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THE GREAT TEMPLE OF THE AGE TO COME.
ND here we have a marvellous detail, covering
the nine last chapters of Ezekiel; besides various references and allusions in the Psalms and other Prophets. And though it will be seen that it differs considerably, both from that of Solomon, an from that of Nehemiah, yet it is the temple of the same Jehovah, and the difference, which is conspicuous, is accounted for by the fact that it has its place after all the types of the former temple, and its rites have had their fulfilment in the work of Jesus on earth.
1.- THE TEMPLE ITSELF. But while leaving the reader to dwell on the minutiæ of the detail in the quiet leisure of private devotion, we will point out some important particulars, which demand more than a passing consideration.
We need hardly say that the whole of this temple and its worship belong exclusively to the age to come -to Israel restored—and should not be spiritualized:2 “ Thou son of man, show the House to the House of Israel” (Ezek. xliii. 10). If interpreted literally, the whole is consistent, however it may astonish us. Explain it in a spiritual way, to the exclusion of the literal, and the whole thing becomes ridiculous and absurd. And the fact that the whole of the building is so described as to leave no doubt on the mind of the reader that the prophet is describing the structure of a literal temple, which shall be erected in the age to come, leaves no room for a spiritualizing process. For the entire fabric, which is of enormous dimensions, as compared with either of the two which preceded it, is to be the great centre of universal worship once, at least, in the course of the year—at the Feast of Tabernacles. And this fact, which is certainly beyond dispute, seems to require a great central temple in Jerusalem.
1 “ Closing Days of Christendom," by B. B. Wale, p. 383, etc. 2 There are many allusions in the Millennial Psalms to this Millennial worship (see Psa, xliii, 3, 4, 5, in particular.)
But the enormous size of the temple has perplexed many minds to bewildernent. Yet it should not be forgotten that the dispensation—which will be truly and properly Catholic—will require a much larger edifice for the purpose of the annual worship: and as God ever acts on the principle of adaptation in all His plans and purposes, so we think we discover it in the fact of the great magnitude of this vast Millennial temple—“ a house of prayer for all people,”—“whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, to the testimony of Israel” (Psa. cxxii. 4).
In Isaiah lvi. 7 the Lord says: “ Them will I bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer.”
And at the close of the verse He says: "For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people.” Now, if the whole scope of this beautiful prophetic chapter is considered, it will be seen Isaiah refers to the age to come—the Millennium - when all Israel are in the land. See also Isaiah ii. 2; with Psa. lxviii. 15, 16.
II. —THE INTERNAL FITTINGS AND SERVICE OF THE
And there is much said on these, which is interesting and instructive to a thoughtful mind.
(a) We have an altar of sacrifice: this altar is twelve cubits square, and is described in detail. But the difference between the sacrifice of this altar, and that of the Old Testament altars, appears to be this: the former sacrifices were all typical, and adumbrated that of Calvary—these will be simple and beautiful memorials of Calvary, and will resemblein their use and import the Eucharistic ceremonial of the New Testament Church - the Lord's Supper. That nothing piacular will attach to them is proved by a reference to Heb. ix. 26, where it is declared that, “ once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself”! also chap. x. 14: “There remaineth no more sacrifice for sin.”
Yet these sacrifices will be very solemn acts of divine worship, for both the Prince and the people shall observe them (Ezek. xlvi. 10). “And the priest in the midst of them, when they go in shall go in, and when they go forth shall go forth.”
This fact will render this kind of sacrifice an act of spiritual worship, and will distinguish them from the "carnal ordinances" of the former dispensation.
(6) There will also be an altar of incense, whatever may be its spiritual significance. For in Mal. i. 11,
which must be referred to the age to come, for it neither has nor can have its fulfilment in this elective dispensation, we read : "For from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same My name shall be great among the Gentiles (nations), and in every place incense shall be offered unto Me and a pure offering ; for My name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts."
Now it is evident that in the age to come the offering of incense will be an act of divine worship, and that “ in every place." And if in every place, then also in the great temple in Jerusalem, which will be the centre of all Millennial worship.
And the fact that it is to be offered in every place implies that there will be local places of worship of some description, possibly after the character of the Hebrew synagogues, though with some additional appendages in accordance with Millennial worship. But we have no further light on this interesting fact, though it suggests the worshipful character of those who shall form the Church of that golden age.
Moreover, we notice that in connection with these local incense-altars, it is in every place that incense shall be offered. And from this we learn that in that glorious day there will be no “dark places of the earth full of the habitations of cruelty.” But “from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same,” this blessed worshipful state of the people shall prevail"All shall know Me, from the least unto the greatest."
Possibly the incense, which we regard as real and literal (as the bread and wine of the Eucharist are real
and literal), will be a visible and suggestive symbol both of the prayers and praises of the people; though we think, from the character of the coming dispensation, that it will be the symbol of praise, because all the Millennial Psalms and Millennial prophecies are so full of the joyful and jubilant spirit. Praise will form a great part of the worship of the age to come, both private and public. And the reason for this is patent; because Satan will be bound, and sin will be curbed, and the Holy Spirit will operate with less resistance to His divine energy, and life be altogether more free from the painful solicitudes and corroding cares which characterize this evil and degenerate age.
Examine Psa. viii., lxvii., lxxii., with Isa. Is., lxi., together with many corresponding references.
In Psa, cxlv. we read of a state of personal experience, which, while it had, no doubt, a partial and inchoate fulfilment in the life of David, yet, looking at the Psalm all through, we think it is written anticipative of the age to come; for the closing words, “Let all flesh bless His holy name for ever and ever," together with the lofty, jubilant strain of the whole Psalm, suggest to us that it is predictive of Millennial times, when the harp of David shall be taken from the willows, no more to hang pendant.
Then, too, Psalms cxlvii., cxlviii., cxlix., and cl. are all in the same joyful strain. Each Psalm begins with the words, “Praise ye the Lord,” and ends with the same words.
In Psa. cxlvii. 2 we read, “The Lord doth build up Jerusalem; He gathereth together the outcasts of