Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ezekiel 45-46 The Sacred Square


Ezek 45:1-6 "'When you allot the land as an inheritance, you are to present to the Lord a portion of the land as a sacred district, 25,000 cubits long and 20,000 cubits wide; the entire area will be holy. Of this, a section 500 cubits square is to be for the sanctuary, with 50 cubits around it for open land. In the sacred district, measure off a section 25,000 cubits long and 10,000 cubits wide. In it will be the sanctuary, the Most Holy Place. It will be the sacred portion of the land for the priests, who minister in the sanctuary and who draw near to minister before the Lord. It will be a place for their houses as well as a holy place for the sanctuary. An area 25,000 cubits long and 10,000 cubits wide will belong to the Levites, who serve in the temple, as their possession for towns to live in. You are to give the city as its property an area 5,000 cubits wide and 25,000 cubits long, adjoining the sacred portion; it will belong to the whole house of Israel.

Ezekiel 45-46 describe the Sacred Square (see picture) where the temple and the priests and Levites are located. Each side of the square is 25,000 cubits long (8.3 miles = 13.4 km). Outside would be the land for other Israelites and beyond that, the rest of the nations. During the Millennium, this Sacred Square will be focus of universal worship. The Levitical system will be reinstated in this new Millennium worship: "It will be the duty of the prince to provide the burnt offerings, grain offerings and drink offerings at the festivals, the New Moons and the Sabbaths — at all the appointed feasts of the house of Israel" (Ezek 45:17).

Two questions come to mind as we ponder life in the Millennium:
(1) Will the Church be around during the Millennium reign when Israel regains her spiritual preeminence and restores her Temple, together with the Levitical sacrifices and festivals in Jerusalem? (2) How is it that there are the unbelievers during the Millennium who finally gang up with Satan in his final rebellion against God? 

Concerning the first question, some suggest only those who are martyred during the Great Tribulation during the reign of the Anti-Christ will be resurrected ("first resurrection") to co-reign with Christ for a thousand years (see Rev. 20:4). But Paul makes it quite clear that all the new covenant saints will be resurrected at Christ's return: "For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever (1 Thess 4:16-17). Implied in all "rising" is the clothing of immortal bodies. Furthermore, Paul also teaches in 1 Cor. 6:2 that the Church will judge the nations: "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?" So, the Church and Israel will co-reign with Christ over the nations during the Millennium.

The second question is: "So, why are there unbelievers at the Millennium?" Zechariah 14:16 gives us some clue: "Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles." Apparently, there will be survivors in the battle of Armageddon when Christ returns to destroy the armies surrounding Jerusalem. So, those who survive the battle will live to enjoy the blessings of Christ's rule and will be required to worship at Jerusalem annually. Though they will live much longer, they will still die as they possess only natural bodies as descendants of the first Adam. This fact is noted in Isaiah 65:20, "Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.". Unlike the saints who possess the immortal resurrection bodies, these people will have natural mortal bodies.

But sadly, the children of this survivor first generation will gradually turn away from Christ to align themselves with Satan during that 1,000-year period. Despite the blessing of Christ's rule on earth where people live longer and there is universal peace, the later generations will reject Christ's rule in their final rebellion with Satan against Christ. When that happens, the Millennium will end and this old earth will be destroyed and the New Heaven and New Earth will take its place.

Father, thank You that You will restore Israel's preeminence in the world and we as Your Church that has been grafted into the True Vine will also share the same glory. May Your Spirit empower us to usher in as many into Your kingdom as possible. Amen.s

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