Ezekiel's Prophetic Vision of the Future Temple

John W. Schmitt & J. Carl Laney

 

One of the Old Testament's most enigmatic prophecies is Ezekiel's vision of a new, restored temple in Jerusalem. What would a restored temple be like? How would it operate? And when might it be built? These and many other intriguing questions are addressed in this newly updated and expanded work based on extensive research and discussions with leading Jewish leaders and rabbis in the United States and Israel. Messiah's Coming Temple provides a thorough vision of this future center of worship during the coming messianic kingdom. Along with biblical interpretation of the key prophecies of Ezekiel regarding Messiah's coming temple, the work includes photos and descriptions based on a unique and detailed model of the future temple constructed by author John Schmitt. -

 

Book Excerpt

 

 

 

A TEMPLE MOUNT WITHOUT A TEMPLE

 

Carl:

It  was twilight in Jerusalem. I was standing in the Old City where I had a splendid view of the Western Wall Plaza. The encroaching darkness produced a mysterious scene of light and shadow before me. The rays of the setting sun still glistened on the golden Dome of the Rock where the magnificent Jewish Temple once  stood.

On the plaza before me shadowy figures moved about in the near darkness. Thousands of Jews slowly walked toward the Western Wall. Two thou- sand years ago, the ancestors of these Jewish people were streaming through the Temple gates for prayer and worship. But not this night. These Jews were coming to but a remnant of the Temple—to HaKotel, “the Wall.” They were coming in recognition of Tisha  b’Av.

Tisha b’Av—the ninth of Av [July/August] on the Jewish calendar—is a day of mourning recognized by Jewish people around the world. Many Jews fast for twenty-four hours and spend much of the day reciting the book of Lamentations and bewailing the calamities that have come upon them on the ninth of Av.

It  was on this day in the year 586 b.c.  that the Babylonians burned    the Jewish Temple that had been built and dedicated by King Solomon.  And it was on this same day in a.d. 70 that the Roman army, under Titus, destroyed the Second Temple, which was built by the Jews returning from Babylon and later beautified by King  Herod.

And so the Jews gathered this night to begin their time of mourning near the site of the ancient Temple at HaKotel, the Wall, the Western Wall, Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall. Some were dressed in simple, modest attire. Others—the ultra Orthodox—were dressed in black suits and black hats such as their ancestors in eastern Europe wore hundreds of years ago. Many wore beards and side curls. Some were draped in their prayer shawls.   Most were wearing sneakers or tennis shoes instead of their traditional black  shoes, for Tisha b’Av is a day when Jews put aside such traditional comforts as leather shoes.

 

 

Lamenting the Loss of a Temple

 

A half moon shone brightly overhead. It illuminated the Western Wall Plaza and the golden Dome of the Rock just beyond the Wall. I watched as Jewish men stood facing the Wall to pray, rocking and swaying as an expression of their intensity. All along the Wall I saw black hats, black beards, and bobbing side curls. Little boys stood with their fathers, learning the sober tradition of lamenting. Every so often I heard a loud and united wail ascend from those at prayer.

 

Separating the men from the women was a six-foot screen. The women were weeping and praying as intensely as the men. Many were sitting on mats in little groups. Small children sat nearby holding dolls and small playthings. But in spite of the peaceful prayers, there was tension in the air at the Western Wall. I counted twenty-five police and army vehicles as well as an ambulance waiting to respond. Soldiers, with weapons ready, were standing at the plaza entrances and on nearby buildings. Why was there such tension in the air? Because praying at the Wall is not quite the same as praying on the Temple Mount—the holiest place for Jewish people, where the First and Second Temples stood, where the Holy of Holies was located.

 

 

At the Wall but Not on the Mount

 

In ancient times, the Jewish people prayed on the Temple Mount. But there is no Temple on the mount today, and the Muslims have built two mosques where the Jewish Temple once stood. The Dome of the Rock and the Mosque of el-Aksa are regarded as among the most sacred in Islam. Their location in Jerusalem is no mere coincidence. It is the tangible expression of Muslim conviction that Islam has superseded the Jewish religion and has the right to inherit Jewish holy  places.

Many devout Jews will not set foot on the Temple Mount. They fear  that going up to the mount may result in their stepping on the ground    that covers the ruins of the Holy of Holies. But a growing number believe that they have a right to pray on the mount where the Temple once stood, especially on Tisha  b’Av.

 

A Temple Mount Without a Temple

 

Among this growing number are Gershon Salomon and his followers, the Temple Mount Faithful. For years, these Jewish worshipers have been visiting the Temple Mount on Tisha b’Av for prayer and meditation. But fearing that their actions might promote hostilities between Jews and Arabs, the Jerusalem police denied them permission to worship there this year.

Muslim leaders are keenly aware of the centrality of the Temple Mount in Judaism. They fear that the Jewish worshipers want to destroy the mosques and rebuild the Jewish Temple. In October of 1990, during the Feast of Tabernacles, a group of the Temple Mount Faithful attempted to ascend the Temple Mount. Even though the Jewish worshipers were turned away by police, this event triggered a stoning by the Muslims and subsequent  bloodshed.

On this Tisha b’Av, Gershon Salomon, cloaked in a gunny sack as an expression of mourning, brought his Temple Mount Faithful to the very entrance of the Temple Mount. Several of them carried black flags as a sign of mourning. An aged and bearded rabbi, also wearing a gunny sack, stood among his students, shouting a rebuke at Gershon and his followers. He sought to persuade them that they risked desecrating the Most Holy Place by going up to the Temple  Mount.

Although Israel’s High Court ruled to grant permission for a small gathering there, the police have prohibited the Temple Mount Faithful from entering the Temple Mount. It is believed that their presence there would constitute a threat to security. Gershon and his followers were only allowed to approach the gate of the Temple Mount for a brief time of   prayer.

“We shall never give up,” said Salomon, “not on the Temple Mount, not on Jerusalem, not on the land of Israel. I want to say to all the world that the struggle of the Temple Mount and Eretz Israel Faithful Movement is a struggle of all the Jewish and Israeli people for this holy mountain, for this city Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, and for the land of Israel. The struggle will continue and grow  stronger.”1

 

 

The Centrality of the Temple

 

Tisha b’Av traditions observed by Jewish people illustrate the centrality of the Jerusalem Temple in Judaism. And these activities, we believe, point to the prophetic hope of rebuilding Jerusalem’s Temple. For more than two thousand years the Jewish people have lamented the destruction of their Temple. Yet there are Jews today in Israel who would like to stop mourning and start building.

 

Many Jews, like Gershon Salomon, would like to see the Temple rebuilt. Some are even now preparing for the rebuilding. Temple vessels are being carefully constructed. Priests are being trained. Harps, the ancient instrument of the Temple, are being manufactured in Jerusalem. As Shoshanna Harrari, the wife of a Jerusalem harp builder, said, “By the time that the Temple is ready and somebody calls out for a harp, we will be ready to supply them. That, we feel, is our destiny.”2

In this book, we would like to share with you the amazing story of Israel’s Temples—those of antiquity and those of the future. Our study will lead us into Israel’s past as well as Israel’s prophecies. Our goal is not simply to inform you about the exciting events ahead for God’s people, Israel, because the study of God’s Word should result not only in information but also in transformation. And so it is our goal to help you see how an understanding of Israel’s Temples can impact your spiritual life. If you are willing to let the Spirit of God work in your heart, your reading of this book can make a difference in your life.

 

 

Why Is the Temple Important?

 

Some people have asked why a Christian should be interested in a Jewish Temple. Since we are under the new covenant and the Temple was under the old covenant, should the Temple really be of interest to us? And even if it is of interest, is it important enough to devote a whole book to the   subject?

Circumstances surrounding contemporary society often make it difficult for us to decide what is really important. During the energy crunch of the 1970s, getting a full tank of gas was very important. Nowadays, most Americans do not give much thought to driving to a gas station and filling the tank. For my (Carl’s) sixteen-year-old daughter, the most important thing  in the world was getting her driver’s license. But how important is that to someone turning fifty? Getting ahead in a career seems awfully important until one’s youngest child leaves for college and one thinks, I wish I had spent less time at the office and more with my  kids!

Time has a way of giving us perspective on what is really important. Most Christians would agree that the things that are material and physical have little lasting importance. Those things that are spiritually significant, however, have intrinsic value that never  diminishes.

The message of the Temple has such lasting value. Its message did not die two thousand years ago when the Temple was destroyed. The message continues to be proclaimed through believers today. The Bible tells us that those who name the name of Jesus are the bearers of the Temple message. The apostle Paul states in 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the spirit of God dwells in you?” But  even  this is not the end of the story. God’s Word proclaims that there is a future Temple that is destined to grace the   earth.

Someday—and no one  knows when—we shall wake up to the news  that the Dome of the Rock no longer stands on the Temple Mount. God’s Word predicts that another Temple is coming. This future Temple will be grander than Solomon’s Temple or Herod’s Temple and will become more significant than any previous Temple. This Temple will be the future center for world government.

Jesus, the Messiah, will return to this earth. He will set His feet down  on the Mount of Olives and proceed across the Kidron Valley to enter His Temple on a white horse through Jerusalem’s open eastern gate. When He comes to claim His kingdom, Jesus will bring with Him the saints of all the ages to share in His sovereign rule over this   earth.

 

John:

To me, the most exciting part is that, as a child of the King through new birth in Jesus, I will have a part in Messiah’s kingdom rule over this world. Jesus told His disciples that they would “sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matt. 19:28). And the apostle Paul said, “We will also reign with Him” (2 Tim. 2:12). All who have been personally redeemed through faith in Christ will enjoy positions of authority in His future kingdom. This Temple of the Messiah has a great deal to do with your future.

Since Jerusalem will be the center of world  government in the kingdom  and the Temple  will be the place of Messiah’s throne, we may be looking   at a building complex that will be our future ministry site. At least, we are considering a place that we, as administrators for the King, will frequently visit on government business.

Some people have a difficult time being interested in the subject of heaven. It seems all too hazy for them to get really excited about. They cannot understand the stories about golden streets, pearly gates, and playing harps on clouds. All this just does not seem real. If this also describes you, then I have good news for you. In the book of Ezekiel God has given us a rare look into the future. We find a three-dimensional prophecy about Messiah’s future Temple. It is real. It is tangible. It has measurable dimensions.  It can be built. It has been built—at least in model   form.

 

As Christians, we should be encouraged as we visualize ourselves in Messiah’s future Temple on His coronation day. Jewish tradition states that when Messiah finally comes to Jerusalem to set up His kingdom, He will ascend to the roof of the Temple, raise His arms and shout with a loud voice, “Humble ones! The time of your redemption is at hand!”3 Can you imagine what it will be like to be in Jerusalem on the day that Jesus enters the Temple to take His throne? What will it be like to stand in the Temple courts as He ascends to the roof of the Temple, raises His hands skyward, and makes His official pronouncement of the beginning of the messianic age? Imagine the excitement as hundreds of thousands of God’s people  begin to sing, “All hail King Jesus, all hail Emmanuel, King of kings, Lord of lords, Bright Morning Star. . . .”4

Over the years, I have heard conference speakers say, “If we see each other no more until Jesus comes, I’ll meet you at the eastern gate.” Friends, in the pages of this book you will view that famous eastern gate. You can pick your exact meeting place. My family has a place already picked out. We decided that the eastern gate was going to be pretty congested, so we chose the southeast corner. It will not be as crowded and it will be easier to see what is going  on.

To some, this may seem but a daydream. We are not living in the sweet by and by but the nasty now and now. So how can this teaching about the future Temple be a help to us? Scripture teaches that what we do now will affect our future. Our present service for God will bring rewards in His kingdom. Our struggles to keep going through discouragement and difficulty will definitely be worth it when we see Jesus. Think of what it will be like to hear Him say, “Well done,” as He takes us to a prominent place to serve in His kingdom. Then it will be worth it  all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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