LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Monday, May 28, 2007

Temple Vision




Having seen the gauntlet of Ezekiel 40-48 thrown down, I faint not from taking up the challenge, and in my morning reading, came across this interesting passage from “Old Testament Today” by John Walton and Andrew Hill. I leave this for your consideration, and then I step out of the way to allow JazzyCat and her servant Wayne their due. 'Tis the end (for now) of the end times posts.

Please forgive the length, but everything stated below seemed too valuable to cut anything out.

“Just as the book of Ezekiel opened by proclaiming the abandonment of the temple and its subsequent destruction, the book ends with a vision of a restored and ideal temple (Ezek. 40-48). The main point of this vision is found in the concluding words: “The name of the city from that time on will be: THE LORD IS THERE.” All of the detailed architectural discussion of these chapters becomes in effect a work of concept theory. As an analogy, imagine a seminary student being asked to write a church constitution for a course that would reflect all the important ideals and values of how a church could best serve, honor and worship God. Since the people of Ezekiel’s time had failed to maintain a sanctuary that honored the holiness of Yahweh, Ezekiel laid out this concept design that would capture and reflect God’s holiness in all its resplendence. There is no hint in these chapters that this temple would or should be built. It comes in a vision but also offers a vision of an ideal environment for God’s presence in the midst of his people that will declare his glory.”

Matthew Henry notes regarding these particular chapters:
“Here is one continued vision, beginning at this chapter, to the end of the book, which is justly looked upon to be one of the most difficult portions of scripture in all the book of God. The Jews will not allow any to read it till they are thirty years old, and tell those who do read it that, though they cannot understand every thing in it, ‘when Elias comes he will explain it.’

“Many commentators, both ancient and modern, have owned themselves at a loss what to make of it and what use to make of it. But because it is hard to be understood we must not therefore throw it by, but humbly search concerning it, get as far as we can into it and as much as we can out of it, and, when we despair of satisfaction in every difficulty we meet with, bless God that our salvation does not depend upon it, but that things necessary are plain enough, and wait till God shall reveal even this unto us.

“These chapters [40-48] are the more to be regarded because the last two chapters of the Revelation seem to have a plain allusion to them, as Rev_20:1-15 has to the foregoing prophecy of Gog and Magog. Here is the vision of a glorious temple (in this chapter and ch. 41 and 42), of God's taking possession of it (ch. 43), orders concerning the priests that are to minister in this temple (ch. 44), the division of the land, what portion should be allotted for the sanctuary, what for the city, and what for the prince, both in his government of the people and his worship of God (ch. 45), and further instructions for him and the people, ch. 46. After the vision of the holy waters we have the borders of the holy land, and the portions assigned to the tribes, and the dimensions and gates of the holy city, ch. 47, 48. Some make this to represent what had been during the flourishing state of the Jewish church, how glorious Solomon's temple was in its best days, that the captives might see what they had lost by sin and might be the more humbled. But that seems not probable.
“The general scope of it I take to be,
1. To assure the captives that they should not only return to their own land, and be settled there, which had been often promised in the foregoing chapters, but that they should have, and therefore should be encouraged to build, another temple, which God would own, and where he would meet them and bless them, that the ordinances of worship should be revived, and the sacred priesthood should there attend; and, though they should not have a king to live in such splendour as formerly, yet they should have a prince or ruler (who is often spoken of in this vision), who should countenance the worship of God among them and should himself be an example of diligent attendance upon it, and that prince, priests, and people, should have a very comfortable settlement and subsistence in their own land.

2. To direct them to look further than all this, and to expect the coming of the Messiah, who had before been prophesied of under the name of David because he was the man that projected the building of the temple and that should set up a spiritual temple, even the gospel-church, the glory of which should far exceed that of Solomon's temple, and which should continue to the end of time. The dimensions of these visionary buildings being so large (the new temple more spacious than all the old Jerusalem and the new Jerusalem of greater extent than all the land of Canaan) plainly intimates, as Dr. Lightfoot observes, that these things cannot be literally, but must spiritually, understood. At the gospel-temple, erected by Christ and his apostles, was so closely connected with the second material temple, was erected so carefully just at the time when that fell into decay, that it might be ready to receive its glories when it resigned them, that it was proper enough that they should both be referred to in one and the same vision. Under the type and figure of a temple and altar, priests and sacrifices, is foreshown the spiritual worship that should be performed in gospel times, more agreeable to the nature both of God and man, and that perfected at last in the kingdom of glory, in which perhaps these visions will have their full accomplishment, and some think in some happy and glorious state of the gospel-church on this side heaven, in the latter days.

“And all this seems to point at the new church-state that should be set up under the gospel, which, both for extent and for purity, should far exceed that of the Old Testament.”

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28 Comments:

Blogger Susan said...

Jazzy,
You're starting your series on Tuesday, n'est-ce pas?
I went ahead and posted this just for the day (Monday).

May 28, 2007 9:58 AM

 
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

“There is no hint in these chapters that this temple would or should be built.”

Ezek. 43:18 ¶ And He said to me, “Son of man, thus says the Lord GOD, ‘These are the statutes for the altar on the day it is built, to offer burnt offerings on it and to sprinkle blood on it.”

Ezek. 43:10-11 “As for you, son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and let them measure the plan . . . make known to them the design of the house, its structure, its exits, its entrances, all its designs, all its statutes, and all its laws. And write it in their sight, so that they may observe its whole design . . . .”

I hope you all take the time to read through these chapters. Think of it – eight chapters of Scripture totally devoted to precise measurements of the Temple and the surrounding camps.

Ok, I'm ready for Jazzy to start the series. You can only think about eschatology for too long.

May 28, 2007 11:10 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

I have indeed read through these chapters, Jonathan, after discussions from earliers posts on your site. It's a lot like reading through the Law in Leviticus. It takes time to digest and think through.
Not unlike the Law, it has its place (the temple vision), but I'm not sure anyone can say specifically what that is. All of what we state is conjecture based on the WHOLE of Scripture, especially the NT expounding - not reinterpreting - the OT. We must take into consideration what the NT authors had to say regarding OT prophecy. If they didn't deal specifically with those eight chapters, then we look to what they did deal with to better understand OT prophecy as a WHOLE, not in part.
I think amill fits the bigger picture better in light of NT revelation.
I can't answer the questions you have to your satisfaction, but I found the readings I posted to have more merit than a simple dismissal of the verses you cited. Indeed, they are thought-provoking, as is the rest of the writing from this post, in my estimation.
Jonathan, can you see a reason why this temple may not be that foretold to exist in the new heavens and/or new earth?

Alex,
You speak in riddles, Sahib. (Sorry, that's a line from MST3K, but it was the first to come to mind when I saw the links.) Why don't you just say what you think? Few people have time to check out every link and read all the content therewithin.

May 28, 2007 11:26 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Jonathan,

Let me rephrase my question:

Can you see a reason why this temple may not be one foretold to exist in the new heavens and/or new earth - in spite of OT Israel's expectations, which as we know, were not always correct (like Who the Messiah would be or what He would come to do)?

May 28, 2007 11:28 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

ALEX PLAYS TOO MANY GAMES!This is the second time I've had to delete one of your "comments". Alex, either say what you think, or simply don't come by here anymore, understand?

May 28, 2007 11:43 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Jonathan, your view of Ezek. 40-48, how long has it been around?

May 28, 2007 11:45 AM

 
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Susan, yes I understand why you would believe that. We both hold to foundational presuppositions that shape our interpretive grid, and I believe we both hold valid, biblical interpretations.

Ironically, I believe that it is you that takes a few, select passages of the NT to change the kingdom message of the "WHOLE" of Scripture. As you know, the promise of an earthly kingdom is not isolated to Ezek 40-48, but permeates the entire OT. These concepts of God's faithfulness to ethnic Israel, future kingdom on earth, and a future Temple are all in the NT, so I think there is enough continuity there to avoid saying that everyone misunderstood the message of the OT.

Mark, the view that Ezek 40-48 is a future kingdom has been around since Ezekiel was commanded to tell the people to build it. The two texts that I cite above show that the people were actually told to build this Temple.

May 28, 2007 12:06 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Jonathan, I was talking of your interpretation versus the CT/NCT interpretation. Nice try.

May 28, 2007 12:51 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

"God's faithfulness to ethnic Israel..."
Actually, I wonder where in the entire OT are the words "ethnic" Israel with respect to God's faithfulness, God's promises, or anything at all?
I see "Israel" - not "ethnic" Israel.
Whereas I see the NT authors speak many times regarding how Israel is those faithful of God who are the "sons of Abraham" (Gal 3:7) and those who "are Christ's" are "Abraham's offspring." (Gal 3:29)
I think it's fanciful reinterpretation of the NT to suppose that Israel is only "ethnic."
Interestingly, I'm teaching the preschoolers VBS next week, walking them through the book of Jonah. In my morning reading, Sproul's commentary noted: "Despite the narrative's focus on the prophet, the book of Jonah is a story about the mercy and the love of God. The Lord was the God of Israel, and that nation had been the special recipient of His covenant mercy and salvation. But Johan, along with many of his countrymen, had responded with a national pride and ethnic particularism that blinded him to the grand scope of God's grace. Jonah was to learn, along with the nation, that Israel did not have a monopoly on God's redemptive love."

Incidentally, you didn't answer my earlier (rephrased) question.

May 28, 2007 1:12 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Jonathan,
Please don't misunderstand me. Perhaps the Internet isn't the best for good communication and I may come across too strong at times, but never did I say that "everyone misunderstood the message of the OT."
If I implied it in any way, please forgive me. That's not the way I see it.

May 28, 2007 1:15 PM

 
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Mark, you could start with Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho. I could name others.

Susan, I think we’ve already gone several rounds over ethnic Israel at the Moor. But, off the top of my head: (1) God chose a specific people among the nations (Deut 7; Ezek 16); (2) they were to be a separate people as evidences by restrictions to intermarry; (3) covenants were made to Israel/Judah in distinction from the nations; (4) when confronted by a Gentile woman, Jesus said he came to the lost house of Israel – he thus makes the distinction; (5) Paul makes a distinction: “God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew.” (Rom 11:1-2); (6) Paul distinguishes the 12 tribes as still awaiting the OT promises: “And now I am standing trial for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers; the promise to which our twelve tribes hope to attain . . . .” (Acts 26:6-7); (7) the tribes are distinguished from the church in the future kingdom (Rev 21:12); AND the Church is NEVER called Israel in the NT. That’s enough for now.

As far as your previous question, I did say that I do see a reason why the temple may not be the one foretold to exist in the new heavens/new earth. Is that the question or did I misunderstand?

May 28, 2007 1:48 PM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Jonathan,
God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew.” (Rom 11:1-2)

I believe this passage is referring to the elect and not ethnic Israel. Paul goes on to talk about the remnant, and grace. It seems to me the true people of God are the elect. Only the remnant of ethnic Israel are the true People of God.

May 28, 2007 3:26 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Jonathan,
Yes indeed, that's the question, but I don't see where you answered it earlier - that there is reason to believe this temple wouldn't be in the new earth. I don't see where you wrote that prior nor where you might provide Scriptural evidence why it couldn't be on the new earth.
And, off the top of my head:
1. Yes God chose a specific people. And He at the same time had a redemptive plan for others outside that ethnic group (all prior to Abraham, Rahab, the Ninevites, Ruth, etc) and NT gospel accounts;
2. Jews were to be a separate people and not intermarry, as the same admonition applies to today's followers or Christ (not to be unequally yoked);
3. covenants were made to Israel in distinction from the nations, and Jesus gave us new commandments to distinguish His disciples from non-believers;
4. And Jesus healed the woman's child in the example you cite and say that no greater faith was found in all of Israel! Likewise with the centurion! Both non-Jews - both "non-covenantal" folk;
5. Paul makes plenty of reference to the "sons of Abraham" as being those who follow Christ, so where is the ethnicity? "Sons of Abraham" (Gal 3:7) are those who "are Christ's"; they are "Abraham's offspring." (Gal 3:29) Where is the ethnicity here?

May 28, 2007 3:30 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Jonathan, if the book of Hebrews teaches that those sacrifices and the priesthood are but a shadow, and that Christ is the substance, why then the reinstitution of a priesthood and sacrifices?

May 28, 2007 4:11 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Sorry, but it makes more sense to see Ezek. 40-48 as a prophecy of Christ, though all I have at this time are Dispensational commentaries on that passage. I would love to see some alternative commentaries. The Dispensational view does not sit well after considering Hebrews.

May 28, 2007 4:16 PM

 
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Jazzy, the context of Romans 9-11 is an explanation of God's faithfulness to ethnic Israel despite their disobedience. This is very clear starting with 9:1-5 where Paul talks about his "brothers, my countrymen by physical descent." In chapter 10 he continues by describing his desire for their salvation. Chapter 11 is a simple continuation of this theme where Paul describes his leaneage from "Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin" and shows that God has not rejected ethnic Israel. 11:11 is a contrast of Jews and Gentiles that involves judicial hardening of Israel and the final salvation of all Israel. All of this terminology doesn't make much sense if Israel=Church.

Susan, I think I understand your question now. The Temple of Ezekiel 40-48 exists during the millennial kingdom. After the millennial kingdom the new heavens and new earth descend. At that time there will be no Temple because "the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its sanctuary" (Rev 21:22).

(1) Agreed.
(2) Not a good analogy. Regardless of their spiritual status, the Jewish people are not allowed to intermarry because it is an ethnic issue. Cf. point 1.
(3) I don’t get the connection you are making, but I will say that my position is strengthened by the fact that God considers believing AND unbelieving Jews to be Israel. Not in the salvific sense, but as the nation. This is contrary to your view that all believers are Israel.
(4) Yes, but the point is that Jesus made a distinction between ethnic Israel and the Gentile woman. Why did he do that?
(5) Are you saying that Paul’s words to Agrippa concerning the hope of the 12 tribes refer to the Church?

Mark, good question. Considering that there will be sin in the millennial kingdom, I presently take the view that the sacrifices are meant to cover God's wrath during the theocracy. Others take it more as a memorial. I'm open at this point.

May 28, 2007 4:23 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

" I presently take the view that the sacrifices are meant to cover God's wrath during the theocracy."

Jonathan, with all due respect, if the "testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" why then would Ezek. 40-48 prophecy of sacrifices that cover God's wrath other than the sacrifice of Christ? Isn't that taking the eye off Christ. Doesn't that go against the whole of the Bible message, which is Christ, the One and best Revealation of the Father?

Sorry: Christ the substance, OT priesthood and sacrifices, the shadow - no going backwards.

May 28, 2007 4:52 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Mark,
At http://www.e-sword.net/ you can download free Bible software and free commentaries, including Matthew Henry's.
It was from my free copy of Matthew Henry's commentary on these chapters that I copied part of this post.
I think Henry has some good points here, as did the authors of the book I cited.
Anyway, check out e-sword. It's a rich blessing.
There are many other commentaries and versions of the Bible to download for free at that site. Some cost money, but many don't.

May 28, 2007 5:01 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Jonathan,
You continually use the word "ethnic" here, but where in Scripture is that very word?
Especially when Paul explains that all who are children of faith are children of Abraham - note that Paul doesn't say that all who are bloodline Jews or all who are physical descendants are Abe's offspring, but those who are of Christ.
I really don't see why you keep using the word "ethnic," unless you're only to cite from the OT, in which case the NT is discarded from the conversation of who is Israel.

May 28, 2007 5:02 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

I disagree with you that the point of the non-Jewish woman pleading to Christ to heal her daughter is that Jesus made a distinction between her and the Jews. The point is her faith and that she received His blessing - the healing of her daughter - for it.

Re: Acts 26:6-7, some odd verses to add to the mix. If you read further, v 7-9, Paul says:
"And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king!
Act 26:8 Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?
Act 26:9 "I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. "

Most certainly the hope that Paul refers to as he pleads his case (of accusations that the Jews were making against Paul due to the latter's faith in Christ) is in fact that the Messiah has come. What was the main hope for the Jews? That a Messiah would deliver them - and their Messiah did come.

I think the continual focus on earthly manifestations and earthly hopes are misguided.

I agree with Mark here. The focus and substance, as explained in the NT, are Christ and Christ alone. When we take our focus off of Him and how He is the fulfillment of NT prophecies (all of them), the fulfillment of the Law, the fulfillment of all promises, then we set our minds and hearts on earthly things, which we are told not to do.

Jonathan, would you indulge me another question? When Christ returns (in your eschatological framework), is it at the beginning of the 7-year tribulation? Or at the beginning of the 1,000-year millenium?

May 28, 2007 5:12 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

"he is not a Jew who is one outwardly".."he is a Jew who is one inwardly...""..if you are of Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed";"For they are not all Israel who are of Israel"

May 28, 2007 5:37 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

I'm sorry, when one steps beyond the teachings of the New Testament, saying things the NT does not, then one is operating on pure speculation, period.

May 28, 2007 6:03 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

And that is my beaf with dispensationalism. There simply is no basis or model for it anywhere in the Bible.

The Book of Hebrews provides us with a model of how to interpret the OT - Type and Fulfillment. Beyond that we are operating in pure speculation, man-made hermeneutics.

Machen, in the early 20th Century, had a common foe with the Fundamentalists, liberal theologeans. However, he thought their Dispensationalism "bizarre". Spurgeon before him called it "Unscriptural". Others through the years have refered to it as "speculative nonsense".

When one approaches Galatians and Ephesians and sees Christ's completed work, that is, "one new man" in Him, or the faithful in Christ as Abraham's children, then says 'but wait, there is more' then one is stepping on dangerous ground. That one is too beholden of a manmade hermeneutic and is taking a lot of baggage to the table.

May 28, 2007 6:17 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Jonathan,
I hope you don't feel provoked or picked on here. I'd really like to know your view on this:

When Christ returns (in your eschatological framework), is it at the beginning of the 7-year tribulation? Or at the beginning of the 1,000-year millenium?

I enjoy discussing these things with you, although it does appear we're both entrenched in our views. I'm not sure much is gained, except for the possible enlightenment of folks reading, if they haven't been exposed to these ideas before.

May 28, 2007 7:38 PM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Jonathan,
I to respect you and your ministry very much, but it seems to me that Romans11:1-6 is speaking of a total rejection of all of ethnic Israel except for a remnant of 7000 during the days of Elijah and all except the remnant chosen by grace at the present (Pauls’ time in verse 5). In short all non-elect ethnic Israel of all generations have been rejected. Paul in Romans 8 only speaks of two types of people believers and non-believers. I do not understand how it can be said that God has not rejected ethnic Israel when for 2000 years some if not most of ethnic Israel have died as unbelievers.

May 29, 2007 12:13 AM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

FOR MORE CLARITY IN MY LAST COMMENT:
It is spiritual Israel (the elect) which includes many from ethnic Israel that have not been rejected.

May 29, 2007 12:16 AM

 
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Mark, this has always been a difficult point for our position, but it is there, so we have to try to understand it. I would say that it is hard to argue that we are taking our eye off of Christ when it is we who believe that He is ruling on the earth during that time. I don’t think the interpretation goes against the “Bible message” as much as your preconceived notion of what you think the millennium should be like (that’s not a slam because I have one too). As for you “beaf with dispensationalism,” I would have to say that you are arguing against Classic Dispensationalism again. However, if you are saying that it is the Israel/Church distinction, I would have to remind you of my post on Spurgeon and the Jews.

Susan, just because “ethnic” or “trinity” or “inerrant” does appear in the Bible, doesn’t mean that the concepts aren’t there. I think the points I made above show that the concept is throughout the OT & NT. As I mentioned to Jazzy above, in Romans 9:1-5 Paul mentions Israel as his “brothers, my countrymen by physical descent.” Does “physical descent” not mean “ethnic”?

Tell me what you think, but the more I think about it, the more I believe the “seed of Abraham” as the “father of many nations” is the key issue that determines where we go with eschatology. I probably will end up writing a post on this, but suffice it to say, there are multiple senses of these types of terms (probably at least 4). The rub is to determine what is appropriate in the context.

As far as the Gentile woman goes, the point that makes the story applicable to my argument is that Jesus made a distinction between her and the lost house of Israel. So I ask again, why did He do that? And what does “lost” Israel mean in your paradigm?

As far as the Agrippa story goes, my point is that the 12 ethnic tribes are appealed to by Paul, not just “Israel” is a spiritual sense.

In answer to your question, I hold to a pretribulational rapture of the Church, not postribulational rapture.

Jazzy, I don’t know about the rest of the Bluecollar Crew, but I think many amillers would say that there is an ethnic distinction here. To deny that interpretation destroys Paul’s argument doesn’t it? The reason why God has not rejected Israel is stated in the passage: it is judicial hardening that will cease when all Israel is saved in the future. The coming in of the Gentiles is for jealousy. This is typical of OT judgment and restoration. See R.C. Sproul on this:

"And so all Israel will be saved. The context indicates that Paul must be speaking of the Jewish people. He does not mean every Jew that ever lived, but the nation of Israel. Now why do I say that ‘Israel’ in this phrase refers to the Jews? All through his discussion Paul is talking about Israel in part: part of Israel has been blinded, part of Israel has been cut away, part of Israel has been stubborn, part of Israel has been excluded from the kingdom of God and its blessings. The Jews as a people are presently under judgment. But as there was a national judgment, so there will be a national restoration. Their rejection, even though it was a national rejection, did not include the rejection of every individual. So the restoration doesn’t necessarily mean that every individual Jew will be saved, but the nation as a nation will be restored to God . . . .”

May 29, 2007 3:05 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Jonathan, thanks for your response. I do remember your "Spurgeon post".

As I said, my escatology is in a state of flux. My views of the millennium are not so firm as you suppose. There are some points that premillers believe that do not sit well with me.

As I read the book of Hebrews plus John 7:37-38 I can't help but think that we are at the very appex of redemptive history - the realization of the New Covenant - right now. I can not fathom an intermediate period between now and the eternal state.

May 30, 2007 6:58 AM

 

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