Ezekiel’s (Millennial?) Temple

ezekielbook

Do we interpret the Old Testament in light of the New, or the New Testament in light of the Old? If Torah was only the shadow of things to come then the illumination would be that which followed — the B’rit Chadasha. To properly interpret the Bible, then, we must read the Old Covenant in light of the New.

Here is the problem. Dispensationalists do just the opposite. They read the Holy text as if it were written yesterday. We have to understand the Bible in the context of the time it was written, and to whom it was addressed — keeping in mind:

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).

Ezekiel 40-48 is one of the most difficult sections of the Bible to understand. Ezekiel — יְחֶזְקֵאל (Yechezqel) meaning “Strengthened By God” — was a contemporary of Daniel and Jeremiah. All three were pre-exilic prophets sent by the LORD to warn the nation of coming judgement and restoration. Ezekiel was taken captive in 597 BC, eight years after Daniel was exiled during the first Babylonian invasion.

While living in Babylon, Ezekiel had a detailed vision of a grand temple in Jerusalem. Solomon’s temple was left destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, and the post-exilic temple built by Ezra and Nehemiah was modest in comparison.

In the visions of God He brought me into the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain, and on it to the south there was a structure like a city (Ezekiel 40:2).

A man like bronze, holding a measuring rod, then gave the prophet detailed measurements of a holy temple. The relevance of the vision was to bring shame to the people, and present the shadow of what John would see in the Apocalypse.

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. If they are ashamed of all that they have done, 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 (Ezekiel 43: 10-11).

Dispensationalists call Ezekiel’s temple the Third Temple, or Fourth Temple if you include the Tabernacle of Moshe (Moses), Solomon’s temple, and the post-captivity temple of Ezra and Nehemiah (Zerubbabel’s temple) which was later expanded by King Herod; and destroyed by the Romans in AD 70.

Because the post-exilic temple did not measure up to the grand design of Ezekiel’s vision, Dispensationalists will conclude that it must be an unfulfilled prophesy. They foresee Ezekiel’s temple as being the earthly throne of Christ during the Millennial kingdom.

temple

Reformed theologians have a problem with these passages because Ezekiel sees not only the restoration of the temple, but all of its attendant ceremonial functions including animal sacrifices. The Rabbin have a problem with Ezekiel’s temple because of all that is missing — the Ark, the Golden Candlestick and the Table of Showbread.

Dispensationalists will say that the animal sacrifices are a ceremonial observance — like the Lord’s Supper — and not for atonement. However, Ezekiel is clearly instructed that the priests will offer bulls and goats to clean, purify and make atonement upon the altar (Ezekiel 43:22-27). Neither orthodox Jews nor reformed Christians interpret Ezekiel literally.

And to suggest a resumption of blood sacrifices in the Millennial age is an affront to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His shed blood upon the cross.

To overcome this objection, Dispensationalists — who adhere to a literalist interpretation — have to spiritualize the text, “Oh, it’s only ceremonial like taking Communion.” 

What, then, is the meaning of Ezekiel’s vision? Orthodox Jews interpret visions symbolically, and Christians should do likely. Whereas the Rabbin have difficulty with Ezekiel, Christians possess the covenant that illuminates the substance of shadows.

Messiah is our (Ark) covenant with YHWH (Hebrews 7:22).

Christ is the (show)bread of life (John 6:51).

No candlestick in the light of God’s glory (Rev 21:23).

Dr. John C. Whitcomb presents the Dispensational argument:

Just because animal sacrifices and priests have no place in Christianity does not mean that they will have no place in Israel after the rapture of the Church; for there is a clear distinction made throughout the Scriptures between Israel and the Church … It is obvious that the Book of Hebrews was written to Christians, and we have no right to insist that Israelites during the Millennium will also be Christians, without priests, without sacrifices, and without a Temple … [1]

Dr. Whitcomb is imposing premillennial assumptions that are nowhere found in Scripture. Pre-trib rapture? Jesus said the hour is coming when all will hear His voice and be resurrected to life or judgement (John 5:28-29). Paul said there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile (Romans 10:12), and not all who are descended from Israel are Israel (Romans 9:6). To say that Hebrews was written to Christians is concealing the fact that the book was written to persecuted Jews who were thinking of returning to Judaism and its sacrificial system. If that was heresy then how much more apostate in a carnal kingdom still future?

When we shine the light of the New Covenant upon the Old it becomes evident that Ezekiel’s vision was a shadow of what was revealed to John. As Ezekiel saw his vision from atop a high mountain so, too, was John carried away in like manner. That both men saw a living river flowing from the throne of the LORD is evident that they had a shared vision.

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God (Revelation 21:10).

Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations (Revelation 22:1-2).

By the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail. They will bear every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing (Ezekiel 47:12).

As the scroll was sealed by Daniel (Daniel 12:4), but opened by the Lamb (Revelation 5:5) so we understand that Ezekiel and the Apocalypse (John’s vision) are bookends of typology and reality — shadow and fulfillment. Ezekiel and John saw not a carnal kingdom in a supposed Millennial age, but the New Jerusalem descending from heaven after this carnal world is burnt up. Peter wrote that this is the promise we look for — a new heaven and earth where righteousness dwells  (2 Peter 2:13).

I have recently posted comments on another blog (thank you Selah) about misinterpreting Zechariah. Dispensationalists will read the book as if it were written yesterday, and apply it to Israel in the future. No, Zechariah was a post-exilic prophet writing to the remnant who returned from Babylonian captivity. He spoke of the coming Branch of David, and judgement (once again) upon the nation Israel.

To be a serious Bible student — one who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15) — may require that we, like the Bereans, dig deeper into the Scriptures (Acts 17:11).

Notes:

1. The Millennial Temple of Ezekiel 40-48 (An Exercise in Literal Interpretation), Dr. John C. Whitcomb.

Copyright © 2015 Messiah Gate

70 Weeks of Daniel

daniel

(Revised 07-09-16, 2:40 pm)

This is part of a series examining the flawed exegesis of Dispensational theology. (See also: Who is Israel?, Dispense the Truth, Is Satan Bound? and Our High Priest).

The Seventy Weeks of Daniel (chapter 9) is one of the most difficult passages of Scripture. We will proceed with an assumption that many Bible students still aren’t sure of its meaning.

Dispensationalists believe that sixty-nine of the prophetic weeks have been fulfilled with the final week to be completed at some point in the future when all of these things will come to pass — rebuilt temple, man of sin, rapture, Great Tribulation and Millennium. Upon a more careful reading of Scripture we will see that the LORD decreed seventy weeks to fulfill, or complete the prophecy. The church fathers believed that Messiah appeared at the beginning of the 70th week, while Dispensationalists assert that Christ died in the 69th week with the final week having been put on hold 2000 years.

The implications of these divergent views are, metaphorically speaking, earth-shaking. Essentially, 19th century liberals overturned centuries of ecclesiastical teaching with the introduction of dispensational theology that adopted a futuristic interpretation of prophecy.

The church fathers believed that Daniel 9 was a Messianic prophecy that was fulfilled with the first coming of Christ. Rabbis also adhered to this interpretation, that is, until the temple was destroyed — and Messiah did not save them from the Roman army which, ironically, was sent in judgement by the LORD.

Though Dispensationalists cite the subsequent order of Artaxerxes, the commencement of the Seventy Weeks was historically understood by the church fathers to be the issuance of the royal decree by Cyrus which ended seventy years of Babylonian captivity. The terminus was the first advent of Christ which some proposed to be His birth, ministry or crucifixion. Though it extends the prophesy another 36 years, Clement saw the fulfillment of the seventy weeks in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. This is so determined because Christ had already put an end to the oblations by His sacrifice upon the cross. The offerings of the people after the cross had no spiritual efficacy, and the desolation of the sanctuary was simply an exclamation mark of Messiah’s prophetic judgement that not one stone would be left upon another (Matthew 23:38, 24:2).

What are the Seventy Weeks?

v24 Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most Holy.

Church fathers clearly understood this to be a Messianic reference. We will discuss the seventy weeks later, but this was a mistranslation by the King James translators. The text is properly interpreted seventy “sevens”. As the Jews were coming to the end of their seventy years of exile (Jeremiah 25:11), the LORD spoke unto Daniel that another judgement of sevens had been decreed — see also Leviticus 26:18.

v25 So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks (69 weeks); it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.

Messiah would come at the end of 69 weeks (7 + 62), and begin His ministry at the beginning of the 70th week — in contrast, as we have seen, with Dispensationalists who believe that Messiah was crucified in the 69th week with a parenthetic suspension of the final week.

v26 Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.

Remember, the prophetic timeline is segmented into seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks for a total of sixty-nine weeks. If Messiah is cut off after the sixty-two weeks, and we know that the first seven weeks have been fulfilled with the completion of the post-captivity temple, the prophecy foretells the crucifixion and desolation sometime after the 69th week.

v27 And he (Messiah) will make a firm covenant with the many for one week (70th week), but in the middle of the week (His ministry lasted 3 1/2 years) he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering (by His sacrifice upon the Cross); and on the wing of abominations (the Roman army) will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction (within that generation), one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate (the holy city).

He is not the future Antichrist nor the prince of verse 26. The prince is the object of the preposition. Neither are the people to be construed as the subject of the verse since the pronoun, in context of these passages, is unequivocally the Messiah.

We will revisit these verses later, but it might be helpful at this point to answer a couple of questions: When was the decree issued to restore the temple, and how do we interpret the seventy weeks?

There were, actually, several orders to restore the temple: Cyrus (539 BC), Darius (520 BC), Artaxerxes I (457 BC) and Artaxerxes (444 BC). It would take the length of this paper to examine the details of these royal decrees — as documented in the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah — but one of the decrees fits the timeline better than the others. For example, the most obvious choice would be the first order issued by Cyrus though it preceded Messiah by 570 years thus exceeding Daniel’s timetable by 80 years — but only if we utilized the secular, historical records of Ptolemy which were incomplete, and viewed with uncertainty by ancient scholars.

Not only is (Ptolemy’s) method of procedure fundamentally wrong in that it tries to make events of Bible-history fit in with a man-made chronological scheme, but the fact is that every chronological System covering the period we have to do with (i. e., from the beginning of the Persian monarchy down to Christ) is largely a matter of guesswork. All those systems, without any exception, are based upon the “canon” of Ptolemy, that is to say, a list of supposed Persian kings, with the supposed length of the reign of each, which list was compiled by Ptolemy, a heathen astronomer and writer of the second century AD. But Ptolemy does not even pretend to have had any facts as to the length of the Persian period (that is to say, from Darius and Cyrus down to Alexander the Great). Ptolemy estimates or guesses this period to have been 205 years long. And this is what has caused all the trouble and uncertainty; for every one who has attempted to construct a Bible chronology has based himself on Ptolemy’s estimate. In a word then, there is no chronology in existence of the period from Cyrus to Christ except in the Bible. 

Concerning the dates given in Ptolemy’s table of Persian Kings, Martin Anstey (Bible Chronology, 1913) says: “They rest upon calculations or guesses made by Eratosthenes, and on certain vague floating traditions, in accordance with which the period of the Persian Empire was mapped out as a period of 205 years.” And he shows, by a great variety of proofs taken entirely from the Scriptures, that the period which Ptolemy assigns to the Persian Empire is about eighty years too long. It follows that all who adopt Ptolemy’s chronology, or any system based upon it (as all modern chronologists prior to Anstey do) would inevitably be led far astray. It is impossible to make the real Bible-events agree, within 80 years, with the mistaken chronology of Ptolemy. This single fact makes many modern books on Daniel utterly worthless, so far as their chronology is concerned; and the chronology is the main thing. [1]

Confirming that Cyrus is, indeed, the subject of the royal decree — the Bible has to be the authority:

Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying:  “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah’ (Ezra 1:1-2). 

It is I who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd! And he will perform all My desire.’ And he declares of Jerusalem, ‘She will be built,’ And of the temple, ‘Your foundation will be laid.’ ” (Isaiah 44:28)

“I have aroused him (Cyrus) in righteousness and I will make all his ways smooth; He will build My city and will let My exiles go free, Without any payment or reward,” says the LORD of hosts (Isaiah 45:13).

Clearly, Jesus did not come within a literal seventy weeks of the royal decree. The Bible is using prophetic language — it is to be understood as seventy weeks of years. That is to say, one day equals one year  — one week equals seven years — and seventy weeks equals four hundred ninety years.

One might ask by what interpretive method do we understand a day for a year? To be sure, it is gleaned from ancient rabbinical text; but also from the Holy Scriptures:

For I have assigned you a number of days corresponding to the years of their iniquity … a day for each year (Ezekiel 4:5-6).  

You are also to count off seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years, so that you have the time of the seven sabbaths of years, namely, forty-nine years (Leviticus 25:8).

Daniel breaks down his vision into a period of seven weeks (49 years), sixty-two weeks (434 years) and one week (7 years). From the time the decree is issued to the completion of the (second) temple, 49 years … the coming of Messiah, 434 years … the fulfillment of Christ’s ministry and crucifixion, 7 years.

Christian commentators and Rabbinic teachers posited that Daniel’s prophecy began at the end of Jeremiah’s prophetic seventy years of desolation, or Babylonian captivity which ended with the decree of Cyrus.

Let us examine more closely the two verses that pose the greatest interpretive challenge:

v24 Seventy weeks have been decreed to finish the transgression, make atonement for iniquity, bring in everlasting righteousness, seal the vision and anoint the most Holy.

Seventy weeks: Skeptics will dispute 490 years between the decree of Cyrus and the coming of Messiah. However, when you factor in the 360-day lunar calendar, and sketchy records of Ptolemy, it is reasonable to agree with first century Christians and Jews that the prophecy of Daniel 9 (all 70 weeks) has been fulfilled.

Finish the transgression (atonement): Of course, it is not difficult to understand that Messiah finished the transgression (John 19:30) though modern Bible critics — liberal in their theology — will cast doubt upon the Messianic interpretation of this passage even as they question the Virgin Birth and bodily resurrection. How they can doubt that Christ made atonement for sin is, well, perplexing.

Everlasting righteousness: Obviously, Jesus Christ. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets (Romans 3:21).

Seal the vision: Daniel’s sealed vision would be opened by the One who fulfilled the prophecy as revealed to John.

I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it. Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it; and one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.” (Revelation 5:1-5)

Anoint the most Holy: This passage of Scripture was uniformly interpreted — by Jews and Christians — as one of the most revelatory Messianic prophecies in all of the Old Testament. There are interpretive variations regarding the most Holy. Some translations render the passage most Holy One, or place. If Holy One, it is a clear reference to the Mashiach; and if Holy place it suggests the anointing of the Most Holy Place with the sacrificial blood of the Messiah (Hebrews 9:12) — a selfless offering that permitted the Son of Man to open Daniel’s sealed prophecy. In either case, the Messianic connotations were clearly understood in the first century.

Verse 27 is challenging in that it lays down the Dispensational foundation regarding the Antichrist and end time scenario. (Be aware that they will link this verse with 2 Thessalonians 2:4.)

v27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

Who is he? The key that unlocks our interpretation of this verse is the word covenant ( bə·rîṯ) which does not convey a civil compact, but a holy one — ex. Genesis 9:13, 15-18. The Hebrew text suggests that he will make strong or establish a holy covenant with the many, or the faithful elect. There are no other subjects in chapter 9 that would have the authority to confirm such a covenant, but Messiah.

In Isaiah, chapter 42, the LORD presents His righteous servant. Careful study of these verses will open your understanding as to the identity of he who was sent to establish the holy covenant:

Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations … I am the LORD, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You, and I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations (Isaiah 42:1, 42:6).

Note that the LORD appointed His servant as a covenant. Messiah is the covenant spoken of in verse 27; and some Bible expositors will actually interpret that it was the covenant that caused the sacrifices to cease:

But bereeth ( bə·rîṯ) thus absolute, is used not of alliances, but of the Divine covenant … If bereeth is the Divine covenant, as by usage it is, then the prince whose people were to lay waste the temple and city cannot be he that confirms the covenant. We might take the last clause of ver. 26 as in a parenthesis, and regard the subject of the verb “confirm” as the Messiah who was cut off. It seems, however, preferable to take the construction as we have done above, and make bereeth the subject of the verb. And in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease. In accordance with our interpretation of the previous clause, we would interpret this, “The covenant shall cause offering and oblation to cease.” What covenant is this? The new Messianic covenant promised in Jeremiah 31:31. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 8:8) quotes this passage as Messianic, and as proving that sacrifice and offering had ceased with Christ’s sacrifice of himself. [2]

Messiah confirmed the (new) covenant and brought an end to sacrifices during the prophetic 70 weeks. Daniel 9 is not a prophecy to be fulfilled in a rebuilt temple amidst the political intrigue of a shaky peace agreement between Israel and the man of sin. That sells books and makes thrilling movies — but it is not Biblical.

Notes:

1. Philip Mauro. The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation; chapter 2, The Commandment to Restore and Build, 1921, Preterist Archive.

2. Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. Commentary on Daniel 9:27, The Pulpit Commentary, 1897, StudyLight.org.

Visit Us at Blogspot

Copyright © 2014 Messiah Gate

Our High Priest

(Revised 09-05-14, 3:03 am)

Editor: This article continues our examination of the flawed exegesis of Dispensational theology. (See also: Who is Israel?, Dispense the Truth and Is Satan Bound?)

Finding an evangelical seminary that is true to the historical interpretation of Scripture has been a daunting task — as hard, even, as trying to find a church that is faithful to the Word of God, and not to a Doctrinal Statement composed by an institutional hierarchy of deacons, or elders.

A noteworthy seminary in Southern California lists the following item in their Program Goals:

Upon successful completion of the Master of Arts in Biblical Studies Program students will be able to: Articulate dispensational theology and biblically defend their doctrinal position.

In their Doctrinal Position the seminary declares:

We believe that the Scriptures interpreted in their natural, literal sense reveal divinely determined dispensations or rules of life which define man’s responsibilities in successive administrations of God. These dispensations are divinely ordered stewardships by which God directs man according to His purpose. Three of these — the dispensation of law, the dispensation of the grace of God, and the dispensation of the kingdom — are the subjects of detailed revelation in Scripture.

The outline seems reasonable, but the finer points reveal a flawed doctrine that is somewhat responsible for division and denominationalism within the body of Christ.

In the 19th century, Dispensationalism was considered liberalism by the ecclesia. There are variations of the doctrine, but it essentially posited these climatic events: end of the age, rapture of the church, Great Tribulation, Millennial reign, and a rebuilt temple featuring the resumption of animal sacrifices. In fact, preparations are being made today, in Israel, to restore the Levitical priesthood.

If you examine dispensational theology with a discerning spirit it will become evident that the doctrine is supported by a liberal dose of eisegesis in that it imposes, or reads into, a literal interpretation of Scripture that is symbolic, metaphoric or allegoric.

Case in point: Why are animal sacrifices offered in the Millennial kingdom? Dispensational theologian John Walvoord answers:

The millennial sacrifices are no more expiatory than were the Mosaic sacrifices which preceded the cross. If it has been fitting for the church in the present age to have a memorial of the death of Christ in the Lord’s Supper, it is suggested that it would be suitable also to have a memorial of possibly a different character in the millennium in keeping with the Jewish characteristic of the period. [1]

Note, in keeping with the Jewish characteristic of the period, Walvoord reveals the dispensational scenario that once the church is removed from the world, Israel will again take center stage.

With regards to a memorial sacrament, the Eucharist was instituted by our Lord at the Last Supper:

And He took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me (Luke 22:19).

Walvoord liberally infers that because Communion is a memorial service during the dispensation of the church then it can be suggested that animal sacrifices might be a type of suitable remembrance in the Millennial kingdom.

Except there is absolutely no Scriptural validation for his assertion. To suggest that animal sacrifices will resume in a Millennial age is an offense to the sufferings of Christ.

If you examine the jots and tittles of dispensational thought you’ll discover multiple second comings, a couple of resurrections (separated by the Millennium), and two new covenants.

The well-known pastor of a mega-church in San Antonio preaches the hyper-dispensational slant that God has two plans of salvation — one for the church and another for Israel. After the church is raptured, God will fulfill all of His promises to the land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The Texas preacher makes it sound as if Israel is the center of God’s plan of salvation, and the church of Jesus Christ is nothing but a footnote.

What does it mean, then, when our Lord said that He fulfilled the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17)?

Let’s review the historical teaching of the church. YHWH revealed Himself to Israel. They were disobedient, cast into exile, rejected the Messiah — and the LORD, in His judgement against the nation in AD 70, brought an end to the Jewish age (and the covenant of Moses).

Intellectuals — including some who are seminary taught — might say our summary is ignorant, or too simplistic. But we know that the covenant of Christ made obsolete the covenant of Moses  (Hebrews 8:13).

HaMashiach Yeshua fulfilled the New Covenant spoken of by Jeremiah the prophet:

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”  (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

A popular Bible teacher — who graduated from a dispensational seminary — stated on his radio program that the new covenant spoken of in Jeremiah is separate and distinct from the New Covenant of Jesus Christ. [2]

When I partake of Communion I always associate the covenant in Jeremiah with the proclamation of our Lord at the Last Supper:

And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood (Luke 22:20).

The covenant declared by YHWH in the prophesy of Jeremiah is the same covenant established by Christ our Lord, yet the radio pastor said that the former would be enacted with Israel during the Millennial age, while the latter was contracted with believers at the dispensation of the church age.

A study of the Book of Hebrews will yield a wealth of spiritual insight with regards to the priestly fulfillment of Jesus Christ. Particularly relevant to this discourse would be chapter 8 wherein the writer (we surmise the Apostle Paul) details how the Lord, having taken His seat at the right hand of God, has become our High Priest — and having obtained a more excellent ministry has become the mediator of a better covenant (Hebrews 8:1, 8:6).

More pointedly, the writer of Hebrews quotes the passage in Jeremiah to substantiate that Jesus Christ is the new covenant so prophesied in the ancient text. Yeshua, having appeared as our High Priest, entered the heavenly tabernacle — not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12).

The sacrificial system, in practice, ended when YHWH brought judgement upon Israel in AD 70 — leaving the temple desolate for 2000 years. And so it will remain until the last day when the dead are resurrected either to life, or judgement (John 5:28-29).

A question that needs to be asked (and is deserving of its own essay): Where do we read in Scripture the validation, or assertion of a Millennial temple? The dispensational interpretation is that Ezekiel’s temple (detailed in chapters 40-47) is the Third Temple. The LORD, however, instructed Ezekiel to reveal the plans of the temple to bring shame to the children of Israel for their iniquities (Ezekiel 43:10).

Like dangling a carrot — this is what you could have if it weren’t for your disobedience.

We cannot dismiss that Ezekiel’s prophesy was revealed before the construction of the second temple (which never approached the grand design of the prophet’s vision) — the dimensions of his temple being of a heavenly scale, thus suggesting it was but a spiritual type existing only in the New Jerusalem after this present world has passed away.

What the Bible does teach is that Jesus Christ is our High Priest, and chief cornerstone of God’s holy tabernacle consisting of a body of believers (both Jew and Greek) who are the temple of the Holy Spirit — a temple that exceeds the grandeur of Ezekiel’s vision.

A temple that is not millennial, but eternal — and a clear example of how our High Priest fulfilled the Law and Prophets.

Notes:

1. John Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom (1983), p. 311-312

2. Walvoord was a contemporary of this popular radio preacher. They both graduated from the Dallas Theological Seminary where Walvoord served as president, and the preacher was a guest lecturer.

Visit Us at Blogspot

Copyright © 2014 Messiah Gate