Theology and Politics from a Conservative, Biblical Perspective
Previously, we introduced the subject of the Millennial Temple as discussed in Ezekiel 40 – 48. As if often the case with portions of Scripture, there is a difference of opinion as to whether these chapters should be taken in their plain, ordinary sense (literally) or whether they are to be taken allegorically. It is our opinion that Scripture should always be taken literally unless the text absolutely and without doubt demands an allegorical understanding. Even so, there should only be one interpretation of that passage that is clearly allegorical.
The argument for understanding the Ezekiel passages as allegorical is that if taken literally, it would mean a return to the sacrificial system and would represent a renunciation of the efficacy of Christ’s atonement. We disagree that the text of Ezekiel chapters 40 through 48 should be taken allegorically and we disagree that a return to the sacrificial system means a return to the Law and a renunciation of Christ’s perfect atonement.
We believe the literal meaning of the text indicates that there will be a new Jewish Temple built during the upcoming Millennial Kingdom, much larger than previous temples, the building of which will be personally overseen by Christ’s Presence. We also believe that the sacrificial system – though somewhat modified from the original Mosaic system – will be in place and will serve several purposes as stated in our last installment:
…under the coming administration of the kingdom in which Christ will be present on the earth and the approach will be at the Temple in Jerusalem, outward corporate ‘sanctification’ (or ceremonial purification will be necessary, as well as inward personal sanctification, under the full terms (spiritual and physical) of the New Covenant. 
The above quote is from Dr. Randall Price, who goes onto point out that the Temple itself will continue into eternity future after the 1,000 year Millennium is over. If we also consider the fact that both the Tabernacle and Temple utilized under Moses were representative of the actual Temple that exists in heaven (Hebrews 9), it would seem that God’s purposes for this structure are woven throughout His purposes and plans as seen in the unfolding drama of redemption here on earth and into eternity future.
23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us… (Hebrews 9:23-24; KJV)
We believe the coming temple, as outlined in Ezekiel 40 – 48, during the Millennial reign of Jesus will be physically literal and the activity that occurs within that temple, including the renewed sacrificial system, will serve several purposes as outlined. Readers are certainly encouraged to research this in Scripture.
Let’s now move onto the subject of A Restored Land of Israel to learn God’s plan there, also not without controversy.
A Restored Land of Israel
One of things that has never been fully resolved since the inception of the nation of Israel is the subject of the Land that God promised to that nation. What God originally promised to Israel will be finally and ultimately fulfilled during the coming Millennial Kingdom.
Ezekiel 38:8 reminds us of what will occur in the “latter days” (but prior to the Millennium), when Gog determines in his heart to go against Israel when the people are dwelling securely.
After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them.
When Jesus physically returns to earth, as He touches down on the Mt. of Olives, the geography of the land itself will be completely reshaped.
On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives which lies to the east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in half from east to west, leaving a great valley. Half the mountain will move northward and the other half southward. (Zechariah 14:4; NET)
It is tempting to understand the above Scripture allegorically, but there is no need to do so as there is nothing in the text itself that would prompt such a view. When Jesus returns, His Presence will cause geographical changes. It is believed the valley created by the movement and splitting of the Mount of Olives will serve to irrigate the Land of Israel. Beyond this, according to Ezekiel 47:1-12, we learn that a “river will flow out of the new temple into the Arabah, transforming it into a fertile plain.”  In fact, according to Isaiah 4:2; 29:17 and 30:23-30, the Land of Israel will have a renewed growth potential with accompanying plenty of rainfall for crops.
Some choose to believe that Israel has already fully inherited the Land and they point to Joshua 21:43-45 to support their opinion.
43 So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had solemnly promised to their ancestors, and they conquered it and lived in it. 44 The Lord made them secure, in fulfillment of all he had solemnly promised their ancestors. None of their enemies could resist them. 45 Not one of the Lord’s faithful promises to the family of Israel was left unfulfilled; every one was realized. (NET)
At first glance, it certainly appears as though God’s promises were completely fulfilled, therefore, to some folks it is the end of the story; a done deal. A closer look determines that this was not truly the case as we learn in other sections of Joshua.
In 23:5 Joshua indicated that there was more land that the Israelites needed to possess. In 24:1-28 he urged the people to commit themselves anew to the Mosaic Covenant so they might possess and experience all that God had promised their forefathers. These passages confirm that Joshua did not mean by his statement of God’s faithfulness here that Israel had already possessed all that God had promised her forefathers. 
The fact is that the Israelites did not possess every portion of the Land nor did they ever fully rest. The job didn’t end with Joshua. It will only finally end during the upcoming Millennial Kingdom under King Jesus’s physical Presence.
The point Joshua was making in verse 45 was that God had been faithful to His promises up to that moment. He had promised possession of the land, rest on every side, and victory over enemies. Israel had experienced all of these to some degree. God had been faithful to the “good promises” He had made to them when they had prepared to cross the Jordan (1:1-9). But there was still much promised land to be possessed (23:4-5). 
Here is Joshua 23:4-5.
4 Behold, I have divided unto you by lot these nations that remain, to be an inheritance for your tribes, from Jordan, with all the nations that I have cut off, even unto the great sea westward.
5 And the Lord your God, he shall expel them from before you, and drive them from out of your sight; and ye shall possess their land, as the Lord your God hath promised unto you. (KJV)
If Joshua 21:43-45 showed absolute fulfillment of God’s covenantal promises to Israel, then why do we learn just two chapters later that they still needed to drive other nations out of the Promised Land? Clearly, their work had not ended.
The full portent of God’s promises is still yet future and will not see the final fulfillment of the Land Covenant until the Millennial Kingdom begins. During this upcoming time, Jesus Himself will be physically on hand to ensure that it is fulfilled to the nth degree and will remain so for the duration of the 1,000 years. It will be then that the Israelites (saved Jews; the final remnant of Romans 9 – 11 as well as other Jews born to Jewish families then), will completely rest from their labors and enjoy to the fullest extent the Lord’s promises.
It was common among the Semites to regard a part of the whole as the whole (cf. Deut. 26:5-10; 1 Kings 13:32; Jer. 31:5; 2 Sam. 5:6-10; Rev. 14:1; 22:2; Rom. 15:19-24). The name for this viewpoint is representative universalism. Some students of this passage believe that Joshua was taking this view here. He was speaking in universal terms. He regarded the individual kings, towns, and areas that he had subdued as representative of the entire land of Canaan. [5; emphasis added]
People will believe what is they prefer to believe. It is clear that even from Joshua’s perspective in Joshua 21 though he fully believed God would fulfill every aspect of His promises to Israel, there was more conquering that Israel needed to accomplish in order to continue to gain more control of the Promised Land. Essentially, there was no real “rest” from their labors because of the conquering in front of them. Yet, God promised them a rest from their labors, eventually. It is reasonable to conclude that Israel’s promised rest will not happen until Jesus physically returns and then only during the upcoming Millennial Kingdom. This is when the nation of Israel will fully and continually enjoy all the Land originally promised to them and will completely cease from their labors of having to fight to gain and maintain it. Jesus will do that for Israel.
Zechariah 14 indicates how the Lord will return to this planet and fight against the nations that have taken up arms against Israel and made Jerusalem the center of conflict for generations, even as we are seeing today. Verse 11 points out that Israel will finally live in peace.
And people will settle there, and there will no longer be the threat of divine extermination—Jerusalem will dwell in security.
Verse 12 of this same chapter tells us how the Lord will retaliate against those nations that came against Israel. The plain fact of the matter is that either we take these verses allegorically as having merely spiritual implications, or they are to be taken literally, in their most plain and ordinary sense. If we take them literally, we must admit that the situations described by Zechariah have never existed to this day. Does this mean there is a contradiction between what Zechariah teaches and what is stated in Joshua? Not at all. It seems clear enough that in spite of what Joshua stated in Joshua 21:45, he meant that there was more work to do and that is proved by verses following 21:45. However, if Joshua 21:43-45 are simply removed from their context, then it would be easy to arrive to the erroneous conclusion that the Land Covenant was completely fulfilled. Other verses in Joshua negate that premise.
Today, there are many voices against Premillennialism. It is in vogue to do so. In the end, each person will need to decide for themselves what God’s Word teaches because each person will be responsible for their views when they stand before God. Certainly, while teachers have the greater responsibility (cf. James 3:1), that does not absolve students from their responsibility either. Commentaries and articles can certainly aid us, however, the best source is to learn what God’s Word states – all of it – as it interprets itself.
One individual believing that the Land Covenant has already been completely fulfilled stated the following:
God made a promise to Abraham that “his seed” would possess the land of Canaan (Gen. 12); God kept His word, Israel possessed the land (Josh. 21). God promised David that He would raise up his seed (Gal. 3:16) and establish His throne and kingdom (2 Sam. 7); God kept His word by raising up the Christ, establishing His kingdom, and giving the Son the throne (Acts 2:30ff; 13:33; Col. 1:13).
If it is true that Jesus has established His personal and promised Kingdom from the Father’s right hand now, then everything in Revelation and many other portions of God’s Word that define His personal rule over a physical kingdom here on earth following His return during the Millennium, are to be taken allegorically. In fact, if Christ has fully established His Kingdom now, there is actually no point at all for His Second Coming in the final analysis because, according to those who interpret His Word allegorically, Christ is already ruling from the heavens. As such, there is no need for Him to return to fulfill any of the promises related to His physical Kingdom on earth nor is there any need for Him to rule physically from earth.
Yes, clearly Jesus reigns from His Father’s throne on high. However, this does not negate the fact of His upcoming, physical reign for 1,000 years at some point in the future. The two are not mutually exclusive. One does not fulfill the other and both serve to fulfill different portions of Scripture.
Those who believe like the individual quoted above see no difference in Christ being seated and ruling at the right hand of the Father and the portions of Scripture that promise a future, physical reign of Jesus from His earthly father’s (David) throne in Jerusalem. For those folks, every portion of Scripture that deals with Christ’s physical reign on earth is allegorized to mean something that we do not believe is intended in Scripture. It all comes down to whether a person views these Scriptures as allegorical (or figurative), or literal in meaning. Because of this variance in opinion and view, many arguments have occurred between well-meaning people who truly love the Lord, yet end up hating one another.
The problem though with interpreting Scripture in as allegory is that if that interpretation is wrong (and the text should be taken literally), the allegorical view drastically changes God’s intended meaning to mean something it does not mean. There is tremendous danger in that.
From our vantage point, it would appear that the final fulfillment to the nth degree of all the promises related to the Promised Land and Israel itself as a nation are yet to occur. We will discuss the renewed heavens and earth in our next installment.
 The Temple and Bible Prophecy, Dr. Randall Price (Harvest House, 1999), p. 557
 Dictionary of Premillennial Theology, (Kregel, 1996), p. 270
 Dr. Thomas Constable’s Notes on Joshua, p. 74
 Ibid, p. 74
 Ibid, p. 74