Ezekiel was a priest by blood linage, who was also called to be a prophet to the Jewish exiles. Ezekiel’s message was specifically for the exiles of his day. ~ Ezekiel 1:1,2; 3:11,15; 11:24,25; 12:3,4,7,11; 25:3; 33:21; 39:28; 40:1
Consider the following texts for example:
Moreover, he said to me, “Son of man, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart, and hear with your ears. And go to the exiles, to your people, and speak to them and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ whether they hear or refuse to hear.” ~ Ezekiel 3:10-11
And I came to the exiles at Tel-abib, who were dwelling by the Chebar canal, and I sat where they were dwelling. And I sat there overwhelmed among them seven days. ~Ezekiel 3:15
And the Spirit lifted me up and brought me in the vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldea, to the exiles. Then the vision that I had seen went up from me. And I told the exiles all the things that the Lord had shown me.~ Ezekiel 11:24-24
Now consider Ezekiel 33:21 – In the twelfth year of our exile, in the tenth month, on the fifth day of the month, a fugitive from Jerusalem came to me and said, “The city has been struck down.”
Notice that Ezekiel gives specific reference to the time of the exile.
The point here is that Ezekiel’s message was for a specific group of people at a specific time in Israel’s history: the exiles of ancient Israel. If we take the words of God which were spoken to them, and project them onto modern day Israel claiming that they are “prophetic” of modern day Israel, we are proof-texting, especially when our projection of the text contradicts the Biblical narrative of the exiles and their return to the land. Furthermore, we contradict the revelation of Jesus Christ and the message of the gospel given in the New Testament.
Some Christians defend the modern state of Israel’s ungodliness and sins by citing the following verses from Ezekiel 36:
But when they came to the nations, wherever they came, they profaned my holy name, in that people said of them, ‘These are the people of the Lord, and yet they had to go out of his land.’ But I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations to which they came. “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. ~ Ezekiel 36:20-24
Notice that the thrust of these verses declare that God would gather the exiles back into the land of Israel, not because of them, but to glorify his own name.
These words in context refer to the regathering of the ancient Israelites into their land after the captivity, because they (the ancient Israelites) are the ones in the text who had been expelled from the land because of their abominations.
Son of man, when the house of Israel lived in their own land, they defiled it by their ways and their deeds. Their ways before me were like the uncleanness of a woman in her menstrual impurity. So I poured out my wrath upon them for the blood that they had shed in the land, for the idols with which they had defiled it. ~ Ezekiel 36″17-18
Ezekiel 36 does not refer to modern day Israel more than some 2500 years later, nor can it apply to modern day Israel, because modern day Jews were never expelled from the land for their wickedness in the land. It is speaking specifically to the exiles of Ezekiel’s time regarding their captivity.
Furthermore, according to the New Testament, God has glorified his name through his Son Jesus Christ. Just prior to his crucifixion, Jesus said the following:
Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. ~ John 12:27-28
Throughout the New Testament, God’s name is glorified in and through Jesus Christ. Never once is it glorified through Jews living in the land of Israel.
The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus… And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. ~ Acts 3:13,16
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~ Philippians 2:9-11
Isaiah the prophet proclaimed that there would be a second regathering of the exiles, but it would not be a regathering into the land. Rather, it would be a regathering unto the Messiah. Consider the following from Isaiah 11:
In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious. In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet A SECOND TIME to recover the remnant that remains of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea. He will raise a signal (a banner) for the nations and will assemble the banished of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. ~ Isaiah 11:10-12
This is a prophecy concerning Jesus. Notice that it is said the he will not only raise a signal for the nations, but will also assemble the banished of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.
Now, with this in mind, notice the following from Acts 2:
…there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. ~ Acts 2:5
In verses 6-11, we read of the nations from which these Jews were residents.
Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our own tongues the wonderful works of God. ~ Acts 2:6-11
The locations mentioned in Isaiah 11 and the locations in Acts 2 coincide with one another. Acts 2 was the beginning of the fulfillment of Isaiah 11:10-12 as God began gathering his people, the remnant of Israel, together under one banner: the Lord Jesus Christ.
In Acts 2:22, the apostle Peter addressed these thousands of Jews as, “Ye men of Israel.”
Peter goes on to lay the culpability for the death of Jesus to the charge of the house of Israel.
Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, Ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain… ~ v. 23
Peter then tells his Jewish audience, “God hath raised Jesus up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be held by it ” ~ v.24
Though they were responsible for the death of the Messiah, God had raised him up, and in His mercy, God was gathering the remnant of those who would repent and trust in Jesus.
Peter goes on to declare how that through the resurrection of Jesus, God exalted and enthroned Jesus as the King of Israel at the right hand of God.
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. ~ Acts 2:36
The message of the resurrection of Jesus was for all the house of Israel. Jesus is the Banner which the Lord God of Israel has raised up to gather the remnant of his people to Himself. In response to Peter’s bold proclamation about Jesus, three thousand souls were added as followers of Jesus.
In Acts 2:47, these Jews who believed in Jesus were called the church. They were the beginning of the New Covenant Israel of God, gathered together as one people in the Messiah. However, those Jews who chose to reject Jesus, were consequently cut off from the people of God as Moses had said they would be. ~ Acts 3:22-23
Later, Gentiles would begin to be grafted into the covenant with the remnant of the believing Jews, but first the Gospel would continue to spread to the whole house of Israel. ~ Acts 3:12-26; 4:8-12; 5:30-32; 8:4; 13:16-46
Through the gospel which was sent to the Jew first, God raised a banner and began gathering the remnant of his people just as he had said he would.
In the book of Acts there are approximately 7 recorded gospel sermons. Everyone is a narrative of the history of Israel coming to its climax in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
However, many Christians have been taught a narrative regarding Israel which is contrary to the Biblical narrative of the story of Israel which culminates in the death, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus Christ: the King Israel!
On the Day of Pentecost the New Testament church was born, yet the concept of the church did not begin on Pentecost. It began with Israel in the Old Testament. In Acts 7, Stephen refers to Israel in the wilderness as “the church in the wilderness.” ~ Acts 7:38
The Septuagint (LXX) which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament (completed some 200 years before Christ) was a primary source employed by the New Testament writers when quoting from the Old Testament scriptures.
The Greek word Ekklesia which is translated in the New Testament as church, is used in the Old Testament by the Septuagint to describe the gatherings, assemblies, and coming together of the people of Israel.
For instance, ekklesia is used to describe the gathering of the people of Israel at the giving of the Law.
“… the day that thou stoodest before the Lord thy God in Horeb, when the Lord said unto me, gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.” ~ Deuteronomy 4:10
The word gather, here in Deuteronomy 4:10 is the verb form of ekklesia. In Deuteronomy 9:10 it is “the day of the assembly.”
And the Lord delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the Lord spake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly. ~ Deuteronomy 9:10
This “day of the assembly” is “the day of the ekklesia” or the day the church in the wilderness gathered to receive the Law.
This is very interesting in view of the events which occurred on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. Pentecost was a commemoration of the giving of the Law.
The giving of the Spirit at Pentecost was the fulfillment of that which was foreshadowed when the Law was given in the Old Testament. It is by the giving of his Holy Spirit that God has inscribed his law on the hearts of his people in fulfillment of his promise to give the house of Israel and the house of Judah a new covenant with the law inscribed on their hearts.
The ekklesia, or church, is not a New Testament concept. It began with Israel in the Old Testament and continued with born again Israelites in the New Testament. That is why the Jews who continued on in covenant with God through Jesus Christ were called the church, or the ekklesia.
If we know from the scriptures that the New Testament church was born on the Day of Pentecost (a Jewish feast day) and was an entirely Jewish assembly of believers in Jesus Christ, then the church cannot and must not be thought of as a Gentile entity. The church is the true assembly of the people of God, as the writer of Hebrews exhorted his Jewish brethren:
For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church (ekkliesa) of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect… ~ Hebrews 12:18-23
Again, Hebrews was written to Israeli’s.
According to the apostle Paul, God is glorified in the church by Jesus Christ throughout all ages. ~ Ephesians 3:20.
In contrast, modern day Israel is hostile to Christian evangelism and in some cases you could be arrested for attempting to convert Jews in Israel.
Modern day Israel has annual gay pride events for the LGBT, legalized abortions, and a problem with prostitution. Not only this, but Israel continues to disregard international laws by killing innocent Palestinians. Also, there were recent reports of some medics being shot by the Israeli military who are clearly marked as medics to help Palestinians.
Modern day Israel continues to oppress the lives of its neighbors by building illegal settlements on land designated for the Palestinians, causing many Palestinians to become impoverished
Yet, Ezekiel 36 is used as a proof text by some Bible prophecy teachers, even though God, in reference to the return of the exiles declared, “(I) will vindicate the holiness of my great name.”
Later we will see that this proved true by testimony of scripture when the exiles returned from captivity, because the return to the land by the exiles in scripture, looks nothing like the establishment of the modern state of Israel.
Furthermore, many of these same prophecy teachers, claim that Ezekiel’s temple vision (Ezekiel 40-48) is a future temple that will be built in Jerusalem. Yet, in Ezekiel’s temple vision the Levite priests bear the shame of their sins for leading the people of Israel into iniquity, and only the descendants of Zadok (of the tribe of Levi) are be able to come near to the Lord.
In ancient Israel, only the sons of Zadok obeyed the Lord when the children of Israel were led astray by their corrupt priesthood. Ezekiel’s temple vision is a contextual reference to ancient Israel and could not possibly apply to modern day Israel, because the priesthood under the law has been annulled by the finished work and High priestly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is one of the reasons why there are so many problems with third temple theology, especially when attempting to use Ezekiel’s temple vision as a grounds of support. It is not!
The temple in Ezekiel’s vision is a temple that would have been, but never was, because of the sins of Israel and their priests. It was given to Ezekiel, who was a priest by blood linage and a prophet by calling, to make the exiles ashamed of their sins: Thou son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities… ~ Ezekiel 43:10
In this temple, the holy presence of God would have continued to be separated from the people, and particularly from the Levites because of their past sins.
According to the New Testament, Jesus has removed the separation between God and his people and we now have unhindered access to God through the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:19-22; Ephesians 2:13, 18). Jesus alone is our High Priest, and in him, all who believe have been made a royal priesthood and are called to draw close to the Lord.
The church, or ekklesia is the true house of God, which God has alwasy desired so that he could live among his people.
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. ~ Ephesians 2:19-22
A temple that would separate God from his people would be one that is be contrary the the work of Jesus Christ, who died and rose again to cleanse us from our sins and bring us near to God.
THE BIBLICAL ALIYAH TO ISRAEL
Aliyah is a word used to describe the immigration of Jews to Israel.
According to the Law of Moses, God promised he would gather the children of Israel back to into their land after He had scattered them, only if they turned their hearts back to him to obey all his commands (Deuteronomy 30:1-5; Leviticus 26:40-42).
The modern state of Israel, however, was established with armed force and not with repentance towards God and a commitment to obey him. As a result of the 1948 establishment of modern Israel, there were more than an estimated 700,000 Palestinian refugees, some of which were Christians.
Since 1948, Israel has yet to become a nation representing the one true God. After 70 years (the same length of time as the Babylonian captivity) Israel continues to oppress it’s neighbors.
Modern day Israel is a state whose religious traditions are aligned with the Jewish Talmud (a collection of rabbinical teachings which blasphemes against the Lord Jesus Christ).
In contrast to the establishment of the modern state of Israel, consider the following from the book of Nehemiah chapter 1:
1 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace,
2 That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.
3 And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.
4 And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,
5 And said, I beseech thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:
6 Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned.
7 We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses.
8 Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations:
9 But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there.
10 Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand.
11 O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cup bearer.
Notice that Nehemiah was humble and repentant, and he cited to God the conditions which God Himself had established that the people were to turn to God, to keep His commandments and to do them.
Later in Nehemiah we read the following:
Now the rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the temple servants and all those who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the law of God, their wives, their sons and their daughters, all those who had knowledge and understanding, are joining with their kinsmen, their nobles, and are taking on themselves a curse and an oath to walk in God’s law, which was given through Moses, God’s servant, and to keep and to observe all the commandments of God our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes… Nehemiah 10;28-29
These Israelites, who were returning from the Babylonian captivity, bond themselves with a curse because they were dedicating themselves to God and to the covenant God made with their fathers through Moses.
The prophet Jeremiah had foretold of this very thing when he said the following:
For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive. ~ Jeremiah 29:10-14
This (Jeremiah’s prophecy) is exactly what happened according to the book of Nehemiah, and it happened just as it was required according to the Law of Moses, for the prerequisite for aliyah (according to the Law) is repentance towards God. ~ Deuteronomy 30, Leviticus 26:40-42; Daniel 9:1-21; Nehemiah 1:1-11; 10:28-29 Jeremiah 29:10-14; Ezra 9:7,15).
This is yet another reason why the text in Ezekiel 36 can’t been taken out of its narrative setting and projected onto modern day Israel. The words of God in Ezekiel 36 regarding his name being glorified by the return of the Jews from captivity must be understood in view of God’s words to Jeremiah, and the testimony in Nehemiah
Why doesn’t the aliyah of modern Israel look anything like those who returned after the Babylonian captivity? There simply is no doctrine or precedence in scripture which supports a Jewish national aliyah to Israel without there being a turning of the heart towards God!
JESUS AND THE THIRD TEMPLE
REASONS WHY ANIMAL SACRIFICES IN THE MILLENNIUM IS PROBLEMATIC FOR CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE