Beale: Future Animal Sacrifices in Ezekiel ?

“The Scofield Bible, espousing the standard literalist dispensational approach [to interpreting eschatological passages], gives a surprising response to what appears to be a vexing problem for those arguing for the future revival of the sacrificial system. In addition to saying that the sacrifices might be memorials Scofield also offers the following possibility:

‘The reference to sacrifices [in Ezekiel’s temple prophecy] is not to be taken literally, in view of the putting away of such offerings [according to Hebrews], but is rather to be regarded as a presentation of the worship of redeemed Israel, in her own land and in the millennial temple, using the terms with which the Jews were familiar in Ezekiel’s day’ (The New Scofield Reference Bible, 1967:888).

More than one commentator has recognized the inconsistency in this quotation from the Scofield Bible: ‘These words convey a far-reaching concession on the part of dispensationalists. If the sacrifices are not to be taken literally, why should we take the temple literally? It would seem that the dispensational principle of the literal interpretation of Old Testament prophecy is here abandoned, and that a crucial foundation stone for the entire dispensationalist system has been set aside!’ (Anthony Hoekema, The Bible and the Future, 1979:204).

Therefore, ‘make the sacrifices symbolic and the temple becomes symbolic too’ (H. Ellison, Ezekiel: The Man and His Message, 1956;140).

Even to entertain the possibility that the sacrifices are memorials contravenes a literal interpretation of prophecy because of the Hebrew word that Ezekiel uses to explain the purpose of the sacrifices ‘to make atonement’ (45:15,17,20). The verb is kipper (in the Piel verb form), which is the exact word (and verb form) employed in the Pentateuch to describe sacrifices that have an atoning purpose (Lev. 6:30 [23]; 8:15; 16:6, 11, 24, 30, 32, 33, 34; Num. 5:8; 15:28; 29:5) (following Hoekema 1979:204).

Of course,the atoning purpose in the Old Testament accomplished only a temporary ‘covering’ (which is the meaning of kipper) of Israel’s sin, which pointed typologically to Christ’s once for all atonement. The point is that Ezekiel does not call these sacrifices memorials, but puts them on a par with the Levitical typological sacrifices of atonement. From a New Testament perspective, the Lord’s Supper is the only memorial instituted by Christ to ‘memorialize’ his redemptive work. To suggest that this memorial will cease in a coming millennium, to be replaced by the ‘old’ Old Testament sacrifices, not only is at variance with the book of Hebrews, but abrogates Christ’s command to remember him in the Lord’s Supper (Ellison 1956:142)

Thus, in light of the evidence, it does not seem likely that Ezekiel’s sacrifices will be literally fulfilled in a future temple.

A related issue is whether or not to take literally Ezekiel’s apparent portrait of Jerusalem as the centre of the world to which Gentiles must come in order to be related to God (Ezek. 47). If taken in a narrowly literal manner, then the redemptive-historical principle of John 4:21, 23 would be radically violated: ‘an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the Father… but an hour is coming, and now is,when the true worshipers will worship the Father in [the Holy] Spirit and truth’.

This principle is related in Jesus’ mind to Ezekiel’s vision. Jesus alludes to the water flowing from Ezekiel’s end-time temple in John 7:38 and interprets it of himself and of the Spirit in relation to believers, a passage that further develops the ‘living water’ theme of John 4. One could say, therefore, that just as the picture in Ezekiel 47 of Jerusalem as the centre for world worship is meant to be taken figuratively on the basis of Jesus’ teaching,so also is all of Ezekiel 40-48 to be taken.

One does not need, however, to resort to a figurative approach to be consistent with Jesus’ teaching, if…our…argument…is correct: that in the end time an Eden-temple will be established as a new Jerusalem that will extend throughout the whole earth.”

-G.K. Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God, 344-345.

Waldron: An Eternal Millennium

“Many…passages really speak not of a temporary or millennial reign, but of an eternal kingdom on earth. The passages under discussion assume the perfection or sinless-ness of this future kingdom. The millennium is not a perfected kingdom on anyone’s interpretation. It cannot, therefore, be that to which these passages refer.

Isaiah 65:17-25 is the most problematic of such passages and speaks of the new heaven and new earth in terms that at first glance seem to fall short of perfection.

17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And. the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing, And her people for gladness. 19 I will also rejoice in Jerusalem, and be glad in My people; And there will no longer be heard in her the voice of weeping and the sound of crying. 20 No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, Or an old man who does not live out his days; For the youth will die at the age of one hundred And the one who does not reach the age of one hundred Shall be thought accursed. 21 And they shall build houses and inhabit them; They shall also plant vineyards and eat their fruit, 22 They shall not build, and another inhabit, They shall not plant, and another eat; For as the Iifetime of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, And My chosen ones shall wear out the work of their hands, 23 They shall not labor in vain, Or bear children for calamity; For they are the offspring of those blessed by the LORD, And their descendants with them. 24 It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer, and while they are still speaking, I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb shall graze together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain,” says the LORD.

Verses 20 through 23 seem to apply the language of “a new heaven and a new earth” to a period in which death is still a reality, It speaks of great longevity and remarkable freedom from early
death for the people of God, but this language seems to assume that in the end death is still a reality. Because of this language, this passage has been a classic proof-text for those who believe in
some form of millennial golden age.

Several conclusive arguments may be brought forward against the millenarian interpretation of this passage. First, all the other uses of the phrase, “New Heaven and New Earth,” in the Bible have reference to the eternal state and the perfectly redeemed earth (Isa. 66:22-24; 2 Pet. 3:13, and Rev. 21:1).

Second, the condition described in Isaiah 65 appears to be permanent not millennial (vvs.17b, 18), Third, the New Testament applies this passage to the eternal state. Verse 19 reads, “I will also rejoice in Jerusalem, and be glad in My people; And there will no longer be heard in her the voice of weeping and the sound of crying, This anticipates Revelation 21:4: “and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Only the perfectly redeemed (and not the millennial) earth brings about the cessation of weeping and crying.

Fourth, the perfection of the conditions described in Isaiah 65 contradict the millennial interpretation. Isaiah 65:25 says, “The wolf and the lamb shall graze together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain,’ says the LORD.” Only the eternal state brings the end of all evil and harm in God’s holy mountain.

How do we deal with the statements in this passage which assume the continuation of death in the New Heavens and New Earth? We must remember an important principle in the interpretation of Old Testament prophecy. Old Testament prophecy often predicts God’s coming, glorious kingdom by things familiar to the people of God.

Even we cannot understand what an earth without death would be like. This was even more true in the Old Testament shadows. Thus, the Prophets spoke of the age to come as the highest possible happiness in the world as we know it; Such happiness is pictured by a world where all the greatest sorrows and deepest tragedies of our world are unknown.

Thus, this passage does not speak of the absence of death. It speaks rather of great longevity and the absence of premature death. The unknown is revealed in terms of the known and the future in terms of the past.

Ezekiel’s prophecy of the wonderful temple illustrates this (Ezekiel 40-48). In particular, the prediction of sin offerings by a levitical priesthood within that temple must be explained on this basis (43:18-27). A woodenly literal interpretation of these chapters flatly contradicts the New Testament teaching on the finality and superionty of Christ’s sacrifice and the final abolition of the old sacrifices by Christ’s work (Remember Ephesians 2 and the Book of Hebrews).”

-Sam Waldron, The End Times Made Simple, 236-238.

Hoekema: New Earth?

“If God would have to annihilate the present cosmos, Satan would have won a great victory. For then Satan would have succeeded in so devastatingly corrupting the present cosmos and the present earth that God could do nothing with it but to blot it totally out of existence. But Satan has been decisively defeated. God will reveal the full dimensions of that defeat when he shall renew this very earth on which Satan deceived mankind and finally banish from it all the results of Satan’s evil machinations.”

-Anthony Hoekema, The Bible and the Future, 281.

Hoekema: What Does Spiritual Body Mean?

“One of the difficulties [in 1 Corinthians 15:44] is that the expression “a spiritual body” has led many to think that the resurrection body will be a nonphysical one—spiritual is then thought to be in contrast with physical.

That this is not so can be easily shown. The resurrection body of the believer, we have seen, will be like the resurrection body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 15:48, 49). But Christ’s resurrection body was certainly a physical one; he could be touched (John 20:17, 27) and he could eat food (Luke 24:38-43). Further, the spiritual…does not describe that which is nonmaterial or nonphysical.

Note how Paul uses the same contrast in the same epistle, chapter 2:14-15: “Now the natural…man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged. But he that is spiritual…judgeth all things, and he himself is judged of no man” (ASV).

Here the same two Greek words…are used
as in 15:44. But spiritual…here does not mean nonphysical. Rather, it means someone who is guided by the Holy Spirit, at least in principle, in distinction from someone who is guided only by his natural impulses. In similar fashion, the natural body described in 15:44 is one which is part of this present, sin-cursed existence; but the spiritual body of the resurrection is one which will be totally, not just partially, dominated and directed by the Holy Spirit.

Our future existence…will be an existence completely and totally ruled by the Holy Spirit, so that we shall be forever done with sin. Therefore the body of the resurrection is called a spiritual body, Geerhardus Vos is correct when he insists that we ought to capitalize the word spiritual in this verse, so as to make clear that the verse describes the state in which the Holy Spirit rules the body.”

-Anthony Hoekema, The Bible and the Future, 249-250.

Waldron: How Can Jesus Not Know the Day and Hour of His Second Coming?

“Matthew 24:36 reads as follows:

‘But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.’

By way of a brief or preliminary exposition of this passage, I want to say two things.

First, when Christ refers to “that day and hour”, he is referring to the day and hour or time of His second coming: The entire context puts this beyond doubt. Jesus has been speaking of His second coming in the preceding context 24:27, 30, 31). He goes on to speak of this event in the immediately succeeding context (24:37). He uses this exact language to speak of His second coming in the following context (24:42, 44, 50).

Second, Christ asserts here that knowledge of the time of His second coming is hidden from every intelligent creature. Of the time of His coming, Christ says, “no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” Now this statement is from one viewpoint quite perplexing. It raises the question, If Christ is God and, therefore, omniscient or all-knowing, how can there be anything he does not know?

The solution to this question is suggested by The 1689 Baptist Confession. In Chapter 8, paragraph 2, it echoes the historic, orthodox doctrine of the person of Christ. There the Confession states that the Son of God possessed a “whole, perfect, and distinct” human nature. Thus, the Bible speaks of Him as a man physically or bodily. He was hungry, thirsty, and grew tired. The Scripture also speaks of him as a man spiritually or mentally. He grew and matured intellectually (Luke 2:40, 52; Heb.5:8).

Therefore, when we come to Matt. 24:36 there should be nothing surprising to us in Christ’s assertion that there were some things He did not know. If we are not stumbled when we hear the Son of God say, “I thirst,” there is no reason why we should be stumbled when we hear Him say that there is something He does not know. If we are not stumbled when the Scripture says that he grew in wisdom, then there is no reason for us to be stumbled when the Scripture declares that not even the Son knows the time of

His second coming. Jesus is speaking here as a man. He is not declaring to us the contents of the divine mind, but of His human intellect. Christ here asserts that neither He, nor any other man, nor even the angels of heaven knew the time of His second coming.

Think about the implications of that statement. Jesus’ statement implies that God had not revealed the date of the end of the world to any of the men or angels by which God communicated to men in the Old Testament. It also implies that He had not revealed it to the Son by which He brought that revelation to conclusion in the New Testament.

All of God’s special revelation is brought to us either by the angels and men through whom God spoke in the Old Testament or through His Son and the other men through whom He spoke in the New Testament (Hebrews 1:1-2).

Jesus is, thus, plainly teaching that the time of His coming is not a part of the revelation God chose to give men in the Word of God. Therefore, no amount of scholarship or genius, not even a whole life-time of study dedicated to the study of typology, numerology, or prophecy will ever find in Scripture some secret, figurative, mysterious revelation of the time-period of Christ’s return. It has not been put in the Scriptures and no amount of searching will find it there.”

-Sam Waldron, The End Times Made Simple, 173-174.

Pieters: Israel and the Church

Albertus Pieters writing during the Depression provides a great illustration of how the church has become the people of God, now that Israel has rejected her Messiah.

“Recently many banks have been closed for a time, have been re-organized, and have resumed business, sometimes under the same name, sometimes with new names. In such a case it is quite often appropriate to speak of the reorganized institution as a new bank. New capital has been subscribed, new rules adopted, new directors elected, a new president and new cashier have been appointed. It is a new institution.

Yet, for other purposes, it is a continuation of the former bank, particularly so with regard to the assets. He who signed a promissory note payable to the bank before it was re-organized must make it good to the new bank. For such purposes it is the same old bank.

Precisely so stands the case between Israel and the Church. It is not that the Church is the “spiritual Israel, but that it is reorganized Israel. When we call the Church the New Covenant Irael, we are not allegorizing or spiritualizing the prophecies as some maintain; we are simply recognizing the historic fact of this re-organization, whereby the Church, in strict legality and in unbroken continuation, took over the assets of the national Israel, said assets being the promises of God—not some of them, but all of them.

It took over the assets of Israel because it was, for legal and Prophetical purposes, Israel, the only group having a legitimate right to the title.”

-Albertus Pieters, The Ten Tribes in the History of Prophecy, 81.

Justin Martyr: The True Spiritual Israel

“For the true spiritual Israel, and descendants of Judah, Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham (who in uncircumcision was approved of and blessed by God on account of his faith, and called the father of many nations), are we who have been led to God through this crucified Christ, as shall be demonstrated while we proceed.”

-Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, ch. XI.

Spurgeon: The Church of God in the Old Testament

“We have even heard it asserted that those who. lived before the coming of Christ do not belong to the church of God! We never know what we shall hear next, and perhaps it is a mercy that these absurdities are revealed one at a time, in order that we may be able to endure their stupidity without dying of amazement.”

-Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Spurgeon’s Sermons Volume 15: 1869, 9.

Servant of God, Well Done!

Servant of God, well done!
Thy glorious warfare’s past;
The battle’s fought, the race is won,
And thou art crowned at last.

Of all thy heart’s desire
Triumphantly possessed;
Lodged by the ministerial choir
In thy Redeemer’s breast.

In condescending love,
Thy ceaseless prayer He heard;
And bade thee suddenly remove
To thy complete reward.

Ready to bring the peace,
Thy beauteous feet were shod,
When mercy signed thy soul’s release,
And caught thee up to God.

With saints enthroned on high,
Thou dost thy Lord proclaim,
And still to God salvation cry,
Salvation to the Lamb!

O happy, happy soul!
In ecstasies of praise,
Long as eternal ages roll,
Thou seest Thy Savior’s face.

Redeemed from earth and pain,
Ah! when shall we ascend,
And all in Jesus’ presence reign
With our translated friend?

Come, Lord, and quickly come!
And, when in Thee complete,
Receive Thy longing servants home,
To triumph at Thy feet.

-John Wesley