Posts Tagged ‘Matt Weymeyer’

Ezekiel’s Temple: The Animal Sacrifices

October 31, 2011 4 comments

I recently learned of another approach to understanding Ezekiel 40-48.  Well known is the idea of amillennialists and postmillennialists, that those chapters do not have any specific meaning other than great spiritual ideas of what the Jewish worship might have been.  By contrast, dispensational premillennialists view the temple and the sacrifices as literal, a package deal.

However, a few within this group actually take an inconsistent approach:  the temple itself is a literal structure that will exist during the Millennial Kingdom.  But what is described about the sacrifices and priestly system is symbolic of the worship that the Israelites in that age will experience.  The Jews of Ezekiel’s day could not have understood our church age, and so Ezekiel described it in a way they would understand.  Dan Duncan at Believers Chapel (where the late S. Lewis Johnson taught), for instance, expresses this view in his Ezekiel series, again because of the supposed conflict with New Testament revelation, that Christ finished the OT priestly system.  This view is listed as the second (not primary) explanation in the Scofield Bible, and dispensationalist H.A. Ironside also took this view.

I found this explanation rather unsatisfying, for obvious hermeneutical reasons.  Why would Ezekiel 43 contain such very detailed, precise descriptions for something that is only symbolic of something else?  How can we say that the physical description of the temple itself is the Millennial temple, but that the description of the services held there (animal sacrifices) is not literal and really means something else?  At this point I also refer back to Matt Weymeyer’s list of rules for determining if a passage is literal or not.

1.  Does it possess a degree of absurdity when taken literally?  Example: Isaiah 55:12 “the trees of the fields will clap their hands.”

2.  Does it possess a degree of clarity when taken symbolically?  Symbolic language effectively communicates what it symbolizes.
Isaiah 55:12 does possess a degree of clarity when taken symbolically.

3.  Does it fall into an established category of symbolic language?  — figures of speech, etc.  You have to be able to identify what kind of symbol you’re dealing with.  Isaiah 55:12 is a  Personification type of symbol.

Matt Weymeyer applied this test to Revelation 20, but the same can be done for the Ezekiel passage about animal sacrifices.  We can easily understand that Ezekiel 43 does not appear “absurd” when taken literally.  Yes, it may be a difficult question to answer, but the passage itself is not absurd such as the idea of trees clapping their hands.  If Ezekiel 43 is symbolic, is that symbolic view clear?  Just as theologians have come up with many different “interpretations” of Revelation 20, same here, many different “interpretations” have been suggested:  that it’s symbolic for the future worship during the Mill. Kingdom, or that it’s describing the actual sacrifices of the post-exilic period; or that the whole temple structure itself isn’t real since there is no future Millennial Kingdom.  So again, Ezekiel 43 fails the second test; we do not see a clear meaning if Ezekiel 43 is symbolic.  Then the third test:  what category of symbolic language is Ezekiel 43?  Is it a figure of speech, a metaphor, a personification? Of course the Ezekiel passages about animal sacrifices are not a type of symbolic language.

Once we establish, on hermeneutical grounds, that there will be sacrifices during the Kingdom, we move on and address the issue more honestly, looking at the meaning of those sacrifices.

Here are a few links for further information concerning Ezekiel’s Temple sacrifices:


Animal Sacrifices in Israel — Past & Future  (John Whitcomb)

Ezekiel’s Temple: Premillennial Achilles’ Heel?  (Paul Henebury)

Matching Good Quotes/Thoughts to Bible Verses

March 30, 2011 Comments off

Over the months of listening to good Bible teaching sermons, I have picked up several biblical ideas and quotes — from what the preacher, such as S. Lewis Johnson, says — though I can’t always match up the idea to a specific scriptural passage.  But recently I have come across particular verses, either during my Bible reading or from others’ comments, that jump out and clearly affirm these particular ideas.

One of these matters is the question of how much did people in Old Testament times understand.  As SLJ often pointed out, it really comes down to an individual level.  Just as in our day some believers have great knowledge and understanding while others do not, so in the Old Testament age many believers probably did not have that clear of an understanding, but some (at least a few) very likely did understand a great deal.  Added to this point from Dr. Johnson, I have recently considered something Matt Weymeyer pointed out in regards to Luke 24 and the disciples on the Emmaus road:  Jesus expected them to be able to understand the sequence (with just the OT and no NT revelation), of Christ’s suffering and his exaltation, and called them “dull” and “slow” for not getting it.

As a fellow blog-commenter on Pyromaniacs pointed out, 1 Peter 1:10-11 tells us that the prophets did understand:  … the prophets … searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.  Sure enough, the sequence is there to make it clear that they at least did read their Bibles correctly and understood it.  They had to work harder, more diligently, but they could still find the answers in their Old Testament Bible.

The second matter comes from S. Lewis Johnson’s observations, from experience, regarding the cause of backsliding, or the type of person most likely to backslide.  I included the quote in this previous blog, during my study through Isaiah.  While reading through 2 Peter recently, 2 Peter 1:5-8 impressed upon me a strong connection with that very idea.  Notice especially verse 8, which fits so well with S. Lewis Johnson’s observations:  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, the person who does not make every effort, who is not increasing, becomes ineffective and unfruitful.  Verse 9 then continues with the warning for those who lack these qualities.  Verse 10 reaffirms the importance of what was just said regarding our continuing to increase in these qualities:  for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

The “Mark Dever attitude”: Confusing Revealed Biblical Doctrine with Food and Drink

July 20, 2010 Comments off

Recently the local preacher, in a message supposed to be an exposition of 3 John, expressed a Mark Dever kind of attitude (and see further discussion at this post also) in his inability to distinguish between true lesser matters such as eating and drinking, and the oft-classified “second-order” and “third-order” biblical doctrines.  Specifically, he lumped one’s view of eschatology into the same category as the disputable matters of eating meat sacrificed to idols and one’s view of food and drink, as something that people should not divide over or even break fellowship over — and he even laid the charge that those who would divide over something so unimportant are really the divisive ones.

Not surprisingly, he did not put forth as an example the difference between Calvinist and Arminian doctrine — something of which Christians do have different understandings, and do separate over.  Believers also separate over ideas concerning spiritual gifts — cessationists and continuists.  They also divide over modes of baptism and the Lord’s Supper — all matters which the Bible reveals far less information about than it does concerning Christ’s Second Coming.  Regarding creation, another supposedly “less important” doctrine, the Grace to You and Pyromaniacs blogs have done an excellent job of pointing out the importance of that doctrine and overall biblical inerrancy and authority.

God has given us a vast amount of revelation and teaching concerning the Second Coming — far more than the New Testament has to say concerning these other doctrines over which, as we all know, Christians have “divided” into differing fellowships.  See, for instance, S. Lewis Johnson’s statement concerning the number of times baptism and the Lord’s Supper are mentioned in scripture, as compared to mentions of the Second Coming.  Eschatology is not something obscure or hidden from us and thus to be equated with food and drink.  Eschatology is not a minor thing that begins in Revelation or even Daniel — it begins in Genesis (with the Abrahamic covenant).

To quote Matt Weymeyer again:

many Christians are self-proclaimed, sometimes even proud, agnostics when it comes to their view of the end times, and unfortunately, many of them seem to be content to remain in the dark when it comes to what God has revealed about the future… God has revealed too much about this issue for us to be content with being agnostic.

I’ll also add here my agreement with Expository Thoughts’ latest blog:   “I told my students to believe that the text was written by God – if you can’t understand something written in the text, it’s your fault, not the author’s.”

The person who classifies eschatology as something on the level of food and drink (and charges those who think differently with sin and divisiveness) only reveals his own lack of understanding, his own neglect of the study of scripture, and arrogance in presuming to stand over God’s word and decide which doctrines are and are not important.  As Caleb Kolstad pointed out in reference to this similar attitude from Mark Dever:

“I also don’t think he takes into account the point that not everyone agrees on what second-level matters are and what third-level matters are.  For Pastor Dever’s church family, eschatology is a “Third-order issue” …  Fine, but if another pastor or local assembly decides this is a second-level matter for their particular church body don’t call it “sin” brother.”

And now to what the Bible does have to say regarding the specific doctrine of eschatology.  The same apostle Paul who emphasized getting along and doing no harm to the less mature brother regarding meat sacrificed to idols, also went to great lengths to warn the Gentiles against arrogance regarding the natural branches (Romans 11:18-20) and to teach the truth concerning the status of Israel now and in the future (Romans 9 through 11) — and throughout his teaching in Acts and the epistles continually affirmed the future hope for his people Israel.  The same apostle John who spoke out against Diotrephes in 3 John, also delivered the clear premillennial teaching, a Revelation from God, in his final contribution to the New Testament canon — a teaching so well understood in the early church that it was affirmed by John’s successors in the second century, and Justin Martyr in the late 2nd century would also affirm that all who were right-minded (true believers) also held to this truth, the future thousand year millennial reign of Christ.

In closing, I turn to much more edifying words, the great wisdom of C.H. Spurgeon.  From sermon #123, “Particular Election” — on the matter of making one’s calling and election sure:

do what the Scripture tells you—“Give diligence to make your calling and election sure.” … study well the Scriptures and get knowledge. For a knowledge of doctrine will tend very much to confirm your faith. Try to understand God’s Word. Get a sensible, spiritual idea of it.  Get, if you can, a system of divinity out of God’s Bible. Put the doctrines together. Get real, theological knowledge, founded upon the infallible Word. … And when you have done this, “Add to your knowledge temperance.” Take heed to your body—be temperate there. Take heed to your soul—be temperate there. Be not drunken with pride. Be not lifted up with self-confidence. Be temperate. Be not harsh towards your friends, nor bitter to your enemies. Get temperance of lip, temperance of life, temperance of heart, temperance of thought… Get temperance and then add to it by God’s Holy Spirit patience. Ask Him to give you that patience which endures affliction, which, when it is tried, shall come forth as gold. Array yourself with patience, that you may not murmur in your sicknesses.  That you may not curse God in your losses, nor be depressed in your afflictions. Pray, without ceasing, until the Holy Spirit has nerved you with patience to endure unto the end.  And when you have that, get godliness.

Shepherd’s Conference: Matt Weymeyer on Revelation 20

March 17, 2010 1 comment

I’ve been listening to some of the MP3 files from this year’s Shepherd’s Conference.  Matt Weymeyer’s “Thy Kingdom Come” is an especially helpful one, with great exegesis of Revelation 20.

Matt Weymeyer:

I think this is important, we need to be careful not to let the centrality of the gospel tempt us into a state of exegetical laziness or even what I like to think of as pious agnosticism when it comes to this issue of eschatology.  See, most people would readily agree that eschatology is one of the more difficult areas of systematic theology and, see what happens is, as a result of this, many Christians are self-proclaimed, sometimes even proud, agnostics when it comes to their view of the end times, and unfortunately, many of them seem to be content to remain in the dark when it comes to what God has revealed about the future… God has revealed too much about this issue for us to be content with being agnostic.

Following are some notes that follow his outline of five key questions concerning the passage Revelation 20:1-6.

1.  Is the timing of Satan’s binding present or future?

Revelation 20:1-3 describes Satan being completely cut off from having any influence; total removal from influence on earth

Satan is bound and locked into the abyss — prison for evil spirits; a real place in the spirit world — Luke 8; Revelation 9 and 11.

Charles Feinberg:  “One cannot have Satan bound and loose at the same time; the logic of language will not permit it.”

Response to amillennialists who claim Satan is only bound so that he will no longer deceive the nations:

1.  John’s use of the purpose clause (statement in verse 3)  does not preclude the possibility of other purposes or results of Satan’s imprisonment.   Example:  a prison warden has taken special care of a prisoner to put him in solitary confinement.  The warden issues a purpose statement concerning the prisoner’s safekeeping — the statement only mentions one thing, but that involves other restrictions as well.

2.  The New Testament teaches that Satan is active and involved in deceiving the nations in the present age.  See 2 Cor. 4:4, which contradicts Rev. 20:3.

2.  Is the nature of the first resurrection spiritual or physical?

Four reasons why the first resurrection does not refer to spiritual regeneration:

1.  The word translated resurrection is used 42 times in the NT and not once is it used to refer to regeneration; it is used to refer to physical resurrection. — the heavy burden of proof is on amillennialists here.

2.  The regeneration view requires that the Greek word azey-sun (spelling?) (verse 4) be understood in a completely different sense than the same Greek word in verse 5.

3.  The grammar of this passage indicates that the group in the first resurrection is raised at the beginning of the thousand years, and reign together with Christ for the entire period of time.  (This is not the same as the amillennial view of believers being regenerated throughout the thousand years and not reigning for the entire period of time.)

4.  According to amillennial and post-millennial view that the 1st resurrection = regeneration, the individuals described in verse 4 are not regenerated by the Holy Spirit until after they are martyred for their faith in Christ.

Most common objection from amills and postmills:  the premill view of 2 resurrections is a direct contradiction, they say, of biblical teaching of a single general resurrection of both righteous and wicked at the same time.  — John 5:28-29; Daniel 12:2; Acts 24:15

Response:  these passages do not preclude the possibility of two separate resurrections at different times.  These passages never state that these resurrections happen at the same time. The passages do refer to the resurrection of the righteous and the resurrection of the wicked, and always listed in that order.

My own note here:  See also Spurgeon’s sermon on this topic.

Also, later revelation gives more information.

The Old Testament did not explain a gap between the two comings of Christ.

Anthony Hoekema:  In the New Testament we find that what the Old Testament writers seemed to depict as one movement, must now be recognized as involving two.

The same is true concerning the resurrections of the righteous and wicked.

Wayne Grudem:  “all of these verses in the absence of Rev. 20 might or might not be speaking of a single future time of resurrection.  But with the explicit teaching of Revelation 20 about two resurrections, these verses must be understood to refer to the future certainty of a resurrection for each type of person without specifying that those resurrections will be separated in time.”

3.  Is the duration of the thousand years symbolic or literal?

Amillennialists:  the thousand years are symbolic of some large, undetermined amount of time; or, the thousand years is symbolic of completeness.

The truth concerning Revelation and numbers:  the vast majority (Weymeyer — about 95%) of the 254 numbers in the book of Revelation are intended to be understood literally.  Any time you find a number with a time indicator in Revelation, nothing in the context indicates that it’s symbolic.  Nowhere in scripture (even in 2 Peter 3) is a thousand years used as a symbolic designation.

Rules to follow concerning determination of symbolic language, general hermeneutical approach to take:

1.  Does it possess a degree of absurdity when taken literally?  Example: Isaiah 55:12 “the trees of the fields will clap their hands.”

2.  Does it possess a degree of clarity when taken symbolically?  Symbolic language effectively communicates what it symbolizes.

Isaiah 55:12 does possess a degree of clarity when taken symbolically.

3.  Does it fall into an established category of symbolic language?  — figures of speech, etc.  You have to be able to identify what kind of symbol you’re dealing with.  Isaiah 55:12 is a  Personification type of symbol.

The symbolic view of 1000 years in Rev. 20 fails these 3 questions.

Revelation 20 does NOT possess any degree of absurdity when taken literally — there is nothing difficult here.

Question 2 — look at all the literature, the differing ideas that amills/post-mills come up with when they try to take it symbolically.  Since they all have such different ideas of what it means, question 2 fails — a symbolic view of 1000 years does not possess a degree of clarity.

Question 3 — The symbolic use of 1000 years does not appear to fall into any clear category of symbolic language.

One post-mill answer:  compared the 1000 years to “hyperbole” as in “I’ve told you this a million times…”

Problem:  John’s use of 1000 years cannot possibly be understood as hyperbole, an exaggeration, of a time period now 2000+ years in length.

4.  Is the Location of the Millennial Reign Heaven or Earth?

1. An earthly reign of Christ is precisely what is promised throughout the Old Testament.

Numerous passages:  Jeremiah 23:5-6, among many others

2. Revelation 5:10 looks ahead to that time when saints will reign with Christ — they will reign upon the earth.

3. Revelation 20:9 — the saints who reign with Christ are said to be “on the broad plain of the earth.”

4.  Revelation 19 and 20 teach that Jesus will return to this Earth where He will then reign.

5.  Is the Chronology of Revelation 19 and 20 recapitulatory or sequential?

Compelling reasons to adopt the sequential view:

1.  Introduction to Chapter 20 — “and I saw”

2.  The overall context of Revelation 12 – 20 points to a chronological relationship between chapters 19 & 20.  Starting at Rev. 12:9, where Satan is cast down to the earth, chapters 12 – 18 describe the three members of the unholy trinity. They are defeated in chapters 19 and 20.  At the end of chapter 19, only two of the three have been defeated; Satan (third member) is defeated in Revelation 20; this again indicates a sequence:  Satan is thrown into the lake of fire, where the beast and false prophet already were.

3.  Use of the words “any longer” in Rev. 20 verse 3 — “any longer” indicates interruption of something that had been taking place.  Follows sequentially from events previously described in chapters 12 through 19.

4.  Content of Rev. 20:1-6 — it’s impossible to reconcile the contents of these verses with the present age.  Satan is not currently bound; first resurrection is physical; thousand years are best understood literally.

5.  The absence of compelling objections.  No compelling reason to abandon the sequential view.  You have to provide evidence for recapitulation, and those must be valid and compelling reasons.

The two main objections to the sequential view:

1.  The existence of the unbelieving nations in the Millennial Kingdom.

If Rev. 19-20 presents a sequence of events, and all the nations are destroyed in Rev. 19, where do the unbelieving nations come from in chapter 20:8, at the end of the thousand years?

Response:  The nations will arise from the offspring of nonglorified saints who originally entered the Millennial Kingdom.  (pre-trib or mid-trib view).

Amillennials object to the idea of glorified and unglorified saints existing together — reference Luke 24 and John 21, Christ in a glorified body interacting with non-glorified sinful

Also consider that even in our world, angels co-exist alongside us in this physical realm.  Just because we can’t see them doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

2.  Parallel between Rev. 12 and Rev. 20 — the casting down of Satan in Rev. 12:7-12 and casting down of Satan in Rev. 20:1-6.

recapitulation view:  clearly these must refer to the same event.

Problem:  amillennial view has focused on superficial points of continuity, to the virtual exclusion of specific points of discontinuity.

Three major, critical differences between the two passages, that are incompatible with each other.

1.  Rev. 12 — Satan is cast down from heaven to earth;

Rev. 20 — Satan is cast down from earth to the abyss.

amillennials neglect and don’t give enough attention to the study of the abyss in Rev. 20

2.  Expulsion of Satan from heaven (chapter 12) has exact opposite outcome from Rev. 20

Chapter 12 — Satan goes out and deceives the whole world.

Chapter 20 — opposite:  the casting down prevents him from deceiving the nations.

3.  Rev. 12 — “short time” — cast down to the earth for a short time

Rev. 20 — “short time” — Satan is first cast into the abyss for a long time, then he is released for a short time