A Temple Tale!
Misconceptions of Ezekiel's Temple Vision in ch. 40-48
A most mysterious Ezekiel predictive prophecy!
The Prophet Ezekiel, whose Hebrew name means “El Strengthens,” was the fourth of the five Major Prophets from Isaiah to Daniel. He was exiled to Babylon in 597 BC, and his ministry began five years later when he was 30 years old. He is believed to have prophesied from about 592 to 570 B.C., almost a quarter-century, between and overlapping the lives of the prophets Jeremiah and Daniel. Ezekiel was married, in fact his wife died as a sign from God on the day the siege of Jerusalem began. He says, “So I spake unto the people in the morning: and at even my wife died;” (24:18).
In the last nine chapters of his book, he gives an elaborate vision of a restored land and temple. There are many features of his vision that are unique:
Let’s List Features that are Unique to Ezekiel's Temple:
No wall of partition to exclude Gentiles (compare Ephesians 2:14) The Gentiles were previously welcome in the Outer Courts, but excluded from the inner courts on pain of death.
No Court of Women (Outer Court and Inner Court only, compare Galatians 3:28)
No Laver (see Ezekiel 36:24-27, John 15:3)
No Table of Shewbread (see Micah 5:4, John 6:35)
No Lampstand or Menorah (see Isaiah 49:6, John 8:12)
No Golden Altar of Incense (Zechariah 8:20-23, John 14:6)
No Veil (Isaiah 25:6-8, Matthew 27:51)
No Ark of the Covenant (Jeremiah 3:16, John 10:30-33)
No feast of Firstfruits (Bikkurim); No Pentecost (Shavuot); No Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur); No Day of Trumpets (Yom Teruah); and No Yom Peguim (Hebrew calendar leap day). Only Passover (Pesach), Unleavened Bread (Chag Matsoth); and Tabernacles (Chag Sukkot) were designated. Why is that? No one knows, but possibly it was expected that the other feasts and fast days would be kept although they are not mentioned. At least Ezekiel did not say to not celebrate them.
The prophet never mentions gold or silver in his temple vision. Both were prominent in the tabernacle of old, and Solomon's temple was filled with gold. But no mention of gold or silver in the new temple.
Keil & Delitzsch Commentary says, “In the new thorah…the burnt-offerings and meat-offerings are much richer and more copious, and the latter in far greater measure than the former. – Eze. 45:25.” Some time ago I presented a separate study on the animal sacrifices in Ezekiel’s vision, which is posted online. Among other issues, I showed that cutting up the animals for sacrifice was the duty of the congregation, not the priest.
Lang’s Commentary says, “The preparation of the daily sacrifice is not imposed upon the prince, in harmony with Ezek. 45:17; it is the duty of the congregation, which the priests have to superintend. Every morning a yearling lamb is to be brought as a burnt-offering. The Mosaic Law required such a lamb both morning and evening (Num. 28:3-4). The new thorah omits the evening sacrifice, but increases the meat-offering to the sixth of an ephah of meal and the third of a hin of oil, against the tenth of an ephah of meal and the fourth of a hin of oil prescribed by the Mosaic law (Num. 28:5)…” [Note: KJV meat did not mean “flesh” but food in general]
We can see that there are quite a number of changes to the Torah, some large and some small, and no explanation for the reason for these changes is given.
There are Major Errors in Popular Thinking concerning Ezekiel’s Prophecy:
This vision is often referred to as “Ezekiel’s Millennial Temple in Jerusalem.” Yet there are at least four major errors in that short popular phrase. Firstly, the Temple was not located in “the city,” Secondly, the location of the city was not Jerusalem, thirdly, it was not millennial! Fourthly, there is no physical temple in the New Jerusalem of the millennial state.
Now that I have shaken you all up with these surprises, and have just broken up four widely held traditions of men, let me prove each of these four points for you.
- The Temple was not in “the city.”
Ten times in chapter 48 Ezekiel uses the term “the city” (Hebrew, iyr H5892). The Biblical Illustrator says, “Ezekiel does not think that the temple should be in the city, and he separated them by a distance of about three miles. The city is about two miles square. It has land on either side of it which is to support the people. Ezekiel makes no provision for the growth of the city, nor for the increase of the Levites, nor for the priests; there they are and they are going to abide forever.”
Dr. B.H. Carroll commented, “In Ezek. 48:23-29, he gives the tribes south of the city, and the first one is Benjamin. Ezekiel puts Judah north and Benjamin south, while before, they had always been the reverse. Below that is Simeon, then Issachar, then Zebulun, and Gad; previously they had been closer together. Will this ever be literally fulfilled? Can it be possible that when Jesus Christ comes this will be fulfilled as Ezekiel pictures it? Our pre-millennialist brethren believe that this will be literally fulfilled. They believe that Christianity must revert back to Judaism with Jerusalem as its center. To me it is unthinkable that our gospel with its worldwide vision and mission can become so cabbined, cribbed, coffined, and confined that it will be shut up to Palestine and to Judaism. That would be an unthinkable anticlimax.
Ezekiel actually places the Temple about 3 miles distant north of the city, so that it cannot be said to be the “Temple of Jerusalem.” A more accurate description would be “the Temple of the Terumah,” or “the Temple of the Oblation,” as we will discuss shortly.
Reformation scholar and martyr Matthew Poole, who was a forefather of the late respected Detroit pastor William Henry Poole (a B.I.) wrote that Ezekiel’s vision showed “the proportion the city might have been built to, if the sins of the Jews had not prevented.” This is key! The fulfillment of Ezekiel’s vision was dependent upon the repentance of those exiled for their manifold sins, but when they did not repent the wonderful offer was null and void.
- The location was not in Jerusalem.
It is an interesting fact that in all nine chapters of Ezekiel’s vision, there is never any mention of the word, “Jerusalem.” This is all the more surprising because it seems that everyone calls it “the Jerusalem Temple.” Instead, it is referred to again and again a dozen times vaguely as “the city,” and ten times in chapter 48 alone. It is not until the very last verse in the Book of Ezekiel, chapter 48 verse 35, that he finally gives us the name of “the city,” and it is NOT Jerusalem! He says, “…the name of the city…shall be, The LORD is there,” in Hebrew, “Jehovah Shammah,” and the plain fact is that it is not Jerusalem, nor is it located at the site of the old Jerusalem! How do we know where it is located?
It is really not a secret, a study of the biblical text reveals the answer. For example, the TempleMount.org website says, “the Millennial Temple will be located at Shiloh, 31 kilometers to the North of present day Jerusalem.” The so-called Jerusalem millennial temple was not located in Jerusalem? How did they decide this? The prophecy in Ezekiel chapter 48 gives us the full listing of the tribes in the restored land, with seven tribes in the north half of Canaan, namely Dan, Ashur, Napthali, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben, and Judah (verses 1 to 7). In the south half of Canaan are five tribes, namely Benjamin, Simeon, Issachar, Zebulon, and Gad (verses 23 to 27).
In Ezekiel’s vision, very close to the middle of the land between the 7 northern and 5 southern tribes about 30 kilometers north of Jerusalem is a large complex of sacred buildings called “the Sacred Grant” (FF), called “the Oblation” in the KJV, “portion” in both the AMP and the Protestant Reformation’s Miles Coverdale translation of 1535, “holy offering” in the CJB, “holy heave-offering” in Darby, “whole offering” in the LXX, “holy portion” in Rotherham, “set-apart contribution” in the Scriptures Version, “the heave-offering” in Young’s Literal Translation; “the firstfruits” in Douay-Rheims. So there is a lot of different terminology used to describe it. The Hebrew word is “TERUMAH,” Strong’s H8641, meaning a present offered up, heave offering, or oblation; it is found 76 times in Scripture. I believe that it is usually best if possible to use God’s words rather than man’s.
Bible commentaries often have a drawing depicting the layout of Ezekiel’s restored land of Canaan, with seven tribes north of the Terumah, Oblation or Sacred Grant, and five tribes south of it. The size of each tribal portion is given in the text. The TempleMount.org website says,
“This places the temple in the Shiloh area, approximately twenty-seven miles north of [the site of old] Jerusalem. Messiah’s temple being in Shiloh instead of where the first and second temples sat is more than just a matter of requiring sufficient space. God said that Shiloh was the place where He made His name to dwell at the first (Jer. 7:12). The Tabernacle often rested in Shiloh from about 1375 B.C. (Joshua 18:1) until it was evidently razed by the Philistines after they captured the Ark of the Covenant in 1050 B.C. (1 Sam. 5:1). The Tabernacle was the portable home for the glory of the LORD, making it a proto-temple in its own right. The LORD, through movement of His glory, would determine where the Tabernacle was be erected (Ex. 40:35-38; cf. Deut. 12:11). This makes Shiloh God’s personal choice as His once and future home among His people.”
“The temple in Shiloh is connected, to a lesser or greater extent, to a key messianic prophecy in Genesis 49:10. Jacob blessed Judah by proclaiming that the right of kingship would never depart from his line nor would the lawgiver cease until Shiloh comes, and to him will be the obedience of the nations. The meaning of Shiloh as used in this verse is uncertain. Some take it as a title for the Messiah, while others understand it as a possessive pronoun, meaning ‘whose it is’. The problem phrase could also be translated as ‘until he comes to Shiloh’. If the last option is correct then this well-known passage not only prophesies the Lion from the tribe of Judah as King over all the nations, but even tells us where His house will be.”
Shiloh, incidentally, is located in the ancestral territory of the tribe of Ephraim, not Judah, and many miles north of the location of Jerusalem. Ezekiel’s temple was not in Jerusalem!
Lutheran scholar John Peter Lang’s Commentary says, “Notwithstanding the irregularity of the natural boundaries, Ezekiel views the Holy Land as a rectangular, oblong quadrilateral, etc. The centre falls exactly at Sychar, where Jesus speaks to the woman of Samaria (John 4). Mount Gerizim is the site of the new temple, but the Holy City is at a distance of about five miles off; the place in which it is situated is ‘the place of Bethel.’” So the Temple sits on Mount Gerizim in Samaria, and the city is located in Bethel.
Ch. 40–46 show the temple and its service; Ezekiel 47 and 48 show the land and the city.
Another source points out: “[In] Ezekiel 40:2, The Temple is located on the south side of the mountain. Solomon's Temple was built in the north-east side of Mount Zion. On the south side of Mount Zion is the steep rock.” [ezekiel-temple.narod.ru]. So again, the location given for Ezekiel’s temple does not fit Jerusalem or the site of Solomon’s Temple!
Finally, the Keil and Delitzsch Bible commentary says, “In Ezekiel 45 and 48 there follow still further statements concerning the separation of the sanctuary from the rest of the land, which are in perfect harmony with this, and show most indisputably that the temple seen by Ezekiel was not to have its seat in the ancient Jerusalem.” [K&D Ezekiel 42:15-20]
- The vision was not millennial
Ezekiel’s Temple and animal sacrifices do not match or parallel the Old and New Testament prophecies of the millennial reign, but seriously conflict with them. Here is a sample of the millennial prophecies of Scripture:
Isa 2:2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
Isa 2:3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
Isa 2:4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. [War and killing would cease!]
The Righteous Millennial Reign of the Messiah
Isa 11:1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
Isa 11:2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
Isa 11:3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
Isa 11:4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
Isa 11:5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.
Isa 11:6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
Isa 11:7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
Isa 11:8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den.
Isa 11:9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
Isa 65:25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.
Dr. Lang makes an important point about these millennial prophecies. He says, “According to Ezek. 47:12, [the Temple’s river] waters possess life-giving and healing power because they issue from the sanctuary. But how does the possession by the water of the power to effect the glorification of nature harmonize with its issuing from a temple in which bullocks, rams, calves, and goats are slaughtered and sacrificed? …the fishermen with their nets on the shore of the [Dead] sea, once dead, but now swarming with fish, are irreconcilably opposed to the assumption of a glorification of nature in the holy land…the inhabitants of the holy land, in its paradisaically glorified state, will no more eat fish or other flesh, according to Scripture, than the first men in Paradise. When once the wolf shall feed with the lamb, the leopard with the kid, the cow with the bear, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox, under the scepter of the sprout from the stem of Jesse, then will men also cease their fishing, and no longer slaughter and eat either oxen or goats. To this the Israelites will form no exception in their glorified land of Canaan.” [unquote]
Do you understand what he is saying here? Ezekiel’s Temple prophecy is NOT MILLENNIAL!!! In the Millennium animals and people would not be killing and eating each other! It was an offer from God to Israel in exile of what He would do for them if they repented: He would bring them back to the land of Canaan and bless them with a fertile land and a new temple to worship Him in. But they didn’t repent to receive the offer!
One more point from Dr. Lang: “According to [the Millennial prophecy in] Joel 4:18, at the time when a spring issues from the house of Jehovah and the vale of Shittim is watered, the mountains trickle with new wine, and the hills run with milk. If, then, in this case we understand what is affirmed of the temple spring literally, the trickling of the mountains with new wine and the flowing of the hills with milk must be taken literally as well. But we are unable to attain to the belief that in the glorified land of Israel the mountains will be turned into springs of new wine, and the hills into fountains of milk, and in the words of the whole verse we can discern nothing but a figurative description of the abundant streams of blessing which will then pour over the entire land.” There is a danger in over-literalizing the Bible’s figurative language.
Comparing Ezekiel’s vision with the New Jerusalem in the Book of Revelation shows that they are not the same. Dr. Lang says, “But still more markedly does the comparison of the Apocalypse present essential differences. While Ezekiel’s temple is situated in Canaan, as repeatedly stated in Ezekiel [chapters 45 [and] 48, the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2 and 10) comes down out of heaven from God…in Ezekiel city and temple are separated, but the New Jerusalem of the Apocalypse has no temple whatever, God and the Lamb are its temple. While in Ezekiel the temple is most holy (Ezek. 43:12; 45:3), in John this now holds of the city. The glory of God entering into and filling the temple in Ezekiel (Ezekiel 43 and 44) lightens the city, in Rev. 21:23; its gates are not shut; compare, on the contrary, Ezek. 44:2; 46:1…Apart from particulars, the ample magnificence of precious stones and gold, etc. in Rev. 21:18 forms a noteworthy contrast to the meagre simplicity of Ezekiel’s temple.” (p. 445) No, Ezekiel’s vision is not of the millennial New Jerusalem!
In contrast to the millennial time of bliss, the failure of the people to repent continued to bring death and destruction upon them, as Jeremiah foretold. This was a much different prophecy than the pacific scene and the peaceful lion and wolf that Isaiah 11 had offered them:
Jer 5:6 Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities: every one that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces: because their transgressions are many, and their backslidings are increased.
Jer 5:7 How shall I pardon thee for this? thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots' houses.
Jer 5:8 They were as fed horses in the morning: every one neighed after his neighbour's wife.
Jer 5:9 Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? [And judgment did fall! Ezekiel’s wonderful restored land and new temple never came to pass.]
Even the boundary marks of the New Zion were dependent on cities that do not exist at all today. Dr. Lang says, “The course which it takes is represented in a general manner in Ezek. 47:15 as running from the great sea, i.e., the Mediterranean, by the way to Chetlon, in the direction toward Zedad. In Ezek. 47:16, 17 there follow the places which formed the boundary…the places mentioned, Chetlon and Zedad, are still unknown. Not only Chetlon, but Zedad also, has not yet been discovered.” [They existed in Ezekiel’s time but do not exist as towns today and even their locations are no longer known. The boundary of the tribal lands begins at towns that don’t even exist, neither today nor in the millennium!]
"Ezekiel," says the late Dr. Henderson’s Commentary on Ezekiel (p. 187), "was furnished with an ideal representation of the Jewish state as about to be restored after the captivity." However, it was dependent upon the repentance of the people.
Now let’s look at…
The Population of Ezekiel’s Restored Land of Canaan
Dispensationalist authors insist that when the Millennium arrives all of the world’s Jews will be restored to old Canaan-land, while the Gentiles are raptured off the earth to some far distant planet in the corner of the universe some call “planet heaven.” So let’s look at the population density of Ezekiel’s restored land.
The Keil & Delitzsch Bible Commentary says, “The extent of Canaan from Beersheba, or Kadesh, up to a line running across from Râs esh-Shukah to the spring El Lebweh, is 3-1/3 degrees, i.e., fifty geographical miles, ten of which are occupied by the terumah [sacred enclosure], and forty remain for the twelve tribe-territories, so that each tribe-lot [tribal portion] would be 3 1/3 geographical miles in breadth… We have therefore given to the terumah upon the map (Plate IV) the length and breadth of eight geographical miles...” [So each tribal territory would be 3-1/3 miles N to S, and 8 miles E to W. This is a little less than 27 square miles per tribe. Divide that into one million people per tribe (figuring 12 million Jews divided by 12 tribes), and it gives a population density of 37,037 people per square mile. In comparison I Googled the Population Density of New York City in 2020: https://www.population-world.info/population-density-of-new-york-city-2020
New York has the highest population density of any major city in the United States, with over 27,000 people per square mile. New York City has more people than 40 of the 50 U.S. states. The so-called millennial Jerusalem would have over 1-1/3 more residents per square mile than even New York City, which has the highest population density of any city in the U.S.! That doesn’t sound like millennial paradise to me! Just wall to wall people! There would be no room for a farm and no forests or countryside. NYC has 8.8 million residents, about the size of the Israeli state.
In comparison, Detroit population density is 4,788 per sq. mile, so Ezekiel’s vision has 7-3/4 times (7.735) more density than Detroit. (Detroit covers 143 sq. miles, Ezekiel’s land about 320 sq. miles, a little over double the size of Detroit.)
The modern Israeli state has 392 people per square kilometer in 2020. (One kilometer is .621 miles, so it works out to 243.5 people per sq. mile.) Ezekiel’s vision, if millennial, would cram over 152 times more people per square mile that of the Israeli state today! [37,037 / 243.5]
To put this into perspective, if the prophecy referred to all of the Jews living in the world today, and if you were an Israeli with a home with 4 individuals living there, you would have over 600 people crammed living in your house! (4x152) And that doesn’t include all of the animals, the lions and snakes and so forth, we are told by Isaiah in chapter 11 that will be safely and happily living in the millennial kingdom! You might need to have lions and snakes sitting on your lap because there is so little room! It is obvious that Ezekiel’s vision is NOT MILLENNIAL! It is referring to the much, much smaller population that existed at the time of the rather limited return from exile in the 5th century, B.C.
Ezekiel 36:24 and 37:21 make it clear that in the prophet’s vision the land is carefully parceled out ”according to the twelve tribes” - for all of Israel, both houses and all 12 tribes, were to repent, return and dwell as one people of God under one prince in their own land. If only they would repent and turn from their lawless ways—but they did not!
Messiah the Prince of Ezekiel’s prophecy would surely have come and reigned over them if they had atoned for their sins and were allowed by God to return from exile. Instead only a small portion of Judah returned to Canaan in a small representative return of less than 50,000, according to Ezra 2:64, and no attempt was made by them to fulfill Ezekiel’s vision. Dividing Ezra’s actual number of returnees, 42,360 by 27 sq. miles gives a much more reasonable population density of 1,569 people per sq. mile, or 33% (almost exactly a third) of Detroit’s current density. (1569 / 4788)
Representative Return Scriptures:
Dispensationalists claim that all of Ephraim-Israel, the ten tribes, returned from Assyria, and that all of Judah returned from Babylon, but both historians and Scripture refute that assertion.
Notably, the prophet Isaiah named his son Shearjashub, meaning: “a remnant shall return.” Only a remnant, a small number would return!
Isa 27:12 “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel.” Not a general mass return!
Jer 3:14 “Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion: [not the whole city]
Jer 3:15 “And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.” But they did not repent and turn!
Jer 42:2 “And said unto Jeremiah the prophet, Let, we beseech thee, our supplication be accepted before thee, and pray for us unto the LORD thy God, even for all this remnant; (for we are left but a few of many, as thine eyes do behold us:)” Israel and Judah were many that were exiled, but only a few returned.
A B. Davidson's "Introduction to the Old Testament," iii. 156 makes this assertion: "All the fulfilment is past, and nothing more is expected. The Jews returned to their country and rebuilt their temple. If their restoration took place in a different manner from what the prophet projected [for God is in none of these thoughts], and the circumstances attending it were a poor counterpart of his imaginings, if the reality were but a dwarfish fulfilment of the prophecy, the event shows the imperfection of Ezekiel's foreshadowing."
No, the Divine offer was refused. Israel did not repent and God therefore did not bring them back and give them the Temple of Ezekiel and other wonderful blessings. They declined the offer!
The Kelly Commentary says, “Less than fifty thousand men, women, and children came up from Babylon: a little remnant of a remnant, and in no sense those twelve tribes, whom the prophet sees to take up their allotted portions in the land - seven in the north, five in the south, extending beyond the ancient bounds of Palestine, with Jerusalem between. Indeed there never was the very smallest semblance of the holy oblation any more than of the allotments of the land from east to west here predicted…The fact is that those who returned from Babylon fell back on the order as existing before the captivity, and in no respect made good the peculiar condition predicted by Ezekiel. Thus no one appeared answering to the prince, while the high priest was as before a notable personage; the land was not parceled out to the remnant, still less to all Israel, by lot…”
- There is no Physical Temple in the Millennium.
In the Millennial era to come there would be no physical temple or sacrifices, for God’s people are the temple and our worship is a sacrifice of praise.
Isa 4:2 In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.
Isa 4:3 And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem:
Isa 4:4 When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. [This seems to indicate that the system of blood sacrifices would come to an end.]
Act 7:48 Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet,
Act 7:49 Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?
Eph 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
Eph 2:21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
Eph 2:22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
To the woman of Sycar in Samaria, “Joh 4:21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
Joh 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
Joh 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
1Pe_2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
1Co 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
1Co 3:17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
Heb 13:14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
Heb 13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
The New Jerusalem of the Apocalypse is the city that needs no Temple, because the Lord Himself is in her midst:
Rev. 21:2-3, 22-23 "And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof."
Dr. John Peter Lang wrote: If Israel as a nation is, in some golden era or millennial period towards the close of time, to return to her old land, re-erect her old temple, and reinstitute her old worship, what shall then (or even now) be said of the truthfulness of those passages of Scripture which teach that the Levitical system of tabernacle (or temple) and altar, of priest and sacrifice, of type and symbol, of external commandment and visible ceremonial, was from the first provisional in its nature, intended to serve as a shadow of good things to come, and designed to be set aside for ever when the higher and more spiritual system of the gospel had been inaugurated by the incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension of the Messiah (see Hebrews 5-10.; and compare John 4:21-24; Col. 2:17; Gal. 3:23-25)? The simple suggestion that in the glorious millennial era, when Christianity as a system of religion will be near the culmination of its triumphed progress through the centuries, the Church of God, either in whole or in part, should return to the beggarly elements of Judaism, and set up the worship of God by means of bloody offerings and all the paraphernalia of altars and priests, is too ridiculous to be entertained for a moment by anyone who has attained to a proper conception of the spiritual nature of that religion which mankind eighteen centuries ago received from Jesus Christ. "The whole teaching of the New Testament," writes Plumptre (unpublished manuscript notes)," and especially of the Epistle to the Hebrews, is opposed to the thought that the revival of a local sanctuary at Jerusalem, sacred above all other sanctuaries, the object of devout pilgrimages from all quarters of the world, with the perpetuation of annual sacrifices offered by the priests of the house of Aaron, living under the old ceremonial conditions, forms part and parcel of what we are to expect in the future history of Christendom. We are compelled, if we would be true to that higher teaching, to say that the visions of Ezekiel, like those of the Apocalypse, which in part reproduce them, can receive only, as symbols of the truth, a spiritual and not a literal fulfillment."
To this the weighty utterance of Dr. Franz Delitzsch may be added: "The New Testament Divine worship knows of a central sanctuary neither in Jerusalem nor upon Gerizim, and the religion of Jehovah, after it has become the religion of humanity, will never again return back into its chrysalis condition, and the setting up again of animal sacrifices as memorials of Christ's death would be, in face of the offering which was made upon the altar of the cross (Heb. 10:11-14), a return out of the essence into the shadow, out of the spirit into the letter, out of the law of freedom into the law of the 'elements of the world,' of which Christ was the end.”
We will close with that. To summarize:
This vision is often referred to as “Ezekiel’s Millennial Temple in Jerusalem.” Yet there are at least four major misconceptions in that short description:
- The Temple was not located in “the city”
- The location of the city was not Jerusalem,
- The vision was not millennial!
- No physical temple will exist in the New Jerusalem of the millennial state.