The Prophet Ezekiel, Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475â1564) Source: Art and the Bible
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.
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?
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
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.
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.’
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.
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.
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.
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?