Future Jerusalems in Bible Prophecy

Summary

Prophetic names of Jerusalem point to a glorious future city

According to the Premillennial view of Bible prophecy, Jerusalem has a glorious future. The book of Isaiah along with other prophecies gives glimpses of a restored Jerusalem in the millennial earth. The incredible detail here and elsewhere in prophecy is difficult to spiritualize. Jerusalem will have a new and glorious temple from which the risen Christ reigns as King over the earth. The millennial name of the city will be ‘THE LORD IS THERE’ (Ezek 48.35) and nations will go up to Jerusalem to worship Him. There will be peace and restoration all around. Even the Dead Sea will produce abundant fish.

In order of perfection, the ranking of the millennial age falls between that of the church age and the age characterized by the new heaven and the new earth. According to the Book of Revelation, after the millennium the glorious earthly Jerusalem gives way to the ‘new Jerusalem’ – a spiritual concept where all the redeemed (Jew and Gentile) dwell for eternity with their Creator God. The dimensions of this symbolic city (Rev 21.16) have the signature of Christ, implying that, as with the future earthly Jerusalem, God will be there.

Jerusalem in prophecy

Jerusalem Old City at dawn. Image: Free Israel Photos, Creative Commons 3.0

Jerusalem has been given over 70 names and a well known historic name is “the City of David” (2 Sam 5.9). But some biblical names are prophetic and depict the character and status of Jerusalem in the future. Examples of prophetic names are: “the City of the King” (Ps 48.2), “the City of Righteousness” (Isa 1.26), “the Holy City” (Isa 52.1), “the Throne of the LORD” (Jer 3.17), “the LORD is there” (Ezek 48.35), “the City of Truth” (Zech 8.3). Clearly, these describe a Jerusalem that has not yet fully come (although the Messiah, Jesus, has indeed been there).

So, today, Jerusalem bears only a glimmer of the glory of the city in future dispensations of time. When we look at Jerusalem in prophecy, we see a more glorious millennial Jerusalem on the Earth – a literal city from which Christ rules.

But prophecy also reveals that, in time, this city is replaced by the perfect city of the future – the symbolic New Jerusalem embracing the New Earth. There are really two future Jerusalems seen in Bible prophecy!

Key Features of Jerusalem in the Future

Glimpses of both future cities are seen in the prophecies of Isaiah chapter 60 and in the prophecies of the apostle John, Rev 21. Isaiah gives some detail of the millennial Jerusalem (MJ), whilst John looks beyond this to the New Jerusalem (NJ). A comparison of the two prophecies suggests that, although glorious, the millennial Jerusalem is finally perfected in the New Jerusalem. Consider:

  • A place where God dwells with man (MJ, NJ)
  • A place where there is no temple (NJ)
  • A beautiful geographic location on earth, with a new temple (MJ)
  • A place from which living waters flow (actual, MJ, symbolic NJ)
  • A symbolic city embracing all the saints throughout all the ages (NJ)
  • A place of gold (MJ, NJ)
  • A place of no more crying or pain (NJ)
  • Gates that are always open (MJ, NJ)
  • No sun or moon, but never dark since the radiance of the Lord is its light (NJ)
  • Foreigners come to pay homage and tribute to the Eternal King of the city (MJ)
  • No more violence, but peace (MJ, NJ)

Isaiah’s Description of the Future Earthly Millennial Jerusalem

The numbers below refer to verses in Isa 60, and text in bold hints at the glory of the post-millennial Jerusalem seen by John in Rev 21:

  • 1: Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises above you
  • 2: See, darkness covers the earth, and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you
  • 3: Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn
  • 5: the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you
  • 10: Foreigners will rebuild your walls, and their kings will serve you. Though in anger I struck you, in favour I will show you compassion
  • 11: Your gates will always stand open, they will never be shut, day or night, so that men may bring you the wealth of the nations
  • 12: For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish …
  • 13: The glory of Lebanon shall come … to beautify the place of My sanctuary …
  • 14: The sons of your oppressors will come bowing before you; all who despise you will bow down at your feet and will call you the City of the Lord, Zion of the Holy One of Israel
  • 17: Instead of bronze I will bring you gold, and silver in place of iron. Instead of wood I will bring you bronze, and iron in place of stones. I will make peace your governor and righteousness your ruler …
  • 18: No longer will violence be heard in your land, nor ruin or destruction within your borders, but you will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise
  • 19: The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory
  • 20: Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; and your days of sorrow will end
  • 21: Then will all your people be righteous and they will possess the land forever. They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendour
  • 22: The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a might nation. I am the Lord; in its time I will do this swiftly

 
This chapter is unquestionably eschatological, with glimpses of the restored Jerusalem in the millennial earth. But, as noted, parts of the prophecy (in bold) hint at the glory of the post-millennial Jerusalem described by John in Revelation 21. Both men saw similar features. Let’s now look at the vision Christ showed John.

John’s Description of the Future Symbolic New Jerusalem

The numbers refer to verses in Rev 21, and text in bold hints at the glory of millennial Jerusalem seen in Isa 60:

  • 1: Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea
  • 2: I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband
  • 3: Now the dwelling of God is with men and He will live with them. They will be His people and God Himself will be with them and be their God
  • 10: And he (the angel) carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God
  • 11: It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal…
  • 21: The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass
  • 22: I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple
  • 23: The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp
  • 24: The nations will walk by its light and the kings of the earth will bring their splendour into it
  • 25: On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there
  • 26: The glory and honour of the nations will be brought into it
  • 27: Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anybody who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life
So both Isaiah and John saw Jerusalem in prophecy. Isaiah saw a glorious literal city on the millennial earth (with hints of a symbolic Jerusalem), whilst John saw this being eventually replaced by a symbolic city embracing the New Earth. Both cities have similar glorious features. Let’s now examine both in more detail.

 

Millennial Jerusalem

Many see a future Jerusalem, a real city, at the center of a future millennial world – they see the Millennial Jerusalem. They see a time when the whole world lives in peace and security as Christ rules from Zion (Jerusalem). They see a time when the world at last acknowledges Israel as God’s servant and witness (Zech 8.22,23, 14.9-21).

Differing Prophetic Interpretations

Not all see it this way, so first we must ask, ‘Will there really be a millennial age on this earth? What is the biblical support for a millennial Jerusalem? After all, the term ‘millennium’ (Latin for 1,000) does not appear in the Bible, although it is synonymous with the 1,000 year period referred to six times in Rev 20. At Christ’s return some see the end of a millennial period on the earth and the start of a new heaven and a new earth (Postmillennialism). Others see the millennial period referred to in scripture as a symbolic description of the church age and they say we are now in the millennium (Amillennialism).

Today’s Israel has little significance in either of these two viewpoints, and both deny the bodily reign of Christ on the earth. They place His Second Coming at the end of the 1,000-year period, ignoring the fact that Jesus said would come back to this earth in exactly the same way as He departed (Acts 1.11)!

A third view sees the Second Coming of Christ as the start of the millennium and the ushering in of a very real and glorious state of this present earth (Premillennialism). It could be seen as the ‘coming of age’ of God’s creation and the last stage of man’s struggle through progressive spiritual phases and revelations. Some point out that deficient human government has ‘reigned’ for some six millennia and that the seventh millennium sees the end of human government with the righteous rule of Christ. They note that in scripture “six” is man’s number and “seven” is the number of completion. During this dispensation God brings man back into a union with Himself not unlike that held by Adam and Eve in the age of innocence. It is an answer to the common prayer:

Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven (Mat 6.10)

This video is about Jerusalem, starting from her current secular state, through the coming tribulation period, and into the glorious Millennial Jerusalem on Earth. Scriptural support for Premillennialism and the Millennial Jerusalem can be summarized as follows:

  • It is a time when Jesus reigns as King over all the earth (this earth), and rules the nations with a rod of iron (Zech 14.9, Ps 2.9, Rev 19.15)
  • It sees the fulfillment of the unconditional covenants: the Abrahamic, Davidic, Palestinian and New Covenants. During the millennium, Israel will become a great nation, Christ will sit on David’s throne, the land of Israel becomes very fruitful and God writes His Law on the hearts of both Jew and Gentile
  • It restores Israel to her intended place: ‘to be His servant and witness amongst the nations’ (Isa 43.10)
  • It enables millions of Gentiles to come to know the Lord. The Lord’s people will not only be Israel, rather, they will come from many nations (Zech 2.11)
  • It provides a period of perfect communion between the saints of the first resurrection and their Lord (Rev 20.4-6)
  • It provides a ‘day of rest’ for nature. Imperfect aspects of nature (drought, locust, earthquake, storm and flood) will be removed (except when decreed as judgement on a nation). All creation will be at peace (Rom 8.21) as the wolf dwells with the lamb, the cow grazes with the bear and the lion eats straw like the ox (Isa 11.6,7)

Today we see prophecy being fulfilled as God prepares Israel for such a glorious age. The nation of Israel is restored and God’s people are being drawn back from the nations. This “ascent” or ‘aliyah’ to Jerusalem has been underway for over 100 years. The land of Israel is starting to blossom (Ezek 36.8), the nations rage over Jerusalem, and there are advanced plans for a restored Temple in Jerusalem, link, link.

World Government from Jerusalem

The world is crying out for a leader – someone ‘Messiah’ to take control of the increasing chaos. Many look for their ‘New Age Messiah’, the Muslims look for their ‘Mahdi’, Hindus look for their ‘Krishna’, Jews look for their ‘Mashiach’, and Christians look for the return of Christ. In reality, according to prophecy, the world first looks to a false Christ – and suffers. But at the end of the age Jesus returns and will be acknowledged as KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS (Rev 19.16). The earth experiences not only a monocracy, but also a theocracy as God in the form of Christ takes rule over the earth. Corrupt world governments will have been crushed and Christ’s kingdom will embrace the whole earth (Dan 2.35):

And the Lord will be king over all the earth … the (world) government will rest on His shoulders
(Zech 14.9, Isa 9.6)
For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And He will judge between nations
(Isa 2.3,4)

The implied imperfection of the millennial age through the need for firm law is often overlooked. All is not perfect and world-wide peace is maintained by God’s law and just, firm rule. There will be need for arbitration, punishment, and forgiveness (Zech 14.17-19, Rev 2.27, 12.5, 19.15).

The Names of Jerusalem

As already mentioned, the millennial theocracy is centered on Jerusalem. The fact that Christ reigns from there is reflected in the millennial name of this city: ‘THE LORD IS THERE’ (Ezek 48.35). It is interesting to note that the likely derivation of the name Jerusalem is ‘City of Peace’, and Isaiah calls the redeemed Jerusalem ‘the Holy City’ (Isa 52.1). In the millennium, Jerusalem will also be called ‘the City of Truth’, reflecting the governmental and judicial role of the city:

Thus says the LORD, I will return to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth …
(Zech 8.3)

The Lord’s Sanctuary in Jerusalem

At this time Christ will physically walk the earth, but His home will be heavenly, just as when He first walked the earth. The Jews of His day found the concept of God walking with man an impossible concept, but does modern man with all his scriptural knowledge and hindsight find it any easier? Referring to the future temple the LORD says:

Son of man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell among the sons of Israel forever
(Ezek 43.7)

So exactly where does Christ rule from in Jerusalem? A detailed description of a future sanctuary or temple is found in Ezek 40-48, see Fig.1.

Jerusalem in Prophecy

Fig.1 Future land allocation around Jerusalem according to Ezekiel 45,48 (sizes in cubits).
The Holy Place denotes outer and inner courts, temple and altar. Enlarge

First note that the tribes of millennial Israel will be allotted equal and parallel strips of land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea (see Israel’s future borders). A special allotment is set aside between the land allocated to the tribe of Judah in the north and the land allocated to Benjamin in the south. Within this area is the Lord’s allotment and the temple, and south of the Lord’s allotment is Millennial Jerusalem – the city.

Zion, the future temple area will be a beautiful, glorious place that attracts the nations as they go up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles (Zech 14.16). It will be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD (Isa 62.3), a place of praise and rejoicing for both man and his God (Isa 62.5,9). It will be a place of rivers and wide canals (Isa 33.21), a place of beautiful trees such as the juniper, the box, and the cypress (Isa 60.13).

The Dead Sea Lives! Healing waters will flow east from the temple and into the Jordan valley and the northern end of the Dead Sea, enabling fishing (Ezek 47.8-10). This suggests that millennial Jerusalem is located duly west of the northern end of the Dead Sea – just like present day Jerusalem. The location appears to be the same location as Zion, His chosen earthly home forever (Ps 132.13,14), More …. In recent years the Dead Sea has been receding at about 1m per year. This has revealed sink holes that are filling with fresh water and even fish. Moreover, researchers have discovered huge craters on the seafloor (15m across and 20m deep, and fresh water is flowing from these craters, link. See the Dead Sea video.

Many Christians see the concept of a temple altar and sacrificing (Ezek 43) to be incompatible with New Testament teaching: the sacrifice of Christ was a once and for all sacrifice and a new and living way to God (Heb 10). This is true, but we must note that the ‘age of grace’ or ‘church age’ is soon coming to an end and the millennial world will be a new age, with the church replaced by God’s chosen people, Israel. So God’s Sabbaths and Feasts continue into the millennium (Ezek 44.24) and this includes sacrifices (Zech 14.21). It seems that when God again dwells alongside sinful man, then cleansing and sacrifice are again required, and if someone unintentionally sins there is atonement (Ezek 45.20). To this end, the inner court of the Holy Place will be most holy and only the Levitical priests are permitted to enter this area in order to minister to the LORD (Ezek 44.15-17). The outer court is for the people (Ezek 42.14, 44.19).

Here is further support for the imperfect state of man during the millennium; there is a division between what is holy and what is for the people (Ezek 42.20). Just as when Moses came down from Sinai and his face shone with holiness, so the Levitical priests will be in danger of transmitting holiness to the people (Ezek 44.19). As for today, the temple mount in Jerusalem is one of the most holy and important places on the planet since it marks the place where Abraham sealed the covenant with YHVH-God. Will Christ’s sanctuary be there? See Rebuilding the Temple.

The Symbolic New Jerusalem on the New Earth

In order of perfection, the ranking of the millennial age falls between that of the church age and the age characterized by the new heaven and the new earth. During the millennium, earth’s inhabitants are still ‘in the flesh’ and sinful compared to the immortality of the risen saints. In contrast, the new heaven and new earth referred to in scripture appears to be a final and eternal dispensation following the destruction of the present earth and its works by intense heat (2 Pet 3.10):

I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away (Rev 21.1)

In contrast to the millennial earth, the new earth will have no sea, no death, no temple, no sun, no moon and no night (Rev 21). The inhabitants of the new earth live in a symbolic city – the great city – the holy Jerusalem (Rev 21.10). In contrast to the millennial city, which has precise dimensions for construction (Ezek 45,48), the dimensions of the New Jerusalem are symbolic and highly significant:

And he measured the city with a reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth. and height are equal (Rev 21.16)

The city is seen as a cube with sides of length L = 12,000 furlongs or 7,920,000 feet. The footprint of the cube is 4L = 31,680,000 feet. These measurements are sometimes taken literally, making the city 1500 miles wide, or half the size of the US! But there is another way of looking at it. Look carefully at the numbers; they suggest we should use Gematria. If we sum the numerical value of the Greek letters for ‘LORD JESUS CHRIST’ we find it sums to 3,168, link. As usual in Gematria we can drop the zeros, so the dimensions of the New Jerusalem have the signature of Christ – implying that God is there (Rev 21.3). Clearly, it is a symbolic city.

Moreover, it has been pointed out that the mean diameter of the earth is about 7,920 miles, so the present earth fits neatly into the cube of the new Jerusalem (again dropping zeros), link. The implication here is that there is room for all the saved of the earth over all time in the new Jerusalem, but the unsaved are excluded (Rev 21.8).

The video is man’s concept of the New Jerusalem: the future symbolic city of the saints; the home of the saved on the New Earth. But:

Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him (1 Cor 2.9)

All Israel Dwells There

At this time, spiritual Israel (the risen church) and national Israel become one tree, and this unification is symbolized by the New Jerusalem, the bride or wife of the Lamb (Rev 21.2,9). Here we see the twelve tribes of Israel lending their names to the twelve gates of the city (Rev 21.12) and the twelve Apostles (representing spiritual Israel) lending their names to the twelve foundation stones of the city wall (Rev 21.14). In conclusion, we see that all the saints, Jew or Gentile, either from the millennial age or from previous ages are represented as one body, one bride, and one glory in the symbolism of New Jerusalem! So all Israel are saved (Rom 11.26).


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