This updated version of Messiah’s Coming Temple is exactly what it claims to be, an examination of the millennial temple as revealed through the prophet Ezekiel in chapters 40-48 of that Old Testament book. But it is much more, as it provides details of the first two Jewish temples, as well as the tabernacle, and lays out ten reasons why a study of Messiah’s temple is important (pp. 19-20).
The authors take a literal view of Ezekiel 40-48, although they irenically explain the other prominent interpretations (pp. 100-101). They also ably defend literal sacrifices during the kingdom age, which is the primary objection of those who reject the literalness of the text (pp. 138-159). Schmitt and Laney see the original purpose for Ezekiel’s prophecies as encouraging a disheartened Jewish community, both those in exile and those remaining in the land witnessing the crumbling of their nation. Ezekiel was telling such people that a new age is coming. God had not forgotten them, a glorious future awaited, and a new temple would play a major role in that future (pp. 97-98).
Perhaps the most helpful insight in Messiah’s Coming Temple is demonstrating the distinctions between the millennial temple and the previous ones. Not only are the dimensions different, but eight items from the originals are missing and one item, the altar, is changed. Why these omissions and alternations are significant are carefully explained (pp. 181-192).
Schmitt and Laney are not dogmatic on the location of the future temple, offering three possibilities (pp. 162-163). Nor do they press current events too hard in an attempt to force the timing of future prophetic events. This is fortunate because most of the contemporary material is drawn from the first edition written in 1997. Unfortunately, they do accept the eschatological view of the kingdom being present now, with its consummation awaiting the return of Christ (pp. 205-207). To me, this is inconsistent with the literalness of their approach to the Ezekiel text and the future temple and sacrifices. The authors have failed to see that there is more than one kingdom found in Scripture, and instead have comingled them into the one Messianic kingdom. Happily their “already–not yet” hermeneutic does not distract from the overall excellent material found within the book.
Messiah’s Coming Temple, Ezekiel’s Prophetic Vision of the Future Temple, by John W. Schmitt and J. Carl Laney (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1997, 2014), 248 pp, paper $18.99
Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor/teacher at Southern View Chapel