From the book
“THE POPULAR ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BIBLE PROPHECY”
by TIM LAHAYE and ED HINDSON
THIS IS A PROPHECY BOOK FROM FUNDAMENTAL PROTESTANT TEACHERS. I AM A FUNDAMENTALIST ALSO, BUT DO HAVE DIFFERENCES WITH THIS ENCYCLOPEDIA AT TIMES. THE COMMENTS HERE ON EZEKIEL FOR THE MOST PART I AM IN FULL AGREEMENT WITH - Keith Hunt
EZEKIEL, ESCHATOLOGY OF - ALL black lettering is mine for emphasis - Keith Hunt
Ezekiel was a prophet and priest who lived among the Jewish exiles in Babylon during the Babylonian captivity. He and his fellow Jews were cut off from the Temple, so many of his prophecies had to do with the Temple and its significance as the symbol of God's presence to Israel. His preaching included a wide range of issues and compelling imagery as he described both his present experiences and his future expectations.
As a prophet of God, Ezekiel foretold the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the First Temple ….. Ezekiel announces impending judgment for Israel, from whom the glory of God has departed. But he also foresees the return of the glory and the restoration of Israel's greatness in the messianic age.
Ezekiel's prophecies are expressed in four visions (chapters 1-3; 8-11; 37; 40-48), five parables (chapters 15; 16; 17; 19; 23) seven national judgments (against Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, Sidon, and Egypt, chapters 25-32), and 12 symbolic acts (chapters 3; 4; 5; 21; 24; 37). His major focus is on the holy people (Israel), the holy city, and the holy land. Despite his predictions of impending doom for unrepentant Judah,
[ACTUALLY JUDAH WAS ALREADY IN CAPTIVITY, ONLY JERUSALEM HAD TO FALL; THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL WAS IN CAPTIVITY AT LEASE 100 YEARS BEFORE - Keith Hunt]
he also foresees a future redemption for Israel, which involves a new exodus, a new covenant, a restored Jerusalem, a regathered Israel, a revived Davidic dynasty, and a future messianic kingdom.
[YES WHEN JESU RETURNS ALL PROPHECY SHOWS ISRAEL AND JUDAH IN CAPTIVITY, FROM WHICH JESUS DELIVERS THEM - ISA. 11 PROVES THIS IS SO - Keith Hunt]
Having described his inaugural vision (1-3) and having performed his initial symbolic actions regarding the coming siege of Jerusalem (4-7), Ezekiel turns his attention to the problem of the defilement of the Temple. He gives four reasons why God has chosen to depart and withdraw His shekinah glory from the Temple and the city of Jerusalem: the image of jealousy (8:3), idols of the house of Israel (8:10), women weeping for Tammuz (8:14), and 25 men worshiping the sun (8:16).
[I HAVE ALSO SHOWN YOU THAT WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN TO JERUSALEM WAS A TYPE OR TEACHING FOR THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL…..BECAUSE OF GREAT SINS THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL WOULD AGAIN GO INTO A SECOND CAPTIVITY AT THE END TIME. OTHER PROPHETIC BOOKS LIKE HOSEA AND AMOS ALSO SHOW JUDAH WILL FALL WITH THEM, WHICH IS VERIFIED BY JESUS IN HIS PROPHECY AS LUKE 21 BRINGS IT TO US - Keith Hunt]
In response to this blatant spiritual and religious apostasy, God withdrew His presence in four distinct stages: The glory departed from the cherubim on the ark of the covenant (9:3), it moved to the threshold (10:4), it moved high above the cherubim, gradually departing from the Temple altogether (10:18), and finally moved to the Mount of Olives ("on the east side of the city"). From there it ascended back into heaven from the very same place where Jesus would later ascend into heaven (11:23; Acts 1:9-11). As a result, the Temple was left void of God's presence and vulnerable to attack and destruction by the Babylonians.
[AGAIN WHAT HAPPENED TO JERUSALEM AND THE TEMPLE - DESTRUCTION - WAS A SIGN TO WHAT WILL AGAIN HAPPEN TO THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AT THE END TIME - Ezekiel 4:1-3; AND 9:8-11 WHERE ISRAEL AND JUDAH WILL FALL TOGETHER - SEE ALSO HOSEA 5:1-6; THEY NEVER FELL TOGETHER THE FIRST TIME BUT THERE WAS ABOUT 120 YEARS BETWEEN ISRAEL AND JUDAH FALLING - Keith Hunt]
The departure of God's glory and the subsequent destruction of the Temple dominate Ezekiels eschatology and prophetic anticipation of the return of the glory to a future Temple in the messianic age (40-48). But first, Israel must be regathered into her own Land, regenerated by her God, and rescued by His divine providence.
ISRAELS FUTURE RESTORATION
Ezekiel 36-37 focuses on the future regathering of the Jews into the Promised Land.
[IT LOOKS AT ISRAEL’S REGATHERING AFTER DESTRUCTION AND CAPTIVITY AND JUDAH ALSO. MOST FUNDAMENTAL TEACHERS THINK “JEWS” ARE ALL ISRAEL, WHEN THEY ARE NOT; THE HOUSE OF JUDAH WAS AND IS ONLY 3 TRIBES OF THE 13 TRIBES - JUDAH, BENJAMIN, AND LEVI - Keith Hunt]
This national restoration looks far beyond their initial return after the Babylonian captivity. It foresees a time when God will once again restore the nation to its intended greatness. It also predicts a time when the Jewish people will once again sanctify the name of God (36:23). God promises to give them a spiritual rebirth (a "new heart") and place His Spirit within them (36:26-27). As a result, they will "dwell in the land" (Israel), God will be their God, and they will be His people (36:28).
[THIS IS ALL THE TRIBES OF ISRAEL - ALL 13 TRIBES - Keith Hunt]
The prophecy reaches its crescendo in chapter 37 in the vision of the valley of dry bones. The scattered skeletal remains of the dispersed nation depict its hopeless condition without divine intervention. God raises the question, "Can these bones live?" and He clearly explains, "These bones are the whole house of Israel." In this well-known prophecy of the bones, God signifies the desperate condition of unregenerate Israel, predicts their ultimate regathering, and pictures their spiritual regeneration in the last days.
God reveals to Ezekiel that the Jewish people will no longer be divided into two nations (Ephraim and Judah) but will be "one nation" in the land of Israel (37:22). He reveals the eschatological picture of a regenerated Israel that will no longer "defile themselves" because, He says, "I will be their God" (37:23). David will rule over them, and the whole nation will live in peace (37:24-26).
[THE ORTHODOX JEWS KNOW THAT THE 10 TRIBE ISRAEL AND 3 TRIBE JUDAH ARE YET IN THE FUTURE TO UNITE AS ONE PEOPLE - THE TWO STICKS BECOME ONE; THIS HAS NEVER YET HAPPENED, BUT WILL WHEN JESUS THE MESSIAH RETURNS TO EARTH - Keith Hunt]
THE INVASION OF GOG AND MAGOG
Chapters 38-39 predict a terrible and overwhelming invasion against regathered Israel in the "latter years" (38:8). In this amazing prophecy, Ezekiel foresees an alliance of enemy nations led by Magog and including Persia, Ethiopia, Libya, and others. This horde of invaders will sweep over the land like a storm cloud (38:9). But God will move against this enemy force with a great earthquake, pestilence, and an "overflowing rain" of fire and brimstone.
By the time this battle has ended, the invaders will be destroyed and Israel will be spared. Nothing in this prophecy corresponds with the details of Israel's invasion by either the Babylonians (586 B.C.) or the Romans (A.D. 70). Therefore, any literal fulfillment of this prophecy must yet be in the future. (See the article titled "Gog and Magog.") God says that as a result of His dramatic intervention, Israel will "know that I am the Lord their God" (39:22). The captivity of Jacob will finally end, and "the whole house of Israel" will reflect God's name and glory (39:25).
[THIS WILL TAKE PLACE AFTER CHRIST HAS COME, AND ALL ISRAEL IS DWELLING SAFELY, WITH NO BARS OR GATES, AS I’VE EXPLAINED AND PROVED IN OTHER STUDIES - Keith Hunt]
THE GLORY RETURNS
One of the most crucial texts for the futurist interpretation of prophecy concerning Israel is Ezekiels vision in chapters 40-48. In this text the prophet presents God's instructions for the construction of a new Temple as part of the promise of Israel's restoration. The Second Temple, constructed by the Jewish remnant that returned from the exile (538-515 B.C.), did not implement Ezekiels detailed plan, so futurism interprets the literal fulfillment of this prophecy eschatologically with the erection of a restoration Temple in the earthly millennial kingdom. This text is crucial to futurism. If a literal interpretation of this prophecy fails, then a literal interpretation of any Old Testament prophecy is suspect. This includes messianic prophecy, which is inextricably linked to the restoration prophecies.
Despite this caution, the symbolic interpretation of this portion of Ezekiels prophecy is the dominant view advanced by critical scholars and conservative non-futurists (historicists, preterists, and idealists) based on their contention that prophetic visions employ apocalyptic language that uses the literary device of hyperbole (exaggerated speech) to convey idealistic or symbolic, rather than literal, concepts. Therefore, non-futurists explain that the reason the builders of the Second Temple did not follow Ezekiels plans for the Temple was that the Jewish audience understood apocalyptic as symbolic rather than literal.
However, the symbolic school of interpretation is divided on what this symbolism was intended to portray. Some interpreters believe it was meant to preserve the memory of the First Temple through an idealistic remembrance. Others say it idealistically describes the Second Temple, which was constructed upon the Jews' return to Judah after the exile. Still others see it illustrating a spiritual ideal (God's dwelling in holiness in the midst of His people) or a spiritual reality (heaven, the eternal state, or the church).
The internal and external evidence supports the literal and eschatological interpretation of this section.
LITERARY UNITY OF THE BOOK
Chapters 40-48 form an inseparable literary conclusion to the book. Although these chapters constitute a new vision in the prophecy, they are linked with chapters 1-39, repeating earlier themes in a more detailed fashion. This link is highlighted by the similarities between chapter 1 and chapter 40. For example, Ezekiels vision of the presence of God in Babylon (Ezekiel 1:1; see also 8:1) finds its complement and completion in the vision in the Land of Israel (Ezekiel 40:2). In like manner, the problem created by the departure of God's presence in the opening section of the book (chapters 9-11) finds an anticipated resolution with its return in this section (Ezekiel 43:1-7). In fact, the concern for the presence of God may be the uniting theme of the entire text of Ezekiel. Without chapters 40-48 there is no answer to the outcome of Israel in general and Jerusalem and the Temple in particular, no resolution to the nation's history of sacred scandal, and no grand finale to the divine drama centered on the chosen nation. Ezekiels prophecy of the future Temple shows the restoration of the presence of God to Israel (a physical as well as spiritual concern).
It has a three-part focus: (1) prophecies of the Temple's desecration and destruction (Ezekiel 4-24), (2) prophecies of Israel's return and restoration (Ezekiel 33-39), and (3) prophecies of the Temple's rebuilding and ritual (40-48). If the literal First Temple was the subject of the first section of the book, the last section would logically deal with a literal Temple as well. The prophets saw the rebuilding of the physical Temple as essential to restoration (Daniel 9:20; 2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:2-11; Haggai 1:2-2:9; Zecha-riah 1:16; 6:12-15; 8:3). Would Ezekiel, a like-minded prophet (or God, the ultimate Author), have attempted to comfort his people's physical and spiritual loss with anything other than the literal restoration of a Temple to which God's presence could return?
THE CONTEXT OF THE TEMPLES RESTORATION
Chapters 40-48 open with a statement marking the specific date of Ezekiels vision: "the tenth of the month [of Tishri]" (Ezekiel 40:1). The Jewish sages viewed the purpose of this chronological note as marking an eschatological context because the tenth of Tishri is reckoned as a Jubilee year (Hebrew, yovel), and the date of Ezekiels vision was determined to be the first Day of Atonement (Hebrew, Yom Kippur) of the Jubilee year. Together, this date prefigured Israel's physical and spiritual day of redemption. Therefore, from the very first verse, the rabbis considered the context both eschatological and literal.
The restoration of God's presence in His sanctuary (Ezekiel 37:26-28) appears as the climactic event in the restoration described in Ezekiel 33-37. In chapters 40-48, God fills the Temple and consecrates it as His throne (Ezekiel 43:1-7). Ezekiel 37 says this will happen when "David will [again] be king over them [Israel]," an "everlasting covenant of peace" will be established between God and Israel, "God's sanctuary will [again] be in their midst," and "the nations will know I am the Lord" (37:24-28). In particular, the "everlasting covenant of peace" (Hebrew, shalom) is unique.
Ezekiel 34:25-29 describes it as Land-centered, completely eliminating harmful animals, guaranteeing security from any foreign invasion, and bringing unparalleled agricultural renewal accompanied by divinely sent seasonal rains (see Zechariah 14:17). Such a covenant was never enacted with Israel in the past and therefore must have its fulfillment in the eschatological age (the millennial kingdom).
The terms used to refer to the Temple in Ezekiel 37:26-28 likewise indicate an eschatological setting. The Temple is called a mishkariy the Hebrew word used formerly for the Tabernacle, and it is "in their midst," or more literally, "over them" (Hebrew, 'lyhrn). This pictures God's sheltering presence. The Temple is also called miqdash ("sanctuary"), emphasizing its holiness, and is said to be, like the covenant and the restoration of God's presence, eternal (37:26,28). Again, such a Temple could only find its fulfillment in the millennial kingdom, where the protective glory-cloud of God will return in the future.
THE DESCRIPTION OF THE TEMPLE
The Temple's precise measurements; the detailed design of its courts, pillars, galleries, rooms, chambers, doors, ornamentation, and vessels; and the careful instructions concerning the priestly service all show that an actual Temple is intended. Ezekiel 43:10-11 directs those Jews who will live in the time of the final restoration (when the prophecy will be fulfilled) to build the Temple according to Ezekiel's instructions. The same kind of architectural measurements as given for the Temple are given for the altar (43:13-27), to be followed "on the day it is built" (verse 18). Literary consistency (as well as logic) demands that if the altar of the Temple is to be built, then the Temple itself must be built as well.
[ALL RELIGIOUS JEWS KNOW AND ADMIT NO SUCH “EZEKIEL TEMPLE” WAS EVER BUILT; HEROD’S BUILDING OF THE TEMPLE DID NOT FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS OF EZEKIEL - Keith Hunt]
OTHER OLD TESTAMENT PROPHETIC PASSAGES
As a restoration text, Ezekiel 40-48 should exhibit traits familiar to and consonant with other such texts in the prophetic corpus.
For example, God commands Israel to build the Temple after "they are ashamed of all that they have done" (43:10-11). Ezekiel 36:22-38 already defined this national shame or spiritual repentance to be part of the regenerative work of the Spirit (verse 33). The prophets often referred to this national repentance (Isaiah 55:3-5; 66:7-9; Jeremiah 31:34; Hosea 3:4-5; Zechariah 12:10-13:2), as did Jesus (Matthew 24:30-31; Mark 13:26-27), Luke (Acts 3:19-21), and Paul (Romans 11:25-30). These passages reflect an ultimate hope for the nation, which must be projected into an eschatological kingdom. [GOD’S KINGDOM ON EARTH FOR 1,000 YEARS AT THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST - Keith Hunt]
The departure of the shekinah glory from the physical Temple in Ezekiel 9-11 will be completed by its return to a physical Temple in Ezekiel 43:1-7. Ezekiel follows the return of the shekinah along the path of its previous departure, carefully describing the order of return to match the order of abandonment. It departs from the Holy of Holies, to the inner court, to the eastern gate, and to the east. It returns from the east, to the eastern gate, to the inner court, and finally to the Holy of Holies. This reverse progression was obviously intended to convey the restoration of what had been lost (the divine presence). None of Ezekiel's original audience would have understood these two events other than as complementary events, the latter resolving the former. If (as is universally accepted) the divine presence literally left the First Temple before its destruction, why should not it literally return to the Final Temple after its rebuilding?
Theological resolution also demands this be literally fulfilled.
Nowhere in Scripture (or in extrabiblical Jewish literature) does the divine presence fill the Second Temple as it did the Tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-35) and the First Temple (1 Kings 8:10-11; 2 Chronicles 5:13-14; 7:1). Rather, Jewish sources (such as Tosefta Yom Top) made a point of its absence and relegated such a hope to the eschatological period. Progressive revelation also requires that the theological dilemma created for Israel by divine judgment in a literal exile be resolved by a divine grace in a literal return and restoration. These are the two sides of prophetic prediction in the prophets, of which Ezekiel is a part. The rebuilding of the Temple and its dedication by the installation of the shekinah resolves the restoration program because it rejoins God to His people, restoring them to their chosen status as a holy nation and a kingdom of priests and light to the nations (Ezekiel 37:27-28). In order to consistently resolve the theological tension created by Israels failure, there must be a return of her fortunes (both physical and spiritual). In this resolution the prophecy of Ezekiel's Temple figures prominently, concluding with the realization of restoration and the guarantee of its success by the declaration that "the Lord is there" (Ezekiel 48:35).
—Randall Price and Ed Hindson
Breuer, Joseph. The Book of Yechezkel: Translation and
Commentary. Jerusalem: Phillip Feldheim Inc., 1993.
Feinberg, Charles. The Prophecy of Ezekiel: The Glory
of the Lord. Chicago: Moody Press, 1969.
Greenberg, Moshe. "The Design and Themes of Ezekiel's
Program of Restoration." Interpretation 38.1984, pp.181-208.
Price, Randall. The Coming Last Days Temple. Eugene,
OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1999.
Schmidtt, John W., and Carl Laney. Messiah's Coming
Temple: Ezekiel's Prophetic Vision of the Future
Temple. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1997.
THIS ALL MAKES SENSE WHEN YOU TAKE THE PROPHECIES LITERALLY, AND SIMPLY BELIEVE WHAT THEY SAY AND PREDICT, FOR END TIME EVENTS ON EARTH AND INTO THE BEGINNING OF THE 1,000 YEARS OF THE AGE TO COME - Keith Hunt