The Prophet Ezekiel, whose Hebrew name means “God Strengthens,” was the fourth of the five Major Prophets from Isaiah to Daniel. He was exiled to Babylon in 597 BC, and his ministry began five years later when he was 30 years old. He is believed to have prophesied from about 592 to 570 B.C., almost a quarter-century, between and overlapping the lives of the prophets Jeremiah and Daniel. Ezekiel was married, in fact his wife died as a sign from God on the day the siege of Jerusalem began. He says, “So I spake unto the people in the morning: and at even my wife died;” (24:18).
In the last nine chapters of his book, he gives an elaborate vision of a restored land and temple. It is popularly referred to as “Ezekiel’s Jerusalem Temple.” Yet the Bible indicates that it would not be placed at the site of the old Jerusalem Temple Mount, nor would the Temple be located in the city.
The Temple was not in “the city.”
Ten times in chapter 48 Ezekiel uses the term “the city” (Hebrew, iyr Strong’s #H5892). The Biblical Illustrator says, “Ezekiel does not think that the temple should be in the city, and he separated them by a distance of about three miles. The city is about two miles square. It has land on either side of it which is to support the people. Ezekiel makes no provision for the growth of the city, nor for the increase of the Levites, nor for the priests; there they are and they are going to abide forever.”
Dr. B.H. Carroll commented, “Our [Dispensationalist] brethren believe …that Christianity must revert back to Judaism with Jerusalem as its center. To me it is unthinkable that our gospel with its worldwide vision and mission can become so cabbined, cribbed, coffined, and confined that it will be shut up to Palestine and to Judaism. That would be an unthinkable anticlimax.”
Ezekiel actually places the Temple about 3 miles distant north of the city, so that it cannot be said to be the “Temple of Jerusalem.” A more accurate description would be “the Temple of the Terumah,” or “the Temple of the Oblation,” as we will discuss shortly.
Reformation scholar and martyr Matthew Poole, who was a forefather of the late respected 19th century Detroit Anglo-Israel pastor William Henry Poole, wrote that Ezekiel’s vision showed “the proportion the city might have been built to, if the sins of the Jews had not prevented.” This is key! The fulfillment of Ezekiel’s vision was dependent upon the repentance of those exiled for their manifold sins, but when they did not repent the wonderful offer of a restored land and temple was null and void.
The location was not in Jerusalem.
It is an interesting fact that in all nine chapters of Ezekiel’s vision, there is never any mention of the word, “Jerusalem.” This is all the more surprising because it seems that everyone calls it “the Jerusalem Temple.” Instead, it is referred to again and again a dozen times vaguely as “the city,” and ten times in chapter 48 alone. It is not until the very last verse in the Book of Ezekiel, chapter 48 verse 35, that he finally gives us the name of “the city,” and it is NOT Jerusalem! He says, “…the name of the city…shall be, The LORD is there,” in Hebrew, “Jehovah Shammah,” and the plain fact is that it is not Jerusalem, nor is it located at the site of the old Jerusalem! How do we know where it is located?
In Ezekiel’s vision, very close to the middle of the land between the 7 northern and 5 southern tribes, about 30 kilometers north of Jerusalem, is a large complex of sacred buildings called “the Sacred Grant” (Ferrar Fenton), called “the Oblation” in the KJV, “portion” in both the Amplified and the Protestant Reformation’s Miles Coverdale translation of 1535, “holy offering” in the Complete Jewish Bible, “holy heave-offering” in Darby, “whole offering” in the LXX, “holy portion” in Rotherham, “set-apart contribution” in the Scriptures Version, “the heave-offering” in Young’s Literal Translation; “the firstfruits” in Douay-Rheims. So there is a lot of different terminology used to describe it. The Hebrew word is “TERUMAH,” Strong’s H8641, meaning a present offered up, heave offering, or oblation; it is found 76 times in Scripture. To avoid confusion, I believe that it is usually best if possible to use God’s words rather than man’s wisdom.
Bible commentaries often have a drawing depicting the layout of Ezekiel’s restored land of Canaan, with seven tribes north of the Terumah, Oblation or Sacred Grant, and five tribes south of it. The size of each tribal portion is given in the text. The TempleMount.org website says,
“The temple in Shiloh is connected, to a lesser or greater extent, to a key messianic prophecy in Genesis 49:10. Jacob blessed Judah by proclaiming that the right of kingship would never depart from his line nor would the lawgiver cease until Shiloh comes, and to him will be the obedience of the nations. The meaning of Shiloh as used in this verse is uncertain. Some take it as a title for the Messiah, while others understand it as a possessive pronoun, meaning ‘whose it is’. The problem phrase could also be translated as ‘until he comes to Shiloh’. If the last option is correct then this well-known passage not only prophesies the Lion from the tribe of Judah as King over all the nations, but even tells us where His house will be.”
Shiloh, incidentally, is located in the ancestral territory of the tribe of Ephraim, not Judah, and many miles north of the location of Jerusalem. (Judges 21:19) Ezekiel’s temple was not in Jerusalem! In Ezekiel 40:2, the city is located on the south side of the mountain, “a very high mountain, on the south side of which there was what seemed to be the structure of a city.” (Amplified Version) Solomon’s Temple was built in Jerusalem on the north-east side of Mount Zion. On the south side of Mount Zion is steep rock, not the place to build a temple!
Lutheran scholar John Peter Lang’s Commentary says, “Notwithstanding the irregularity of the natural boundaries, Ezekiel views the Holy Land as a rectangular, oblong quadrilateral, etc. The centre falls exactly at Sychar, where Jesus speaks to the woman of Samaria (John 4). Mount Gerizim is the site of the new temple, but the Holy City is at a distance of about five miles off; the place in which it is situated is ‘the place of Bethel.’” So the Temple sits on Mount Gerizim in Samaria, and the city is located in Bethel.
Finally, the Keil and Delitzsch Bible commentary says, “In Ezekiel 45 and 48 there follow still further statements concerning the separation of the sanctuary from the rest of the land, which are in perfect harmony with this, and show most indisputably that the temple seen by Ezekiel was not to have its seat in the ancient Jerusalem.” [K&D Ezekiel 42:15-20]
Modern Dispensational-Futurism has created an entire illusory scenario whereby the Jews rebuild the Jerusalem Temple on the same old Temple Mount in Jerusalem, with Jewish salvation by animal sacrifices, and ruled over by a unitary world Anti-Christ. We share this short study to give just a glimpse at a couple of key elements of their cult theory and show the non-biblical basis of their teaching.