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Ezekiel’s Temple and the outflow of living waters..Part (2)


See Part (1)

THE PURPOSE OF THE VISION

What then was the immediate purpose of this vision? I think this question has a simple answer in the light of the passage itself and that of other Scriptures.

Ezekiel prophesied during the captivity. That captivity was to be of seventy years duration, as predicted by Jeremiah. At its end the captives were to return and re-build the city and the temple. This new temple was to serve as the sanctuary of God until Christ should come.

God’s plan had always been to give to His people the exact pattern of the sanctuary they were to build for His Name. To Moses He had shown the pattern of the tabernacle, giving him at the same time the strictest injunctions to make every detail in exact accordance with that pattern. Likewise to David, God had revealed the pattern of the temple which was to be built at Jerusalem, with all its institutions, vessels of service, etc.

‘All this,’ says David, ‘the Lord made me understand in writing by His hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern’ (1 Chr. 28:11-19)

And once again, after the exile, a house was to be built for the Name of the Lord in Jerusalem. Therefore, having in mind His invariable method in such case, we should expect to find at this period a revelation from heaven of the pattern to be followed in the building of that house. And right here we do find the revelation from God of the completed pattern and institutions of a temple, with directions to the prophet to show the same to the house of Israel.

Furthermore we find that even as Moses was admonished to make all things according to the pattern shown him ‘in the mount,’ so Ezekiel was taken to ‘a very high mountain’ where this pattern was shown to him, and he was told to set his heart upon all that should be revealed to him, and to declare all he should see to the house of Israel (40:3-4; 44:5).

Again, as regards the ministers of the sanctuary, it is strictly commanded that the priests are to be Levites of the sons of Zadok (45:15), which proves that the whole system was for an era when the priesthood of Aaron was not as yet abolished.
Furthermore, special instructions are given in this vision regarding ‘the prince.’ Now it was only after the return from Babylon that Israel was subject to a ‘prince,’ as Zerubbabel in the days of Ezra, and the Hasmonaean princes at a later day.

Finally, this vision contains instructions for the re-allotment of the land, corresponding to the instructions given Moses and Joshua at the first occupation of the land. This provision embraces the whole twelve tribes of Israel. For it should be noted that in the land of their captivity Israel and Judah were mingled together; and from that time onward the distinction between the ten northern tribes and the other two no longer exists. Thus Ezekiel was sent to ‘the children of Israel,’ to ‘the house of Israel,’ and as in several passages to ‘all the house of Israel’ (11:15, 20:40, etc.).

Likewise Daniel confessed on behalf of ‘all Israel’ and prayed for his ‘people Israel’ (9:11,20), and those who returned with Ezra were ‘all Israel’ (Ezra 2:70, 8:25; 9:1 etc.). And this continued to New Testament times, when Peter makes his proclamation at Pentecost to ‘all the house of Israel’ (Acts 2:36), Paul speaks to Herod Agrippa of ‘our twelve tribes’ (Acts 26:7), and James writes to ‘the twelve tribes scattered abroad’ (Jam. 1:1).

This effectually disposes of all speculation regarding ‘the ten lost tribes,’ and particularly of the grand delusion of Anglo-Israelism.


WAS THE PATTERN SHOWN EZEKIEL FOLLOWED?

So far as I am aware there is no evidence now available as to the plan of the temple built in the days of Ezra. Herod the Great had so transformed it in the days of Christ, though without interrupting the regular services and sacrifices, as to destroy all trace of the original design. That question, however, which we cannot now answer, does not affect the question of the purpose for which the pattern was revealed to Ezekiel.

It should be noted that everything in connection with the return of the people of Israel out of Babylon was purely voluntary. Only those returned to Jerusalem ‘whose spirit God had raised to go up to build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem’ (Ezra 1:5). They were not taken out of Babylon as out of Egypt in a body and by strength of hand. But we know that they brought with them the holy vessels, and we know that they had, and could have followed, the pattern shown in the mount to Ezekiel.

For God had commanded the prophet to show it to them, and He gave him also this charge:

‘Thou son of man, show the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and let them measure the pattern. And if they be ashamed of all they have done, show them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof and the comings in thereof and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof, and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them” (43:10,11).

The blessings promised to Israel through Ezekiel were like those promised through Moses, conditional upon their faithfulness and obedience; and, since they were not obedient, the blessings were forfeited. So we are left in uncertainty as to what, if anything, resulted from this revelation to Ezekiel. But as regards the purpose for which it was given, we think there is no uncertainty at all.

Of course this vision, like all visions and prophecies, has a spiritual fulfillment in Christ, and this is very apparent, we think, from chapter 47.

Chapter 47 contains the vision of the life-giving waters, which the prophet saw issuing out from the temple, a shallow stream at first, but increasing to a mighty river – ‘waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over’ (v. 5).

As with respect to Zechariah’s prophecy concerning the ‘living waters’ (Zech 14:8), referred to in a former chapter, so with respect to this vision of Ezekiel, we confidently submit that its fulfillment is in the living waters of the gospel, which began, on the day of Pentecost, to flow out from the Temple at Jerusalem.

Our Lord uses the expression ‘rivers of living water,’ in John 7:38; and the meaning of the expression is given in the next verse:

‘But this spoke He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive.’

This explanation controls the passage we are considering. This will be apparent from what follows.

To be continued…

Ezekiel’s Temple and the outflow of living waters – Where did the Spirit descend at Pentecost? by Philip Mauro

11 comments on “Ezekiel’s Temple and the outflow of living waters..Part (2)

  1. Again , another very good article.One thing that comes to mind after reading it addresses the ” zionist” notion that Israel will one day be restored to their land. For mine , the restoration to their land was fulfilled at the time of the Messiah’ s birth.Thereafter , references made to the ” land ” have a spiritual significance and not a physical connotation.
    One thing that I would question is regarding chpt 44 . I think the text used here places this part of the vision after the cross.

    Vs 2
    And the Lord said to me , ” this gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened , and no one shall enter by it, for the Lord , the God of Israel , has entered by it”

    I couldn’t conclude this post with out commenting on chpt 47, as this is without doubt one of my favourites . The picture here [ as well as Rev 22] is one that instills hope in the heart of a believer, a river that brings about new life.

  2. This post is just as excellent as the previous post (Part 1). I fully agree with Mauro regarding the purpose of the temple in Ezekiel’s vision:

    This new temple was to serve as the sanctuary of God until Christ should come.

    The body of Christ is now the temple of God, not only on an individual basis (I Cor. 3:16-17, 6:19) but also corporately (II Cor. 6:16, Eph. 2:11-22, Rev. 21:3).

    Again, as regards the ministers of the sanctuary, it is strictly commanded that the priests are to be Levites of the sons of Zadok (45:15), which proves that the whole system was for an era when the priesthood of Aaron was not as yet abolished.

    This is a very good point, among many, by Mauro. This system was a type and shadow in the post-exile period prior to Christ’s first coming. To seek a future fulfillment would be to seek what Kim Riddlebarger rightfully called “a redemptive historical u-turn”.

    Finally, this vision contains instructions for the re-allotment of the land, corresponding to the instructions given Moses and Joshua at the first occupation of the land. This provision embraces the whole twelve tribes of Israel. For it should be noted that in the land of their captivity Israel and Judah were mingled together; and from that time onward the distinction between the ten northern tribes and the other two no longer exists. Thus Ezekiel was sent to ‘the children of Israel,’ to ‘the house of Israel,’ and as in several passages to ‘all the house of Israel’ (11:15, 20:40, etc.).

    Likewise Daniel confessed on behalf of ‘all Israel’ and prayed for his ‘people Israel’ (9:11,20), and those who returned with Ezra were ‘all Israel’ (Ezra 2:70, 8:25; 9:1 etc.). And this continued to New Testament times, when Peter makes his proclamation at Pentecost to ‘all the house of Israel’ (Acts 2:36), Paul speaks to Herod Agrippa of ‘our twelve tribes’ (Acts 26:7), and James writes to ‘the twelve tribes scattered abroad’ (Jam. 1:1).

    A few weeks ago I was in a discussion with a church friend who said that Ezekiel 37 (the dry bones prophecy) is being fulfilled right now in the land of Israel, where the 12 tribes are finally being reunited (referring to Ezek. 37:15-22 in particular). Mauro’s quote above is an excellent refutation to that idea. In Ezekiel’s vision of the two sticks becoming one, did he not foresee what is expressed in Ephesians 2:13-16?

    “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that He might create in Himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.”

    We indeed have one shepherd (Ezek. 37:24), His sanctuary is in our midst forevermore (verses 26-27), and He is our God and we are His people (verse 27).

    Chapter 47 contains the vision of the life-giving waters, which the prophet saw issuing out from the temple, a shallow stream at first, but increasing to a mighty river – ‘waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over’ (v. 5).

    It’s too bad Philip Mauro didn’t live until the early/mid 1990’s to see this fulfilled in the “holy laughter revival” coming out of Toronto. When I attended Christ for the Nations Institute from 1997-2000 I lost count of how many guest speakers applied this passage to that “revival”…

    As with respect to Zechariah’s prophecy concerning the ‘living waters’ (Zech 14:8), referred to in a former chapter, so with respect to this vision of Ezekiel, we confidently submit that its fulfillment is in the living waters of the gospel, which began, on the day of Pentecost, to flow out from the Temple at Jerusalem. Our Lord uses the expression ‘rivers of living water,’ in John 7:38; and the meaning of the expression is given in the next verse: ‘But this spoke He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive.’

    Add Philip Mauro to the list of older commentators who saw Zechariah 12-14 as having been fulfilled in the first century AD with an ongoing present fulfillment, as opposed to looking for a future siege on earthly Jerusalem where God will defend all of that city’s inhabitants. It’s refreshing to see.

  3. I only have one question in this matter and hope that someone can provide Bible verse that will resolve my confusion about the meaning of Ezekiel 37. For example, I have found that it is of little use to debate the intent of or meaning to the term “land” as in the land promised to Abraham and his seed. It has simply become a matter of choice as to how one chooses to view the texts of Jeremiah 7:7, 16:15, 25:5, 32:37, 33:11 or Ezekiel 28:25, 34:13, 36:28, 37:25 and Amos 9:9-15.

    As a result I am not sure how one can interpret verses 11-14 of Ezekiel chapter 37 since the text indicates that God will open the graves of His people and bring them into the land of Israel. If this text suggests that God’s people went to heaven rather than the promised land, then since they are dead they would have been resurrected back in the first century AD. But then I Thessalonians 4:13-17 would indicate that there has already been a number of people taken from the earth alive at that time as well. But I cannot find any record or evidence of such an event taking place back then or at any time since.

    Therefore, this text too must also be interpreted to mean something other than what it says because if the first resurrection has already taken place then it appears that God has not kept His promise to gather those whom are alive when Jesus Christ descends from heaven. Hence, since Revelations 20:4-6 says that those whom had part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, I wonder why millions of God’s children have continued to die for the past two thousand years.

    Apparently, the Bible was not inspired by God for my understanding because I am not able to keep these interpretations in a conclusive and logical order without contradicting written text. Therefore, I must confess that I am not wise enough to interpret the entire Bible so that I can understand what it really means.

    Further, there have been a number of arguments presented in an effort to determine just exactly what the early church believed was the correct understanding of prophecy. Many have reviewed the works of Jerome, Eusebius, Josephus, Philo, Polycarp and others in the belief that the oldest recording would be the most accurate. The oldest extant text would come from the mouth of Jesus Christ Himself in John 11:24-26. Martha knew Jesus Christ personally and believed that the resurrection would take place on the last day.

    Jesus Christ said in John 6:39, 40, 44 and 54 that we who believed in Him would also be raised up in the last day. As a result, if Ezekiel 37 was fulfilled in the first century AD then none of us should not die or even be here. After all, if all the prophecies of have been fulfilled by that time, then by this interpretation, the “last day” could only be Judgment day and therefore I can only conclude that I was born in hell.

    • Dave,

      I sense a deep frustration from what you wrote in your comment. I hope and pray that God’s peace will rule in your heart today. Responding to one thing you said, I don’t believe that the Bible was inspired in order to accommodate any particular understanding. It was inspired in order to deliver God’s truth. Yes, there are different understandings and interpretations out there. Many aspects (though not all) of eschatology are of a secondary nature, but it can be profitable to examine and discuss various viewpoints if this is done with grace.

      Why must we see a physical resurrection in view in Ezekiel 37:12 just because the word “graves” is used? I’ve tried to take a look at various commentaries on this chapter and (aside from dispensationalist commentaries) what I’ve seen is that many have seen this passage as addressing two things simultaneously: [1] the soon-to-come return from Babylonian exile some 500 years before Christ [2] the establishing of the New Covenant and the giving of the Holy Spirit to all who would trust in Christ. In other words, Ezekiel foresaw the Church age.

      I believe we can see this same kind of two-tiered pattern in much of the prophecy contained in the Minor Prophets and the Major Prophets, and that there is evidence that the inspired authors of the New Testament interpreted certain prophecies in the OT this way. One case in point is the interpretation of Amos 9:11-12 in Acts 15:13-19.

      Admittedly, this does require one to accept that the Bible uses metaphorical language more often than dispensationalists would like us to believe that it does. In the case of Ezekiel 37, if what I have said above is true, wouldn’t those who returned to the land with Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah have felt as if they had been raised from the grave (i.e. Babylon)? And when God put His Spirit within you, didn’t you feel like you had been raised from the grave as well (spiritual death)?

      In this way, I don’t believe that I Thessalonians 4:13-17 or John 6 needs to enter this discussion at all. John 5:25 could, though: “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” Amillennialists, by the way, typically believe that what Jesus said here is parallel to the first resurrection mentioned in Revelation 20:4-6, i.e. being born again.

      I assume your comment was in response to mine, since I brought up Ezekiel 37. What do you think of Philip Mauro’s teaching so far in this post and the last one?

    • Mat 27:50 KJV – Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
      Mat 27:51 KJV – And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
      Mat 27:52 KJV – And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
      Mat 27:53 KJV – And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
      Mat 27:54 KJV – Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.

  4. Dave, I appreciate your post and your transparent reflections about these contentious issues which are becoming more important each day for the church to understand, as we move in time toward the end of time. I appreciate your Scripture references and reasonings. I also am tending now to question and doubt covenant theology preterism and especially its “spiritualizing” interpretation of prophecy, and considering the more literal reading of Scripture. (BTW, this does not mean that classic dispensational rapture teaching and dual covenant is the only alternative.) I also appreciate pj’s links and posting of these writings and teachings, because I’m searching.

    The bottom line is, as Dave hints when he says, “… I must confess that I am not wise enough to interpret the entire Bible so that I can understand what it really means,” that we need divine revelation by the Holy Spirit who is given to us, to understand the mysteries of God. It is vital that we read and study prayerfully, asking for the lord to lead us in the way we should go and counsel us, and remain teachable because the secrets of the Lord are for those who fear Him. There is an attitude of holy fear and humility we must maintain if we are to be led into all Truth. I’m a little wary of those who think they have it all figured out and neatly nailed down.

    Thank you for being our Shepherd, Jesus, and for the Father’s gift of the Holy Spirit to teach in as we abide in Him.

  5. Adam, for the past few years I have read and appreciated many of your comments and perceive that your heart is well with God. And I do agree that it is profitable to examine our beliefs and know that your comments are lovinly given as encouragement and hope for others. My comment was not directed towards you but offered as a general concern that many of our brethren place too much trust in the ideas of men. When the exiled Jews returned from Babylon they did not fulfill the prophecies of Ezekiel, Isaiah, Amos, Hosea or Jeremiah for the simple reason that those prophecies state that God will bring a remnant from the whole House of Israel from among all the nations.Not just Babylon. By scripture (I Kings 12) the House of Israel are the 10 northern tribes that were divorced from God and scattered by the Assyrians nearly 200 years before the decree by Cyrus. Therefore, when the House of Judah returned the Jews considered themselves to be Israel.and still do to this day.

    But the union of the 2 sticks in Ezekiel 37 cannot be completed until both the House of Judah (Jews) and the House of Israel are reunited as the people of God. The new covenant of God for His people is by and through Jesus Christ alone and He is their King. The covenant promises made to Abraham are not by blood but by the blood of the Lamb of God and therefore race has nothing to do with the Jews in 530 BC no more than the Jews in 2010 AD.
    (See Romans 2, 4, 9 & 11. Ephesians 2, Galatians 3 & 4 and Hebrews 8 & 10).

    I do not believe in dispensation arguments because they are not in line with scripture and depend too much upon the interpretation of men rather than the written word. Nor do I hold that the dual covenant or replacement theologies are correct by scripture. When God scattered the House of Israel their blood did not leave them just because they were relocated among the nations. Therefore, it is not too hard for God to bring a remnant of His people back based upon their acceptance of Jesus Christ as their Savior (The new covenant).

    That is why I believe graves are correct in Ezekiel 37 because 1 Thessalonian 4 explains how God brings His people back. While I can also agree that the term of graves can be used to illustrate the appreciation of both a returning exile and a saved lost, the whole context of Ezekiel 37 refers to fulfillment of all the promises made to Abraham. His seed did produce the King of Israel in Jesus Christ who is prophesied to return. When the House of Israel was scattered throughout the world Abraham’s seed became as the sand on the seashore as he became the father of many nations and kings (Genesis 17). The remnant gathered when Christ returns also was prophesied in Revelations 7 where many nations, peoples and tongues worshiped their God. The promises made to Abraham were eternal and will last forever which also includes the promised land (Genesis 15:18). But just because that land and its sanctuary becomes defiled before the return of Jesus Christ, He will cleanse the land and the sanctuary. The everlasting rule is not made null and void simply because God eventually destroys both heaven and earth, because there will be a new heaven and new earth where dwells God with His people in the new city.

    Since I know that many see the prophecies in a spiritual fulfillment I do appreciate the spiritual value that they illustrate. The argument between dispensational groups and esoterical are missing the point. That being, that the Word of God was written as both a literal example that explains a spiritual teaching. The entire Old Testament has countless examples of literal events that foretell by illustration the Coming of the Promised One, Jesus Christ. The whole nation of Israel literally rebelled against God as an illustration that man is lost and needs a Redeemer. Jesus Christ was literally crucified and actually rose from the dead as a spiritual example of God great redeeming love. The tears that Jesus Christ shed in the garden were said to be like droplets of blood. A physical anguish that illustrated His sadness at the loss of those who refused His call yes, but also a spiritual groaning over the loss of those who once knew Him.

    I think the best way I can explain my concerns is to ask that we consider that God ‘spoke’ the entire universe into existence. How can one imagine the mighty power of a God Whom can create a living world by mere utterance is beyond understanding. I know of no man whom can speak tinker-toys into existence let alone the intricate universe.
    Further, the Spirit of God not only formed life, but He sustained that life by giving man the means to survive. Among those wonderful gifts was the ability of man to communicate from one to another. But unfortunately, rebellion came and the Spirit of God chose to confuse the wisdom of men by creating diverse languages at the Tower of Babel. As a result, I know that if the Spirit of God can create all tongues then due to His mighty power, He would certainly know how to reveal the Word of God so that I could understand it. Therefore, when Jesus Christ said my word is truth or God says that He holds His word above His own name, I trust that His Spirit wrote the text as He intended.

    And as Vicki wrote, we do need the Holy Spirit to help us understand those things we struggle with, but how is it possible that the very same Spirit that created language itself and knows all things cannot distinguish between the word ‘land’ and the word ‘heaven’with respect to His reign? Why must there be only a physical or spiritual reign? There can’t be both?
    God did not consult with man before He created him, why now does God need man to correct what he wrote? After all, I can’t imagine the Holy Spirit coming to me in my prayers and saying to me: “yeah, that’s what I wrote, but I really meant to say something else”.

    If one accepts the notion that God needs a weak and filthy man to interpret His Word, then I don’t know that He is strong enough to keep His promises. This is what saddens me, more than frustrates me, is that man is willing to accept the interpretation of men over God’s own inspiration. And sadly, this willingness to believe the insight of mortal man gives that creation a power higher than God. The Pharisees used their clever devices to rule men. Gnostics, Cabalists, all studies of esoteric thought end with obedient slaves at the feet of the gifted wise. None of these wizards ever raised a single soul from the dead, nor can they save my soul.

    Adam, I don’t expect that to know as much as I’d like, but I do know that God has a very loving and wonderful family among men, and it is a pleasure and a blessing to speak with you and I pray that the Father continues to bless and keep you. Amen.

    • Dave,

      Thanks for your reply. It’s a blessing to converse with you as well, and I’ve also enjoyed reading many of your comments since becoming aware of this site. As far as having our doctrinal beliefs shaped by what other men or women say, I agree that we can be too dependent on other mere mortals and not enough on the Holy Spirit who has been given to all who are in Christ. Yet, at the same time, God uses people to teach us things and to challenge our thinking in various areas. For example, God used Paul to challenge Peter when he strayed from the truth of the gospel, having evidently closed his heart to the voice of the Holy Spirit in one particular area (Galatians 2:11-14). Moving on from that thought, you said:

      When the exiled Jews returned from Babylon they did not fulfill the prophecies of Ezekiel, Isaiah, Amos, Hosea or Jeremiah for the simple reason that those prophecies state that God will bring a remnant from the whole House of Israel from among all the nations.Not just Babylon. By scripture (I Kings 12) the House of Israel are the 10 northern tribes that were divorced from God and scattered by the Assyrians nearly 200 years before the decree by Cyrus. Therefore, when the House of Judah returned the Jews considered themselves to be Israel.and still do to this day. But the union of the 2 sticks in Ezekiel 37 cannot be completed until both the House of Judah (Jews) and the House of Israel are reunited as the people of God.

      I would agree with Philip Mauro that in their captivity the 12 tribes were mingled together, and I don’t know that Scripture says otherwise. From a historical standpoint, we know that Assyria took the land of Israel in 722 BC and the 10 tribes were scattered throughout the Assyrian empire. Then in 609 BC Babylon took over the Assyrian empire and became an even larger empire which incorporated many nations. In 586 BC Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and the other 2 tribes were also scattered throughout this empire.

      Therefore, at this point all 12 tribes were scattered throughout the Babylonian empire, right? I have other questions concerning your viewpoint. What prevented members of the 10 tribes from returning along with members of the 2 tribes after the decree of Cyrus? What has prevented them from returning at any point during the last 2500 years, prior to 1948? For those members of the 10 tribes who have intermarried with people of other ethnicities during the last 2500 years, are their offspring counted as being part of fulfilled prophecy even if they are (let’s say) less than 25% Jewish? As Philip Mauro did well to point out, though,

      Ezekiel was sent to ‘the children of Israel,’ to ‘the house of Israel,’ and as in several passages to ‘all the house of Israel’ (11:15, 20:40, etc.). Likewise Daniel confessed on behalf of ‘all Israel’ and prayed for his ‘people Israel’ (9:11,20), and those who returned with Ezra were ‘all Israel’ (Ezra 2:70, 8:25; 9:1 etc.). And this continued to New Testament times, when Peter makes his proclamation at Pentecost to ‘all the house of Israel’ (Acts 2:36), Paul speaks to Herod Agrippa of ‘our twelve tribes’ (Acts 26:7), and James writes to ‘the twelve tribes scattered abroad’ (Jam. 1:1). This effectually disposes of all speculation regarding ‘the ten lost tribes’…

      Does anyone else here have any thoughts on these things?

      I’m also still trying to understand your thoughts regarding Ezekiel’s use of the word “graves”:

      …Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves, O My people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel… (Ezekiel 37:12).

      .

      In your first comment, you indicated that if this happened in the distant past, then I Thessalonians 4:13-17 (commonly associated with the rapture) also must have taken place at that time, and the first resurrection also must have taken place then. Yet a popular idea today is that Ezekiel 37:12 began to take place in 1948, as God has been gathering the Jewish people to the land of Israel “in unbelief.” So, according to this viewpoint, has the rapture and first resurrection been taking place progressively for the last 62 years? Forgive me, but I still don’t understand why Ezekiel’s use of the word “graves” must indicate a physical resurrection. Or have I misunderstood something you said? You also said this:

      The promises made to Abraham were eternal and will last forever which also includes the promised land (Genesis 15:18). But just because that land and its sanctuary becomes defiled before the return of Jesus Christ, He will cleanse the land and the sanctuary. The everlasting rule is not made null and void simply because God eventually destroys both heaven and earth, because there will be a new heaven and new earth where dwells God with His people in the new city.

      Yes, the land promises in the OT were said to be eternal / everlasting / perpetual, as was the covenant of fleshly circumcision [see, for example, Genesis 17:9-14, and note the language used], and as were also numerous temple-based rituals [Exodus 28:43, 29:28, 31:16-17, 40:15; Leviticus 3:17, 6:18, 22, 7:34, 36]. How does the NT deal with the non-land covenants/statutes which were said to be eternal? Should the eternal land promises be dealt with in a different manner? If so, why?

      Which sanctuary are you saying that God will cleanse? Surely you don’t mean a rebuilt third temple, do you? I believe you were on to something when you said that God’s “everlasting rule is not made null and void simply because God eventually destroys both heaven and earth, because there will be a new heaven and new earth where dwells God with His people in the new city.” Indeed, this was the hope and expectation of the patriarchs, even Abraham, to whom the land promises were articulated (Hebrews 11:10-16). The question is, have we come yet to this city? Hebrews 12:22 would indicate that the answer to this question is “yes” (see Hebrews 12:18-28 and also Galatians 4:21-31). If you’re interested, I’ve discussed at length the subject of the new heavens and the new earth, and the New Jerusalem, here:

      http://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2010/04/19/revelation-chapter-21-part-1-verses-1-4/

      Regarding literal versus figurative interpretations, I recommend taking a look at this post from PJ back in 2007:

      https://pjmiller.wordpress.com/2007/10/30/the-bible-and-consistent-literalism/

      One observation I’ve made is that those who tend to see themselves as holding to a high level of literalism have no problem [1] taking Jesus’ time frame statements (e.g. Matthew 24:34, Mark 13:30, Luke 21:32) to refer to a distant generation rather than the generation which heard him speak those things (although they would not do this with an identical phrase appearing in Matthew 23:36) [2] taking the words “soon” and “near” in Revelation 1:1, 3; 3:11; 22:7, 12, 20 to only mean “soon” from God’s point of view, but not man’s point of view [3] taking the phrase “at hand” used frequently in the New Testament concerning the coming kingdom of God to indicate that it would be postponed for 2000 years if most of the Jewish race were to reject Christ at that time, which they did.

      In closing, you also wrote:

      …how is it possible that the very same Spirit that created language itself and knows all things cannot distinguish between the word ‘land’ and the word ‘heaven’with respect to His reign? Why must there be only a physical or spiritual reign? There can’t be both?

      Did Jesus, in any of the words He spoke during His 3.5 year ministry, ever indicate that He would reign physically on this earth?

  6. Dear Sister Vicki, I praise God for your love for Him and thank Him for your trust in His Word. I appreciate the fact that you are well acquainted with praying in and with the Spirit, and I agree with you that we need prayer that respects God for Who He is.

    With respect to prophecy, you said: “nobody has it all figured out”, and I also agree that there is still much to learn. When we consider that part of the problem is that there are so many diverse teachings that one can become easily confused or indoctrinated which is precisely what the devil enjoys.

    Sad as it is to say for example, most dispensation teachers will not tolerate a fair discussion of their doctrine and choose to ignore scripture that may question their beliefs. (After all, the pre-tribulation rapture is a fraud that can be exposed by scripture).

    That is why I appreciate Adam, who is willing to at least have a heart for proper study, whether we can agree or not. Eventually, I will remember the things that he has told me, which will help me make a better decision when things come along.

    Further, in Daniel 12 we read that God told Daniel to shut-up the vision and seal it until the time of the end. Therefore, much of what we think may be a prophetic fulfillment may in fact have nothing to do with the planned intentions of God. While one might think that the writings of Ezra fulfilled Ezekiel 37, the fact is that the Jews were later expelled from the land by the Roman Emperor Adrian and did not return for nearly 1900 years.

    Many have also tried to identify the anti-Christ throughout most of history but none of the candidates have accurately fulfilled the visions of both Daniel and John in Revelations as written and most notably, no one has sat in the temple of God, showing himself as God or being worshiped as God (2 Thessalonians 2:4).

    Some have tried to say that Antiochus IV fulfilled the above text, but then Jesus Christ would not have said in Matthew 24:15: “when ye shall see the abomination”, He would have simply said when you saw Antiochus who desecrated the temple nearly two hundred years before Christ was born.

    I do however understand and appreciate that our hearts are also the temple of God and that the spirit of anti-Christ could dwell in men. But, the devil himself declared in Isaiah 14:13 that he desired to sit “also” upon the mount of the congregation, which according to Psalm 78:2 is mount Zion or the temple mount. He also declared that he would sit in the sides of the north, which according to Psalm 48:2 is where the city of the great King is. Therefore, the devil plans to literally be worshiped in Jerusalem at the temple.

    The point I’m trying to make is that scripture will support itself by scripture and will remain a constant flow of affirmation. Any doctrine or teaching that disrupts or contradicts the stream of prophecy cannot be valid and therefore must be reviewed in prayer and study. Isaiah’s prophecy supports both Paul’s, John’s, Daniel’s and Jesus Christ Himself. Ezekiel 21:25-27 and 28:1-26 also refers to this spirit of anti-Christ but acknowledges that he is the devil (King of Tyrus) ruling in Israel through a man (Prince of Tyrus).

    In all love and prayer I hope you will stay in this study and as we get closer to that time, the vision will become more understood and unsealed so that our testimonies in those days will help recover some from the great falling away.

  7. Adam, again may God bless you. Thank you for your providing me with many things to consider. Judging by the number of questions you have posed, I recognize two things: one, that my attempt to keep my comments brief don’t help make things clear, and two, I am not very gifted at making my point. Therefore, I appreciate your questions, and since iron sharpens iron, I will try my best to give an answer to your questions.

    First, I would like to lay a foundation without which the structures of truth cannot stand. We face a very defeated yet determined adversary whom will not stop, rest or back away from his last act of rebellion. Few even suspect that the devil is not only very good at slipping his lies into nearly every teaching of prophecy, but he is also very successful at keeping one teaching of prophecy engaged with another to prove their respective beliefs. The factions become so busy defending their respective faiths by attacking the merit of the other that they cannot see the mote in their own eye. .

    Therefore, I would like to address your last question first since one’s understanding of prophecy is greatly dependent upon how one views the reign of Jesus Christ. I am very pleased to note that our Savior indeed rules the hearts and minds of His children from heaven above. However, that does not mean that He will not return to this earth. You asked: “Did Jesus, in any of the words He spoke during His 3.5 year ministry, ever indicate that He would reign physically on this earth?” This is both a fair question and cleverly conceived since the 3.5 ministry period would eliminate the rest of Bible testimony. But, Jesus Christ did in fact indicate that He would reign physically here on earth by the following remarks:

    “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, and neither regarded man; And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him,saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for awhile: but afterward he said within himself, though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will never avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:1-8)

    Now it can be said that this was just a parable, but Jesus Christ use this parable to explain the spiritual condition of His followers when He returns. Further, in Matthew 24:30,39,44,46 and Matthew 25:31-32 Jesus Christ also referred to His coming and this lack of faith as illustrated in His reference to the days of Noah.

    But scripture must verify itself and the Apostles certainly do so: Paul, Peter, Jude and Luke in Acts 1:11 all declare that Christ shall return. Then of course there is the Revelation of Jesus Christ (Revelations 1:1) to help us understand the purpose of His return. After all, unless Jesus Christ physically comes back to this earth, the prophecies of Revelations, Daniel, Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah and particularly Ezekiel 37 cannot be considered fulfilled. Verse 24 of Ezekiel 37 states:

    “And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them”.

    No matter what one may think about the Ezra connection to Ezekiel 37, the blatant fact is that the Jews and some Israelites living in the promised land after 530 BC did not keep God’s statutes nor did they do them. And unless Jesus Christ came as this servant, they had no king. Verse 25 said that the children, even they and their children and their children’s children shall dwell in the land forever. But by 100 AD they were all gone, every last one.
    But many do not read the scriptures as they are written and so I ask how does one determine the truth in the script of

    Zechariah 14:2-9? Or the text of Revelations19:11 through to chapter 20 verse 9? Verse 4 of chapter 20 says that after the King of Kings and LORD of LORDS cast the beast and his false prophet into the lake of fire that His saints shall rule with Him 1,000 years. Then in verses 7 & 8 the devil is loosed from his prison goes out to deceive the nations and gathers them to do battle. Verse 9 of chapter 20 says that the great army gathered by the devil compassed the camp of the saints and the beloved city and that fire came DOWN form God out of HEAVEN and devoured them.

    None of the above could take place unless Jesus Christ was here physically on earth with His saints. The fact that God later destroys heaven and earth does not change the physical reign of Jesus Christ or of His everlasting promises by building a new heaven and new earth because Revelations 21:2 says that there will be a new Jerusalem also. Isaiah 66:12-24 states the new heavens and the new earth shall always remain before the LORD as they were when they brought offerings to the Lord in Jerusalem.

    Adam, I could go on and give my scripture based opinions about the rest of your questions, but unless one is led by the Holy Spirit to know which text is literal from those that are symbolic against those that are an allegory the main debate will always be seen by the eyes of your choices. I personally think that God wrote His Word so that is could be understood when it is literal, symbolic or an allegory and then confirms His Word by His Spirit living in our hearts. When God consistently gives the same view from Prophet to Prophet and Apostle to Apostle our little misunderstandings of text can easily be corrected by text. However, it can be dangerous when everything is seen as an allegory, because then the whole text must also be changed to remain consistent. Then whether we admit it or not, we are saying we trust man’s imagination over God’s Word. I pray for the dispensation Christians who do not admit that their desire to escape tribulation is the motivation behind their belief rather than based upon sound scripture evidence. Unfortunately this exposes the hearts of many who call themselves our brethren. The sad thing is, when the devil sends a strong delusion, one can be recovered from his deceits. But when God sends a strong delusion (2Thessalonians 2) all hope is lost. I pray that our hearts remain open to hearing His Word. Amen.

    • Dave,

      May God bless you as well. Thank you for the dialogue, and for your reply concerning whether Jesus ever taught that He would reign physically on this earth. I agree with you that Jesus will one day return for His people. However, I don’t see in any of the passages you mentioned (Luke 18:1-8; Matthew 24:30, 39, 44, 46; 25:31-32; Acts 1:11; Revelation 1:1) that Jesus’ return is to be followed by a physical reign on this present earth. In most of these passages, it is simply stated that He will return, including Luke 18:1-8.

      Regarding the Olivet Discourse, it appears (from my own studies anyway) that the majority view in church history is that this prophecy was fulfilled in the first century AD. This is also my personal view. Christ’s prophesied coming, then, in the Olivet Discourse would be a reference to His judgment upon apostate Israel in 70 AD (interestingly, Matthew 24:30 refers back to Daniel 7:13-14, where Jesus is pictured ascending to the Father, rather than descending to the earth).

      You’re right. Let’s not eliminate the rest of Bible testimony, outside of the gospels, concerning Christ’s reign. The reason I limited my question to the words of Jesus is because when I was taught premillennialism, a lot of Old Testament texts were assumed (falsely, I believe) to point to a future millennium which hasn’t yet begun. One case in point is Isaiah 11, where we read about the wolf dwelling with the lamb. The following is an excerpt from a post on my blog about Revelation 20:

      If we are in the Millennium now, premillennialists will likely ask, in what sense is the wolf dwelling with the lamb (Isaiah 11:6), the cow and the bear grazing together (verse 7), the nursing child playing over the hole of the cobra (verse 8), and the earth full of the knowledge of the Lord (verse 9)? Good question—let’s ask the apostle Paul. He quoted the next verse as being fulfilled in his own lifetime: “In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of Him shall the nations inquire, and His resting place shall be glorious” (Isaiah 11:10). Romans 15:12, where Paul cites this verse, reads this way: “The root of Jesse will come, even He who arises to rule the Gentiles, in Him will the Gentiles hope” (Romans 15:12).

      The context of both Isaiah 11 and Romans 15 suggests a bringing together in Christ the remnant of God’s people from among both the Jews and the Gentiles. Isaiah uses apocryphal language; Paul in Romans is more straightforward. Why not? The “mystery of God” spoken of by the prophets had been revealed and was about to be fulfilled in Paul’s day (compare Eph. 3:6 with Rev. 10:7). “This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Eph. 3:6). There is no Jew or Gentile in Christ Jesus (Rom. 10:12-13; Gal. 3:28, 5:6, 6:15-16); “the dividing wall of hostility” has been broken down (Eph. 2:14). The wolf (Gentiles), so to speak, now dwells safely with the lamb (Jews), i.e. among those who truly belong to Christ. The Gentile nations which were deceived and dwelling “far off” (Eph. 2:11-22; Rom. 9:22-26) prior to Christ’s work on the cross are now brought near (so that without distinction “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”; Rom. 10:12-13)…

      Paul’s application of a classic “premillennial passage” (Isaiah 11) to his own lifetime (Romans 15) is not an isolated incident in the New Testament… Simply put, a lot of Old Testament passages taken by premillennialists to refer to a future, physical kingdom centered around earthly Jerusalem actually have to do with a present, non-physical kingdom centered around the New Jerusalem, the Church (Gal. 4:24-27, Heb. 12:22-24).

      I’m not sure what you meant when you said, “unless Jesus Christ physically comes back to this earth, the prophecies of Revelations, Daniel, Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah and particularly Ezekiel 37 cannot be considered fulfilled.” Regarding Ezekiel 37:24, though, I agree with Philip Mauro’s viewpoint (perhaps expressed in a different post) that Ezekiel’s prophecies in this portion of his book concerned [1] the post-Babylonian exile period and [2] the Church age. So, in short, “David My Servant” = Jesus. He is our King, He is our Shepherd, and His people today are walking in His judgments and observing His statutes. This is similar to Jeremiah’s prophecy of the New Covenant, which the author of Hebrews declared to be a present reality in his day, and thus it is in our day as well (Hebrews 8:6-13).

      We could go on and on, I suppose. My personal thoughts on the millennium, if you’re interested, are recorded here [A verse-by-verse study of Revelation 20 is found in posts #3 and #4 in this outline]:

      http://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2010/02/07/revelation-chapter-20-introduction-and-outline/

      This is where I’m presently at anyway, concerning these things. I’m still learning, as I know you also are. Regarding Zechariah 14:2-9, I’m again on board with Philip Mauro that the Day of the Lord described here took place in 70 AD, and that the remainder of the chapter (the living waters, etc.) speak of this present Church age. A good article explaining this perspective is this one by Duncan McKenzie:

      http://planetpreterist.com/content/day-lord-zechariah-14

      By the way, I’m still interested to know your thoughts on the teachings of Philip Mauro in this series on Ezekiel 40-46, if you’re open to sharing them…

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