Other Resources on the Millennium:
- Table Comparing Present Age, the Millennium and Eternity Future (off site)
- Excellent off site discussion of the Millennium
- The Millennial Position of Spurgeon by Dennis Swanson
- The Theocratic Kingdom - Volume 1-3
Although written in 1883, The Theocratic Kingdom stands as one of the single best expositions on the kingdom of God (including the Millennial Kingdom) ever written. In 1883 George Peters published his 3 volume magnum opus which is now available online. Links to Pdf's of each volume are listed below in addition to a link to Volume 1 (698 pages) in a rich text format (MS Word document). The Pdf downloads are huge, so be patient as the three volumes total more than 2000 pages.
In 1952, Dr. Wilbur Smith writing a preface to the Theocratic Kingdom work said in his opening remarks that "No writer of a major work in the field of Biblical interpretation in modern times could have lived and died in greater oblivion, and experienced less recognition for a great piece of work, than the author of these three great volumes devoted to Biblical prophecy . . . Yet, this clergyman, never becoming nationally famous, never serving large churches, passing away in such comparative obscurity . . . wrote the most important single work on Biblical predictive prophecy to appear in this country at any time during the nineteenth century.
Lewis Sperry Chafer said that The Theocratic Kingdom was "The greatest work on prophetic interpretation ever written."
A C Gaebelein (In the Harmony of the Prophetic Word) (Published 1907)
Articles by Dr John Walvoord on the Millennium:
- The Doctrine of the Millennium — Part I: The Righteous Government of the Millennium
- The Doctrine of the Millennium — Part II: Spiritual Life in the Millennium
- The Doctrine of the Millennium — Part III: Social and Economic Aspects of the Millennium
- The Doctrine of the Millennium — Part IV: The Heavenly Jerusalem
- The Millennial Kingdom — Part I: The Prophetic Context of the Millennium
- The Prophetic Context of the Millennium — Part II: The Second Coming of Christ
- The Prophetic Context of the Millennium — Part III: The Second Coming of Christ in the New Testament
- The Prophetic Context of the Millennium — Part IV: The Resurrection at the Second Advent
- The Reign of Christ - Revelation 20 (Includes Discussion of Millennial Kingdom)
- The Future Work of Christ — The Millennial Kingdom and the Eternal State
He who testifies to these things says,
"Yes, I am coming quickly."
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.
It is fascinating to observe that the Holy Scriptures actually record more truth about the characteristics of the coming Millennium, the Messianic Age, the 1000 year reign of the Messiah, than about the New Heaven, New Earth and New Jerusalem! A selection of these wonderful Old Testament passages is presented below. As you read and ponder them, let this truth remind you that if God is faithful to all of His promises to Israel, He will be faithful to fulfill every promise He has ever made to you, His beloved. Be encouraged as you study the grand truths about the glorious future day for planet earth, the genuine "New Age" when the Righteous One, the Lord Jesus Christ, reigns supreme!
Predominantly found in the OT Prophets
A. Physical characteristics
1. Topography and geography of the earth changed- Is 2:2-note; Ezek 47:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12; 48:8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20; Zec 14:4, 8, 10
2. Wild animals tamed- Is 11:6, 7, 8, 9; 35:9; Ezek 34:25
3. Crops abundant- Is 27:6; 35:1, 2, 6, 7; Amos 9:13; Zech. 14:8
4. Human longevity increased- Is 65:20, 21, 22, 23
B. Spiritual and religious characteristics and events
1. Satan confined in the abyss - Re 20:1, 2, 3 (notes)
2. Millennial temple built - Ezek. 40:5-43:27 - See Schematic
3. Animal sacrifices offered as memorials to Christ’s death - Is 56:7; 66:20, 21, 22, 23; Jer. 33:17,18; Ezek 43:18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27; 45:13-46:24; Mal. 3:3, 4
4. Feasts of the New Year, Passover, and Tabernacles reinstituted - Ezek 45:18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25; Zech 14:16, 17, 19, 19, 20, 21
5. Nations worship in Jerusalem - Is 2:2, 3, 4; Mic 4:2; 7:12; Zech. 8:20, 21, 22, 23; 14:16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21
6. Worldwide knowledge of God - Is 11:9; Je 31:34; Mic 4:5; Hab 2:14 (cp Ps 22:27, 67:1,2, 72:19, 86:9, 98:1, 2, 3 Zec 14:8,9 Rev 11:15; 15:4
7. Unparalleled filling of and empowerment by the Holy Spirit on Israel - Is 32:15; 44:3; Ezek. 36:24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29; 39:29; Joel 2:28, 29
8. New Covenant with Israel fulfilled - Jer. 31:31, 32, 33, 34; Ezek 11:19, 20; 36:25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32
9. Righteousness and justice prevails - Is 9:7; 11:4; 42:1, 2, 3, 4; Jer. 23:5
C. Political characteristics and events
1. Israel reunited as a nation -Je 3:18; Ezek 37:15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23
2. Israel at peace in the land - Deut. 30:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10; Is 32:18; Ho 14:5, 7; Am 9:15; Mic 4:4; 5:4, 5a; Zec 3:10; 14:11
3. Abrahamic Covenant land-grant boundaries established - Ge 15:18, 19, 20, 21; Ezek 47:13-48:8, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27
4. Christ in Jerusalem rules over Israel - Is 40:11; Mic 4:7; 5:2b
5. Davidic Covenant fulfilled with Christ on the throne of David - 2Sa 7:11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16; Is 9:6, 7; Je 33:17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26; Am 9:11,12, Lk 1:32, 33
6. Christ rules over and judges the nations - Is 11:3, 4, 5; Mic 4:2,3a; Zec 14:9; Re 19:15 (note)
8. Universal peace prevails - Is 2:4-note; Is 32:17,18; 60:18; Ho 2:18; Mic 4:2, 3, 4; 5:4; Zec 9:10
9. Jerusalem made the world’s capital - Je 3:17; Ezek 48:30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35; Joel 3:16, 17; Mic 4:1, 6, 7, 8; Zec 8:2, 3
10. Israel exalted above the Gentiles - Is 14:1, 2; 49:22, 23; 60:14, 15, 16, 17; 61:5, 6, 7, 8, 9
11. The world blessed through Israel - Mic 5:7
D. Events following the Millennium
1. Satan released from the abyss - Re 20:7 (note)
2. Satan deceives the nations - Re 20:8 (note)
3. Global armies besiege Jerusalem (Re 20:9a) (note)
4. Global armies destroyed by fire (Re 20:9b) (note)
5. Satan cast into the lake of fire (Re 20:10) (note)
6. Evil angels judged (1Co 6:3)
7. The wicked dead resurrected (Da 12:2b; Jn 5:29b)
8. The wicked judged at the Great White Throne - Re 20:11, 12, 13, 14 (note)
9. The wicked cast into the lake of fire - Re 20:14, 15; 21:8 (note)
In Deuteronomy 30:1-10 God prophesied that although Israel would receive cursings for disobedience, He as the covenant keeping God would faithful to draw the remnant back to Himself at the end of the Great Tribulation, the time of Jacob's distress...
"So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, (When? the final fulfillment and culmination of "all" the curses will be during the Great Tribulation) the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where the LORD your God has banished you, 2 and you return to the LORD your God and obey Him with all your heart (such obedience can only be possible with a "new heart" as a result of their entrance into the New Covenant by grace through faith) and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons, 3 then the LORD your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you. 4 "If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back. 5 "And the LORD your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it (thus fulfilling the promise to Abraham of the land to his descendants); and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers (see below for the conditions during the Millennial Kingdom). 6 "Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants (spiritual circumcision by grace through faith - see Scriptures on Circumcision), to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live. (Bible Knowledge Commentary adds that...
"God will graciously grant the nation a new will to obey Him in place of their former spiritual insensitivity and stubbornness. After returning to the Promised Land with a new heart they will remain committed to the Lord and therefore will experience abundant blessing (live). Loving Him wholeheartedly (cf. Deut 30:16, 20), they would not fall back into apostasy as they had done before. A new heart is an essential feature of the New Covenant (cf. Ezek. 36:24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32), which will not be fulfilled for Israel as a nation until the return of Jesus Christ (cf. Jer. 31:31, 32, 33, 34).(Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., et al: The Bible Knowledge Commentary. 1985. Victor)
Deuteronomy 30:7 "And the LORD your God will inflict all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you. 8 "And you shall again obey the LORD (because they have the indwelling Spirit enabling such obedience), and observe all His commandments which I command you today. 9 "Then the LORD your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground, for the LORD will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers (describes the joyful conditions of the Millennium); 10 if you obey the LORD your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and soul." (Read context Dt 30:1-10)
God makes it possible for the remnant of Israel to return to Him...
"And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born." (Zechariah 12:10)
Isaiah foretells of Israel's regathering
Then it will happen on that day (at the end of the Great Tribulation and at the beginning of the Millennium) that the Lord will again recover the second time (first time was when Israel returned from Babylonian exile) with His hand the remnant of His people, who will remain, from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And He will lift up a standard for the nations, and will assemble the banished ones of Israel, and will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. (Isa 11:11, 12-note)
Jeremiah also predicts the regathering Jehovah declaring that...
"Then (at the beginning of the Millennium) I Myself shall gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries (this detail indicates that the complete fulfillment will be at the end of time, the return from Babylonian exile being only a partial fulfillment) where I have driven them and shall bring them back to their pasture; and they will be fruitful and multiply (This final restoration will be accomplished after the Great Tribulation. This restoration is not to be confused with the return of a remnant of Judah under Ezra, Nehemiah, and Zerubbabel at the end of the seventy years' captivity) I shall also raise up shepherds over them and they will tend them; and they will not be afraid any longer, nor be terrified, nor will any be missing," declares the LORD. "Behold, the days are coming," declares the LORD, "When I shall raise up for David a righteous Branch (Messiah will reign as King of kings in the Millennium); and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely; and this is His name by which He will be called, 'The LORD our righteousness (Jehovah-tsidkenu).' Therefore behold, the days are coming," declares the LORD, "when they will no longer say, 'As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt,' but, 'As the LORD lives, who brought up and led back the descendants of the household of Israel from the north land and from all the countries where I had driven them.' Then (at the beginning of the Millennium) they will live on their own soil." (God is saying that the day is coming when He will bring them back into their land that they will forget His deliverance out of Egypt. They will remember this new deliverance. Obviously God is not through with the nation of Israel.) (Jer 23:3-8)
Israel and Judah will be reunited as a nation, Jeremiah recording that
"In those days the house of Judah will walk with the house of Israel" (Jer 3:18).
In Amos God promises that He
"will also plant them (reunited Israel) on their land, and they will not again be rooted out from their land which I have given them." (Amos 9:15)
Click for more verses describing this peace)
After centuries of turmoil, Israel will finally experience peace! In Isaiah God says
"my people will live in a peaceful habitation, and in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places" (Isa. 32:18)
God instructs Israel to
"Look upon Zion (Jerusalem), the city of our appointed feasts. Your eyes shall see Jerusalem an undisturbed habitation, a tent which shall not be folded. Its stakes shall never be pulled up nor any of its cords be torn apart." (Isa 33:20)
Jehovah Sabaoth (see study on Jehovah Sabaoth, LORD of hosts or of armies) also promised Israel that during the Millennium each of her citizens "will sit under his vine and under his fig tree, with no one to make them afraid" (Micah 4:4), clear evidence of peace and security in the kingdom age. Jehovah Sabaoth repeated a similar promise in Zechariah declaring that "In that day (the Millennium) ... every one of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and under his fig tree." (Zec 3:10) and adds that the "people will live in it (Jerusalem), and there will be no more curse, for Jerusalem will dwell in security" (Zech 14:11) fulfilling the psalmist's call for saints of every generation to
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem
ABRAHAMIC COVENANT FULFILLED
REGARDING ISRAEL'S BOUNDARIES
For the first time in the history of the nation of Israel, the boundaries promised in the Abrahamic Covenant (see Covenant: Abrahamic versus Mosaic ) are fulfilled (Ge 15:18, 19, 20, 21; Ezek. 47:13-48:8, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27).
Ezekiel ends his great book with the wonderful promise for the city of Jerusalem that...
"The city shall be 18,000 cubits round about; and the name of the city from that day shall be, 'The LORD is there.'" (See study Jehovah Shammah - The LORD is There - signifying Messiah's presence in the midst of His people on earth during the Millennium) (Ezekiel 48:35)
The Lord of hosts says of Jerusalem...
'I am exceedingly jealous for Zion (another name for Jerusalem), yes, with great wrath I am jealous for her.' Thus says the LORD, 'I will return to Zion (Messiah's Second Coming) and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem (during the Millennium). Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the LORD of hosts will be called the Holy Mountain.' (Zechariah 8:2, 3)
In Micah the LORD promises...
"In that day (at the beginning of the the Millennium)," declares the LORD, "I will assemble the lame, and gather the outcasts, even those whom I have afflicted. I will make the lame a remnant, and the outcasts a strong nation, and the LORD will reign over them in Mount Zion (on Temple Mount in Jerusalem) from now on and forever:"
John MacArthur explains "forever" writing that "The Hebrew term does not always mean “without end,” but signifies a long, indefinite period of time, the length of which is always determined by the context. Here it refers to the 1,000 year reign of Messiah on earth (MacArthur, J.: The MacArthur Study Bible Nashville: Word)
And as for you, tower of the flock (Jerusalem, which, in the figure, watches over Israel as a shepherd watches his sheep from a tower. The Millennial kingdom will be greater in extent than David's or Solomon's, the former dominion), hill of the daughter of Zion, to you it will come-- Even the former dominion will come, the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem." (Mic 4:7)
The psalmist's prayer will be one day soon be answered...
In His days (ultimately fulfilled in the reign of the Messiah during the Millennium) may the righteous flourish, and abundance of peace till the moon is no more (which will happen at the end of the 1000 year reign when heaven and earth fled away and no place was found for them) May He also rule from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth... And let all kings bow down before Him, all nations serve Him. (Ps 7:8,11)
Zechariah prophesies that...
the LORD will be King over all the earth. In that day (the Millennium) the LORD will be the only One, and His name the only One. (No more will men worship the creation rather than the Creator. All will know and obey the one God, our Creator-Savior, Jesus Christ) (Zech 14:9)
Messiah will rule from the holy city of Jerusalem, Joel prophesying that
"the LORD roars from Zion and utters His voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth tremble (speaking of His triumphant return to defeat the forces of evil and judge the world in righteousness). But the LORD is a refuge for His people and a stronghold to the sons of Israel. Then (at the Second Coming) you (Jews) will know that I am the LORD your God (specifically referring to the 1/3 of Jews who come through the refining fire of the Great Tribulation and recognize Jesus as their long awaited Messiah), dwelling in Zion My holy mountain (the earthly location of God’s presence in the millennial temple - See Schematic). So Jerusalem will be holy, and strangers will pass through it no more." (Joel 3:16, 17)
Micah describing the glories of the Messianic Kingdom during the Millennium promises that God...
"will arise and shepherd His flock In the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD His God. And they will remain, because at that time He (the Messiah) will be great To the ends of the earth. And this One (Messiah, the Prince of peace) will be our peace. (Mic 5:4, 5)
Jehovah speaking prophetically of the extent of Messiah's rule adds that...
from the rising of the sun, even to its setting, My name will be great among the (Gentile) nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering that is pure; for My name will be great among the (Gentile) nations," says the LORD of hosts." (Malachi 1:11-note)
John MacArthur comments on "rising of the sun...setting" explaining that this "phrase is a way of referring to the whole earth (cf. Ps 50:1; 103:12; Is 45:6; 59:19; Zec 8:7), as the subsequent phrase, “In every place,” indicates. Although no indication is given as to the time when such worship of God will fill the earth, this cannot be a reference to any historic Jewish worship outside the borders of Israel. Malachi’s zeal for Israel’s sacrifices, coupled with his negative attitude toward foreigners and their gods (Mic 1:2, 2, 3, 4,5; 2:11), points to the millennial era, when they will worship in the rebuilt temple and incense plus offerings will be present. At that time, and not until that time, the Lord will receive pure worship throughout the world and His name will be honored everywhere. (MacArthur Study Bible) (Bolding added)
Gentile nations will acknowledge the reign of the Messiah, Isaiah recording that...
In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD near its border. And it will become a sign and a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the LORD because of oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Champion, and He will deliver them. Thus the LORD will make Himself known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day. They will even worship with sacrifice and offering, and will make a vow to the LORD and perform it." (Isaiah 19:19-21)
Zechariah describes this future time recording...
"Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'It will yet be that peoples will come, even the inhabitants of many cities. 'And the inhabitants of one will go to another saying, "Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts; I will also go." 'So many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the LORD.' "Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew saying, "Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.'" (Zechariah 8:20-23)
Then it will come about that any who are left (after the Great Tribulation, those Gentiles who are judged righteous by faith at the Judgment of the Sheep and Goats in Mt 25:31ff) of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths. And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them. And if the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the LORD smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. (Zech 14:16-19)
In Ezekiel God promises that when
"I...deliver My flock (when "all Israel will be saved" when "the Deliverer [Messiah] will come from Zion", Ro 11:26-note), and they (are) no longer be a prey (Israel's enemies are finally and vanquished)... Then (see expressions of time) I will set over them one shepherd (many have been taught this is Messiah who descended from the lineage of David but read on), My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD (Jehovah and Jehovah = Jesus), will be their God (speaking of the Messiah), and My servant David will be prince among them; I, the LORD, have spoken." (Ezekiel 34:22-24)
Comment: Twice God predicts that David will be over redeemed Israel, the re-united 12 tribes, all of whom are saved at this time. Even many conservative, otherwise literal commentators (See Literal Interpretation) interpret David figuratively or as a symbol which is fulfilled in the Messiah. However applying the rule of literal interpretation, there is absolutely no reason this cannot be the resurrected David who reigns, even as resurrected saints will reign with Christ.
Henry Morris comments on David:
In the coming eternal age of Christ's kingdom on the renewed Earth, the Lord Jesus will occupy "the throne of his father David" (Lk 1:32), which will continue "for ever" (Lk 1:33). In the millennial kingdom preceding this, it seems that David himself, resurrected from the dead with the other Old Testament saints when Christ was resurrected (Mt 27:52,53), will sit upon the physical throne in Jerusalem (Jer 30:9; Ezek 37:24,25) (Morris, Henry: Defenders Study Bible. World Publishing) (Ed note: It is interesting that even though Morris makes this interpretation on this verse, his interpretation of Hosea 3:5 below is not that Hosea is referring to a literal David but to the Messiah. Interesting! For reasons which are not clear to me, there seems to be some "resistance" by otherwise literal interpreters to accept that a literal David will reign over redeemed Israel in the Millennium!) (Green added for emphasis)
Keil has this note:
Compare Ezek. 37:24 with Jer. 30:9, where it is expressly said that the David to be raised up is to feed Israel and Judah, the two peoples that had been divided before. “My servant David:” Jehovah calls him עַבְדִּי, not merely with reference to the obedience rendered (Hävernick), but also with regard to his election (Is 42:1; Hengstenberg). There is no necessity to refute the assertion of Hitzig, David Strauss, and others, that Ezekiel expected the former King David to be raised from the dead. (Keil, C. F., & Delitzsch, F. Commentary on the Old Testament. 9:293. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson)
Dr Charles Dyer in his note in The Bible Knowledge Commentary entry on Ezekiel 34:23,24 makes an interesting statement:
This shepherd, God stated, will be His servant David. Many see this as an allusion to Christ, the Good Shepherd (cf. Jn 10:11-18), who descended from the line of David to be the King of Israel (cf. Mt. 1:1). However, nothing in Ezekiel 34:23 demands that Ezekiel was not referring to the literal King David who will be resurrected to serve as Israel’s righteous prince. David is referred to by name elsewhere in passages that look to the future restoration of Israel (cf. Jer 30:9; Ezek. 37:24, 25; Hos 3:5). Also Ezekiel indicated that David will be the prince (nāśî’) of the restored people (Ezek 34:24; 37:25). This same “prince” will then offer sin offerings for himself during the millennial period (Ezek 45:22; 46:4). Such actions would hardly be appropriate for the sinless Son of God, but they would be for David. So it seems this is a literal reference to a resurrected David. In place of the false shepherds God will resurrect a true shepherd to tend his sheep. (Bible Knowledge Commentary) (Green added for emphasis)
God repeats this promise in Ezekiel 37 declaring...
My servant David will be king over them (regathered, reunited Israel), and they will all have one shepherd and they will walk in My ordinances, and keep My statutes, and observe them (Because as a result of the New Covenant, their hearts are spiritually circumcised and they have God's Spirit Who enables their obedience). And they shall live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons, and their sons' sons, forever; and David My servant shall be their prince forever." (Ezekiel 37:24, 25-note)
Comment: Again literal interpreters like Ryrie interpret David not as David but as Messiah. Thus Ryrie comments on this verse "the messianic kingdom is presented with the Messiah, the Son of David and heir to the throne of David, as the one King" (The Ryrie Study Bible)
The prophet Hosea alludes to David's rule declaring that...
Afterward (the Great Tribulation, after the "times of the Gentiles" are fulfilled, when Messiah returns to defeat the Antichrist) the sons of Israel will return and seek the LORD their God (this refers to their Messiah) and David their king (who will be resurrected); and they will come trembling to the LORD and to His goodness in the last days (in context referring to Christ's Second Coming)." (Hosea 3:5)
Comment: As stated above many if not most literalist interpreters for some reason feel that King David in this verse refers to "the Second David" [Dr Charles Ryrie - Ryrie Study Bible note], the Messiah, and yet the plain sense seems to make good sense, for we know that David will be resurrected at the beginning of the millennium as will all OT saints, cp Da 12:13. The new NLT Study Bible has this note on Hosea "David’s descendant, their king: Literally to David their king."
The declaration in Jeremiah 30 also supports the interpretation that David will literally reign, Jehovah plainly stating that Israel
shall serve the LORD their God (this could certainly describe Messiah, the King of kings) and David their king, whom I will raise up (the LXX uses the NT verb used to describe bodily resurrection) for them. (Jeremiah 30:9)
John Walvoord comments:
As in other passages, the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant is linked with the return of Israel to the land following their time of Jacob’s trouble, as indicated in the preceding context. Here it is stated that they will serve Jehovah and David their king. There is no good reason for not taking this exactly as it is written, namely, that David will be raised from the dead and will with Christ reign over the people of Israel in the millennium.
John Walvoord's related series on Israel in Prophecy is highly recommended...
- Chapter I The New State Of Israel
- Chapter II The Promise To Abraham
- Chapter III Israel’s Future As A Nation
- Chapter IV The Promise Of The Land To Israel
- Chapter V The Kingdom Promised To David
- Chapter VI The Suffering Of Israel
- Chapter VII The Glorious Restoration Of Israel
- Selected Bibliography
Morris in the Defender's Study Bible has this note on Jeremiah 30:9 (see commentary) writing that
After the great day of trouble (the Great Tribulation, "the time of Jacob's distress" Jer 30:7), when Israel is finally saved and restored, the whole nation will have recognized and accepted Jesus as their Messiah, the son of David (Acts 15:16; Ro 1:3). But this Scripture, among others including Ezekiel 37:24-note, indicates that David in his resurrected body will actually reign over the earthly people of Israel during the millennial age. (Matthew 27:52,53 indicates that the believers of the Old Testament days were raised following Christ's resurrection.) (Defenders Study Bible)
John Walvoord agrees with a literal interpretation of David, writing that...
by David is meant the resurrected David who shares with Christ as prince some of the governmental duties of the millennial kingdom. It should be clear from many Scriptures that the reign of Christ is shared with others. As Newell has written: “David is not the son of David. Christ, as Son of David, will be King; and David, His father after the flesh, will be prince, during the Millennium.” In the light of many prophecies which promise saints the privilege of reigning with Christ, it would seem most logical that David the king raised from the dead should be given a place of prominence in the Davidic kingdom of the millennial reign of Christ. (See complete online article - Walvoord, John: The Doctrine of the Millennium—Part I: The Righteous Government of the Millennium - Bibliotheca Sacra: Volume 115, page 8, 1958).
All the resurrected saints will reign with Christ (Mt. 19:28 ; Rev 5:10 ; Rev 20:6).
For the first time in the history of the world, universal peace will prevail (Is 2:4; 32:17, 18 ; 60:18; Hos 2:18; Mic 4:2, 3, 4 ; 5:4; Zech 9:10).
The nation of Israel will be exalted above the Gentiles (Is 14:1, 2; 49:22, 23; 60:14, 15, 16, 17; 61:5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
The last words of the prophecy of Amos are full of future hope for Israel, for as he writes...
"In that day (What day? When Israel has been regathered and restored to her land during the Millennium) I will raise up the fallen booth of David, and wall up its breaches; I will also raise up its ruins, And rebuild it as in the days of old; that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by My name," Declares the LORD who does this. "Behold, days are coming (The Millennial Reign of Messiah will be bring the realization of conditions that are ideal and idyllic...the utopia that men have been hoping for and trying to create in their strength for millennia!)," declares the LORD, "When the plowman will overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows seed (The millennial kingdom will be characterized by remarkable fertility); when the mountains will drip sweet wine, and all the hills will be dissolved. "Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, and they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, and make gardens and eat their fruit. (Speaks of the prosperity of the Millennium) "I will also plant them on their land, And they will not again be rooted out from their land Which I have given them," Says the LORD your God. (Amos 9:11-15)
During the Millennium there will be significant changes in the geography of the earth
Ezek 47:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Ezek 48:8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20
Zechariah 14 prophesies that...
4 And in that day (at His Second Coming of the Messiah) His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east (just to the east of Temple Mount separated in our time by the Kidron Valley); and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south....
8 And it will come about in that day (Second Coming of the Messiah) that living waters will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea (Dead Sea) and the other half toward the western sea (Mediterranean Sea); it will be in summer as well as in winter...
10 All the land will be changed into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem; but Jerusalem will rise and remain on its site from Benjamin's Gate as far as the place of the First Gate to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king's wine presses. (Zech 14:4, 8, 10)
Used by permission Middletown Bible Church
Isaiah records that in the Millennium wild animals will be tamed
And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the kid, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze. Their young will lie down together; and the lion will eat straw like the ox. And the nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child will put his hand on the viper's den. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. (Isa 11:6-9)
Isaiah 35 is one of the great descriptions of the millennial kingdom that follows the judgments prophesied in Isaiah 34. Isaiah records that...
1 The wilderness and the desert will be glad, and the Arabah (desert areas) will rejoice and blossom; like the crocus 2 It will blossom profusely and rejoice with rejoicing and shout of joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God (Israel is to recognize the earth’s newfound fruitfulness as coming from the Lord and attribute to Him the appropriate credit). 3 Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.
4 Say to those with anxious heart, "Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance; The recompense of God will come, But He will save you." 5 Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. 6 Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb will shout for joy. (God’s restoration in the millennial age is to include physical restoration to the afflicted. Jesus’ first coming gave a foretaste of that future day) For waters will break forth in the wilderness and streams in the Arabah. 7 And the scorched land will become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water. In the haunt of jackals, its resting place, grass becomes reeds and rushes. (Water is a precious commodity in Israel but in the Millennium, there will be no lack) 8 And a highway will be there, a roadway, And it will be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it, But it will be for him who walks that way, And fools will not wander on it. 9 No lion will be there, Nor will any vicious beast go up on it; These will not be found there. But the redeemed will walk there, 10 And the ransomed of the LORD will return, and come with joyful shouting to Zion, with everlasting joy upon their heads. They will find gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. (Isaiah 35:1-10)
In addition, crops will be abundant (Is 27:6; Am 9:13; Zech 14 8) and human lifespan will be greatly increased (Is 65:20, 21, 22, 23)
Joel records that when Messiah returns...
Egypt will become a waste, and Edom will become a desolate wilderness, because of the violence done to the sons of Judah, in whose land they have shed innocent blood. But Judah will be inhabited forever, and Jerusalem for all generations." (Joel 3:19, 20)
Satan will be bound for 1000 years in the abyss (Rev 20:1, 2, 3-notes) while righteousness and justice prevail (Isa. 9:7 ; 11:4 ; 42:1, 2, 3, 4; Jer. 23:5) and the knowledge of God spreads over all the world (Is 11:9; Je 31:34; Mic 4:5; Hab 2:14).
See Schematic of Temple
In Haggai the LORD of hosts predicted that...
"The latter glory of this house (referring to the Millennial Temple) will be greater than the former,' says the LORD of hosts, 'and in this place I shall give peace (true peace was not associated with the rebuilt Temple under Zerubbabel or Herod, or the false peace associated with the Jewish Temple rebuilt during Daniel's Seventieth Week so it has to refer to a future temple during the Millennium, one described in great detail in Ezekiel 40-48),' declares the LORD of hosts."
Henry Morris comments that "This can only be a reference to the future millennial temple, for it was never accomplished in the restoration temple or in any other since. Furthermore, in this future temple--and not before-Christ will finally "give peace" to the world. (Defenders Study Bible)
Ezekiel records God's promise of the rebuilt Millennial temple...
"Son of man, see with your eyes, hear with your ears, and give attention to all that I am going to show you; for you have been brought here in order to show it to you. Declare to the house of Israel all that you see." 5 And behold, there was a wall on the outside of the temple all around, and in the man's hand was a measuring rod of six cubits, each of which was a cubit and a handbreadth. So he measured the thickness of the wall, one rod; and the height, one rod." (Ezekiel 41:4, 5, see Ezekiel 41:1-42:20 for the specific measurements)
Then Ezekiel records a description underscores the timing of this temple, writing that...
Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing toward the east and behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the way of the east (Messiah at His Second Coming, inaugurating the 1000 year reign, the Millennium). And His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory. And it was like the appearance of the vision which I saw, like the vision which I saw when He came to destroy the city. And the visions were like the vision which I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell on my face. And the glory of the LORD (The Shekinah glory had departed from the temple of Solomon, and Ezekiel had seen it, Ezek 10:18 [see note]; Ezek 11:23 [see note]. Now, in a similar vision, he was permitted to observe its return to the future temple. See study on Overview: The Glory of the LORD) came into the house by the way of the gate facing toward the east. And the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house. Then I heard one speaking to me from the house, while a man was standing beside me. And He said to me, "Son of man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell among the sons of Israel forever. And the house of Israel will not again defile My holy name (because all Israel who enter the Millennium will have experienced the circumcision of their hearts and possess the indwelling Holy Spirit Who will enable them to fulfill this prophecy), neither they nor their kings, by their harlotry and by the corpses of their kings when they die, by setting their threshold by My threshold, and their door post beside My door post, with only the wall between Me and them. And they have defiled My holy name by their abominations (especially gross idolatry and lascivious idol worship) which they have committed. So I have consumed them in My anger (the fulfillment being the Great Tribulation, "the time of Jacob's distress.") Now let them put away their harlotry and the corpses of their kings far from Me; and I will dwell among them forever. (Ezekiel 43:1-9)
Several passages in Ezekiel refer to sin offering and sacrifices for atonement in the Millennium including Ezekiel 43...
Ezekiel 43:18 And He said to me, "Son of man, thus says the Lord GOD, 'These are the statutes for the altar on the day it is built, to offer burnt offerings on it and to sprinkle blood on it. 19 'And you shall give to the Levitical priests who are from the offspring of Zadok, who draw near to Me to minister to Me,' declares the Lord GOD, 'a young bull for a sin offering. 20 'And you shall take some of its blood, and put it on its four horns, and on the four corners of the ledge, and on the border round about; thus you shall cleanse it and make atonement for it. 21 'You shall also take the bull for the sin offering; and it shall be burned in the appointed place of the house, outside the sanctuary. 22 'And on the second day you shall offer a male goat without blemish for a sin offering; and they shall cleanse the altar, as they cleansed it with the bull. 23 'When you have finished cleansing it, you shall present a young bull without blemish and a ram without blemish from the flock. 24 'And you shall present them before the LORD, and the priests shall throw salt on them, and they shall offer them up as a burnt offering to the LORD. 25 'For seven days you shall prepare daily a goat for a sin offering; also a young bull and a ram from the flock, without blemish, shall be prepared. 26 'For seven days they shall make atonement for the altar and purify it; so shall they consecrate it. 27 'And when they have completed the days, it shall be that on the eighth day and onward, the priests shall offer your burnt offerings on the altar, and your peace offerings; and I will accept you,' declares the Lord GOD."
MacArthur explains the significance of the re-instituted sacrifices - (Ezekiel describes) Exact (literal) offerings, in language just as definitive as the literal descriptions in Moses’ day, are also just as literal here. They are of a memorial nature (NOTE THAT NOT EVERYONE AGREES WITH THIS INTERPRETATION ALTHOUGH IT IS PROBABLY THE MOST COMMON EVANGELICAL INTERPRETATION - SEE ARTICLES BELOW); they are not efficacious any more than OT sacrifices were. As OT sacrifices pointed forward to Christ’s death, so these are tangible expressions, not competing with, but pointing back to the value of Christ’s completely effective sacrifice, once for all (Ed: Note time phrase "once...once for all" in following passages - Heb 9:28-note; Heb 10:10-note). God at that time endorsed OT offerings as tokens of forgiving and cleansing worshipers on the basis and credit of the great Lamb they pointed to, Who alone could take away sins (Jn 1:29). The tangible expressions of worship, which the Israelites for so long failed to offer validly (cf. Isa 1:11–15-note), will at last be offered acceptably, then with full understanding about the Lamb of God to Whom they point. The bread and the cup (Ed: In other words, compare communion which is a memorial Jesus Himself commanded "Do [present imperative = continually practice] this in remembrance of Me." Lk 22:19, cp 1 Cor 11:23, 24, 25, 26), which believers today find meaningful, do not compete with Christ’s cross but are tangible memorials of its glory. So will these sacrifices be.
Animal sacrifices will be re-instituted, Malachi recording that Messiah
"will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver (referring to the purging of Israel in the fires of the Great Tribulation, during which 2/3's of Israel will be lost and only a remnant of 1/3 will be brought through the fire as genuine believers, some of whom presumably include priests from the tribe of Levi), so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness. Then (in the Millennium) the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD, as in the days of old and as in former years. (Malachi 3:3, 4)
Thomas Constable writes that "After this cleansing of the priests, Judah and Jerusalem (i.e., all Israel) would be able to offer sacrifices that would please the Lord, in contrast to the present ones that did not (cf. Mal 1:13–14). They would be acceptable like the offerings the priests offered earlier in Israel’s history, before the priesthood had become corrupt."
Gotquestions has this comment
The sacrificial system described in Ezekiel cannot be for the forgiveness of sins, for Christ has accomplished that once and for all (See below Hebrews 10:1-4, 11-14). In this interpretive approach, the sacrifices are seen as memorials of Christ’s death or as rites for the ceremonial cleansing of the temple, but not as a means to forgive sins. (Ezekiel's Temple)
Hebrews 10:1-4 For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? 3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (Ed: It was impossible before the Millennium and it is impossible after the Millennium is instituted.)
Hebrews 10:11-14 Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; (Ed: It is clear that ONLY the shed blood of the Lamb of God can take away sins and that sacrifice has been completed once and for all at Calvary.) 12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time (THE CROSS), SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, 13 waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET (THIS WILL NOT BE PERFECTLY FULFILLED UNTIL THE END OF THE MILLENNIUM - See Revelation 20:7-10-note). 14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
The Millennial Temple: Literal or Figurative? Arnold Fruchtenbaum - Excerpt from article -
THE ARGUMENTS IN FAVOR OF A LITERAL INTERPRETATION
FIRST: This is the normal hermeneutic used elsewhere in Scripture and all theologies use the literal approach in at least parts of the Bible. Only the Dispensationalist uses the literal approach consistently. Such a consistent usage leads to the conclusion that there will be a Millennial Temple and sacrifice.
SECOND: Ezekiel is not the only one to speak of the Millennial Temple and sacrifices. Other prophets spoke of these things in a non-apocalyptic context. The Millennial Temple is spoken of in Isaiah 2:3; 60:13; Daniel 9:24; Joel 3:18; and Haggai 2:7, 9. The Millennial sacrifices are mentioned in Isaiah 56:6-7; 60:7; 66:18-23; Jeremiah 33:18; Malachi 3:3-4; and Zechariah 14:16-21 (this last passage speaks of the observance of the Feast of Tabernacles in the Messianic Kingdom but it required special sacrifices as part of its observance). Therefore, more than one passage and more than one prophet would have to be allegorized away if there is no Millennial Temple or Millennial sacrifice.
THIRD: The Millennial Temple is not the only temple that Ezekiel describes. In chapters 8-11, he describes the departure of the Shechinah Glory from Israel from the First Temple. All agree that his description of the Temple and the events that happen there are very literal. In chapters 40-48, Ezekiel describes the future return of the Shechinah Glory into the Fourth Temple. If what he said about the First Temple was literal, then what he says about the Fourth Temple should also be taken literally.
FOURTH: Ezekiel provides a tremendous amount of detail, which includes specific measurements and types of sacrifices. All accept the details of the sacrifices of the Law of Moses to be very literal. All accept the detailed measurements of the Tabernacle and the First Temple to be very literal. There is no good reason not to accept the details of the Fourth Temple to be equally literal. If they are not, and if they are all symbolic, then why does Ezekiel not explain the meanings of these symbols? Why have those who take these passages as allegorical and symbolic not been able to give explanations for what the symbols mean? This is not to deny that the Millennial Temple and sacrifices are not symbolic of spiritual truths. Just as the Tabernacle and the Mosaic sacrifices were symbolic and typological of spiritual truths while very literal themselves, by the same token, the Millennial Temple and sacrifices can be literal while also being symbolic of spiritual truths. The very fact that Ezekiel was ordered to write down all the details and declare all the details to the House of Israel would be meaningless if such details did not mean what they said. As Thomas Ice has observed: The literal interpretation of the Bible and Bible prophecy stands, especially when one considers the fact that the critics cannot tell us, based upon a textual interpretation, what Ezekiel does mean if not taken literally (“Literal Sacrifices in the Millennium,” Pre-Trib Perspectives, June 2000).
OBJECTIONS AND ANSWERS TO A LITERAL MESSIANIC TEMPLE AND SACRIFICE
This would mean a return to the sacrificial system of the Mosaic Law, which ended when Messiah died and therefore violates all that the New Testament teaches about the termination of the Law as a rule of life.
While there are many similarities with the sacrifices of the Mosaic Law, as there are between the sacrifices of Noah and Moses, the differences show they are not the same. It was these very differences that kept the rabbis from accepting Ezekiel into the Hebrew Canon for some time. These differences include the following. In the consecration of the altar (Mosaic: Exodus 29:1-37; Millennial: Ezekiel 43:18-27) there are the following differences: the Mosaic anointed the altar while the Ezekiel had no anointing; the Mosaic offered a bullock for a sin offering for all seven days while the Ezekiel offered a bullock on the first day only; the Mosaic offered no goat while the Ezekiel offers goats for the last six days; the Mosaic applied blood on the horns of the altar only while the Ezekiel applies blood on the horns, the corners, and upon the lower molding round about; for the burnt offering, the Mosaic offered a ram every day while the Ezekiel offers both a bullock and a ram every day; the Mosaic offered a ram for the consecration of the priesthood but Ezekiel has no ram for the consecration of the priesthood, only for the altar; the Mosaic had the Ark of the Covenant but the Millennial Temple will not have the Ark of the Covenant (Jeremiah 3:16); under the Mosaic Law, only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies but in Ezekiel 44:15-16, all priests will be able to enter; the rules of marriage found in 44:22 were applicable to only the High Priest under the Mosaic Law but in Ezekiel, they will be applicable to all priests; under the Mosaic Law, the first of Nisan was not a special holy day but will be under the Ezekiel system (45:18); the procedure described in 45:19 differs from the Mosaic in two ways: in the animal chosen, the Mosaic had a male goat while the Ezekiel has a bullock, and in the way the animal was disposed of, the Mosaic disposed of the animal outside the camp, while the Ezekiel is inside the camp; concerning the Passover (45:21-24), in the Mosaic, the Passover was a family affair with the head of the household performing the ritual while in the Ezekiel the Prince will perform the ritual on behalf of the nation; in the Mosaic, the Passover was a one day festival while in the Ezekiel it will last for seven days; the Mosaic offered an unblemished lamb while the Ezekiel offers a bullock; there is also a difference in the number of sacrifices offered between the Mosaic (Numbers 28:16-24) and the Ezekiel; there is also a difference in the measures of the meal offering between the Mosaic and the Ezekiel; concerning the Feast of Tabernacles (45:25) there is a difference in the quantity of the offerings (Numbers 29:12-34) and the Ezekiel does not have the added eighth day that the Mosaic had (Numbers 29:35-38); as for the Sabbath offerings (46:4-5), the Ezekiel requires six lambs and a ram which is more than the Mosaic (Numbers 28:9) which required only two lambs and a ram and the same will be true with the meal offering; concerning the New Moon offerings (46:6-7), the Mosaic required two bulls, one ram, and seven lambs while the Ezekiel will require one bullock, six lambs, and one ram; there is also a difference in the daily offering (46:13-15) since the Mosaic (Exodus 29:38-42; Numbers 28:3-4) required two lambs each day both morning and evening while the Ezekiel will require one lamb each morning and none in the evening; there is also a difference in the daily meal offering (Exodus 29:40; Numbers 28:5); in the Mosaic Law, the observance of the Feast of Tabernacles was mandatory for Jews only while under Kingdom Law it will be mandatory for both Jews and Gentiles (Zechariah 14:16-21); under the Law of Moses, only Jews could be priests but under Kingdom Law, Gentiles will also serve as priests (Isaiah 66:18-21). All these differences show that this is not a return to the Law of Moses but it is a new system under Kingdom Law and so it does not violate what the New Testament teaches concerning the termination of the Law with Messiah’s death.
The measurements given by Ezekiel will not fit the Temple Mount and therefore cannot be literal.
It is true that the size of the Ezekiel Temple will not fit the Temple Mount but it is a misconception that the Ezekiel Temple was intended to be built on that mount. The details Ezekiel gives shows that there will be some major geographical changes resulting from the Second Coming. Some of these changes will create a new temple mount all together
To believe in the re-institution of the blood sacrifices is heresy.
The burden of proof is always on the one who claims that a certain part of the Bible does not mean what it says. Whitcomb adds:
Just because animal sacrifices and priests have no place in Christianity does not mean that they will have no place in Israel after the rapture of the Church; for there is a clear distinction made throughout the Scriptures between Israel and the Church. And just because God will have finished His work of sanctification in the Church by the time of the Rapture, is no warrant for assuming that He will have finished His work of instruction, testing, and sanctification of Israel…It is obvious that the Book of Hebrews was written to Christians, and we have no right to insist that Israelites during the Millennium will also be Christians, without priests, without sacrifices, and without a Temple (ibid., pg. 22).
To avoid confusion, it would be better to replace the term Christian in the quote with Church. Since the Jews in the Kingdom will certainly be believers in Christ, they will certainly be Christians since the term refers to any believer in Jesus, but they will not be part of the Church. The point is that just because there is no physical temple, priesthood, and sacrifice for the Church does not mean the same will be true for Israel.
V. THE PURPOSES OF THE MILLENNIAL SACRIFICES
This is the question that Dispensationalists have felt compelled to answer, and the various options will be summarized here. But to repeat what was said earlier, just because we may not know the reason for something in the Scriptures is not a good reason not to take the passage literally. The following have been the options that Dispensationalists have offered and they may all play a role in the purposes of the sacrifices in the Messianic Kingdom in addition to what God will reveal to us when that time comes.
A. MEMORIAL OF THE DEATH OF THE MESSIAH
This view teaches that the sacrifices will play for Israel a similar role that communion plays for the Church. Since the Mosaic sacrifices looked forward to the sacrifice of the Messiah, why could not the Kingdom sacrifices look back and commemorate the sacrifices on the cross? The Church has been asked to do something very physical, to partake of the bread and the cup, to remember the Body and the Blood of the Messiah. This ceremony is to be terminated with the Second Coming (1 Corinthians 11:26). What will be used to remember the Lord’s death by Israel in the Messianic Kingdom? The blood sacrifices of the Kingdom will also be a physical ceremony to serve for Israel what communion serves for the Church: to remember the Body and Blood of the Messiah.
B. THE MEANS OF RESTORING FELLOWSHIP FOR THE MILLENNIAL SAINT
It should be kept in mind that the Mosaic sacrifices never took away sin and were not the means of salvation for the Old Testament saint (Hebrews 10:1-4). The Old Testament saint was saved by grace through faith. The blood sacrifices were the means of restoring fellowship of the Mosaic saint that sinned. In this age, fellowship for the believer is restored by confession (I John 1:9). The Millennial sacrifices will not take away sin either, but they will be the means of restoring fellowship for the Millennial saint that sins.
C. RITUAL CLEANSING FOR RITUAL UNCLEANNESS
Since the Shechinah Glory will be within the Holy of Holies of the Millennial Temple, it would be impossible to approach the Temple compound in a state of ritual impurity and therefore the sacrifices will be for the cleansing of ceremonial uncleanness. Ice expresses it this way:
Critics of future millennial sacrifices seem to assume that all sacrifices, past and future, always depict Christ’s final sacrifice for sin. They do not! There were various purposes for sacrifices in the Bible. An overwhelming majority of sacrifices under the Mosaic system were for purification of the priests and objects used in various rites. This is why atonement can be said in the past to be effective, yet still need Christ’s future sacrifice, because many of the sacrifices did atone ceremonially, cleansing participants and objects in Temple ritual. Just as we never finish the task of washing clothes, ceremonial cleansing was an ongoing need. The same is clearly the case in Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 43:20 and 26, the atonement is specifically directed at cleansing the altar in order to make it ritually fit for sacrifice. The only other uses of atonement also refer to cleansing objects so that ritual purity may be maintained for proper function of further worship (Ezekiel 45:15, 17, 20)…Since all the sacrifices of Ezekiel relate to purification of the priests for Temple service, they do not specifically depict or represent Christ’s atoning sacrifice. The presence and purpose of sacrifices neither diminishes the finished work of Christ nor violates the normal and “literal” interpretation of the prophetic passages. Nothing in Ezekiel 40-48 conflicts with the death of Christ or New Testament teaching at any point. The supposed contradictions between a literal understanding of Ezekiel and New Testament doctrine evaporate when examined specifically (ibid., pgs. 4-5). (See also Thomas Ice's article Why Sacrifices in the Millennium? or Pdf)
Jerry Hullinger also reaches the same conclusion:
…a solution that maintains dispensational distinctives, deals honestly with the text of Ezekiel, and in no way demeans the work Christ did on the cross. This study suggests that animal sacrifices during the Millennium will serve primarily to remove ceremonial uncleanness and prevent defilement from polluting the temple envisioned by Ezekiel. This will be necessary because the glorious presence of Yahweh will once again be dwelling on earth in the midst of a sinful and unclean people…Because of God’s promise to dwell on earth during the Millennium (as stated in the New Covenant), it is necessary that He protect His presence through sacrifice… It should further be added that this sacrificial system will be a temporary one in that the Millennium (with its partial population of unglorified humanity) will last only one thousand years. During the eternal state all inhabitants of the New Jerusalem will be glorified and will therefore not be a source of contagious impurities to defile the holiness of Yahweh. (See entire article - “The Problem of Animal Sacrifices in Ezekiel 40-48,” Bibliotheca Sacra, July-September 1995, pgs. 281, 289).
D. THE PRIVILEGE OF LIFE AND PHYSICAL BLESSING IN A THEOCRATIC KINGDOM
This is a view innovated by Whitcomb: However, such sacrifices will not be totally voluntary and purely memorial as is true of the Christian eucharist. Ezekiel says that God will “accept” people on the basis of animal sacrifices (Ezek 43:27), and they are “to make atonement for the house of Israel” (Ezek 45:17; cf. Ezek 45:15). In other words, just as in Old Testament times, the privilege of life and physical blessing in the theocratic kingdom will be contingent upon outward conformity to the ceremonial law. Such conformity did not bring salvation in Old Testament times, but saved Israelites willingly conformed. Only faith in God could bring salvation, and this has been God’s plan in every dispensation. It is a serious mistake, therefore, to insist that these sacrifices will be expiatory. They were certainly not expiatory in the Mosaic economy…and they will not be so in the Millennium. But their symbolic and pedagogic value, unlike the communion service, will be upheld by a legalistic system of enforced participation. For example, those who decide to neglect the annual Feast of Tabernacles will be punished by a drought or a plague…If the true significance of the five offerings be understood, it is not difficult to see how they could serve as effective vehicles of divine instruction and discipline for Israel and the nations during the Kingdom age. (pg. 22 - For a detailed defense of this position see “Christ’s Atonement and Animal Sacrifices in Israel,” Grace Theological Journal 6:2, Fall 1985, pgs. 201-217).
Here is an excerpt from John Whitcomb's paper “Christ’s Atonement and Animal Sacrifices in Israel
HOW does the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ relate to the animal sacrifices which God gave to Israel through Moses? What did the blood of these animals accomplish for believing and I or unbelieving Israelites during the days of the Old Covenant theocracy? How does that Old Covenant sacrificial system compare with the New Covenant system envisioned in Ezekiel 40-48 and other OT prophets, especially in the light of the NT book of Hebrews? A wide difference of opinion still exists in this important aspect of biblical theology. It is the thesis of this study that the answers to these questions lie in the recognition that there are distinct functions in the plan of God for the blood of sacrificial animals and for the precious blood of Jesus Christ. This distinction is especially significant for understanding the reinstatement of animal sacrifices in the future millennial kingdom of Christ.
THE CHURCH AND THE MOSAIC COVENANT
The atoning work of Jesus Christ is infinite in value, and is therefore eternally sufficient and efficacious for those who put their trust in him. This truth is clearly and repeatedly taught in the NT and is therefore fundamental to the Christian faith. The book of Hebrews especially emphasizes the contrast between the substitutionary work of Christ and the blood of bulls and goats in the Mosaic/ Levitical/ Aaronic system of the Old Covenant. The following statements make this clear: "the Law made nothing perfect" (Heb 7:19); "both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshipper perfect in conscience" (Heb 9:9); "the Law ... can never by the same sacrifices year by year ... make perfect those who draw near" (Heb 10:1); "it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins" (Heb 10:4); "[animal] sacrifices ... can never take away sin" (Heb 10:11); "where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin" (10:18). Thus, the New Covenant, in which the NT Church has its soteriological foundations (Heb 8:6-13; cf. Luke 22:20; 1 Cor 11:25; 2 Cor 3:6; Heb 12:24), is infinitely superior to the Old Covenant of Moses, which was indeed "only a shadow of the good things to come" (Heb 10:1).'.....
.....Ezekiel was the third major prophet who spoke of Israel's everlasting covenant of peace, designated in Ezekiel 16:60-63; 20:37; 34:25; 37:21- 28; and described soteriologically in Ezek 11:19-20 and Ezek 36:25-28. Included in this covenant was provision for "My sanctuary in their midst forever" (Ezek 37:26, 28). In amazing detail, this sanctuary or temple is described in chapters 40-48 with regard to
(1) the precise dimensions and arrangements of its courts, gates, chambers and furnishings (Ezek 40:5-43:27);
(2) its officials, including the mortal prince (Ezek 44:3; 45:7, 16,22; 46:2-18) and the Levitical descendants of Zadok (who replaced Abiathar as David's faithful high priest) who would serve as priests (40:46; 43:19; 44:10-31; 46:20-24; 48:1 I);
(3) the different types and characteristics and purposes of its animal sacrifices (40:38-43; 42:13; 43:18-27; 45:15-25; 46:2-15; 46:20-24; cf. 20:40); and
(4) the boundaries and dimensions of the tribal territories surrounding the city and the temple with its life-giving river (Ezek 47:1-48:35). Other prophets who spoke of the future temple were Joel 3:18, Micah 4:1-5, Daniel 9:24, and Haggai 2:7, 9. Zechariah foresaw the strict enforcement of the Feast of Tabernacles among all Gentile nations (Zech 14:16-19; cf. Ezek 45:25). Zechariah also anticipated, in connection with the fulfillment of the New Covenant (Zech 9:11, 13:1), that "all who sacrifice will come and take [every cooking pot in Jerusalem] and boil in them" (Zech 14:21).....
.....THE TRUE FUNCTION OF ANIMAL SACRIFICES
In answer to the first question, animal sacrifices could never remove spiritual guilt from the offerer. The book of Hebrews is very clear about that (Heb 10:4,11). But it is equally erroneous to say that the sacrifices were mere teaching symbols given by God to Israel to prepare them for Messiah and his infinite atonement. Such a view is contradicted by precise statements in Exodus and Leviticus. I ' From God's perspective, this was surely a major purpose of animal sacrifices; but it could not have been their exclusive purpose from the perspective of Old Covenant Israelites. The Scriptures tell us that something really did happen to the Israelite offerer when he came to the right altar with the appropriate sacrifice; and he was expected to know what would happen to him. What happened was temporal, finite, external, and legal-not eternal, infinite, internal, and soteriological. Nevertheless, what happened was personally and immediately significant, not simply symbolic and/or prophetic. When an Israelite "unwittingly failed" to observe a particular ordinance of the Mosaic Law (in the weakness of his sin nature [Nu 15:22-29], not "defiantly," in open rebellion against God himself [Nu 15:30-36]),
(FOOTNOTE: "Cr. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Toward An Old Testament Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978) 117-18.)
he was actually "forgiven" through an "atonement" (a ritual cleansing; cf. Heb 9: 10, 13) made by the priest (Nu 15:25-26). But what was the precise nature of this "forgiveness" and this "atonement"? To say that it was exclusively a prophetic anticipation of Christ's atoning work does not do justice to the progress of revelation.
(FOOTNOTE: John S. Feinberg, "Salvation in the Old Testament," 50,51,53,55,68. See also Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today 127-28: "Unquestionably the Old Testament does ascribe efficacy to the sacrifices...The bringing of sacrifices restored the offender to his forfeited position as a Jewish worshipper and restored his theocratic relationship.")
There simply is no biblical evidence that the knowledge-content of OT saving faith always and necessarily included a crucified Messiah. However, in God's eternal purpose, the death of his son has always been and always will be the final basis of spiritual salvation (Rom 3:25- 26). Saving faith before the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) involved a heart response to whatever special revelation of God was available at that time in history (cf. Romans 4; Galatians 3; Hebrews 11). Such Spirit-initiated faith produced a "circumcised heart" (Lev 26:41; Deut 10:16; 30:6; Jer 4:4; 9:25; Ezek 44:7, 9). No one was ever spiritually regenerated by works, not even by fulfilling legally prescribed sacrifices, offerings and other Mosaic requirements. I? In the covenant at Sinai, God provided a highly complex and rigid structure for his "kingdom of priests." Within that structure, national/ theocra tic transgressions would receive national/ theocratic forgiveness when appropriate sacrifices were offered to God through legitimate priests at the tabernacle/temple altar. This "forgiveness" was promised regardless of the spiritual state of either the offerer or the priest. However, such sacrificial blood could never cleanse the conscience or save the soul (Heb 10:1-2), so God repeatedly sent prophets to call his people to love and obey their God from the heart. Apart from such genuine faith, all the ceremonially "kosher" animals in the whole world would avail nothing in the spiritual realm (Ps 50:7-15; Isa 1:12-20; Amos 4:4-5; 5:20-27; Hos 5:6; Mic 6:6-8; Jer 6:20; 7:21-23). It was not to be either faith or sacrifices; rather, it was to be both faith and sacrifices (cf. Ps 51:19). It was just as true then as it is today: "it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins" (Heb 10:4). But it was also true then, under the Old Covenant, that "the blood of bulls and goats ... sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh" (Heb 9: 13). In the words of F. F. Bruce,
the blood of slaughtered animals under the old order did possess a certain efficacy, but it was an outward efficacy for the removal of ceremonial pollution...They could restore [the worshipper] to formal communion with God and with his fellow-worshipers...Just how the blood of sacrificed animals or the ashes of a red heifer effected a ceremonial cleansing our author does not explain; it was sufficient for him, and no doubt for his readers, that the Old Testament ascribed this efficacy to them.
(FOOTNOTE: F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964) 201, 204. Italics added. In a personal communication, Professor John A. Sproule noted that ··to argue from the present tense of agiazei (hagiazo) in Hebrews 9:13 that such things (i.e., the blood of bulls and goats and the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer) would still sanctify defiled persons, as such ceremonies might still be carried out in Jewish sects at the time during which the author of Hebrews was writing, is unnecessary. The present tense (aspect) in New Testament Greek is much more flexible. The present tense could be used here simply for dramatic effect or vividness."
This was the unique tension within the theocracy of Israel that many Christian theologians apparently do not comprehend. Now what does all of this indicate with regard to animal sacrifices in the millennia I Temple for Israel under the New Covenant? It indicates that future sacrifices will have nothing to do with eternal salvation which only comes through true faith in God. It also indicates that future animal sacrifices will be "efficacious" and "expiatory" only in terms of the strict provision for ceremonial (and thus temporal) forgiveness within the theocracy of Israel. Thus, animal sacrifices during the coming Kingdom age will not be primarily memorial (like the eucharist in church communion services), any more than sacrifices in the age of the Old Covenant were primarily prospective or prophetic in the understanding of the offerer.
It is at this point that premillennial theologians exhibit differences. A. C. Gaebelein expressed, perhaps, the majority opinion when he wrote: "While the sacrifices Israel brought once had a prospective meaning, the sacrifices brought in the millennial Temple have a retrospective meaning." (FOOTNOTE: Read A C Gaebelein's explanation in The Prophet Ezekiel, page 312. For a listing and analysis of other 19th and early 20th century proponents of literal sacrifices in the Millennium (e.g., Adolph Saphir, William Kelly, Nathanael West, W. Haslam, Burlington B. Wade, John Fry, and H. Bonar), cf. John L. Mitchell, "The Question of Millennial Sacrifices - Part 1." BSac 110:439 (1953) 248-67. See also Part 2. George N. H. Peters (The Theocratic Kingdom. 3. 83. 88) also mentions D. N. Lord, Tyso. Shimeall. Begg. Baumgarten (in Herzog's Encyclopedia, "Ezekiel"), Auberlen, Hofman, and Volch,)
Ezekiel, however, does not say that animals will be offered for a "memorial" of Messiah's death. Rather, they will be for "atonement" (Ezek 45:15, 17,20; cf. 43:20, 26). The Hebrew word used to describe the purpose of these sacrifices in Ezekiel 45:15, 17, and 20 is the piel form of kaphar ... . But this is precisely the word used in the Pentateuchal description of the aT sacrifices to indicate their ... expiatory purpose (cf. Lev 6:30; 8:15; 16:6, 11, 24, 30, 32, 33, 34; Nu 5:8; 15:28; 29;5). If the sacrifices mentioned in Ezekiel are to be understood literally, they must be expiatory, not memorial offerings.'
(FOOTNOTE: Hoekema. The Bible and the Future, 204, n. 16.)
The distinction between ceremonial and spiritual atonement is by no means a minor one, for it is at the heart of the basic difference between the theocracy of Israel and the Church, the Body and Bride of Christ. It also provides a more consistent hermeneutical approach for dispensational premiUennialism. In his analysis of atonement in the OT, Richard E. Averbeck has shown that the Hebrew term כָּפַר (kaphar), used so frequently in Leviticus, does not mean "to cover," but rather "to appease, expiate, or cleanse." Only Christ's sacrifice was of the kind that could form the basis for eternal and spiritual salvation (Heb 9:15). But this in no way refutes the ... efficacy in the Old Testament atonement sacrifices. Those sacrifices had to do with the covenant relationship between God and the nation of Israel. Eternal or spiritual salvation was not the issue. Therefore, the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament and the sacrifice of Christ in the New Testament were effective at their own respective [and totally different] levels.
FOOTNOTE: Richard E. Averbeck, "An Exegetical Study of Leviticus 1:4 With a Discussion of the Nature of Old Testament Atonement." (unpublished M.Div. thesis; Winona Lake, IN: Grace Theological Seminary. 1977) 68. Personal communication with Averbeck in February, 1985, indicated several modifications in his thesis which are reflected in the present study. He prefers the term "quasi-physical" to describe OT sacrifice and ritual, his understanding being bound up in a thorough rethinking of the Levitical system as to its perspectives, details, and theological implications.
With respect to the millennium, Averbeck concludes:
This accords well with the issue of the millennial sacrifices mentioned in Ezekiel. These rituals will not be memorials. They will atone ... in the same efficacious way as the ones in Aaronic times. Why will this be necessary? Because God will again be dwelling, in His glory, among [mortal] men....Christ did not shed His blood for the cleansing of any physical altar. Therefore, the special rite for the yearly cleansing of the millennial sanctuary will be required (Ezek 45:18-20). Regular sacrifices will be reinstituted in the millennium."
FOOTNOTE: "Ibid., 68-69. In a personal communication, Averbeck suggested that the "cleansing of the sanctuary" (= "you shall make atonement for the house") during the first week of the first month constitutes the millennial form of the ancient Day of Atonement. Moshe Greenberg ("The Design and Themes of Ezekiel's Program of Restoration," 197, n. 34) notes that "Medieval Hebrew commentators (e.g., Kimchi) identify these purgations [Ezek 45:18-20] with those of the altar consecration in 43:18- 26 and both with a supposed future parallel to the week-long ceremonies inaugurating the desert tabernacle (Ex 40; cf. 29:35f). By thus interpreting our passage as a one-time ceremony, they obviated the contradiction that would have otherwise arisen between Ezekiel's annual Temple purgation that occurs in the spring (first month) and that of Lev 16 (the day of atonement) that occurs in the fall."
CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE 17 PAGE ARTICLE BY JOHN WHITCOMB.
Summary - The question of why there are animal/blood sacrifices in the future Millennial Temple is a question over which numerous scholars have struggled to answer. I believe there will be sacrifices, but must admit that I am not absolutely certain as to why they will be required. The previous discussion should give you food for thought if you too wrestle with this question. Below are a few resources from which I have quoted that might give some assistance as you study this fascinating topic.
- Arnold Fruchtenbaum - The Millennial Temple: Literal or Figurative?
- Jerry Hullinger - The Problem of Animal Sacrifices in Ezekiel 40-48 - Bibliotheca Sacra, July-September 1995
- John Whitcomb - Christ's Atonement and Animal Sacrifices in Israel Grace Theological Journal 6.2 - 1985
- Anthony Garland - Sacrifices in the Millennial Kingdom
- Thomas Ice - Literal Sacrifices in the Millennium
- Thomas Ice - Why Sacrifices in the Millennium? or Pdf
- John L. Mitchell, The Question of Millennial Sacrifices - Part 1 Bibliotheca Sacra 110:439 1953 See also Part 2. - charge to access entire article
- Gotquestions What is the significance of Ezekiel’s temple?
- A C Gaebelein - The Prophet Ezekiel (explanation of why sacrifices?)
The following verses describe the Millennium as a time when Israel will experience peace and protection by the Lord.
Isaiah described the future 1000 year earthly kingdom of the Messiah, noting that Jerusalem would be the leading city of the world in a time of peace rather than war, a time when the Lord will teach His ways.
Isaiah 2:1 The word which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
2 Now it will come about that in the last days, (we are in the "last days"
The mountain of the house of the Lord (the Temple Mount area)
Will be established as the chief of the mountains (here mountain ~ kingdom = over all kingdoms),
And will be raised above the hills;
And call the nations (Gentiles) will stream to it.
3 And many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
That He may teach us concerning His ways,
And that we may walk in His paths.”
For the law will go forth from Zion,
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. (Jesus reigns as King of kings from Jerusalem)
4 And He will judge between the nations,
And will render decisions for many peoples (see some of those "decisions" below in Zech 14:17);
And they will hammer their swords into plowshares, (a time of peace)
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
And never again will they learn war.
In Isaiah 2:2 "In the last (latter) days" is a time phrase that looks forward to the Messianic age. In the NT this phrase begins with the first coming of Messiah as taught in (Acts 2:17, Heb 1:2-note).. The Old Testament prophets, did not have a clear understanding regarding the time between the Messiah’s two advents, and so they linked the expression "in the last days" to the Messiah’s return to establish His earthly kingdom millennial kingdom. Remember that all the promises concerning the Millennial Kingdom will be fulfilled because God is a covenant keeping God and He remembers His covenant promise to Abraham that...
"To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates." (Ge 15:18)
The "mountain of the house of the LORD" refers to Mt Zion, the location of the Temple (modern day "Temple Mount"). "Mountain" in Scripture is also symbolic of kingdoms and thus the phrase "chief of the mountains" does not mean that Mt Zion will be the tallest mountain in the world but that the kingdom of Israel will be the "chief" of all the world's kingdoms. The Hebrew word "chief" (ro'sh) describes that which is the head, which is the crucial part of the body and so here describes Israel as the nation of highest rank and greatest importance or influence in all the world.
Digression on "the last days" (See also The Last Days)...
"Last days" (last = eschatos source of the word "eschatology" = the study of last things) means last in time or place. Here are all Scriptural uses (NASB) of the phrases last days (Isa 2:2; Jer 23:20; 49:39; Ezek 38:16; Hos 3:5; Mic 4:1; Acts 2:17; 2Ti 3:1; Jas 5:3; 2Pe 3:3) and latter days (Dt 4:30; 31:29; Job 42:12; Jer 30:24; 48:47; Da 2:28; 10:14)
Luke utilizes the same time phrase writing that "in the last days God says that "I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all mankind" (Acts 2:17) which is a prophecy from Joel (Joel 2:28) which was partially fulfilled at Pentecost.
Comparing Scripture with Scripture (see next paragraph), one can deduce that the "last days" were inaugurated by Messiah's First Coming and will culminate with the triumphant Second Coming of Christ, when "the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings" (Mal 4:2)
Peter warned us that not everyone would accept this prophecy and that the saints were to
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming?" (2Pe 3:3, 3:4-note)
In short, dearly beloved, we are living in the last days that began when God spoke in the incarnation of His Son and will be consummated by the return of His Son.
The Septuagint (LXX) Greek translation of the Hebrew OT uses virtually the same Greek words (eschatos = last + hemera = day) describing the last days, a term that any Jewish reader of this epistle should have been familiar with. In the OT the term "last days" most often foretold of the coming Great Tribulation (Mt 24:31) and/or the establishment of Messiah's earthly (millennial) kingdom. The Jewish reader should have been familiar with Balaam's last and greatest prophecy regarding Israel and the Messiah as Balaam informed King Balak (Nu 24:14) "what (Israel would) do to (his) people in the days to come (= the last days)" going on to foretell of the Messiah, saying "I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near. A Star shall come forth from Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise from Israel...One from Jacob shall have dominion..." (Nu 24:17, 24:19)
At least 4 times Moses uses this identical time phrase (last days) in Deuteronomy informing the Jews that "When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you (the ultimate fulfillment being the "great tribulation"), in the latter days, you will return to the LORD your God and listen to His voice." (Dt 4:30, cf Dt8:16, 31:29, 32:20) (Click for chart summarizing the seven year period often [incorrectly] referred to as the "great tribulation" or more accurately as "Daniel's seventieth week")
Jeremiah prophesying of the coming "great tribulation", the "time of Jacob's distress" (Jer 30:7) warned that
The anger of the LORD will not turn back until He has performed and carried out the purposes of His heart. In the last days you will clearly understand it. (Jer 23:20)
Jeremiah later prophesied that
The fierce anger of the LORD will not turn back, until He has performed, and until He has accomplished the intent of His heart; In the latter days you will understand this. (Jer 30:24, cf Jer 49:39)
Ezekiel prophesied that Gog
will come up against My people Israel like a cloud to cover the land. It will come about in the last days that I shall bring you against My land, in order that the nations may know Me when I shall be sanctified through you before their eyes, O Gog. (Ezekiel 38:16)
Daniel interpreted Nebuchadnezzar's dream saying that
there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days." (Da 2:28,cf 2:29)
Daniel went on to explain
Inasmuch as you saw that a Stone (the Messiah) was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future (LXX = eschatos hemera = last days); so the dream is true, and its interpretation is trustworthy. (Da 2:45)
The archangel Michael was sent to Daniel to give him
an understanding of what will happen to your people (Jews = Israel) in the latter days (LXX = last days), for the vision pertains to the days yet future. (Da 10:14)
Hosea prophesies that
Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king and they will come trembling to the LORD and to His goodness in the last days. (Ho 3:5)
Finally Isaiah and Micah (Mic 4:1 virtually identical to Is 2:2) foretell of Messiah's glorious reign in Jerusalem
In the last days, (Greek Septuagint = eschatos + hemera) the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains (referring to Jerusalem), and will be raised above the hills and all the nations will stream to it." (Is 2:2)
MacArthur observes that
The last days are days of fulfillment. In the Old Testament the Jew saw the last days as the time when all the promises would be fulfilled. In these days Messiah would come and the Kingdom would come and salvation would come and Israel would no longer be under bondage. In the last days promises would stop and fulfillments begin. That is exactly what Jesus came to do. He came to fulfill the promises. Even though the millennial, earthly aspect of the promised Kingdom is yet future, the age of kingdom fulfillment began when Jesus arrived, and it will not finally be completed until we enter into the eternal heavens. The Old Testament age of promise ended when Jesus arrived."
Dave Guzik has an excellent summary of Isaiah 2:2, 3, 5 writing that...
In the latter days: In context, the term latter days refers to the "time of the Messiah," when the Anointed of the LORD reigns over the earth. This speaks of the time many refer to as the millennium, the thousand-year reign of Jesus on this earth (Ps 72, Is 11:4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 , Je 23:5,6 , Lk 1:32, 33, 19:12, 13, 14, 115, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 27, Mt 5:18).
The mountain of the LORD's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it: During the millennium, Israel will be the "superpower" of the world. It will be the leading nation in all the earth, and the center of Israel will be the mountain of the LORD's house - the temple mount, which will be the "capital" of the government of the Messiah. All nations shall flow to the "capital" of the government of Jesus. (see also discussion of commentaries on Isaiah at Questions and Answers)
Come, let us go to the mountain of the LORD . . . He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths: During the millennium, the citizens of earth will acknowledge and submit to the Lordship of Jesus. It will be a time of perfectly administrated enforced righteousness on this earth.
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore: It is important to see that this is not the peace of capitulation. This is the peace of enforced righteousness. There is no more war, and no more need for swords and spears, so why not make them into plowshares and pruning hooks? But there is no more war because there is a new ruler on earth, Jesus Christ. Psalm 2:9 tells us what the Messiah will do to the disobedient in that day:
You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel.
We long for the day when there is no more need for a military budget, when the money that goes for weapons and armies can go to schools and parks. But we are only safe doing that when the Messiah reigns among us!.
"Men yearn for peace, but they will not acknowledge the hopelessness of their own efforts to achieve it. It is only when the word of the Lord goes forth from Jerusalem, when He Himself is reigning over the nations, that lasting peace will come." (Martin)
The prophet Zechariah describes a series of events which have not been fulfilled in Israel's history but which parallel John's description in Revelation 19:11, 12, 13, 14 (notes) of the Second coming of Christ (See Table comparing Rapture vs Second Coming), His defeat of the antichrist and the inauguration of His 1000 year reign on earth. In this context Zechariah describes unique geographical/topographical changes that accompany the Lord's return. The following verses explain that when Christ returns, His feet will touch the Mount of Olives which will split and provide a valley for the Jews to flee. Living waters will flow out of Jerusalem year round. The adequacy of the water supply in Israel in the Millennium is emphasized by the statement that it will flow in both summer and winter. In Israel today the rains end in the spring and usually do not return again until the fall. This resulting long dry period through the summer often causes water supply problems for Israel. These problems will be eradicated in the 1000 year reign of the Messiah, when a sufficient supply of living waters will flow all year long.
Zechariah 14:1 Behold, a day is coming for the LORD when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you.
2 For I will gather all the (Gentile) nations (Note Who gathers the nations...God is in charge even as men make their decisions. Sovereignty vs Man's Responsibility) against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished, and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city.
3 Then (note this important time phrase - just when it appears all hope for Jerusalem is gone) the LORD will go forth and fight against those (Gentile) nations (this is a perfect parallel of the scene in Rev 19:11, 12, 13, 14), as when He fights on a day of battle.
4 And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.
5 And you will flee by the valley of My mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel; yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD, my God, will come, and all the holy ones (or saints) with Him! (this verse perfectly parallels John's description of Christ's return in Revelation 19:11-14 when the believers in heaven returning with the Lord Who defeats the Antichrist and the kings of the earth)
6 And it will come about in that day that there will be no light; the luminaries will dwindle.
7 For it will be a unique day which is known to the LORD, neither day nor night, but it will come about that at evening time there will be light.
8 And it will come about in that day that living waters will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea (the Dead Sea) and the other half toward the western sea (the Mediterranean); it will be in summer as well as in winter.
9 And the LORD will be king over all the earth; in that day the LORD will be the only one, and His name the only one.
10 All the land will be changed into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem; but Jerusalem will rise and remain on its site from Benjamin's Gate as far as the place of the First Gate to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king's wine presses.
11 And people will live in it, and there will be no more curse, for Jerusalem will dwell in security.
12 Now this will be the plague with which the LORD will strike all the peoples who have gone to war against Jerusalem; their flesh will rot while they stand on their feet, and their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongue will rot in their mouth.
13 And it will come about in that day (the return of the King of kings) that a great panic from the LORD will fall on them; and they will seize one another's hand, and the hand of one will be lifted against the hand of another.
14 And Judah also will fight at Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the surrounding nations will be gathered, gold and silver and garments in great abundance.
15 So also like this plague, will be the plague on the horse, the mule, the camel, the donkey, and all the cattle that will be in those camps.
16 Then (note that "then" often marks sequence...so here in the context of the return of the Lord we move into a time in which the Gentile nations will go up to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast of booths - if you don't believe in a literal millennium then this would have to be "heaven" but that would produced a strange and strained interpretation - the point is this - can you see how it is difficult to interpret many prophetic passages literally and in context if one does not believe in a literal millennium?) it will come about that any who are left (refers to believers left alive after the period of the Great Tribulation and who enter the Millennial kingdom after the Judgment of the Sheep and Goats - see summary of these end time events at The Millennium 2) are of all the (Gentile) nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King (Jesus King of kings), the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths.
17 And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them.
18 And if the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the LORD smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.
19 This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. (how would one even begin to interpret this verse literally if they did not believe in a literal 1000 year reign?)
20 In that day (during the Millennium) there will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, "HOLY TO THE LORD." And the cooking pots in the LORD'S house will be like the bowls before the altar.
21 And every cooking pot in Jerusalem and in Judah will be holy to the LORD of hosts; and all who sacrifice will come and take of them and boil in them. And there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts in that day.
For the past 4000 years Israel and Jerusalem have been at the center of international turmoil and conflict. During the 1000 year earthly reign of Messiah Israel as a nation will dwell in peace and security, with no fear of attack by Gentile nations. Numerous Old Testament passages describe this time of peaceful coexistence.
2 Sa 7:10 "I will also appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed again, (this has to refer to a future fulfillment and is very compatible with the millennium) nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly,
God promised David a permanent, secure, Israel which to an extent was fulfilled under his reign but which will be perfectly fulfilled in the reign of the Messiah. Note that the foundation for Jehovah's promise to David finds its roots in His promise to Abraham regarding the land such as when Lot separated from Abraham. Moses records God's promise to Abraham and his descendants...
Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. (Ge 13:14, 15)
Isaiah 32:18 Then (when the Spirit is poured out on Israel in the last days and all of Israel - the remnant that believes - will be saved) my people will live in a peaceful habitation, and in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places. (These conditions do not exist in our day and await fulfillment in the future 1000 year Messianic Age. If you do not believe in a millennium you cannot interpret this verse in its plain, normal, literal sense!)
Isaiah 54:14 "In righteousness you will be established; You will be far from oppression, for you will not fear; and from terror, for it will not come near you.
Jeremiah 23:5 "Behold, the days are coming," (what "days"?) declares the LORD, "When I shall raise up for David a righteous Branch (the Messiah when He returns to defeat the anti-christ and put an end the warfare waged against the Jews); and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land ("the land" referring to that land promised to Abraham and his descendants, a promise that has never been completely literally fulfilled). 6 "In His days Judah will be saved (when He returns to defeat the anti-Christ in Rev 19:11-21:3) - those Jews who confess Jesus as Lord will be saved but 2/3's will be purged out for they are not the true Israel of God, but are Israel only in a physical sense), and Israel will dwell securely; and this is His name by which He will be called, 'The LORD our righteousness.'
Jeremiah 33:16 'In those days (when Christ returns in Rev 19:11, 12, 13, 14) Judah shall be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell in safety; and this is the name by which she shall be called: the LORD is our righteousness.'
Ezekiel 34:25 "And I will make a covenant of peace (a reference to the fulfillment of the New Covenant when Christ returns in Revelation 19:11ff) with them and eliminate harmful beasts from the land (note again the emphasis, so that they may live securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. 26 "And I will make them and the places around My hill a blessing. And I will cause showers to come down in their season; they will be showers of blessing....28 "And they will no longer be a prey to the nations, and the beasts of the earth will not devour them; but they will live securely, and no one will make them afraid.
Ezekiel 39:26 "And they shall forget their disgrace and all their treachery which they perpetrated against Me, when they live securely on their own land with no one to make them afraid.
Amos 9:15 "I will also plant them on their land (referring to "the land" promised to Abraham and which is yet to be completely fulfilled), and they will not again be rooted out from their land which I have given them (the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by unconditional covenant)," Says the LORD your God.
Micah 4:4 And each of them will sit under his vine and under his fig tree, with no one to make them afraid, for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken. (This prophetic promise has never been fulfilled)
Micah 5:2 "But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity."...Micah 5:4 And He (from the context this clearly refers to Jesus Who) will arise and shepherd His flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD His God. And they will remain, because at that time He will be great to the ends of the earth. 5 And this One will be our peace. (referring to Jesus, "the Prince of Peace" [Isaiah 9:6, 7], Who can put down all human rebellion and establish perfect peace in the world)
Hosea 2:18 "In that day (the Millennium) I will also make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, the birds of the sky, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and will make them lie down in safety. (Israel has never experienced complete safety over the past 4000 years and will only be perfectly safe from all adversaries during the earthly reign of the Messiah).
Zechariah 2:4 (one angel to another said) "Run, speak to that young man, saying, 'Jerusalem will be inhabited without walls (this indicates that she will experiencing unparalleled peace which is ultimately fulfilled in the time of the Millennial reign of Christ), because of the multitude of men and cattle within it. 5 'For I,' declares the LORD, 'will be a wall of fire around her (this is why Israel needs no physical walls in the Millennium), and I will be the glory in her midst.'"
Zechariah 3:10 'In that day,' (the Millennium) declares the LORD of hosts, 'every one of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and under his fig tree.'" (because there will be peace and security)
Zechariah 14:11 And people will live in it (Jerusalem), and there will be no more curse, for Jerusalem will dwell in security. (the context of Zechariah 12-14 describes the time of the return of Messiah, which marks the beginning of the Millennium in the sequence laid out in a literal reading of Revelation 19:11-21:3)
During the Millennium, the 12 tribes that were divided under King Solomon's rule, will once again be united.
Jeremiah 3:16 "And it shall be in those days (time phrase) when you are multiplied and increased in the land," declares the LORD, "they shall say no more, 'The ark of the covenant of the LORD.' And it shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they miss it, nor shall it be made again. 17 "At that time they shall call Jerusalem 'The Throne of the LORD,' and all the nations will be gathered to it, to Jerusalem, for the name of the LORD; nor shall they walk anymore after the stubbornness of their evil heart. 18 In those days the house of Judah will walk with the house of Israel, and they will come together from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers as an inheritance.
J Vernon McGee explains that “In those days” is a reference to the millennial kingdom. All the way through the Book of Jeremiah we will find these rays of light. Have you ever been out on a cloudy day when all of a sudden the sun breaks through and you see a rainbow? This is how it will be throughout Jeremiah—we will have these glorious prophecies of the future." (McGee, J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)
Why will the Jews not miss "the ark of the covenant"? The ark of the covenant was lost after Babylon destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem in 586BC, but as Jeremiah records in the future the ark will not be missed. The ark of the covenant, which symbolized God's presence, will be irrelevant when the Messiah returns and reigns over the earth for 1000 years from the city of Jerusalem. The Lord had been "enthroned between the cherubim" above the ark, but during the Millennium Jerusalem will be the site of the throne of the Messiah. At the time of Jeremiah's writing the "house of Israel" had been taken into Assyrian captivity but In the Millennium. the 10 tribes that were taken to Assyria (and are "lost" although not lost to God) will be united with the 2 tribes that composed of the southern kingdom, "the house of Judah".">