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Friday, December 8, 2017

The Two Jerusalem(s)

A Prerequisite for Understanding the “Cup of Trembling” Post

The Presence of God
After Moses and the Hebrews initially left Egypt and made camp, the presence of God appeared as fire upon the Mount.  After the completion of the tabernacle structure, the presence of God inhabited the innermost section of the tabernacle tent.  Upon entering the land of Canaan through the leadership of Joshua, the tabernacle was established or set up in Shiloh and the presence of God was within.

After a few centuries, the priesthood of Eli at Shiloh had become so corrupt, that God forsook the tabernacle.  A child born on that particular day was named Ichabod, meaning “the glory has departed” as a remembrance.  When the temple was completed by Solomon, the presence of God moved to that place.

A few more centuries passed and the corruption in Jerusalem was similar to that of Shiloh and so the presence of God departed from the temple which is documented in Jeremiah 7:11-14.  Although Jeremiah prophesied of God’s departure, the prophet Ezekiel saw the vision of His parting to the top of the Mount of Olives. 

Ezekiel 10:15 NET  The cherubim rose up; these were the living beings I saw at the Kebar River.

Ezekiel 11:22-23 NET  Then the cherubim spread their wings with their wheels alongside them while the glory of the God of Israel hovered above them.  (23)  The glory of the LORD rose up from within the city and stopped over the mountain east of it (i.e. the Mount of Olives).

The top of the mount was 2,000 cubits beyond the city walls, and this was defined by the rabbis as being “outside the camp” and “a Sabbath day’s journey.”

There is no indication within scripture that the glory of God ever returned when the second temple was built in the days of Zerubbabel or after the renovation performed by Herod.  In fact, since the Ark of the Covenant had long disappeared during the time of Jeremiah during the Babylonian invasion, that second temple and its later renovation contained a Most Holy Place that was empty. Josephus tells us that a stone slab was put in its place within the modification of Herod.  But the glory of God did not return to that place, because He had forsaken it “as Shiloh.”

After Jesus was crucified, buried, and resurrected from the dead, He ascended to heaven from the very spot where the glory of God had been seen last by Ezekiel.  This is also the same location as the transfiguration.  This concluded the departure of the presence of God from Jerusalem.  Ten days later the presence of God did return but not to a physical structure. The Spirit of God, at that moment, inhabited the believers in Christ or the citizens of the New Jerusalem.

Two Jerusalems
The word “Jerusalem” is naturally a plural term.  It is Ierushalayim, or “Jerusalems.”  Although ancient rabbis discussed this plurality of the city, they never seemed to understand there are two different Jerusalems prophesied in the Old Covenant.  One of the Jerusalems is described as being restored in the future in some manner or form.  The other is prophesied as being destroyed to the point that it can never be rebuilt (more on that later).  Many Bible teachers and commentators are confused concerning this subject even today.  However Paul teaches the distinct difference between the two cities, the existing one and the future version.  If not for him almost everyone would continue to be confused.  Some people continue to be confused, although some people purposely confuse themselves.

There was the ancient rebuilt city of Jerusalem and then there is the New Jerusalem designated as the “bride of Christ” in Revelation 21.  These two cities are revealed in the New Testament by the teachings of Paul the apostle, which are found mostly in Galatians 4:24-31.

Galatians 4:22-26 NET    (22)  For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman.  (23)  But one, the son by the slave woman, was born by natural descent, while the other, the son by the free woman, was born through the promise.  (24)  These things may be treated as an allegory (or a type), for these women represent two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai bearing children for slavery; this is Hagar.  (25)  Now Hagar represents Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.  (26)  But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.

The ancient physical city of Jerusalem, which is allegorically described as Hagar, cannot bring forth the promised seed (i.e. the Christ or the children of God).  Hagar did not bring forth the promised Isaac, an heir to Jesus, but is the mother of Ishmael, who was prophesied to be a wild donkey as told to Hagar by God.  Although Ishmael is the son of Abraham, he is not the inheritor of the promises of God, but rather Isaac is the promised seed and the inheritor of the promises.

The Old Covenant scriptures contain various prophecies concerning the two cities of Jerusalem.  Some are positive in nature and others are negative describing the future destruction of the physical city of Jerusalem.

Ten Northern Tribes of Israel
Jeremiah 18 is a prophecy dealing with the ten northern tribes of Israel who were captured by Assyria and led captive to an area between the Caspian and Black Seas.  They later migrated toward the west and north and now occupy the western and northern countries of Europe.  The prophecy is issued to “O house of Israel”.

Jeremiah 18:3-4 NET  So I went down to the potter's house and found him working at his wheel.  (4)  Now and then there would be something wrong with the pot he was molding from the clay with his hands. So he would rework the clay into another kind of pot as he saw fit.

Please note that displaced Israelites (i.e. the ten northern tribes) constitute the primary group of people to accept the Gospel of Christ within the European continent and the Near Eastern area.

Matthew 10:6 KJV  But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

James 1:1 KJV  James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

They are metaphorically represented as the wet clay that can be reshaped or reformed to conform to the purposes of God.

The Southern Tribes of Judah and Benjamin
The prophecy contained in Jeremiah 19 is issued to Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem (i.e. the southern nation of Judah).  Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and other prophets are specific about the nations of tribes they are transmitting their message.  Many modern Bible teachers either do not understand the difference or they believe that all tribes were present and represented subsequent to the Babylonian captivity until the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans.  However, the scriptures have a different explanation than the Bible teachers.

Jeremiah 19:1 NET  The LORD told Jeremiah, "Go and buy a clay jar from a potter. Take with you some of the leaders of the people and some of the leaders of the priests.
Jeremiah 19:10-11 NET  The LORD continued, "Now break the jar in front of those who have come here with you.  (11)  Tell them the LORD who rules over all says, 'I will do just as Jeremiah has done. I will smash this nation and this city as though it were a potter's vessel which is broken beyond repair. The dead will be buried here in Topheth (Gehenna) until there is no more room to bury them.'
The city of Jerusalem has been destroyed several times, most notably by the Babylonians, the Romans, and the Crusaders but after each destruction it has been rebuilt.  Jeremiah prophesied the nation of Judah/Israel and the city of Jerusalem would be broken beyond repair as a smashed potter’s vessel.  Since we are at the end of the age, this will be the last and final destruction of the city.

The broken vase was to be thrown into Topheth or Gehenna.  This was the garbage dump of Jerusalem containing carcasses of sacrificed animals and criminals.  As described by Jesus, it was the place where, “the worm never dies”.

The prophecy of Jeremiah 19 represents an adverse or destructive forecast concerning Jerusalem.  However, there are other prophecies portraying the city in complimentary terms which appear to contradict the Jeremiah prophecy.  These glowing prophecies are not describing the ancient city of Jerusalem but the New Jerusalem which will be a gift from God.

Isaiah 60:19-20 NET  The sun will no longer supply light for you by day, nor will the moon's brightness shine on you; the LORD will be your permanent source of light — the splendor of your God will shine upon you.  (20)  Your sun will no longer set; your moon will not disappear; the LORD will be your permanent source of light; your time of sorrow will be over.

Isaiah 62:1-5 NET  "For the sake of Zion I will not be silent; for the sake of Jerusalem I will not be quiet, until her vindication shines brightly and her deliverance burns like a torch."  (2)  Nations will see your vindication, and all kings your splendor. You will be called by a new name that the LORD himself will give you.  (3)  You will be a majestic crown in the hand of the LORD, a royal turban in the hand of your God.  (4)  You will no longer be called, "Abandoned," and your land will no longer be called "Desolate." Indeed, you will be called "My Delight is in Her," and your land "Married." For the LORD will take delight in you, and your land will be married to him.  (5)  As a young man marries a young woman, so your sons will marry you. As a bridegroom rejoices over a bride, so your God will rejoice over you.

The majority of Isaiah 60, 61, & 62 describe the New Jerusalem.  It is assumed this new city will present itself during the Millennial reign of Christ which is the Kingdom of God.  Where it will be and how it will be created is not scripturally known to my knowledge.

Revelation 21:9-27 describes the New Jerusalem.  Many elements are the same as the Isaiah 60, 61, & 62 passages.

Revelation 21:10-12 NET  (10)  So he took me away in the Spirit to a huge, majestic mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.  (11)  The city possesses the glory of God; its brilliance is like a precious jewel, like a stone of crystal-clear jasper.  (12)  It has a massive, high wall with twelve gates, with twelve angels at the gates, and the names of the twelve tribes of the nation of Israel are written on the gates.
Revelation 21:23 NET   The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because the glory of God lights it up, and its lamp is the Lamb.
Revelation 21:27 NET  but nothing ritually unclean will ever enter into it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or practices falsehood, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.

Zechariah 12: 1-9 is another passage representing the city in a complimentary fashion because it is describing the New Jerusalem although the term “new” is not used.  Granted, this particular passage does not contain the heavenly and glorious attributes as does the Isaiah 60 scripture, however it is still describing the New Jerusalem.

When Mr. Trump stated that the US Embassy would be moved to Jerusalem, one Bible teacher pointed to this verse and said, “At last.  Jerusalem (i.e. the current city) will finally become the spiritual center of the world”.  He apparently overlooks the destruction prophecies or dismisses them as relating to some else.  He is not alone.  Most, if not all, the pre-trib, dispensational teachers have the same attitude and refuse to understand the existence of two Jerusalems.  When the final destruction of Jerusalem occurs in the near future, these teachers (and many others) will be totally stunned and possibly horrified.  The effect on their beliefs and doctrines will be catastrophic.

1 comment:

  1. The fig tree example along with Moses' hated son law, Esau is brought back to Jerusalem to prove he is unworthy and he has proven he is unworthy.