A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
We’ve come to the conclusion of the Millennial portion of the Book of Ezekiel, and of the book itself. After devoting 7 chapters (40-46) to the Temple and its offerings, the Priests and the Prince, the final two chapters (47-48) discuss the land in general, and its distribution among the tribes during the Millennium. But as they do, we’re given clues as to the Temple’s location in the Land, so we’ll begin our concluding installment there. For the purposes of clarification, we’ll back up a bit in time to gain some perspective from several other books of the Bible.
The Coming Temple
There is no Temple in Israel today, but 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 first half of Daniel’s 70th week, before the Great Tribulation begins. Its location is the “Holy City.” Rev. 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? We’ll see.
First, Zechariah explains the day of the Lord’s return.
On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south … Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. (Zechariah 14:4-5)
Zechariah was writing about the very day of the Lord’s return. On one of my trips to Jerusalem I stood on the Mt. Of Olives in the place where tradition says He ascended from. As I looked due west toward the Mediterranean I was astonished to discover that if He returns to the same place from which He left, as suggested by Acts 1:11, this East-West valley will pass straight through the current Temple mount, destroying it and anything that may be standing upon it, and moving the northern part of the city up the south facing slope of a mountain that will be created at the same time. (Zechariah 14:10)
On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter. The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name. (Zechariah 14:8-9)
On that same day a river will fill the valley creating a waterway from the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea. Now let’s go to Ezekiel 47.
The man brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was flowing from the south side.
He asked me, “Son of man, do you see this?” Then he led me back to the bank of the river. When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Sea. When it empties into the Sea, the water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi (On the Dead Sea’s western shore) to En Eglaim (on the eastern shore) there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds—like the fish of the Great Sea. But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.” (Ezekiel 47:1-2, 6-12)
Like Zechariah, Ezekiel also described a river flowing from under the south side of the Temple and then eastward to the Dead Sea, where it makes the sea fresh, and Revelation 22:1-2 confirms this. Both Ezekiel and Revelation speak of trees that line the river bearing fruit each month for food and for healing, and both Zechariah and Revelation indicate that the River flows through the city. If, as it appears, Ezekiel, Zechariah, and Revelation are all describing 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 in the creation of the river valley mentioned above, this Temple must be somewhere else. Since the river originates under the Temple and flows south from its south side before heading east and west, the Temple must be north of the newly created river valley.
As we’ll see, plotting the land grants for the 12 tribes given in Ezekiel 48 on a map of Israel places the Sacred District of the new Temple somewhat north of the current City of Jerusalem. This new location is in the ancient City of Shiloh, where the Tabernacle stood for nearly 400 years after the Israelites first conquered the Land. This is the new Holy City and its name will be Jehovah Shammah according to Ezek. 48:35. In English it means “the LORD is here” consistent with His promise to dwell among the Israelites forever. (Ezek. 43:7)
The Shiloh location meets all the requirements for the Temple location mentioned in the above references. The current Temple Mount in Jerusalem would not.
Reviewing Ezekiel 44:6-9, we remember that 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. According to the chronology of Ezekiel, this defilement 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 in that time frame is the Great Tribulation.
Daniel 9:27 agrees with the timing placing the Temple’s defilement in the Middle of the 70th week. Paul’s prophecy of 2 Thes. 2:4 confirms the nature of the event, saying that the anti-Christ will set himself up in the Temple proclaiming himself to be God. And in Matt. 24:15-21 Jesus said it will kick off the Great Tribulation.
Remember, the rabbis call Ezekiel’s Temple the 3rd Temple. If the anti-Christ will come from a Moslem background that would prevent him from destroying or defiling the Islamic mosques and shrines on the current Temple Mount. After all it’s also likely that Islam will be the one world religion during the end times and the Temple Mount contains its 3rd holiest place. Being the great peace maker, it makes sense that in his covenant with Israel he will come up with a location for the Temple that satisfies both religions, allowing them to co-exist for a time. What better location than the one right out of Israel’s own scriptures?
This Temple will be defiled in the middle of the last 7 years, but will be the source of living water that begins flowing on the day the Lord returns (Zech 14:8). After it’s made holy again, in what I believe will be the prophetic fulfillment of the Feast of Hanukkah, this same Temple will be used during the Millennium to memorialize the Lord’s work at the cross. Its offerings and ceremonies will provide the necessary 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 taken 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 40-46 and it will be built in Shiloh.
The New Jerusalem
While we’re at it, let’s have Ezekiel solve the Jerusalem / New Jerusalem problem for us as well. For as long as I’ve been studying these things, there has been debate over the location of the New Jerusalem. Some wonder how the Lord could permit redeemed believers and non- believing natural humans to co-exist in the Millennium. 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 big enough to accommodate it.
Carefully examining Rev. 21-22, we notice that John never actually says that 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, by comparing the descriptions of New Jerusalem with Jehovah Shammah we see some similarities but enough differences to dispel any notion that John and Ezekiel could have been describing the same place. Consider 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 for
|Foundation not described|
|1400 miles square and
|One mile square (48:30)|
|Coming Down from
|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 can
|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
|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.
With that, we’ll shift to the overall boundaries of the land as described in Ezek. 47:13-20. Plotting the ancient references as best as we can, we see that the Northern boundary will run east from the Mediterranean coast across from Cyprus, just north of the 35th parallel and about 100 miles north and west of present day Damascus. In the vicinity of Hamath on the Orontes River in Syria, it will intersect with the Eastern boundary which runs south passing just west of Damascus, east of the Sea of Galilee and then along the Jordan River through the Dead Sea to Zoar, which is just below its southern shores in the vicinity of the 31st parallel. From Zoar the Southern border goes south west toward Kadesh Barnea and then westerly in a curved route to the Wadi al Arish, or River of Egypt (not the Nile) near the 31st parallel again. Then it follows the river north west to meet the south eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Israel’s Western boundary is the eastern coast of the Mediterranean.
So the Millennial Kingdom will extend from about 100 miles north of Damascus to about 100 miles south of Jerusalem and from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River. It will include all of present day Lebanon, parts of Syria including the Golan Heights, and all of the West Bank and Gaza. This area closely resembles the original boundaries given in Numbers 34:1-12.
The Land will be divided into 14 roughly equal portions by drawing parallel lines across the land running west to east. There will be seven portions north of the Sacred Portion and five south of it. The Sacred District with the Holy City, the Temple and allotments for the Levites and the Prince will occupy the remaining 2 portions.
North of the Sacred District, beginning with the northern most portion will be the tribes of Dan, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben, and Judah in that order. Continuing south of the Sacred District the five remaining tribal allotments will belong to Benjamin, Simeon, Issachar, Zebulon and Gad in that order.
On that day HOLY TO THE LORD will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, and the cooking pots in the LORD’s house will be like the sacred bowls in front of the altar. Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the LORD Almighty, and all who come to sacrifice will take some of the pots and cook in them. And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD Almighty. (Zechariah 14:20-21)
The land will be holy, the people will be holy, the city will be holy, the Temple will be holy, and the Lord will dwell with them there forever.
Here then is the sequence of end times events according to Ezekiel. Following a long period where the Land had lain desolate, the Jewish people would return in the latter days, as if from the dead. At first they wouldn’t recognize God as the author of this but would claim the credit themselves for their resurrection. Israel’s return to God will come after the battle of Ezekiel 38-39, and 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.
Following Ezekiel’s instructions as interpreted by the anti-Christ, this Temple will be located north of Jerusalem in Shiloh. Some time between the Battle of Ezekiel 38-39 and the beginning of the Millennium, during the time of the Great Tribulation the Temple will be made desolate, but will be cleansed upon the Lord’s return. During the Kingdom Age on Earth this Temple will serve as the dwelling place of God fulfilling His promise to live among His people Israel forever. Amen. 03-01-08