Ten New Things That Ezekiel Saw As He Measured The Millennial Temple
“I have never before heard a message on Ezekiel’s Temple vision,” were the words of Dr. Paul Smith of Toronto’s famed Peoples’ Church, as I stepped up to the pulpit one Sunday evening not too long ago. At the close of the message, Marv Rosenthal, friend and fellow-speaker for the conference, invited me to write an article on the Millennial Temple for ISRAEL MY GLORY readers. He desired this message be shared so that many could see these same visions that Ezekiel saw. Thus, we now gaze at them here together.
The setting for the vision is announced in Ezekiel 40:1. The prophet saw it in the twenty-fifth year of the captivity, fourteen years after the city of Jerusalem and its Temple were destroyed by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar invaded Jerusalem three times: first, in 606 B.C. when Daniel was taken prisoner; second, in 597 B.C. when Ezekiel was to eye-witness the return of Nebuchadnezzar; and third, in 586 B.C. when Jeremiah watched the burning, pillaging, and pulling down of Solomon’s Temple, which had stood for four hundred years. When he saw this vision Ezekiel was outside of Israel (40:2) and had already been in exile-captivity for twenty-five years. Humanly speaking, with the Temple and Jerusalem lying in rubble, it appeared that God had utterly and forever forsaken Israel and His promises to them. The visions that God shows Ezekiel in chapters 36 – 39 teach that God will again in the end time physically deliver Israel, lead them to conversion, and then restore them nationally under the banner of the Messiah. Here in chapters 40 – 48 we see the vision shown by God to Ezekiel of the Millennial Temple (i.e., the Temple of the future thousand-year period when Satan is bound and Christ reigns, Rev. 20:1-6). These holy sights help us today to lift our eyes beyond Israel’s present national and spiritual difficulties and to see the glowing future which lies ahead for them when Christ appears to establish His kingdom visibly and literally on earth.
Let us now open our eyes and walk a step behind the prophet, gazing in holy amazement as we tread upon holy ground.
HE SAW A FUTURE TEMPLE FOR ISRAEL (chapters 40-41). –The truth here conveyed is that God is not done with Israel. He will yet wash them clean by the blood of the Lamb and again set up His Temple residence with them. His house here vividly testifies that they will not be forsaken and that again they will have access to His holy presence. How will this be made possible? Future sights will answer this. The reed in the prophet’s hand is akin to a yardstick or a meterstick today, and the “line of flax” would now be called a measuring tape (40:3). These instruments of measurement signify possession and tell us that Israel will yet enjoy God dwelling among them in the latter days. That the particulars of these visions of chapters 40-48 were not fulfilled in the days of the second Temple (516 B.C. ~ 70 A.D.) will be made clear as we note them in the observations .to follow. Amid the many strident voices of our modern scene who shake their fingers at Israel and the Jewish people, assuring us that God has forever passed over them; the glorious sight that we must not fail to see here is God again camping in Israel with His holy glory among them for blessing.
HE SAW THE COURT OF THE GENTILES AS ISRAEL’S (chapter 42). – Revelation 11:2 helps us to understand this, as there John is forbidden to measure “the court, which is outside,” i.e., the court of the Gentiles. The reason for this is that “the Gentiles” were yet to “tread under foot” Jerusalem for forty-two months, i.e., the last half of the Tribulation era. Hence, we may conclude that here in Ezekiel’s millennial Temple vision the significance of the prophet being now able to measure freely the outer court is because in that future blessed Millennium the nations will no more occupy Israel’s holy territory in a belligerent capacity. At last Israel will be at peace with the nations of the world and those who enter His courts will come as fellow worshipers of the King of kings, not as invaders assaulting the nation. What a comfort this should be even today when nations surrounding the city of Jerusalem lust to enter her sacred precincts only to wreak destruction and death.
HE SAW THE SHEKINAH RETURN TO ISRAEL (43:1-5). — Almost twenty years before, Ezekiel witnessed a sad and dismaying vision. He beheld the illumination of the glory of the Lord’s presence (the Shekinah) visibly depart out of the house of the Lord and then over the walls and out of the city (10:3-5, 18-19; 11:23). Here he witnesses a vision of the return of the glory of the Lord into the house, i.e., the Temple of the Millennium. Thus, his message was that someday, in the age of blessedness ahead, the Lord himself would again return and abide with this nation. This would be one of the blessed hopes of the faithful as they looked beyond the walls of their exile in Babylon to the messianic age.
HE SAW A CLEANSED NATION (43:6-27). — Israel was invaded by Babylon because of her sins. This is made abundantly clear by the prophet (7:3). Now God announces that someday the land will be clean enough for God to place His throne there, and it will even be fit for “the soles” of God’s feet to walk upon (43:7). At last God will be able to listen to the voices of the people who walk in Jerusalem as “my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile” (43:7). This surely did not come to pass in the days of the second Temple (516 B.C. – 70 A.D.), nor can it truly have been fulfilled during the present Church Age. No, it yet awaits the future millennial days here described, when Israel will at last be fully clean. Paul spoke of this day when “the Deliverer” (the Messiah) would “turn away ungodliness from Jacob (Rom. 11:26).
HE SAW A NEW RULER OVER ISRAEL (44:1-4; 45:7-8, 16-17; 46:2). — A ruler called only “the prince” (Hebrew: Nasi) is described as having a unique right to eat in the East Gate, and also special land allotments are designated as his. This one shall also in some way lead in worship (46:2). Some have suggested that this leader of Jerusalem and Israel will be the resurrected David, while others say that this one, of course, is the Lord Jesus. It is further held by some that the present East Gate (the Golden Gate) of Jerusalem will remain shut as it has been for centuries until Christ, the true Prince, enters through it as depicted in 44:2-3. All of this brings forth many questions. Two things, however, stand out very clearly: (1) Christ will indeed be the Lord of all in the Millennium (Mt. 25:31); and (2) the Prince denoted in Ezekiel chapters 44-46 will be a righteous leader of the nation of Israel and its worship. Gone will be the evil and corrupt leaders who led that nation to Babylon through their sinfulness in Ezekiel’s day and who confirmed this evil by rejecting Christ six centuries later. Israel will at last have a righteous Prince to stand before it; One of whom God will thoroughly approve.
HE SAW NO EVIL PERSONS ENTERING GOD’S MILLENNIAL SANCTUARY (44:5-31). — In chapter 9, years before, Ezekiel had seen a vision of God’s judging angel slaying the wicked in Israel. “Begin at my sanctuary [the Temple],” was the cry because evil doers had also encamped and filled the Temple (9:6-7). Even those who still came to worship had flagrant and open sinners among them, and likewise the priesthood and the Levitical order had been overcome by those who daily defiled God’s house. Thus, here was where God commanded the Babylonian judgments to begin . . . but, in the future of Israel, all will be different. The “stranger” (the unsaved) and the uncircumcised in heart (again, the one not born again) will not be permitted to enter God’s holy Temple. Surely this was never fulfilled in the days of the second Temple, so dominated by the high priests who rejected Christ and the legalistic and corrupt Pharisees and Sadducees. The golden age of our world ahead will at last see the wicked driven away from the steps of the Temple and from all places of religious leadership.
HE SAW MEMORIAL SACRIFICES BEING OBSERVED (45:15-25). — Hebrews 9:25-26 makes it clear that Christ “once” offered Himself to die for our sins on the cross, and thus forever, once and for all paid the penalty. Because of the cardinal position which this fact plays in Protestant theology, two views prevail concerning the sacrifices described here in Ezekiel. One view is that the language itself must be spiritualized, and all of the description of sacrifices here represents a “daily consciousness” that the penalty for sin has been paid. The other view, and the one to which this writer personally leans, is that these sacrifices will be of a memorial nature, just as is the Lord’s Table today. Thus, these daily sacrifices in the Temple would look back to Christ’s death upon the cross (just as those of the Old Testament looked forward to that death). In themselves they would have no efficacy, except in a memorial nature — reminding us of what the true Lamb of God suffered. In any case, Ezekiel describes a righteous nation and a holy worship, and this will come to pass in the millennial future, be it in spirit or in memorial service.
HE SAW A SABBATH BEING OBSERVED (46:1). — We follow the apostles in worshiping on the first day of the week, Sunday (Acts 20:7). In the Old Testament, the sabbath day (the seventh day) marked God’s rest from His work of creation (Ex. 20:10-11); in the New Testament, the first day of the week marks God’s rest from His work of redemption. The former is the rest commemorating the making of the world; the later, the saving of the world. In both cases — while yet recognizing that ail of the legal demands of the Old Testament were never incumbent upon the Church — one day in seven is set aside as especially suitable for divine worship. Today we live in a time of rapidly growing secularization, so much so that the Lord s Day more and more is losing entirely any sacredness or set-apartness. In the coming Millennium again, by a people desiring to please their Lord, one day in seven will be set aside for worship and works of mercy and necessity. It will not be business as usual — sports stadiums full and churches empty. The Lord will prevail, and His name will be honored across the planet on the joyous day of rest and worship.
HE SAW NEW LIVING WATERS ABOUNDING WITH FISH WHERE THE DEAD SEA ONCE STOOD (chapter 47). – New fresh waters erupt out of the Temple area itself and rise to become a river, as Ezekiel beholds them ever deepening . .. ankles.. .knees . . . chest . . . traversable only by a swimmer (47:1-5). The angel with the prophet then announces that when these waters touch the sea of the desert (the Dead Sea), the waters of the Dead Sea shall be heated (47:8). We know that it is the Dead Sea’s healing which is in view by the subsequent prophecy that fishermen will catch various types of fish by nets from “Engedi even unto Eneglaim” (47:10), as Engedi — the place where David spared Saul — is on the western shore of the Dead Sea. Thus, here we have a truly spectacular geological type of promise: The Dead Sea in the Millennium will become a living body of water, and it will have within it a great variety of fish to feed mankind! At the same time, there still will be left some areas for the chemical mining of its many salts (47:11). This truly is having one’s cake and eating it too! Will the proposed Israeli dream now on the drawing boards of digging a channel from the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea be partially incorporated into this prophecy? We do not know. We do know, however, that the day lies ahead when the Dead Sea will swarm with fish and its waters, today so bitter, will be drinkable — all so typical of Israel in the Millennium with its sin problem at last healed and plenty and safety on every side.
HE SAW THE GATES OF JERUSALEM NAMED FOR THE TRIBES OF ISRAEL (chapter 48, especially verse 31). — Today, due to the national enemies of the state of Israel and the Soviet Union supplying their enemies with weapons, some have wondered if an Israeli Jerusalem would survive. Other leaders of the United Nations and the Vatican have proposed that since Israel recaptured Jerusalem (June 6-11, 1967), Jerusalem be made an international city. In view of all of this, what this prophecy tells us is that it is God’s own will that Jerusalem eventually belong entirely to Israel, and that in the coming kingdom age every gate wilt be named for a tribe. At present, there are not twelve gates in use, so some new construction will be needed — and who knows, perhaps the entire city will be gloriously enlarged. Thus, as we peer upon the words of this chapter, the end of Ezekiel’s prophecy of Israel’s judgment (chapters 1-35), and her rescue, conversion, and restoration (chapters 36-48), we at last see that nation at one with her God, sitting secure amid her capital city and tribal gates.
What will be the catalyst to bring all of this about? Zechariah gives us the answer: “. . . and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced . . .” ; “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives…”(Zech. 12:10; 14:4).
Israel today represents the dry bones of Ezekiel 37:8, yet unsaved and without spiritual life. Someday, perhaps very soon, God will breathe the breath of life upon them (Ezek. 37:9-10) and “sprinkle clean water” upon them (36:25) as they turn to Christ who will save them at Armageddon. Israel as a nation will survive; it is God’s prophetic will. And this vision of Ten New Things That Ezekiel Saw as He Measured the Millennial Temple gives us a vital stability on this matter. Glorious days lie ahead as the second coming of Christ approaches.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Cohen is a professor at Miami Christian College and a long-time friend of The Friends of Israel. He is a born again Jew and has appeared often on the same platform at prophecy conferences with Marv Rosenthal and other members of our staff.