Ezekiel’s Temple makes a gratifying appearance!

Wow, what an amazing Feast of Tabernacles this has been — one of the most spiritually satisfying and encouraging Feasts in my memory. The Last Great Day has begun this evening, and tomorrow night it is over for another year.

[Illustration of a portin of Ezekiel's Temple]
A portion of an illustration by Ken Tunell from the May-June 1988 Good News Magazine.
I wanted to put on record somewhere that Mr. Karl Beyersdorfer’s sermon today on the Millennial Temple prophesied in Ezekiel (sometimes called “Ezekiel’s Temple”) held a special fascination for me. During the Feast last year in Branson, I had decided that wherever we were the next year, I was going to do a sermon on Ezekiel’s Temple.  I find it fascinating and wanted to discuss the temple, the restoration of the Levitical priesthood (to be under Christ and His saints at that time) and associated sacrifices, et al.  Over the course of the next year leading up to this Feast, that study got rather involved and I never reached a point before the Feast began where my studies congealed in such a way that I felt comfortable with doing a full sermon on that one topic that would say what I really wanted to say. Actually, I can say that I wanted to do even more “homework” before I committed to speaking on any particular aspect of Ezekiel’s vision of the Millennial Temple, at all, as it was such a beautifully large topic. I was disappointed, too, since, as I said, it had been my goal since the previous Feast and something I was looking forward to covering. I did touch on it near the end of my first sermon this year about “Restoring All Things” but it wasn’t the “Temple sermon” I had originally planned. (Hopefully the sermon I did give was still profitable!)

“Oh, well. Maybe next year,” I thought.

Then, Mr. Beyersdorfer gets up today (well, yesterday at this late hour, I suppose) and not only gives a fantastic sermon on that very topic — the Millennial Temple — but (I must be honest) he also gives it so much better than what I would have given on the same subject! Incredibly profitable and powerfully moving.

So, my joy in hearing the sermon today was doubled! I was delighted to hear the topic I wanted to speak on, myself, addressed so solidly and powerfully, but I also got to hear it expounded in a manner so much more profitable than I think I would have had I covered it.  And, really, the joy was tripled: It was a reminder that the real “Coordinator” in the Living Church of God of the Feast of Tabernacles is God, Himself, with Jesus Christ at His right hand.  It is, indeed, Their Feast (Lev. 23:2), and I am so thankful that it is.

Time to get some sleep! I’m looking forward to the sermon tomorrow on the meaning of the day by Mr. Phil Sena and the “Farewell” send off video message to be delivered by Mr. Meredith, which is always so stirring. Wherever some of you reading this might be keeping the Feast where God has placed His name, I pray that your Last Great Day is profitable and uplifting!

15 thoughts on “Ezekiel’s Temple makes a gratifying appearance!

  1. John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav)

    No profound thoughts this morning, just like gratitude for something one definitely doesn’t hear discussed every day. Mr. B. certainly hit the nail on the head with regard to the purpose of Ezekiel’s Temple and its sacrifices: communion with God.

  2. Good Morning Mr. Smith!

    Great blog! I agree, Mr. Beyersdorfer’s sermon yesterday was incredible! I really appreciate his sermons in general. That being said, I must commend you as well… all your messages this year, including the Bible studies, have been great! It was truly a blessing to have all the speakers we had this year. And yes! God is the Great Coordinator of His Feast. Even the songs tie into the spoken messages… incredible!

    Hope we get a chance to talk again before everyone disperses to head home, but if not let me say, may God grant you safe passage to your home and continue to richly bless you and your family as you continue to faithfully serve Him and His people.

    Warm Regards,
    Deano

  3. Robert McMinn

    I’m sure I speak for all of us here at the Feast in New Braunfels, and even elsewhere, that we would still love to hear your sermon on the Millennial Temple at some point. You have a gifted ability to clarify complicated subjects. You’ve only been wrong about one thing: it is science, and not math, that is the most passionate and poetic subject in school 😉

  4. Howdy, Mr. McMinn, and thanks! You are very kind, and thank you for your musical service, as well! You and Mrs. McMinn both sounded wonderful at the Variety Show.

    As for your science comment, I can agree — but only because mathematics is the “queen and servant of science”! 🙂 As the purest of sciences, mathematics would, of course, invoke the purest of passions and poetic sentiment. So, I’m glad we agree! (Or, at least I’m glad I can pretend we agree! 😉 )

    Thanks again for your kind words and I hope the rest of the Last Great Day is profitable for you! What a wonderful Feast God has given us.

  5. No profound words here….only pure delight and thankfulness that God has so many gifted speakers in his ministry and we were blessed to have an absolute, God led, feast! Thanks to all of those involved in any way! The sermons were outstanding and I agree with Mr Mc Minn, I too want to hear the sermon you have for us on the temple…..very good foundation laid already. :):)

  6. John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav)

    It’s hard to interest an ENFP who was skilled at almost everything he put his hand to (especially science and math, but also music, geography, history, language, creative writing, etc.) in the argument that either science or mathematics is the “greatest” subject in school. Anything that gets me closer to understanding what God is and how God thinks – that is the greatest subject in school. 😀

    I’ve discovered long since that writing is what I love most and do best, and so I tend to consider mathematics as “merely” the highest form of linguistics. 😉 And I could go further and use overtone chanting of the Tetragrammaton (more on that elsewhere and elsewhen) to link together music, mathematics, science, linguistics and much more, thus showing that knowing God and understanding what His oldest Name means (if not, as a requirement for salvation, how it is pronounced) is the highest knowledge. But then, God tells us that too in a different way toward the end of Jeremiah 9. 😀

  7. John from Australia

    What I find interesting is that in the booklet “The World Ahead: What Will It Be Like?” there is not one reference to Ezekiel 40-48 – nine chapters that focus on the New Temple, the New Torah, the New Land and the New City of the Millennium. I just don’t comprehend how you can have a booklet on what the world ahead will be like without these chapters being foundational.

    (The word Temple is not mentioned once in the whole booklet; though the “house” of God occurs in a couple of Scriptural quotes).

    This is what the Sovereign LORD says: In the first month on the first day you are to take a young bull without defect and purify the sanctuary. The priest is to take some of the blood of the sin offering and put it on the doorposts of the temple, on the four corners of the upper ledge of the altar and on the gateposts of the inner court. You are to do the same on the seventh day of the month for anyone who sins unintentionally or through ignorance; so you are to make atonement for the temple (Ezekiel 45:18-20, NIV).

    Yes, the atoning blood of animal sacrifices will be required for continuing “communion with God”; if not Christ’s shekinah “kabod” will not long dwell in “the holy of holies”.

    These articles on my website may be of interest:

    “Ezekiel’s Temple in the Plan of God”;

    “Ezekiel’s Temple and the Land of Israel in the Millennium – Introduction”; and

    “Jesus Christ, the Purification Offering and the Millennium – Introduction”.

  8. Greetings, John from Australia, and thanks for writing. I deleted your website link for reasons related to my comment policy, which I hope does not offend you. (You can check it out here if you need to.)

    I appreciate your question, however our booklets are only meant to cover so much ground, and not to exhaust every subject. Life in the Millennium is a vast subject, given the volume of biblical information available, and the booklet is meant as merely an introduction to life under the Kingdom of God for a world to which the idea is a mostly foreign concept. To think that a discussion of the details of the temple is somehow necessary for such an introduction would be a mistake — especially in light of the fact that the booklet explains in several places the centrality of Jerusalem in the future and the fact that all nations will regularly come to it to worship.

    By the way: I hope you didn’t simply search for the words “temple” or “house” or “Ezekiel” instead of actually reading the booklet, which would be a shame.

    Thanks, again, for your comment.

  9. John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav)

    I do not believe one can argue with validity that animal sacrifices will be required for Christ to dwell in the Millennial Temple. The tacit assumption is that the sacrifices will have the same function as the sacrifices did under the Aharonic priesthood. The Book of Hebrews argues quite convincingly against such a conclusion. Christ’s presence will sanctify the Temple, as will His own sacrifice once and for all. The sacrifices actually described in Ezekiel, even those used to purify the Temple at first, perforce have a different focus. They look backwards, not forwards to the only sacrifice that has any real efficacy at all.

    What the sacrifices in that Temple point to is communion with God through a fellowship meal with God – something practiced in an ongoing way. And there is something else that needs to be considered: when the prophecy itself says it needs to be applied.

    (Ezekiel 43:10 NKJV) “Son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and let them measure the pattern.
    (Ezekiel 43:11 NKJV) And if they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the design of the temple and its arrangement, its exits and its entrances, its entire design and all its ordinances, all its forms and all its laws. Write it down in their sight, so that they may keep its whole design and all its ordinances, and perform them.”

    It would not take long to compile scriptures that show such a required sense of shame will only occur after the Tribulation and the Day of the Lord. There is more to what the Eternal demands of Ezekiel than meets the eye, as is true in so much of the book.

    Whether then by design or despite ourselves, neither we nor Herbert W. Armstrong before us have carried out that part of Ezekiel’s commission – I believe, because now is not the time (it would make more sense in the time of Malachi 3:1ff, after Jesus Christ’s return). But there was an excellent article or two by Leroy Neff in an old Good News magazine and we had the treat of seeing the overall illustration for Ezekiel’s Temple as taken from that article.

  10. John from Australia

    Hi Wallace,

    No I am not offended; if I had a blog I would do the same.

    While I did not read every word of the booklet it soon reveals that the LCG promotes the doctrine of Premillennialism. It is one of a number of churches that teaches it, as this excerpt from the Wikipedia article on Premillennialism notes:

    “Between 1790 and the mid-19th century, premillennialism was a popular view among English Evangelicals, even within the Anglican church. Thomas Macaulay observed this and wrote “Many Christians believe that the Messiah will shortly establish a kingdom on the earth, and visibly reign over all its inhabitants.” Throughout the 19th century, premillennialism continued to gain wider acceptance in both the US and in Britain, particularly among the Irvingites Plymouth Brethren, Christadelphians, Church of God, Christian Israelite Church, and Seventh-day Adventists. Premillenialism continues to be popular among Evangelical, Fundamentalist Christian, and Living Church of God communities in the 20th and 21st centuries, expanding further into the churches of Asia, Africa and South America.”

    So I am aware of the doctrine and different schools of thought within it. In religious circles the LCG doctrine falls under the category of “post-tribulation premillennialism” with its mixture of tenets from the historical and dispensational schools.

    I would like to say that when I read Ezekiel and Hebrews I come to a different to conclusion to John Wheeler.

    The author of Hebrews says that there has been a change in the priesthood and the law. But when I read Ezekiel I find that there has not been a change in the priesthood or the law. The sons of Zadok served in Solomon’s Temple and they will serve in Ezekiel’s Temple. God promised through Jeremiah that the Levitical priests, in the Millennium would not want for a man to offer burnt offerings and to kindle meat offerings before him continually (Jeremiah 33:15-20); (I am not referring to the non-priests Levites in this regard). So the author of Hebrews doesn’t mean it this regard.

    Sacrifices that will be offered in the Millennium include burnt offerings, sin (better purification) offering, reparation offering and grain offerings; the same that were offered at the Tabernacle and the First and Second Temples.

    “The majority of dispensationalists have argued that the sacrifices are memorials to the sacrifice of Christ, with no atoning character. However, the idea that these are memorial sacrifices is no where apparent in Ezekiel, and it is specifically claimed by Ezekiel that these offerings will make atonement (45:15, 17, 20)” (Ian M. Duguid, Ezekiel, NIVAC, p.521).

    Eze 43:20 You are to take some of its blood and put it on the four horns of the altar and on the four corners of the upper ledge and all around the rim, and so purify the altar and make atonement for it.
    Eze 45:19 The priest is to take some of the blood of the sin offering and put it on the doorposts of the temple, on the four corners of the upper ledge of the altar and on the gateposts of the inner court.
    Eze 45:20 You are to do the same on the seventh day of the month for anyone who sins unintentionally or through ignorance; so you are to make atonement for the temple. (NIV).

    “In vv 15 and 17 [of chapter 45] the expiatory significance of the sacrifice is emphatically expressed. In 43:20 and 45:19f it can be seen that the expiatory power is especially attributed to the blood” (Walter Zimmerli, Ezekiel 2 – A Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel Chapters 25-48, p.479).

    Who are you going to believe, God through Ezekiel or the unknown author of Hebrews – And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.

    I believe both. Reading the Bible ‘hebrically’, when the author of Hebrews says there is no no longer any sacrifice for sin, he does not mean that animal sacrifices are not required to atone for sin anymore than he believed that God did not take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices – contra Hebrews 10:6, note Hebraic principle of relative negation.

    “It would be too much to contend that the OT offer of forgiveness repeated so often in the Levitical institution of the sacrifices were only symbolic and offered no actual cleansing from or removal of sin.

    “The only solution is to take the OT and NT statements seriously. We conclude then, with Hobart Freeman, that the OT sacrifices were subjectively efficacious, in that the sinner did receive full relief based on the clear declaration of God’s appointed servant. But it is also clear that the sacrifices of bulls and goats were not in themselves expiatory and efficacious. The most these sacrifices could do was to point to the need for a perfect, living substitute who would, in the timing of God, ransom and deliver all from the debt, guilt, and effects of their sin. Thus, the OT sacrifices were not objectively efficacious; but then neither did the OT ever claim that the blood of these bulls and goats was inherently effective…

    “The efficacy of the OT sacrifices, then rested in the Word of God, who boldly announced that sacrifices done in this manner and with this heart attitude (Ps 50:8, 14; 51:16 [Heb 10:8]; Prov 15:8, 21:3; Isa 1:11-18; 66:3; Jer 7:21-23; Hos 6:6; Amos 5:21; Mic 6:6-8) would receive from God a genuine experience of full forgiveness. Of course, everything depended on the perfect payment for this release, payment that would occur sometime in the future. Therefore, not the blood of bulls and goats but the “blood” (i.e., the life rendered up in violent death) of a perfect sacrifice finally made possible all the forgiveness proleptically enjoyed in the OT and retrospectively appreciated in the NT. Only the lamb of God could have provided objective efficacy, even though the subjective efficacy that had preceded it was grounded on the authority and promised work of Christ.

    “Until the death of Christ happened, the sins of the OT saints were both forgiven and “passed over” (paresis, Rom 3:25) in the merciful grace of God until the expiatory death of Christ provided what no animal ever could do and what no OT text ever claimed it could do” (Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Towards Rediscovering The Old Testament, pp.133-35).

    Animal sacrificial blood atoned for sin and impurity retrospectively in the Tabernacle and the First and Second Temples and animal sacrificial blood will atone for sin and impurity prospectively in Ezekiel’s Temple.

    Eze 43:5 So the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house.
    Eze 43:6 And I heard him speaking unto me out of the house; and the man stood by me.
    Eze 43:7 And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor by the carcases of their kings in their high places.

    While the atoning efficaciousness of animal blood is on a lower level to that of the atoning efficaciousness of Christ’s blood, the former is still ritually potent enough to require it to purify the Temple to maintain Christ’s kabod on His throne in the Holy of Holies

    No purification offering – No Christ – No covenant.

    In regard to Leroy Neff’s architectural interpretation of Ezekiel’s Temple this observation has some relevance:

    “The Hebrew text of the Book of Ezekiel is notoriously difficult, filled with textual problems and hapax legommena. Many of the difficulties involves the architectural language” (Kalinda Rose Stevenson, The Vision of Transformation – The Territorial Rhetoric of Ezekiel 40-48, SBL Dissertation Series 154, (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1996 p.8).

    I would suggest that a reasonable amount of changes needs to be made to Mr. Neff’s interpretation.

  11. Howdy, again, Mr. From Australia. 🙂 Thanks for understanding about the link.

    I won’t try to answer for Mr. Wheeler, but from my perspective things are pretty clear. The sacrifices cannot put aside sin (Hebrews 10:4) but they can (and if God says so, then they do) ritually cleanse the flesh (Hebrews 9:13), and will play such a role. As the past sacrifices pointed forward to the sacrifice of Christ for their efficacy, those in the future will point backwards to what has been accomplished. I don’t see anything you’ve said that would conflict with these principles. (Admittedly, and reading quickly and on my phone.)

    As for Mr. Neff’s article, I am sure he was aware of the architectural challenges of properly interpreting the passages accurately (in fact, I think he says as much in his article). I have seen few interpretations of those chapters that agree with each other in every detail, so this is not surprising. Actually, I look forward to evaluating some of those details myself, as I have been interested in modeling the temple on my own for quite some time.

    Thanks, again, both for your comment and for understanding about the link.

  12. Hopefully we may get a disk of Mr Carl Beyersdorfer’s sermon in days to come.
    Looking forward to that. Had great Bible studies in Chattanooga too. Everything was Special at this Feast!! Best Feast for Spiritually uplifting messages.

  13. Pingback: Resources for Ezekiel 45:18 - 20

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