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WORSHIP IN THE MILLENNUM

 






                                                    WORSHIP IN THE MILLENNUM

The restored theocracy is marked by the adoration given to the Lord Jesus Christ (Isa. 12:1-6; 25:1— 26:19;56:7; 61:10-11; 66:23; Jer. 33:11, 18, 21-22; Ezek.20:40-41;40:1—46:24; Zech. 6:12-15; 8:20-23; 14:16-21). “And it shall come to pass… shall all flesh come to

worship before me, saith the Lord” (Isa. 66:23).

 

I. THE TEMPLE IN THE MILLENNIUM

A large portion of the prophecy of Ezekiel (40:1, 46:24) is devoted to the temple; its structure, its priesthood, its ritual, and its ministry.

There are five interpretations of these chapters:

(1)               Some think they describe the temple at Jerusalem prior to the Babylonian captivity

(2)               Some think these chapters describe the temple in Jerusalem after the return from the seventy years in Babylon,

(3)               Some think they describe the ideal temple which the Jews should have built after the seventy years’

(4)               Some think thistemple in Ezekiel symbolizes the spiritual blesssings of the church in the present age.

(5)                The last view is that in the preceding comments, that we have here a prediction of the temple that shall be built in the millennial age.

            The same author dismisses as unworthy the explanation that the vision is the result of the prophet’s own imagination and refutes the idea that the passage from

the prophet is to be applied symbolically to the church by saying: This is the weakest of all and yet the most accepted. His conclusion as to the method of interpretation is in

these words:

The true interpretation is the literal one which looks upon these chapters as a prophecy yet unfulfilled and to be fulfilled when Israel has been restored by the Shepherd andwhen His glory is once more manifested in the midst of His people.

 

A . The details of the temple.

            Through the prophet Ezekiel numerous details are given to us concerning this temple that becomes the center of the millennial earth. The gates and courts surrounding the temple are first described (Ezek. 40:5- 47).

 

Around the outer court were thirty chambers, five on each side of each of the gates, arranged around the northern, eastern, and southern walls (40:17-19). Before these chambers is a pavement (40:17-18) that extends around three sides of the area.

 

This inner court area is reached by eight steps (40:37), so that it is elevated above the outer

court. Adjacent to the north gate in this area there were eight tables for preparing sacrifices (40:40-43).

This porch leads into the “temple” which would be the holy place, an area forty cubits by twenty cubits(41:2), in which is a wooden table (41:22).

            The temple is surrounded by an area 20 cubits by 100 cubits, called the separate place (41:12-14), which surrounds the temple on all sides except the east side, where the porch is located. The altar description is detailed (43:12-18), followed by arecounting of the offerings

which will be made (43:19-27). The priests’ ministry is outlined (44:9-31) and the

entire worship ritual described (45:13—46:18). The vision climaxes in the description of the river that flows out of the sanctuary (47:1-12; cf. Isa. 33:20-21;

Joel 3:18; Zech. 14:8).

 

The purpose of the temple. Unger gives five purposes to be realized in this temple. He says it is erected:

(1) To Demonstrate God’s Holiness. …[the] infinite holiness of Jehovah’s

nature and government…had been outraged and called into question by the idolatryand rebellion of His professed people.

 

( 2 ) To Provide a Dwelling-Place for the Divine Glory. …“This is the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel forever” (43:7)…

( 3 ) To Perpetuate the Memorial of Sacrifice. It is not sacrifice, of course, rendered with

a view of obtaining salvation, but sacrifice commemorative of an accomplished salvation

maintained in the presence of the revealed glory of Jehovah…

( 4) To Provide the Centre for the Divine Government. When the divine Glory takes up its

residence in the temple,the announcement is not only that the temple is

God’s dwelling-place and the seat of worship, but also that it is the radiating centre of the

divine government. “This is the place of my throne…” (43:7)…

( 5 ) To Provide Victory over the Curse (47:1-12). From under the threshold of the temple

house the prophet sees a marvelous stream

 

II. WILL THERE BE LITERAL SACRIFICES IN THE MILLENNIUM?

 

One of the problems accompanying the literal interpretation of the Old Testament presentation of the millennium is the problem surrounding the interpretation of such passages as Ezekiel 43:18— 46:24; Zechariah 14:16; Isaiah 56:6-8; 66:21; Jeremiah 33:15-18 and Ezekiel 20:40-41, all of which teach the restoration of a priesthood and the reinstitution of a bloody sacrificial system during that age.

 

A . Is the Mosaic orderre-established? A question which faces the advocate of animal sacrifices during the millennial age is that of the relationship existing between the former Mosaic system and the system operative in the millennium. Allis says:

 

The crux of the whole question is undoubtedly the restoration of the Levitical ritual of sacrifice. This is referred to or implied a number of times. In Ezek. xlvi. Burnt offerings and sin offerings are mentioned. The bullock, the hegoat, the ram are to be offered. The blood is to be sprinkled on the altar. The priests, who areLevites of the seed of Zadok, are to officiate. Literally interpreted, this means the restoration of the Aaronic priesthood and of the Mosaic ritual of

sacrifices essentially unchanged.

 

He states further: Since the pictures of the millennium are found by Dispensationalists in the

Old Testament kingdom prophecies and are, consequently, markedly Jewish in character, it follows that the question of the re-establishment of the Mosaic economy, its institutions and ordinances, must be faced by them. There is one grave error in his observation and conclusion. The kingdom expectation is based on the Abrahamic covenant, the Davidic covenant, and the Palestinic covenant, but is in no way based on the Mosaic covenant.

they should be equated.

1. There are certain similarities between the Aaronic and millennial systems. In the millennial

system we find the worship centers in an altar (Ezekiel 43:13-17) on which blood is sprinkled (43:18) and on which are offered burnt offerings, sin offerings, and trespass offerings (40:39).

There is the reinstitution of a Levitical order in that the sons of Zadok are set aside

for a priestly ministry (43:19). The meal offering is incorporated in the ritual (42:13). There are prescribed rituals of cleansing for the altar (43:20-27), for the Levites who minister (44:25-

who writes: Israel shall yet return to the land, and be converted indeed, andblessed, under Jehovah their God, but as Israel, not as Christians, which all believers do become meanwhile, whether Jews or Gentiles. They belong to Christ in heaven, where such differences are unknown, and therefore one of the greatcharacteristics of Christianity is that such distinctions disappear while Christ is head on high, and His body is being formed on earth by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven.

 

2. There are many basic differences between the Aaronic and millennial systems. The significance is not in the similarities but rather in the marked differences between the two systems.

             The millennial system is marked by omissions from the Aaronic order that make the two systems so different. a. First of all, there are changes in the millennial order. West notes this emphasis on change when he says: There are Changes in the dimensions of the Temple so that it is neither the temple of Solomon, nor that of Zerubbabel, nor that of Herod; changes in the measures of the outer court, the gates, the walls, the grounds, and the locality of the temple itself, raised on a high mountain, and even separate from the city.

            The Holy Places have hardly anything like the furniture that stood in the Tabernacle of Moses or the Temple of Solomon. This change in the physical temple and its environs is so marked that it is necessary for Ezekiel to give detailed descriptions of it. One of the major changes to be observed is in the relation of the Levites to this order. In a number of passages the existence of a Levitical order is affirmed (Ezekiel 40:46; 43:19; 44: 15-31).

 

The millennial system is marked by the deletion of much that had the highest place in the Aaronic system. West has keenly observed: There is no Ark of the Covenant, no Pot of Manna, no Aaron’s rod to bud, no Tables of the Law, no Cherubim, no Mercy-Seat, no Golden Candlestick, no Shewbread, no Veil, no unapproachable Holy of Holies where the High- Priest alone might enter, nor is there any High- Priest to offer

atonement to take away sin, or to make intercession for the people.

 

While portions of the Aaronic system are seen in the millennial system, yet it is marked by

incompleteness and deletion of much that was observed formerly. The very center of the whole Levitical system revolved around the day of Atonement, with its ritual of sprinkling of the blood of atonement by the High Priest on the mercy seat.

 

 c. There are additions to he Levitical system to be observed in the millennial age.

 To quote West again: The entrance of the “Glory” into Ezekiel’s temple to dwell there, forever; the Living Waters that flow, enlarging from beneath the Altar; the Suburbs, the wonderful trees of healing, the new distribution of the land according to the 12 tribes, their equal portion therein, the readjustment of the tribes themselves, the Prince’s portion and, the City’s new name, “Jehovah-Shammah,” all go to prove that New Israel restored is a converted people, worshiping God “in Spirit and in Truth.”

 

Concerning the person and the work of this prince the same author writes in another place:

This important personage, the Prince, is apparently one of the nation, not Christ

Himself; his sons are spoken of (xlvi. 16) and he offers a sin-offering for himself (xlv. 22). It

seems clear that he occupies a representative position, yet neither the same as that of the high priest, of whom Ezekiel does not speak, nor that of the king as formerly known in Israel. He is not accorded the privileges nor the power of either.

2). But he is responsible to supply the various offerings at the feasts, the new moons, the sabbaths, in all the solemnities of the house of Israel, and he is therefore the recipient and holder of what the people offer for those occasions; and thus too the priesthood would look to him for the provision needed to carry on the national worship (xlv. 13-22).

 

B . The purpose of the sacrifices. Several factors are observed concerning the millennial sacrifices which make them entirely legitimate.

1.      It is to be observed, in the first place, that themillennial sacrifices will have no relation to the question of expiation.

 They will not be expiatory for it is nowhere stated that they are offered with a view to

salvation from sin. Allis writes:

            They must be expiatory in exactly the same sense as the sacrifices described in Leviticus were expiatory.

            That is in contradiction of the clear teaching of Hebrews 10:4, “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins,” which Allis himself quotes. The only way it can be held that the sacrifices will be efficacious in the millennium is to hold that they were so in the Old Testament and this is a clear contradiction of the whole New Testament. 

What folly to argue that a rite could accomplish in the future what it never could, or did, or was ever intended to do, in the past. Interpreted in the light of the New Testament, with its teaching on the value of the death of Christ, they must be memorials of that death. Grant states it clearly:

             [This is] the permanent memorial of sacrifice, maintained in the presence of the revealed glory. Whatever the difficulty the reader may imagine in the way of the accomplishment of the prediction, it is sufficient for us that GOD HAS SAID IT.


C . Some objections considered.

 There are certain objections to this view which must be considered.

1.      Some insist that sacrifices reinstituted would contradict Hebrews.

The particular difficulty in accepting the literal-futuristic view is Christendom’s conceit (Rom. 11:15-26) in presuming that the fall of the Jew is final, and that the Gentile has supplanted him forever.

2.      Some would argue that sacrifices reinstituted must be expiatory.

This subject has been dealt with previously, and in this connection only the words of Wale, previously quoted need be mentioned.

Such an objection can only arise from a false Soteriology.

3.      Some affirm that such a view denies Ephesians 2:14-16.

 Objection is sometimes raised that God has forever broken down the barrier that separates Jew and Gentile and makes them one.

 

4.      Some state that it is geographically impossible to reinstitute such a worship.

 It has been argued that it is necessary to spiritualize Ezekiel’s prophecy, for the temple and its environs is far in excess of the dimensions of the ancient temple area and thus could not possibly be understood literally.

5.      There are some who hold that the existence of the prince of Ezekiel is inconsistent with the reign of Christ.

If it be argued that the literal fulfillment of the Davidic covenant demands the reign of Christ on the throne of David and this is contradicted by Ezekiel’s prophecy concerning the person and ministry of the “prince,” let it be noted that one is said to be reigning when exercising the authority of the throne, regardless of his relationship to the physical throne, which is the emblem of authority.

 

6.      Finally, many reject this interpretation saying such a system is a retrogression.

If it be argued that the institution of such a system is a retrogression, let it be noted that Ezekiel sees this system (43:1-6) as the greatest manifestation of the glory of God that the earth has seen, apart from the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

 

If the system be planned by God as a memorial of Jesus Christ, it can no more be said to be a

retrogression to the “weak and beggarly elements” than the bread and wine can be said to be weak and beggarly memorials of the broken body and shed blood of Christ.

            This whole discussion raises the question of salvation in the millennial age. Such a view as presented is counted by some to minimize the cross and to restrict the value of the cross to this present age. Such an allegation can not rightly be made. The new covenant (Jer. 31:31) guarantees to all who enter this millennium and to all who are born in the millennium and who thus need salvation

 (1) a new heart (Jer. 31:33),

 (2) the forgiveness of sins (Jer.31:34), and

 (3) the fullness of the Spirit (Joel 2:28-29).

             The New Testament makes it very clear that the new covenant is based on the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb. 8:6; 10:12-18; Matt. 26:28). It may, therefore, be affirmed that salvation in the millennium will be based on the value of the death of Christ and will be appropriated by faith (Heb. 11:6) even as Abraham  appropriated God’s promise and was justified (Rom. 4:3).

 

 

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