book may be divided into three parts. Its message becomes clearer as we
see the situation of the prophet and his people. He is taken to Babylon
as a captive, leaving behind Jerusalem and the temple.
|These tell about the destruction of Jerusalem and the sin that made it necessary. Ezekiel began his prophecy in the 5th year of Jechoiachin's captivity ez0102. (593/592). The one on the throne sent the man in linen to scatter fire over the city ez1002.|
|Here is described the powerful God who will handle the other nations as certainly as he had Israel and Judah.|
|This last part describes the new exodus when God would bring His people back to the land 2037f. Ezekiel is like Moses, receiving instructions about a coming temple and recording laws for the people. (Remember that the wilderness tabernacle or tent was a small version of the more-permanent temple.) The crisis of chapters 38 and 39 is resolved in the rest of the book with the new temple and ultimately with the New Jerusalem which we see coming down at the end of the thousand years re2103. Or we might say that the faithful who are seen in those chapters avoid the pitfalls described.|
|How will these prophecies be fulfilled?|
|Ezekiel wrote long ago. Why haven't his prophecies been fulfilled – particularly those beginning with chapter 38 or 40?. Some people reason that Jesus would have fulfilled them if He hadn't been rejected. Because God keeps His word, these people look for a future fulfillment – after our present period of grace.|
|This sounds good to those of us
who have confidence in the Scriptures. But it runs into some problems:
A present dispensation of grace followed by a dispensation of kingdom would seem like a time God hadn't planned for, leaving Christianity as of minor importance lu1721, ga0614.
A strong focus on Israel and temple building tends to move the spotlight away from the cross of Christ. He did not isolate Christianity from its Jewish roots mt1616f, jn0539.
The idea that the Jews will rebuild their Jerusalem temple means animal sacrifices ez4517. But such temple sacrifices pointed forward to the Lamb of Calvary. To offer them now would be to deny that He has come he0928, he1010, he1014, ro0325. To say that it would be different for the Jews leaves them with a false gospel ga0108.
The Jews as a nation lost their special place in God's plan. See on re0704b. We are specifically told that those who follow Christ claim the promises of the Old Testament. They are the new children of Abraham ga0328ff.
Prophecies that depend on a human response are conditional jon0310, de3019f. In fact Ezekiel and his people were taken to Babylon for breaking the covenant de2836. The Lord, through Ezekiel had warned his people about the results of breaking the covenant ez2037. And they were encouraged by the promise of the covenant peace ez3425; ez3726. Any promise of returning to the land and building the temple was therefore conditional.
As I see it, no literal fulfillment was intended for the temple description. The people were never told to build it or to follow the other specifications in a restored Israel. The Lord explained the reason for the detailed description. See ez4310 and context. Also see ch40.
If the temple following Ezekiel's plan was to have been built, surely the faithful remnant who returned from captivity would have followed that plan. They would also have divided the land as specified ch45. If the Lord had intended this we would would expect to find a record of His disapproval. We conclude that they did not understand Ezekiel's prophecy as instructions for a literal building and a literal establishing. Ezra described the return of the remnant to the land of Israel and Nehemiah directed the finishing of the work of building. Neither in these books nor elsewhere do we find the specifications of Ezekiel followed.
God described the ark Noah was to build ge0614 and the sanctuary Moses was to construct ex2508. These descriptions, were accompanied by the command to build. As just mentioned, no such order was ever given relative to the temple shown to Ezekiel.
The book of Revelation disagrees with the dispensational understanding of Ezekiel's prophecy. We have noted the correspondence with Revelation 17 and 18 ez26t, which is only a part of the connection.
|So how will the prophecies be fulfilled? Not all is clear, but we need to note one important contrast: Ezekiel was shown the abominations going on in the temple of his day ez08. We could study the evils of the time (which are paralleled in our time) and look for aspects of the temple description which would correct or prevent them.|
|1||Whirlwind, living ones, throne||17||2 eagles & vine; king will die||33||God's regret for the lost; watchman|
|2||Ezekiel sent to rebellious Israel||18||Responsibility for one's sins||34||Shepherds, unfaithful & true|
|3||Speak; Spirit; as watchman||19||Lament for princes||35||Mt. Seir shed blood; desolate|
|4||Siege of Jerusalem demonstrated||20||History of rebellion; judgment||36||Israel blessed and renewed|
|5||A sword against Jerusalem||21||Babylon as a sword||37||Gathering - David as king|
|6||Judgment against Israel, desolation||22||Unjust princes; none to build wall||38||Persecution, shaking, God judged|
|7||The end is coming for Jerusalem||23||Two adulterous sisters||39||Gog destroyed, feast, Restoration|
|8||Abominations in the temple||24||Cooking pot; Ezekeil's wife dies||40||The temple|
|9||Judgment of God's people||25||Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philstia||41||More details|
|10||Glory departs; wheels||26||Tyre desolate; 26TCompare w Rev.||42||Rooms for priests|
|11||East gate; sword; false prophets||27||Tyre is a ship; lament for her||43||Temple purpose, glory, altar|
|12||Acting captivity; Visions not fail||28||Origin, career, and end of Satan||44||East gate shut; wicked Levites|
|13||Woe to foolish prophets||29||Sword against Egypt; Babylon||45||Dividing land; offerings; holy days|
|14||Idolatry; result of national sin||30||Egypt will fail; idols||46||Gate open Sabbaths; offerings|
|15||People given to fire like vine wood||31||Proud Assyria crushed||47||Water flowing out link|
|16||God's professed people, prostitute||32||Pharaoh and Egypt doomed||48||Tribal territories; city gates|