In our last lesson, we investigated what the Bible says about worship during the Millennial reign of Christ on earth. We took note of four major things concerning worship at that time.
1. No High Priest will be appointed from among the mortal Jews living at that time.
Zechariah 6:13 tells us that Christ will sit on His throne in Jerusalem, both as King and High Priest.
2. No religion will be allowed except that of the one True God.
3. The Jews will take the lead in worship and Jerusalem will be the center of worship.
4. Jews and Gentiles will be required to come to Jerusalem to observe the Feast of Tabernacles each year.
The Millennial Temple
Central to the subject of worship, which will have its center in Jerusalem, will be the fact of the existence of Temple #4. Two Jewish temples have been located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in the past.
The first temple, sometimes called Solomon's Temple, was constructed during the reign of Solomon (970 B.C. to 930 B.C.). This temple was destroyed nearly 400 years later, in 586 B.C.. The destruction, at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, occurred on the 9th of AV.
The second temple's construction was begun by Zerubabbel and Ezra in about 538 B.C. This temple was remodeled and expanded by Herod the Great. That renovation took 46 years - from 19 B.C. to 27 A. D.
The second temple was the Temple in which Jesus was dedicated. This is where He often taught. It was from this temple that Jesus twice drove the money changers.
Jesus foretold the destruction of this temple some 40 years before its demise in 70 A.D., when the Roman General Titus besieged the city of Jerusalem. It may be interesting to you that the destruction of Temple 2 occurred on the same day and month that Temple 1 was. It was on the 9th of Av.
After the destruction of the first temple, God instituted a day of fasting and mourning. You can find that in Jeremiah 52. It is again mentioned in Zechariah 7:5. In Hebrew, this observance is known as "tisha b'Av." (9th of Av) Av is the 5th month in the Jewish calendar, and equates to August in our calendar.
The Jews have almost 40 various dates of their calendar in which they annually commemorate historical events. Tisha b'Av commemorates the time when there ancestors wept as their precious Temple burned to the ground.
I went out to a Jewish web site that describes each commemorative date in their calendar and describes the ritual that is to be followed and observed on these dates. One Jewish site said, "Tisha b'Av is the saddest day on the Jewish calendar." From one Jewish web site, I found this statement: "Our sages teach that whoever mourns over Jerusalem will merit the future vision of her joy. As it is written in Isaiah (66:11), 'rejoice greatly with her, all who mourn her.' "
There are at least three New Testament references to Temple 3. Like its predecessors, it will also be built on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. This site is currently under the control of the Muslim Waqf.
The fate of the third temple is not specifically given in the Bible. But I think there are a number of passages that could attest to its destruction.
Revelation 16:17 - 21 NIV
17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air,
Before continuing in our reading of this passage, what does that phrase tell us? We know that the Book of Revelation speaks about 3 sets of seven judgments. They are commonly referred to as the judgments of the 7 seals, the 7 trumpets and the 7 bowls. With that knowledge, where does this passage place us? This is the very last judgment - the 7th bowl. With that in mind, let's continue our reading of this Passage.
Revelation 16:17-19 NIV
17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, "It is done!"
18 Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake.
19 The great city (that's Jerusalem) split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath.
In verse 17, we find the phrase "It is done!" Back in Revelation 15:1, where the 7 angels with the 7 bowls of wrath are introduced, we are told that these 7 judgments would bring a completion or an end of the judgments of God. Here it is restated - "It is done!"
We are also told in this Passage that a great earthquake will occur. This earthquake will be greater on the Richter scale - maybe clear off the scale, than any this world has ever experienced. This is the "Big One."
In addition to the upheaval in the earth, we are told there is also upheaval in the atmosphere. As we continue reading about the 7th bowl, we find it also says that hail stones weighing 100 pounds will reign down on this earth.
Revelation 16:20-21 NIV
20 Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found.
21 From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.
From this and other passages, it is reasonable to suppose that the Third Temple will be destroyed.
Now let's turn our attention to Temple #4. As I mentioned earlier, the detailed plans for the Millennial Temple are found in Ezekiel 40:1 through 46:24. The Millennial Temple will be built to these blueprints. This temple is often referred to as Ezekiel's Temple, because his prophetic writings include the greatest detail of this temple. More accurately, it is the Millennial Temple.
It is not my intent today to go through all the details of this temple. It probably could not be completed in one lesson. Ezekiel gives 318 precise measurements of the temple and uses 37 unique words that are architectural terms - i.e., "doorposts."
Ezekiel receives this great wealth of information on the millennial temple in 572 B.C. It came to him in the form of a vision in which he was given a personally conducted tour by "a man whose appearance was like the appearance of bronze." (Ezekiel 40:3). Many theologians believe this man was none other that Jesus Christ Himself.
The Millennial Temple cannot be confused with any that preceded it. Several Bible scholars that I have read, say the millennial temple will be about 30 times as large as any before it. The first dimension of this temple is that it will be some 500 cubit - in both length and width. This includes the inner courtyard.
Let me ask you the same question I asked in our study of the Ark of the Covenant.
WHAT IS A CUBIT?
Most often a cubit is the distance from one's fingertips to the elbow - 18 inches. When we had our lesson on the Ark of the Covenant, I mentioned that the Bible also mentions a "long cubit." The reference I gave at that time was Ezekiel 40:5.
Ezekiel 40:5 NIV
5 I saw a wall completely surrounding the temple area. The length of the measuring rod in the man's hand was six long cubits, each of which was a cubit and a handbreadth. He measured the wall; it was one measuring rod thick and one rod high.
The long cubit mentioned here is said to be the length of a regular cubit plus the width of a hand. It is usually considered 21 inches.
Keep in mind the context of this verse. You've heard me say, on numerous occasions, that the last 9 chapters of Ezekiel, chapters 40-48, is where we are given the detailed description of the Millennial Temple. This verse is in the first of those chapters, and is only 2 verses after the one where Ezekiel is introduced to the man in bronze.
So, when it comes to the use of the "long cubit" it is only used in measurements concerning the Millennial Temple.
Now, back to that first measurement I gave you a moment ago. I said that the size of the main part of the Temple - called the sanctuary (Ezek. 45:3) - was 500 cubits - both its length and width, including the courtyard. If you use 21 inches per cubit, this makes the Temple Sanctuary area 875 feet in both length and width. A building complex this size could not possibly be placed on the current Temple Mount. That means that the millennial temple will not be precisely on the current Temple Mount.
Like all previous temples, the millennial temple will face east. It will also have a very large court yard surrounding all but the west side. In the last chapter of Ezekiel - chapter 48 - we find a description of the apportionment of the land to each of the 12 tribes. The importance of this issue, as far as the Temple is concerned, is the way the land around the Temple is divided. This is seen in Ezekiel 45.
In this chapter, there are three main large parcels of land which are mentioned. Together, they comprise the new dimensions of the new city of Jerusalem. But here, a problem arises.
In the early verses of Chapter 45, we are told the composite total dimensions of these three parcels is 25,000 both in length and width. But 25,000 of what? The original Hebrew doesn't say. The King James says it is 25,000 reeds (rods). The NIV says it is 25,000 cubits.
If you accept the King James, then Jerusalem, including the holy place, is approximately 50 miles by 50 miles. If you accept the NIV, then Jerusalem, including the holy place, is approximately 8Ό miles by 8Ό miles.
I do not know which is correct. On the drawing you will see, I am going to use rods (reeds) instead of cubits. If I were to lean in one direction, I would lean towards "rods" being the correct one. In Ezekiel 40:5, we are told that a rod is 6 long cubits in length (10.5 feet).
Let's look at this parcel of land we call Jerusalem.
1. The Holy District - 10,000 reeds wide - north to south. 25,000 reeds long - west to east. In miles, that is 20 miles - north to south, and 50 miles - west to east.
2. The Levites District - same size as the Holy District (10K by 25K reeds) I believe this section is directly north of the Holy District.
3. The City District is directly south of the Holy District - the opposite side from the Levites. It is the same length (25,000 reeds), but half the width of the other two sections.
This City District is further divided into three parcels. The actual city, where most of the people will live, will be 5,000 reeds by 5,000 reeds, and will be in the center of this district. On either side - east and west - will be two equal sized areas for crops and produce.
Now that we have seen a high-level view of Jerusalem and the Temple area, let's return to Psalm 48:1-2 and the chorus we used to sing some time ago. We looked at one phrase in this chorus in an earlier lesson. This time, let's go through the words, and observe some additional thoughts.
Great is the Lord,
And greatly to be praised,
In the city of our God,
In the mountain of his holiness;
It is obvious that this song is speaking of Jerusalem, "the city of our God." It also has God's holy mountain in view and how the greatness of God is to be praised in each of these locations.
I should mention that the words to this chorus were taken from the King James Version. The next phrase in the chorus presents a slight problem. It's only a problem in our understanding. I asked you if you knew what the phrase, Beautiful for situations, means.
What did we learn this phrase indicates? The 12 to 15 translations I looked at, other than the King James, help us better understand that phrase. None, including the New King James, use those words to translate the Hebrews here. They all use the phrase "Beautiful in elevation," in this verse, except for the NIV, which renders it "beautiful in its loftiness."
It is speaking of the millennial reign of Christ, when the city of Jerusalem will be elevated above the surrounding area. We discuss those topographical changes in our last lesson.
Let's continue the words of this chorus. There is more to be gleaned here.
Beautiful in elevation,
The Joy of the whole earth,
Is mount Zion on the sides of the north.
The city of the great King.
There has never been a time in history when Jerusalem and the holy Mount Zion has been the joy of the whole earth. There is no doubt that the Psalmist (not David, but the sons of Korah) had the Millennium and the reign of Christ in view here. That is the only time when Jerusalem will indeed be a joy to all the earth.
But what about that phrase, "is mount Zion on the sides of the north." The high level division of Jerusalem, which we just looked at, will help us understand this phrase. Unlike today, Mount Zion and the millennial temple will be north of Jerusalem's main living area. If we look closely at the Word of God, we will see that everything fits together.
Notice that, unlike Old Testament times, the Tribe of Levi is given a parcel of land for their own. It also should be mentioned that not all in the lineage of Levi will be allowed to perform functions in the Temple. Only those in the line of Zadok will be allowed these duties.
WHY DO YOU SUPPOSE THIS IS?
Notice what 1 Samuel 2:34-35 (NIV) says, concerning the sons of Eli, who desecrated the altar of the Lord and prostituting their priestly duties.
34 And what happens to your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, will be a sign to you-they will both die on the same day.
35 I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind. I will firmly establish his house, and he will minister before my anointed one always.
Ezekiel 44:15 NIV
15 But the priests, who are Levites and descendants of Zadok and who faithfully carried out the duties of my sanctuary when the Israelites went astray from me, are to come near to minister before me; they are to stand before me to offer sacrifices of fat and blood, declares the Sovereign LORD.
Zadok had been faithful in his priestly duties, even when other desecrated the temple. Here, he is being rewarded.
The Temple Complex
Now let's look at the Temple complex. The temple is within the Holy District - equidistant along its length from west to east. It may also be equidistant north to south.
Let me show you some floor plans and model constructions to help understand the Temple. When I am referring to the Temple area, I am speaking of the area within the outer wall. The first thing I want you to notice is that the Altar is the core, or exact center, of the Temple. Secondly, notice there are 6 gates. These gates are large and very high.
*** SHOW THE REMAINING PICTURES ***
Now let me show you how the total area of Jerusalem fits into the division of the land among the 12 tribes which was promised to Abraham. The land for 7 of the tribes is north of the city and 5 are to the south.
The Temple, the City and the River
Earlier, we mentioned what happens when the Second Coming happens, and Jesus touches down at the Mount of Olives. According to Zechariah 14:4, the mountain splits in two under his feat. We also noted, four verses later (verse 8) that this quake unleashes a torrent of water which flows out of Jerusalem, forms two rivers. One river will flow west, into the Mediterranean Sea. The other will flow to the east, into the Dead sea.
In Ezekiel 47, the man who is giving Ezekiel a personal tour of the millennial city and temple, shows the prophet a river. This river is coming from under the threshold of the Temple. It first comes out and flows eastward, then turns south. I am not sure if this is the same river mentioned by Zechariah, but it sure sounds like it. If we do assume it to be the same river, we can estimate the direction on our map.
What the Millennial Temple does not have.
Before going on, let me mention some of the difference between the Millennial Temple and the three temples before it. We have already noted the size difference.
1. There is no wall of partition to exclude the Gentiles from any court.
In each of these differences I will give you a corresponding reference in the New Testament. Let me read the N.T. verse for this one. In the remainder, I will give you the reference, but not read them all. You can look them up on your own.
Ephesians 2:14 NKJV
14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one [Jew and Gentile], and has broken down the middle wall of separation,
2. There is no court for women
There is an outer court and an inner court only. Compare this to Galatians 3:28
3. There is no laver (Ezekiel 36:24-27)
Compare to John 15:3.
4. There is no Table of Shewbread
Compare to John 6:35.
5. No Lampstand or Menorah
Compare to John 8:12
6. No Golden Altar of Incense
Compare to John 14:6
7. No veil between the two sections of the temple
Compare to Matthew 27:51
8. No Ark of the Covenant
Compare to John 10:30-33.
Sacrifices during the Millennium
One of the most controversial topics, with regard to the millennial temple, is the subject of sacrifices. But there is no doubt that sacrifices will occur at this temple. The blueprints of this temple, given in Ezekiel 40 - 46 is designed to facilitate animal sacrifices. Altars for sacrifices are part of the plans.
Earlier, we read, in Zechariah 14:16-21, about the requirement of all nations to
"come up to Jerusalem from year to year" to observe the Feast of Tabernacles".
Twice in that passage, sacrifices are mentioned as part of that celebration. There are a number of other passage corroborating the fact of sacrifices at this time.
The idea of sacrifices in the millennial seems unnecessary for some Christians. The argument is that Christ abolished the Old testament sacrificial system when He, the perfect and ultimate sacrifice, was offered for the sins of the world.
We know, from Hebrews 9:26-28, that sacrifices during the millennium will not be for the purpose of forgiveness of sins. According to this passage, Christ was sacrificed once for all to take away all sins, and will appear a second time, but not to bear sin. We need to keep in mind that the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament never provided forgiveness of sin.
Hebrews 10:4 NIV
4. Because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
Seven verses later we read:
Hebrews 10:11 NIV
11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.
Well, since sacrifices during the millennium are not for sins, what is their purpose? Today, we have two ordinance which we observe. 1. Water Baptism. 2. The Lord's Supper (communion). The observance of neither of these is for the remission of sins, but are a memorial, where we look back at what Christ has done for us. The observance of each of these were commanded by Christ.
The Lord's Supper is an illustration. The contents of the cup represent His spilled blood, and the broken bread represents His tortured and bruised body.
The sacrifices of animals during the millennium also will not be for forgiveness of sins, but a memorial, looking back and remembering what Christ did in dying for us. God had originally designed sacrifices to look forward to the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. During the millennium, it will look back to the cross. During the millennium, a person's salvation is in Christ's finished work of atonement, just as it is today. The majority of people will be saved, and a knowledge of and interest in the things of God will be "normal."
People will worship out of sincere hearts as a daily experience. Because Christ the King will rule out of Jerusalem, and because memorial sacrifices will be made in the Temple at Jerusalem, the natural desire will be to go there frequently for special occasions of worship.