I’m going to comment on this post:
On his accounting I ought to doubt my salvation.
Why does Henebury react this way? He said that if amils are right, then God is guilty of prevarication. I inferred from his statement that he doesn’t think God is trustworthy if amils are right. Isn’t that a logical inference? Why does he object when I measure him by his own yardstick? Is that a mature reaction?
My duty is to stick to the argument.
The problem is that when your opponent refuses to argue in good faith, it’s impossible to just stick to the issues. For you must constantly backtrack to correct your opponent’s evasions and misrepresentations.
But I will say this: I had no intention of attacking Steve’s character when I wrote the offending preamble to my link to Fred Butler’s post. Yet upon reflection, the parts of the quote which he highlighted do sound a little proud, and for that I apologize to Steve Hays and any others who found my words offensive. I didn’t mean them to come across like that, but I can see how someone like Steve could have taken umbrage.
I appreciate that. However, I never indicated that I took personal offense, and I never demanded an apology. I didn’t mention myself. Rather, I mentioned how Henebury’s aspersions were unjust to amil commentators like Hummel and Block. It’s not what his invidious comparisons said about amils, but what they unwittingly said about himself. But let’s try to put that behind us.
Built in to this position is Hays’s opinion that the understanding of the original hearers (and those who came after) was in agreement with his non-literal view. He thinks they couldn’t divine a future glorious kingdom where Israel is regenerate and Messiah reigns in justice and righteousness from Jerusalem, and where priests serve him in a new sanctuary. In fact they could do this from say, Num. 25:10-13; Deut. 30:6f., or Psa. 2, 89, 105, 106, Isa. 2, 11, 26-27, 35, 43, 44, 45, 51, 62; Jer. 23, 30, 31, 33, or Hos. 2:16f. or Mic. 4, or Zeph. 3, or indeed from Ezek. 34, 36-37. It seems Ezekiel’s near contemporary Zechariah (6:12-13, 8:1-3; 14:16f.) and Malachi (3:2-3) believed it too. Zechariah predicts a future temple built after Jerusalem has been changed topographically where the King is worshiped at the temple.
i) Let’s cut the dead wood. The question at issue is whether Ezk 40ff. is referring to a physical endtime temple. Dispensationalists think many prophecies about Israel were not fulfilled during the first advent of Christ. Therefore, they cast about for some place to stick these outstanding prophecies. And they settle on Rev 20:4-6. They use three verses in Rev 20 as an empty container to stuff full of outstanding prophecies about Israel.
However, Rev 20:4-6 doesn’t say anything about a temple, physical or otherwise. The only explicit reference to a temple in the Apocalypse is Rev 11:1-2. John’s vision of the New Jerusalem adapts temple imagery, but that’s in reference to the final state, not a temporary millennium.
ii) Rev 20:4-6 does contain some literary allusions to OT prophecy: Dan 7:9-11,22 & Ezk 37:10. That’s it.
iii) The obvious problem with Henebury’s appeal to Zechariah is that, in context, Zechariah is referring to the Second Temple. The temple built by Zerubbabel (Zech 4:6-10). Same thing with Haggai (2:2-4).
That’s the dilemma for dispensationalists like Henebury. Yes, they can find prophecies about a new physical temple. Unfortunately for them, when you study the context, these refer to the Second Temple.
Yes, the restoration community expected a new physical temple to replace Solomon’s temple. And that would be the Second Temple. Zerubbabel’s temple.
iv) Now someone might object that the Second Temple fell far short of Haggai’s grandiose description. How do we harmonize the historical context with the end-result?
a) In principle, you could say that Haggai was literally wrong. He sincerely expected the Second Temple to match his description, but he was shortsighted. That would be a liberal interpretation. But it would be consistent with a physical temple. And it would be consistent with the original setting.
b) We could say Haggai was using hyperbolic language. Certainly there’s ample precedent for hyperbole in prophetic discourse.
c) Or we could say the Second Temple was a prefigural placeholder for the world to come. After all, Haggai talks about a cosmic earthquake which destroys the old order and ushers in a new world order. That, however, can’t very well denote a temporary millennium, which would still be part of the old order. Rather, that refers to a new creation. The final state.
v) Henebury’s contention is deceptively simple, but let’s unpack it. This is what his claim actually amounts to:
Ezekiel had a vision of a new temple. A physical temple to replace Solomon’s temple.
Ezekiel’s vision is both predictive and prescriptive. Not only is this prophetic, but God is commanding Jews to build a temple according to this blueprint.
However, postexilic Jews were not supposed to build this temple. Jews are supposed to delay construction of this temple. Appearances notwithstanding, Jews would be disobeying God’s command to build the temple by building the temple. You see, Ezekiel really meant for Jews to postpone construction of this temple, even though he doesn’t say that.
This is the actual order of events:
a) Zerubbabel is not supposed to build a temple according to Ezekiel’s blueprint. Ezra is not supposed to build a temple according to Ezekiel’s blueprint. That would wreak havoc with God’s eschatological timetable.
b) Before Ezekiel’s temple can be built, the Second Temple must be built.
c) Then Herod must remodel Zerubbabel’s temple.
d) Then the Second Temple must be razed by the Romans in 70 AD.
e) Then the Jews must undergo a second exile when the Romans banish them from Palestine after the Bar Kochba revolt.
f) Then, after the second temple is destroyed, but before Ezekiel’s temple can be built, a third, Tribulation temple must be built, just before the Parousia, which the Antichrist will desecrate (Dan 9:27; 12:11; 2 Thes 2:4; Rev 11:1-2; 13:14-15). Cf. L. Cooper, Ezekiel (B&H 1994), 354; R. Thomas, Revelation 8-22 (Moody 1995), 81-82.
g) Then, when Jesus returns, the stop-work order will be rescinded, and builders who have no historical connection with Ezekiel’s contemporaries or the Jewish returnees in 6C BC, will finally erect Ezekiel’s temple, after two unspecified temples have come and gone. And that’s taking Ezk 40-48 at “face value.” That’s how the original audience was meant to understand Ezk 40-48. Sure.
Yes, I know Steve will ignore these references (he has done so consistently), or that he will make them all metaphorical, but I’m not writing for Steve. He’s too entrenched in his views to consider these texts seriously at face value.
Unlike Henebury, who’s not entrenched in his views.
Most of passages Henebury cites are quite generic. And he cites them without exegeting them. Let’s just touch on two of the more significant passages:
I think Mal 3:1-4 mainly envisions the first advent of Christ and the Second Temple. And, indeed, Jesus frequented the Second Temple.
The passage does contain some eschatological imagery which might also point to the second advent of Christ. That would be a case of prophetic foreshortening. Messianic prophecies often don’t bother to distinguish between the two advents. They are differentiated by subsequent events.
I don’t think God is going to renew the Mosaic cultus, which would be retrograde. But because this oracle is written by and for Jews, it uses idiomatic Jewish imagery.
I think Isa 2:1-4 envisions the new world order, brought about by the return of Christ. It, too, uses stock OT imagery.
Steve hasn’t proved any assertion he has made about Ezekiel, and he has systematically ignored the lines of evidence from Scripture, from theology, from non-dispensationalist Richard Hess, and from ancient Jewish sources which agree with the literal view.
i) Actually, I did a separate post on Hess:
ii) I’ve repeatedly responded to Henebury’s invocation of “ancient Jewish sources.” Henebury is too unethical to even acknowledge, much less rebut, my response.
Passing by that, his questions are, of course, leading ones. No dispensationalist would say that Ezekiel’s audience could know the time when the temple would be built.
I never suggested that dispensationalists say Jews knew when the temple would be built.
They could only know that it would be built.
Not true. They expected a physical temple to be built after they returned to Jerusalem. A new temple to replace Solomon’s temple. That’s what Haggai and Zechariah are urging them to do. And that’s what they did.
The Jews were exiled to Babylon, during which time Solomon’s temple was razed. They were repatriated after the Babylonian exile. And one of their duties was to build a replacement temple.
By contrast, Henebury has given the oracles a completely different setting. For him, the temple can’t be built until the Jews undergo a second exile, when the Romans banish them from the land of Israel. Then, after they return a second time (c. 1948), that’s a precondition for building Ezekiel’s temple.
N.B. a). once Israel were no longer under the Mosaic covenant – because the service etc. of Ezekiel’s temple does not agree with Moses;
i) To the contrary, once the Mosaic covenant is defunct, there’s no reason to rebuild the temple. As long as the Mosaic covenant was in force, a shrine (temple or tabernacle) was part of the Mosaic cultus. That’s why the returnees were required to replace Solomon’s temple.
ii) The fact that Ezekiel’s temple is at odds with some of the Mosaic stipulations is just one more reason to regard his temple as a symbolic structure.
b) after topographical changes occurred which would make the huge project possible,
The temple wasn’t under construction in Ezekiel’s vision. Not a work in progress.
and c). once the glory of the Lord was ready to return to bless Israel and dwell with them forever. That didn’t happen in Nehemiah’s day, and it hasn’t happened yet, so logically it must either be the future, or these chapters form one of the greatest circumlocutions in all of literature!
i) No, that’s fallacious. The fact that Zerubbabel and Nehemiah made no attempt to build Ezekiel’s temple is good reason to think they didn’t interpret his vision literally. It’s not as if they lacked the resources to do so, for Haggai and Zechariah promise divine provision to make it possible.
ii) Henebury’s interpretation is a huge circumlocution. Consider all of the intervening events he must interpolate into Ezekiel’s prophecy before the temple is even feasible.
Asking the kind of question Steve does here is like asserting that Adam and Eve had to know where Messiah would be born. They didn’t know because revelation is progressive. Ezekiel didn’t know that the Messianic Kingdom would last a thousand years. He didn’t have John’s Revelation (some who have Revelation still don’t know Christ will reign a thousand years).
So Henebury must interpret Ezekiel’s temple in light of Revelation. Isn’t that standard amil hermeneutics?
We don’t have to demonstrate anything which wasn’t revealed after Ezekiel’s time to realize that his original audience knew he was referring to a future temple.
Consider the options:
i) A physical temple in the distant future
ii) A symbolic temple in the distant future
iii) A physical temple in the near future
iv) Combine (ii) & (iii).
Now, in this latest post he has said some few things which I think many people would find peculiar. For starters, he implies that God was actually nearer to Israel in Exile than he was when they were in the land…He implies that the Jews in Exile had better access to God than when they were in the land, even when they were more obedient in the days of Solomon. Is that what the Bible leads us to believe? What then is the Exile?
Yes, that’s what the Bible leads us to believe. In fact, that’s what Ezekiel leads us to believe. God tabernacled with the exiles:
Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: Though I removed them far off among the nations, and though I scattered them among the countries, yet I have been a sanctuary to them for a while in the countries where they have gone’ (Ezk 11:16).
Back to Henebury:
Not that I think biblical matters are settled by going outside the Bible; i.e. it is a mistake to read the supposedly latest findings of temple symbolism back into the Bible. That, I believe, is a subtle attack on the sufficiency of Scripture.
i) I didn’t go outside the Bible. I cited the inaugural theophany in Ezk 1. And I just cited Ezk 11:16. Moreover, this is not the first time I mentioned it. For instance:
ii) Perhaps Henebury is alluding to John Walton. However, scholars like Desi Alexander and Gregory Beale document their position from Scripture.
iii) Henebury keeps leaning on Hess, but ironically, Hess goes outside the Bible by quoting an Assyrian prophecy, mentioning the Samaritan temple, and citing the Temple Scroll, to bolster his case. Henebury goes outside the Bible when he appeals to a 1C rabbi to bolster his case. This is an example of Henebury’s rank hypocrisy.
Whatismore, Hays also believes the theophany of Ezek. 1 is superior to what we see in Ezek. 40ff. Yet the same theophany comes into the temple in Ezek. 43! If the temple was a pale imitation of the theophany what is the theophany doing coming into and remaining in the temple? (contra Steve’s mobile temple). Ezekiel’s temple can’t signify the actual presence of God (so Steve), because now he’s claiming the theophany within the temple does. So why does that actual presence enter the temple?
i) I never said Ezekiel’s temple can’t signify the presence of God. That’s a basic purpose of temples: to signify God’s presence. But we need to distinguish between sign and significate.
ii) Ezekiel’s vision of the Shekinah in Ezk 43 is not the actual presence of God. A vision is a psychological event, not an extramental event. God isn’t a psychological projection. Don’t confuse the actual presence of God with Ezekiel’s mental state or alternate state of consciousness (i.e. a visionary trance).
By the same token, don’t confuse his imaginary tour of the temple with physical space or locomotion.
Do we have a mobile temple abiding in a static temple? An emblem within an emblem?
The entire vision (40-48) is emblematic.
Furthermore, once Israel returned what did they do but build another temple – a temple that the Shekinah did not enter (hence not Ezekiel’s temple)? Why build a temple when God was closer to them without one?
Because they were still under the Mosaic covenant. The Mosaic cultus required a shine (e.g. temple or tabernacle).
What he professes to have surmised from the genre of Ezekiel (a symbolic temple) he now applies to the NT. That’s fair enough, but neither of these passages denies a future kingdom temple. In context Jesus was talking about the worship which went on while ignoring Him. He was also referring to the present age of the church. In Acts 7 (48ff.?) Stephen is on the same basic thread, only now Jesus has been crucified.
It’s funny that Henebury earlier appealed to progressive revelation, yet he has no sense of redemptive progression. The question we must ask, a question which the Bible itself encourages us to ask, is: what’s the purpose of a temple?
Temples symbolize the presence of God and mediate access to God. Henebury talks about the Shekinah in the temple. But that trajectory culminates with the Incarnation:
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (Jn 1:14).
Christ embodies what the Temple signifies. Of course, during the interadventual period, Christ is in heaven.
Yet, according to Henebury, when Christ returns, Ezekiel’s temple will coexist with Christ in Jerusalem. What’s the point of a temple when Christ himself returns to tabernacle with his people forever (Rev 21:22)? A temple is just a placeholder. Once Christ returns, any temple would instantly outlived its purpose. Indeed, the fact that we’ve had no temple for 2000 years already underscores the spiritual irrelevance of the temple at this juncture in redemptive history.
Surely the only way out of this mess is to take the temple at face value?
I don’t have a mess to clean up. By contrast, dispensationalism has a very messy eschatology. Because dispensationalists believe in the “literal” fulfillment of prophecy, although they are quite selective about what they take literally, the only way they have to harmonize various biblical prophecies is to line them up in a chronological sequence, interspersed with sundry other events at various intervals.
So, for instance, instead of having Solomon’s temple, followed by a new temple (however defined), dispensationalists wind up with a series of four or five temples:
Solomon’s>Zerubbabel’s>Herod’s>Tribulation temple>Millennial temple
Notice please that Block admits to spiritualizing.
No, Block doesn’t admit to spiritualizing the temple. Rather, Block believes that Paul is spiritualizing the temple, and Block is taking his cue from Paul.
Moreover, they are theologically predisposed to abandon literal interpretation when it doesn’t suit them.
Just like dispensationalists.
Objective meaning is submerged beneath a welter of opinion.
You mean, like the difference between historic premils, pretrib premils, midtrib premils, posttrib premils, prewrath premils, classic dispensationalists, revised dispensationalists, progressive dispensationalists?
Getting to my question about “why on earth did God not simply say what He meant?” Steve is upset about what he thinks is a leading question. But it was the third in a series of questions that were logically connected. It was Steve who put the third question first where it would appear to be a loaded question. If he had answered them in the order I asked them he would not have seen it as leading. He misrepresented the context.
No, it’s not the sequence that makes it a loaded question, but the tendentious premise.
Steve is also upset because he thinks it silly to say that scholars like Block etc would deny that God did mean what He said and say what He meant.
No, Steve is not upset by anything Henebury says. Rather, Steve is merely drawing attention to Henebury’s attitude and tactics.
Hugh Ross thinks interpreting Genesis through the lens of modern astronomy jives with the sufficiency of Scripture.
Dispensationalism isn’t committed to young-earth creationism. Does Henebury need me to give examples?
Steve can’t agree with this because he believes Ezekiel’s original audience did grasp the ideational perspective of the Holy Spirit.
Yes, I sometimes disagree with what another amil says. So what? It’s not as if dispensationalists speak with one voice. Henebury keeps ignoring this, which is another example of his failure to argue in good faith.
Steve’s approach to Scripture is all from outside of Scripture. He turns to modern understandings of genre and typology and picture theory and such and then declares that that’s what’s going on in a given context.
That’s just a bald-faced lie. For instance, I classify Ezk 40-48 as belonging to the genre of visionary revelation. That classification doesn’t come from outside the text. That’s right there in the text.
Likewise, I’ve explained in some detail why Ezk 40-48 is pictorial. Does Henebury offer a counterargument in his latest reply? No. Henebury is not an ethical disputant. He routinely cuts corners with the truth. So I have to waste time correcting his latest falsehoods and contradictions.
His lack of ethical consistency is reinforced by the cheerleaders at his blog, who always root for their own team regardless of what a fellow teammate does. They are team players first and Christians second.
I wouldn’t trust any teacher who acted as a word-converter in the revelation process.
So he just admitted that he wouldn’t trust God if the amils were right. That confirms my allegation.
True, but Ezekiel 40-48 is not a parable.
Which misses the point–as usual. This is what I was responding to:
Fine, but does he present any exegetical evidence for this opinion? Does he interact with these chapters and explain how temple dimensions, materials, rituals, priestly orders, prohibitions, tribal allotments and rivers add up to “the end of the church age” and “the consummation.” Has he explained how he knows they mean this? No, no and no.
I replied by saying:
He also frames the issue incorrectly. Take a parable. What the individual elements of the parable signify is distinct from the question of whether the story is fictitious or factual. Classifying the genre of the story doesn’t depend on the meaning of each individual clause. Indeed, classifying the story is, to some extent, a preliminary exercise, based on certain clues or conventions. That, in turn, affects how you interpret individual verses. If you think the parable of the wise and foolish virgins is a historical narrative, then you won’t try to match various elements with something outside the story.
And Henebury now admits that’s “true.” So, given that admission, he can’t simply quote verses about temple dimensions, materials, rituals, &c., to prove his overall interpretation, for how we interpret the significance of the paraphernalia depends on the genre.
Steve asserts that it’s a word-picture representing a reality outside the semantic direction of the words and sentences chosen.
I didn’t say it was outside the semantic direction of the words and sentences. What does he even mean by “semantic direction”?
That reality is twofold: a. exilic conditions…
No, I didn’t say it referred to “exilic” conditions, but “postexilic” conditions. Why can’t Henebury keep that straight?
Henebury himself places this passage in the church age.I beg his pardon, but I most certainly do not. Ezekiel’s temple will, I deduce, be built after Christ the King returns to reign in Zion (cf. Jer.33:14-26; Zech. 14).
So Henebury has an idiosyncratic definition of the church age. In any case, the larger point is that Henebury doesn’t interpret Ezk 40-48 in terms of Ezekiel’s audience–their situation, their historical horizon.
He inserts Ezekiel’s temple into Rev 20:4-6.So does Steve of course, but he thinks we’re in Rev.20:4-6 now and Satan is bound now.
No I don’t insert Ezekiel’s temple into Rev 20:4-6.
Yes, I think Satan is bound “now,” as John defines it.
I infer from Rev. 20 that it is the context where it belongs because I see plenty of scriptural evidence that after the Second Coming Jesus will inaugurate “the times of restoration” for Israel and place Israel under the new covenant, and a temple is clearly indicated at that time under the terms of the Priestly covenant.
A future restoration of Israel doesn’t select for that particular timeframe or scenario.
Rev. 20 comes after the Second Coming of the previous chapter…
Confuses the order of seeing with the order of being.
I find no frame before Rev. 20 that those chapters fit in.
Try after Rev 20 rather than before Rev 20.
Just read Steve’s arguments. That is precisely what he has done and keeps doing. He only uses the Bible as a foil for his negative reasoning.
Even if Henebury’s malicious characterization were correct, “using the Bible as a foil” to rebut Henebury is not the same thing as “rerouting the discussion away from the Bible.” Henebury is an unethical disputant.
I go for the second alternative. After all, we all believe Ezekiel will be resurrected.
But the text doesn’t say that after Ezekiel dies, after Ezekiel is resurrected 2500+ years later, Ezekiel will then perform the duties assigned to him in this passage. As usual, Henebury has to smuggle extratextual assumptions into the text to make his interpretation work, even thought he likes to claim that he’s just taking the text at face value.
Steve then ventures off subject and refers to poetry.
No, I’m not venturing off subject. That’s directly germane to the issue at hand.
Understood by whom? Steve hasn’t provided a shred of evidence that Ezekiel was taken figuratively before the end of the First Century A.D.
Actually, I have. But Henebury’s accusation is ironic seeing as he cited a 1C AD rabbi as his primary witness (Hananiah ben Hezekiah). Why is it so hard for Henebury to be honest?
That is poetic analogy of God’s strength and care on our behalf. Ezekiel 40-48 is not poetry so this is not like for like.
Notice how Henebury suddenly discovers the value of genre classification. “That is a poetic analogy.”
Moreover, what was I responding to? Henebury says it’s okay to interpret the valley of dry bones figuratively because Ezekiel includes an editorial comment to that effect, whereas that’s lacking in Ezk 40-48. So, I was responding to Henebury on his own terms. Does he think we should take Scripture literally or at “face value” unless the writer includes an editorial comment to the contrary?
Does Ps 18:2 have an editorial comment telling the reader that this is a poetic analogy? No.
Ezekiel is not poetry, Psalm 18 is!
How does Henebury know that Palms 18 is poetry? Does the Psalmist tell him that? Or does Henebury simply make a preliminary exegetical judgment? And notice how the identification of the genre controls his subsequent interpretation.
Likewise, everyone knows what these poetic references signify.
It’s instructive to observe the ad hoc way in which dispensationalists attack amils for “spiritualizing” prophecy, only to have them declare by their ipse dixit what is and isn’t literal.
The outlandish description…
Don’t liberals think a lot of biblical descriptions are outlandish?
…coupled with its bringing to mind one of the figurative beasts of Daniel would dissuade one from a wooden interpretation.
The fact that John is borrowing his imagery from Daniel doesn’t make the imagery ipso facto figurative. Why does Henebury assume Daniel’s beasts are figurative? Does Daniel have an editorial comment to that effect?
Add to this the fact that Rev. 13:18 equates the beast with “a man,” which roots the interpretation.
No, it doesn’t equate the beast with a man. “Man” qualifies “number” (i.e. a human calculation).