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Looking Unto Jesus

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    5. - A CONDITIONAL SANCTUARY

    While the Jews were reaping the fruit of their departures from God, in the seventy years’ captivity in Babylon, B.C.606-536, the Lord set before them a new sanctuary, wonderful and glorious, which they would be put in possession of, and the ministrations of which they would enjoy, if they would comply with the conditions upon which it was offered them. This sanctuary has never been seen on the earth: and the question why the prophecy has never been fulfilled very naturally arises and demands solution. The skeptic very promptly presents his solution in the assertion that the word of God has failed; others offer a solution on the hypothesis that the time has not yet come for its fulfilment, but that it is to be fulfilled in the future, in a period which they denominate “the age to come,” wherein they picture great things to be accomplished, upon which they dwell with earnest, though not well-founded, delight. The interest of true criticism therefore demands, that, in passing, a little attention be paid to this prophecy. The contention which will here be maintained, is that the prophecy has not failed, because no word of God can fail, and that it is not to be fulfilled in a future age beyond the present dispensation, because the condition of things brought to view in the prophecy is such as cannot possibly exist under the future reign of Christ. Indeed, this condition of things could not exist even under the gospel in the present state of the world; and therefore if it has been fulfilled at all, it must have been fulfilled under the former, or Mosaic, dispensation. But such a fulfilment never has been seen, and the question, Why? therefore still remains to be answered. The fact has already been mentioned that the prophecy, of which this is a part, was given on conditions; that is, if the people would do certain things, the prophecy would be fulfilled; and if they did not do them, it would not be fulfilled. The conditions were, that the people should undergo a radical and thorough change of heart, that they should recover themselves from the spirit of apostasy which had brought upon them their present calamities, and humble themselves with shame and contrition of heart, before the Lord, in view of all their past failures. If they would not do these things the Lord did not propose to confer upon them the favors he now offered; for it would be like casting pearls before swine. In Ezekiel 43:11, the Lord says, “If they be ashamed of all that they have done, show them the form of the house,” etc. Conversely it is implied that if they would not do this, the sanctuary proposed was never to be given them. The fulfilment, then, all depended upon their course of action. But were they ashamed? did they comply with the conditions? - Not in the least. Jeremiah, speaking prophetically (chapter 6:15), said that they would not; and when under Cyrus they had opportunity to return to their own land, only a few, comparatively, had sufficient zeal for the Lord to accept the offer.LUJ 74.3

    But to make the matter doubly sure, let the specifications of the prophecy itself show in what dispensation it was to be fulfilled, if fulfilled at all. The conclusion soon becomes very necessary, that it was designed to be fulfilled, not in the future dispensation, which is the immortal state; not even in the present dispensation; but in the past. This will appear evident from a few of its statements.LUJ 76.1

    1. It was to be fulfilled while circumcision was in force. Ezekiel 44:9. But circumcision was abolished at the first advent. Galatians 5:2; 6:12.LUJ 76.2

    2. It was while divorce was allowed. Ezekiel 44:22. But that law is now done away. Matthew 5:31, 32; 19:8, 9.LUJ 76.3

    3. It was to be while the Jewish distinction between meats, clean and unclean, was recognized. Ezekiel 44:23, 31. But that does not now hold. Acts 10:11-16; Romans 14.LUJ 76.4

    4. Sacrifices, offerings, burnt offerings, sin-offerings, of bulls and goats, were then in force. Ezekiel 46. But they would be now, and at any future time, sinful in the sight of God, as a sign of unbelief that Christ, the antitype, had come. Hebrews 9:9-14; 10:1-14.LUJ 76.5

    5. The feasts and the Jubilee were to be in force. Ezekiel 45:21-25; 46:9, 11, 17. But they were nailed to the cross. Colossians 2:14-17.LUJ 76.6

    6. The Levitical priesthood was to be in force. Ezekiel 40:46; 44:15. But the priesthood of Melchisedec, which passeth not to another, has taken its place. Hebrews 5:6.LUJ 76.7

    7. It was to be while “the middle wall of partition” existed, as all these ordinances prove, as well as the acknowledged distinction between “the seed of the house of Israel” and the stranger. But this wall of partition is now broken down, and this distinction no longer exists. Ephesians 2:14.LUJ 77.1

    All these considerations show that it could have been fulfilled only while the dispensation of types and shadows and Jewish distinctions continued; but that dispensation has given place to the new dispensation, or the gospel age. And why the prophecy was not fulfilled and Israel never had the sanctuary here described, has already been stated.LUJ 77.2

    What, then, shall be said of those who make this a prophecy to be fulfilled in the future age? A few considerations will show the folly of such an application.LUJ 77.3

    1. In the future state, Christ is to be the Prince over Israel; and there is to be but one. Luke 1:32, 33. But the prince brought to view by Ezekiel is a poor, frail mortal, as is shown by the following representations made concerning him.LUJ 77.4

    2. He is commanded to offer a bullock as a sin-offering for himself. Ezekiel 45:22. But Christ, the Prince of the future state, is himself the great sin-offering for the world. 1 John 2:1, 2.LUJ 77.5

    3. He was to offer all manner of offerings for himself. Ezekiel 46:1-8. But Christ caused all these offerings to cease at his death. Daniel 9:27; Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 2:14.LUJ 77.6

    4. God says to the princes mentioned by Ezekiel, Take away your exactions from my people. Ezekiel 45:9. But when Christ reigns, there will be nothing oppressive; for the officers will be peace, and the exactors, righteousness. Isaiah 60:17-19.LUJ 77.7

    5. Ezekiel’s prince was to have sons and servants to whom he might, if he chose, give an inheritance; but it was to return to him in the year of Jubilee; and he was forbidden to oppress the people. Ezekiel 46:16-18. Surely it would be blasphemous to apply this to Christ, to whom it must apply if this prophecy has reference to the future state.LUJ 78.1

    6. And finally, in the state of things Ezekiel brings to view, there are marriages, divorces and deaths. Ezekiel 44:22, 24-27. But in the future state they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are equal unto the angels, and can die no more. Luke 20:35, 36.LUJ 78.2

    Thus it is demonstrated, (1) that Ezekiel has no reference to the world or the age to come; (2) that he has no reference to the present dispensation; (3) that his prophecy refers wholly to the past, or Mosaic, dispensation; (4) that the prophecy was conditional, and the time having passed and the conditions never having been complied with, it never has been, and never is to be, fulfilled.LUJ 78.3

    To the building offered by Ezekiel, the word “sanctuary” is eighteen times applied in the following instances: Ezekiel 41:21, 23; 42:20; 43:21; 44:1, 5 (verses 7, 8, refer to Solomon’s temple), 9, 11, 15, 16, 27; 45:2, 3, 4, 18; 47:12; 48:8, 10, 21.LUJ 78.4

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