Jerusalem in the Millennium
Every biblical paradise shares certain unique features that mark it out as a place of extreme blessing, first and foremost of which is the physical presence of God Himself for the purpose of fellowship (rather than judgment). Just as in the garden of Eden, our first parents Adam and Eve enjoyed sweet fellowship with our Lord when He habitually visited them “in the cool of the day” (Gen.3:8), so the millennial Jerusalem will be blessed with the permanent presence of our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and all of the millennial blessings which mankind will enjoy on that great day will be a result of and will flow from His presence (as is always the case since all blessing originates with God: Jas.1:17).
(2) The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow. (3) You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. (4) No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah (i.e., “I delight in her”), and your land Beulah (i.e., “married”); for the Lord will take delight in you, and your land will be married. (5) As a young man marries a maiden, so will your sons marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you. (6) I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, (7) and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth.
Isaiah 62:2-7 NIV (cf. Jer.3:14)
Though devastated by the events of the Tribulation, the beast’s Armageddon campaign in particular, Jerusalem will be swiftly rebuilt in a supernatural way by the Lord Himself, to become the most impressive place on earth (cf. Is.11:10; 44:24-28; 51:3; 52:1-2; Mic.4:8), now to rest ever safe and secure under His protecting wings (cf. Jer.31:38-40; Is.54:14-15).
(1) He has set his foundation on the holy mountain; (2) the Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. (3) Glorious things are said of you, O city of God: Selah (4) “I will record Rahab and Babylon among those who acknowledge me—Philistia too, and Tyre, along with Cush— and will say, ‘This one was born in Zion.’ ” (5) Indeed, of Zion it will be said, “This one and that one were born in her, and the Most High himself will establish her.” (6) The Lord will write in the register of the peoples: “This one was born in Zion.” Selah (7) As they make music they will sing, “All my fountains are in you.”
Psalm 87:1-7 NIV
And the Lord will create over Mount Zion and over all her assemblies a cloud – one of smoke by day, and of a shining flame of fire by night. For there will be a canopy above the glory [of His presence, covering it] entirely. It will be a shelter from the heat by day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.
But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.
Isaiah 65:18 NIV
In addition to the ultimate blessing, the actual presence of God Himself in the Person of the Messiah, the Son of God, millennial Jerusalem will share other features in common with the most well-known Eden (and with all of the other biblical paradises as well):
a) An Exalted Location: Millennial Jerusalem will be a city of greatly expanded dimensions (Ezek.48:30-35), and will literally be raised up in elevation to an exceedingly great height (cf. Ps.68:15-16; Ezek.17:22):
At the end of days, the mountain of the temple of the Lord will be established as the chief of all mountains, and it will be raised higher than all [other] hills, and all the nations will flow to it.
Isaiah 2:2 (cf. Micah 4:1)
In visions of God he took me to the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain, on whose south side were some buildings that looked like a city.
Ezekiel 40:2 NIV
(10) The whole land, from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem, will become like the Arabah. But Jerusalem will be raised up and remain in its place, from the Benjamin Gate to the site of the First Gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepresses. (11) It will be inhabited; never again will it be destroyed. Jerusalem will be secure.
Zechariah 14:10-11 NIV
b) The Living Waters and the Tree of Life:
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.
Psalm 46:4 NIV
Proceeding forth from the millennial temple in Jerusalem will be a stream of “living water”, a supernatural source of refreshment akin to the streams that watered the garden of Eden. The stream will grow in breadth and depth as it runs eastward and descends to the plain of the Arabah (while another branch flows west to the Mediterranean: Zech.14:8), finally emptying into the Dead Sea. Along the banks of this stream, “trees of life” will spring up, comparable to the tree of life of Genesis 2:9, and to the “tree(s) of life” in the final New Jerusalem (Rev.22:2). These trees will share the same purpose as the one which preceded and those which will follow, namely, to impart spiritual as well as physical blessing (cf. Is.41:19; 55:12-13; Ezek.34:27; 36:8; 47:7; Rev.22:2):
And on the bank of the river gorge on both sides will spring up every sort of food-producing tree. Their foliage will not wither, nor their produce fail, but every month they will yield a new crop, for they will be irrigated by the waters flowing from the sanctuary; their produce will serve as food and their foliage as medicine.
The river on whose banks the trees described above will flourish will share important qualities with the rivers of Genesis chapter two and with the “river of the water of life” of Revelation chapter twenty-two:
1) It originates from a central source: Just as water flowed out of the garden of Eden, so the millennial river of living water will rise from a fountainhead at the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem (Ezek.47:1-12; Joel 3:18; Zech.14:8), a very similar situation to that of “the river of the water of life” which we find in the New Jerusalem (Rev.22:1-2).
2) It produces a miraculously fertile effect: The river is associated with agricultural fecundity and abundant fisheries in Ezekiel 47:1-12, while Joel 3:18 connects the fountain with the blossoming of the land in general (cf. a similar, symbolic reference in Is.66:12: “I will extend peace to her like a river and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream”).
3) It has a life-giving influence: The river is one of “living water” in Zechariah 14:8, a title which, in light of Revelation 22:17, suggests the spiritual blessings it will confer (see also Jer.2:13; Is.55:1).
Just as the Messiah’s Kingdom is likened to a life-giving tree (Matt.13:31-32; Mk.4:30-32; Lk.13:18-19; cf. Dan.4:10-27; Ezek.17:3-24; 31:1-18), so we find in the millennial kingdom literal trees of life flourishing on the banks of the river of living water for the first time since our original parents rejected the first tree of life for the tree of knowing good and evil. It is well to remember that none of these blessing could be possible but for the fact that our Lord Jesus bore all the cursing which was rightfully ours on that “other tree”, for it is thus that we are eternally healed:
He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, in order that we might die to sins and live to righteousness. By His wound you are healed.
1st Peter 2:24
c) Unique Prosperity: The wondrous nature of millennial Jerusalem will be so exceptional to such an extraordinary degree that it surpasses our present ability to adequately imagine:
(11) “O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with sapphires. (12) I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones.
Isaiah 54:11-12 NIV
Your gates will be open always, day and night they will not be closed, so that the wealth of the nations may be brought to you, and their kings led before you.
(15) “Although you have been forsaken and hated, with no one traveling through, I will make you the everlasting pride and the joy of all generations. (16) You will drink the milk of nations and be nursed at royal breasts. Then you will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob. (17) Instead of bronze I will bring you gold, and silver in place of iron. Instead of wood I will bring you bronze, and iron in place of stones. I will make peace your governor and righteousness your ruler. (18) No longer will violence be heard in your land, nor ruin or destruction within your borders, but you will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise. (19) The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. (20) Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end.
Isaiah 60:15-20 NIV
You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
I am about to extend prosperity to her like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing torrent.
Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it.
Jeremiah 33:9 NIV
(26) I will bless them and the places surrounding my hill. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing. (27) The trees of the field will yield their fruit and the ground will yield its crops; the people will be secure in their land.
Ezekiel 34:26-27 NIV
2) Eden-like conditions as seen from the millennial Israel: The paradise-like conditions of the millennial Jerusalem will be duplicated to a great degree within boundaries of the entire expanded millennial state of Israel as well (and apparently to an only marginally lesser degree to the earth as a whole). The Millennium under the perfect rule of Jesus Christ will be a time of agricultural bounty without scarcity, of flourishing environmental conditions without the hardships and disasters of previous eras, and of general prosperity and blessing beyond anything now remotely imagined – and it will begin with Israel:
(29b) “I will call for the grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famine upon you. (30) I will increase the fruit of the trees and the crops of the field, so that you will no longer suffer disgrace among the nations because of famine. (31) Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices. (32) I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake, declares the Sovereign Lord. Be ashamed and disgraced for your conduct, O house of Israel!” (33) This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt. (34) The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. (35) They will say, “This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.” (36) Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the Lord have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.”
Ezekiel 36:29b-36 NIV
(21) “In that day I will respond,” declares the Lord— “I will respond to the skies, and they will respond to the earth; (22) and the earth will respond to the grain, the new wine and oil, and they will respond to Jezreel. (23) I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one’. ‘I will say to those called ‘Not my people’, ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.'”
Hosea 2:21-23 NIV
(16) The Lord their God will deliver them on that day (for His people are to Him as a precious flock, like jewels in a crown set prominently in His land). (17) For how fair and beautiful they will be. Grain will make the young men flourish and new wine the young women.
Thus saith the Lord; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the Lord of hosts the holy mountain. (Zechariah 8:3)
This prophecy looks to the future. It has not been fulfilled since then, and it’s not being fulfilled today. God makes it clear that He will return to Zion, and He makes it clear that He is going to dwell in the midst of Jerusalem.
“And Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth.” Today it is a city where there are more religions than you can imagine! Every Christian organization has built something there, and there are all kinds of cults and isms there. It is not the city of truth today.
“And the mountain of the Lord of hosts the holy mountain.” I have never seen anything there that I thought you could call holy. It’s just not holy today, my friend. It will be holy when He gets back there, but He is not back there yet. This prophecy looks to the future.
“Thus saith the Lord; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth.” Earlier, Isaiah had made it very clear that Jerusalem is to become the capital of the earth. In the second chapter of his prophecy, we read, “The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it” (Isaiah 2:1,2). Zechariah is here looking on toward the last days and is encouraging the people. They have returned to the land, and God has blessed them to a certain degree, but this is a miniature of what is going to come in the future.
There is a glorious day in the future which does not depend upon a ritual or a liturgy or a ceremony or jumping through some little hoop and thinking that will please God. God says that it is the heart which will have to be changed, and He says that He is going to change these people’s hearts. The Word of God will go forth from Jerusalem, and it will be called a city of truth.
Isaiah goes on to say in his prophecy, “And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:3,4). But we have not come to that day yet. Yet there is coming a day when “Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain [or, kingdom] of the Lord of hosts the holy mountain.” In other words, Zechariah is speaking of the establishment of the millennial Kingdom, which is yet in the future.
—From Edited Messages on Zechariah by J. Vernon McGee