The Temple Vision of Ezekiel—Part 1 -- By: Merrill F. Unger

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 105:420 (Oct 1948)
Article: The Temple Vision of Ezekiel—Part 1
Author: Merrill F. Unger


The Temple Vision of Ezekiel—Part 1

Merrill F. Unger

The final nine chapters of the prophecy of Ezekiel, while forming a grand climax to the prophet’s message, present problems and difficulties which place them among the most perplexing portions of the entire prophetic word. The most prominent feature of this much-disputed passage is the temple which Ezekiel saw in vision. For this reason it is sometimes called “The Temple Vision.” What is to be done with the temple? Where is it to be placed? How is it to be interpreted? These and similar questions have disturbed Bible students and occupied their researches ever since Ezekiel published his vision.

There are fewer subjects concerning which greater contrariety of opinion prevails. Much of the literature on the subject is a veritable labyrinth of confusion. The reader is left in a maze, either groping for a mere ethereal and imaginary temple that was never supposed to have any substantial existence at all, or else being presented with an actual sanctuary set in an environment which clashes at every turn with the plans and specifications outlined by the prophet.

One thing seems clear. The premillennial plan of prophetic interpretation alone can supply the key to open an otherwise fast-closed door. What is depreciatingly referred to by some as “literalistic chiliasm” alone can offer the cue to resolve an otherwise unsolvable puzzle. To assert this, however, must not be construed as tantamount to saying that the premillennial plan does not have its difficulties and problems. It does. But to insist that these difficulties and problems are fewer in number and of a far less serious

character, ought to be frankly allowed by anyone facing the facts without bias or prejudice. To reject the premillennial plan because of a few perplexities and to embrace a non-premillennial explanation which entails many more, and of a more serious nature, is to “jump out of the frying pan into the fire,” as the saying goes. This, though, is apparently what the great majority of commentators on this portion choose to do. It is, therefore, necessary to examine various

I. Inadequate Views

1. The Prophecy of Ezekiel’s Temple Was Merely to Preserve the Memory of Solomon’s Temple So That It Could Be Restored As Nearly As Possible.

This is the historical-literal interpretation. The prophet’s account is merely a prosaic delineation of what he had himself seen at Jerusalem in the Solomonic Temple, so as to preserve for the returning remnant some semblance of that house. Such is the conception which Villalpandus tries vainly to prove by a huge apparatus of learning. He is followed by Grotius, Calmet, Secker...

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