The temple in Ezekiel’s prophecy
Jun 27, 2014
First, I owe you all an apology for my impatience when I wrote my weblog on June 24 entitled, “Jews, with help of Christians, prepare to recreate animal sacrifice.”
The Father spoke to me last night, saying, “Is impatience one of the fruits of the Spirit?” I could find no way to make it a fruit of the Spirit, so I had to confess that it was not. The problem with impatience is that it breeds disrespect, which then tends to insult people. That is not a path that leads to love. Please accept my apology.
The idea that the Kingdom of God in the age to come would revert back to animal sacrifice came with the rise of Dispensationalism in the mid-1800’s. This was a new view of prophecy at the time, but it soon swept the Church through Scofield’s efforts, and so it has now become so mainstream in Evangelical and Pentecostal circles that the original term, Dispensationalism, is now almost unknown.
I explained the important fallacies of Dispensationalism in my book, Daniel’s Seventy Weeks. However, I have never written a specific study dealing with the temple in Ezekiel 40-48, where the prophet speaks of a restored temple, describing its dimensions, priests, sacrifices, etc. This is, perhaps, the main Scripture that has been used in the past to promote the idea that the Jews would return to Jerusalem, rebuild a temple, and re-establish an Old Testament system of worship, led by Jesus Christ.
The big problem, of course, is that such a view of Ezekiel’s prophecy directly contradicts the book of Hebrews. Some have chosen to accept this contradiction and then choose sides. Which will we believe, Ezekiel or Hebrews? As for me, my faith is built on the premise that the Scriptures are not contradictory. So when one passage appears to contradict another, then we must be misinterpreting at least one of those passages.
I believe that the Apostle Paul wrote the book of Hebrews. But regardless of who wrote it, Panin’s Numeric New Testament shows mathematically that it is inspired by the Holy Spirit and should be regarded as Scripture. Second, it was not the Book of Gentiles, but was written to Hebrew people.
The old misconception of the Dispensationalists was that there were two gospels, one for the Jews and one for the Gentiles. Gentiles were saved by grace through faith, while the Jews were saved by keeping the law. Some even went so far as to say that Gentiles are saved by Christ, and Jews apart from Christ. That root idea is now seen where Christians view Jews as being saved already—or, as many would say, “almost Christian”—either on account of their supposed genealogy from Abraham and Israel, or on account of their orthodoxy in Judaism. The result is that many Christians now view Jews who reject Jesus as the Christ as being “chosen” and more favored than those who believe in Christ.
And so, beginning in the 1960’s, Christians began converting to Judaism. To be sure, most of these retained their faith in Christ, but their view was that true religion was to add Jesus to Judaism. Many thought that if they became Jewish they could achieve “chosen” status. Still others thought that if enough Christians became Jews, they could overwhelm Judaism and, in a quirky way, force it to become Christian.
The problem was that their conversion to Judaism has had the opposite effect. They found that they actually had to adopt the beliefs and practices of Judaism in order to maintain their good standing in the Jewish community. Since the book of Hebrews displaces all of the elements of Old Testament worship, these converts were forced to downplay that portion of Scripture or to reject it outright.
Dispensationalist teaching is where all of this got started. Not only did it teach that the Jews were to return to the old land, but that all of the Old Testament worship was somehow acceptable to God—and even mandatory after the new temple was built. Ezekiel was used as the pretext to destroy the main tenets of the New Testament
The book of Hebrews is often called “the book of better things,” because this is its main theme. In other words, worship in times past was done under types and shadows which could never truly accomplish their ultimate purpose. The blood of bulls and goats could never truly deal with sin, for example. Christ’s sacrifice is the “better” sacrifice, because it alone could both cover and remove sin.
Dispensationalism, however, presented a new idea that all of these “better” things would later be replaced by the Old Testament form of worship. At the second coming of Christ, the “better” would be replaced by that which essentially is worse. This, then, has become the basis of their belief and definition of the Kingdom Age that is to come.
Without a physical temple in Jerusalem, articles of furniture, Levitical priests (“cohens”), a red heifer, and other animals for sacrifice, this reversion could never take place. Hence, it is of utmost importance to Dispensationalists and Jews alike to build this temple. Both see it as a prerequisite to the coming of the Messiah.
Ezekiel’s temple prophecy is, of course, far too lengthy to give a detailed analysis. What is important is to interpret his prophecy in a way that does not contradict Hebrews—and, indeed, the entire New Testament. The NT reinterprets all of the Old Testament principles in a new light. Where Moses speaks of sacrifice, the NT points to Christ as the final permanent Sacrifice that does not need to be repeated daily as had been done in times past.
Where Moses set up a Levitical priesthood, the NT abolishes this in favor of priests after the order of Melchizedek. Whereas God told Moses to build a tabernacle and gave David the pattern for a temple, the NT establishes a final temple built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, having Jesus Christ as its chief corner stone (Ephesians 2:20-22).
This is, in fact, the temple in Ezekiel’s prophecy. Though the prophet wrote of it in Old Testament terms, the fulfillment of his prophecy would come after the changes necessitated by the new conditions brought about by the coming of Christ. While one may see those changes as contradictory, they are, in fact, part of the progression of the Kingdom. The Old Testament model was not the real deal, but only a prophetic pattern for something greater yet to come.
In past studies I have expounded on Ezekiel 44, which speaks of the priesthood that was to be established in Ezekiel’s temple. Here is where it is perhaps most evident that the prophet was speaking of the Melchizedek Order, even though he couched it in Levitical terms. He speaks of two kinds of priests: idolatrous priests and “the sons of Zadok.” In this, he refers to the change of priesthood that was made two centuries earlier in the days of Solomon, when he replaced Abiathar with Zadok.
That replacement was done in the context of the Old Testament, and so both Abiathar and Zadok had to be Levites of the line of Aaron. But this change of priesthood was a type and shadow of a greater change yet to come. God worked it so that Zadok would replace Abiathar, because Zadok was a type of the Melchizedek Order, that is, Melchi-Zadok. This change of priesthood under Solomon prophesied of the greater change, as Hebrews 7:12-17 explains more fully.
Therefore, when these priests are said to offer sacrifice in Ezekiel 44:15, it prophesies of Christ, not of animals. When it speaks of their woolen and linen garments in Ezekiel 44:17-19, it prophesies of the two “tabernacles” clothing them—which Paul also described in 2 Corinthians 5:1-6. These are the two bodies, flesh and spirit, by which we minister to people on earth and to God in heaven.
For instance, after Jesus’ resurrection, He appeared suddenly to His disciples (Luke 24:36). Their subsequent conversation was meant to prove that He was not a spirit (Luke 24:39). What actually happened was that He “changed clothing,” so to speak. Ezekiel 44:19 says that the sons of Zadok were not allowed to minister to the people in their “linen” clothing—that is, as a spirit. They were to minister to God in their linens, but they were required to change into their woolen garments to minister to the people in the “outer court.”
And so Jesus ministered to the Father in heaven clothed in “linen,” as a spiritual being, but when He appeared to His disciples on earth, He had to change his “garments” and put on flesh and bone. In this, He did not violate the law, but the form and application of the law changed. No longer was it talking about literal clothing, but two types of body, as Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 5:1-6.
For a more complete study of Ezekiel 44, its foundation in the story of Abiathar and Zadok, and its prophetic fulfillment in the New Testament, see these past weblogs:
The point is that we must interpret Ezekiel 44 in light of the New Testament, rather than interpreting the New Testament to conform to the Old Testament. It is the Old Testament form that changed—not the New Testament. Judaism does not recognize the New Testament at all, of course, so they have no way of seeing this on a higher level. Christians, who recognize the New Testament as Scripture, have a different perspective.
Likewise, the prophetic account of the river of life flowing from the temple to the Dead Sea in Ezekiel 47:1-12 is not literal either. Revelation 22:1-4 reinterprets this much more broadly, not merely as having benefit to the Dead Sea, but for all mankind. It is about the reversal of death itself, of which the Dead Sea is a type and shadow. To interpret Revelation 22 under the limitations of Ezekiel 47 is to perpetuate the contradiction between these passages and to do violence to the book of Hebrews in particular.
In the end, we should all be aware of some ulterior motives that has created Christian Zionism without their knowledge. The ulterior motive is to destroy the gospels altogether and to undermine Jesus’ claim as the Messiah. The hidden motive is to undermine the teachings of Paul and to eliminate the book of Hebrews as Scripture.
This has been a long-term plan by sinister forces that have infiltrated the Church. One of the keys is to know who backed C. I. Scofield and who published the Scofield Reference Bible containing these Dispensationalist views. I did a series about him in 2011.
The immediate plan was to promote Judaism as being superior to Christianity. But this had to be done gradually. They started with the assumption that the Jews were God’s chosen people and that the Jews were Israel. Then they brought in prophecy of Israel’s restoration and applied it to the Jews, having a long-term plan to occupy Palestine.
Zionism was then created in 1897, and Jews began immigrating to Palestine with the purpose of displacing the Palestinian population. World War II was then fomented by the same dark forces in order to establish the Israeli state and thus set the stage for a final conflict that would destroy Judaism, Islam, and Christianity at the same time and replace it with Lucerifianism.
This plan required the three targeted religions to stake their faith upon Jerusalem, so that when the city is destroyed, it would bring about tremendous disillusionment. This is how they intend to recruit Jews, Muslims, and Christians into Luciferianism. Of course, the plan will fail. But in the meanwhile, we face a very powerful and ruthless foe that is willing and eager to kill much of mankind in order to achieve their goal.
Those who understand this plan are able to avoid perpetuating it and supporting it. This is why, in my view, it is important to know Scripture and to see how Dispensationalism and Christian Zionism are being used to support a final conflict over Jerusalem that may kill millions of people—including many Jews.
I sometimes get impatient with those who have been caught up in this plot. But they do not know how they are being manipulated, and I need to keep this in mind. Likewise, impatience is a result of forgetting the sovereignty of God. I need to remember always that we stand on the winning side, for we are more than conquerors through Christ.
Dr. Stephen Jones