The Prophet Ezekiel tells us some strange and wonderful things about the restoration of Jerusalem. Some of the things he tells are so difficult to understand that they are not believed, or are explained away as not literal prophecy, but symbols of something else.
We believe we must accept the prophecy as meaning precisely what it says, as far as we can understand it: and as for the rest, when we see it fulfilled we will understand it all.
He says that Jerusalem will one day be known be the name Jehovah-Shammah, or “Jehovah is there.” Ezek. 48:35); and this seems to us to prove that it must be the one in which Jesus Christ sets up His rule on earth, when He comes again. After “Babylon” is destroyed, the ground being purified by the fire that burns it up, a new city and a new Temple will be built on the spot.
We are told in chapter 11 of an earthquake that clears the space for the Temple. Now we must consider another, and far more tremendous, earthquake (16:18-21), which divides “Babylon” (what is left after its burning) into three parts; an earthquake so terrible that it wrecks “the cities of the nation,” how many we are not told. Islands sink into the sea: mountains are leveled to the ground, and a frightful volcanic eruption throws great rocks into the air, which fall down upon men, maiming, mangling, and killing them. Even this punishment does not cause them to fear God and repent—they only blaspheme.
It is impossible for us even to imagine the social disorder which will prevail, all over the world, when its great cities fall into ruin all at once, and that, just when the ten kings and their armies are fighting the great battle of Armageddon; and all military power, together with these kinds, will be destroyed.
We must think of Babylon, as Scripture calls it, not simply as a city, but as a capital of world-power. This world-power will together crash to the earth, never to rise again. Then, at that time—one of the most important of all periods in human history—the whole world will be prostrate under the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who now comes visibly to rule. A description of this time is given in Zechariah, chapter 14: “Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations [assembled around Jerusalem]… And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof towards the east and towards the west and there shall be a very great valley; and half the Mountain shall remove towards the north, and half of it toward the south…All the land shall be turned into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem; and it [the city] shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place…And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited.”
Geba is north of Jerusalem a little way, and Rimmon is far to the south. The distance between the two places is thirty miles. All this hilly country will be leveled by the earthquake into a high plain, and towards the northern margin of it the Temple will stand, 1,000 feet square, with its outer enclosing wall, one mile long in each direction, a perfect square. The outside of that square, the Temple precincts will be surrounded again by a square district between seven and eight miles long on each side (Ezek. 48:20), for the Priests and Levites.
Both Ezekiel and Zechariah tell us some wonderful things about Jerusalem restored. They both describe a great river which will flow out of Jerusalem, Ezekiel says from under the threshold of the East Gate, and Zechariah says it will divide into two branches of equal size: one branch will flow into the Dead Sea, east of Jerusalem, and the other into the Mediterranean west of Jerusalem.
The Jordan now flows through the land of Palestine from north to south; and there are additional rivers running to the east and to the west. Ezekiel (ch47) in his vision, waded into this stream going eastward, until it got so deep he had to swim; and when he got down to the Dead Sea he found it was no longer (as it is today) so salty that no fish could live in it, but that the fishermen were spreading their nets to dry all along its western bank or fishing in its waters. And so it will be, sometime.