Allegorizing Ezekiel’s Temple
Brett’s next response to me was probably initiated by my response to Professor Barcellos. Although the good professor did not respond, I believe Brett was taking a bit of what I had to say to Barcellos and responding to that. Brett brings out the allegorical method of interpretation fairly well. But if you notice, he tries to give a disclaimer saying that dispensationalists often accuse A-Millennialists of allegorizing the texts. But then he goes on to do it just the same.
Also if you notice, this is where we begin the present fulfillment versus future fulfillment aspect of this whole study. Here is where the A-Millennialists are coming from. Since there has been fulfillment of kingdom work in the church, the kingdom is present amongst God’s people now. Therefore, the prophecies concerning a kingdom are fulfilled right now. There will be a final consummation of this one day, but no kingdom here on earth with Christ ruling as head of the nation.
Does it have to be one or the other? By using certain key texts in the Bible, A-Millennialists feel that they have proved their point. The kingdom is present in the church, so it can’t be future, or so they assert. This will come out in several key spots. My view consists of the fact that we have the down payment of a future kingdom with us now. Since the kingdom has begun in the church, we have a more sure word of prophecy that the OT prophecies will literally be fulfilled in a future Messianic Kingdom which will last for 1000 years. We don’t have the fullness of the kingdom now. When Christ comes to earth, then the beginning of His kingdom will be established here on earth as it is in heaven. So it doesn’t have to be one or the other. It’s both. Since His Kingdom is His established authority, there is no point in debating whether it is present or future. He is the King of kings and LORD of Lords right now. His kingdom will be manifested in different ways throughout different times, as has been revealed in the OT already.
If you notice, my reply to Brett is quite concise. Here is what he had for me.
In coming to the correct interpretation we need to keep in mind the different genre’s that we are dealing with. We are dealing withy a vision, kind of like Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones). I’m sure I am not telling you anything you don’t already know, but sometimes that dimension can become flattened in theological discussions. What you are asking us to do is typically what dispensationalists accuse of doing, namely allegorizing the text. I believe it is an abuse of the parables of Christ to press every detail for significance as some have regrettably done. In the same manner, I do not believe that the details of this vision should be pressed. Rather, like the parables, the details are supportive elements of the main point.
I think in the case of Ezekiel’s vision, many of the details are there to express the grandeur and glory of this new temple. There are many themes which do correspond to these temple images. Christ is the primary referent, and believers, in as much as they are joined to Christ, become a second referent: Such as:
• The many passages (already listed) which refer to Christ and the church as the temple.
• Christ is obviously the ultimate sacrifice, and believers are called to present their bodies as a sacrifice (Rom 12:1). Various acts of worship are regarded as sacrifices (Phil 4:18; Heb 13:15-16). Peter sums up many of these correlations in 1 Pet 2:5, “you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Here the church is described as the temple, and the priests, and offering sacrifices, all of this is through Jesus Christ who was the ultimate fulfillment of all of it.
• The prayers of the saints are referred to as incense in several places in Revelation.
• The river which flows out of the temple which brings life wherever it flows also corresponds well to the church today (passages listed previously).
With all these correlations, in the context of a vision where the details should not be unduly pressed, together with some of the physical absurdities of taking it literally (discussed previously) together with the massive theological difficulties of a reinstituted sacrificial system et al, seem make the amillennial interpretation the more reasonable one.
This is a response to your second post. You say that I’m asking you to allegorize the text. I’m just asking for a full explanation of the allegorical method that’s already in employ here. Your view seems to be that it can’t be done since it wasn’t meant to be done. I suppose that’s one conclusion one could come to. I agree that parables shouldn’t be pressed for every detail. But do we have a parable here? It’s a vision. Is it a vision of a future temple? Is it a vision of a future temple to be fulfilled in an allegorical method? Is it a vision of a future temple to be allegorically fulfilled in the church until it is time for heaven to break forth to the earth? Now I’m just trying to get you to think here.
Is there a “grandeur and glory” to this temple being described? Of course. I would agree with you there. Is the OT temple a type of the body of Messiah as revealed in the NT? Certainly. Do both of these conclusions bring us to the place where we say that there is no future earthly temple which will be erected here on the earth? Not from these two conclusions. And I haven’t come to that place from any other passage in the Bible either.
Your correlations are well laid out. We can draw much strength in our daily walk if we envision these principles in our daily lives. To go from this point of believing that there are types and shadows fulfilled in the NT to the place of not believing any of these prophecies will be fulfilled physically or literally is premature.
Thanks for the thoughts.
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