Ezekiel’s Temple 3

Q. Is the temple, court, restored Israel etc. described in Ezk 40-48 talking about the new world? Will there be division of lands by tribes at that time? If so, which tribe do we belong to?

A. I was asked about Ezekiel’s Temple 6 years ago. This is what I wrote at that time:

I concluded that it is most likely the Millennial Temple to be built upon the Lord’s return. This seemed to fit the clues best, though not completely. I had several reservations, including:

Animal sacrifices (Ezk 43:18-27). But Hebrews tells us that Jesus offered up Himself once for all:
Heb 7:27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since He did this once for all when He offered up Himself.
• Heb 9:12 He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.
• Heb 9:26 for then He would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
• Heb 10:10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Now, since Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself is once for all, why repeat animal sacrifices which can never take away sin? Dispensationists tried to explain this away by saying it is only memorial of His sacrifice, not actually for removal of sin. But this is not what the text said, especially 45:20:
Ezk 43:20 And you shall take some of its blood and put it on the four horns of the altar and on the four corners of the ledge and upon the rim all around. Thus you shall purify the altar and make atonement for it.
• Ezk 43:26 Seven days shall they make atonement for the altar and cleanse it, and so consecrate it.
• Ezk 45:15 And one sheep from every flock of two hundred, from the watering places of Israel for grain offering, burnt offering, and peace offerings, to make atonement for them, declares the Lord GOD.
• Ezk 45:17 It shall be the prince’s duty to furnish the burnt offerings, grain offerings, and drink offerings, at the feasts, the new moons, and the Sabbaths, all the appointed feasts of the house of Israel: he shall provide the sin offerings, grain offerings, burnt offerings, and peace offerings, to make atonement on behalf of the house of Israel.
• Ezk 45:20 You shall do the same on the seventh day of the month for anyone who has sinned through error or ignorance; so you shall make atonement for the temple.

I also find this unsatisfactory because our Lord instituted the Lord’s supper in remembrance of Him:
1 Co 11:24-25 and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way also He took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
Who gives them the right to switch back now?

Levitical priesthood. Ezk 43:19 refers to Levitical priests of the family of Zadok. But, again according to Hebrews, the Levitical priesthood can never help us attain perfection, and had been superseded by Jesus’ priesthood after the order of Melchizedek:
Heb 7:11 Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron?
• Heb 7:15 This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek,
• Heb 7:17 For it is witnessed of him, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”

So again, why revert to a replaced system that never worked?

It is for these and other objections that even well-known pastors such as Calvary Chapel’s Chuck Smith confessed that they don’t have a complete understanding of Ezk 40-48. So I am in good company when I don’t understand fully.

(To be continued)


Jesus Never Change?

Heb 13 8 d

Q. You said God never change. Then how can Jesus become a man forever after the incarnation? Isn’t that change?

A. The immutability of God is an attribute where “God is unchanging in his character, will, and covenant promises.” This is based on a number of Scriptures:

Num 23:19 God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
•1 Sam 15:29 Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.”
• Ps 102:26 Even they will perish, but You endure; …
• Mal 3:6 For I, the LORD, do not change; …
• Heb 6:17-18 In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.
• Jas 1:17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

Notice that all the passages refer to God’s character, will, and promise. Immutability does not mean that God is static and therefore never changes. God is dynamic, but always acts according to His nature. He won’t act contrary to His character.

What about Jesus? In the incarnation, God the Son took on human nature and became man. The Council of Chalcedon (AD 451) declared that in Christ there are two natures, deity and humanity, each retaining its own properties, and together united in one subsistence and in one single person (hypostatic union). The Word was unchanged as He entered a union with sinless human nature in a physical body:
Col 2:9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,
God the Son did not change His divine nature at the incarnation. His deity did not mix or blend with His humanity, which would necessitate change. Instead, His deity resides in His humanity in the Person of Christ.

With respect to His divine nature, Jesus as God is immutable or unchanging:
2 Tim 2:13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.
• Heb 1:12 … But you remain the same, and your years will never end.
• Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Nothing of His character, will and promise changed as a result of the incarnation.

With respect to His human nature, Jesus as man is mutable or subject to change:
Lk 2:40 The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; …
• Jn 4:6 … So Jesus, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. …
• Lk 22:44 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.

He could grow, get tired, suffer, and die.

One question remains. How did this union happen? I don’t know, because the Bible didn’t explain. All I can say is that God chose not to reveal to us, perhaps because we do not have the capacity to understand it. It is a mystery, but not a contradiction. It is easier to understand if the two natures blend together to form a hybrid, but that’s not what the Bible taught. Just as the Trinity is a mystery, so is the incarnation. I can go only as far as the Bible reveals it, the rest is hidden from us, which I accept by faith.

Jesus’ Perfection

Jesus perfect 3

Q. Last Sunday the speaker told us not to be too hung up on Christmas, because Jesus had to be dedicated, circumcised and fulfill all the OT requirements in order to be perfect. What’s your opinion on this?

A. I have not heard the speaker for myself, but based on what you reported I would disagree with his premise. To claim that in order to be perfect, Jesus had to fulfill all OT requirements is to state that He achieved perfection by works or performance, which is heretical.

First, Jesus is perfect because He is God:
Col 2:9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,
In fact, He is the standard by which perfection is measured. He did not have to fulfill His own laws to qualify. It’s His nature.

Secondly, perfection can never come through the Levitical priesthood or the Law:
Heb 7:11 Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron?
Jesus is priest according to the order of Melchizedek, higher than the order of Aaron.

The only sense Jesus need to be perfected was through sufferings:
Heb 2:10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.
This does not refer to Jesus being deficient in any moral sense. It only points out that as God Jesus had not experienced human suffering. Therefore He had to be made perfect or complete by suffering what we went through to sympathize with our weakness:
Heb 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

I believe Jesus is perfect because of who He is, not because of what He had done. The latter flows out of the former, not the other way around. Doing follows being.