The Temple of Ezekiel's Prophecy
The method of worship during the Millennial Kingdom is outlined in Ezekiel's prophecy of the temple. That animal sacrifice is part of the method of worship is beyond dispute, as the details in Ezekiel's prophecy indicate (per 43:18-46:24), and as found elsewhere in Ezekiel 20:40-41, Isaiah 56:6-8, Isaiah 66:21, Jeremiah 33:15-18 and Zechariah 14:16. Upon reading the prophecies pertaining to the subject, it becomes overwhelmingly clear that they can not be simply dismissed as colorful symbolism of Christ's sacrifice on the cross. This raises serious problems for Covenant Amillennialism.
Firstly, it is abundantly clear that the present dispensation is not the Messianic Kingdom. In the current dispensation, the "temple," so to speak, is actually the Body of believers in whom the Holy Spirit dwells, and Paul even describes it in this manner in Ephesians 2:19-22. The idea that Ezekiel and Paul are describing the same "temple" is so incredibly absurd it simply must be rejected outright.
Secondly, the prophecy can not be placed in the "yet future" concept of Amillennialism, because in the New Heavens and New Earth there is no temple. God is the temple (Revelation 21:22). As above, to suggest Ezekiel is describing "God" is an absurd notion altogether.
Thirdly, it should always be kept in mind that during the Messianic Kingdom dispensation there will be mortals upon this earth, both Jewish and Gentile, and the Gentile nations will actually stream to Israel to observe proper worship of Yahweh. This bears no resemblance to Covenant Amillennialism's false doctrine "the 'Kingdom' is Christianity." None of the prophecies about the Kingdom could ever lead someone to that bizarre conclusion, but especially this issue as found most clearly in the final chapters of Ezekiel.
And finally, the fact of animal sacrifice during the Kingdom dispensation removes any alleged dilemma in the concept that the dispensation of Law must be resumed and brought to completion. Covenant Amillennialists are abhorred at such a concept. But why so? They seem to believe that animal blood was the method of salvation in pre-cross times, and so, with the coming of Christ complete, there is no need to reinstitute animal sacrifice as a means of salvation. Do they really intend to raise such an objection? I would think not. We know that the blood of Christ is the only means of salvation, of the washing away of sin, regardless of dispensation--sacrifices are referred to as a "covering" and a "type."
After careful consideration, they no doubt would renege on their condemnation of the possibility of animal sacrifice in the future. But, what we find on a fairly regular basis are Covenant Amillennialists condemning us for "reverting back" to... to what? To a different method of salvation? Suffice to say we do not teach animal sacrifice as the means of salvation in pre-cross times, but apparently many Covenant Amillennialists do and thus the reason for the objection. I think that argument tends to be an unguarded statement which they simply haven't thought out very well. On this issue, O.T. Allis has said:
"[The sacrifices] must be expiatory in exactly the same sense as the sacrifices described in Leviticus were expiatory. To take any other view of them is to surrender that principle of literal interpretation of prophecy which is fundamental to Dispensationalism and to admit that the Old Testament kingdom prophecies do not enter the New Testament 'absolutely unchanged.' It is true that they are only 'weak and beggarly elements' when viewed in the light of the Cross from which they derive their entire efficacy. But they were not memorial but efficacious in the days of Moses and of David; and in the millennium they must be equally efficacious if the Dispensational system of interpretation is a true one. And this they cannot be unless the teaching of the Epistle to the Hebrews is completely disregarded." - O.T. Allis, Prophecy and the Church, p.247
To this misguided argument, J. Dwight Pentecost rightly responds:
"It is an error in the doctrine of Soteriology to teach that the sacrifices ever could or did take away sin. 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. 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." - J. Dwight Pentecost, Things To Come, p.525
That God should prescribe animal sacrifice as the method of approaching Him in worship is a matter for God to determine, and not ourselves. It would seem Covenant Amillennialists are really just uncomfortable with the entire concept altogether, and actually have a problem with God establishing that method of worship to begin with. They have a mistaken notion that animal blood saved in pre-cross times. Allis calls the sacrifices "weak and beggarly elements," but apparently he doesn't mean it. The problem lay not with premillennialism, but rather, with the error of Covenantalist ecclesiology and misguided notions about the so-called "old administration of the Covenant of Grace." Their problem lay with God and with Holy Writ. Covenant Amillennialists need to simply acknowledge that God has directed this method of worship for mortals, for sin, etc., during the Kingdom age, the reasons have been given by God through Ezekiel's prophecy, and if Covenant Amillennialists still don't like it then that's just too bad because that's the way it is.
The Church has never undertaken animal sacrifice nor was she ever cammanded to do so. Part of the reason for confusion by Covenant Amillennialists in this matter is because they think the "Church" at one time sacrificed animals, and now she doesn't due to the fact Christ came. You see then how the "argument" they present against premillennialism is more just a confused notion based upon their false ecclesiology rather than some sort of "sound criticism" which arises from solid Scriptural exposition. When they say "revert back," they actually refer to the idea of the Church departing from the "new administration of the Covenant of Grace" and once again resuming the "old administration of the Covenant of Grace." This argument, at it's core, is only valid against those misguided individuals who call themselves "Covenant Premillennialists."
Ezekiel's prophecy is very clear that the method of approaching God in worship during the Kingdom age is quite unlike the method by which believers in Christ approach God in this present age. The prophecy also is explicit in the distinction between Jew and Gentile during that time, again, utterly unlike the present dispensation. The priestly service of the sons of Zadok, again, is not the Melchizedek priesthood of Christ (Psalm 110:4). All of these points show conclusively that the present dispensation is not the Messianic Kingdom.
One final note I would like to mention is that some, as O.T. Allis, have suggested Ezekiel's prophecy is describing the Mosaic Covenant. This is not true and cannot be demonstrated from the text. There are some similarieties, yet there are marked differences between the system in Ezekiel's prophecy and that found in Mosaic Law. On this issue, Nathaniel West has said the following:
"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. . . . 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 Shew-bread, 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. None of this. The Levites have passed away as a sacred order. The priesthood is confined to the sons of Zadok, and only for a special purpose. There is no evening sacrifice. The measures of the Altar of Burnt-Offering differ from those of the Mosaic altar, and the offerings themselves are barely named. The preparation for the Singers is different from what it was. The social, moral, and civil prescriptions enforced by Moses with such emphasis, are all wanting." - Nathaniel West, The Thousand Years in Both Testaments, pp.429-230
The Kingdom dispensation, than, is shown to be a dispensation distinct from both the present dispensation of grace and the past dispensation of law.
|Home | Statement of Faith | Feedback | Discussion Forums | Site Map|