DEBATE III / TOPIC III / RESPONSE TO REBUTTAL (c.)
The Problem of Ezekiel’s Temple/City Vision
Response to Rebuttal
M. Frost, M.A.R.
The Last Trumpet —
Warner accuses the first submission of being a “straw man.” My choice in topics, he presumes, has nothing to do with “futurism.” That’s interesting, because I thought that Ez 40-48 had everything to do with the future, since it is a prophecy, and an obviously unfulfilled one at that if the conditions for its fulfillment mean the literal application of such. What else is that he then moves on to tell us, in his view, of what the future is going to be like! It is going to be a millennial kingdom with literal animal sacrifices that have only a symbolic function. What I said is that Ezekiel was viewing the Church through elaborate symbolism (in agreement with A-millennialism and Post-millennialism). This is the preterist interpretation as opposed to the futurist interpretation (both millennial views incorporate a preterist hermeneutic in many places). Thus, Warner’s first assertion is false. This is entirely in keeping with the debate.
Secondly, since the A- and Post- views do agree with Preterism on this point, it is then easy to demonstrate their inconsistency. Here is where Warner is correct: the visions of Ezekiel on this matter come AFTER the Second Coming of Christ. Preterism takes the strengths of each millennial view and harmonizes them into a coherent solution. Once again, if Pre- is right, and the Second Coming PRECEDES the Ezekielian Temple setting, and if the A- and Post- are right in that this represents the church age presently, then, together, the Second Coming was in A.D. 70 which PRECEDED the fulfillment of the ‘age to come’ church age which we are in now. Therefore, to error of the Pre- school (which Tim espouses) is that the Second Coming has not happened, yet. The error of the A- and Post- schools is that the Second Coming does not precede the temple vision, but comes AFTER it.
Clearly, Warner can see that to place the Second Coming AFTER the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s Vision is ludicrous. Yet, Warner is entirely correct in that this vision is fulfilled on earth. In fact, all three millennial views understand the earthly fulfillment. Preterists wholeheartedly agree on this unity. Ezekiel is not talking about heaven (else, how could you explain dead bodies in heaven as per Ez 44.25-27). The two main problems, then, is where to place the Second Coming and how to understand the nature of Ezekiel’s symbolism (how it is lived out). Preterists agree with Warner that the Second Coming PRECEDES the vision, but agree with the strength of the A- and Post- schools on the nature of how this vision is lived out now. This is just one example of demonstrating that Preterists are not operating in a vacuum, but build on the strengths/weaknesses of the previous models tradition has given us. In fact, Warner wrote that the A- view would “agree on nearly everything Frost wrote.” In conclusion of this first issue, when Warner wrote, that my interpretation of the vision does not “in any way support preterism,” he is entirely false, misleading or simply confused as to the point I made. Ask yourself, Mr. Warner, that if Ezekiel’s vision is being fulfilled NOW in the church, and if, in your view, the Second Coming PRECEDES the fulfillment of this vision, then are you willing to assert that this does not “in any way” at all support preterism? That is like saying corked bats do not “in any way” help the batter gain distance for the ball!
Now that the reader understands my angle for selecting this portion of Scripture, we can move on to consider the points Warner champions. 7 pages is a lot to respond to for a four page article, but I will try anyhow.
Warner still falsely posits a dichotomy between “hidden meanings” and his “plain sense” meaning. Yet, as his paper demonstrated, “atonement” does not mean “atonement”! When it says “atonement” it is only a SYMBOL of atonement in Jesus according to him. Hidden meaning, Tim? The PLAIN SENSE is that atonement means atonement. The PLAIN SENSE is that “sin-offering” means “sin-offering”. But, no, Warner says these are not REAL sin-offerings in Ezekiel, these are mere “symbols” to convey the once and for all “sin offering” of the Lamb of God. Agreed. But, Mr. Warner, you had to write a few pages to elicit that “meaning” into the word “atonement”. The continued false attack that we advocate “hidden meanings” then is just silly. Mr. Warner and myself are in AGREEMENT that the offerings in Ezekiel SYMBOLIZE (i.e., have a “hidden meaning”) Christ. The ISSUE is, is how will these activities be carried out? Let’s stay focused here and save paper.
He wrote, “after Christ died any
further animal sacrifices would be blasphemous.” This is NOT what I said (though, being
honest, from my statement it could appear that that is what I meant, and for
that Warner’s assertion here is entirely an honest mistake). The Reformed theologians are wrong to assert
that the “old covenant” stipulations “died” when Christ “died.” Hebrews
8.13 asserts plainly enough that the “old” would “soon vanish”. This was written some 30 years after Christ’s
death. Warner agrees with Preterists
that this refers to the destruction of
Let me quote from Mr. Warner concerning areas where we
agree on this matter. First, there was
no “inherent conflict” with Paul offering sacrifices in
If the Law commanded circumcision for Gentiles, then the Jews who demanded circumcision (Acts 15.1,5), who were also “believers” and “zealous for the Law”, were correct to insist on this command. However, Paul insists on this not being done. We can see, now, how Paul can be accused of being a law-breaker by his Jewish brethren.
Let us throw in another text: “I came not to abrogate the
law and the prophets, but fulfill them.
I tell you the truth, until heaven
and the land disappear not one jot nor tittle will by
any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Mt 5.18). What was “vanishing” according to Hebrews 8.13? Jots? Clearly, Paul forbade the Law’s insistence
that Gentiles be circumcised. Why? Why did he forbid some things of the law and
not others? Was the Law in process of
“vanishing” or “disappearing”? Yes. Heaven and the
He wrote, “the Law of Moses permitted absolutely no deviation from the rituals established by God” (italics mine). Then why did Paul deviate? Was he following prophecy? Warner wrote, “Yet these prophecies show enormous differences with the Law of Moses.” Let me get this straight. The Law allowed for no deviation, but the prophecies state that there would be deviation. I smell Preterism! Let me quote Mr. Warner again: “The Law of Moses prescribed certain feasts and ordinances that must be carried out to the letter. But, Ezekiel’s prophecy, while having some things in common with the Law of Moses, also indicates radical departures from the Law of Moses” (italics mine). When did Jesus say that “jots and tittle” would depart? “When heaven and the Land” depart. Was Paul departing from the Law of Moses? To answer “no” would be to fly in the face of everything biblical. “Christ is our Passover, therefore, let us keep the feast.” The “weak and beggarly elements” were “destined to pass.” When? Were they “already passing” in Paul’s day? Yes. Did the old covenant “soon vanish”? Yes. Therefore, we have Paul living in the days of Ezekiel’s Vision.
Syllogism: If the Law of Moses demanded obedience to the
letter and Ezekiel’s prophecy departed from the Law of Moses, and Paul departed
from the Law of Moses, then Paul must have been living in the times when the
departures from the Law of Moses was being fulfilled. Therefore, Paul must have been living when
Ezekiel’s visions were being fulfilled.
The old covenant was vanishing.
Thus, Paul could obey “some things” of the Law, but not “all things” to
“the letter” because the “the letter” was fading and the “glory” was
coming. Heaven and the Land, old
The logic of Warner’s position reveals that he has shot
himself in the foot. Paul himself quotes
Ez 37.27 in
II Co 6.17. This was becoming the reality. This same verse is quoted in Revelation 21.3 in the new heavens and
the new earth. Ezekiel was seeing the
“new heavens and the new earth.” The
generation of Paul was witnessing the “vanishing/departures” from the Law of
Moses until, FINALLY, it vanished completely.
Heaven (what the Jews called the
Warner may try to sidestep this and say, “well, in the Millennium, the Law of Moses will be carried out.” But he denies this. The letter was not carried out under Paul, and cannot at all be carried out now, and in Warner’s admission, will not be carried out “to the letter” when Ezekiel is fulfilled, in his view, in the Millennium. That MUST mean that at least SOME jots and tittles have PASSED. Did the Bible foresee of a time when these departures would occur? Yes! In Ezekiel! Have these departures occurred? YES!
Warner quotes Jer 3.16-17. There,
the ark of the Lord is no more. Is it
today? Didn’t the Romans sack the
Before wrapping this up, a few more brief criticisms can be made. Warner quotes from Hebrews 10.1-4 to note that the blood of animals “never atoned for sin.” But, is that what the passage says? No. To deny the efficacy of any atonement qualities whatsoever of the OT sacrificial system is, again, to destroy the “plain meaning” of the Law. “The life is in the blood” Leviticus said. The offerings “were a sweet smell” to God. In several OT stories, after sacrifice was made, God “was pleased.” To even touch the ark of God, Uzzah died. For Saul to offer sacrifices unlawfully cost him his kingdom. To say that these sacrifices had “no atoning quality” at all is simply unbelievable.
The context of these verses state that the “yearly” offerings “make those who approach perfect.” If it could, the writer argued, then why were they offered year after year? Obviously, such a system of atonement could never ultimately “take away sins.” It could never take away sins to the extent that in the removal of sins it would bring perfection and thereby remove the need for atonement. Atonement was needed. The Law provided for it. The blood of bulls and goats took away sins. But, guess what. The sins came back. And they would have to offer more bulls and goats. Then sins were forgiven and atoned for. Then, guess what, sins came back. They would have to offer more bulls and goats. Sins were forgiven. Then, guess what? Sins cam back….and on and on and on it went. Such a system could not “perfect” the sinner. Such a system showed them that for sins to be forgiven under it, then this system must go on forever. This is clearly contrasted with the “once and for all” sacrifice of Jesus Himself. He ENDED the system. He ENDED the Law. He FULFILLED it. And it VANISHED as a result in A.D. 70. Thus, ask yourselves, are we living in a time today when we have no literal “ark” and do not have a yearly “Day of atonement”? If you answer, “yes”, then welcome to Ezekiel’s and Jeremiah’s world. When did the day of atonement end? A.D. 70. Do we have it now? No. Did Ezekiel see a time when God’s priests had no day of atonement? Yes. If Tim is correct, then we have no day of atonement now and will not have one in the Millennium, either. But did Ezekiel envision two periods of time when atonement was no longer needed? No. He only saw one. If he only saw the Millennium period, then where is period of time that describes our day of atonement-less time? The Dispensational answer: The Prophets do not mention the Church Age Dispensation! And cows jump over the moon.
Warner, as I have stated, was correct to see that Paul had
no issues with Jews carrying out the sacrificial system and knowing Christ as
well. However, what of this insistence
The “temple of the LORD” is Jesus himself. He is a house of prayer for all nations. Warner quotes this as insisting that Jesus
foresaw thousands of years into the future when
In conclusion to all of this, it has been demonstrated that Mr. Warner must, if he is honest, rework a great deal of his beliefs. We are in the time of Ezekiel’s vision, serving day and night as a nation and kingdom of priests. We serve God and have entered into his holy city and throne through the blood of Jesus. We are priests. The time of change has come. John’s vision of the New Jerusalem parallels exactly Ezekiel’s. For example, Ezekiel is taken in by a man and led to a mountain and shown a vision of the city and temple. So is John. John’s angel had a measuring rod. So did Ezekiel’s. The first thing John mentioned is the “walls.” So, too, Ezekiel. John saw gates facing “east, north, south, west”. Ezekiel follows the same pattern: east, north, south, west. John sees living waters. Ezekiel does, too (47). They are seeing the same thing. Another problem happens, though. For Warner, Ezekiel’s vision is in the millennium. For John, the New Jerusalem is in the new heavens and the new earth! Is the Millennium the new heavens and the new earth? Not on Tim’s watch! Then how can he explain it? He can’t, but I am sure he will try. This is embarrassing. The vision of Ezekiel is the same as John’s, and John’s vision is of the new heavens and the new earth, therefore, so was Ezekiel’s. Where is the Millennium, then? Does the “living waters” of Ezekiel flow in the Millennium “for the healing of the nations” and also flow in the new heavens and the new earth “for the healing of the nations”? Maybe they are seeing two completely different types of “living waters”! I digress.
One last thing, Tim never dealt with the Gentiles in Ez 44.9. He wrote that Gentiles will celebrate at the throne of the Lord. Ezekiel denies this. No foreigner, whether circumcised in heart or in flesh shall enter my sanctuary, but only the sons of Zadok. Too bad for Gentile believers in the Millennium. But, since Tim has us cutting up animals anyhow, that should not bother him. It bothers me, though. Solution: Paul: “therefore, ye (Gentile) are NO LONGER FOREIGNERS AND ALIENS BUT FELLOW CITIZENS WITH GOD’S HOLY PEOPLE.” Problem solved. I am not a foreigner, but a member of Israel. As a priest, a “son of Zadok” (which in Hebrew means “son of righteousness”), I have full access. Tim denies access because this “spiritualizes” Ezekiel. Last I checked, though, Paul talked about Israel’s “spiritual things”. I digress.
Folks, the issue is solved if we think outside the “traditional” box and realize that we have “every spiritual blessings” in Christ and that all the promises are “yes and amen” in Christ and that we serve God “day and night in his temple.” Let’s live like that. Let’s demonstrate to the world that reality. Let us, once again, turn this world upside down by truly showing from Scriptures a true alternative universe in King Jesus, Ruler of all things and all peoples!