Figure of Speech

The term ‘a thousand (chilioi) years’ is an apocalyptic figure of speech with reference to the reign of Christ over Old Covenant Israel, and was the period between the ascension and glorification of Christ in AD 30 until His return in AD 70… Acts 2:29-36 Saul, David, and Solomon each reigned 40 years. Likewise, Christ reigned 40 years and was the final King of Old Covenant Israel.

A Quote from the Christian Courier Publications

Regarding the “thousand years” of Revelation 20, it should be observed that the opening of the book itself provides caution that this is a document characterized by symbols (see “signified” – 1:1). In addition, the “thousand years” of Revelation 20 is nestled in the midst of a number of other dramatic figures —a pit, a great chain, the dragon/serpent, thrones, a beast, a mysterious “mark,” resurrections, etc. Why should the pit, chain, dragon, etc., be viewed as figures, and yet the “thousand years” be singled out as literal? That defies common sense.’

The Reign of Christ has no End!

Heb 11:13-16 KJV These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16 But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

The Patriarchs

‘strangers and pilgrims on the earth’ Abraham continued to dwell in tents and never built a permanent home in the land. They desired ‘a better country, that is, a heavenly’. A millennium kingdom on earth was never in their thoughts.

Isa 9:7 KJV Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

2Sa 7:13 KJV He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.

2 Samuel 7:13 ‘…The throne of his kingdom for ever – This is a reference to the government of the spiritual kingdom, the kingdom of the Messiah, agreeably to the predictions of the prophet long after, and by which this passage is illustrated: “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it, with judgment and with justice, from henceforth even For Ever.” Isa_9:7.’ — Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Bible

Conclusion

It is astonishing that the millennium doctrine is so highly regarded, considering it originates from one portion of Scripture.

The fulfilment of the Revelation was in AD 70. Therefore, the ‘thousand years’ was figurative speech and applied to Christ’s reign over Old Covenant Israel with a ‘rod of iron’.

Christ returned in judgement in AD 70, fulfilled the promises of God to Old Covenant Israel and fully established the Kingdom of God.

There is no scriptural evidence for a thousand years reign of Christ on Earth, as described by Dispensationalism.

What do you think?

ps Do you think it strange that Paul never mentioned a thousand years reign on earth?

 

There is no Difference Between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven

IMG_3740Christ Enthroned, Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898) | Source: Pre Raphaelite Art

Introduction

There are scholars today who teach there is a difference between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven. Proponents of Dispensationalism are the main disseminators of this teaching, since it requires two kingdoms to make its ‘end times’ theory plausible.

Personally, I was taught the ‘Kingdom of God’ is spiritual and in the world today. The Kingdom of Heaven is a future millennium kingdom on earth. Jesus is not King at this present time, He is our Prophet, Priest, and coming King.

A Quote from Clarence Larkin’s Dispensational Truth (currently available on the Blue Letter Bible website)

‘The “Kingdom of God” is the “Reign of God” in the Universe over all His created creatures, and includes time and eternity, heaven and earth. It is spiritual and “cometh not with observation.” Luke 17:20,21. It is entered by the “New Birth,” (John 3:5); and is not “meat” and “drink,” but “Righteousness and Peace, and Joy in the Holy Ghost.”Rom. 14:17.
The “Kingdom of Heaven’,” is a New Testament term, and is found in Matthew’s Gospel only, where it is mentioned 32 times. Its character is described in the 12 “Kingdom of Heaven Parables” given in Matt. 13:1-50; 18:23-25; 20:1-16; 22:1-14; 25:1-30. From these Parables we see that the “Kingdom of Heaven” is limited as to its Time and its Sphere. Its Time is from the First to the Second Coming of Christ, and its Sphere is over that part of the world that we call Christendom. In the “Kingdom of Heaven” there is a mixture of good and evil, of “Wheat” and “Tares,” of “Good Fish” and “Bad Fish,” of “Wise Virgins” and “Foolish Virgins.”‘

In my opinion, the ‘Kingdom of God’ and ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ are synonymous titles appertaining to the universal Reign of God. There is one spiritual Kingdom.

In defence of my assertion of only one Kingdom, I have selected a few examples to allow Scripture to interpret Scripture.

Dispensationalism

‘The Kingdom of GOD ‘cometh not with observation [outward show]’ (Luke 17:20), but is chiefly that which is inward and spiritual (Romans 14:17); while the Kingdom of Heaven is organic, and is to be manifested in glory on the earth.’  – Lewis Sperry Chafer – The Kingdom in History and Prophecy

The Kingdom Suffereth Violence

The Scriptures reveal the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ existed during the time of John the Baptist and Christ’s ministry.

Consider the following Scriptures:

Matthew 11:12 and Luke 16:16 are two Gospel accounts of the same conversation.

Mat 11:12-13 KJV And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.

‘kingdom of heaven’ For the Kingdom of Heaven to ‘suffereth violence’ it must have already existed during the ministry of John the Baptist. Therefore, it was not a title reserved specifically for a future millennium kingdom.

Luk 16:16 KJV The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.

‘kingdom of God’ Luke recorded the same conversation and used the equivalent title ‘Kingdom of God’.

It is likely Matthew when writing to the Jews simply preferred to use ‘heaven’ rather than ‘God’.

Preach the Kingdom

Once again, we have two Gospel accounts of the same incident recorded by Matthew and Luke.

Mat 10:7-8 KJV And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. 8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

‘preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven’ This is another example of the Kingdom of Heaven being synonymous with the Kingdom of God.

Luk 9:1-2 KJV Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. 2 And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.

‘preach the kingdom of God’ Jesus commanded the twelve disciples to preach and heal the sick, Matthew wrote ‘kingdom of heaven’ while Luke used ‘kingdom of God’.

Enter into the Kingdom

Mat 19:23-24 KJV Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

In Matthew’s Gospel both phrases are compatible, surely, Jesus would have expounded further if there were a need to differentiate between them.

Mar 10:24-25 KJV And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Mark applied ‘Kingdom of God’ on both occasions when he recorded the same conversation.

The Kingdom Is Synonymous with the New Covenant

Heb 12:24 KJV And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

Covenant change was the theme of the Epistle to 1st century Hebrews during the ‘transition period’.

The Old Covenant was about to be removed, deferring to the full establishment of the New Covenant. The Church was about to enter fully into New Covenant.

Heb 12:28 KJV Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

The writer to 1st century Hebrews exhorted them to live ‘with reverence and godly fear’ because they were not only recipients of the New Covenant, they were about to receive the ‘Kingdom’.

Nevertheless, John MacArthur insists the Kingdom has been postponed for 2000 years and counting:

Dispensationalism’s Definition

What is the Kingdom of Heaven?

A Quote from John MacArthur, Grace to You Website,

John MacArthur explained Dispensationalism’s interpretation of the Kingdom of Heaven, and began with the tenuous statement ‘Although the precise phrase is not found there, the kingdom of heaven is basically an Old Testament concept.’ He continued with the following:

‘Had God’s people Israel accepted their King when He first came to them, there would be no interim kingdom. The kingdom at hand would have become the kingdom of a thousand years, which, in turn, would have ushered in the eternal kingdom. But because they killed the forerunner of the King and then the King Himself, the millennial kingdom, and consequently the eternal kingdom, were sovereignly postponed. – John MacArthur

The Spiritual Kingdom

Luk 17:20-21 KJV And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

The Jews believed Gentile dominance would end by setting up Christ’s throne in Jerusalem. However, Jesus was about to end the Jewish polity completely, at His return in AD 70.

Joh 6:15 KJV When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

The Jews were willing to make Jesus king, but He avoided their intentions. If He had come to reign over a material kingdom from Jerusalem, the opportunity was there for the taking.

Joh 18:36-37 KJV Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. 37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

Jesus was born into the world that He might establish the spiritual Kingdom.

Isa 9:7 KJV Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Jesus returned in AD 70 and gathered His elect into the Kingdom and judged those who rejected Him. The Scriptures proclaim His Kingdom will continue to grow. The prophet said ‘Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end’.

The natural mind cannot perceive the progress of the Kingdom of God, its growth in the world is a process of pervasion in the spiritual realm… Matthew 13:31-32

1Pe 2:9 KJV But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

Conclusion

The titles of the Kingdom are synonymous and describe one spiritual Kingdom.

Christ’s government is ever increasing.

Jesus is King of Kings, and Lord of Lords!

What do you think?

 

Heaven and Earth will not be Destroyed by Fire

IMG_3725John at Patmos, Gustave Dore (1832-1883) | Source: Dore Bible Gallery Felix Just S.J. Ph.D.

Introduction

Rev 21:1 KJV And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

Catastrophic or Covenantal

Many scholars today teach the ‘new heaven and a new earth’ will literally replace the existing heaven and earth after its catastrophic destruction.

I will attempt to explain why the term does not refer to the end of time or the end of the world, but to the end of Old Covenant Israel at the great and terrible day of the Lord in AD 70.

Peter and the Day of the Lord

2Pe 3:10 KJV But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements (stoicheion) shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

‘the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night’ Peter described the second coming of Christ. Jesus and Paul also used ‘the thief’ illustration to describe this event… Matthew 24:43; 1Thessalonians 5:2

Apocalyptic Language

Isa 13:7 KJV Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man’s heart shall melt:

Isa 19:1 KJV The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it.

Peter used apocalyptic language similar to Isaiah when he described the end of the ‘elements’ of the Old Covenant world. My article ‘The Great and the Terrible Day of the Lord’ explains in detail.

‘the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements (stoicheion) shall melt with fervent heat’ The visible evidence was the fiery destruction of the temple and Jerusalem at Christ’s return in judgement In AD 70. Covenantal change took place when the Old Covenant polity past away with the establishment of the New Covenant.

Mat 24-34-35 KJV Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. 35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

At His return, Jesus fulfilled all the Law and the prophets concerning the establishment of the New Covenant, the Kingdom of God, the New Heavens and New Earth, and New Jerusalem. Consequently, sacrificial offerings for the forgiveness of sins on behalf of Old Covenant Israel came to a devastating end.

Mat 26:28 KJV For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sin.

In the New Covenant Age, only by faith in Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross can mankind find atonement for sin, whether Jew or Gentile.

Dispensationalism’s Dilemma

According to Dispensationalism, the millennium reign begins at Christ’s second coming, the existing heavens and earth not being destroyed until the end of the 1000 years reign of Christ.

The following quote is a typical example of Dispensationalism’s interpretation of 2nd Peter 3:10-13.

A Quote from Got Questions.org

Question: “What does the Bible say about the end of the world?”

Answer: ‘The timing of this event, according to most Bible scholars, is at the end of the 1000-year period called the millennium…The Bible tells us several things about this event. First, it will be cataclysmic in scope. The “heavens” refers to the physical universe – the stars, planets, and galaxies—which will be consumed by some kind of tremendous explosion, possibly a nuclear or atomic reaction that will consume and obliterate all matter as we know it. All the elements that make up the universe will be melted in the “fervent heat” (2 Peter 3:12). This will also be a noisy event, described in different Bible versions as a “roar” (NIV), a “great noise” (KJV), a “loud noise” (CEV), and a “thunderous crash” (AMP). There will be no doubt as to what is happening. Everyone will see and hear it because we are also told that “the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.”’

Got Questions answered by promoting Dispensationalism’s view of the ‘end times’, the timeline being after the millennium, but then proceeded to misquote 2 Peter 3:12 in support. The dilemma is that the context of 2 Peter 3 is the second coming of Christ, not the end of the 1000 years.

A Quote from John Lightfoot’s Hebrew and Talmudical Exercitations

‘That the destruction of Jerusalem and the whole Jewish state is described as if the whole frame of the world were to be dissolved. Nor is it strange, when God destroyed his habitation and city, places once so dear to him, with so direful and sad an overthrow; his own people, whom he accounted of as much or more than the whole world beside, by so dreadful and amazing plagues. Matt 24:29,30, The sun shall be darkened &c. Then shall appear the ’sign of the Son of man,’ &c; which yet are said to fall out within that generation, ver. 34. 2Pet 3:10, The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat,’ &c. Compare with this Deut 32:22, Heb 12:26 and observe that by elements are understood the Mosaic elements, Gal 4:9, Col 2:20 and you will not doubt that St. Peter speaks only of the conflagration of Jerusalem, the destruction of the nation, and the abolishing the dispensation of Moses” (vol. 3, p. 452).(March 29, 1602 – December 6, 1675)’

‘the Elements Shall Melt With Fervent Heat’

2Pe 3:12 KJV Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements ‘stoicheion’ shall melt with fervent heat?

The Greek ‘stoicheion’ means elements, rudiments and principles. It was translated ‘elements’ in 2nd Peter.

In 2nd Peter, most scholars interpret ‘stoicheion’ as this present, material and physical world. However, it is inconsistent to do so. Close examination reveals ‘stoicheion’ invariably referred to the Law of Moses and the elements, rudiments, principles of the Jewish religion and polity.

Galatians 4:3 and ‘stoicheion’

Gal 4:3 KJV Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements (stoicheion) of the world:

The Galatians were previously in bondage to the elements, rudiments or principles of the world.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary of the Bible

Galatians 4:3 ‘The elements of the world – A mere Jewish phrase, éñåãé òåìí äæä yesodey olam hazzeh, “the principles of this world;” that is, the rudiments or principles of the Jewish religion.’

Galatians 4:9 and ‘stoicheion’

Gal 4:9 KJV But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements (stoicheion) whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?

Paul warned the Galatians not to return to the elements, rudiments and principles of bondage.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary of the Bible

Galatians 4:9 ‘Now, after that ye have known God – After having been brought to the knowledge of God as your Savior. Or rather are known of God – Are approved of him, having received the adoption of sons. To the weak and beggarly elements – After receiving all this, will ye turn again to the ineffectual rites and ceremonies of the Mosaic law – rites too weak to counteract your sinful habits, and too poor to purchase pardon and eternal life for you? If the Galatians were turning again to them, it is evident that they had been once addicted to them. And this they might have been, allowing that they had become converts from heathenism to Judaism, and from Judaism to Christianity. This makes the sense consistent between the 8th and 9th verses.’

Colossians 2:8 and ‘stoicheion’

Col 2:8 KJV Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments (stoicheion) of the world, and not after Christ.

Paul warned the Colossians against those who ‘spoil’ by philosophy and vain deceit after the elements, rudiments or principles of the world.

Colossians 2:20 and ‘stoicheion’

Col 2:20 KJV Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments (stoicheion) of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,

The Colossians in Christ were dead to the elements, rudiments or principles of the world.

A Quote from the People’s New Testament

Colossians 2:20 ‘Wherefore. Ye died with Christ, died to the world, and to its rudiments, or fleshly ordinances. See note on Col_2:8 and Col_2:12. Why, then, as though belonging to the world, should you be subject to obsolete Jewish ordinances?’

Hebrews 5:12 and ‘stoicheion’

Heb 5:12 KJV For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles (stoicheion) of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

The Hebrew writer admonished believers for their lack of maturity in the Scriptures. The solution was a return to the first elements, rudiments, or principles of the oracles of God.

A Quote from John Owen on the New Heavens and Earth 2 Peter 3:13

‘On this foundation I affirm that the heavens and earth here intended in this prophecy of Peter, the coming of the Lord, the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men, mentioned in the destruction of that heaven and earth, do all of them relate, not to the last and final judgment of the world, but to that utter desolation and destruction that was to be made of the Judaical church and state; for which I shall offer these two reasons, of many that might be insisted on from the text:-

(1.) Because whatever is here mentioned was to have its peculiar influence on the men of that generation. He speaks of that wherein both the profane scoffers and those scoffed at were concerned, and that as Jews, some of them believing, others opposing, the faith. Now there was no particular concernment of that generation, nor in that sin, nor in that scoffing, as to the day of judgment in general ; but there was a peculiar relief for the one and a peculiar dread for the other at hand, in the destruction of the Jewish nation ; and, besides, an ample testimony both to the one and the other of the power and dominion of the Lord Jesus Christ, which was the thing in question between them.

(2.) Peter tells them, that after the destruction and judgment that he speaks of (vers. 7-13), ” We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth,’ etc. They had this expectation. But what is that promise? Where may we find it? Why, we have it in the very words and letter, Isa. lxv. 17. Now, when shall this be that God shall create these new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness? Saith Peter, ” It shall be after the coming of the Lord, after that judgment and destruction of ungodly men, who obey not the gospel, that I foretell.” But now it is evident from this place of Isaiah, with chap. lxvi. 21, 22, that this is a prophecy of Gospel times only; and that the planting of these new heavens is nothing but the creation of Gospel ordinances to endure for ever. The same thing is so expressed Heb. xii. 26-28.
First, There is the foundation of the apostle’s inference and exhortation, seeing that all these things, however precious they seem, or what value soever any put upon them, shall be dissolved, that is, destroyed; and that in that dreadful and fearful manner before mentioned, in a day of judgment, wrath, and vengeance, by fire and sword; let others mock at the threats of Christ’s coming: He will come- He will not tarry; and then the heavens and earth that God Himself planted, -the sun, moon, and stars of the Judaical polity and church, -the whole old world of worship and worshippers, that stand out in their obstinancy against the Lord Christ, shall be sensibly dissolved and destroyed: this we know shall be the end of these things, and that shortly.’

Tabernacle in the Wilderness

Josephus was a Jewish historian who recorded his eyewitness account of the destruction of the temple, Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the Jews in AD 70.

He also provided insight into the 1st century Jewish understanding of the phrase ‘heaven and earth’. The Jews considered the tabernacle and latterly the temple as heaven and earth.

Quotes from Josephus’ Jewish Antiquities

Book 3, Chapter 6, Paragraph 4, Section 123 ‘However, this proportion of the measures of the tabernacle proved to be an imitation of the system of the world: for that third part thereof which was within the four pillars, to which the priests were not admitted, is, as it were, a Heaven peculiar to God…’

Book 3, Chapter 7, Paragraph 7, Section 181 ‘When Moses distinguished the tabernacle into three parts, and allowed two of them to the priests as a place accessible to the common, he denoted the land and the sea, these being of general access to all; but he set apart the third division for God, because heaven is inaccessible to men.’

The temple was where heaven and earth came together; the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies was the most sacred place on earth, it was the symbol of God dwelling amongst His covenant people.

Isaiah and the New Heavens and a New Earth

Isa 65:17-18 KJV For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. 18 But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.

Isaiah proclaimed the Lord would ‘create new heavens and a new earth’, when he described the New Covenant.

Paul

Isa 65:1 KJV I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name.

Rom 10:20 KJV But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Romans 10:20 ‘But Esaias (the Greek orthography for Isaiah) is very bold – Speaks out in the fullest manner and plainest language, Isa_65:1, notwithstanding the danger to which such a declaration exposed him, among a crooked, perverse, and dangerous people: I was found of them that sought me not; I put my salvation in the way of those (the Gentiles) who were not seeking for it, and knew nothing of it: thus, the Gentiles which followed not after righteousness have attained to the law of righteousness, Rom_9:30, and they have found that redemption which the Jews have rejected.’

Paul wrote that the gospel he preached to the Gentiles was the fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 65.

Jeremiah and the New Covenant Age

Jer 31:31-33 KJV Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

A Quote from Alert Barnes Notes on the Bible

Jeremiah 31:31 ‘A time is foretold which shall be to the nation as marked an epoch as was the Exodus. God at Sinai made a covenant with His people, of which the sanctions were material, or (where spiritual) materially understood. Necessarily therefore the Mosaic Church was temporary, but the sanctions of Jeremiah’s Church are spiritual – written in the heart – and therefore it must take the place of the former covenant Heb_8:13, and must last forever. The prophecy was fulfilled when those Jews who accepted Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, expanded the Jewish into the Christian Church.’

The Writer to the Hebrews and the New Covenant Age

Heb 10:16-19 KJV This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. 19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,

The theme of the Epistle to the Hebrews is covenantal change. By alluding to Jeremiah 31, the writer declared the fulfilment of prophecy in Christ the Mediator of the New Covenant.

Haggai and the Shaking of the Heavens and the Earth

Hag 2:5-7 KJV According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not. 6 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; 7 And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.

The Lord shook the heavens and the earth when He gave Moses the Old Covenant Law at Mount Sinai… Exodus 19:18

Hag 2:21 KJV Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth;

Haggai prophesied the Lord would shake the heavens and the earth when replacing the Old Covenant with the New.

The Writer to the Hebrews and the Shaking Not the Earth Only, but also Heaven

Heb 12:26-28 KJV Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. 27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Hebrews 12:26 ‘Whose voice then shook the earth – Namely, at the giving of the law on Mount Sinai; and from this it seems that it was the voice of Jesus that then shook the earth, and that it was he who came down on the mount. But others refer this simply to God the Father giving the law. Not the earth only, but also heaven – Probably referring to the approaching destruction of Jerusalem, and the total abolition of the political and ecclesiastical constitution of the Jews; the one being signified by the earth, the other by heaven; for the Jewish state and worship are frequently thus termed in the prophetic writings. And this seems to be the apostle’s meaning, as he evidently refers to Hag_2:6, where this event is predicted. It may also remotely refer to the final dissolution of all things.’

The writer to the Hebrews encouraged his readers by quoting from Haggai and declared there was only one more shaking after the time of Haggai, and it would be in their generation.

Mat 24:29 KJV Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

Mat 24:34-35 KJV Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. 35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

The Scriptures are clear as to the timing of this event, Jesus’ generation!

Heb 8:13 YLT in the saying `new,’ He hath made the first old, and what doth become obsolete and is old is nigh disappearing.

‘old is nigh disappearing’ This was a reference to the ministrations of the Old Covenant. Not only was it a material, but also a moral and spiritual event. This transition began at Christ’s advent and continued until His parousia in AD 70, with the removal of the ‘Old’ that was temporal, only Christ’s Eternal Kingdom remained.

Jesus and Till Heaven and Earth Pass

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.

‘Till heaven and earth pass’ If Jesus referred to physical heaven and earth, which obviously has not passed away, then the Old Covenant Law of Moses would still be in effect. Consequently, New Covenant salvation would still be on hold. Fortunately, when Jesus said ‘Till heaven and earth pass’, He was talking about covenant change from Old Covenant to New. All was fulfilled when the Old Covenant passed away at Christ’s return. However, many scholars today teach that salvation is still incomplete until a future return of Christ.

‘Till all be fulfilled. “Till,” says Dr. Schaff, “implies that after the great events of Christ’s life, and the establishment of his kingdom, the old dispensation, as a dispensation of the letter and yoke of bondage, as a system of types and shadows, will pass away, and has passed away (Eph_2:15; Col_2:14; Heb_8:13); while the spirit and substance of the law, i. e., love to God and man, will last forever.’ — The People’s New Testament

The Revelation and the New Heaven and a New Earth

Rev 21:1-3 KJV And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

John alluded to Jeremiah 31:33.

‘and there was no more sea’ Personally, I believe this phrase referred to the end of separation between Jew and Gentile. All believers now enjoy fellowship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The establishment of the ‘new heaven and a new earth’ is a past event and synonymous with the arrival of the New Covenant Age.

Conclusion

Joh 4:21-26 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. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. 25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

Jesus said 2000 years ago, ‘the hour cometh, and now is’, yet many scholars continue to project this time statement into the future. The new heavens and new earth is not a future material replacement for the present heaven and earth.

The new heavens and new earth is synonymous with the New Covenant and encompasses life in the Spirit, new principles, new ordinances, true worship, and of course, restoration and fellowship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

What do you think?