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|EZEKIEL'S TEMPLE UNDER EXAMINATION TODAY
(Ezekiel 40-48 and Revelation 22)
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If we consider Ezekiel Chapters 40-48, we see a Temple envisioned that has practically no "holy" furniture or utensils shown in the "holy" compartment. Only a "wooden table" that is shown to be the "table before Jehovah." (Ezekiel 41:21, 22) But, no golden table/altar is seen, or no other "golden" items are shown in it, which is very unusual...yes, very unusual indeed. Also, we see there is someone, mysteriously doing much "measuring" of the entire Temple complex. (Ezekiel 40th chapter)
(The "Ark of the Covenant" which is in the "Most Holy" of God's Temple is given consideration in the article entitled: The "Ark Of The Covenant" -- Its Meaning Today)
We also notice, no High Priest is specifically mentioned but someone called the "Chieftain" is shown to be there. This person is mentioned as one who "eats bread before Jehovah" himself. (Ezekiel 44:3) Also, we see from Ezekiel’s vision, "healing," "living waters" are flowing from this Temple, which benefits many of mankind. -- Ezekiel 47:1-12
As we examine this temple of Ezekiel closely, we remember there is another Temple mentioned in the book of Revelation too, that brings forth "healing," "Living Waters" also. (Revelation 22:1, 2) And both temples are said to be from God, as they both bring forth "Living Waters" for the "curing" of mankind. But the one mentioned in Revelation seems different, very much so. Yes, because this Temple represents the "finished product" -- The end result, of God's making.
Therefore, what we today see pictured here, in both visions of the future, is the work of re-building God's Temple, or God's People being rebuilt, re-organized and re-educated people, into a spiritual "temple" structure for Jehovah. (1 Corinthians 3:16, 17) This is shown in the fact that in both temple structures, Jehovah has found permanent residence within them. -- See Ezekiel 43:4-9; Ezekiel 48:35; Revelation 21:3, 4; Revelation 22:3.
Before pure worship can get underway, Jehovah Himself reveals the first "temple" has been defiled in His eyes, by wicked "chieftains" previously in charge of God's Household. -- See Ezekiel 43:8, 9; Ezekiel 44:9; Ezekiel 45:8-12.
Because of their wicked acts, the "temple" then must be cleansed. These "rebellious" leaders and "rebellious" nation, are called by God: "Rebelliousness, the house of Israel". Yes, they are a "rebellious" people in God's sight -- very much so! This is why, Almighty God also goes on to say to these wicked people, they have "broken his covenant" with them, as a nation and people, and "defiled" His Holy Name. Therefore, the people must repent, and "remove their fornication" and "carcasses of their kings" far away from God, and then Jehovah will "certainly reside in the midst of them to TIME INDEFINITE" or forever. This is God's Promise to them. -- See Ezekiel 44:6, 7; Ezekiel 43:8, 9.
Therefore, because of this horrendous spiritual condition the people exist in, the people must be taught again, "the difference between a holy thing and a profane thing. They must again be taught, the difference between what is unclean and what is clean". (See Isaiah 54:13) In fact, because of the filthy spiritual condition of the nation at that time, yes even the [copper] "altar" upon which the sacrifices of the nation are normally to be offered, is also completely "defiled" in God's sight. So, again, this "altar" first must be "atoned" for, "cleansed" and then "installed" again, before God will accept the nations offerings upon it. -- See Ezekiel 43:26; Ezekiel 44:23.
Since both "temples" mentioned are described as sending forth "healing," "living waters" coming forth from them to "heal" or "cure" mankind, thus it would be reasonable to conclude that the Temple shown in Revelation and the one mentioned in Ezekiel are both, one and the same temple structures, for God's Glory, but shown from 2 completely different angles. The key difference being, one "temple," the one mentioned in Revelation actually represents the END RESULT of God's work upon renovating, or "re-generating" [Greek: palingenesis] his "apostate nation" people of worshippers, and the other Temple, as shown in Ezekiel, represents the beginning of this spiritual "restoration" work itself. -- See Isaiah 10:6; Ezekiel 43:10-12; Matthew 19:28.
(For more detailed information on the spiritual restoration of modern-day "Israel" and an indepth discussion of Matthew 19:28 see the article entitled: Jehovah's Witnesses "Regenerated" As A Nation From Apostasy -- How & Why?)
EZEKIEL’S MYSTERY “CHIEFTAIN” – HIS “RESTORATION” ROLE TOWARD ISRAEL
Ezekiel's Mystery "Chieftain"/Leader, A Sinner?
We read at Ezekiel 44:1-3 the following mysterious information about a FUTURE Temple of God's making and blessing,
"And he proceeded to bring me back by way of the gate of the Sanctuary, the outer one facing east, and it was shut. Then Jehovah said to me: "As regards this gate, shut is how it will continue. It will not be opened, and no mere man will come in by it; for Jehovah himself, the God of Israel, has come in by it, and it must continue shut. However, the chieftain -- as chieftain he himself will sit in it [the east gate], in order to eat bread before Jehovah. By way of the porch of the gate he will come in, and by way of it he will go out." -- Ezekiel 44:1-3
"And on that day, in his own behalf and in behalf of all the people of the land, the chieftain must provide a young bull as a sin offering." -- Ezekiel 45:22
Who is this mystery "Chieftain." Is it Jesus Christ? Or is it someone else. He is said to make a "sin" offering for himself as well as for the people of the nation? Who could this be? Can we find the answers to these questions in the Bible?
Interestingly, the Expositors Bible Commentary Volume 6 (released in 1986) page 974 makes this open, honest, and straightforward comment on the "chieftain's" true identity. It says,
"Only the prince was permitted to enter this gate. He must enter and leave by way of the portico from the outer court only. His only function within that gate was to eat bread in the presence of the LORD, but exactly which meal or for what purpose is not stated.
"The identity of this prince has been a puzzle to many. The meaning of the Hebrew word nasi has in itself contributed to the problem. The English word prince connotes royalty. However, the word nasi would best be translated "leader" (cf. E.A. Speiser, "Background and Function of the Biblical Nasi," CBQ 25 : 111-17). This leader was not the Messiah, because the leader is made a sin offering for himself (cf. 45:22). If the leader" were Jesus Christ, then he, the Messiah, would need cleansing from sin. Such was not possible (cf. Heb 4:15). In addition, this leader had natural children (46:16), another impossibility for the Messiah. THE LEADER WAS A MAN. Some have identified him with David, citing Eze. 34:23-24 and Eze. 37:24 as support. However, these passages have been shown above to apply to the Messiah, not David.
"The identity of the leader is unknown. He functions as the people's leader in their millennial worship, almost like a high priest, but not having the same role and function." -- Expositors Bible Commentary Volume 6, page 974
Ezekiel’s Mystery “Chieftain” – An Intriguing Subject to Investigate
Today, it behooves us all to show ourselves studious individuals of God's Word. Lest we miss very important "details" of scripture and prophecy that could provide "missing links" of info pertinent to our receiving a fuller understanding of God's Grand Purposes for us all, as revealed in Holy Scripture. And it is equally as important to be genuinely interested in re-discovering and discussing the "deep things of God", matters of "serious concern," to all ardent students of Holy Scripture. -- 1 Corinthians 2:10; Phil. 4:8
The topic of the Mystery "Chieftain" is one such subject.
As most Jehovah’s Witnesses know, not much "research" has been done on the above subject by the Watchtower Society. It seems, (as with many other difficult topics) the Watchtower Society has basically avoided this subject, with only casual mention of it here and there in their literature. A few printed comments mentions the "Chieftain" representing the "Princes" over the earth, during the 1,000 year reign of peace, taken from Isa. 32nd chapter and Psalms 45th. -- See The Nations Shall Know that I Am Jehovah - How? pages 401-405; Watchtower 2/15/80 page 24; 1973 Watchtower pages 426-428.
However that is impossible. Why?
Well, this is because the mystery "Chieftain," has "Sons," and "Servants," clearly with the approval of Jehovah God. Yes, "Sons," who receive an "inheritance" like himself and he has "servants" or slaves. This imperfect, sinful man, the "Chieftain" does possess such.
Ezekiel 46:16, 17 says,
"This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, In case the chieftain should give a gift to each one of his sons as his inheritance, it itself will become the property of his sons themselves. It is their possession by inheritance. And in case he should give a gift from his inheritance to one of his servants, it must also become his until the year of liberty; and it must return to the chieftain. On his inheritance -- as regards his sons -- is what should continue to belong to their own selves."
Now after reading the above verses, we can't imagine the present-day "elders" among Jehovah’s Witnesses of today, if ever permitted at all in the 1,000 year reign of Peace, to ever, ever, ever be permitted to have "Servants," [literally "Slaves" fnt NWT Lg Prt Ref Bible] or even spiritual "Sons", during that wonderful time of peace and righteousness, can we? The Watchtower Society "elder body" of Jehovah's Witnesses, no, could never, ever rightfully hold such a position before Jehovah God during this such a wonderful period, the Millennium of Peace. They have done nothing to merit this high respect of others of mankind. No they have not. So, how could they ever have what Jehovah calls, "slaves," attending to them. No, no "slaves" or "servants" could they have, in any sense of the word. No they cannot...they are clearly unworthy of such an honor.
So obviously, the Jehovah’s Witnesses congregational leaders, the "elders" cannot in any way picture this mystery "Chieftain" while in the 1,000 year reign of peace.
Obviously, something unusual is going on here, since the mystery "Chieftain" is himself, clearly a "sinner" and indeed, does have "slaves" or "servants", all approved by Jehovah God.
Ezekiel 45:22 clearly says of the mystery "Chieftain,
"And on that day, in his own behalf and in behalf of all the people of the land, the chieftain must provide a young bull as a sin offering."
There can be no doubt, he is in fact, a "sinner," a sinful descendant of Adam. So then, what did this mystery "Chieftain" do to merit such rank and authority in the eyes of the whole camp of Israel, and more importantly, in the eyes of Jehovah God?
He must have done something, quite significant for Jehovah. But what did he do?
Still, another point of interest is this,
Ezekiel 45:18-20 says of that future temple arrangement,
"This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, In the first month on the first day of the month, you should take a young bull, a son of the herd, a sound one, and you must purify the sanctuary from sin. And the priest must take some of the blood of the sin offering and put in upon the doorpost of the House of upon the four corners of the surrounding ledge belonging to the altar and upon the doorpost of the gate of the inner courtyard. And that is how you will do on the seventh day in the month because of any making a mistake and because of any inexperienced one; and you people must make atonement for the House." -- Ezekiel 45:18-20
As we remember, we are taught that in the 1,000-year reign of peace, everyone has been "freed" or "liberated" from the effects of Adamic Sin. And this is true. Therefore, in that period of time, there will be no more "making mistakes," and errors of the "inexperienced one." Every one will be perfect, free of sin.
However, we notice in this temple..."mistakes" can still be made, errors of the "inexperienced" and imperfect, sinful man. And yet, Jehovah has made provision for the "covering" and "atonement" of such "mistakes." Why?
Obviously, these individuals ARE STILL IMPERFECT, STILL SINNERS, while officiating at Jehovah's FUTURE Temple. Yes, in this "sinful" state, they serve in "priestly" capacity, carrying out duties of "Priests," in acceptable worship before God. Thus, a fully acceptable Priesthood of mankind in its "sinful" state on earth. A "Priesthood" that can make "mistakes." And yet, Jehovah is perfectly willing to "atone" for a situation, again, upon earth.
Therefore, this FUTURE, earthly arrangement, complete with "sinful" Chieftain, Sinful Priestly (Zadok) Sons, sinful Servants, and "sinful" people in its entirety have been SANCTIONED and fully AUTHORIZED by Jehovah God, with His full blessings, to function and represent God Almighty, ALL BEFORE THE Millennium STARTS.
Is this not "Good News" to all who are truly "Israel"? -- Isaiah 52:7; 61:1-5; Romans 10:15
Yes it is!
MAIN POINT: In other words, Ezekiel's vision of this future temple shows us, unequivocally, that true worship will truly be RE-ESTABLISHED upon earth, RESTORED UPON EARTH, by "sinners", men in a "sinful" state, all with Jehovah God's Eternal Blessings, BEFORE THE Millennium STARTS, and before God REMOVES "sin" from mankind as a whole. -- Matt. 19:28; Acts 3:20, 21
This is why Isaiah 4:5 says,
"Jehovah will also certainly create over every established place of Mount Zion and over her convention place a cloud by day and a smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; because over all the glory there will be a shelter."
Again, we cannot deny the fact, yes, that this is an earthly, theocratic religious arrangement, approved by Jehovah God. This is an Earthly Scene, isn't it?
There can be no doubt that it is.
The above mention of "the first month, on the first day" of that same month, is quite interesting and informative. No doubt it is.
Ezekiel 45:18 mentions "the first day" of "the first month." The "first month" of the Sacred Calendar for Ancient Israel is the month known as NISAN.
Jehovah mentions NISAN 1 as a special time to take note. Why?
Yes, what should NISAN 1, remind all Israelites of, yes indeed, ALL JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES of... of what?
Well, wasn't it the day, Jehovah God "brought down a cloud by day and pillar of fire by night" and cast it over the "Tent of Meeting," to show HIS ACCEPTANCE of that new "Tabernacle" arrangement. Also, to give His Eternal Guidance to the camp of Israel and Moses ... wasn't this the actual "day" that this all happened?
Yes, that "day" was in fact NISAN 1, was it not?
Now, if we compare Exodus 40:2 with Numbers 9:15, 16 we will see, NISAN 1 is a very special day to Jehovah God...thus we see the value of its mention in Ezekiel 45:18
The "Date" is mentioned for a reason, an important reason. We remember,
NISAN 1 is that special day, when Jehovah ACCEPTED and INAUGURATED PURE WORSHIP for "sinful" Israel during Moses' day. Jehovah accepted the "Tabernacle", the Temple arrangement of Israel on NISAN 1. Today, those of the Jewish nation recognize this date even down to our modern times ... NISAN 1.
So we have the all-important "connection", given to us by God Almighty, Jehovah. It signals the RE-ESTABLISHMENT of Pure Worship in the sight of Jehovah God. It represents His full acceptance of worship from "sinners," descendants of Adam, BEFORE, yes BEFORE the Millenium starts. And this form of pure and acceptable worship will be well received by Jehovah God, we assert? Why?
Because of the efforts and activities of the Mystery "Chieftain," that is UNEXPLAINABLY allowed to "eat bread" in the very "Presence" of God Almighty Himself. The one who is like the "sinner" Moses, who we remember was told,
"...Go up to Jehovah, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu and seventy of the older men of Israel, and you must bow down from a distance. And Moses by himself must approach Jehovah; but they should not approach, and the people should not go up with him." -- Numbers 24:1, 2
Only Moses, the "sinner" should approach Jehovah ... Only Moses, the "sinner" that God had chosen. Only Moses.
And, only the mystery "Chieftain," a "sinner", can approach, can do this,... "eat bread in the presence of Jehovah" in the East Gate. -- Ezekiel 44:1-3
So, there is much we can learn from a close examination of the book of Ezekiel about the re-establishment of pure and acceptable worship of Jehovah God, as we as Jehovah's Witnesses by necessity, "make our escape."
Surely, we today, as modern-day "Israel," and Israel of old have much to be thankful for. Why? Because, Jehovah God has mercifully remembered us. Yes, lovingly, Jehovah has provided for us. But, we must be obedient...to make our "escape," the same as Ancient Israel of old from oppressive modern day “Egypt” of our time. For example, just as Israel of old we remember NISAN 14, and the celebration of the Passover, which means "escape" from OPPRESSIVE EGYPT. We too should be thinking the same, of our impending "escape" from modern-day OPPRESSIVE "Egypt" of our day, the Watchtower Society, the “Great City,” known in the book of Revelation as “Babylon The Great” of Bible Prophecy. -- See Revelation 11:8
(For a full discussion of the topic of Modern-Day "Babylon The Great" please see article entitled: "Babylon The Great" - What Is It?)
Simply put, the mystery "Chieftain" of Ezekiel 44:1-3 is a central part of God's purposes to bring "Jacob (Israel) back to him," in a "At-One" state. (Isa. 49:5) His role and stage of importance, is second only to that of Jesus Christ himself, the "Amen" of God, to the outworkings of God's Purposes to redeem mankind and restore pure worship on earth. His role and ministry toward "Israel" brings actual "glory" to Jesus, and does not detract in any way, from Jehovah's point of view, in that he is a disciple and follower of Jesus Christ himself. -- See John 16:14.
The mysterious "Chieftain" is a "christian" or as Paul said, "a man in union with Christ" who had the unthinkable privilege of hearing from God, "unutterable sayings," which are considered by man, "unlawful" to speak. These "words" are perceived by man, as "unlawful" words for any man to speak because they are thought to be blasphemous...words against Jesus Christ.
And on this basis, he is "judged", no one among "Israel" wants to hear his message. Thus, his seemingly unrepeatable "words" are viewed as "blasphemy" by ignoramus "Israel," much as we remember Jesus' words were clearly interpreted as such by the religious leaders of his time. -- See John 10:36; 2 Corinthians 12:2-4.
Though, largely misunderstood by "Israel," still, the "mystery Chieftain," still proves to be the "key", the "keyman" of Zechariah 10:4 to the nation of "Israel." The "Key" component to coming to understand in the fullest sense, the Bible and God's purposes for mankind in our day. He is the "completion [or "finishing"] of the mystery of God" spoken thru the prophets of old. -- 1 Corinthians 13:9, 10; Revelation 10:7
In short, he (mystery "Chieftain") spearheads the "restoration" [or Greek: Palingenesis] of "Israel" while Jesus and the apostles are in heaven, "judging the twelve tribes of Israel." -- See Matthew 19:28 (See lg Prt NWT REF Bib.)
The mystery "Chieftain's" role toward "Israel," brings completion to the foretold promises of the "prophets" of old, making the promises of God come true upon "Israel" in its most complete sense in our day and time, just as the book of Revelation appropriately calls Jehovah, "the God of the inspired expressions of the prophets." -- Revelation 22:6
In fact, the "Chieftain's" coming and his purpose is to reveal such, to explain to "Israel" exclusively, the meaning of the "sacred secrets of the Kingdom", "IN DETAIL", even though most will not "understand" nor respond. So, the real "Mystery of God" itself, or the "good news", the message of the "prophets" again, remains a "mystery" to the people who first heard it...the "thing heard," being the "Report" ... the "thing" to put faith in ... or be "judged...in the last day" for non-response to it. -- Rev. 10:7; 22:6; Acts 13:40, 41; John 12:38 [see fnt lg NWT "our Report"]; John 12:48; Romans 10:14-17
Therefore, when one of "Israel", one Israelite truly comes to understand him, that is, the mystery "Chieftain" and his God-Ordained purposes and role toward "Israel," and understands that this "sinner" has indeed "come from Almighty God" to assist and "help" Israel, -- then at this point, this "Israelite" can now be said to have discovered and discerned the answers to the great "mysteries of God," the "Sacred Secrets of the Kingdom" that Jesus spoke of. Even, the many "parables" that Jesus spoke of, that remains a mystery, even down to this day and time find their fulfillment within the identity of this "mystery" sinful descendant from Adam and Eve...yes, the "Chieftain" of God's Great Spiritual Temple. To be sure, it is this primary and pivotal use of this unidentified "sinner" and descendant of Adam and Eve by God Almighty, that completes or "finishes" the "mystery of God" to all mankind. His role is that important. -- See Genesis 49: 24, 25; Ezekiel 45:22; Revelation 10:7; Revelation 22:6
Many prophets spoke of him and of his "coming"... Hebrew and Greek Scriptures...by various names, but Ezekiel calls him the "Chieftain."
Review questions for the article The "Temple of God" Under Examination Today
1. What is unusual about the temple described in Ezekiel chapters 40-48 that was common in previous temples of Jehovah?
2. What are the similarities between the temple described in Ezekiel and that in Revelation?
3. What are these two temples (Ezekiel and Revelation) in actuality depicting?
4. Why is there a need to set up another temple and what must God’s people do before they are acceptable to Him again?
5. Why must the copper altar, upon which the nation offers its sacrifices, be "installed" again?
6. What does the temple in Revelation and the one in Ezekiel represent as far as God’s restorative work towards His people?
7. What privilege is the "chieftain" of Ezekiel 44:3-7 given in the temple that no other man is allowed and why is this such a special arrangement?
8. The identity of this chieftain has puzzled many Bible students today. What comment does the Expository Bible Commentary make as to who he is?
9. Who does the Watchtower Society claim this "chieftain" to be in their organization and why is this not a reasonable conclusion for them to make? (See Ezekiel 46:16, 17)
10. What position of rank and authority does the "chieftain" occupy before the nation?
11. According to Ezekiel 45:18-20, why is there a need to "make atonement for the House" in this future temple arrangement?
12. The above information from Ezekiel 45:18-20 proves what regarding the location of this ‘temple?’
13. What is the significance of the date, Nisan 1, for us today?
14. What privilege did Moses, a sinner, and the "chieftain," a sinner, have that no one else has been given? (See Numbers 24:1, 2 and Ezekiel 44:1-3)
15. What role does the chieftain play in the outworking of God’s purposes today?
16. How does Paul describe the words that a particular individual hears from Jehovah and what is the reaction of the nation to these words? (See 2 Corinthians 12:2-4)
17. How is he the ‘keyman’ of Zechariah 10:4?
18. How does he fulfill Revelation 10:7?
19. When can it be said that a member of the spiritual nation of Israel has come to discern Sacred Secrets or has discovered the answers to the great "mysteries of God?"
20. What does Jehovah accomplish by using this unidentified individual, the "chieftain," who is a sinner and descendant of Adam? (See Revelation 10:7)
To get the answers for the review questions CLICK HERE.
"....save both yourself and those who listen to you." -- 1 Timothy 4:16