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Premillennialism in the Old Testament (Part 6)

Written by: Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum    Posted on: 10/06/2006

Category: Prophecy


D. The Millennial Temple-Ezekiel 40:5-43:27

In Ezekiel 37:26-28, Ezekiel prophesied that God's Sanctuary will be placed in the midst of Israel.

There is a great expansion and elaboration of these few verses in Ezekiel 40:5-43:27.

E. The Millennial System of Priesthood and Sacrifice-Ezekiel 44:1-46:24

These three chapters of Ezekiel are concerned with the various laws regulating the millennial system of priesthood and sacrifice. While there are similarities with the commandments of the Law of Moses, there are also some marked differences. For this reason, the millennial system of priesthood and sacrifice must not be viewed as a reinstitution of the Law of Moses, which ended permanently and forever with the death of the Messiah. During the Messianic Kingdom, a whole new system of law, Kingdom Law, will be instituted. There will be no reinstitution of any previous code of law.

To summarize, there will be a sacrificial system instituted in the Millennium that will have some features similar to the Mosaic system, along with some brand-new laws. For that very reason, the sacrificial system of the Millennium must not be viewed as a reinstitution of the Mosaic system, because it is not. It will be a brand-new system that will contain some things old and some things new, and will be instituted for an entirely different purpose.

A common argument against taking these verses literally is the question as to why such a system would be necessary, since the Messiah has already died. If the death of the Messiah was the final sacrifice for sin, how could these animal sacrifices provide an expiation for sin? Therefore, some say, these chapters of Ezekiel must not be taken literally. But if not, Ezekiel gives a lot of detail that would suddenly become meaningless. Furthermore, if all that detail is intended to be symbolic, the symbols are never explained. So the non-literalist is forced to be subjective in expounding them and must resort to guesswork, and for that reason have come up with a large variety of contradictory views. The literal approach is the safest method to gain understanding of these passages.

F. The Millennial River-Ezekiel 47:1-12

All together there are three passages that speak about the Millennial River. One of these is this Ezekiel passage, which depicts the river as beginning in the Temple Compound and eventually making its way south to the Dead Sea. The entire Ezekiel passage is summarized in Joel 3:18.

According to Joel, the Millennial River will originate at the Temple building itself.

The point of origin is further described in Ezekiel 47:1-2. From the front part of the Temple, by the threshold of the door and the right side of the Altar which will stand in front of the Temple, the Millennial River will gush out, first leading east until it passes the eastern gate and then heading south toward the Dead Sea.

It will not flow directly from the Temple to the Dead Sea, but will first flow to Jerusalem, as depicted in Zechariah 14:8. While the river will begin in the Temple and initially flow eastward, it is clear from this passage that it will flow southward to the City of Jerusalem, where it will be divided into two branches. The western branch will flow down the mountain and empty into the Mediterranean Sea. The eastern branch will flow into the Dead Sea. The branching out of these waters toward the areas designated for growing food on both sides of Jerusalem will provide the necessary water for the growth of the crops.

Since the eastern branch empties into the Dead Sea, the character of the Dead Sea will change. It will begin swarming with life, as prophesied in Ezekiel 47:8-10.

G. The Millennial Israel-Ezekiel 47:13-48:29

For the first time in Israel's history, the Jews will possess and settle in all of the Promised Land, and it will again be subdivided into the twelve tribal divisions. But these tribal divisions will be different than those described in the Book of Joshua.

H. The Millennial Jerusalem-Ezekiel 48:30-35

Ezekiel closes the final section of his book with a short description of the Millennial Jerusalem, adding details not found elsewhere in the Prophets. All four sides of the city are described, along with the gates and their names. The city gates will all be named after the twelve sons of Jacob. The north side (vv. 30-31) will measure ten miles (v. 30), and the three gates will be named Reuben, Judah, and Levi (v. 31). The eastern side (v. 32) will measure ten miles (v. 32a), and its gates will be named Joseph, Benjamin, and Dan (v. 32b). The southern side (v. 33) will measure ten miles (v. 33a) with its three gates named Simeon, Issachar, and Zebulun (v. 33b). Finally, the western side (v. 34) will also measure ten miles (v. 34a) with its gates named Gad, Asher, and Naphtali (v. 34b). The total measurement of the city will be ten miles square (v. 35a), and Jerusalem's name will be changed to Jehovah Shammah, which means Jehovah is there (v. 35b). Since the Messianic God-Man will personally reign from this particular city, the city will not only fulfill its name of Jerusalem (the city of peace), but also Jehovah Shammah (Jehovah is there). For this same reason the city will also be called Jehovah our Righteousness, according to Jeremiah 33:16.

While Ezekiel gives only a short description of the Millennial Jerusalem, other characteristics of the Millennial Jerusalem are to be found in other parts of Scripture. The Psalms in particular took delight in describing and characterizing the Millennial Jerusalem. One such passage is Psalm 48. Verses 1-3 describe it as the residence of the God of Israel.

In verse 8, it is God Who will establish the city.

Because it is God Who will establish Jerusalem, Jerusalem will be known as the City of God, according to Psalm 87:1-7.

The peace that will characterize the Millennial Jerusalem as a result of the reestablishment of the Davidic Throne is described in Psalm 122:1-9.

The building up of Jerusalem at the time of the regathering of Israel is the point of Psalm 147:2-3.

Since it is God Who is rebuilding Jerusalem, it will be characterized by strength as well as peace, in Psalm 147:12-14.

It is from this city that the Kingdom Law will emanate, according to Psalm 147:15-20:

A number of the prophets of Israel also revealed other features and characteristics of the Millennial Jerusalem. Among the Major Prophets is Isaiah, who, in 1:26-27, described the Millennial Jerusalem as being characterized by holiness, justice, and righteousness.

Later, in Isaiah 4:3-6 holiness is what is going to characterize the establishment of Jerusalem (v. 3), for all of Jerusalem's previous sins will be purged by God's justice and refining fire (v. 4). Hence, over the entire Mount Zion will be the visible form of the Shekinah Glory (vv. 5-6).

In Isaiah 14:32, Jerusalem will serve as the place of security for the afflicted people.

Later, Isaiah 33:20-24 describes the Millennial Jerusalem. Quietness and security will characterize Jerusalem in that day (v. 20), for Jehovah in the Person of the Messiah will dwell in this city (v. 21a). It will be a city of many streams and waters, but without any ships of war ever sailing in them (v. 21b). The Messiah in the midst of the city will serve as the Judge, Lawgiver, King, and Savior (v. 22), and so Israel's sins will be totally forgiven (vv. 23-24).

The holiness and freedom of Jerusalem is emphasized in Isaiah 52:1-2. Jerusalem in that day will become the Holy City, and nothing unholy will ever enter into it (v. 1). It will be further characterized by freedom, for the Times of the Gentiles will be no more, and never again will Jerusalem be subject to bondage (v. 2).

In Isaiah 52:7-10, there is good news that is to be declared to Jerusalem. The good news for Jerusalem is that Messiah will reign in Zion (v. 7), and the Jews will be regathered to Jerusalem (v. 8). Jerusalem will be built all over again, for God will redeem the city (v. 9) and salvation will characterize it (v. 10).

Jerusalem is to become the center of worldwide Gentile attention, according to Isaiah 60:10-14. The Gentiles, who will be the servants of Israel, will also be used in building up the Millennial Jerusalem (v. 10). The twelve gates named after the twelve sons of Jacob will be continually open, never to be closed throughout the Kingdom (v. 11a). The Gentile nations and kings will bring their tribute through these gates (v. 11b), for failure to do so will bring swift judgment (v. 12). The Gentile nations who in the past afflicted the City of Jerusalem will now bow in submission to its authority (vv. 13-14).

A rather detailed description is in Isaiah 62:1-12. The Millennial Jerusalem will be characterized by brightness and righteousness (v. 1). Her righteousness will be recognized by all the nations of the earth (v. 2a). At that time Jerusalem will be given a new name (v. 2b), the one mentioned in Ezekiel 48:35: Jehovah Shammah. Jerusalem will be further characterized by beauty (v. 3), never again to be forsaken or desolated by God (v. 4a), for the city itself will be God's joy and delight (vv. 4b-5). To make sure that these promises will some day be fulfilled, angelic messengers have been placed upon the walls of Jerusalem whose entire ministry consists of reminding God of His promises to make Jerusalem the joy and praise of the whole earth (vv. 6-7). The inhabitants of Millennial Jerusalem are promised that they will enjoy the fruit of their labors, for the results of their labor will never again be taken away by their enemies (vv. 8-9). The declaration is made that the redemption and salvation of Jerusalem is assured, because God is One Who keeps His promises (vv. 10-12).

Joy and rejoicing will be prominent characteristics of the Millennial Jerusalem in Isaiah 65:18-19.

Peace and comfort along with joy are features of the city, in Isaiah 66:10-14.

Though Isaiah is the primary Major Prophet describing the Millennial Jerusalem, other Major Prophets spoke of it as well. In Jeremiah 3:17 the reestablished Davidic Throne will be situated in Jerusalem, making it the center of Gentile attention.

It will also be a center of Jewish attraction, in Jeremiah 31:6.

The increased size of Jerusalem, its holiness and its indestructibility are the points of Jeremiah 31:38-40.

The peace and joy that will return to Jerusalem is described in Jeremiah 33:9-11. The joy, peace and glory of Jerusalem will attract the Gentile nations from afar (v. 9). All the former desolations of Jerusalem will be forever forgotten (v. 10), for the streets of Jerusalem will bustle with the noise of joy and gladness, and with the happy voices of brides and bridegrooms (v. 11).

Scattered among the Minor Prophets are more references describing the Millennial Jerusalem. Jerusalem is to be characterized by holiness and security only because God Himself will dwell in her, according to Joel 3:17.

It is from Jerusalem that God will reign over the regathered Israel in Micah 4:6-8.

In Zephaniah 3:14-17, Jerusalem is to shout for joy and gladness (v. 14), for the city will be redeemed (v. 15a). God Himself will dwell in the city (vv. 15b-17) and reign over the inhabitants of the city.

Of all the Minor Prophets, Zechariah had the most to say concerning the Millennial Jerusalem. In the very first chapter of his book, in Zechariah 1:14-17, the prophet reported a promise God made that He has every intention of choosing Jerusalem in spite of desolations afflicted on her by the Gentiles.

Zechariah 2:1-5 is an elaboration of the promise made in Zechariah 1:14-17, in which God promised that He will choose Jerusalem and rebuild her. Now, in Zechariah 2:1-5, the promise is developed. Jerusalem will indeed be rebuilt to a size far greater than ever before (vv. 1-2). The rebuilt city is portrayed as a city without walls (vv. 3-4). It does not state that there will be no walls, as if to contradict other passages studied in this chapter. It simply says as without walls. The purpose of walled cities was for protection and security. However, the Millennial Jerusalem will not need a wall for the purpose of protection or security, since the Messiah Himself will dwell in her midst. The purpose of Jerusalem's wall will not be for protection, but for beauty. The reason the wall will not be needed for security is because on one hand God will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, while on the other hand the Shekinah Glory in the form of fire will surround the city (v. 5).

The point is restated in Zechariah 2:10-12. God, in the Person of the Messiah, will indeed dwell in Jerusalem (v. 10). For this reason, Jerusalem will be the center of worldwide Gentile attention (v. 11). From His throne in Jerusalem, the Messiah will reign over all Israel and the Holy Land (v. 12).

Another graphic description of the Millennial Jerusalem is in Zechariah 8:1-8.

God's special jealousy for Jerusalem (vv. 1-2) will cause Him to return to Jerusalem to dwell in her midst (v. 3a). At that time Jerusalem will become the city of truth upon the Mountain of Jehovah's House (v. 3b). The city will be inhabited by the very young and the very old (vv. 4-5). The very young will be those who will be born in the Kingdom, while the very old will indeed be very old, for many will be several hundred years of age in the closing centuries of the Millennium. The Millennial Jerusalem will be a marvelous work that only God can do (v. 6). Once the Millennial Jerusalem is established, it will be inhabited by the Jews regathered from all over the world (vv. 7-8).

Jerusalem becoming the center of worldwide Gentile attention is the point of Zechariah 8:20-22.

The unique situation of Jerusalem in the Kingdom is described in Zechariah 14:9-11. The Messiah will be King in the city (v. 9), and the geography of the Land will be greatly altered so that Jerusalem can be enlarged and exalted on the Mountain of Jehovah's House (v. 10). Only then will Jerusalem become truly the city of peace and live in total security (v. 11).

Finally, the holiness that will characterize Jerusalem will extend to the very bells upon the horses, and to the pots and pans in the kitchens, according to Zechariah 14:20-21:

In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, Holy Unto Jehovah; and the pots in Jehovah's house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holy unto Jehovah of hosts; and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and boil therein: and in that day there shall be no more a Canaanite in the house of Jehovah of hosts.

The golden age of Jerusalem is yet to come.

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