Ezekiel — Lesson 22
A. Chapter 40 begins a puzzling section in the book of Ezekiel. After all that we have seen, one would not at this point expect an architectural blueprint -- and yet that is exactly what we get in these chapters. What is God trying to tell us?
B. Before we launch into an explanation of what God is (and is not!) trying to tell us, it will be helpful to keep in mind two primary themes from these chapters:
1. The truth that is now being trampled underfoot by the heathen will one day be vindicated.
2. In connection with all of the blessings that were promised in chapters 34-39, a holiness will be demanded of Israel that it has not previously known.
C. These themes will help us date the fulfillment of this prophecy.
1. Do these chapters describe something yet to be, or have these prophecies been fulfilled? And if so, where exactly is this temple?
2. Has the truth been vindicated, or is that yet to come? Has this new level of holiness come about, or is that yet to be? Jumping ahead to chapter 43, has God returned to his holy temple, or is that yet to be?
2. Literal or Figurative
A. The timing issue can be considered in terms of another issue -- does the prophecy in these chapters contemplate a literal fulfillment or a figurative fulfillment?
B. If literal, then the timing issue is answered because the temple described in these chapters has NEVER been constructed. If it is to be literally constructed in Palestine (as some suggest) then these chapters MUST point to some still future time.
C. If we are to take these prophecies of Ezekiel literally, then here is a list of what will one day occur:
1. The nation of Israel will be restored by God in the land of Palestine.
2. The nation of Israel will be ruled over by only one king -- King David.
a) I said in an earlier lesson that even the most rabid premillennialists took the reference to David here to be a reference to Christ. I was mistaken. Walvoord takes the reference literally. He says that David will be resurrected during the Millennium to share with Christ as prince some of the governmental duties of the millennial kingdom.
b) Yet is that what the text says (even literally)? No. (Ezekiel 34:23) "And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd." One shepherd -- not co-shepherds.
3. The nation of Israel will dwell on this earth for eternity.
4. A temple will be built on this earth and God will dwell there for eternity.
5. The land promise to Israel will NOT be fulfilled even in the millennium.
a) Why? Because the boundaries given later in 47:13-23 do not include all of the land mentioned in Genesis 15:18-21 and Exodus 23:28-31.
b) The literalists teach that God's promise of land to the Jews was never fulfilled as to either duration or area. They teach that the area described in Genesis 15:18-21 was never given to them, and they have so far never received any land as an everlasting possession.
c) This view is contradicted by Joshua 21:43-45 as to area and by Deut. 28:58-63 as to duration.
(1) Joshua 21:43-45 (And the LORD gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein. ... There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.)
(2) Deuteronomy 28:58-63 (If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, ... ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it.)
6. The Levitical priesthood is to be restored forever with the Zadokites officiating.
a) As you recall, Zadok and Abiathar acted as high priests together for a time, but when Adonijah tried to grab the throne, Abiathar went with him, and therefore Solomon "thrust him out from being high priest," and Zadok, remaining faithful to David, became high priest alone.
7. Animal sacrifices as an atonement for sin will be eternally restored.
8. Circumcision is to be restored as essential to communion with God in worship.
D. Before we deal with the not-so-obvious difficulties of a literal interpretation, let's say a few words about the obvious difficulties with these views.
1. Doesn't the book of Hebrews plainly oppose the idea of a resurrected Aaronic priesthood in 7:11-28? Doesn't it also reject the return of animal sacrifices in 10:17-18?
2. Also, do you remember what Paul had to say to those who wanted to reimpose circumcision as essential to communion with God? (Galatians 5:12) "As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!" (NIV)
a) I wonder what Paul would have to say to those today who teach that circumcision will be a requirement in the millennial dispensation? I think we know exactly what he would say!
b) Paul taught that declaring circumcision is essential to communion with God bound the whole law on the people. (Galatians 5) To bind the Mosaic law on people is to bring them under a curse. (Galatians 3:10, 13)
c) "Grace and law are not dispensational issues -- they are eternal. Men are not saved by the works of law in any age."
d) It is interesting that the same denominations who complain that baptism is a work are perfectly willing to bind the entire Law of Moses on people in the next dispensation.
3. What about the restoration of the Aaronic priesthood?
a) Hebrews 7:11-12 tells us that the priesthood of Aaron is inseparably connected to the Mosaic law. To have one means that we must have the other.
b) Under the millennial theories, the Jews in the millennium will be under two laws at the same time. Yet Paul in Romans 7 declared that to be spiritual adultery.
4. How do the literalists respond to this?
a) Some suppose that the animal sacrifices are merely memorials similar presumably to the Lord's Supper. But the text itself contradicts this view -- it says these animal sacrifices are to make atonement for sin.
b) Some suggest that the book of Hebrews (and much of the rest of the New Testament) is true for the "Church Age" but not true for the Millennium. Yet doesn't Hebrews say that Christ's sacrifice was "once for all"?
(1) Also, what about the Jews in the early church who thought they had to practice both systems at the same time? Were they told that the difference was between the church age and the millennial age? No. They were told that the difference was between law and grace.
c) Some tell us that the two sacrificial systems and the two priesthoods will coexist, yet isn't the whole point of Hebrews that the two systems cannot coexist? And what does that tell us about Christ's sacrifice if we need another one to go along with it?
E. Hermeneutics -- The Science of Interpretation
1. Hermeneutics is the process by which one interprets the Bible.
a) You may have heard about the "New Hermeneutics," which generally describes a system promoted by some in which the reader (rather than the writer) is the source of truth. We are going to look at a different hermeneutical controversy here.
2. The hermeneutical principle at issue here is whether these chapters in Ezekiel convey truth in literal terms or in figurative terms.
3. It is undeniable that the Scripture sometimes conveys truth in figurative terms.
a) Sometimes the figures are obvious. ("a shoot out of the root of Jesse")
b) Sometimes the figures are not obvious, but they are clearly explained.
(1) (Malachi 4:5) "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD."
(2) (Matthew 17:10-13) 10 And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?" 11 Jesus answered and said to them, "Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. 12 "But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands." 13 Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.
4. The general rule is that language in the Bible should be taken literally unless:
a) It would result in an absurd conclusion.
(1) (Luke 13:31-32) The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee. 32 And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.
b) It would promote immoral or insane behavior.
(1) Luke 14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
(2) Matthew 5:29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee:
c) It would contradict an interpretation given elsewhere in the Bible.
(1) Recall the example given above about Elijah and John the Baptist.
d) It would contradict clearly taught Bible doctrines.
(1) Hebrews tells us that the days of animal sacrifices are over now that the perfect sacrifice has been made by Jesus Christ once for all. Thus, Ezekiel cannot properly be interpreted to teach that animal sacrifices for atonement of sin will one day be restored.
e) It would cause the Bible to be guilty of scientific or historical error.
(1) We have to be careful with that one since -- unlike the Bible -- science and history have a way of changing on us. We must never interpret scripture simply out of a desire to make peace with secular scientists and historians -- yet neither can we ignore the evidence of history and science. Truth is truth, and if properly interpreted the Bible will be in perfect agreement with all scientific truth and all historical truth.
(2) Scientists used to laugh at Bible believers who believed that the universe had a beginning. Now there is not a scientist alive who doesn't believe that the universe had a beginning. (The only disagreement now is over the timing and cause of that beginning.)
5. Here are some examples in which God uses speech that could be interpreted literally, but which cannot without violating the above rules.
a) In Hosea 7:16, 8:13, and 9:3, God said that the northern kingdom would go into Egyptian captivity. Egypt was used as a figure for Assyria.
b) In Micah 5:5 God speaks of Jesus delivering his people from Assyria. Assyria was used as a figure for any enemy who attacks God's people.
c) In Ezekiel 16:53-59, God says that Samaria and Sodom will be restored, yet Jude 7 tells us that Sodom will never rise again.
d) In Isaiah 19:18-25, God says that Egypt and Assyria will be his people, with Israel falling into third place. God was telling Israel that one day these great enemies would acknowledge Him and no longer be a threat to Israel.
6. Why does God use figurative language?
a) It may be used to hide messages from those who aren't really interested in God or who would react violently to the message.
(1) (Matthew 13:10-11) "And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given."
(2) John had a message for Rome in the book of Revelation, but that message was written in symbols drawn largely from the Jewish Old Testament. So if you were a first century you could understand the message, but if you were a Roman it would all be Greek!
b) It may be used to describe a future judgment or blessing in terms of a past judgment or blessing.
(1) Jewish prosperity under the Messiah is described in terms of Jewish prosperity in former days.
(2) The judgment of Rome in the book of Revelation is described in terms of God's judgments against Assyria and Babylon.
(3) The use of past events to describe future events is common in the Bible. There are two important principles in interpreting such figurative sections of the Bible.
(a) Similarity of symbol does not necessarily imply similarity of subject. That is, the same symbol may be used to describes two different subjects.
(b) Dissimilarity of symbol does not necessarily imply dissimilarity of subject. That is, different symbols may be used to describe the same subject.
(4) Failure to understand these principles can lead to big problems. Every time I have taught Revelation I have been approached by people who are from or who know people who are from churches that have been divided over a false doctrine called "Max Kingism" or the "70 AD Theory" or "realized eschatology." In short, that false doctrine is that ALL of the prophecies in the Bible (including the "second coming" of Christ, the final judgment, and the bodily resurrection of the dead!) were all fulfilled by the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
(5) The nonsense taught by Max King and his followers all traces back to their failure to understand that God often uses the same language and symbols to describe different judgments. (Israel, Judah, Assyria, Babylon, Tyre, Egypt, Jerusalem, Rome, World)
(6) Some immediate problems with Max Kingism are:
(a) 1 Corinthians 11:26 "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come." (Max Kingites continue to observe the Lord's Supper. I wonder why if the Lord has already come again.)
(b) Matthew 22:30 "For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven." (The Kingites for some reason continue to get married even though this verse suggests they should be like the angels now that the resurrection is past.)
(7) 2 Timothy 2:16-18 "But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; 18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some."
(a) In the first century there were some who said the resurrection was past, and their false doctrine overthrew the faith of some. Max King is teaching the same false doctrine today. Paul said such teaching was a "profane and vain babbling" -- it hasn't improved in the intervening 2000 years!
c) Returning to our discussion of why God uses figurative language, another reason is that it may be used because the readers have a slowness in spiritual perception or an immaturity in their spiritual lives that makes it difficult to grasp some truths.
(1) Isaiah 11:6-10 speaks of peace and prosperity in physical terms, yet Paul applies the passage to the joys shared by Jew and Gentile alike in Christ in Romans 15:8,12.
(2) In Ezekiel 16:3, 45, God told Judah that her ancestors were the Caananites, Hittites, and Amorites. God used tough language to break Judah out of its stupor.
d) Sometimes figures are used because the vivid language causes the lesson to be remembered longer.
(1) Jesus' parables fall into this category.
(2) See also Genesis 49:11 ("he washed his garments in wine") The people would be so prosperous they would wash their clothes in wine rather than in water.
(3) Jerusalem's judgment in Matthew 24 is described as the sun being darkened, the moon not giving her light, the stars falling from heaven, and the powers of the heavens being shaken.
F. If we then take these chapters in Ezekiel to be figurative, what do they represent? There are at least two views:
1. Ezekiel is giving us an allegory in which David represents Christ, the Temple represents the church, the Priests represent Christians, etc.
2. Ezekiel is painting a beautiful picture of glory and blessings for the Jews under their coming Messiah, without intending each specific detail to be allegorical. Under this second view, the details are brush strokes. The message is in the overall picture.
3. A good case can be made for either of these figurative interpretations, but as discussed above the literal interpretation must be rejected.
3. The Return of God to His Temple (43:1-5)
A. We are going to jump ahead and study the first twelve verses of Chapter 43 before we look at Chapters 40-42. Why? Because in Chapter 43 God tells us why he goes into such detail in Chapters 40-42. He tells us what the vision means.
B. In Chapter 8, Ezekiel in a vision saw the glory of God depart from the temple in Jerusalem. (8:6)
1. Ezekiel expressly tells us here in Chapter 43 that this vision is like the one he had back in Chapter 8.
C. Here in 43:1-5, Ezekiel sees God return to his temple --- BUT THINGS ARE GOING TO HAVE TO BE DIFFERENT THAN THEY WERE BEFORE! THE PEOPLE WILL HAVE TO BE DIFFERENT ... AND THAT (AS VERSES 6-12 WILL TELL US) IS THE WHOLE POINT OF THE VISION IN CHAPTERS 40-42.
D. God did not have some future millennial kingdom in mind --- indeed, he nowhere mentions a 1000 reign of Christ. (In fact, neither does Revelation! Revelation 20:6 speaks of a 1000 reign with Christ. The reign of Christ is not some future event that we are looking forward to. Christ is reigning now!)
1. Revelation 20:6 ("and shall reign with him a thousand years") -- Those 8 words are the basis on which the entire premillennial theory is built.
4. The Dedication of the Temple (43:6-12)
A. Solomon made a dedication speech at the opening of the first temple, and God makes a dedication speech at the opening of this temple.
B. God tells Ezekiel that this sanctuary is where he will abide forever. (verse 7)
1. If we want to know where this temple was (or is) going to be constructed, we can work at the problem backwards by asking where God is going to abide forever.
2. In Exodus 25:8 God said "Let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them." In many ways the rest of the Bible is simply a variation on that theme.
3. John 1:14 tells us that "the word became flesh and dwelt among us." A literal translation of this passage is that the word became flesh and tabernacled among us.
4. In Revelation 21:3 (speaking of the triumphant church after the judgment of Rome) God says "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God."
5. 1 Corinthians 3:16 ("Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?")
6. Paul (describing the church) writes in Ephesians 2:22 ("in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.")
7. We as Christians are looking forward to many blessings -- but God dwelling among us is not one of them! That is already true in the church! We are the dwelling of God in the Spirit!
C. The temple is constructed so that there is complete separation between God and his servants. (verses 7-8, 12)
1. Separation stresses the holiness of that which is separated.
a) (Ezekiel 42:20) "to make a separation between the sanctuary and the profane place."
b) (Revelation 11:1-2) "And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. 2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months."
c) The detailed measurements in these chapters stress this separation and this holiness.
2. "Some may rule in pomp and splendor, but God rules from a place of maximum holiness because that befits his character."
3. The people here are being called to a standard of holiness that they had never before practiced. The very structure of this temple is calling them to holiness.
4. Chapters 40-42 will show this holiness in terms of separation, with the holy of holies being the most separated area of all.
5. And what is the significance of the Holy of Holies to a Christian?
a) (Hebrews 9:7-8) "But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: 8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing."
b) (Hebrews 9:11-12) "But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us."
c) (Hebrews 9:24) "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us."
(1) Jesus Christ entered the Holy of Holies on our behalf --- but NOT a Holy of Holies on earth. Jesus entered God's presence in Heaven. Why in the world would anyone think that God would construct another earthly Holy of Holies in a dusty building somewhere in the middle of Palestine? Hebrews 9:24 expressly tells us that the true Holy of Holies into which Christ entered was not made with human hands.
d) (Hebrews 4:16) "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
D. Verses 10-12 tell us why God provides the blueprint in Chapters 40-42.
1. God gave them this blueprint so that they would be ashamed. He urges them to "measure the pattern" so that they may be ashamed.
2. THE DETAILS IN CHAPTERS 40-42 WERE INTENDED TO TEACH THE PEOPLE A LESSON ABOUT THEIR UNGODLINESS.
3. This temple is intended to teach a lesson about the wickedness of Israel. They had never really been holy, and this temple and its regulations were a call to holiness.
4. A primary theme in Chapters 40-42 is measurement. The word "measure" is used 48 times in those three chapters! What does it mean?
5. Revelation 11:1-2 gives us a clue. In those verses John was told to measure something but NOT to measure something else. What was he told NOT to measure? The area being trampled by the Gentiles -- that is, the area that was not holy. To measure something is to set it off as separate and holy.
6. Holiness is the message of Chapters 40-46. Yet isn't that a simple message for such a long section of the book? Why spend seven chapters on that one topic? Surely God would not have gone in to all of this detail just to deliver a message on holiness. Right? Wrong! Holiness is how we gain access to God! We should be surprised he spent only seven chapters on that topic!
5. The Temple: Its Structure and Measurements (40-42)
A. Now that we know why God gave us such a detailed blueprint, let's take a look at the details in Chapters 40-42.
B. Before we begin, we need to look at some small issues over which there have been big disagreements:
1. There is disagreement as to the size of the cubit that Ezekiel used. The most popular choices are 18 inches, 21 inches, and 24 inches. If we take the 21 inch value, then a "rod" (which is 6 cubits) would be 10.5 feet. (McGuiggan uses the 21 inch value.)
2. There are some textual variations in these chapters between the Massoretic text and the Septuagint in that in a few places the former has "rods" where the latter has "cubits." If you stick with the Massoretic, then the temple seemingly becomes much too big. Most commentators go with the "cubit" text for that reason, but it is only a problem if you think God has a literal building in mind here.
3. Ezekiel neglects to give us a few of the details. For example, he says nothing about the height of the temple. He also does not tell us very much about the 30 chambers in the outer court (40:17). Commentators have arranged them in various configurations.
C. This vision is dated in the 25th year of exile and the 14th year after the fall of Jerusalem. This would be around 573 BC.
D. Everyone agrees that the angel takes Ezekiel in through the east gate, so we will begin there as well.
E. Ezekiel sees a city-like structure standing on the southern slope of a high mountain. A wall runs around the building, which is a square with sides of 875 feet. (We are using a 21 inch cubit.) The wall is 10.5 feet high and 10.5 feet thick.
F. There are three gates in the wall on the north, south, and east sides. You climb up 7 steps to enter the east gate. The entrance to the east gateway is 17.5 feet wide. Inside are six guardrooms with a porch at the end of the corridor. Moving west out of the porch, you enter the outer court.
G. Around the north, south, and east walls are 30 chambers, which may be living quarters for the temple workers. In the four corners are kitchens where the sacrifices are prepared.
H. From the outer east gate we now walk northwest to the inner north gate. There are rooms for those who help get the sacrifices ready and rooms for the singers or priests who officiate at the altar. There are washing chambers for washing and readying the sacrifices for slaughter. There are tables set up near the washing chambers.
I. We walk up 8 steps to this north gate and enter the inner court. We are now in the inner court standing by the north gate. The inner court is a square with 100 cubits for each side. In the center of the inner court is the altar of burnt offering.
J. Moving west we come to a set of 10 steps that lead up to the temple sanctuary itself with the holy place and the holy of holies. The wall that encloses the temple sanctuary is six cubits thick. Outside that wall on the north, west, and south are another set of 30 chambers.
K. The holy place is 40 cubits long by 20 wide and contains an altar-like table. It may be the table of shewbread or the incense altar. There are double doors leading into the holy of holies.
L. The holy of holies was a square 20 cubits by 20 cubits. The entrance into the holy of holies is 10.5 wide. (The entry into the holy place is 17.5 wide, and the entry into the temple sanctuary is 24.5 wide. The gates get narrower as the rooms get holier.) There is nothing mentioned as being in the holy of holies.
M. Around the temple sanctuary are buildings providing living quarters for priests and another building whose purpose is not revealed (perhaps for storage). There are additional kitchens near these buildings.
N. Each of the structures that we have just discussed is shown on the handout, although some of the locations shown are matters of opinion since the text does not provide a precise location.
O. Now we have a decision to make. Are these chapters describing a literal temple or a figurative temple?
1. If the temple is literal, then this prophecy has not been fulfilled because this temple has never been built. Thus, if the temple is literal, then someday God will cause this great temple to be constructed in Palestine and Jesus and/or David will go there to reign.
2. What are the consequences of this view?
a) First, this view requires us to believe that God still has some special plan for the Jews despite the clear teachings that there is no longer any distinction between Jew and Gentile.
b) Second, this view requires us to believe that Jesus will set up an earthly kingdom despite:
(1) (John 18:36) "My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence."
(2) (Mark 9:1) "And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power."
(3) (1 Corinthians 15:24) "Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power."
c) Third, this view requires us to believe that Christ's once for all sacrifice was not enough to fulfill God's promises to Israel. God owes them even more!
6. Back to Chapter 43
A. As we discussed, the first 12 verses of Chapter 43 tell us why God went into such detail in Chapters 40-42. He was calling the people to holiness. Indeed, he was calling them to a standard of holiness that they had never before obtained.
1. (Ezekiel 43:10) "Son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and let them measure the pattern. 11 "And if they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the design of the temple and its arrangement, its exits and its entrances, its entire design and all its ordinances, all its forms and all its laws. Write it down in their sight, so that they may keep its whole design and all its ordinances, and perform them. 12 "This is the law of the temple: The whole area surrounding the mountaintop is most holy. Behold, this is the law of the temple."
B. Lessons for Today
1. Holiness is not optional! It is called the Law of the Temple in Ezekiel 43. The following verses summarize the message of Ezekiel 40-42 in a nutshell.
a) (1 Peter 1:15-16) "But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy."
b) (2 Corinthians 6:17) "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you."
c) (1 Peter 2:9) "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light."
2. God provides a pattern for his people to follow.
a) (Ezekiel 43:11) "shew them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them."
b) (Hebrews 8:5) "Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount."
c) (2 Timothy 1:13) "Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus."
d) If in fact this temple is an allegory for the church, then one would be hard pressed to argue that God does not want us to follow a pattern for proper worship in the church. God has given us a blueprint in the New Testament that he expects us to follow.
God's Plan of Salvation
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)