Many people are waiting for Israel to be restored according to their understanding of biblical prophecy. Previous episodes showed how these prophecies were already fulfilled, but one objection remains to be discussed. This final installment of the series on The Restoration of Israel will address the Temple of Ezekiel.

ROBERT >> Will the nation of Israel be restored to Palestine and rebuild the temple in Jerusalem in the end times? This is a question that we’ve been looking at for several weeks now here on The Truth In Love. And we have found that this promise of the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, the possession of the land of Canaan, that this has already been completely fulfilled. It was promised to Abraham as an inheritance for his descendants, and that not at the end times, but soon after Moses led them out of Egypt during the days of Joshua and even into the days of King David and King Saul. The possession of the land by Israel was always conditioned upon their faithfulness to God. In time, they were removed from the land because of their disobedience. God promised to return those who were removed from the land when they returned to him; but this would only be a remnant of Israel. There will be no national conversion of the Jews, as some contend from Romans 11:25-26.

No, the “all Israel” there is not the entire Jewish race, but the remnant of Jews and the many Gentiles who come to faith in Jesus Christ. The church made of Jews and Gentiles is the Israel of God, or his people today. The fact is that a remnant of all the tribes of Israel returned from Babylon, where they had been taken captive, to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem hundreds of years before Christ ever came to the earth. By the time Jesus came to the earth and established his church, Jews from every tribe and place had come to the city of Jerusalem to come into his eternal kingdom, the church of our Lord. And though the land promise was forever, or everlasting, as it is translated in the Old Testament, the term used does not always mean without end, but often refers to a long time. Just as circumcision, the Passover, the Levitical priesthood were said to be forever or everlasting, but came to an end with the abolition of the law, having been fulfilled, so did the land promise. Even those who propose a future restoration of Israel to the land believe it will all come to an end after a thousand years. Indeed, not only the land of Palestine, but the whole world will come to an end when our Lord comes again.

Let’s look further today and let’s see what the Bible says about the temple in Jerusalem being rebuilt and its worship being restored.

SINGING>> Speaking the truth, speaking the truth,
speaking the truth, speaking the truth in love.

ROBERT >> Yes, the temple in Jerusalem was rebuilt and its worship restored when Israel returned from their captivity out of Babylon back to the land of Judah. All of this had been prophesied.

I want you to notice Isaiah 44:28. Who says of Cyrus, “He is My shepherd, and he shall perform all My pleasure, saying to Jerusalem, You shall be built, and to the temple, Your foundation shall be laid.”

Isaiah was able to look into the future and see that one named Cyrus would actually command the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. And this was fulfilled. We see it in the book of Ezra.

In Ezra 1:1-5, “we have the actual degree of Cyrus to commission the people to go back and to rebuild the temple.”

And in verse 5 of Ezra chapter 1 it says, “Then the heads of the fathers’ houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, with all whose spirits God had moved, arose to go up and build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem.”

And so according to Cyrus’ commission they went to build the house of the Lord. And we look over in Ezra chapter 6, and we see that they completed their task.

In chapter 6, verse 14, “So the elders of the Jews built, and they prophesied through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they built and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the command of Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia

And you can read on how that the people were assigned to the temple and the worship was restored, for example in verse 22 where it says, “And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy; for the Lord made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.”

So Israel was restored to their land, Israel did rebuild their temple, the worship of God was restored in that temple all as God had said. All of this happened long before Christ ever came to the earth. But somebody says, What about Ezekiel’s temple?

They’re talking about the last chapters of the book of Ezekiel, Ezekiel chapters 40 through 48. This was a vision that Ezekiel had. “It was the vision of a new temple, a great, glorious temple in the future.”

But I want you to notice that Ezekiel’s temple was an apocalyptic vision. It was comparable to the vision of John in the Revelation, in Revelation chapter 21 and 22 where he saw the new heavens and the new earth, that is, the new habitation of God’s people in eternity with him, our heavenly home. It was an apocalyptic vision, it was highly symbolic, it was never meant to be taken literally. And neither was the vision of Ezekiel concerning that future temple. If you look at the imagery of Ezekiel’s temple in these last chapters, you’ll see that it emphasized holiness with the many measurements and the details that were given of the temple there. It also emphasized the blessings of God with the flowing river you read about in chapter 47. And it emphasized the presence of the Lord among his people, the glory of the Lord and how it returned and how it filled the temple in chapter 43.

And then finally at the end of Ezekiel, chapter 48, verse 35, it simply says, “The Lord is there.”

A literal interpretation of this temple must be ruled out. For example, look at the impractical siting of the temple on a very high mountain. Here in chapter 40 and verse 2 the Bible says, “In the visions of God He took me into the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain; on it toward the south was something like the structure of a city.”

You’re not going to put a temple for everybody to come up on a very high mountain like that. And then look at the source and the course of the river. Look in Ezekiel chapter 47, verses 1 through 12, “Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and there was water, flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the front of the temple faced east; the water was flowing from under the right side of the temple, south of the altar.”

We also notice in this description in these last chapters of Ezekiel the boundaries of the tribes, which again could never be worked out geographically in hilly Israel. So it’s impossible for us to look at all of the details of this, but I want you to think about it and recognize this as apocalyptic literature, highly symbolic, never meant to be fulfilled literally.

In fact, if you think about it, to rebuild that temple and to restore its worship in the end times would be a complete denial and rejection of the finished work of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ came to put an end to the old law, to put an end to the old temple and its services. All of those things were but symbolic, pointing to the greater work of Christ and his church, the church of Christ being his temple, where he is worshiped and where he is served, not under the old law of Moses, but according to the gospel.

Look with me in Ephesians 2:14-22. Ephesians 2:14, “For He Himself, that is, Jesus Christ, is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation.”

In this verse the apostle Paul is talking about how Christ has brought together both Jew and Gentile. He brought them together in Christ.

How did he do that?

By breaking down the wall of separation. What is the wall of separation? It’s the law. The law of Moses is what kept the nation of Israel separate from all the other nations. But the gospel of Christ brings us together.

Look at this as Paul goes on in verse 15 of Ephesians 2. “Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace.”

And so we see in this verse how Christ, by his death, by the death of his body, his flesh, he abolished that old law and brought us all together in himself. There he made peace between Jew and Gentile. All the nations of the world brought together in the one church.

Read on with me in Ephesians 2. Look at verse 16. “And that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.”

We could read many other verses like this, in Colossians 2:14-17, in Romans 7:1-6, we see in these places that the law was taken away, nailed to the cross, that we’re no longer under that law, we’ve been discharged from that law.

Or in Galatians 3:24-29. Let’s take a look at that together, because we see here once again the end of that old law with its temple and its services for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Here in chapter 3 of Galatians, beginning in verse 24, “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

So we see that we’re no longer under that old law, that the promises of Abraham were fulfilled in Christ and in his church; and having believed on Christ and been baptized into Christ, then we’re Abraham’s seed, that is, we are the children of the promise, and we will receive the inheritance of those promises.

Understand that the land promise and the many prophesies concerning the restoration of Israel have both a temporal fulfillment and a spiritual fulfillment. You see, the temporal fulfillment took place before the first coming of Christ, before the gospel of the new covenant, before the establishment of the church. And all of that serves as a type of the greater and complete spiritual fulfillment found in Christ and his church.

Let me give you a few examples of what I’m talking about. In Genesis chapter 12, let’s go back to that promise made to Abraham long ago concerning the land of Canaan and the nation of Israel.

In Genesis 12 it says, “Now the Lord had said to Abram, Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

So Abraham departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan.

Now, you think about Abraham and his family and how they came there to the land of Canaan. But that promise of that land was only pointing to a greater promise and a greater land.

Look how the Hebrew writer describes this in Hebrews chapter 11. The great faith chapter of the Bible mentions Abraham and Sarah and their families.

And in Hebrews 11:10 Bible says, “For he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”

So you see, he was looking for a greater city; not an earthly, physical, material city, but one that was built by God. He describes it further.

Look in verse 13 of Hebrews 11. “These all died in faith, Abraham and his family and his descendants, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”

They knew that they were not meant to live here forever. They were looking for a greater heavenly country.

Read on with me in verse 14. “ For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”

Let me give you another example today. Let’s go back to Ezekiel and take a look at Ezekiel chapter 37. In this passage, verses 15 through 28, I want you to notice what Ezekiel talks about and how this is fulfilled spiritually. “ Again the word of the Lord same to me, saying, As for you son of man, take a stick for yourself and write on it: For Judah and for the children of Israel, his companions. Then take another stick and write on it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel, his companions. And then join them one to another for yourself into one stick, and they will become one in your hand. And when the children of your people speak to you saying, Will you not show us what you mean by these? Say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Surely I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will join them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand. And the sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes. And then say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again.”

Now, let me pause here for just a moment, because I want you to see how that the nation of Israel, there was a temporal fulfillment. They would be united in their land. But we also see there’s a spiritual fulfillment of a greater time when some king would come and he would bring all the nations together as one.

Look with me in verse 24 of Ezekiel chapter 37. “ David, My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them.”

Now, of course this one of David, this one who would be king over them, this one who would be their shepherd and bring them together as one, was Jesus Christ. It points to the savior that is to come.

Notice what it says further down in Ezekiel 37:26. “Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. And so we have the nations coming together under the one shepherd, Jesus Christ; a new covenant is given to them; a new temple is built among them.”

Notice all of this is fulfilled in a spiritual way. Look in John the 10th chapter when Jesus Christ was talking about his work as the Messiah, and he identified him as this shepherd and this king who would bring everyone together from Ezekiel chapter 37.

John 10:11, “Jesus said, I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.”

It would be the death of Christ that would provide forgiveness for all people and bring us all together at the cross of Jesus.

Look at it in John 10:16. “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd,” again a reference to Ezekiel chapter 37.

And so the one shepherd, Jesus Christ, would bring them all together. In Ephesians the 2nd chapter we read about the end of that old law and the new covenant that God would bring with these people. And we’ve talked about that before. But two other examples from the book of Hosea.

In Hosea 1:10-11, “I want you to read this with me because it’s quoted in the New Testament. Hosea 1:10-11, “Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, You are not My people, there it shall be said to them, You are sons of the living God. And then the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and appoint for themselves one head; and they shall come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel!”

Yes, it will be a glorious day for Israel. We see a physical, temporary fulfillment when they came out of their captivity, when they were restored to their worship; but ultimately this points to the greater spiritual fulfillment of all nations coming together under that one head, Jesus Christ, in his church. That this is the case the is found in Romans 9:24-26 that quotes Hosea.

Listen to Romans 9:24. “Even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?”

As He says also in Hosea: “I will call them My people, who were not My people. And he goes on to continue to quote from the passage we just read a moment ago.

One final passage I want us to take a look at is in the book of Amos, in Amos 9:11-14. We find here in this prophet a message concerning the tabernacle of David and how it will be rebuilt.

Amos 9:11-14. Let’s read it together. “ On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, and repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old; that they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the Gentiles who are called by My name, says the Lord who does this thing. Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, When the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; the mountains shall drip with sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it. I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them. They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them. I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them, says the Lord your God.”

So all of these things here in the book of Amos, all of those were fulfilled physically and temporarily when Israel came back from their captivity; but the greater fulfillment is spiritual, and it’s found in the church. Not in the physical land or in the physical nation of Israel, but in the church where we find Jews and Gentiles.

In Acts the 15th chapter we see where James quoted from Amos to establish this very fact. Here in Acts chapter 15 they were discussing Gentiles coming into the church. And it says here in verse 13, “And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, listen to me: Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name.”

And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written, and then he quotes Amos 9:11 and following, just as we read a few moments ago. And so God kept all of his promises to Israel; and all the prophecies concerning them and their land and their temple, all of those have been fulfilled. And understand that the greatest fulfillment, the eternal fulfillment, is found in Christ and in his church. And we hope here at The Truth In Love that we can help you to be a part of the salvation that’s found in Jesus Christ, in his church. And so we hope that you’ll let us know here how we can help you towards heaven today.

SINGING>> I know that my redeemer lives and ever prays for me.
I know eternal life he gives from sin and sorrow free.
I know, I know that my redeemer lives.
I know, I know eternal life he gives.
I know, I know that my redeemer lives.
I know that over yonder stands a place prepared for me, a home,
a house not made with hands, most wonderful to see.
I know, I know that my redeemer lives.
I know, I know eternal life he gives.
I know, I know that my redeemer lives.

ROBERT >> I want to thank you for watching our program today. And we’d really like to hear from you. If you have any questions, comments, or requests, if you’d like a personal home Bible study or special prayers, if you’d like to order today’s lesson or any other lesson on CD, DVD, or in manuscript form, let me encourage you to write The Truth In Love at P.O. Box 865, Hurst, Texas 76053.

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Remember, all our materials and services are absolutely free of charge. And we want to thank the many churches of Christ who help support this program and encourage you to visit one of them in your area very soon. Their names will be scrolled on the screen at the end of our program.

We just want to do what we can to help us all towards heaven. So let us know how we can help you, and please join us next time right here on The Truth In Love.

SINGING>> Sing to me of heaven, sing that song of peace.
From the toils that bind me it will bring release.
Burdens will be lifted that are pressing so,
showers of great blessing o’er my heart will flow.
Sing to me of heaven, let me fondly dream
of its golden glory, of its pearly gleam.
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall.
Sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all.
Sing to me of heaven tenderly and low
till the shadows o’er me rise and swiftly go.
When my heart is weary, when the day is long,
sing to me of heaven, sing that old, sweet song.
Sing to me of heaven,
let me fondly dream of its golden glory, of its pearly gleam.
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall.
Sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all.

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