Month: December, 2017

Jerusalem in God’s Plan (Part 2)

In my previous article, I had demonstrated that the NT view of Jerusalem is quite consistent and unambiguous – the Jerusalem for Christians is the heavenly Jerusalem, and the City of God in the New Heaven and New Earth. The earthly Jerusalem is irrelevant. This was asserted both before and after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.

I avoided the question of the third temple in the earlier discussion, but it’s necessary to address it because if there’s to be a third temple on which prophecy is hinged, then national Jerusalem becomes significant. This subject deserves its own investigation, in which we now engage. The options before us are: (1) the popular opinion that there is significant prophecy concerning the third temple; (2) there will not be a third temple; (3) there may be a third temple but it is not in Scripture and not significant for the disciple of Jesus.

Here we will examine Scripture and other relevant matters to arrive at a tentative answer. I say “tentative” because I do not regard myself as an expert in such matters.

Daniel 9 and Matthew 24

Daniel 9 is the account of Daniel praying for the end of the proscribed exile of 70 years (9:1-19). He receives a revelation from God through the angel Gabriel in response (9:20-23). Using 70 years in a word play, Gabriel tells him that God has appointed 70×7 years for God’s plan to unfold. The time is divided into three parts: (1) seven sevens [i.e. 49 years], (2) sixty-two sevens [i.e. 434 years], and (3) a final seven [i.e. 7 years], making a total of 490 years. The counting starts and ends “From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem and end with the Anointed One” (9:25). You may be aware that the Anointed One is the same word as Messiah or Christ. It is more than likely this refers to the ultimate Anointed One, rather than the lesser anointed kings in Israel’s history.

Popular Christian thinking combines the first two blocks of time, seven sevens and sixty-two sevens into one continuous block of sixty-nine sevens [i.e. 483 years]. When they calculate the time of the decree to the death of Christ (9:25), it turns out to be exactly 483 years. (You can find many of these posts online.) Thus they show the remarkable fulfillment of biblical prophecy. The calculations are complicated but not complex, and are necessary for us to understand so we can evaluate better. So bear with me.

There are three to four major options on the start of the 483 years because there were three to four decrees: (1) decree of Cyrus, 538 BC; (2) decree of Darius I, 521-520 BC; (3-4) decree of Artexerxes, 458-457 BC and 445-444 BC.  In addition there are two possible end dates AD 30 or AD 33 (These are the only two possible years because these are the years when the Passover falls on Friday, when Jesus was crucified.) If you plug all the numbers in you will still not be able to get the 483 year fulfillment. So how do they get 483 years? They use 360 days for one year, which they call a “prophetic year.” Using this method, it is possible to use the above variables to come to 483 years.

Remarkable as it may be, I have reservations that this is the correct way to interpret. Here are my reservations:

1.  70×7. When we see numbers used in the formula of 70 times 7, we can either take the number literally, or dynamically. For example, Jesus asks his disciples to “forgive your brother”, not 7 times but 70×7 times. It is interesting that in the case of forgiving the brother, nobody takes it literally, but dynamically, as many, many times. There may be some justification to take the 70 x 7 as literal years, but we should not preclude the possibility of the dynamic use of the numbers. (See also, the assertion of Lamech, Genesis 4:24). In all other instances, 70 times 7 is not literal. This should lead us to question if we ought to take these years numerically, or to ask if there is a literary meaning instead.

2.  The breaks. Daniel gives us three segments: (Segment 1) seven ‘sevens’, 49 years; (Segment 2) sixty-two ‘sevens’, 434 years; and (Segment 3) one ‘seven’, 7 years. The popular method interposes a long period between segment (2) and (3); and say we are now living in between (2) and (3), waiting for the final seven years commonly called the years of tribulation. But there is no gap of time between Segment 1 and Segment 2. So why do we treat Segment 1 and 2 as running consecutively without any break, but interpose a break of several thousand years between Segment 2 and 3?                                                              

3.  The years. If you add up the years, you immediately see they do not add up to 483. Our brethren get this number by suggesting that Daniel used the prophetic year of 360 days in a year. If you count a year as 360 days we can indeed find a permutation that is 483 years. I have reservations as to whether there is a “prophetic year.” We can create an artificial year with any number of days we want, and make almost any period fit 483 years. It seems very unnatural to me that the Jews should use 360 days because they will be short of 5 plus days each year, and over time, it would totally mess up their agricultural cycle. (The use of intercalation to reconcile the lunar and solar cycles still result in 365 days a year on average.)

4.  Daniel 11:31; 12:11. Daniel used the “abomination of desolation” two other times. Daniel 11 talks about the wars between the kings of the north and the death of Alexander (the Seleucid Greeks based in Syria) and the kings of the south (the Ptolemy Greeks based in Egypt). Daniel 11:31 talks about the time when the Seleucid king (Antiochus IV) took out his anger on Jerusalem. He stopped the daily sacrifices at the temple, put up the statue of Zeus at the altar, and sacrificed a pig (167 BC). Daniel 12:11 seems to refer to the same incident “And from the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be 1,290 days. Blessed is he who waits and arrives at the 1,335 days.” This text is largely ignored because we don’t know what it is saying. Bible scholars are not agreed on these enigmatic numbers, but the likelihood is that Daniel is talking about the desecration of 167 BC. The two viable options are: (1) Daniel 9:27 is also talking about the desecration of 167 BC like the other two references; (2) Daniel is referring to an event that will repeat 167 BC is some way. The natural candidates would be AD 70 or an end time event. Even if we say it refers to an end time event, we must not forget the possibility that 167 BC is a strong contender.

5.  Matthew 24:15. This text may be the main justification for tying Daniel 9 to our own end times. “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” (Matthew 24:15-16; cf. Mark 13:14).

Properly understood, this text actually argues against reading Daniel 9:27 as a third temple rather than for it. There are two main ways to understand this text: (1) it is talking about the destruction in AD 70 or (2) it is talking about an event during the purported seven-year tribulation. I believe the evidence is overwhelming that it is talking about AD 70.

“As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!” “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” (Mark 13:1-2; cf Matthew 24:1-2; Luke 21:5-6). The disciples ask two things (1) when it will happen, and (2) the sign of when it will happen (Mark and Luke) or the sign of Jesus’s coming (Matthew).  This question assumes the two will happen at the same time. Jesus’s answer corrects the mistaken assumption. “Such things must happen, but the end is still to come” (Matthew 24:6; Mark 13:7); “but the end will not come right away” (Luke 21:9). There are events that are only “the beginning of birth pains” (Matthew 24:8; Mark 13:8). The Good News will be declared to all the world before the end will come (Matthew 24:14), and in the meantime, there will be false Messiahs, persecutions, wars, natural disasters, etc.,  but you are to stand firm. (Mark 13:9-13; Luke 21:12-19). Up to this point, I think the consensus is that Jesus is talking about the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.

Next comes the statement in question about the “abomination of desolation” and “armies surrounding” Jerusalem (Matthew 24: 15-29; Mark 13:14-25; Luke 21:20-26). Followed by what most will agree refers to the end, the appearance of “the Son of Man” and Jesus concluding “about the day and the hour no one knows (Matthew 24:30-36; Mark 13:26-31; Luke 21:26-33). The “abomination of desolation” / Jerusalem “surrounded by armies” is sandwiched between the destruction of AD 70 and the end. So we need to make a determination whether it goes with AD 70 or with the end.

There are several indicators in the text that it is about AD 70. (1) the call to flee to the mountains (Matthew 24:16; Mark 13:14; Luke 21:21). This was what the Christians and many Jews did in AD 66 ahead of the war that ended with the destruction of Jerusalem. (2) Matthew, writing to the Jews says, “pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath” (Matthew 24:20). This tells us it will happen at a time when keeping Sabbath for Jews is the norm affecting the majority of them. (3) “They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (Luke 21:24). This reference is almost certainly about AD 70.

Conclusion on the Discourse on the Mount of Olives: Since the “abomination of desolation” and Jerusalem “surrounded by armies” is about AD 70, it is not a prophecy concerning the third temple.

6.  Another reason why I doubt Daniel 9 to be talking about desecration in the third temple comes from the introduction of this discourse. Daniel 9:24 says God has decreed 70×7 years concerning “your people and your holy city, (1) to finish the transgression, (2) to put an end to sin, and (3) to atone for iniquity, (4) to bring in everlasting righteousness, (5) to seal both vision and prophet, and (6) to anoint a most holy place.” All these point to AD 70. The work of Christ, his life, death and resurrection, has accomplished the six things expressed here, and it also spells the redundancy of the temple.

Conclusion on Daniel 9 and Matthew 24: There is no reason to read these texts as requiring a third temple.

Revelation 13

Revelation tells of the beast that rises from the sea with ten horns and seven heads, with power from the dragon. It seems to have a mortal wound but did not die. A second beast is from the land, and it compels people to worship the beast from the sea. It makes an image of the beast from the sea and causes it to come alive. The assumption many make is that this is talking about worship in Jerusalem.

First, we note that there is no mention or hint of Jerusalem here. It is almost certainly talking about the Roman Imperial system and the dragon behind it. If this is not about Jerusalem, then there is no need for a third temple to be rebuilt.

Next, I believe there is strong evidence that John is talking about the imperial cult temple in Ephesus. John is exiled to Patmos just off the coast of Ephesus. The personal reference point for him would be Ephesus where he labored. The beast from the sea is just like we say from over the sea, overseas, and the beast from the land is local. This was during the reign of Emperor Domitian who was honored as a god in Ephesus, and Ephesus was a well-known city of the imperial cult. The local leader compelled the imperial cult in Ephesus. Those who refused to pay cult to the emperor were punished variously. This is the most likely historic reference to the beast.

I will not elaborate on this as it is too involved, but I will just point out the essential, that this is not about Jerusalem or the temple in Jerusalem. It is historical with possible future relevance; it is not an elaborate prophecy about the future of what to expect in the third temple.

2 Thessalonians 2:4

“He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:4). This verse suggests to some that the “man of lawlessness” will set himself up in the third temple in Jerusalem and proclaim himself as God.

I will not be surprised if Paul is engaging in some creative political dissent here. Emperor Gaius (Caligula) wanted to set up an image in the temple in Jerusalem but failed. This was a time of great national angst for Israel, but there was great relief because Caligula died while the statue was on the way. This disaster would be like the disaster of 167 BC. But this is background imagery and subsumes under the main message. The issue is the return of the Lord. Paul assures that they have not missed the return of the Lord, and he adds information to explain to the Thessalonians why they have not missed the Lord’s return.

The verse before the text in question says, “Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,” (2 Thessalonians 2:3). There will be the appearance of the man of lawlessness. This refers to a political leader (most likely the supreme leader like the emperor) who does not regard the law (we are not told what law). He is the son of destruction, meaning he will be terribly destructive. Caligula would have fit the description, except that he died in AD 41 and this letter is written AD 50-51. So it is possible that Paul is using the impression of Caligula to explain the terrible man of lawlessness. He will be powerful, he will live above the law, and he will be destructive. At the writing of this epistle, Emperor Claudius was in power and he was a scrupulous legalist, so he was the opposite of Caligula and Paul cannot be referring to him.

The day of the Lord will be preceded by “the rebellion” (ESV, NIV) “falling away” (KJV).  The Greek term is “apostasia” from which we get apostasy. There will be a great rebellion / apostasy. Then comes our text. This man of lawlessness will set himself up as the supreme object of worship (somewhat like the leaders of North Korea), “so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”  The question lies in what is meant by the “temple.”

Paul says, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?…” (1 Corinthians 6:19).

“What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (2 Corinthians 6:16).

“built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:20-22).

Paul does not look back to the temple in Jerusalem even though it was still standing. He consistently says we are the temple of God. When the man of lawlessness will lead a rebellion / apostasy and set himself up in God’s temple, it points to apostasy among those who purport to follow Jesus Christ. There does not seem to be good reason to think that Paul suddenly switched from Christians as the temple of God to the temple in Jerusalem which he has completely ignored in all his deliberations.

The Third Temple May Be Built

I have just laid out for you why there is no biblical prophecy concerning the third temple and the return of Christ our Lord. What I am not saying is that the temple will not be built. In fact I think there is a fair chance that it will be built, not from Scripture but from circumstances, and not in fulfillment of prophecy but in the course of human events. Even so, there is significance for Christians and here is why.

Let’s assume the third temple is built. Those who related the temple to prophecy will wait 3½ years for some beast / man of lawlessness to assert himself in the temple. And I am quite sure they will be as disappointed as those who guess the date of the Lord’s return. What then are they to think? They either reject the Bible as false (less likely) or they will ask, “Where did we go wrong in our interpretation?” (more likely). So I think the building of the third temple, if it happens, and there is no scenario as painted for us in popular thinking, it will clarify Christian thinking and interpretation.

I believe the biggest impediment to the building of the third temple is the Dome of the Rock. The Dome of the Rock sits on “Temple Mount.” For the temple to be built, the Dome of the Rock has to go. The deliberate destruction of the Dome of the Rock will create unimaginable turmoil.

Archeologists today are challenging the location of the temple. They are now investigating an alternative site which I think is the more likely site. You will be able to find YouTube videos on this subject. In brief, we note that Josephus the Jewish historian description of the temple location does not fit the Temple Mount. He tells us the Fortress of Antonia (the Roman fortress that guards over Jerusalem) overlooks the temple area. To prevent the Romans and the impious King Agrippa II from overlooking the sacred activities, they extended the western wall of the temple to block their view. This does not fit the Temple Mount.

Another reason is the water supply. In 1997, the Gihon Spring was discovered. This is a very rare siphon spring which brings in fresh water several times a day through a natural siphon. Because the water is intermittent but fresh, the Pool of Siloam was dug out to hold the water when it comes in. This is the only source of fresh water into the city and it is not on the Temple Mount. The water supply probably influence where the temple was built. Both the Gihon Spring and the Pool of Siloam are now known locations. These are south of the Temple Mount.

The archeological investigations continue, and if it is shown that the temple was not on what is named “Temple Mount,” the greatest impediment to the building of the third temple is removed, and the erection of the temple in our lifetime becomes more likely. However, I don’t think this has anything to do with the return of Christ.


This is not a comprehensive examination of the third temple. And I make no claim to expertise. I am only sharing with you what I have discovered from Scripture. I find what Scripture says to be less flamboyant but more compelling at the same time. I would not enter into such discussion if current events have not created a flood of questions, and even though I have not satisfied myself that I know enough to make firm assertions, I find myself having to address questions the best I can from what I know because I owe the flock under my charge what meager knowledge I have.

Pastor Peter Eng


The Final King


thumb_COLOURBOX5027465Audio Sermon:CLICK
Bible References:

PowerPoint: DOWNLOAD


Jerusalem in God’s Plan (Part 1)

Israel has always said that Jerusalem is its capital. Political expediency requires a more qualified reality and the embassies of the various countries are located in Tel Aviv rather than in Jerusalem. There is also the physical consideration. Jerusalem has a small land area and it is ridiculous to crowd all the embassies of the nations in Jerusalem. These, and perhaps other reasons, would direct the Jews to take a less assertive position on where the embassies should be located. Practical challenges notwithstanding, Israel’s choice of Jerusalem as its capital is no different from any other nation’s right to choose its own capital.

The current hooha is due to Trump’s announcement that the US embassy will move to Jerusalem. This angers the Muslims in general and the Palestinians in particular.

Many Christian leaders have weighed-in on this, and several of you have asked me about this directly and indirectly. I hesitate to write on it because many Christians have already made up their minds, and in most instances, without reference to what the Bible has to say. Furthermore, this is a complex question, and there is no simple answer. There are two broad issues to consider: (1) What does the Bible say directly about Jerusalem as the capital of modern day Israel? (2) What biblical principles and human sensitivities should we consider in this question? Emboldened by your interest, I will share with you what Scripture has to say about it (1), and leave the other considerations (2) to another time – if your interest is sustained.

It is more helpful for us to examine the NT rather than the OT on this question as the kingdom of God is fulfilled in Jesus the Messiah, and that has ramifications because Jerusalem is the capital of all Israel only during the rule of David and Solomon. An examination of the OT will yield the obvious, that Jerusalem is the historic capital of Israel and later Judah. The question I seek to address here is: “What is God’s plan for Jerusalem after Jesus has come and brought in his kingdom?” This means we focus on the NT to discover God’s plan for Jerusalem.

God’s Plan for Jerusalem Explained by Jesus

What Jesus said about Jerusalem is found primarily in the Gospel accounts. The most important of which is Matthew. This is because Matthew was written to the Jews who would see, or had just witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem. Matthew frames a theology concerning Jerusalem as the Holy Spirit of God called to remembrance the things that Jesus had taught. Mark was written (before the destruction of Jerusalem), to the Romans who would be the most likely destroyers of the city, and what is said about Jerusalem would be limited to its relevance to Romans. Luke was written primarily to the Greeks, and the main relevance would be Jerusalem’s destruction according to prophecy and the possible restoration of Jerusalem during our time.

First, we see that Jesus laments over Jerusalem, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you are not willing.” (Matthew 23:37). Something bad will happen to Jerusalem. Not because Jesus abandons Jerusalem, but Jerusalem has set itself on a course that was outside of God’s plan. She opposes God’s messengers, and eventually opposes God’s Son. Jerusalem chooses destruction when Jesus wants to give her protection.

Luke records, “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it” (Luke 19:41). Jesus is overwhelmed by the suffering Jerusalem will soon experience. Jerusalem chooses her own destruction, and Jesus’s heart breaks for the city. No matter how much she has opposed God, Jesus longs for her repentance and salvation, not her destruction. But the freedom for man to choose will not be revoked. And Israel has chosen the path of destruction for Jerusalem, and Jesus honors it with grief. Jerusalem abandons God.

When Jesus enters the temple at the start of the holy week, he cleanses the temple by driving out the traders (Matthew 21:12ff.). If Jerusalem is to be rescued, it must start from its spiritual core—the temple. But the nation Israel does not welcome such cleansing.

Next, Jesus sees a fig tree without fruit. He curses it and it dies (Matthew 21:19ff). The fig tree is the national symbol of Israel even to this day. Israel, the unfruitful nation will die.

Jesus then tells them the parable of the unfaithful son who says he will do as the father asks, but does not. Conversely, the son who does not agree to obey finally obeys (Matthew 21:28-32). Jesus is rebuking the Jewish religious establishment in particular and the whole nation in general. The Gentiles who are disobedient will end up obeying God.

In the parable of the wicked tenants, the tenants refuse to give the master his due harvest. They abuse and kill the master’s servants. The master then sends his own son. The wicked tenants kill the son wanting the son’s inheritance for themselves (i.e. the Jewish leaders kill Jesus so they can keep their appointments by the Romans). Jesus declares, “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.” And because they reject Jesus, the cornerstone, they will be “broken to pieces” and be “crushed” by the cornerstone. “When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them” (Matthew 21:33-46). Scripture depicts these religious leaders as usurpers, as pretenders to God’s Kingdom. The leaders of the Jewish people are rebelling against God and are leading the people astray.

However, it is not just about Jewish leaders. The general population is equally culpable. Jesus tells the parable of the wedding banquet. Those who are invited would not come, so the king “sent his army and … burned their city.” Instead of the original guests, the banquet is opened to all who would come. (Matthew 22:1-14). This alludes to the destruction of Jerusalem and its people, and how the Gentiles will be invited to the banquet.

Then the disciples marvel at the beautiful temple in Jerusalem, Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” (Matthew 24:2; cf. Mark 13:1-2). Here Jesus clearly says Jerusalem will be destroyed and every stone in the temple will be pried apart.

While Matthew focuses on the judgment against Israel and Jerusalem, Luke focuses on what the followers of Jesus should do in view of Jerusalem’s impending destruction.

“When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:20-24).

The points here are:

1. Jerusalem will be destroyed by the Gentiles.

2. The followers of Jesus should flee from the destruction of Jerusalem. While it is normal for the people to hide in the city in the face of an invading army, in this instance they are to flee Jerusalem because it will be destroyed.

3. Jerusalem will be trampled by the Gentiles until “the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” There will be a time when Jerusalem will no longer be trampled by the Gentiles—suggesting the restoration of Jerusalem at some indeterminate time after its destruction.

This dire message of destruction also carries a message of hope. Jesus also says, “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.” (Luke 21:29-31). The fig tree (symbol of Israel) will again sprout leaves when the time of the trampling by the Gentiles is over.

As much as the cursing and death of the fig tree prophesizes the destruction of Israel, and Jerusalem with it, the greening of the fig tree prophesizes the restoration of Israel and Jerusalem with it.

The destruction of Jerusalem happened in AD 70 according to the prophetic judgment and every stone in the temple was pried apart. Many Christian scholars believe that the restoration of Israel began in 1948 when Israel reconstituted as a nation.


Even though Jerusalem became the capital of the nation, and is sanctified by the temple in Jerusalem, and that God’s presence is with the people through the temple, it will be destroyed because it is unfruitful, it rejects the rightful inheritor (Jesus) and kills him, it makes excuses for not accepting the invite of the king, and it chooses destruction. The temple that sanctifies the city will be desecrated and totally destroyed. God’s glory has departed. Jerusalem and the temple are now the institutions of man and no longer the place where God is please to make his presence known.

God is gracious. There is redemption even in judgment. When the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled, there will be a restoration of Israel, and the Gentile trampling of Jerusalem will come to an end.

God’s Plan for Jerusalem Explained by Paul

One of the earliest books of the NT is Galatians, written before the destruction of Jerusalem. In this epistle, Paul lowers the status of national Jerusalem on account of the teachings of Jesus, and not because Jerusalem was already destroyed.

“Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.” (Galatians 4:25-26). Paul uses an analogy to explain the freedom that Christians have in Christ. The Law is given at Mount Sinai, and that corresponds to “the present day Jerusalem” to Hagar. Our freedom in Christ is like Sarah, and like “the Jerusalem that is above.” The spiritual relevance of “present city of Jerusalem” is replaced by “the Jerusalem that is above.”

The loss of status of Jerusalem is not the same as the loss of status of Israel. Paul is equally emphatic that eventually “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26). The rejection of Israel has led to the Gentiles becoming partakers of God’s inheritance intended for the children of Abraham. If Israel’s rejection has produced blessings for Gentiles how much more blessings will come to Gentiles when Israel is restored to Messiah?


We must not look at the law or Jerusalem from the Jewish point of view. It is enslaving. Our heritage is the Jerusalem above, it is freedom in Jesus our Messiah. While Paul does not talk about a restoration of Jerusalem or even of national Israel, he asserts the restoration of Israel to Messiah and points to the blessings this would bring to the whole world. Paul does not answer the question if Jerusalem will regain its status as the capital of Israel. Instead, he tells us the people Israel will be restored to Messiah.

God’s Plan for Jerusalem Explained by the Author of Hebrews

In Jewish thinking the ideal was the tabernacle in the wilderness, and not the temple in Jerusalem. The temple was God’s concession to King David, while the tabernacle was by God’s command to Moses.

Like Matthew, “Hebrews” is written to the Hebrew people. This epistle is written after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. What does it mean for the Jewish Christians now that the temple is gone?

The writer of scripture explains, God had set up the old tabernacle for worship. There is the Holy Place, and the inner room called the Most Holy Place. That is where the presence of God is represented (Hebrews 9:1-10). “But when Christ came as High Priest … he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not part of this creation.” And this he did by the sacrifice of his own blood. (Hebrews 10:11-14). “For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.” (Hebrews 9:24). The earthly tabernacle is only a copy of God’s true tabernacle. The true tabernacle is heaven itself (melding with the image of a tabernacle in heaven). The sacrifice of Jesus is once for all. He did not enter any earthly tabernacle with a sacrifice, but he entered the true tabernacle (heaven) with the sacrifice of his own blood.

Next concerning the Christians, “… you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.” (Hebrews 12:22-23). Christian Jews are already living in the city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem. This is both present reality as it is future fulfillment. When we enter the church of Jesus Christ, when our names are entered into the book of life in heaven, we have come to the “heavenly Jerusalem.”


People of Jesus the Messiah have an eternal high priest (Jesus) who has given the unlimited sacrifice of his own blood, and has entered the true tabernacle, that is, heaven. The inheritance of Christians is the heavenly Jerusalem. As much as the true tabernacle is (in) heaven, Mount Zion, the city of the living God is the heavenly Jerusalem to which we have come. Nothing is said of the national Jerusalem while much is said about the heavenly Jerusalem.

God’s Plan for Jerusalem Explained by John in Revelation

The depiction of Jerusalem in Revelation stands the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem (AD 70).

The Spirit of God writes to the Church in Philadelphia, because “you have kept my command to endure patiently.” Consequently, “The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave i. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name.” (Revelation 3:12). It is clear the language here is figurative. The old Jerusalem is no more and the new Jerusalem “is coming down from heaven.”

At the close of Revelation, John declares, “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God …” Also, “And he 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.” (Revelation 21:10). The new Jerusalem does not appear to be national Jerusalem. It is coming down from heaven, and it comes from God.

Revelation talks about the temple in heaven in the same way Hebrews talks about the tabernacle in heaven and the two are one and the same. “After this I looked, and I saw in heaven the temple—that is, the tabernacle of the covenant law—and it was opened.” (Revelation 15:5). And in the eternal state, John tells us, “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” (Revelation 21:22)


Like the other NT writers, John does not suggest a restoration of the old Jerusalem or the old temple. The Christian Jerusalem is in heaven, and it will come to earth when we have the New Heaven and New Earth.


It is clear to me that while Israel will be rescued as a nation and the people of Israel will eventually recognize Jesus and be saved to bless others, there is no promise of a national Jerusalem or a rebuilding of the temple. The New Testament is quite consistent. The Christian focus is to shift from the old Jerusalem of the flesh to the heavenly Jerusalem that is now heaven itself. And eventually, when heaven and earth shall merge into the New Heaven and the New Earth, the city of God will be a place that accommodates everyone, and there will be no temple because God himself is there, and where God is, there the temple is.

From the biblical point of view, the restoration of Jerusalem today is subsumed under the restoration of Israel as a nation. It may be assumed, but it may not be asserted as a divine promise. At the same time, it is possible that the restoration of Jerusalem is not literal, given the collective evidence pointing us to the new Jerusalem that is heavenly and not earthly.

The OT contains some references to the restoration of Jerusalem. There are two things for us to note. (1) Do they refer to the restoration that is already fulfilled in the second temple? If they do, they are already fulfilled, and do not speak of present day fulfillment. (2) Assuming the OT references are talking about restoration under Messiah, the NT itself is consistent in depicting Messiah’s Jerusalem in terms of a heavenly Jerusalem, the city of God where God rules; and it does not suggest national Jerusalem. Therefore, there is no clear biblical prophecy about a restored Jerusalem but less a unified Jerusalem.

This does not mean the Jews today do not have a right to a unified Jerusalem. There are principles of truth and justice on which Israel can lay claim. That will be a different discussion. However, Scripture does not have either a divine promise or a prophecy on a unified Jerusalem during our time or in the future.

Pastor Peter Eng


The King of Kings


thumb_COLOURBOX5027465Audio Sermon:CLICK
Bible References:

PowerPoint: DOWNLOAD


The Shepherd-King


thumb_COLOURBOX5027465Audio Sermon:CLICK
Bible References:

PowerPoint: DOWNLOAD


The Prince of Peace


thumb_COLOURBOX5027465Audio Sermon:CLICK
Bible References:

PowerPoint: DOWNLOAD