Why Sacrifices in the Millennium? -- By: Charles C. Ryrie
EMJ 11:2 (Winter 02) p. 299
Why Sacrifices in the Millennium?
Interpretive Views of Ezekiel 40–48
Obviously the title of this article assumes that there will be actual sacrifices in the millennium in connection with a material temple as described by Ezekiel. Such an assumption is a minority viewpoint among biblical interpreters. Broadly speaking, interpreters understand Ezekiel 40–48 either non-literally and fulfilled ideally by the church, or literally and fulfilled in the future millennial kingdom. Within these two broad categories exist some variations.
The Non-Literal View of Ezekiel 40–48
C. G. Howie attributes Ezekiel 40–48 to “the editor who also lived before the Zerubbabel-Joshua restoration of the temple.”1 Yet these chapters describe the future glory of God’s people and God’s land. When that will happen is left unspecified. F. Gardiner regards the prophecy as an ideal one on every ground without looking for any literal and material fulfillment.” Ezekiel, he says, wishes “to set forth the glory, the purity, and the beneficent influence of the Church of the future.”2
EMJ 11:2 (Winter 02) p. 300
Anyone who consistently uses a normal, plain, historical-grammatical or literal hermeneutic will reject those interpretations out of hand. Also, anyone who has a sensible view of reason would, it seems, have to admit that not to take literally and plainly the many specific details in the chapters (careful measurements, places, etc.) contravenes all reason.
A Combination View of Ezekiel 40–48
A.R. Fausset, an ardent premillennialist, took a mediating stand between a completely non-literal and a consistently literal understanding of the matter concerning the temple when he wrote on Ezekiel 40–48: “There are things in it so improbable physically as to preclude a purely literal interpretation. The general truth seems to hold good that, as Israel served the nations for their rejection of Messiah, so shall they serve him in the person of Messiah when he shall acknowledge Messiah.... The ideal temple exhibits...the essential character of the worship of Messiah as it shall be when He shall exercise sway in Jerusalem among His own people, the Jews, and thence to the ends of the earth.”3 Though the writer believes in an earthly millennium, he does not see its temple as “purely literal.”
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