A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
According to Prophecies in Daniel 9:27, Matt 24:15 and 2 Thes 2:4, a Temple will exist in Israel at the beginning of the Great Tribulation. This is confirmed by Revelation 11:1 which describes John measuring a Temple during the Tribulation. Its location is the “Holy City.” Chapter 11 also introduces the 2 witnesses who preach in the “Great City” and are ultimately killed there, their bodies left lying in the street. The Great City is identified as the place where the Lord was crucified: Jerusalem. But is Jerusalem also the Holy City?
According to Zechariah 14:4 and 6-9 on the day of the Lord’s return an earthquake will split the Mt. of Olives in two along an East-West line that creates a great valley through the center of Jerusalem. Immediately a river will fill the valley creating a waterway from the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea. If the Lord returns to the same area of the Mt. of Olives from which He left, as suggested by Acts 1:11, the earthquake creating this East-West valley will destroy the current Temple mount and anything that may be standing upon it. On that same day, living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half the the eastern (Dead) sea and half to the western (Mediterranean) sea.
Ezekiel 47:1-12 describes a great river flowing from under the south side of the Temple and then eastward to the Dead Sea during a period of time that most scholars believe has not occurred yet. Revelation 22:1-2 confirms this. If as it appears, Ezekiel, Zechariah, and Revelation all describe the same river, then an interesting scenario begins to emerge.
This scenario requires a Temple to be present on the day the Lord returns, but since the current Temple mount will have been destroyed by the earthquake mentioned above, this Temple must be somewhere else.
Where Are The 12 Tribes?
Using the boundaries of the Promised Land given in Ezekiel 47:13-20, and plotting the land grants for the 12 tribes listed in Ezekiel 48:1-29 on a map of Israel, places the precincts of the Holy City somewhat north of the current City of Jerusalem. This new location is the ancient City of Shiloh, where the Tabernacle stood for nearly 400 years after the Israelites first conquered the Land. This is the Holy City and its name is Jehovah Shammah according to the last verse in Ezekiel. The Hebrew translates as “the LORD is here.” Since Shiloh is north of Jerusalem, the river that originates from the south side of the Temple will have to flow south for a time before intersecting with the east-west channel created by the earthquake.
If accurate, this location would meet all the requirements for the Temple mentioned in the above references. The current Temple Mount in Jerusalem would not.
According to Ezekiel 44:6-9, this Temple will have been defiled in a way never seen in history, therefore at a time yet future to us. A foreigner un-circumsized in heart (neither Christian) and flesh (nor Jewish) will have been given charge of the sanctuary while offering sacrifices. If we understand the chronology of Ezekiel, this event will have taken place after both the 1948 re-gathering prophesied in 36-37 and the national wake-up call prophesied in 38-39 but before the Millennial Kingdom begins. The only event we know of that fits that chronology is the Great Tribulation. This is confirmed by Paul’s prophecy of 2 Thes. 2:4 where the anti christ sets himself up in the Temple proclaiming himself to be god.
Here then is a rough outline of events. Following Israel’s return to God after the battle of Ezekiel 38-39, the Jewish people will re-establish their covenant (old not new) with Him. This will require a return to Levitical practices and so a Temple will be built. This is the Temple spoken of by Daniel and Revelation. Following instructions given by Ezekiel and needing to avoid the enormous problems a Jerusalem Temple would create in the Moslem world, this Temple will be located north of Jerusalem in Shiloh.
It will be defiled in the middle of the last 7 years as outlined in Daniel 9:24-27, Ezekiel 44:6-9, Matt 24:15 and 2 Thes 2:4 kicking off the Great Tribulation, but will be cleansed by living water that begins flowing on the day the Lord returns (Zech 14:8). This temple will be used during the Millennium to memorialize the Lord’s work at the cross and provide the perspective for children born during the Kingdom Age to choose salvation just as you and I have had the perspective of the Lord’s Supper in making our choice. Remember, He said, “Do this in memory of Me until I come.” Acts 15:14-16 confirms that after the Lord has chosen a people from among the gentiles for Himself (the church) He will return and re-build David’s fallen Tabernacle (the Temple). This is the Millennial Temple so vividly described in Ezekiel 40-48.
The New Jerusalem
The Ezekiel passage also solves the Jerusalem / New Jerusalem problem. For as long as I’ve been studying these things, there has been debate over the issue of the New Jerusalem. Some wonder how the Lord could permit redeemed believers and non- believing natural humans to co-exist in the Millennium. (The rotten apple spoiling the barrel theory) Others wonder how a city with a foot print 1400 miles square and tall could be located in Israel when the whole country won’t be that big.
Carefully examining Rev 21 and 22, we notice that John never actually says the city arrives on earth. We are only told he sees it coming down out of heaven, prepared as a bride. (Not that the city IS the bride, but that as with a bride on her wedding day, no effort has been spared to make it look its absolute best.)
I don’t believe the city ever rests on the Earth’s surface, but rather orbits in the proximity of Earth, like a satellite or perhaps another moon.
Also comparing the descriptions of New Jerusalem with Jehovah Shammah we see some similarities but enough differences to refute the notion that John and Ezekiel described the same place. Compare the following:
(All verses from Rev.)
(All verses from Ezekiel)
|12 gates named after Israel (21:12)||12 gates named after Israel (48:30)|
|12 foundations named after Apostles (21:14)||Foundation not described|
|1400 miles square and tall (21:16)||One mile square (48:30)|
|Coming Down from heaven (21:2)||Located in Israel on Earth (40:2)|
|No Temple … God and the Lamb are its Temple (21:22)||Temple just north of the city (40:2)|
|No sin; nothing impure will ever enter (21:27)||Daily sin offerings in the Temple (45:13-15,17)|
|No more death (21:4)||Still death (44:25 also Isa 65:20)|
|No natural beings … only the perfected (21:27)||Natural Beings (46:16)|
With the differentiation of these two Holy Cities, the apparent conflict between Jewish and Christian eschatology is resolved. Israel was promised that one day GOD would come to Earth to dwell among them forever, while the Church is promised that Jesus will come to take us to heaven to live with Him there. Both promises come true.
Since Ezekiel specifically quoted the Lord’s promise to dwell among the Israelites forever (43:7) and then described the new Holy City, while Jesus promised to return for the Church to take us to be with Him (John 14:1-3), they must have been talking about two different destinations. They were. Heaven is the New Jerusalem where we will dwell with the Lord forever, while the Holy City on Earth is Jehovah Shammah where God will dwell in the midst of His people Israel forever.