16.5.10.1. The Predicted Millennial Temple

There is overwhelming scriptural evidence predicting a Temple during the Millennial Kingdom on earth (Isa. Isa. 2:3; Isa. 56:6-7; Isa. 60:13; Eze. Eze. 40:1-Eze. 47:1; Dan. Dan. 9:24; Joel Joel 3:18; Hag. Hag. 2:7-9; Zec. Zec. 6:12-15; Zec. 8:20-23). Most interpreters do not deny these passages. However, most spiritualize them because they are unable to reconcile a future earthly kingdom, complete with Temple, with a theology which believes that the Church has replaced Israel as the “New Israel” and that the spiritual Temple of the Believer has forever replaced any need for a physical Temple. Even though the level of detail given concerning the Temple (Eze. Eze. 40:1-Eze. 47:1) is impossible to explain allegorically or to reliably attach spiritual significance to, most commentators attempt to do just this. They reject the Golden Rule of Interpretation in favor of a completely spiritual/figurative interpretation. This inability to accept the statements of Scripture concerning the details of the Millennial Temple has led to a variety of interpretations:

Several non-literal interpretations have been advanced by interpreters regarding the millennial temple of Ezekiel. These are: First view— The vision was given by God for the benefit of post-exilic Jews to help them remember Solomon’s temple design when they restore the old temple. Second view— Here is an ideal blueprint of what should have been built by the Jewish remnant after their return from the Babylonian captivity. Third view— The prophecy is a grand, complicated symbol of the Christian church. This is the standard amillennial position. As Milton Terry says, “this vision of restored and perfected temple, service, and land symbolizes the perfected kingdom of God and his Messiah.” Fourth view— The glorious descriptions found in this prophecy will surely be fulfilled at the millennium, but do not fuss over the how of fulfillment. This is the covenant premillennial position which refuses to go into details.1

Those who seek to dismiss Ezekiel’s description of the Millennial Temple as being non-literal, are inconsistent because similar descriptions elsewhere in Ezekiel are manifestly literal:

The Millennial Temple is not the only temple that Ezekiel describes. In [Eze. Eze. 8:1-Eze. 11:1], he describes the departure of the Shechinah Glory from Israel from the First Temple. All agree that his description of the Temple and the events that happen there are very literal. In [Eze. Eze. 40:1-Eze. 48:1], Ezekiel describes the future return of the Shechinah Glory into the Fourth Temple. If what he said about the First Temple was literal, then what he says about the Fourth Temple should also be taken literally.2

Scripture reveals that Messiah will build this future Temple and reign there as both king and priest:

Take the silver and gold, make an elaborate crown, and set it on the head of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Then speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, saying: “Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, and He shall build the temple of the LORD; yes, He shall build the temple of the LORD. He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule on His throne; so He shall be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” ’ (Zec. Zec. 6:11-13) [emphasis added]

The Scripture says, “the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” Between both what? Unfortunately, the translation suffers from lack of precision. Where the instructions say “make an elaborate crown,” the Hebrew actually says, “make elaborate crowns (plural).

The term for crown is plural signifying that the “branch” will wear both kingly and priestly crowns (Zec. Zec. 6:13). The Hebrew word for “crown” here is עֲטֶרֶת [ʿăṭereṯ] , a term never used in the OT for the priestly crown or mitre. Thus, the scene here is the investing of the priest with royal authority.3

There are two crowns: a gold crown denoting royalty and a silver crown denoting priesthood. “Both” refers to the two offices denoted by the two crowns. The Messiah will be both king and priest! This passage refers to the future earthly rule of Messiah Jesus upon the throne of David (Isa. Isa. 9:7, see The Arrival of God’s Kingdom). The rabbis understood this passage to teach that Messiah would build the Temple at His coming (in this case, the Second Coming):

The medieval rabbi Rashi declared that the Temple would descend directly from heaven after the coming of the Messiah. Maimonides also argued that only the Messiah could build the Temple. The prayer at the afternoon service on Tisha B’Av reflects this thinking: “For You, O Lord, did consume it [the Temple] with fire, and with fire You will in the future restore it.”4

To this we could add the implications of Jesus’ statement: “See! Your house [the Temple] is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say . . .” (Mtt. Mat. 23:38-39). The desolation of the Temple is connected with the departure of Jesus, the glory of the Lord (see The Abiding Presence of God). Could it be that the restoration of the Temple is connected with His return? This is what Zechariah’s passage explains. This agrees with Daniel’s prophecy concerning the Most Holy being anointed following The 70th Week of Daniel:

Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy. (Dan. Dan. 9:24) [emphasis added]

That which is to be anointed is not a person, but a future Temple, the Millennial Temple:

Nowhere in Holy Writ is קֹדֶשׁ קָדָשִׁים [qōḏeš qāḏāšîm] (“a most holy”) applied to the Church or to a person. . . Each of the 39 occurrences of קֹדֶשׁ קָדָשִׁים [qōḏeš qāḏāšîm] pertains to the Tabernacle, Temple (specifically the Holy of Holies), or the things of the Temple. . . A reasonable deduction from that fact is “a most holy” is the Temple. The allusion is not likely to be the Holy of Holies proper because that term almost always has the article with it.5

The Malbim says that this [to anoint the Most Holy] refers to “the Third Temple,” since “it will be anointed.” This statement reflects the contrast with the Second Temple, which the Mishnah records had not been anointed (Yoma 21b; compare Tosefta Sotah 13:2). The “anointing” refers to the consecration of the chamber that housed the Ark of the Covenant, whose presence sanctified the Temple by virtue of the Shekinah (the divine presence). Since neither the Ark nor the Shekinah were present in the Second Temple (Yoma 21b) rabbinic tradition held that the Ark will be revealed in the future by the Messianic king, who will also build the Third Temple (Zec. Zec. 6:12-13).6

Since the destruction of the Second Temple many centuries ago and the dispersion of the Jews, the idea of a future Jewish state and a literal rebuilt Temple have seemed fantastic to many. Yet based on his simple reading of Scripture, writing over a century ago in advance of the recreation of the Jewish state, Walter Scott (1796 - 1861) said:

The Jews as a nation shall be restored in unbelief both on their part and on that of the friendly nation who shall espouse their cause (Isa. Isa. 18:1). They then proceed to build a temple, and restore so far as they can, the Mosaic ritual. God is not in this movement, which is undertaken for political ends and purposes. But amidst the rank unbelief of these times, there shall be as ever, a true godly remnant, and it is this remnant which is here [Rev. Rev. 11:1+] divinely recognized.7


Notes

1 Paul Lee Tan, The Interpretation of Prophecy (Dallas, TX: Bible Communications, Inc., 1993), 318-319.

2 Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, rev ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 461.

3 New Electronic Translation : NET Bible, electronic edition (Dallas, TX: Biblical Studies Press, 1998), Zec. 6:12 n10.

4 Thomas Ice and Randall Price, Ready to Rebuild (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1992), 173.

5 Charles H. Ray, “A Study of Daniel 9:24-17, Part II,” in The Conservative Theological Journal, vol. 5 no. 16 (Fort Worth, TX: Tyndale Theological Seminary, December 2001), 309.

6 Randall Price, The Coming Last Days Temple (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1999), 249.

7 Walter Scott, Exposition of The Revelation (London, England: Pickering & Inglis, n.d.), 219.