The Millennium – Part 4 – Spiritual Life
God's Plan for the Ages – Dispensations Lesson #33
December 9, 2014
"Father, we are so thankful for all the many blessings that You provide for us. We are thankful above all things for our salvation; that it is a salvation that is not dependent in any way upon who we are or what we do, but it is totally dependent upon Your character and the work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross. Father, we are thankful to understand that there is a plan and purpose for human history; that things are not just random that it is not just chaotic events, but that even though at times it may seem that way, You are indeed overseeing the course of history and working out a plan and a purpose, the culmination of which will bring maximum glory to Yourself demonstrating that You and You alone are worthy to rule over Your creation and that no creature can do so. Father, we pray for us as we continue this study that God the Holy Spirit would use this to really impress upon us the importance of understanding the scope of Scripture and the plans and purposes laid out in Scripture, and that we can understand the direction toward which history is moving in terms of the future Millennial Kingdom. And we pray this in Christ’s Name, Amen."
In the last three lessons, this will be the fourth one, and hopefully I think this will wrap-up the Millennium tonight. We’re looking at the Millennial Kingdom, or otherwise known as the Messianic Kingdom (slide 2), and this is the last dispensation, the last age. It’s both a dispensation and an age that takes place in human history. Human history comes to an end at the end of the Millennial Kingdom. We have the Millennial Kingdom and this is a fulfillment of all of God’s promises from the Old Testament (OT). We’ve looked at this chart each time looking at the promises that were made to Israel, specifically to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Then later to the Jewish people in relation to the Land Covenant, to David with the Davidic Covenant, and then a New Covenant that’s revealed by Isaiah. These have not yet been fulfilled. They will be fulfilled only in the future in the Millennial Kingdom.
We have the Abrahamic Covenant that’s the foundation for these other covenants promising to Israel land, seed and blessing. The land promise was expanded on by the Land Covenant, which is not fulfilled until Israel is restored to the land at the end of the Tribulation period when the Messiah returns at the Second Coming. If you want to go ahead and open your Bible somewhere, open them to Ezekiel 37. Ezekiel 37 in the first half of the chapter describes this restoration under a picture, an image of a skeleton being brought back to life. After Israel is restored to the Land, in order for there to be a kingdom there has to be a king. This is the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant, and the King is the Lord Jesus Christ. This is fulfilled at the Second Coming, and then at that same time the New Covenant is enacted. The sacrifice that establishes the New Covenant took place at the Cross. But the New Covenant doesn’t go into effect until you have Israel back in the Land and you have the new spiritual condition. We will be looking at that some this evening.
Last time I went through some characteristics related of the Millennium Kingdom and I ended with the point that Israel will be reunited. The two kingdoms, all twelve tribes will be reunited and Jerusalem will be the center of the nation. This is what is described in Ezekiel 37. The first fourteen verses of Ezekiel 37 focus on this restoration of the land under this image of the dry bones. This became sort of an inspiration for a song that was popular back in the 50s, “the ankle bone connected to the leg bone” and so forth, but the picture here is of restoration. This is important, to understand context, and one of the reasons that I’ve learned that it is important not only to understand doctrine, but you have to understand Scripture, and you have to know how to read. It’s because we get involved with conversations with people every now and then, and if you are a believer this should be something that is characteristic of your life. And every now and then somebody comes and knocks on your door and they want to talk to you about what they believe. Usually this is somebody like the Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses or somebody like that.
One of my great disappointments was that one time I was at home when I was pastoring in Irving and I had several house guests. The house guests were Harry Leaf, who at the time was a pastor at Grace Bible Church. He has just started Grace Bible Church here. I had Harry Leafe with me; I had Tommy Ice with me, and I had Dave Hunt. Dave Hunt, some of you know who Dave Hunt is. He wrote a number of books including a couple of books on the cults. We were getting ready to go to a debate. Tommy and Dave were debating some Reconstructionists, and just about two minutes before we were headed out the door the doorbell rang and it was two Jehovah’s Witnesses. What a missed opportunity! I would have just loved to have been able to invite them in and sit down with four major theologians like that just ready to pounce on them. But you never know what is going to happen. The first time I had an encounter with a Mormon I was in college and a friend of mine who lived in Nacogdoches sort of got trapped by a couple of Mormons that came by and he gave me a call and asked me if I could come over and help. That was the first time I ever heard anything about what Mormons believe.
It is important to understand what these other groups believe so that you don’t get taken in by their subtleties. They follow their father the Devil and the serpent in the Garden was the most subtle of all the creatures. It is very easy to get sucked into their interpretation of Scripture especially at the time when all I had every read was the King James Version and the King James Version is not the most readily accessible version when you’re not speaking Elizabethan English. They go to this passage, not the “dry bones” part at the beginning, but they go to the section that begins in Ezekiel 37:15 and I just wanted to point this out. Context is really important. Context is king as we know from studying Scripture; and the context is introduced in the first verse, Ezekiel 37:1 “The hand of the LORD came upon me,” that is Ezekiel. “and brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones.” So there is the imagery of this barren valley with scattered bones everywhere. “He (God) caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O LORD GOD, You know.”
In other words, LORD, You know. Ezekiel apparently isn’t so sure what the object lesson was going to be at this point. God then instructed him to prophesy to these bones and to “hear the word of the LORD!” In Ezekiel 37:5 we read God saying “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and shall live.” But that is what happens at the end of the process. At the beginning of the process He starts by putting sinews on the bones and then flesh upon the bones then skin and then the last step is breath. So there is a process that takes place in the restoration of Israel. The pulling together of these bones and putting flesh on them is a depiction of the restoration of the Jewish people back to the land and then the last thing that happens has to do with breathing life into those bones, breathing life into Israel. That’s the picture. The context is talking about the restoration of Israel and the regeneration of Israel. Having understood that we can then properly come to an understanding of what takes place in Ezekiel 37:15 “Again the word of the LORD came to me.” This is a second vision, a second oracle and it’s built upon the first one. God says to Ezekiel, “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 God said “take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel, his companions.’”
If you don’t know anything about Mormonism, Mormonism interprets the sticks in a distinctive manner. What do you do with these sticks? You write on them. In the ancient world sticks were at the core of a scroll and this is their interpretation, that these are two scrolls. The first scroll is related to Judah. The second scroll is related to Ephraim. There are two sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh. Ephraim is usually attached to the Northern Kingdom. What Mormons believe is that they are the descendents of the ten lost tribes of Israel. That is the Northern Kingdom. That’s Ephraim. What they say is, see, you have your Bible that’s the stick or the scroll of Judah, and we have the book of Mormon, that’s the stick or the scroll of Ephraim. You put them together and so that’s why we believe in the book of Mormon. You have these two scrolls being put together. But that’s not what the imagery is and that’s not what the context is. It is not talking about a scroll and it’s not talking about anything related to revelation. The context is about the restoration and reunification of the tribes of Israel.
What we get when we read through the Text, and we need to read through the Text to get all the context, is that you have Judah. Judah was the Southern Kingdom and Judah is represented by one stick, and then the Northern Kingdom is represented by a second stick. In the last part of Ezekiel 37:16 we read, “For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel, his companions.” So you see that is connecting it to the Northern Kingdom. And then God said to Ezekiel in Ezekiel 37:17 “Then join them one to another for yourself into one stick, and they will become one in your hand.” This is the reunification of the Northern and the Southern Kingdom of Israel. Ezekiel 37:18 “And when the children of your people speak to you, saying, ‘Will you not show us what you mean by these?’” See, when you talk with somebody that is involved with a cult they’ll pull some passage out of context and you’ll just talk about that, but you don’t pull out your Bible and read through the whole chapter or anything.
God is going to give an interpretation to this starting in Ezekiel 37:18-22. He tells Ezekiel when your people ask what does this mean, 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. Then say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD GOD: “Surely I will take the children of Israel”'” from where? “'from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; and I make them one nation in the land.'” See, there is the interpretation of the joining of the two sticks and making one stick. It is the reunification of the nation. “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.”
Then skip down to Ezekiel 37:25 “Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob my servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever.” That indicates that this reunification takes place at the time David is set over them as their prince. That places it at the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom. Now when we look at this section of Ezekiel we are getting into passages that talk about the restoration of Israel and the end of the Millennial Kingdom.
Following this passage talking about reunification of Israel you have Ezekiel 38-39 related to the Gog and Magog invasion of Israel. Now I am not going to get into that tonight. That takes place during the Tribulation period and we’ll talk about that. I have covered that in other places. It is a difficult section to deal with because you have probably four at least, maybe five different positions held by dispensationalists. Nobody can speak with absolute certainty, although they try, as to when this takes place. Some people place it at the end of the Church Age possibly, or in the interim period before the beginning of the Tribulation period.
That is a very popular view today and if you’ve read Joel Rosenberg, who is a Messianic Jew, a popular fiction writer, suspense fiction and that kind of a thing. He also has written some nonfiction related to biblical prophecy. A lot of people follow his material. He holds this position. Several other people hold this position that you are familiar with. Arnold holds this position; Tommy Ice holds this position, as well as several other people. Tommy and I have argued about it for 30 years and he will tell you at any moment that it’s the one position about Scripture that he holds with the least amount of certainty. Other people, for example, Andy Woods over at Sugar Land Bible Church. I think Andy’s got the best solution to put Ezekiel 39 in the first half and Ezekiel 40 in the second half. There are others like John Walvoord who put this in the first part of the first half. There are others who put this as a prelude for both chapters, as a prelude to the Campaign of Armageddon at the end. There’s a minority view that connects the mention of Gog and Magog here in Ezekiel 39 with the mention of Gog and Magog in Revelation 20 at the end, Satan’s final rebellion against God. That is the view that has the least support and the least significance. That view is usually a minority position.
But the end of this, in talking about that Israel is restored to the land and that’s reemphasized starting in Ezekiel 39:21-22 where God says, “I will set My glory among the nations; all the nations shall see My judgment which I have executed, and My hand which I have laid on them. So the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day forward.” So it would seem that the Gog and Magog invasion, this campaign, clearly fits within the Tribulation period; and I think that the solution that part of it takes place early in the Tribulation, part of it takes place at the end solves more problems than it creates. Ezekiel 39:25-27 God says, “Now I will bring back the captives of Jacob, and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy Name, after they have borne their shame, and all their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, when they dwelt safely in their own land and no one made them afraid. When I brought them back from the peoples and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and I am hallowed in them in the sight of many nations.” So this puts it at the end of the Tribulation period. Then we go into the next group of passages from Ezekiel 40-48, and this section focuses on the new temple; the new temple that is the Millennial Temple that is constructed at that point. We’ll come back to that in a minute. Since I was already in Ezekiel 37 I wanted to go through that.
So we look at the characteristics of the Millennial Kingdom (slide 4). We see that (slide 5):
1. It is the first phase of two phases of the establishment of the Kingdom of God. It is the eternal phase.
It is the last stage on this earth; and then it concludes with the Great White Throne judgment, then God destroys the present heavens and earth and creates a new heavens and earth and then we go into eternity. But our eternal dwelling is always going to be upon the earth, not in heaven. Heaven is a temporary abode for us between the Rapture and the Second Coming. During the Millennial Kingdom we are going to reign with Christ on the earth as priest. Then in the New Jerusalem in the new heavens and new earth we will live in the New Jerusalem and that is located on the earth. We don’t have an eternal abode in heaven according to the Scripture.
a. Phase 1 is that 1000 year reign on the earth (Messianic Kingdom)
b. Phase 2 is the eternal state
I pointed out last time that in terms of the:
2. Purposes (slide 6):
a. It is first of all to fulfill God’s many promises to Israel that have not yet been fulfilled.
b. Second, it demonstrates that only God can rule His creation.
This is the core issue in the angelic conflict. Satan wanted to be like God and wanted to rule the creation. God is demonstrating in each and every dispensation with different circumstances and different criteria that only God can rule; that Satan cannot rule at all. The fact that there is famine, wars, disease, all these horrible things that go on are all the result of the fact that Satan cannot control human history.
c. It also demonstrates that it is sin and volition, not the environment, that is the cause of failure.
This is one of the most important aspects of the Millennial Kingdom. In the Millennial Kingdom the children are born with sin natures but there is a perfect environment in terms of government. There is a perfect education system. There is a perfect governing system. There is a perfect economic situation so that everything is properly provided for; you can’t blame the neighborhood. You can’t blame the government. You can’t blame poverty. You can’t blame the lack of assistance. You can’t blame injustice because there is perfect justice on the earth. So it demonstrates that the problem that we have in all of human history is not economics. This destroys the whole theory of Marxism. It destroys all the theories of philosophies related to socialism and related to all of these other human systems that destroy human volition and place the blame for problems on economics or education or some other social factor. It’s sin and individual volition that is the problem.
3. Government (slide 7) Revelation 20:4-6:
We talked about this the last time. Jesus Christ rules the earth and we will live and reign with Him according to Revelation 20:4 for 1,000 years. In Revelation 20:6 we are “priests of God and of Christ” as part of that function.
Jesus (slide 8) reigns during the Tribulation period as King from the throne of David in fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant. This is so important. (Psalm 2:1-9; Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 11:1-2; Isaiah 55:3; Isaiah 55:11; Jeremiah 23:5-8; Jeremiah 33:20-26; Ezekiel 34:23-25; Ezekiel 37:23-24; Luke 1:32-33.
Now I want to look at a couple of passages just to reinforce what the Scripture teaches about the rule of Christ in the Millennial Kingdom (slide 9). In Psalm 2 we have one of the great Messianic psalms. In Psalm 2, I talked about this the last time, we have God making the statement, and “I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion.” Now in context that “King” is The Anointed One. The Hebrew word for “anoint” is mashiah or the noun is mashiach, “The Anointed One.” The term Messiah means “The Anointed One.” So the “King” here is equated to God’s Messiah. He rules; He is installed as King in Jerusalem on My holy hill of Zion.
Now those of you who just went to Israel, we know that there is a hill just to the southwest of the Temple Mount that’s called Mount Zion. But the term Zion is applied specifically to a couple of different mountains. It is even applied to the Temple Mount in the OT, and it is applied as a whole to Jerusalem. So here it is not talking about specifically that one hill in Jerusalem. It’s talking about Jerusalem. This is another way in which Jerusalem is described as Mount Zion. So the Messiah is established as the King in Jerusalem and we would interpret this literally; that this isn’t just a figurative language. This is what the Amillennialist and Postmillennialist say; that Jesus is ruling from His throne. It is a spiritual kingdom and He’s ruling from Heaven. But this clearly is to be understood in a literal sense that He is going to be installed as King in Jerusalem.
Then in Psalm 2:9 (slide 10) “You will break them with a rod of iron.” This is indicated in Luke 1:32-33 (slide 11) “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever.” As we go forward here I want to look at a couple of additional passages, Isaiah 2:2-4 (slide 12). This is a foundational passage in the OT. There Isaiah says, “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days.” Now when you read your Bible, in the NT you will see the phrase “latter days or last days” and you have to distinguish between the latter days of Israel’s dispensation and the latter days for the Church Age because they are two different things. You don’t want to confuse the two. This is talking about the latter days for Israel. “That the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established on the top of the mountain.” The LORD’S house (bet) is the temple, and it is going to be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills.
It’s interesting when you go into Jerusalem I think a lot of people think that the highest mountain that you see there is going to be the Temple Mount. Actually, the Temple Mount is the lowest. It is surrounded. It is almost like it is in a valley and it’s surrounded by a lot of higher hills and mountains. The Mount of Olives is higher, and many others are higher, and the Temple Mount is lower. But what we are told in Scripture is that in the Millennial Kingdom at the end of the Tribulation there is this earthquake and you have this geological uplift that raises and enlarges the Temple Mount area and the temple will be much, much larger than what we have today. In fact, the entire temple precinct is approximately a mile squared. The temple itself sits in the center of that temple precinct area, but the priest live in that precinct area and the Messiah rules from that precinct area, and different things like that. There’s a lot that is going on within that one square mile area. This is the mountain of the LORD’S house. It is established above and exalted above the hills, which is what will take place at the end of the Tribulation period when you have this uplift.
“And all the nations” and the Hebrew word there is goyim, the Gentiles, “all the nations shall flow to it.” Isaiah 2:3 “Many people shall come and say, 'Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD.'” This relates to the spiritual life in the Church Age. People go to Jerusalem to worship from the Gentiles all over the world and this is going to be a shift that is very different from the Church Age. In the Church Age we worship not at a central sanctuary. We worship in a local church and as Jesus told the woman at the well, He prophesied that a time was going to come when they didn’t worship at either that mountain, which was Mount Gerizim, right there by Sychar, nor in Jerusalem, but they will worship by means of the Spirit and by means of truth. Well at this point it is going to revert back to a temple worship. So people are going to be going from all over the world to Jerusalem to the temple to worship the LORD because the LORD is going to descend and indwell the temple there just as He did in the OT. So He is going to live in the midst of sinners in a world that is still corrupt and sinful, though not as it is today.
This is going to be standard. People will be making pilgrimage to Jerusalem over and over again as part of their spiritual life. Isaiah 2:3 “'To go to the mountain of the LORD; to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.' For out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” So the LORD rules the world from Jerusalem. What is the characteristic of that rule? Isaiah 2:4 “He shall judge between the nations.” He is the ultimate Supreme Court. The Supreme Court of Heaven will be directly involved in solving the ultimate problems among the nations. “He will rebuke many people.” And another characteristic of the Millennial Kingdom, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” This is the result of having a unified reign under the Messiah. The only time we are going to have true world peace is when the Messiah reigns. So the characteristic of world peace or whirled peas, depending on which bumper sticker you are looking at, is going to be the result of the Messianic rule. To make these claims is to make a Messianic claim.
This (slide 13) is what we have at the United Nations (UN) building. Here is a statue on the left that is out in front of the UN building in New York; and then on the right you have a quotation from Isaiah 2:4, which is engraved above the entry way to the UN. So the UN is specifically claiming to have a Messianic role to bring world peace and to do away with the weapons of war. Don’t think that the UN is just politics. This isn’t just politics. This is theology at work. And they are the ones who did this. This isn’t Christians saying; well they’re trying to solve the world’s problems apart from God. They are the ones that are making this claim that they have this Messianic role. Don’t ever think that we really live in a world as secularists hope that separates God from everyday affairs. It never happens.
Another passage (slide 14) related to the rule of the Messiah over Israel is Isaiah 42:1 where God says, “Behold! My Servant,” a technical term for the Messiah, “My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.” See David will rule over Israel, but it is the Lord Jesus Christ who rules over all of the nations and will be the source of justice for the Gentiles.
Now another passage that relates to the characteristics of the Millennial Kingdom is in Isaiah 11:6-8 (slide 15) and there we read “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb.” Often people misquote this and say the loin will lie down with the lamb, but it is the wolf that will dwell with the lamb. “The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,” not with the young goat in his tummy, but next to the young goat. “The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.” This clearly shows that certain aspects of the curse of sin are rolled back. That antagonism between the animals and humanity, which is stated in the Noahic Covenant in Genesis 9, is no longer going to be in effect. In fact, what you are going to have is that this animosity is reversed, the hostility of the animals, that apparently they are back to being graminivorus. Remember, they were originally created as herbivores. They weren’t carnivores. That is the result of the fall. It says at the end of Isaiah 11:7 “the lion shall eat straw like the ox.”
This impacts a lot of different things. This impacts dental structure. It impacts the way their gastro-intestinal system works; and the reason I always make that point is that when Adam sinned it just didn’t create a spiritual death problem for him. It reverberated throughout the geophysical nature of the universe so that the laws of the universe shifted. Certain animals no longer functioned just as they had before. Now it might have taken time for this to go into effect, but this deterioration aspect started immediately and they began to change. God didn’t create Tyrannosaurus Rex as a carnivorous animal in the Garden. He becomes that after the Fall. The lion is not carnivorous in the Garden. He is just a dossal little pussy cat. But after the Fall he’s not that way anymore. After the return of the Lord this gets rolled back. In Isaiah 11:7-8 we read “The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand the viper’s den.” All of this is stated in poetry to emphasize that things are going to be quite, quite different.
Micah gives us another picture (slide 16-17) of the Millennial Kingdom in Micah 4:1-4. There we read “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days.” Now what did I say about the term “latter days”? We are talking about the “latter days” of Israel or of the Church Age? It is the “latter days” of Israel. They have no understanding of the Church in the OT. This parallels Isaiah 2:2-4 where it emphasizes the mountain of God’s house. “It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it. Many nations shall come to say, 'Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways.'” That’s an almost direct quote out of Isaiah. “He shall judge between many peoples,” and the rest of it is a quote. It is identical to what we find in Isaiah 2:2-4.
Just wrapping this up we see that in terms of general characteristics (of the Millennium):
- It is a time of world peace.
- There is no war during that time.
- The nations are not in conflict.
- The Arab-Israeli conflict has ended.
- God has brought judgment there.
- All the other conflicts have ended.
- The Lord Jesus Christ rules over the nations.
- But there are still nations (divine institution number 4, which is government and number 5, which has to do with nations is still in effect).
- It is the Lord Jesus Christ though who rules over all of those things.
- We see that the curse on the environment is also rolled back.
Other passages (slide 19) like Isaiah 30:23-24 and Isaiah 35:7 talk about the fact that there’s going to be abundant rainfall and prosperity. Isaiah 35:1-2 (slide 18) says, “The wilderness and wasteland shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.” There will be plenty of rainfall. “It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice. Even with joy and singing.” We look at Isaiah 30:23-24 (slide 19), “Then He will give the rain for your seed with which you sow the ground, and bread of the increase of the earth; it will be fat and plentiful. In that day your cattle will feed in large pastures. Likewise the oxen and the young donkeys that work the ground will eat cured fodder, which has been winnowed with the shovel and fan.” Isaiah 35:7 “The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water; in the habitation of jackals, where each lay, there shall be grass with reeds and rushes.” It is a very different environment. There won’t be a Sahara Desert. There won’t be a Mojave Desert. You won’t have this. Every place will be well watered and lush on the earth.
We see that with this increased abundance there is going to be prosperity and blessing for all. Passages like Jeremiah 31:12 (slide 20) says “they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, streaming to the goodness of the LORD – for wheat and new wine and oil” and all of that depicts an abundance of everything that they need. They have an abundance of groceries.
Ezekiel 34:25-27 (slide 21) says the same thing. God says, “I will make a covenant of peace with them, and cause wild beasts to cease from the land; and they will dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. I will make them and the places all around My hill a blessing; and I will cause showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing. Then the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase. They shall be safe in the land; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bands of their yoke and delivered them from the hand of those who enslave them.” So this describes this incredible new environment. Very different from anything we’ve seen or experienced.
Now as part of this new kingdom there is a new spiritual life. We think of the spiritual life of the Church Age in terms of what dynamic? What is the key feature in the spiritual life of the Church Age? It is God the Holy Spirit. We are indwelt by God the Holy Spirit. First of all we are baptized by God the Holy Spirit, which means that the power of the sin nature is broken. We are indwelt by God the Holy Spirit. And we are filled by the Holy Spirit with doctrine. We are to walk by the Spirit. So the Holy Spirit is the prime agent of the Trinity who's working in our lives to bring spiritual maturity and spiritual growth into our lives. Without the Holy Spirit there is no spiritual growth. They didn’t have the Holy Spirit in the OT. In the OT it’s a very different dynamic. We can’t imagine it. You can’t put yourself back there because you have been freed from the power of the sin nature and that power was broken at the instant of salvation. But in the OT that never happened. It didn’t happen to David. It didn’t happen to Jeremiah. It didn’t happen to Daniel. It didn’t happen to Joseph or Abraham or Noah or any of the greats of the OT. They never had that sin nature power broken.
So it is a very different spiritual life. They don’t have the Holy Spirit to teach them, to guide them, to lead them, to direct them. They didn’t have a completed canon of Scripture. They did however, have various Theophanies and Christophanies in the OT, which would give them a revelation. They had much grace and much provision from God and guidance, but it was very different from the present Church Age. God was accomplishing different purposes by giving them such a limitation on their spiritual life. We too have a limitation on our spiritual life. What is interesting when we get into the Millennial Kingdom, is that there are features from the OT that are reenacted. There is going to be a temple. There is going to be a temple that is a physical temple that is indwelt and inhabited by the LORD God and people will go to that geographical vicinity for instruction from God. That is very different from today.
We’ve read other passages related to the Jews and the New Covenant that God puts a new law in their heart and it is no longer necessary to teach their neighbor. They have almost direct knowledge of Scripture and doctrine for the Jewish people. But the nations need to go to Jerusalem in order to have spiritual instruction. So there’s going to be a completely different spiritual life. There is also going to be the presence of God the Holy Spirit in a rich way that is not experienced today. This is one of the problems that people within the charismatic camp have, is that they often go to Millennium passages from the OT that talk about the Holy Spirit and try to make that apply to today and it is the wrong dispensation.
So let’s talk for a minute about the spiritual life of the Millennial Kingdom:
1. First of all, Jesus Christ is going to be on the earth. He is going to have residence on the earth and He’s going to be indwelling the temple in Jerusalem, the new Millennial Temple, and it becomes the physical center of worship for all in the world.
2. The second thing that we learn is that the earth is going to be full of the knowledge of the LORD. In Isaiah 11:9 we read, “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD.” Here is an artist’s picture of what the future Millennial Temple will look like (slide 22).
Isaiah 11:9 (slide 23) says that “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD.” So everybody is going to know about the LORD. Nobody is going to have any excuse. It is not just going to be a general revelation. It is going to be a verbal and a visual revelation of God. We also see that Israel finally fulfills her national purpose that God set forth in the OT when He called her to be a priest nation. This is described in Isaiah 2:2-3 (slide 24), which we’ve already read, where Israel functions as a nation of priests, a kingdom of priests, to the rest of the world. In terms of the ministry of God the Holy Spirit, the miraculous demonstrations through the power of the Holy Spirit will be common. This will be standard. It is not ecstatics. It never has been ecstatics. Ecstatics was always the kind of emotional revolt that was evident in the idolatry of the pagan religions and of the heathen religions.
Somebody sent me a picture today of a great Christmas card. I wish I could actually print these out and send them to a few people. As you look at the Christmas card on the outside cover there is a picture of a beautiful scene, mountains in the background, and the lake in the foreground, and two deer. It is just a great picture of nature; and it says, hope you have a happy nondenominational nonreligious holiday. You open it up on the inside it says, you heathen [laughter]. So everybody will know about the LORD. Everybody will be aware of the LORD and that won’t be quite the case, not until you get further into the Millennial Kingdom.
All throughout the Millennial Kingdom there are these manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Here you have a situation, unlike the Church Age, where you had miraculous gifts and sign gifts in the early part of the Church Age. In the OT period you had miraculous things that happened that primarily occurred in two or three periods of time in the OT. They weren’t normative though, but they did happen on occasion. You had the miracles related to the Exodus event. You had the miracles related to the ministries of Elijah and Elisha. And then you had a few other miracles sprinkled here and there in the OT, but it wasn’t the normal experience of every believer. But it becomes the normal experience of every believer in the Millennial Kingdom.
Isaiah 32:15 (slide 25) says, “Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is counted as a forest.” So somehow there is a relation between this outpouring of the Holy Spirit and economic prosperity. In Isaiah 44:3 we read, “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty and floods on the dry ground;” and the picture here is not just someone who is physically thirsty or physically dry, but they are spiritually thirsty and spiritually barren. And God says, “I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring.” So all of Israel benefits from this massive, this effusive outpouring of God the Holy Spirit.
Ezekiel 39:29 (slide 26) God says, “I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel.” That is related to the establishment of the New Covenant. Then we come to the most well-known passage from OT in Joel 2:28-29 (slide 27), “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” Now some people say, well that is like ecstatics, but that’s not. It never was in the OT. Joseph saw dreams. He had dreams. God is communicating to Pharaoh in a dream, communicating; and Joseph had dreams earlier. He is communicating. It is rational content; it is just occurring while the person is asleep. So Joseph is a young man and is having these dreams. Pharaoh later has dreams. They have specific meaning. They can’t just mean anything.
Prophecy, seeing visions, a vision is what occurs when a person is awake rather than asleep. God pours out a different environment for the Holy Spirit during this time. It is revelatory and it occurs in Joel 2:29, “also My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.” So it is a totally different environment in relation to the Holy Spirit. Now we have this dimension of the Holy Spirit, but then there is also a ritual reality in the Millennial Kingdom that’s similar to the OT temple, but it is different. In fact there are a number of differences between the Levitical offerings and the offerings that are described in Ezekiel 40-48. There are some different qualifications for priests and who priests marry in Leviticus as well as in Ezekiel. So there are differences there. The temple and the description of the temple is very much different. What we see is that there will be this new temple, the fourth temple constructed on the Temple Mount, the new Temple Mount that comes up at the end of the Tribulation period. We know that there have been basically four temples:
1. The first temple is Solomon’s temple, which was built in approximately 970 B.C. and was destroyed in 586 B.C.
2. Then there is the second temple, which really functioned in two parts. You had Zerrubabel’s temple, which was fairly modest, which is rebuilt in approximately 516 B.C. and this exists until it is destroyed in A.D. 70. Starting in about 24 B.C. Herod began a massive architectural project to rebuild the temple and to make it one of the greatest architectural marvels in the ancient world. The architecture of this temple and the massive rebuilding because the temple is going to be so heavy they had to build this huge platform around Mount Moriah that would be reinforced with these huge stones that comprise this wall. In fact there is one place where you can go down along the Western Wall and in the tunnels at the base and there are stones that they have measured that weigh over 500 tons that they moved into that location and they fit perfectly, one on top of another. All of this was designed to hold the weight and the pressure from all of the dirt that they were putting up on the Temple Mount, on which the new temple would sit. Now why do we not call that a third temple? We don’t call it a third temple because the daily sacrifices never stopped. So it is considered phase 2 of the third temple. This is the second temple, the Zerrubabel temple, Herod’s temple.
3. The third temple is the apostate temple. That is the temple that is built during the Tribulation period rather then looking back at the beginning of the Tribulation, where they are looking back at accepting Jesus as Messiah. Jews will build another temple on the Temple Mount and this is the temple that the Antichrist desecrates halfway through the Tribulation period. So that is the third temple.
4. The fourth temple is the greatest of all the temples. That is the one that is described in Ezekiel 40-48. There is a huge amount of detail given in Ezekiel. There are 318 precise measurements given in the description of the temple starting in Ezekiel 40. This is not some idealized temple. It is not just some nebulous temple that is in the heavens. The language that is used is the same kind of language that is used in Exodus when God was giving instructions to Moses to build the tabernacle, and the same kind of language and instruction to Solomon. There’s specificity in exactly how the temple was to be built. Not only is that described, but a new priesthood is described. It is not going to be the whole of the Levitical priesthood anymore because of the apostasy of the house of Eli. We are going to learn about that when we study 1 Samuel when I get back from Kiev. But because of the apostasy of the house of Eli, the descendents of Eli were prohibited from continuing as high priest; and so it reverted to another line from Aaron, and it goes through Zadok who became the high priest during the time of Solomon. It is the Zadok high priesthood that is going to be brought back into prominence during the time of the Millennial Kingdom.
The thing that probably bothers more people than anything else is the fact that there is a restoration of the sacrificial system during the Millennial Kingdom. This causes a problem for a lot of Christians because they think that somehow doesn’t this negate what Christ did on the Cross? Christ is the final sacrifice. Why then would there be a return to sacrifices? Let me help you understand this:
First, there is a return to sacrifices because not only does Ezekiel talk about this, but Jeremiah and Isaiah also predict this; that there will be sacrifices in the Messianic Kingdom. But the sacrifices in the Messianic Kingdom have a different function than those under the Levitical system. One way in which dispensational theologians have tried to explain this in the past is to say that they are memorial sacrifices. But that doesn’t really fit, especially with the language of Ezekiel. If you look at Ezekiel 43:20. You might want to underline this (slide 28). God is giving instruction and in Ezekiel 43:20 God says, “You shall take some of its blood” – this is in relation to the sacrifice that has taken place. “You will take a young bull (in Ezekiel 43:19) for a sin offering to the priest.” Now wait a minute. I thought Christ was the sin offering? Well, we have to understand what the issue is in terms of the offerings. We’ll get to that in just a minute. “You’ll take a young bull for a sin offering to the priest, the Levites, to the seed of Zadok, who approached Me to minister to Me…. You shall take some of its blood and put it on the four horns of the altar.” So there’s going to be an animal sacrifice and you will put its blood on the horns of the altar and “thus you shall cleanse it and make atonement for it.
Now what is this all about? Well, we have to understand a few things about the terminology. First of all we have to understand something about the word translated atone. It is the word kaphar. Many people for a long time were taught that the meaning of the word kaphar was “to cover” and that is not exactly correct. The meaning of the word kaphar has to do with “cleansing.” You can go through numerous passages like the one we have here, where you see a parallelism between atonement and cleansing. You make atonement to provide cleansing, not justification. So the word kaphar was often identified in the past with an act of propitiation, but who is propitiated by a sacrifice? This is a basic question, Salvation 101. Who gets propitiated? Who gets satisfied? God. Propitiation is Godward; kaphar never takes place toward God; kaphar takes place toward inanimate objects or people, not God. So God is not atoned. People are cleansed and that is the main picture here.
In Ezekiel 43:26 (slide 28) we read “Seven days they shall make atonement for the altar and purify it, and so consecrate it.” What we see is that the purpose for kaphar is to bring about cleansing, spiritual cleansing and purification. So let’s stop a minute and come to understand a basic category. There’s a difference between real cleansing and ritual cleansing.
Let me give you an example, David is a shepherd and he’s out with the sheep out south of Bethlehem in the field of the shepherds and he does something. He has mental attitude sins of lust, which is easy to imagine with David, and/or he is angry in some way, but he commits sin. Now does that mean that David has to drop everything and run all the way to Jerusalem, which is about 15 miles, and confess his sin by bringing a sacrifice, and slitting the throat of the lamb, and then turn around and run all the way back?
He probably won’t get back before he has to turn around and run all the way back to Jerusalem to slit another lamb’s throat. He’s going to be running back and forth all day long if slitting the lamb’s throat and bringing that sacrifice is what is necessary for him to come to confess his sins. Let me suggest that what goes on in terms of David’s personal life. When he sins he confesses that sin to God and he is forgiven in terms of real cleansing. But the next time he wants to worship God in the temple, he has to be ritually cleansed. When he goes to the temple at the end of the week on Sabbath he is going to bring a sacrifice for ritual cleansing for the sin that he’s already been forgiven for that took place earlier. So you have real forgiveness and you have ritual cleansing. It is important to maintain that distinction because as Hebrews tells us, the blood of the bulls of the goats could not take away sin. It didn’t provide real cleansing from sin. It was a temporary withholding of the judgment of God, and when you come into the temple, the temple had to be sanctified, and sin could not come into the temple, and uncleanness could not come into the temple, and so there had to be cleansing.
The main idea in the sacrifices had to do with ritual cleansing and ritual purification. It is not saying anything about or it is not addressing the issue of Christ’s payment for sin. The atoning sacrifices, the sacrifices of the lambs and the bulls, and the goats did not bring about the forgiveness of sin. It brought about cleansing from sin and that was important. As we look in Ezekiel he goes on to say in Ezekiel 45:15; Ezekiel 45:17; and Ezekiel 45:20 (slide 29), “One lamb shall be given from a flock of two hundred, from the rich pastures of Israel. These shall be for grain offerings, burnt offerings, and peace offerings, to make atonement for them.” We should translate that to “make cleansing for them.” Translating as atonement, the word atonement is an English word that was coined to translate this concept from the English phrase “at one ment,” which really focuses more on reconciliation. The idea of “at one ment” and then that word was compressed and it became atonement. In fact, you can use do a word search you are not going to find the word atonement in your New Testament (NT) at all. So it is really better to translate this cleansing or for purification. That’s the purpose for these sacrifices.
Now what happens is, to understand this (and we’re running out of time already) is that the atonement is necessary in the Millennial Kingdom for the same reason that this was necessary in the OT. In Exodus 40 the Shekinah, the dwelling presence of God descended upon the tabernacle. A holy righteous God is living amongst sinful people in a sinful environment; and because of that, because of the presence of sinful people, the tabernacle itself, the furniture in the tabernacle, and the people who are coming to worship are going to be rendered “unclean.” Now uncleanness is a category in the OT that is not necessarily related to sin. Sin can make you ceremonially unclean, but other things that are not sin can also render you ceremonially unclean. For example, at childbirth a woman gives birth to a child, then she is going to be ceremonially unclean for a week, but she has committed no sin. If you touch a dead body and if you were a tanner this was a problem with your particular profession; then when you touched a corpse you would be rendered ceremonially unclean. If you were preparing the body for burial you would be ceremonially unclean but you haven’t committed any sins. There’s nothing immoral about what you are doing. There were many other things that were listed in Leviticus that make a person ceremonially unclean.
Theologians have argued a lot over what these things have in common, and as I read the literature the closest that I’ve ever come to this is somebody said, well it seems like it has to do with life and death. Hello? Every one of these things has something to do with the curse of sin. A woman gives birth; there is nothing immoral or sinful about that. But in the curse in Genesis 3 her pain is going to be increased in childbirth because of sin. So this has to do with a situation reminiscent of the curse. You can’t eat certain kinds of food because those animals eat dead things. Death is the penalty for sin. So the thread that runs through all of these different things that render a person unclean, certain diseases, leprosy for a matter of fact, and certain other things is that they are related to the curse of sin. So there has to be cleansing, and even objects in the temple. If somebody who is ceremonially unclean touches furniture in the tabernacle or the temple then that object is now ceremonially unclean and it needs to be sanctified. It is sanctified by the application of the blood.
When we look at this we understand that the concept of these millennial sacrifices has to do with the fact that a holy God once again is living in the midst of sinful people. He’s living in a world that is fallen and at the beginning of the construction of the millennial tabernacle, the altar and all of the furniture, has to be cleansed. Three out of the five uses of the verb related to atonement, which is kip. The noun is kaphar. The main verb, the root verb is kip, that three of the five uses of that root in Ezekiel 40-48 relate to furniture, to inanimate objects, not to persons. So what this tells us is that the purpose and function is ceremonial. It has to do with ritual purity in the ritual worship of God in the millennial temple. Well I’ll come back. I have a few more things to say about that before we wrap-up our study on the spiritual life of the Millennium, and we’ll do that next Tuesday night.
"Father, thank You for this opportunity to reflect upon these things, to be reminded of Your plan and Your purpose, and above all to be reminded of the fact that sin permeates everything. And so the illustration that we have from both the OT tabernacle and temple, and the millennial temple, is the way sin permeates and corrupts everything and the need for ceremonial cleansing on the basis of a blood sacrifice, a substitutionary sacrifice, where a life is taken in order to provide that cleansing from sin. Father, we know that that life that was taken for our cleansing from sin was the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross, and that He paid that penalty for us willingly that we might have eternal life by simply having faith in Him. Father, we pray that You will challenge us with what we are learning in this study tonight. We pray this in Christ’s Name, Amen."