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Two Jerusalems

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Issue #131December 1999

Two Jerusalems

There is an earthly struggle between the old and the new Jerusalems. The struggle broke onto the surface after Pentecost in Acts 2, and it primarily manifested in the persecution of the early Church. The purpose of this issue of the FFI is to give an overview of this struggle and to show the relationship between these two Jerusalems.

Where God Puts His Name

The divine law did not specify any particular location where God would put His name, but He did say many times that the feast days were to be kept in the place where He has put His name. (See Deut. 16:2, 7, 11, 15, 16.) Later we find that the ark of the covenant and the glory/presence of God between the cherubim above the mercy seat is the mark of His name. God put His name upon a place on earth by setting His glory there. This was the only lawful place where men could keep the feasts and offer sacrifices.

The glory of God came down upon Mount Sinai first. The people refused to draw near and hear the voice of God (Exodus 20:18-20), so the glory of God did not come upon them, nor did they receive the divine law written on their hearts. Instead, God instructed Moses to build an ark of the covenant to house the glory of God.

Over forty years later, after Joshua led Israel into Canaan, the ark rested at a town in Ephraim called Shiloh. Joshua 18:1 says,

1 And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them.

This was the place where God first set His name, but some centuries later, the priesthood became so corrupted that God forsook that place forever, cast out Eli and his sons, and gave the priest-hood to a new branch of priests, Zadok, who prefigures the Melchi-Zadok Order. We read that God allowed the ark of the covenant to be captured by the Philistines for about seven months. Eli and his sons died, and Ichabod was born, whose name means "the glory has departed." Ultimately, the Philistines returned the ark to Israel, but even so, the city of Shiloh had already been destroyed, and so the ark was temporarily housed by others for close to 90 years.

Then David came to the throne, conquered Jerusalem, and brought the ark to that location. Psalm 78 gives us the history behind this change.

59 When God heard, He was filled with wrath, and greatly abhorred Israel; 60 so that He abandoned the dwelling place at Shiloh, the tent which He had pitched among men, 61 and gave up His strength to captivity, and His glory into the hand of the adversary. . . .

67 He also rejected the tent of Joseph, and did not choose the tribe of Ephraim, 68 but chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion which He loved. 69 And He built His sanctuary like the heights, like the earth which He has founded forever.

The glory of God left Shiloh, which was in Ephraim, one of the tribes of Joseph and the leading tribe of the northern house of Israel. The glory and name of God then moved to Jerusalem, the city of David, who was of the tribe of Judah. Jerusalem later became the capital city of the southern house of Judah.

The glory remained in the house of Judah in Solomon's temple for about 370 years. Then the glory departed that place as well, because Judah and its priests in Jerusalem had become corrupt as well. Jeremiah was the prophet God used to pronounce judgment upon Jerusalem and inform them that God's presence was to be removed from that city forever. Ezekiel, however, actually saw this occur in a series of visions which he records in his book. We first go to Jeremiah 7:9-15.

9 "Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and offer sacrifices to Baal, and walk after other gods that you have not known, 10 then come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, 'We are delivered ["saved"]!'-- that you may do all these abominations? 11 Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your sight? Behold, I, even I, have seen it," declares the LORD.

12 "But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I made My name dwell at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel. 13 And now, because you have done all these things," declares the LORD, "and I spoke to you, rising up early and speaking, but you did not hear, and I called you but you did not answer, 14 therefore, I will do to the house which is called by My name, in which you trust, and to the place which I gave you and your fathers, as I did to Shiloh15 And I will cast you out of My sight, as I have cast out all your brothers, all the offspring of Ephraim.

God's judgment upon Shiloh was final. When the glory of God departed, that glory never returned to Shiloh. When God forsook Shiloh, it was forever. Also, when God forsook that family of priests, the descendants of Eli would never again hold office as high priest.

Jeremiah then informs the people of Jerusalem and its priests that God was soon to do to them what He did to Shiloh. He would cast them out even as He did the tribe of Ephraim. The meaning is plain, if we have ears to hear it. God intended to forsake the old city of Jerusalem forever. His glory would never return to that place or to that old priesthood. Jerusalem would become another Ichabod.

Ezekiel 10 tells us when and how this actually occurred.

4 Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherubto the threshold of the temple, and the temple was filled with the cloud, and the court was filled with the brightness of the glory of the LORD.

18 Then the glory of the LORD departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim. 19 When the cherubim departed, they lifted their wings and rose up from the earth in my sight with the wheels beside them; and they stood still at the entrance of the east gate of the LORD's house. And the glory of the God of Israel hovered over them.

Finally, we read in Ezekiel 11 that the glory of God left the temple and stood on the Mount of Olives to the east.

22 Then the cherubim lifted up their wings with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel hovered over them. 23 And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city, and stood over the mountain which is east of the city.

We read no more of the glory's departing, because it was not yet time for the glory to return to heaven. It departed from the temple and even from the city of Jerusalem itself, but it could not fully depart from the area, until Jesus' work was completed.

Six centuries later, Jesus came to manifest the glory of the Father. After He completed His work on the Cross and was raised from the dead, He ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives to complete the departure of the glory from the old Jerusalem. Acts 1:9-13.

9 And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. . . . 12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away.

It was necessary for Jesus to leave the earth and ascend to heaven in order to establish the final removal of God's glory from earthly temples and cities. Once this had been completed, then the glory of God returned and rested upon the disciples in the upper room ten days later on the day of Pentecost.

From this point on, as the Apostle Paul explains, we as individuals are the temples of God (1 Cor. 3:16). Speaking corporately, the Church is also a temple, having Jesus Christ as its chief cornerstone and the apostles and prophets as the foundation stones (Eph. 2:20-22). Others are living stones in this temple (1 Peter 2:5).

Most importantly, perhaps, is the fact that God's name now rests upon us as people, not upon an external ark of the covenant in a temple made of wood and stone in a carnal city in one particular location in Palestine. John makes this very clear in Revelation 3:12,

12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.

This is repeated at the end of the book in Rev. 22:4,

4 And they shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.

It has perhaps escaped many people's attention that the reason God calls this city "New Jerusalem," instead of some other name is because this fulfills the Scriptures that speak of a future Jerusalem being established and blessed. If God had called His Christian people "Los Angeles," or even "Corpus Christi," the name would not have fulfilled the prophecies of Jerusalem. For example, Isaiah 65:18,

18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing, and her people for gladness. 19 I will also rejoice in Jerusalem, and be glad in My people; and there will no longer be heard in her the voice of weeping and the sound of crying.

In Revelation 21 we find that this particular verse is fulfilled, not in the old Jerusalem, but in the New. It tells us that when the New Jerusalem is manifested,

He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain.

This is quite obviously a reference to Isaiah 65:18, quoted above. Although Isaiah spoke of the city by the name of Jerusalem, its fulfillment is NOT in the old city at all, but in the New Jerusalem. There are two Jerusalems, and this is a source of great confusion in many Christian circles, where it is so often taught that God is going to glorify another physical temple in the old city of Jerusalem--just as soon as the Islamic mosque is destroyed and the Jews rebuild their temple.

The fact is, it makes little difference what the Jews do on the old temple site, other than, perhaps, marking the time of destruction and devastation once again. The glory of God has departed, as Ezekiel saw and as Jeremiah foretold. The feast of Tabernacles is NOT going to be fulfilled in the old city of Jerusalem, although thousands of Christians flock there every year hoping to witness this event. God has written ICHABOD on that place, and no man can erase it. God has forsaken the place as He did Shiloh. He never returned to Shiloh, nor will He ever return to the old Jerusalem.

He has found a new temple and a new city in us. And with this new temple is a new priesthood, the Order of Melchisedec. No matter what the Jews do to establish a levitical priesthood on the temple mount in the old city, they will not fulfill the prophecies to God's satisfaction. While some might think me unkind for saying so, I think the Church is often most unkind by not being honest with the Jews and by pushing them into a more radical position that can only bring the entire city into destruction, as prophesied in Jeremiah 19:10-12,

10 "Then you are to break the jar in the sight of the men who accompany you 11 and say to them, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, "Just so shall I break this people and this city, even as one breaks a potter's vessel, which cannot again be repaired; and they will bury in Topheth because there is no other place for burial. 12 "This is how I shall treat this place and its inhabitants," declares the LORD, "so as to make this city like Topheth.

These verses have only been partially fulfilled in past times when Jerusalem was destroyed and later rebuilt or repaired. The day is coming, Jeremiah says, when the city will be destroyed like a potter's jar, which, once broken, cannot be repaired again.

This passage should always be taken in the context of chapter 18:1-10, where the prophet sees a vessel of wet clay, representing the house of Israel. In that passage, the jar is defective, so God beats it down and remakes it into another jar. This is a prophecy of the house of Israel. Only after this revelation does God lead the prophet to find an old clay jar to smash and to apply this prophecy to the city of Jerusalem and the people of Judah (i.e., Jews).

We know that this prophecy of destruction is not applicable to the New Jerusalem, which is a city that will never be destroyed. It is the only "eternal city" on earth. But this means that Jeremiah has prophesied destruction for the old city of Jerusalem to the point where that city will never be rebuilt again. In fact, God must destroy it in order to make room for the New Jerusalem.

Jesus Confirms Jeremiah's Judgment

The remnant of Judah in Jerusalem in Jesus' day rejected Him as the Messiah. Some think they rejected Jesus because they were blind and did not recognize who He was. Jesus said they would crucify Him because they knew precisely who He was. This is found in Jesus' parable of the householder who planted the vineyard. He says that when the time of the harvest came, the vine-growers killed the "servants" (prophets of God) until finally the Son was sent. According to Jesus in Matthew 21:38 and 39,

38 "But when the vine-growers saw the son, they said among themselves, 'This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and seize his inheritance.' 39 "And they took him, and threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him."

Jesus says plainly that their motive for killing the Messiah was to "seize His inheritance." They killed Him, because they recognized Him, not because they were blind. The verdict then came from their own mouths.

40 "Therefore when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine-growers?" 41 They said to Him, "He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers, who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons."

Earlier in the same chapter (Matt. 21) Jesus went to the temple and repeated Jeremiah's condemnation.

12 And Jesus entered the temple and cast out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who were selling doves. 13 And He said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer'; but you are making it a robbers' den."

A den is a hideout. A den of thieves, or a robbers' den, is a hideout for outlaws, where they can be free from the law. It is a place where they can violate the law without being held accountable. When Jeremiah gave the priests God's indictment in Jer. 7:10, he claimed that the priests were justifying their lawlessness on the fact that "We are delivered (saved)" and therefore we do no longer have to obey the law. We still hear this same statement today, not so much from the Jews as we do from the Church. To the extent that the Church says this, they have made the Church a den of thieves as well.

This, I believe, is what has disqualified the Church from receiving life in the first resurrection. This is why only the overcomers will attain the "high calling of God" (Phil. 3:14). The Church will not fulfill the feast of Tabernacles, but will remain under Pentecost during the coming Age of Tabernacles. They will "die in the wilderness," even as the bulk of the Israelites under Moses.

The Two Covenants

In Galatians 4 Paul speaks of the old and new covenants and how they are allegorically pictured as Hagar and Sarah. Hagar was the bondwoman from Egypt, while Sarah was the freewoman and the one through whom the promises were to come.

Hagar, however, was the first to give birth to a son of Abraham. His name was Ishmael. When Ishmael was 13 years old, God finally told Abraham that he would have a son through Sarah. That son was Isaac, born when Abraham was 100 years old.

There was conflict, of course, between Abraham's two wives over whose son would inherit the birthright. Ishmael was the firstborn, but God chose Isaac. Likewise, the old covenant came first under Moses, but God chose the New Covenant under Jesus Christ to bring forth the promise.

Then Paul makes a very remarkable statement in 4:26,

25 Now this Hagar is 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; she is our mother.

Prophecy teachers today are accustomed to explaining how Hagar and Ishmael are the Arabs, and that therefore they have no right to the city of Jerusalem. Paul says that the old Jerusalem is Hagar, and her children are Ishmael. Is Paul really talking about the Jews? Verses 28-31 says,

28 And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also. 30 But what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the bondwoman and her son, For the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman." 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman.

The old Jerusalem is born after the flesh, not after the Spirit. They had rejected the New Covenant that Jesus had offered them, choosing instead to remain under the old covenant, which had been given at Mount Sinai in Arabia. In doing so, they became legal Ishmaelites, descendants of Hagar, rather than of Sarah.

For this reason, God sent His armies (the Romans) and destroyed the city (Matt. 22:7), ultimately banishing them from the land of Palestine. God then gave the land back to the real Ishmaelites. In essence, the Jews placed Jerusalem under the jurisdiction of Hagar (Sinai) choosing to remain under the old covenant. So God allowed their legal decision to stand, and He brought in the Ishmaelites to hold jurisdiction over that land.

Yet Paul recognized even in his day that the Church itself had a tendency to want to remain under the old covenant and the jurisdiction of "Hagar." For decades the early Christians in Jerusalem continued to offer sacrifices in the temple in Jerusalem, even though they knew that Jesus was the only true Sacrifice for sin. It was not until God hired the Roman army to destroy that city and that temple that the early Church finally began to get the picture.

Unfortunately, in our day much of the Church has once again reverted back to Judaistic thinking. They think that Hagar-Jerusalem is somehow going to bring in the promised Kingdom. It will not. The old Jerusalem is the bondwoman, not the free. The old Jerusalem persecutes the children of the New Jerusalem--not the other way around, as it is so often claimed.

The solution, Paul says, is to "cast out the bondwoman and her son" (Gal. 4:30), even as Abraham cast out Hagar and Ishmael in order to establish Sarah and Isaac. Let us not be so eager to convert the Jews that we encourage them with a sense of false security. They stand today on the brink of disaster, and I think someone ought to have the courage and decency to tell them the truth, lest they all die in ignorance, and their blood be on our hands.