Questions & Answers

Ezekiel's Temple Measuring

Dr. Gentry:

You argue that John must be measuring an actual, historical temple in Rev 11:1-2. Yet Ezekiel measures a temple, even though it does not exist in history. This suggests that the temple does not need to exist for John to measure it. How do you explain this problem for your view? R.L.T, Nashville, TN

Dr. Gentry's response:

Thanks for your perceptive question. Please consider the following response.

Ezekiel's prophecy expressly tells us that Israel has been attacked and destroyed. He opens with this statement: "Now it came about in the thirtieth year, on the fifth day of the fourth month, while I was by the river Chebar among the exiles, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God." (Ezekiel 1:1.) He is among the exiles because Jerusalem has been attacked and destroyed. Everyone knows that the temple was destroyed in these events.

Furthermore in Eze 40 where Ezekiel begins the measuring, he opens this vision with: "In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was taken, on that same day the hand of the Lord was upon me and He brought me there" (Ezekiel 40:1). Thus, he introduces the temple vision with words that show the historical temple no longer exists.

Just before this prophecy of the measuring, Ezekiel is promised by God: "Therefore thus says the Lord God, "'Now I shall restore the fortunes of Jacob, and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I shall be jealous for My holy name'" (Ezekiel 39:25).

After he measures the temple, he writes:

"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. 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. Ezekiel 43:1-3

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 [future tense] dwell among the sons of Israel forever." (Ezekiel 43:7a).

Consequently, even a surface reading of Ezekiel repeatedly reminds the reader that the city (and thus the temple) is destroyed and the people exiled. But in Revelation there is no indication that he is having a vision of a future rebuilt temple. The clear implication is that the temple is standing but is in danger.