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PART 6: WORSHIP IN THE KINGDOM
By Norman Manzon
The Messianic Kingdom is part of an extended series of studies in support of the We Believe statement of The Association of Messianic Congregations. Much groundwork for this present study has been laid in the five prior studies of the Kingdom series, links to which are located above. Please consider whether it might be beneficial for you to review them so that the present study may be more fully understood in its historical and other contexts. For even firmer foundation, the following studies by the author might likewise be reviewed: The Destinies of the Dead, The Rapture, The Great Tribulation and The Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Some of what has been examined in these studies will be touched on here, but not treated fully.
It is worth stating, once again, that the prophesied Kingdom is a literal, earthly Kingdom in which Jesus will reign bodily as king over Israel and the world. A polemic to this effect is presented in section IV of The Millennial or Messianic Kingdom - Part 1: Introduction.
As has been previously mentioned, a compilation of the Bible's passages concerning the Kingdom would constitute a book. It must therefore be recognized that what is presented herein is, of necessity, a much abbreviated outline and summary.
As in the previous Kingdom studies, we will begin with a restatement of those declarations in the AMC We Believe statement that have relevance to the Kingdom.
By the end of the Great Tribulation and the seventy-five day interval between the Tribulation and the Kingdom, the Lord will have utterly destroyed the evil world system and purged the earth of all unbelievers, including the armies of Antichrist which will seek to destroy Israel. Having done this, the Lord will renovate the earth, making it a beautiful, edenic, safe place in which to live. Although not perfect because certain aspects of the Adamic curse will continue (most significantly, the presence of the sin nature in those with mortal bodies, and death for many, if not all, in mortal bodies), because many who will be born into the Kingdom will reject the salvation and Lordship of Jesus, and because Edom and Babylon will be cursed to become utterly desolate habitations of demons, yet, the planet, as a whole, will be edenic compared to the way it is today.
The Kingdom environment will be characterized by divine presence. The Lord Jesus will reign supreme over the nations from His throne in Jerusalem, and the Holy Spirit will fill the earth with the splendor of the Lord's glory. No false religion, philosophy or occult practice will be allowed to flourish, and the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14).
All who enter the Kingdom, whether as "walk-ins" from the Great Tribulation, or by resurrection, or by being returned, body and soul, to earth from heaven, will be saved. This glorious throng will be composed of all believers since Adam.
According to Revelation 20:6, all who had been resurrected in immortal bodies will reign with Christ in some capacity for the duration of the Millennium. This group will be comprised of all Old and New Testament saints, both Jewish and Gentile, the two Tribulation witnesses and all martyred Tribulation saints. Surely, Enoch and Elijah, who had never seen death but had been drawn up directly into Heaven, will reign, as well.
Jesus will reign over the entire earth in general, and will exercise special kingship over Israel with resurrected King David reigning as king over Israel under Him. Under this dual kingship, the twelve apostles will reign over the twelve tribes of Israel, and there will be judges and counselors in Israel, as well (Isaiah 1:26). Zerubbabel, post-exilic governor of Judah, will be placed in some unnamed position in Israel (Haggai 2:23). The Gentile nations of the world will be ruled by Gentile kings, but Israel will have authority over them and their nations (Isaiah 14:1-2; 60:10-61:5). The church saints and the Tribulation martyrs will rule over the Gentiles, as well (Revelation 20:4-6). How these different rulerships over the Gentiles will coordinate with one another remains to be seen. Civil laws will be rendered in the Kingdom (Micah 4:1-2) from Jesus on down, and there will be laws regarding worship, as well, as we see in our present study.
In Israel in the Promised Land, we addressed three key facets of Israel's blessedness in the Kingdom and concluded with a look at the significance of Israel's Kingdom blessedness for the nations of the world. We will now follow with a look at worship in the kingdom which, incidentally, brings out another aspect of Israel's blessedness in the Kingdom, namely, their service as priests and Levitical helpers in the temple. Another aspect of their blessedness in the Kingdom that has been touched on, but will be developed a bit more here, will be their primacy in broadcasting the Word of the Lord to the nations of the world, consistent with their role under Moses, in the Person of Jesus, in the Church Age, and in the Great Tribulation.
We have already seen how the Lord will renovate the planet. With a specific focus on Israel, cataclysmic geographical changes will be wrought in the Land, centered in Jerusalem, which will be the world's capitol city, center of worship and dwelling place of the Lord - the city of our God. The Korahite who wrote Psalm 48 lauded the praises of the future Millennial Jerusalem even in his day:
The city of the Great King
will be breathtaking in beauty in the day when Jesus takes up
His royal residence there. The scope of rebuilt Mount Zion
itself will be a marvel to behold. This
is brought out in Isaiah 2:2-3:
Today, Mount Zion is a hill in Jerusalem just outside the walls of the Old City; but in the Kingdom, it will literally be raised up to be the tallest mountain in the world. The sheer mass of the mountain is brought out in Ezekiel 48:8, 20, which describes the plaza at the peak of Zion, on which the temple and its environs will stand, as an area of 50 miles X 50 miles, 2500 square miles. (2) If that's how big the plaza will be near its peak, it boggles the mind to imagine how big this world's tallest mountain will be at its base! One who has visited modern Jerusalem will readily understand that such great physical changes as are described in the Isaiah and Ezekiel passages must certainly come to pass before a mountain with such a plaza could be possible. Modern Jerusalem covers an area of only 48.3 square miles. (3) One can readily conclude that the base of this great mountain will go far beyond the boundaries of modern Jerusalem! The square mileage of Israel, including Gaza, the Golan heights, Judea and Samaria, is only 10,062 square miles. (4) Just the plaza on the mountain will cover an area 25% the area of modern Israel.
There are those who claim that mountain here is merely a symbol for a kingdom as is true in Daniel 2:35 and Revelation 17:9. However, it ought to readily be apparent that in this case it cannot be so.
We already pointed out the necessity for such a literal mountain to serve as the pedestal for the temple and its environs. If mountain is symbolic here, then what are we to do with the great number of details in the description of the temple itself, which stands on it, which we shall summarize shortly? If the mountain that the temple stands on is to be interpreted symbolically, then this highly detailed temple, its priesthood, and the detailed instructions concerning worship within it must be interpreted symbolically; and if that is the case, then what is each of the details supposed to symbolize? If we interpret this mountain, temple and detailed worship symbolically, then should we not follow suit and interpret all of the various detailed descriptions of Mosaic worship in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy symbolically, as well? Why not? The two situations are a perfect parallel. But if we interpret the details of the Mosaic tabernacle with all of its furnishings, the priesthood, the detailed sacrifices and all other elements of worship literally, as we universally do, then logical consistency demands that we should interpret the detailed descriptions of the Millennial temple and its worship requirements literally, as well. In fact, each detail presented adds more weight to a literal interpretation as biblical symbols tend to be simple, not detailed, intricate and complex!
Let's take another look at verse 3 of the Isaiah passage just presented:
If mountain is symbolic of a kingdom here, then will these many peoples be saying, "Come, let us go up to the Kingdom"? Absurd! They are already in the Kingdom!
As concerns the believability of the great cataclysmic changes that are prophesied to take place in the Land, even unbelieving scientists believe that the earth has undergone even greater cataclysmic changes in the past, such as the separation of the continents from one continuous land mass and the lifting up of mountain ranges due to the convergence of the earth's tectonic plates - so why not believe that such changes may take place in the future? It would behoove the doubter to consider, once again, this admonition of Dr. David L. Cooper, called The Golden Rule of Interpretation:
Mount Zion will contain on its plaza not only the House of the LORD and its environs, but all of rebuilt Jerusalem. Based on descriptions in Ezekiel 47 and 48, Dr. Cooper calculates that the dimensions of rebuilt Jerusalem will be ten miles by ten miles, 100 square miles. (6) It can therefore easily be contained on Mt. Zion's plaza with 2400 square miles to spare!
Will Jerusalem actually be on the plaza at the peak of Mt. Zion?
Consider: The law will go forth from Zion and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. If Jerusalem were next to Mount Zion as opposed to being at its peak, the Lord would have to commute from His home in Jerusalem to the top of the tallest mountain in the world, and then, at the end of His work day, commute back down to His home deep in the valley below. In between, He'd have to decree His law from Zion, run back down this huge mountain to declare the word of the LORD from Jerusalem, and then, perhaps, run back up again to declare more law from Zion. Of course, I'm being humorous. The God-Man in His glorified body would be able to transport Himself in an instant from place to place; but we're still left to deal with the relative sizes of Zion and Jerusalem and the positioning of the two in relation to each other.
Therefore, let's consider one more thing: The law will go forth from Zion and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. The obvious tenor of the passage is that Zion and Jerusalem are at the same location. How could they be at the same location and yet be different places? Easy. The smaller is contained in the larger. It makes absolute sense, especially when one considers the fact that the lifting up of Mount Zion will surely lift up modern Jerusalem. Further, let us consider Psalm 48:2 again: Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. The passage treats mount Zion and the city of the great King as identical.
It is necessary to distinguish the Millennial temple from the one that will precede it.
For quite some time in Israel, and still in process today, is the development of plans and crafted items for the construction of a third Holy Temple on the present Temple Mount. A model of the temple has been constructed, the Golden Menorah and many of the implements to be used by the Kohanim (priests) have been crafted, the Levitical and priestly garments have been designed and created, the breastplate containing the twelve precious stones and the musical instruments for the Levitical choir have been created, steps have been taken to acquire or breed a ritually pure red heifer for the purification of the altar (Numbers 19), and rehearsals for the proper carrying out of all the priestly and Levitical functions are under way, including rehearsals for the proper carrying out of sacrifices. (7) This, plus the shaping up of prophetic conditions in the world today, particularly the fact that an increasing number of nations appear to be aligning themselves against Israel (see Zechariah 14:2), it is likely that these preparations will find their fulfillment in the construction of Israel's third temple - but this will be the temple that Antichrist will protect once it's built and perhaps even pave the way for the Jews to build, and it will be the temple in which he will declare himself to be God and demand worship in. It will be the Tribulation temple, and it must certainly be distinguished from the Millennial temple as the descriptions of the two temples are vastly different. The former will certainly be destroyed, either by the Lord's judgment in the Great Tribulation or in the cataclysmic uplifting of Mount Zion, to clear the way for the latter.
The Millennial temple, which will differ from all previous temples, is detailed in Ezekiel 40:5 - 43:27 with all of its various walls, gates, courtyards, pavements, chambers, the table for preparing the sacrifices, the altar, the porch, the Holy Place, the Holy of Holies, and descriptions of the interior and exterior of the temple. Dr. Fruchtenbaum points out,
Both Jews and Gentiles will serve in official functions in temple worship.
The Jewish functionaries will be members of the tribe of Levi just as it was the sons of Levi who served as priests and Levitical helpers under the Law of Moses. God has promised to perform a thorough spiritual cleansing in all Israel and fill them with His Spirit (Ezekiel 36:25-29), but one tribe in particular is named:
The Lord will enter His Kingdom temple after His return,
and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and
silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in
righteousness. He will work a special work of purification among them in
preparation for Temple service.
Gentiles will assist in the return of Israelites to their Land, and God will also take some of them for priests and for Levites." Not only will Jews serve as temple priests, but Gentiles will, as well. Not only will some of the physical sons of Levi serve as Levitical helpers, but some Gentiles will likewise be taken, figuratively speaking, for Levites. (They will not, of course, be physical descendants of Levi.)
Just as temple functionaries will consist of both Jews and Gentiles, so will temple worshipers. In fact, every nation in the world will be expected to send a contingency to Jerusalem to worship during the Feast of Tabernacles.
Ezekiel 46:3 is one passage that states clearly that, besides the Jewish priests and Levites, ordinary Jewish people will worship in the temple: The people of the land shall also worship at the doorway of that gate before the LORD on the sabbaths and on the new moons.
As for Gentile worship in the temple, no passage makes it plainer than Zechariah 14:16-18:
Let us recall it was all the nations of the world that God will have brought against Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:2). Therefore, a contingency from every nation among whom some will survive the Great Tribulation, namely, the sheep Gentiles, and their descendants (Matthew 25:31-40), will be required to worship the Lord in the Kingdom during the Feast of Tabernacles.
At the Jerusalem council in Acts 15,
But why is Tabernacles specifically mentioned in the Zechariah passage? Consider: Just as at His first coming the Word became flesh, and dwelt - [literally, tabernacled] - among us (John 1:14), so in the Kingdom the Lord will again tabernacle, or pitch the physical tent of His body, among us. And John continued in verse 14, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth - and so shall we! Furthermore, the Kingdom itself is the fulfillment of the prophetic Feast of Tabernacles, the seventh and final festival in the annual cycle of the Mosaic feasts of Israel.
At first glance, it may seem that Millennial worship may be a return to the Mosaic system. In fact, a reading of Ezekiel 43:18-27 and 45:13-25 show that there will be blood sacrifices, just as under Moses. However, Kingdom worship will not be a return to the Mosaic system. There are many differences.
During Kingdom worship, from sabbath to sabbath, all mankind will come to bow down before Me (Isaiah 66:23). Here are three differences already: Firstly, under Moses, the Sabbath was enjoined strictly on Israel; but in the Kingdom, it will be enjoined on all mankind. Secondly, under Moses, the Sabbath was not required to be a day of worship as in the Kingdom, but a day of rest. And thirdly, it is obvious from Isaiah 66:3 that Sabbath Kingdom worship will take place in the temple; but under Moses, no part of the Sabbath was to be spent in the tabernacle or temple, but in homes: a sabbath of complete rest . . . in all your dwellings (Leviticus 23:3). Another major difference is, in the Kingdom, the combination of annual feasts required to be observed is different. Under Moses, it was seven feasts: Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Pentecost, Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Tabernacles; but in the Kingdom, it will be four: New Year's Day (the first of Nisan, the month that the biblical cycle of feasts begins), Passover, Unleavened Bread and Tabernacles. Notice, too: Under Moses, New Year's Day was not part of the cycle of feasts, but in the Kingdom, it will be. There are many other differences, as well.
Dr. Fruchtenbaum writes,
Kingdom worship will not be a return to Mosaic worship. Yet,
all of that still begs the question . . .
While the Law was still in effect, Jesus told the Samaritan woman that the day is coming when true worshipers will worship neither in the Samaritan temple on Mt. Gerizim nor even in the authorized temple in Jerusalem, for the Father is not concerned about outward things and forms such as the place of worship and outward rituals, but in inward matters, namely, worship from the spirit, one's innermost being, and truth, quality of worship based on biblical understanding and carried out with a pure heart. The rigid, formalized, place-based worship under the Law was to give way to spirit-based worship in the Age of Grace.
During our Church Age, each believer is a temple, being indwelt by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), and the body of Christ is the believers' corporate temple, likewise indwelt by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:9,16) - but in the Kingdom, a massive physical structure will be the temple!
Why this monumental reversion in the Kingdom to a mandatory place of worship and a ritualized form of worship as in the days of Moses? To my knowledge, Scripture does not plainly say, but I think we can take some pretty good guesses:
1. Whereas the Mosaic sacrifices were types, copies and shadows of the once for all Sacrifice to come (Romans 6:10; Colossians 2:16-17; Hebrews 8:3-6; 9:24; 10:1), Kingdom sacrifices will memorialize the once for all sacrifice that took place in the past at Calvary.
2. In this day and age when bloodshed and carnage are so common that people can easily identify with the physical abuse that the Lord endured at Calvary, in the Kingdom it will not be so.
It will be a time when nations will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war (Isaiah 2:4).
One can easily imagine how hard it will be for people in such an environment to relate to the physical suffering of Christ at Calvary. It is therefore likely that the blood sacrifices of Kingdom worship will serve to sensitize the multitudes to the sufferings endured by Jesus on their behalf.
3. Mandatory worship of the Lord on His throne will solidify submissiveness to His rule, uniting the peoples of the world under His rulership. (Contrast that with the fighting for supremacy among nations and factions today!) This will be especially significant in light of the fact that there will still be unbelievers in the Kingdom, and even nations that will resent His rule. Let us recall the prophesied resistance of at least some nations to His authority brought out in Zechariah 14:16-18, quoted above.
4. Requiring the families of the earth to gather in Jerusalem for worship will reinforce in the minds of all the ascendancy that the Lord has given to His people Israel among the nations in fulfillment of His promises to them despite the age-old hostility of nations to them.
Based on the Bible's descriptions of the functions of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, and the necessity for church members to exercise their spiritual gifts in corporate settings, and for the necessity of partaking of the Lord's Supper corporately, it is obvious that God expects every believer in this day and age to be a member of a local church, and for every local church to meet regularly. Corporate worship in the local church of the Church Age is vastly different from the required forms of worship under Moses. It should therefore not be surprising that worship forms in the Kingdom - even apart from temple forms, which we saw will be different - may be vastly different from the forms and functions we are familiar with in the local church today.
Will regular, local gatherings of believers be required in the Kingdom? If so, will they in any way resemble what the Lord expects of local churches today?
Scripture mandates no comparable meetings of local believers in the Kingdom. However, there are no prohibitions against such meetings, either. We must be very careful here. There are no descriptions of five-fold ministries for the Kingdom, no mention of elders and deacons, no descriptions of spiritual gifts that need to be exercised corporately, no mandates to carry out the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper or anything similar, and no prescriptions for church discipline. We do not know what the Lord may require, authorize or prohibit during such meetings, or even if He would require them, at all. However, we do know this: that the law will go forth from Zion And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:3. Also Micah 4:2).
The words of the Lord concerning both spiritual and mundane matters will proceed from Jerusalem outward to the ends of the earth. The first wave of messengers will be Jewish (Zechariah 8:23). From there it will be Gentile to Gentile until the words of the Lord reach the ends of the earth.
Certainly there will be local civic meetings to discuss judgments of the Lord having to do with earthly matters (And He will judge between many peoples and render decisions for mighty, distant nations [Micah 4:3]), and such meetings would involve both believers and unbelievers. Similarly, one would think that there would also be localized meetings of believers to discuss spiritual matters proceeding from Jerusalem. (Consider the wealth of revelation disseminated to believers after the cross. Surely we can expect an immeasurable wealth of spiritual revelation to be disseminated by the Lord after His return!) These types of meetings would, of course, be conducted by mature overseers, and would be focused on the words of messengers. Perhaps teachers and exhorters will follow up. Furthermore, I cannot see how the Lord would look askance at the lifting up of corporate praise. Even under the Law, From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the LORD is to be praised (Psalm 113:3); and surely prayer will take place at many or all of these meetings, as well, even as spontaneous prayer took place under Moses (Daniel 3:10) and is authorized and expected today (Acts 12:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:17). However, I must emphasize again: We must be careful to not paint the picture with too fine a brush, as Scripture doesn't!
Even under the Law there was informal, spontaneous, individual worship apart from anything required at the tabernacle or temple:
Surely, in the Kingdom, the Lord would smile upon spontaneous, informal, individual worship just as He did during the Mosaic era and as He does during our present Church Age.
Yes, there will be a reversion to Temple-based worship, but not in place of spirit and truth worship: in addition to it. We will not lose anything in the process. We will only gain. Temple-based worship in the presence of the resurrected and glorified King of Kings and Lord of Lords will be filled with a glory we can only begin imagine!
1. The entire We Believe statement of the Association of Messianic Congregations may be found at http://www.messianicassociation.org/believe.htm.
2. Fruchtenbaum, Dr. Arnold G. The Footsteps of the Messiah: A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events. San Antonio: Ariel Ministries, 1982. P. 455.
3. Passages speaking of the Millennial Mountain of the LORD, also called the
Holy Oblation, are Isaiah 2:2-4; 27:13; 56:6-8; 66:20; Micah 4:1-2; Ezekiel
17:22-24; 20:40-41; Ezekiel 40:1-4; 45:1-8; 48:8-20. Those passages
providing descriptions of the mountain are
4. Information Regarding Israel's Security. "Size Comparison Map of Israel and New Jersey." IRIS: Information Regarding Israel's Security. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Aug. 2015. <http://www.iris.org.il/sizemaps/new_jersey.htm>.
5. Cooper, Dr. David L. Biblical Research Society. http://www.biblicalresearch.info/page7.html.
6. Fruchtenbaum, Dr. Arnold G. The Footsteps of the Messiah: A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events. San Antonio: Ariel Ministries, 1982. P. 456-458.
7. According to Ezekiel 47 and 48, based on the calculations of Dr. Cooper. http://ariel.org/dlc/dlc.htm
9. Fruchtenbaum, Dr. Arnold G. The Footsteps of the Messiah: A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events. San Antonio: Ariel Ministries, 1982. P. 462-464.
Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum
All of Dr. Fruchtenbaum's publications are available at Ariel Ministries in various formats, many for free listening.
Dr. David L. Cooper
Thomas Paul Simmons
Manzon, Norman A. "The Prophetic Feasts of Israel." http://www.biblestudyproject.org/feasts-of-israel-messianic.htm.
For a continuous exegesis of every doctrinal point in the AMC Doctrinal