(Continued from yesterday)
The alternative that I considered plausible is that Ezekiel described plans for a temple which the exiles are supposed to build upon their return, but which was never realized. This proposal is based on the introduction to the description of the temple:
• Ezk 43:10-11 “As for you, son of man, describe to the house of Israel the temple, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and they shall measure the plan. And if they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the design of the temple, its arrangement, its exits and its entrances, that is, its whole design; and make known to them as well all its statutes and its whole design and all its laws, and write it down in their sight, so that they may observe all its laws and all its statutes and carry them out.
The idea is that God told Ezekiel to describe to Israel a bigger and more glorious temple which would have been built had they been ashamed of their iniquities and had truly repented – what might have been. But, as history turned out, Israel’s repentance was not deep enough, so the temple which was eventually rebuilt by Zerubbabel ended up less grand than Solomon’s temple:
• Ezra 3:12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of the fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this temple was laid before their eyes. Yet many shouted aloud for joy,
Those who had seen the first (Solomon’s) temple wept because they remembered its glory. Those who shouted aloud for joy were young men who had not seen the first temple and had no comparison of how inferior the second temple was.
This proposal therefore describes a temple that could have been built instead of Zerubbabel’s temple, and would be chronologically before Jesus’ first Advent. None of the objections raised against the Millennial Temple would apply, because Jesus hadn’t come yet. The weakness of this argument is what I raised last time, that God is not in the habit of giving detailed visions which never come to pass. But is this interpretation plausible? Yes, God does not do what we expect Him to do, He is sovereign. And He surprises us all the time. So this is a possible and valid interpretation. In hindsight this is a better interpretation than I first thought.
Will there be division of lands by tribes at that time? That depends on which school of thought you subscribe to. For futurists, yes according to Ezk 47:13 to Ezk 48. For the “what might have been” case, no because Israel did not live up to the precondition. Which tribe do we belong to? We are Gentiles, not Jews, and do not belong to any particular tribe.