The idea that some of the Old Testament prophesies were not literally fulfilled and therefore must yet be literally fulfilled has many problems. Take, for example, the claim of some that the Jerusalem temple of the Jews is supposed to be rebuilt, based upon the prophesy of Ezekiel 40-48, as an example. That prophesy was either literal or figurative (spiritual). I believe it was fulfilled in the spiritual temple of Jesus Christ, the church of Christ, and that there is no temple greater than the one Jesus built (Eph.2:19f).
But, if we must interpret the prophesy literally, then the following will have to be restored yet in the future:
1) Circumcision will be restored as a requirement (Ezekiel 44:5-8). If the temple is future, the circumcision will be a requirement in that future temple. If the temple is literal, then circumcision will be literal as well.
2) Levites will literally be restored as official priests (44:10-11,15). If that is so, then the superior priesthood we have now will be traded back for the inferior priesthood. So, the dispensationalist will have us picture a future day when Christians will cease to be priests (1 Pet.2), the "royal priesthood" being traded down for the inferior Levitical priesthood. Also, Jesus will no longer be a sufficient Priest with a sufficient offering, as the old system will be resurrected with the temple system. Who can really believe that? Yet, that is what one MUST believe if one is using Ezekiel 40-48 as a basis for believing the Jerusalem temple will one day be rebuilt.
3) Special garments will be restored and required (44:17-19). Spiritual garments will no longer be good enough, and Christians will have to watch the Levites offer according to the Law.
4) Sabbaths shall be restored (44:24), and therefore we will begin again to be judged for not keeping Sabbaths and the old Jewish festivals (Col.2:14-17).
5) The Table of Shewbread will be restored, which was a type (44:16). In other words we will return from the anti-types back to the types. What sense does that make? We are now in the time of reformation (Heb.9:1-11), and then we will return from the better time of reformation back to the types and shadows of the Law. Can we really take this "Temple Restoration" doctrine literally and seriously?
6) The law of not touching dead things will again be reinforced (44:25).
7) The law of Seven days of cleansing will be restored (44:26).
8) Sin-offering will be restored (44:27) which means that Jesus' personal sacrifice will no longer be sufficient.
9) Grain offerings will be restored (29).
10) Sin offerings will be restored, along with trespass offerings, and therefore Jesus' atonement will then no longer be sufficient. Again, this doctrine of dispensationalism will have the superior temple and priesthood that is in place now to be demoted and replaced by the inferior Mosaic system. Also, portions of the sacrifices will be going literally to the Levitical priests (44:30). The book of Hebrews will be wrong because it says Jesus is a priest FOREVER and that He cannot be a priest on earth (Heb.8). Hebrews also says that "we have an altar which those who serve the tabernacle HAVE NO RIGHT TO EAT"(13:10). This means that if the Temple is rebuilt with its sacrifices, those people (Jews) will not be able to partake of our spiritual altar (found exclusive in Christ in the heavenly places). So, why would anyone want to take part in a future inferior Temple that will take away the right to eat of the spiritual food in the greater spiritual temple in Christ?
11) The land will be divided again (45:1), but the temple will actually be too big for the Land of Israel, so an altered or transformed land-ocean border is assumed (45:1-3). Levites will be allotted a huge territory (45:5), and New Moons, Sabbaths, and Feasts such as the Passover will be restored (45:17). In other words we are going back to restore the types and shadows after we have already gotten the better and real things in Christ. As you can see, this doctrine is not only false, but it is very dangerous and blinding to people.
12) Jesus will no longer be our Passover (1 Cor.5:6) because the old Passover will be restored that looked back to the Egyptian deliverance (45:21). If the literal temple is going to be rebuilt in literal Jerusalem, then all these things will have to be literally restored with it. If not, why not?
13) What can be more insulting to the finished work of Christ than this doctrine of a literal temple restoration that requires even the animal sacrifices to be restored along with the temple? (46:4-7,13-15). The doctrine of future temple restoration cannot escape this.
14) Think also of how much walking from gate to gate it will require (about ten miles of walking), because if the temple is literal and the gates are literal, then the requirement will be enter one gate and leave through the opposite end. For example, if one enters by the North Gate they will be required to exit by the South gate, which means many miles of walking. (46:9).
15) But, finally, this doctrine also means that the Land will be divided for the tribes of Israel and Gentiles have no inheritance (Ch.47-48).
That means that Jesus will come and give up His priesthood, and will restore enmity between Jews and Gentiles (Eph.2:11ff). The Gentiles will have no part in the priestly work, and no part in the Land.
One cannot teach that the Temple is going to be rebuilt in Jerusalem without also teaching all of the items above will also be restored. Those who pretend that they take the prophesies "literally" will have to live with these consequences. I believe that they will start taking some things figuratively and spiritually. Either way, their doctrine suffers from the force of scripture and logic. They have a lot of problems to solve before they can be taken seriously.
Here is the real program. The temple is spiritual and it is now in operation in the heavenly places in Christ (Eph.2:19f; Heb.9:10-11). The only thing left is that Jesus will come back and deliver the kingdom back to the Father (1 Cor.15:22ff). That will be the end, and these earth things will pass away with a great noise and will be burned up with fervent heat (2 Pet.3:10f). Don't let anyone deceive you into thinking that you will have another chance to get ready by an earthly reign of Christ in the earthly temple at Jerusalem. Jesus has already erected His house (Heb.3:6; 9:11). There is no greater temple than this temple. But, it is a spiritual house (1 Pet.2:5; Eph.2:19f). It fulfills the prophesies of the Old Testament, and there will be no reverting back to the physical temple and Levitical priesthood system. You must be born again to see and enter this kingdom, temple, and priesthood. Can we study with you further about your need for Christ now?
Terry W. Benton
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