A Restored Temple and the Sound of the Harp
Don K. Preston
We hear a great deal about the imminent rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple. It is insisted that the time is right for the restoration of that magnificent edifice, and that with its reconstruction, the millennium will be at hand. There is so much theologically misguided about this that it is difficult to list the issues. I am currently working on a book chronicling some of the problems with the dispensational claims about a restored temple and cultus.
According to Randall Price, considered by many to be one of the leading authorities on the temple, “half of the 38,000 Levite priests (Of the first century temple, DKP) played on two types of harps, singing melodies that no one else was permitted to learn.” (Randall Price and Thomas Ice, Ready to Rebuild. The Imminent Plan to Rebuild the Last Days Temple, (Eugene, Ore., Harvest House, 1992)113).
For the moment however, take note that it is being claimed that we are not far from a rebuilt temple because a couple from California supposedly have recreated harps like those played in the Jerusalem temple! A rabbi who saw their creation supposedly claimed that it was the fulfillment of prophecy, and the couple has since moved to Israel to build harps for the supposedly soon to be built temple. There are many, many problems here!
Note that Price himself acknowledges that the harps and melodies associated with them were restricted to a certain group of Levites. No one else was permitted to learn those melodies, or, one can extrapolate, nor was anyone else permitted to play those harps.
The problem is that there are no Levites today! Furthermore, Paul specifically negated the need for, or abiding significance of genealogies (1 Timothy 1:4). All genealogical records for the verification of the Levites was destroyed, by Jesus himself, in the AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem.
What this means is that it was God’s own sovereign will that the melodies and the harps cease to hold importance! YHVH Himself removed the harps! And, this was in fulfillment of prophecy.
In Isaiah 24-29, often called “The Little Apocalypse” YHVH foretold the destruction of “creation” as a result of Israel’s violation of “the everlasting covenant” (Isaiah 24:5). This destruction would come therefore as a direct result of Israel’s violation of Torah!
In verses 7f the Lord said that in the coming destruction “the joy of the harp ceases” (v. 8), and this would be when “the city of confusion” which sat in the midst of “the land” and was inhabited by “the people” would perish. All of this would be in the Day when YHVH would judge the hosts and would then “rule gloriously in Zion” (24:21-23).
In chapter 25 the discussion continues and says that the Lord would rule gloriously in that day when the city was destroyed and the temple turned over to strangers. In addition, this would be when God would establish the Messianic Banquet, and destroy death (25:6-8). This would be the time of Israel’s salvation (25:9).
So, according to prophecy, the sound of the harp would cease in the day of the establishment of the kingdom! The sound of the harp in the temple would disappear, for the temple and the city itself would be turned over to the nations!
Furthermore, in Hebrews 9:6-10, we are told that the temple cultus, which of course included the Levites playing their harps and singing their mysterious melodies, was only intended to stand “until the time of reformation” (v. 10). This time of reformation would be when man could enter the MHP– at the parousia of Christ! In other words, the time of the establishment of the kingdom! So, just as Isaiah foretold the passing of the sound of the harps at the destruction of the city and temple, in the Day of the Lord, Hebrews 9 likewise speaks of the passing of the temple cultus at the coming of the Lord!
There is much, much more that could be said about this issue, but, the indisputable facts are these:
1.) The harps and singing of the temple were part and parcel of the cultus that was only intended to stand until “the time of reformation” (Hebrews 9:6-10). This would be at the end of the Mosaic age, not the end of the Christian age.
2.) God Himself would remove the sound of the harps! And that means that the knowledge of the melodies and the true knowledge of the harps was lost– by God’s decree! And, there is not one word about their restoration anywhere in prophecy. Remember, Isaiah 24 is a prediction of the establishment of the kingdom. But, Isaiah said that in that day, the sound of the harp would be removed! This is a prima facie rejection of the dispensational doctrine of the restoration of the temple cultus.
3.) God Himself destroyed the genealogies whereby one might be determined to be a Levite so that they could even begin to learn the secretive melodies.
Randall Price and Thomas Ice are wrong. There will be no divinely sanctioned restoration of the temple and its cultus, with the sound of the harps.
Messiah removed that old temple and the sound of the harps in her. And in fulfillment of Revelation, there is now the sound of the heavenly harps producing praises to Him for the fulfillment of His promises (Revelation 14:2f; -15:2f).