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Traditions About Jerusalem

Feb 12, 2007

I have shown how the sacrificial system in the law was not put away but simply changed to a better and more effective form. The law spoke of lambs, goats, and other animals, but these had to be repeated daily in the temple to show their temporary character. Jesus was the true Lamb of God, and the animals were the types.

One of the big problems with the traditions of men is that they are often rigid and ultra literal. Those who harbor traditions are like children who see things as either black or white, right or wrong, but who are not mature enough to understand the spirit of the "house rules."

Another such tradition is evident when we speak of Jerusalem. The traditions of men say that the old city of Jerusalem must be the Jerusalem of Bible prophecy, that the old city must be restored and become the Capital of the Kingdom of God at the second coming of Christ. Along with this comes the parallel tradition that the old temple must be rebuilt upon the old site. Many Christians think it will become Jesus' home on earth and the place of an earthly throne. Jews have someone else in mind, of course.

But when we study the history of this and see how the law never prophesied that the glory would remain in any particular place, we are able to lay aside that tradition of men and see that God was preparing a better temple in a better city where He would dwell.

The glory of God was first located at Shiloh (Joshua 18:1) in the tribe of Ephraim. When the priesthood corrupted that place, God delivered the Ark of the Covenant into the hands of the Philistines (1 Sam. 4:11). They also destroyed the town of Shiloh itself and killed many of the priests (Ps. 78:64). The priestly center moved to the town of Nob (1 Sam. 22:11), though the Ark was not there.

Finally, in the reign of David, he conquered Jebus and renamed it according to its original name when built by Shem (Melchizedek), the City of Salem, or Jeru-Salem. He then brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem and housed it in a tent called the Tabernacle of David. In this manner, God took the glory away from Ephraim and gave it Judah for a time, as we read in Psalm 78:67, 68,

" (67) Moreover He refused the tabernacle of Joseph and chose not the tribe of Ephraim; (68)But chose the tribe of Judah, the mount Zion which he loved."

David's son, Solomon, later built a temple to house the Ark. But soon Jerusalem and its temple became as corrupted as the priesthood in Shiloh had been. Finally, God raised up Jeremiah to say in 7:11 and 12,

" (11) Is this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the Lord. (12) But go ye now unto My place which was in SHILOH, where I set My name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of My people Israel."

A den of robbers is a hideout for thieves, where they can feel safe in their lawlessness. Jeremiah then compares Jerusalem to Shiloh:

" (14) Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by My name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. (15) And I will cast you out of My sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim."

When God forsook and destroyed Shiloh, His presence never returned to that city. Instead, it moved to a new place--to Jerusalem. But now, Jeremiah says, God is going to forsake Jerusalem like He did Shiloh--and for the same reasons. In other words, once His glory departed, He would never return to that location again to dwell.

Ezekiel 10 and 11 records his departure as far as the Mount of Olives (Ez. 11:23). One has to go to Acts 1:9-12 to see the final stage of departure where the glory of God (in Christ) departed from the Mount of Olives and returned to heaven. When the glory returned ten days later at Pentecost, it did not come to reside in the temple, but in a better temple. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God?

It is not difficult for men to conceive of our bodies being God's temples. It is more difficult, however, for men to fully let go of the idea that God dwells in physical buildings. Hence, it was not long before Christians began to talk about their buildings as churches, instead of the people. Then the organization itself became the Church, as if to say that God dwelt in the organization and men had to be members in order for God to indwell their individual bodies.

It was not long before this Christian tradition had forgotten the history of God's moves from Shiloh to Jerusalem to the New Jerusalem temples of our bodies. And so in the past century it was no great leap for men to begin thinking that God would again indwell a physical temple in Jerusalem. It exchanged one tradition for another, putting the Church organizations in competition with Jerusalem for the glory of God.

Modern Zionism, whether Christian or Jewish, tells us that the Messiah will live in a physical temple in the original location in Jerusalem. That tradition makes God a liar, or at least makes Jeremiah a false prophet for telling us that God was going to forsake Jerusalem AS SHILOH.

There are prophecies that "Jerusalem" will be restored, but none of these prophecies tell us WHICH JERUSALEM will be restored. Zionists assume it is the old Jerusalem, but the New Testament clearly tells us that it is the New Jerusalem that fulfills these prophecies. Though the Old Testament never speaks of a "New" Jerusalem, this is how the New Testament writers interpret it.

The Old Testament does, however, speak of two Jerusalems. The Hebrew word for Jerusalem is plural, Jerusalayim. The rabbis were never able to figure out why the name was plural, but the apostles did figure it out when they learned that there were two Jerusalems. This is the only way one can truly resolve the seeming contradiction in prophecy. How could God forsake Jerusalem as Shiloh and yet restore Jerusalem as well? The solution is simple: the restored city is not the same as the old city that He forsook as Shiloh.

To retain the rigid view that the restored city must be the old city is a tradition of men that makes void the word of God--specifically the word in Jeremiah 7:11-14. The whole theme of the book of Hebrews was to show to Hebrew people that the old temple, the old Jerusalem, and the old Zion have been replaced by better things, along with the old form of sacrifices, the Levitical priesthood, and the old Covenant.

Zionists find the book of Hebrews particular "difficult" and "deep," not because the book is complicated, but because they cannot accept the simple truth without discarding their unbiblical ties to the old city and the old Mount Zion. Let us simply believe Heb. 12:22 and 23,

" (22) But ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, (23) to the general assembly and church of the firstborn which are written in heaven and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect."

Keep in mind that this book was written to Hebrew people, as its title indicates. The idea that Hebrew people will inherit the old Jerusalem and non-Hebrew Christians will inherit the heavenly Jerusalem is absurd and destroys the whole message of the book itself. The idea that Jews are saved by the Old Covenant is equally absurd, as some now teach. Hebrews was written to break Hebrew people loose from their ties to the old city and the old temple and its sacrifices.

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Blog Author: Dr. Stephen Jones