EZEKIEL’S TEMPLE AND SACRIFICES

Pre-Christian? Zionist? Millennial?

A Prophetical Enigma and its Solution

By The Late Rev. Thomas H. Whitehouse, M.A., D.Litt.,
Foreword to 1951 edition by Claud Coffin.

Last published in 1986 in booklet form by The Covenant Publishing Company Ltd, United Kingdom of
Great Britain.

[The eBook version published by the Historic Research Group, Whangarei, New Ulster, New Zealand
in 2003. It is published in the Adobe Acrobat - PDF - format for ease of viewing.]

FOREWORD TO THE 1951 EDITION BY CLAUD COFFIN

Home Page www.british-israel.ca

FOR some considerable time I have wished to see this dissertation by the late Rev. Thomas H. Whitehouse, M.A., D.Litt., reprinted but post-war conditions with their restrictions have, up to now, made it impossible.

It is with the very greatest pleasure that I write this foreword to the new edition [1951] as it was my privilege to have known and to have valued close fellowship with the author when, on his retirement as Commissioner of the Midland Area [of England] of the British Israel World Federation, I was appointed his successor.

Directly I became acquainted with the contents of this exposition of the ‘Ezekiel’s Temple’ chapters and was able to discuss the viewpoint with Dr. Whitehouse, I felt convinced that he had found the only really satisfactory and logical solution to what has perplexed many earnest and devout Bible students, in particular that section who recognize the fundamental and vital difference between the Jew and the major portion of Israel which has always existed outside the orbit of Jewry.

Dr. Whitehouse has courageously indicated the way out of a dilemma which has the sanction of Holy Scripture and is based on the text of Ezekiel’s prophecy itself.

Only a few very slight, but obviously necessary, adjustments have been made in order to bring the subject matter into alignment with recent changes in Palestine since the publication of the original edition. The theme and its submitted conclusions remain as presented by the author. To these necessary changes I feel sure that, had he lived, he would have agreed and have appreciated and sanctioned any eliminations as adding to the value of what he wrote.

I commend this dissertation to the thoughtful consideration of all lovers of God’s Word in their quest for truth in the hope that it may serve to clarify an otherwise baffling problem and thereby make the prophetic word more sure.

Claud Coffin. - Hastings, United Kingdom of Great Britain, 1951.

EZEKIEL’S TEMPLE AND SACRIFICES
Pre-Christian? Zionist? Millennial?

SINCE the British undertaking in 1917 to give the Jews a ‘national home’ in Palestine, many Christian people are convinced that they see in what is now proceeding a real fulfilment of Biblical prophecies concerning the Jews and the Land. But it cannot be said that popular knowledge on these matters is very exact, or more than merely superficial. A very large number of Bible readers to whom prophecy makes appeal are looking with devout expectation to soon seeing realized ‘that blessed hope’ of our Lord’s return and reign in His Kingdom during the thousand years of blessing called the Millennium. They believe that the centre of world government and of universal worship will then be Jerusalem. And they think they see in the last nine chapters of Ezekiel a vivid portrayal of the new religious state, the new temple and services, and the predicted Millennial Age.

Yet, in the minds of these people so fervently desirous of the realization of the Millennial glories, there is a painful undercurrent of uneasiness, because, reading Ezekiel’s chapters as a forecast of those days, they do not vision them as days of the deliverance of the suffering brute creation from groaning and travailing in pain at the manifestation of the sons of God, but, indeed, as days of the constant ritual blood-shedding of various kinds of beasts for the insatiable altar of the new temple. And they are not happy about it. Nor is it clear to their troubled understanding why there should be necessary a revival of such sacrifices in that period which is to be the consummation of human history and the perfected development of the Christian religion under the personal administration of Jesus Christ Himself.

Other people, whose intense interest is attracted by the temple chapters of Ezekiel, see in the Zionist movement and the repatriation of Jews in Palestine now proceeding the initial steps being taken for the creation of a permanent Jewish State, with its appropriate Jewish system of worship, including the re-erection of the temple as described by Ezekiel. [This is a standard view held by authors such as Hal Lindsay, Tim LaHay and other writers who hold to the Dispensational view promoted by the Schofield Reference Bible - ed.].

The writer of this essay herein offers reasons which have fully convinced him that the foregoing ideas are ill-founded, misleading, and, in more senses than one, dangerous. He therefore begs the patient reconsideration of the whole matter, guided by a closer reading of the chapters concerned, and of the suggestions for their correct interpretation here submitted.

HISTORIC FOUNDATION

The original Hebrew commonwealth of the twelve tribes of Israel, founded by Moses and consolidated by David into a united kingdom circa 1050 B.C., was disrupted by revolution less than one hundred years later. From that period on to the close of the Biblical histories there were two separate kingdoms - the northern ten-tribed House of Israel (capital, Samaria), and the southern two-tribed House of Judah (capital, Jerusalem). The breach was never healed in Biblical times. About 721 B.C. a succession of wars with the Assyrian Empire culminated in the destruction of the northern House of Israel as a sovereign nation, and the deportation of the ten tribes into captivity, as preliminary to the foretold judgment of dispersion among the nations. They were distributed in various territories held by the Assyrian power, extending from Armenia in the west to Media in the east; here, in

the province of Ecbatana, there were considerable Israel settlements. The ten tribes never returned to Palestine.

The two-tribed House of Judah (Jews) retained a very precarious independence for some 130 years longer, but was finally crushed and deported by Nebuchadnezzar about 587 B.C. They were held captive in Babylonia for 70 years, until Cyrus permitted such of them as chose to return and rebuild ‘the nation of the Jews’.

It is imperative that these essential facts should be clearly borne in mind when making any attempt to understand the prophetical Scriptures: more especially when facing up to the tremendous problems involved in the last nine chapters of Ezekiel, and the endeavour to find a reasonable and happy solution.

HOW TO READ THE BOOK

The Book of Ezekiel is a collection of documents containing that prophet’s own personal statements and records of visions, prophetical revelations and Divine commissions given to him from time to time during a period extending over twenty-five years.

The Book contains thirteen such documents, and there may have been another, the earliest of which, however, was not preserved, although the date of it is given. Each documental section of the Book is carefully dated, and it should be observed that in some cases the date covers a group of allied documents, the matter of all of which was conveyed to the prophet at about the date given.

These dates, and the order in which they are placed in the text, must be regarded as having a profound significance in the intelligent appreciation of Ezekiel’s life-work, and the interpretation of his messages; especially his visions of a rebuilt temple at Jerusalem and the re-constitution of the then captive nation Israel on the basis of a revised and prolonged Levitical dispensation.

Whether attributable to careless editing, or whatever cause, it is beyond question that the whole collection of documents is very loosely arranged, without any consistent regard to the consecutive order of the dates given. This will be seen from the following table:

ORDER OF THE DOCUMENTS IN THE TEXT

Numerical order

Date of writing as given in the text

Month - Day - Year

Ussher’s date B.C.

Text arranged in chronological order Chapters and Verses

1st

?

5

5

594

1: 2-3

2nd

6

5

6

593

8: 1 to 19:14

3rd

5

10

7

592

20: 1 to 23:49

4th

10

10

9

590

24: 1 to 25:17 29:

5th

10

12

10

589

1-16

6th

?

1

11

588

26: 1 to 28:26 30:

7th

1

7

11

588

20-26

8th

3

1

11

588

31:1-18

9th

?

15

12

587

32: 17 to 33:20

10th

12

1

12

587

32: 1-16

11th

10

5

12

587

33: 21 to 39:29

12th

10

4

25

574

40: 1 to 48:35 29:

13th

1

1

27

572

17 to 30:19

14th

4

5

30

569

1: 1-2 to 7:27

The kind of document with which we have to deal is described in chapter 2, verses 9 and 10, and chapter 3, verse 1:

‘Behold, an hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein; and he spread it before me; and it was written within and without.’

‘Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll.’

This roll consisted of a length of parchment, written in columns on both sides, attached to rollers, the turning of which would unfold the part desired to be read, or enable the whole to be closely rolled up, or, if necessary, sealed for security. Revelation 5:1 shows such a book:

‘I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.’

When a number of such documents had been collected a receptacle had to be used to keep them all together; each roll with its tag or docket appended to indicate its contents and its position in the collection. In such a receptacle they could not, of course, be placed in ordered array like volumes on a bookshelf, and it is easy to see how some scribe, probably impeccably devout and learned, but indifferent as to exactitude of order, arranged them loosely when transcribing them into the earliest volume form: hence the rather confused positions of the dated documents.

All the dates given in the text except that in chapter I, verses 2 and 3, were affixed by Ezekiel himself, writing in the first person; that one exception was added ‘editorially’ by some unknown hand, writing in the third person, and was probably an explanatory docket note affixed to the collection of documents, but, unfortunately, later incorporated into the text without anything to mark it as a parenthetical note - with very misleading results, for it seems to confuse, or even, on the face of it, contradict the date of the first placed documental set dated in chapter 1, verse 1, ‘the thirtieth year’.

The system of dating all through is as from the first year of the captivity of King Jehoiachin, 599 B.C. (2 Kings 24: 15). That captivity was endured in degradation for thirty-seven years, but was afterwards much alleviated (2 Kings 25:27-30). Ezekiel’s visions and revelations covered in all some twenty-five years of this period (ch. 1:1-3).

It is stated in the editorial note of chapter I, verses 2 and 3’ that Ezekiel received his first prophetical communication in the fifth year of king Jehoiachin’s captivity’, but of this no record has been preserved, though the date should be carefully noted as indicating the datal method of the Book.

Chapters 1 to 7 inclusive are dated in chapter 1, verse 1, as containing visions, etc., given ‘in the thirtieth year’.

A somewhat similar expression occurs in chapter 40, verse I, ‘the five and twentieth year’, but with the notable addition ‘of our captivity’, i.e., the captivity of those who were carried away with Jehoiachin; and this, of course, is implied in chapter 1, verse 1, where we should read ‘the thirtieth year (of our, or of Jehoiachin’s, captivity)’; and so on throughout the Book, thus making this important system of dates both simple and harmonious.

For the clearing up of the difficulties of this Book too much attention cannot be given to this system of the dating of the prophet’s messages.

Actually, the earliest dated set of Ezekiel’s extant prophecies is that given in chapters 8-19 (‘in the sixth year’, etc.), and the subsequent sets go on in rather interrupted sequence up to those given in chapters 32-39, dated ‘the twelfth year’. Then occurs a long interval of silence lasting thirteen years, after which the temple series of visions, etc., is given in the set dated ‘the five and twentieth year of our captivity’, chapters 40-48.

So then actually the last dated set of prophecies and visions is that which is placed at the beginning of the Book, chapters 1 to 7, which bears in chapter 1, verse 1, the very latest date of all, ‘the thirtieth year’, that is to say, five years after those in chapters 40-48.

It cannot be too emphatically stressed that the closing chapters of the Book antedate the opening chapters by five years! This, indeed, is the key to the puzzle of the last nine chapters with their seemingly

flat negation of some chief Christian fundamentals, and it opens the way to a reasonable, consistent and wonderfully illuminating interpretation of one of the most difficult parts of this great Book.

The Book should be read in its proper historical sequence as beginning with chapter 8, and continued as a succession of sets of visions and prophecies on to the end of chapter 39, when we have reached what is really the latest forecast given by Ezekiel of future events.

The remaining two sets, those beginning and ending the Book, should be read as having special and particular relationships to each other, and the first as supplementary to the last! This is not only justified, but actually required, both by the subject matter and the datings. The set placed last in the Book contains the terms of a provisional constitution which Ezekiel was therein commanded to convey personally to exiled Israel as an authoritative Divine offer of conditional national restoration. The set placed first in the Book, but dated five years later than the last, contains Ezekiel’s great commission set forth in detail, and indicates how the prophet would faithfully discharge it at terrible cost of suffering and ignominy at the hands of the defiantly apostate House of Israel.

THE HISTORIC IDENTITIES

The Book deals with both houses, Israel and Judah, separately as well as in common, contemporaneously as well as prophetically, right up to the time of our Lord’s return and reign as King. The ‘house of Israel’ wherever mentioned as such is to be taken literally as meaning that house and nothing else; represented there by the Israel settlements in the province of Ecbatana in Media. They were within easy reach of Ezekiel, who lived among the earlier exiles of Judah within the north-eastern borders of Babylonia: he visited them (chs. 2 and 3), and was visited by their deputations (chs. 14 and 20), and he prophesied many things concerning them and their chequered but wonderful future.

It would appear that, before allowing the judgment of dispersion to fall on the House of Israel, God had graciously determined to give them a last opportunity for repentance and restoration; and of this purpose He made Ezekiel the missionary ambassador. This final approach of Divine grace to the apostate nation, and their failure to embrace His mercy, stand for ever in this Book as the justification before men of His determinate counsel and foreknowledge expressed in the many other prophecies relating to Israel’s long course of regenerative correction and discipline.

The Divine care and foresight would not allow the prophet to go on such a dangerous expedition and present himself among the rebellious people empty-handed and without credentials. He was therefore furnished with tangible evidences of the validity of his mission in the form of a written scheme, Divinely dictated, of national restoration and reconstruction, and elaborate and exactly drawn plans for a new temple, with all its appointed ritual and priestly service:

all of which should come into operation in their own land, but all made definitely contingent on both houses repenting and seeking God’s favour.

This was to be an interim constitution, etc., designed conditionally to fill up the period between the proffered restoration and the end of the legal dispensation and the coming of the Messiah in ‘the fulness of time’, then, of course, passing or merging into the better Messianic or Christian era.

This conditional, interim constitution provided for the re-division of the land formerly held, but with somewhat extended borders, in a new manner, among representatives of all the tribes: for a ruling family, not, however, of David’s line; for a rebuilt temple on an entirely new plan; for a reformed ecclesiastical establishment; for a sacrificial priesthood, Levitical and Aaronic, confined to the sons of Zadok, and for a subordinate Levitical ministry.

All this, worked out in closest detail, was shown to Ezekiel in vision, and in drawn plans handed to him to take with him on his embassage to Israel (ch. 43:10, 11); and this long after the earlier dated sets of prophecies had been given, at a period commencing five years before God at last gave him his great commission to go to Israel and seek to bring them to repentance (chs. 1-7), and with specific commands to show them these plans, and offer them for their study, with a view to shaming them to amendment and return to their obedience to God (ch. 43: 10, 11).

‘Thou son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the pattern. And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, 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 laws

thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them.’

This commission was first of all to the Israel settlements of the Median captivity then in Ecbatana (chs. 2, 3); and he was to discharge it at all costs and whatever risk (ch. 2). When he went he carried with him this documentary evidence of God’s willingness to forgive and restore.

Therefore, in fact, the last nine chapters of the Book are not Millennial, and so are certainly not subversive to the Gospel of our Saviour Jesus Christ. They are the record of a Divine scheme of renewal, tentatively offered for the free choice or rejection of Israel, but made wholly dependent on the subjection of their will and the change of their heart towards God - which, however, was unhappily not realized. Thus, as the imperative conditions were not met, the offer lapsed, the scheme became inoperative, and Israel’s dispersion inevitably had to be inflicted.

But so interesting and important a document could not be allowed to be lost or destroyed: it must be preserved to witness to God’s righteous and pitiful dealing with His unworthy people; accordingly it was duly dated and retained among the other documents left by Ezekiel, and when they were afterwards put into volume form it was relegated to a place at the end of the Book as an appendix. But, since it bears no outward description as an appendix and was placed in a position immediately following upon chapters which foretell the final tribulation period and its ending at the ‘Presence’ of the Lord, it has unfortunately been commonly but wrongly assumed to foretell a continuation of the historical developments of those chapters, and to be therefore Millennial - which it most certainly is not; unless indeed the Millennium involves a complete abrogation of the New Testament teaching of the sole efficacy of our Lord’s finished Sacrifice, the One Atonement, perfect, and all-sufficient for all men, besides the negation of His consecration to an everlasting Priesthood after the order of Melchisedek (Heb. 7-28), and a reversion to the never-ending offering of the blood of animals to take away sin!

Only by a recognition of the fact that the prophetical value of the Book closes at the end of chapter 39, and that the following chapters are not Millennial, and have now no prophetical message whatever, but are merely a witnessing appendix relating to a past contingency which passed historically without fruition, can we reconcile the otherwise flat contradictions between the last nine chapters of this Book and the New Testament - more especially the Epistle to Hebrews.

Merely to glance at the provisions laid down in the last nine chapters as to the Congregation, the Priesthood, the Sacrifices, the Government and the Land, and to make comparison between them and what is elsewhere revealed as the gospel fundamentals, will be sufficient to establish the foregoing contentions.

THE CONGREGATION

Circumcision is the essential; even strangers must be circumcised in the ‘flesh’ (see chap. 44:

6-9).

‘No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into My sanctuary.’ Definite! But St. Paul teaches in Galatians 5, verse 2: ‘If ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.’

Again, in verse: ‘Every man that is circumcised ... is a debtor to do the whole law.’ Which according to verse 4 makes Christ ‘of no effect’.

Also, in Galatans 6, verse 15, we read: ‘In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.’

Therefore, if these last nine chapters of Ezekiel are Millennial, the rite of circumcision will be imperative, though the restoration of circumcision will render Christ ineffective as Saviour.

THE PRIESTHOOD

This is both Levitical and Aaronic; for service and for sacrifice. The subordinate order of Levites were ministers (? attendants) in the Sanctuary, to discharge the lesser offices, but not to offer sacrifices (ch. 44: 10-15):

 

‘The Levites . . . shall be ministers in My sanctuary, having charge at the gates of the house . they shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people . . . they shall not come near unto Me, to do the office of a priest unto Me... but I will make them keepers of the charge of the house.’

Those of higher office, the priests, were to be also from among the sons of Levi, but entirely of the sons of Zadok (ch. 40: 46); Zadok was High Priest in David’s time, eleventh in descent from Aaron:

... the priests, the keepers of the charge of the altar: these are the sons of Zadok among the sons of Levi, which come near to the Lord to minister unto Him.’

Their ministry was to be that of a sacrificing priesthood, making offerings at the altar continually, both for the people and for themselves (ch. 44: 11

Verse 11, ‘they [the Levites] shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people.’ Verse 15, ‘But the priests . . . the sons of Zadok . shall stand before Me to offer unto Me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord God.’

Verse 27, ‘in the day that he [the priest] goeth . . to minister in the sanctuary, he shall offer his sin offering, saith the Lord God.’

See also chapter 43, verse i8 to end.

If this is a prophecy of the Millennial Age it makes void the sole Priesthood of Jesus (Heb. 5), and foretells the resumption of an earthly priesthood and an endless succession of blood sacrifices for all manner of purposes and occasions, to effect what Christ as High Priest offering Himself must therefore have failed to effect.

Further, these priestly ministrations at the altar, with continual offerings of animal sacrifices, were ‘to make reconciliation’ for the people (ch. 45, verses 15 and 17) whereas we read in Hebrews 2, verse 17, that it is Christ Who is the ‘merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people’.

If this is true, why in the Millennial Age should the Priesthood of Zadok be revived, unless it could do what Christ must therefore have failed to do?

Moreover, we read in 2 Corinthians 5, verses 18 and 19 that God ‘hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself... and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.’

If there is to be indeed a restored Levitical Aaronic-Zadok priesthood in the Millennium to set flowing again constant streams of animal blood for the reconciliation of man with God, what becomes of the ministry and word of reconciliation once committed to the Apostolic Ministry? Can anything be more certain than that the temple prophecy of Ezekiel relates solely to the lapsed possibilities of pre-Christian times? In this connection study Hebrews 7 for the passing of the Levitical-Aaronic priesthood when Christ entered effectively upon His Melchizedek Priesthood.

 

THE SACRIFICES

They were to be burnt offerings, sin offerings, meat offerings, trespass offerings and peace offerings. Read the full list and mark the details of the ordinances in chapters 40: 39; 42: I3; 43: 18 to end; 44: 27-29; 45:17 to end; 46. In the two latter chapters the sacrificial observances of Sabbaths and new moons, as well as the daily sacrifices, were to be resumed. If the Millennial Age is to be a period during which the worship of God is to be compulsorily accompanied by the unceasing flow of animal blood it will be very unlike the blessed time foretold in that lovely conception of it visioned by Isaiah (ch. 11: 6-9):

‘The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox .... they shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.’

Further, chapter 45: 21 ordains the restoration of the Passover, to be observed with seven days’ eating of unleavened bread, and sin offerings of bullocks, rams and kids.

Now, if this refers to Millennial times, was not St. Paul sadly mistaken when he declared in 1 Corinthians 5: 7, that ‘Christ our passover is sacrificed for us’?

If St. Paul was right they are wrong who regard Ezekiel’s restored Passover as Millennial; if Christ be indeed the very ‘Lamb of God Who taketh away the sin of the world’, if St. John truly visioned Him ascending the throne in heaven ‘a Lamb as it had been slain’, then surely Ezekiel’s vision related only to the possibilities of pre-Christian times.

On this question of the resumption of blood sacrifices in the future, study Hebrews 10, especially verses 1-14. In verses 5-9 our Lord’s First Coming is expressly stated to have been in order that by the taking away of the legal sacrifices through the offering of His own Body He might establish the will of God, and so we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all’ (v. 10).

Why should it be supposed to be necessary, by the restoration of sacrifices, to establish the will of God in the Millennial era if that has already been done by our Lord ‘once for all’?

Moreover, from Hebrews 10:16-18 we learn that the New Covenant being now in operation there is no further need of sacrifices.

Verse 18, ‘there is no more offering for sin.’

Verse 14, ‘By one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.’

So then the all-sufficient Sacrifice, and the last ever to be offered, was that of Calvary! Is it conceivable that in the better days to come we shall renounce that Blessed Substance of final redemptive achievement for the renewal of vain type and shadow?

THE GOVERNMENT

These last nine chapters of Ezekiel refer to an order of rulers of the restored Israel nation called ‘princes’, a term often used in the Bible, signifying rulers from among the people, not at all necessarily royal or kingly. Frequent mention of ‘the prince’, ‘my princes’, etc., is made in chapters 44, 45, 46 and 47. The prince has sons, and must make provision for them out of his own resources (‘possessions’). There is not a single reference in these chapters to their being of David’s line; the title ‘king’ is never once used and nothing can be more certain than that the term ‘prince’ or the office it covers has here no Messianic significance, for not only has he sons and the obligation of providing for them, but as prince he has the further obligation of making such numerous offerings of animal sacrifices for Israel and for himself that a special tax of ½ per cent is to be levied on the people to provide these offerings (ch. 45:15-22). The not uncommon supposition that this prince is the Messiah in His Millennial reign seems to be too grotesque for consideration.

Therefore it may be concluded that in Ezekiel’s day, the House of David having passed over to another branch of the House of Israel as indicated in other prophecies (e.g. Ezek. 17, esp. vv. 22-24), provision was included in the interim scheme of national restoration, committed to Ezekiel as ambassador to Israel, for a kind of hereditary presidency or princedom, to fill up the interval until the expiry of that dispensation.

THE LAND

Chapters 47 and 48 provide for a redistribution of the land formerly occupied by the tribes, but of rather enlarged area, though not at all approximating to the vaster dimensions of that great territory lying between the Nile and the Euphrates promised to Abraham (Gen. 15: 18), which is certainly what we have to look for in its full accomplishment in the Millennial era, when Christ shall reign on the throne of His father David. No doubt the area prescribed for occupation in the interim scheme given to Ezekiel would have amply sufficed for the needs of the restored people in that day and for a long time afterwards, but can have no reference to the period of Christ’s reigning ‘over the house of Jacob for ever’, when ‘His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth’.

The supposition that Ezekiel may have foretold a Zionist reconstruction of Palestine and the building of a new temple, and that at the present time we are witnessing the early processes of fulfilment, need scarcely command a moment’s serious thought.

Within the British Empire there are more than eighty millions of loyal Mohammedan subjects. To all of them Jerusalem, with its holy places and associations, and chiefly the Mosque of Omar, standing on the ancient temple site, is their second most holy place. What terrible religious strife would ensue if Zionist Jews, encouraged by mistaken Christians, were permitted to demolish the Mosque of Omar and build instead a Jewish temple. Surely the whole idea of this rebuilding of the temple and the re-establishment of its sacrificial ritual is a vain dream, evolved from undiscerning reading of the Book of Ezekiel leading to a mistaken interpretation.

But the really sinister feature of the too popular misconception is its tremendous underlying danger:

that of endeavouring to force a fulfilment of prophecy by political action - and there are powerful influences at work in this direction.

Even supposing it feasible that a new temple with all its accompaniments could be peacefully substituted for the Mosque of Omar and the faith for which it stands, what would the world, humanity or the cause of progressive Christian religion gain by a great Jewish temple and the reversion to its system of endless blood sacrifices?

Besides all these considerations lies one stubborn fact, fatal to Zionist claims and aspirations, and no less so to the dreams of many devout but mistaken Christian people who think they see in present-day developments in Palestine the beginnings of the Millennial fulfilment of Ezekiel’s prophecies culminating in the rebuilding of the temple as the world centre of the religion of the New Age: this stubborn fact is that Ezekiel’s reconstituted nation was to include all the twelve tribes; whereas the Jews are only ‘the remnant of Judah’, that is, a mere fragment of one of the tribes only, with possibly a few of Benjamin and Levi. From whatever point of view it may be regarded, a Zionist rebuilding of the temple, even if possible, would fail to meet the case.

From all the foregoing it may safely be concluded that the last nine chapters of Ezekiel are not to be regarded as a forecast of what is to be; but only as a conditional outline of what might have been.

Let us then rejoice that we shall not be called upon to witness the revival of ancient sacrificial mysteries, or the renewal of rites which will ever derogate in the smallest degree from the sole Saviourhood and merciful Kingship of our Lord and Redeemer Jesus Christ, ‘Who hath washed us from our sins in His own Blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father’, to Whom be love, praise and adoration to the ages of ages. Amen and Amen.