Letters to the Editor: A Temple Filled With Unsearchable Riches – Part 5
Editor’s Note: The articles by Bro. George Booker on “A Temple Filled With Unsearchable Riches” have generated much discussion among our readers. We are pleased to have brothers and sisters share their ideas about this prophecy, and we include these views for your consideration. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the Tidings Committee.
THE HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL NATIONS
The future is all about Hope: Christ’s return, the Resurrection, Judgment and reward of everlasting life, abolishment of tyranny and oppression, cessation of hunger, illness, and sorrow, the restoration of God’s people (Israel) to exaltation, a world at peace under Divine law, truth, and justice, righteousness and love, peace and prosperity. All descriptors of the Kingdom of God on earth.
And yes, there will be a restored Temple and Levitical priesthood in Jerusalem.
This is a unique teaching only we hold, found nowhere else amongst the denominations of Christendom. The only community that shares our view is the Orthodox Jews.
The future Temple, however, is referred to by outside authors, yet not to be built by Jesus but instead by a future antichrist who will make a covenant with the Jews, bringing back sacrifices and rebuilding their temple (e.g., Hal Lindsey, Left Behind series). Their teachings are so astray that they will eventually mistake Jesus and accuse him of being the antichrist!
Just like the religious leaders of Jesus’s day once said his powers were from Beelzebub, history will repeat, my friends, so beware.
May we recognize and familiarize ourselves with the diamonds which were mined out of the sacred writ, in living contrast to what’s out there.
So what are the reasons why some don’t accept a future Temple?
1) God changed His mind.
I’ve heard it said that God “dangled” the vision of Ezekiel’s temple before the nation of Israel as it were some kind of carrot they could not hope to reach. This is so sad a commentary against our Creator. It is unprecedented that God ever made a promise on which He reneged.
When God makes a promise, He keeps it, regardless of our lack of faith. Whether it was the promises to Abraham, a land flowing with milk and honey, or the return of Christ and the Kingdom restored–these will all be fulfilled in His good time, not according to our timetable.
When has God ever offered such a glorious vision of hope and then taken it back? It’s been taught that the vision was meant for back then and only then. Ezekiel’s vision could not have been fulfilled in his day. That time still awaits its necessary King!
There are clues throughout Ezekiel that are overwhelming hints of its intended future fulfillment.
Two Scriptures should be sufficient to reveal this:
In Ezekiel 41:18–20 there is described a continuous series of carvings of the cherubim. These are stated to be the two faces of the man and of the lion. These faces represent the ministry of Christ in his unique roles of both priest and king, as they also symbolize the prophets, Ezekiel and Isaiah. But where are the other faces of the ox and eagle? There will be no need for these in the future when Christ returns as he has fulfilled his destiny in both becoming a servant as well as having inherited God’s immortal nature and eternal life. Christ will not come again to serve but to be glorified and served; he will not return to be given the power of the Holy Spirit – it’s already his! What will beautifully remain is the man who mediates between God and men. What was Ezekiel’s job? Was he not a priest? And what was the theme of Isaiah? Was it not the kingdom and its king? And after whose order was the Christ to come? Psalm 110 tells us, Melchizedek, both king and priest, the lion and the man: King of kings and Lord of lords. This Temple was not meant to exist until Christ was in earth again in his glory. Everywhere the eye can see will be seen the double portrait of him who is to come!
The other case in point is Chapter 45: 21–25. Here we find that the Passover will be reinstituted.
This would not come as a surprise to devout Jews. What would be shocking to them is that there is one big singular change of note. Read it for yourselves; what is missing?! There is no year-old, unblemished male lamb. I think you know why. It’s because he will be there in person. Note the interesting reference to a man of high position mentioned in this excerpt. Only God will be allowed to make a great change like this, and that cannot come until His son is back on the earth, once again, in his majesty!
2) It’s all symbolic.
This is an argument that ignores context, chronology, and logic, and sadly was one encountered in my early days of preaching to JW’s who said the same thing. They also teach that Christ was pre-existent and will never ever set foot on this earth again. Please, let’s not quote them on doctrine. We will briefly look at the literal significance of the verses relating to the last days:
- Ezekiel 37—the resurrectional vision of the nation of Israel re-born and fulfilled. (Literal)
- Ezekiel 38—war waged upon the nation of Israel, yet to come. (Literal)
- Ezekiel 39—God’s intervention to rescue Israel, yet to come. (Literal)
- Ezekiel 40–46—Description of the Temple, yet to come. (Literal)
- Ezekiel 47—Paradise restored, yet to come. (Literal)
- Ezekiel 48—Apportioning the land between the tribes of Israel, yet to come. (Literal)
This simple overview is really rather logical as we must accept the latter chapters as literal as we do chapters 37–39. Has Israel literally become a nation again, and will she face another war? Yes.
And please, don’t ever tell anyone that chapter 47 is only symbolic and that we will never see a paradise on this earth again!
A quick parallel to mistakenly believing a literal prophetic chapter is only literal when we like it to be so. Some have thought like this towards the final few verses in Zechariah 14. Most everyone believes that the chapter is thoroughly literal as it starts with war and Christ’s return, ending with the establishment of the kingdom and return to sacrifices. Those who disagree will teach almost the same until the end when they suddenly don’t like what they read and make a last-minute change to teach in a symbolic ending.
We can’t pick and choose interpretations based on our personal preferences. If Mt. Olivet is to be split during an earthquake, it is poor Bible research to say that the last couple of verses are disagreeable, and so revert to symbolism. The context will solve over 90% of our questions, my friends.
3) The details are so hard to understand so we can’t come to any conclusion.
This response is to give up on your studies. Please do not. Let us not lose heart, nor the forest for the trees. See the big picture first, and the details will eventually fill in! I’m not an architect either, but it doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate an awesome structure!
4) The Old Testament is so hard to understand, and much of it is fulfilled, right?
Not so, my friends, The Old Testament is full of reasonably understood prophecies yet to be fulfilled that take a little bit of effort and taking into context. It is the glory of God to conceal a matter and the honor of kings to search them out. Just like the effort of study it takes to understand a parable, the Lord wants us to pursue these matters for ourselves and make up our own minds. So please prayerfully pore over these verses, and you will discover their hidden message. I am not one of these Bible school speakers nor a great scholar, and believe me, if I can figure this teaching out, so can all of you!
Here are my four “go-to” chapters that will be a surefire source to put the clues together for the future:
- Isaiah 56 connects the House of Prayer with future Gentile offerings and sacrifices to Jesus’ exclamation in Mark 11:17.
- Isaiah 60 joyously proclaims of the clean animals being brought in the future by nations of the other sons of Abraham to be given as offerings. Here we’ll also read of the timber to be brought to beautify the future Temple.
- Jeremiah 33:14–26 makes it clear that the two elements of royalty and revived ritual will go hand in hand. It is a dual prophecy of a king-priest who shall return, a package deal, so to speak, of a joyous double blessing. Only our ability to stop the world from spinning on its axis and counting the stars of heaven and the sands of the sea can prevent it! God means what He says.
- Zechariah 14 has so much exciting prophecies yet to be fulfilled, ending in the celebration of the ‘Feast of Booths’ when future Gentiles will also be invited!
5) Christ died for our sins so why do we need to return to animal sacrifice?
A very good question upon which the pioneers have remarked considerably, and I would recommend reading “Christendom Astray” by Bro. Robert Roberts to see the overall picture. I will admit that I do not relish this aspect of the Kingdom age and would not have made a good Levitical priest under the old covenant. I cannot stand the sight of blood and could never perform surgery or become a paramedic. However, the Kingdom is not about what I prefer nor human aversion to killing beautiful unblemished clean animals. I wish it didn’t have to be so. It goes against the heart of every sensitive believer that the innocent must die for the guilty. Yet this is what God has ordained from the lamb slain from the foundation of the world to Calvary. That’s the sad, undeniable news of our fallen nature. Thanks be to God that He has sent His only begotten Son to save us, sinners. The incredible news now for us is that we have been bought for a price, and the blood of bulls and goats will never need to be shed on our behalf. Mission accomplished for us.
But the Kingdom to come, fortunately, will not be just for us Christadelphians. There will be billions of Gentiles upon the face of this future earth over whom Christ and the saints will rule for a thousand years. What about them and the mortal Jews? The Temple and its sacrifices will be needed for the future mortals while we as believers in this dispensation, have been forever atoned for. So do not lose heart; Christ died once for all of us sinners. The Temple and its ritual offerings will not be for us. But what about the future population?
Have they not a place in God’s plan and, more importantly, a need for atonement as well? It is God’s prerogative that a modified version of the Mosaic Law shall be established, different but similar. We can neither promote nor deny the future generations what our human nature assumes will occur. God will take care of them the way He pleases, revealed yet hidden throughout the Hebrew Old Testament of our Bibles.
It will be our job to teach and heal and protect and oversee an annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the joy of the whole earth. This joyous journey to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles will be the highlight of the year amongst the survivors who’ve come up against this holy city in battle. (Zech 14:16-21) Then will come a time to celebrate outdoors: Bible study, Sunday School classes, campfires, singalongs, fraternal picnics, where all will praise the Creator of the universe in the Name of His only begotten Son! What magnanimity Yahweh will render in Christ as he awaits his guests!
Toronto Church Street Ecclesia, ON