The Visions and Oracles of the Prophet Ezekiel (33)
Biblical Research Monthly, January 1947 thru September 1950 — by Dr. David L. Cooper
- Some Preliminary Observations
- The Call and Commission of Ezekiel
- The Beginnings of Ezekiel's Ministry
- The Final Collapse of Judah Under the Babylonian Siege
- Jehovah's Withdrawal from the City and it's Downfall
- The Flight and Capture of the King Symbolically Represented and Warning Against a Wrong Attitude Concerning Prophecy
- Prophecy and Idolatry
- Israel, the Burnt Vine and the Unfaithful Wife
- The Riddle of the Two Great Eagles and the Messianic Reign of Christ
- God's Reply to the Proverb, “The Fathers have Eaten Sour Grapes, and the Children's Teeth are Set on Edge”
- The Young Lions and the Rods of Judah
- Israel's Past and Future Experiences
- The Sword of Jehovah
- Sinful Jerusalem and Her Punishment
- The Lewdness of Oholah and Oholibah
- The Boiling Caldron
- Oracles Concerning Ammon, Moab, Edom, and Philistia
- The Oracle Concerning Tyre
- The Oracles Concerning Egypt
- The Watchman on the Wall (Chapter 33)
- The Untrue Shepherds of Israel
- The Flock of Jehovah and its Shepherd
- The Judgment upon Edom
- The Curse Removed from the Land of Israel
- Israel's Restoration to the Land of the Fathers and Her Conversion
- The Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones
- The Scattered Nation of Israel Reunited under King Messiah
- The Overthrow of the Russian Forces that Invade Palestine (Chapter 38)
- The Overthrow of the Antichrist's Forces Invade Palestine (Chapter 39)
- The Millennial Jerusalem
- The Millennial Temple
- The Prince and the Glorified Millennial Temple
- The Land of Israel in the Millennium
The Land of Israel in the Millennium
In out study of the Book of Ezekiel we have come to the last installment, which consists of chapters 47 and 48. In this block of Scripture we shall learn many details concerning the land of Israel that is west of the Jordan — between the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea. This territory of course does not include all the land of Israel as it will be in the Millennium. The correctness of this position becomes immediately apparent when we remember that God promised Abraham and his seed all the land between the river of Egypt and the great river, the Euphrates. Israel has never possessed all this territory. It is true that during the great and glorious days of Solomon the northeastern boundary of the land was pushed as far as the Euphrates. But it involved only a comparatively small tract of country. By no stretch of the imagination, however, can Israelis short-time possession of this little strip of land from the borders of Egypt to the Euphrates be considered as the fulfillment of the prediction and promise made by the Lord to Abraham. But in the closing chapters of Ezekiel's vision only that portion of the land of Israel which is west of the Jordan and extending to the Mediterranean is in view.
The River Flowing Forth from the Temple
In 47:1-5 we have a description of the river which will flow forth from the eastern threshold of the house (the millennial temple), and which will flow eastward. A thousand cubits east of the outer gate of the temple the prophet passed through the water, which was ankle deep. A thousand cubits from this position eastward the waters were knee-deep. At a point a thousand cubits farther east the waters reached the loins of a man. One thousand cubits farther on the water was so very deep that one could not pass through it.
On both banks of this stream there were very many trees (vs. 7). As verse 12 is so very explicit concerning these trees, let us read it:
And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow every tree for good, whose leaf shall not wither, neither shall the fruit thereof fail: it shall bring forth new fruit every month, because the waters thereof issue out of the sanctuary; and the fruit thereof shall be for food, and the leaf thereof for healing.” (Ezekiel 47:12)
Each tree brings forth new fruit every month of the year, which is for food for the people. The leaf of the trees is for the healing, or rather, the health, of the inhabitants of the land. While the word literally means healing, we must understand that it means health because when this time arrives the curse will be lifted from the earth. Then there will be no sickness. The leaves of these trees therefore will be simply for the continued health of the people of the land.
The waters of this river, which flows from the threshold, eventually reach the Dead Sea and heal, or purify, its waters (vs. 8). At the present time no life is possible in the Dead Sea or in the lower part of the Jordan before it enters into the sea.
There will be fish in abundance in these waters. This prediction is found in verses 9 and 10. The place where the fishermen will be is “from En-gedi even unto Eneglaim.” En-gedi is on the west shores of the Dead Sea about midway its length from north to south. From this point unto Eneglaim there will be active fishing. There will also be a place for the spreading of nets. In these waters the fish will be “as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many.”
As a person studies this prophecy, he naturally thinks of the proposed Lowdermilk plan for irrigation and power in the land of Israel. According to Dr. Walter C. Lowdermilk's proposal the waters of the Sea of Galilee would be run in canals on either side of the Jordan River so as to water all the land of that valley. Should the millions of gallons of water in this way be utilized for irrigation purposes and also for hydro-electric power down through the valley, the water reaching the Dead Sea by the Jordan would be diminished greatly, being only that which flows into it from the east side out of the springs at the base of the mountains of Gilead and what ever surface water flows into it from the west side. It is therefore proposed in this scheme that a canal be digged from Haifa across the Plain of Esdraelon to the Jordan River. Through this artificial means waters from the Mediterranean Sea would flow and, entering the Jordan, would reach the Dead Sea. Only that amount of water necessary to keep the Dead Sea at its present level would be allowed to flow into it. According to this scheme there are to be built great dams in the canyons of the mountains of Southern Judaea. Artesian wells are also to be sunk in the Negev (south part of the land of Israel). From these two sources there will be plenty of water for irrigation purposes and for consumption by a large civilian population. This scheme is indeed most fascinating and feasible.
But when anyone thinks of it and the results that will follow and compares them with what Ezekiel the prophet is talking about, he sees that the prophetic outlook is as high above the proposal of Dr. Lowdermilk as the heavens are higher than the earth.
This river of water with its healing properties, that will flow forth from the threshold of the millennial temple, with its trees on either side, reminds one of the river of life that is mentioned in the twenty-second chapter of the Book of Revelation. By turning to this passage, one sees that this river, on the banks of which will be the tree of life with its leaves for the health of the people, that will live on the earth of that time, will be of special value to all, in that it is called “the river of the water of life.” There is therefore a similarity between these two rivers, but they are not identical. As we have already learned, the river of which Ezekiel is speaking is the one that will flow forth from the temple down to the Dead Sea during the glorious reign of our Lord upon the earth; but that which is described by John in the Book of Revelation is a river that will flow from the throne of God through the street mentioned in this prediction and will meander over the earth of that future era.
According to the prophecy of Revelation 20:11, at the conclusion of the Millennial Age the entire material universe will pass out of existence. This vanishing of the present material order occurs at the time of the judgment of the great white throne (Revelation 20:11-15). After that epochal event God creates the eternal order, which will consist of the eternal heavens, the eternal earth, and the eternal Jerusalem that comes down out of the heavens of that time and rests upon the new eternal earth. The throne of God will be in that city — the one four-square. From that will flow forth this marvelous river of the water of life. This river, with the tree of life whose leaf is for the health of the nations, will be for the new race of people that will be created, and that will live on that eternal earth. But we who are saved from the present world order and have our spiritual bodies will live in that eternal Jerusalem and will reign with Christ forever and ever.
The Division of the Land of Israel
In 48:1-7 and 23-29 we have a description of the division of the land of Israel that will be west of the Jordan. The portion that each of the twelve tribes of Israel will have will be the same as that possessed by the rest of the tribes. Counting from north to south we see that Dan's portion will be in the extreme northern part. Just south of him will be Asher. Next will be Naphtali's portion. Just south of that will be Manasseh's allotment. The next parcel will be given to Ephraim. South of Ephraim will be Reuben's portion. Next in line will be Judah's inheritance. Just south of Judah will be the mountain of Jehovah, the dimensions of which will be fifty miles from north to south and fifty miles from east to west. Immediately south of this mountain of Jehovah, or oblation, is the tract that will belong to Benjamin. South of him will be Simeon. Next will come Issachar. Below him will be Zebulun. And south of Zebulun will be God's portion.
Since each of these twelve portions will be the same, it would appear that it will be necessary for the Lord to change the shoreline and make it run due north and south, instead of obliquely as it does at the present time.
The Mountain of Jehovah's House
This oblation, which will be a little south of a central position in the land, is known as the mountain of Jehovah's house. Isaiah, in the most glowing and marvelous terms, describes this mountain in the following language:
The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 2 And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of Jehovah's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. 3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem. 4 And he will judge between the nations, and will decide concerning many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nations shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Isaiah 2:1-4)
Micah, in 3:9-4:5, describes the same mountain. From his context it is very clear that the subject of discussion is that of the mountain of Jehovah's house, the temple mountain. In two psalms especially is reference made to this mountain. The question is asked, “Who shall ascend into the mountain of Jehovah, And who shall stand in his holy place? Read carefully on this point Psalm 15 and Psalm 24:1-6.
Ezekiel gives us the fullest description of this mountain in 48:8-20. The dimensions of this mountain are given in terms of reeds, five hundred of which, as is generally conceded, constitute our English mile. Since the length is twenty-five thousand reeds and the breadth is the same, we, by simple division, understand that this mountain will be fifty miles in length, from north to south, and fifty miles in breadth, from east to west.
This mountain is divided into three sections, the dividing lines running east and west. The section in the northern portion is fifty miles from east to west but twenty miles deep, from north to south. In the center of this plot will be one square mile, where the temple of God, the house of prayer for all nations, will be located. The priests will occupy this northern section. The middle part is of the same dimensions: fifty by twenty miles. This will be allotted to the Levites, who will assist the priests in their daily ministrations at this house of prayer for all the nations.
The southern section will be fifty miles in breadth, from east to west, and ten miles in depth, from north to south. In the central part of this southern division the city of Jerusalem with its suburbs will be located.
The Millennial Jerusalem
From the prediction we see that the city of Jerusalem proper will be nine miles by nine miles. Thus the total area will be eighty-one square miles, which will be covered by the city. There will be a suburb on all four sides, one-half mile in width. Thus the suburbs on the north and south sides, being a mile in depth, will, with the depth of the city, which is nine miles, make ten miles from north to south. The same is true with reference to its east and west lines. Thus the city of Jerusalem with its suburbs will cover one hundred square miles.
In 48:30-35 we see that there will be three gates on each side of the city. These will be there so that the people may enter that sacred, holy metropolis.
The name of the city will be called, according to Ezekiel's prediction, Jehovah-shammah, which means “Jehovah is there.” This Jehovah is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ who will be there in person and reign over the earth.
When a person reads of the millennial Jerusalem covering one hundred square miles and thinks of its twelve gates, he immediately thinks of the Jerusalem of which we read in Revelation, chapters 21 and 22. But these are two different cities. The one of which Ezekiel speaks is the city of Jerusalem which will be located in the land of Israel — on this earth. The Jerusalem of which John speaks is an enormous city. It will be fifteen hundred miles in length, breadth, and height. This is the eternal Jerusalem, the home of all the redeemed throughout eternity. The millennial Jerusalem, though it will be the most magnificent city which we can now visualize, will be nothing — so far as size is concerned — in comparison with the eternal Jerusalem that will rest upon the enormous earth of the eternal order.
The study of the land of Israel of the future, together with the world capital, Jerusalem, and our glancing at the eternal earth with its eternal Jerusalem turn our hearts toward the future and make us long for the time to come, when the present chaotic order will have passed away and the kingdom of God, with all its glory and power, will be manifested. In these two cities we shall find our fondest hopes realized and enjoy the blessing of God, not only during the Millennium, but also forever and ever.
May the Lord add His richest blessings to this series of studies in the Book of Ezekiel, and may the teaching stimulate in us a desire to know more of the prophetic word.