Imagination. It is not just for little kids who like to pretend. God wants us all to use our imaginations. That much is clear from the multiple prophecies about a world that has yet to exist. It is not a make-believe world, but it has not yet become reality. It is a world we commonly refer to as the “World Tomorrow.”
A clearer vision of this beautiful world will keep us spiritually focused. Being rooted in the details of this exciting world will keep us grounded in the path required to arrive there.
Many of the prophecies recorded in Scripture are about how one city in particular will look and operate: Jerusalem. Envision it if you can!
Even if you don’t know what Jerusalem looks like today, here is what you would see in your imagination, based on several picturesque scriptures. You’re not limited by physical space, so float around the city in your imagination—zoom out and take in the view!
First, you would notice that it is higher in elevation than the area around it. The Psalms talk about God building up the city, making it exalted above all the region’s mountains and hills (as Isaiah and Micah described)—a holy mountain, in fact, as Zechariah wrote. Everything around it, from the northernmost part of the metropolitan area, to the southernmost part, will be made a plain, as Zechariah also records.
This topographical restructuring happens when the Messiah comes to this Earth and touches down on the Mount of Olives—which is just east of the city. His powerful presence splits the mount in half, creating a valley that runs east-west between what we might call North Mount of Olives and South Mount of Olives. Zechariah says this opens a path for Jerusalem’s spring waters—particularly during the summer and winter months—to flow east and bring new life to what we today call the Dead Sea.
Ezekiel says this will revolutionize the region’s fishing industry. He also mentions that, on the banks of this river, will be a great many trees—trees with health-giving leaves and fruits; palm trees are specifically named.
Surrounding Jerusalem, he says, are 1,000 suburbs—250 on each side of this grand city. So as you zoom in, with your imagination, you see heavily populated areas. David says it will be “compact together.” Piecing together prophecies from Zechariah and Jeremiah, you see an abundance of people and cattle, shepherds and sheep, travelers and tourists, children and elderly. Some are singing, some piping on musical instruments, some dancing. You see widespread joy and vigorous health. You see peaceful security and prosperous wealth.
Ezekiel foretells of 12 gates stationed at the city limits proper, each named after one of the 12 tribes of Israel.
But within these city limits, as you envision it all, there is one thing that stands out. One sight at the heart of it all cannot be missed—representing the tallest structure within the gleaming city limits, placed right at the heart of this high “holy mountain.” It is the crown jewel of the world capital.
It is a temple, but it is far from just one building that catches your eye. It is the entire temple complex—the “campus” that surrounds this house for God. This is what makes Jerusalem the attraction that it is.
This future temple is mentioned throughout prophecies of the World Tomorrow, but most of the details surrounding it are found in the last nine chapters of the book of Ezekiel. Nine chapters! The Bible is a book where centuries of history can be condensed into a single sentence, and yet—as the translators have subdivided it—this vision takes up 260 verses!
Because of Ezekiel’s detailed description, we often refer to this coming house of God as the “Ezekiel temple.”
Ezekiel remembered the exact day this vision came to him: “In the five and twentieth year of our captivity, in the beginning of the year, in the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after that the city was smitten, in the selfsame day the hand of the Lord was upon me, and brought me thither” (Ezekiel 40:1).
Don’t just dismiss that verse as technical details you have to get through. Consider where Ezekiel was! As a Levite living in Judah, he had been taken captive to Babylon 25 years prior, when Nebuchadnezzar had carted off King Jeconiah and some of Judah’s citizens (Ezekiel 1:1-3). This was also 14 years after Judah’s succeeding King Zedekiah had been overthrown and the “city was smitten.”
Consider that at the time Ezekiel saw this vision (of a coming temple in Jerusalem), the temple that Solomon had built had already been destroyed—when Nebuchadnezzar smote the city. Ezekiel’s vision was also several decades before the second temple was built by Zerubbabel. And though Solomon’s and Zerubbabel’s temples shared similarities with what Ezekiel describes, many of the details contained within Ezekiel 40-48 have never been fulfilled. That is because it is a future temple.
Understand this too! God told Ezekiel: “declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel” (Ezekiel 40:4). It is easy to read over that too, unless you realize that Israel was no longer a sovereign nation at the time of this vision. It had been taken captive by Assyria about 150 years prior to Ezekiel’s “temple vision.”
So God gave this vision to a captive in Babylon, to deliver to a people who had been scattered throughout the known world for about as long ago as the U.S. Civil War happened in relation to the time of this publication.
That is not befuddling if you understand that God intended for a group in the end time to declare Ezekiel’s message to the end-time nations of Israel. That group is God’s true Church, and He has revealed to His Church the whereabouts of these Israelite nations. This work is proclaiming this exact vision, and it is a vision you—as a youth in God’s Church—need to understand. It could excite your imagination about your soon-coming future like nothing else could!
This vision is tied directly to the archaeological digs that the Philadelphia Church of God is supporting in Jerusalem. As author Gerald Flurry writes in Jerusalem’s Temples: “I believe one of the main reasons—maybe the main reason—our students have participated in archaeological digs in Jerusalem is to give us an understanding and a focus on Ezekiel’s temple.”
Set Your Imagination on This!
God told Ezekiel—and us by extension—to “set thine heart upon all that I shall shew thee” (Ezekiel 40:4). We are to think about this, imagine it, and get excited about it!
Mr. Flurry continues: “The Messiah wants us to know a lot about the Ezekiel temple before He gets here, and to prepare ourselves and the world for that reality. … God wants us to make that temple real to ourselves and to as many in the world as we can.”
So, in our minds, we will “Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof. Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following” (Psalm 48:12-13).
The chapters Ezekiel devoted to these temple grounds give us some precise measurements of how its buildings will be constructed, plus some incredible details about how this “campus” will be used in the coming world. With certain details, Ezekiel is silent; so in some respects, we still “see through a glass, darkly” (1 Corinthians 13:12), but with other details, we get an amazingly clear view into this astounding future!
God wanted those to whom Ezekiel showed this house to “measure the pattern” (Ezekiel 43:10). So let us do just that! For sake of comparison, we will consider these measurements in relation to the Herbert W. Armstrong College campus at the headquarters of the Philadelphia Church of God in Edmond, Oklahoma.
These future grounds are described as a perfect square—each side measuring 500 “cubits.” A temple cubit has been equated to about 24-25 inches, so for those familiar with the Imperial measuring system, we can simply estimate approximately 24 inches (or 2 feet) per cubit. That means each side of this campus is about 1,000 feet—giving a total area of 1 million square feet, or about 22 acres. On the AC campus, the Hall of Administration, Armstrong Auditorium and all of their parking lots take up just over 10 acres. Ezekiel’s temple grounds will more than double that area.
In the center of each campus wall, with the exception of its western wall, is a massive gate. These three gates lead into the outer court of these temple grounds. Once inside this outer court, three corresponding gates lead into the inner court area—which contains areas where priests will work, including chambers totaling about 55,000 square feet for “singers.”
These six gates are all the same height—a towering 120 feet! By comparison, the tallest wall on Armstrong Auditorium (the building’s rear wall) is only 80 feet.
Astoundingly, these gates are not the highest point of this campus! The main temple building, near the center of these grounds, will have a front section, called a “porch” in Ezekiel, which will be twice as tall the gates! This 240-foot portico would be the equivalent of taking the rear wall of Armstrong Auditorium, and stacking three of them on top of each other!
Within the tall entrance of this main temple building will be two giant brass pillars. Each of them is about 50 feet tall—including the bowls at the top of these pillars, which are about 10 feet high and wide (as big as my bedroom in my childhood home)! In the first temple, built by Solomon, these pillars had names: Jachin (pronounced yah-keen) and Boaz (1 Kings 7:21; 2 Chronicles 3:17).
Again, picture these 22 acres—and six massive gates on the north, east and south walls, plus a 240-foot portico—resting on the highest plateau of this high mountain in Jerusalem. How visible this will be from many miles away—whether during the day or when illuminating the night skies (Zechariah 14:7).
The Focal Point of Education
It is no wonder that Psalm 87:3 proclaims, “Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God.” And no wonder several other scriptures talk about the draw that this temple will be for people all around the world! (see Psalm 68:29; 122:1-2).
Isaiah 66:20 even describes the various methods of transportation people will take to get to Jerusalem; the verbiage in this verse leaves open the possibility of high-speed transportation.
Along the north, east and south walls will be 30 “chambers” that could serve as temporary housing for some of the visiting dignitaries. Each one is 2,500 square feet—the size of a large upper-middle-class American home or a small inn or motel.
The main reason people will come to this temple is to be taught (see Micah 4:1-7; Isaiah 2:2-5; 66:10-13; Jeremiah 31:6-12).
The only wall without a gate is on the western side. Along this wall will be a massive building in terms of square footage (though it is not indicated as being as tall as the gates or temple porch).
Because Ezekiel mentions that these temple grounds are a place of learning (Ezekiel 44:23), this is the only building that could actually be devoted to that purpose—in terms of hosting large numbers of students.
This building will be over 25,000 square feet in area and could seat thousands, depending on whether there would be “balcony” seating. It could have an auditorium-type layout, or perhaps several rooms in that format. To understand how large this congregational building is, consider the inside of Armstrong Auditorium’s 823-seat theater has an area of only about 6,800 square feet from the curtain to the back theater wall.
This west building helps make other scriptures more real—which describe how Jerusalem’s temple will be the focal point of education in the World Tomorrow.
A Castle for the King of Kings
Isaiah says this future Jerusalem will be called “Sought out” (Isaiah 62:12). Jeremiah says it is because of who dwells there, namely the King of kings! “At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem …” (Jeremiah 3:17).
Zechariah 8:22 says people will “seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem.” They will even grab hold of anyone they know is associated with God’s Family and ask them to lead them to Jerusalem (verse 23). People know this is where the Messiah is stationed! Jerusalem is the “city of the great King,” as both Psalm 48:2 and Matthew 5:35 describe.
Ezekiel talks specifically about this royal component. He mentions the main temple building housing this “Prince.” Chapter 43 begins with a stunning description of this all-powerful monarch entering the grounds. He comes “from the way of the east” with a voice “like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory” (verse 2). Verse 4: “And the glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east.” His glory “filled the house” (verse 5).
In verse 7, this Being proclaims to Ezekiel: “Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever ….” The temple is the home of the Messiah’s throne! Even Revelation 20:9 mentions a future “camp of the saints” in Jerusalem, and the Greek word for camp is often translated as “castle.” Because of the Messiah’s throne being in Ezekiel’s temple, it certainly makes this building a castle—one fit for the King of kings!
In chapter 44, Ezekiel records how the eastern outer court gate—through which this Prince entered—was shut: “no man shall enter in by it; because the Lord, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut. It is for the prince …; he shall enter by the way of the porch of that gate, and shall go out by the way of the same” (verses 2-3).
As for the eastern inner court gate, that gate will be closed during the “six working days; but on the sabbath it shall be opened, and in the day of the new moon it shall be opened” (Ezekiel 46:1). Verse 2 says, “And the prince shall enter by the way of the porch of that gate without. …” And verse 3: “Likewise the people of the land shall worship at the door of this gate before the Lord in the sabbaths and in the new moons.”
These verses show a certain amount of interaction between the Prince and those on the campus on the Sabbaths and new moons (the beginnings of each month)—even the gate He will use to traverse between the inner and outer courts of the grounds. (Zephaniah 3:17 even indicates He will be singing!) These verses also show that the Sabbaths will still be kept at this time. Ezekiel 45:17 also mentions the Prince leading the observances of “the feasts” and “the Sabbaths.” We know from Zechariah 14:16 that the Feast of Tabernacles will still be kept. Ezekiel’s vision also mentions that particular feast (Ezekiel 45:25), and it even gives a detailed description of how the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread will still be kept (verses 21).
The Central Location
A main theme of Ezekiel’s entire prophecy is about people getting to know God. This temple will serve that purpose. One of the main things people will be learning as they travel there is how to talk to God in prayer. The prophecy in Zechariah 8 reveals that people are seeking God and going to Jerusalem “speedily to pray before the Lord” (verse 21).
This takes us to the centerpiece of this entire complex. A massive altar rests at the exact center of this entire square.
Its hearth is a perfect square with 24-foot sides. From the ground, it stands about 22 feet tall (just a couple feet shy of the pillars supporting the front of our Hall of Administration), with a large set of stairs approaching its top from the east side.
The altar is a symbol of God’s priesthood, as well as the firstfruits in God’s plan of salvation—both of which point followers to having a relationship with God. Physically, this altar was also where animal sacrifices took place during the existence of the first and second temples. As Mr. Flurry states in his book Ezekiel: The End-Time Prophet, these animal sacrifices were later permanently replaced by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (see Romans 5:10; Hebrews 8:9-13; 10:11-21). Still, it was not uncommon for Old Testament prophets, when talking about the Church age and beyond, to continue using terminology that related to animal sacrifices—as Ezekiel does throughout these future-temple chapters.
The altar in this coming temple partly represents the “spiritual sacrifices” (1 Peter 2:5) that will occur in the World Tomorrow. Just as God’s temple will be a “house of prayer” (Isaiah 56:7), so are those prayers considered a kind of spiritual sacrifice (Psalm 141:2). Praise and thanksgiving—even godly fellowship—are also kinds of spiritual sacrifice (see Psalm 50:14, 23; Hebrews 13:15-16).
Serving around the altar will be those “firstfruits” of God’s plan of salvation—those called out and converted before the coming of the Messiah. As spirit beings in God’s Family, many members of this segment of God’s Family will be serving in this inner court at the world capital.
The Bible specifically mentions “sons of Zadok” serving on the northern side of the inner court and being allowed to come “near” to God—because of their loyalty when so many others turned away from God. As Mr. Flurry explains in Ezekiel: The End-Time Prophet, many of these “sons of Zadok” will come from the era of God’s Church—specifically comprised of those who remained loyal when the majority of God’s people in this end time went astray. This is referring to those being called and converted right now! This should make the Ezekiel temple particularly relevant to you, as a youth in God’s Church today. Mr. Flurry writes in Ezekiel: “I believe that we are now qualifying to be in the inner court of the Ezekiel temple.” He said that God is forming the “elite” of this temple—the “highest level of spiritual leaders,” as he writes in Jerusalem’s Temples.
A Model Temple
Because of this special connection God’s end-time Church has to the Ezekiel temple, Mr. Flurry was moved to commission that a model be made of it.
In Jerusalem’s Temples, Mr. Flurry writes: “Ezekiel said that someone would come on the scene who must know and declare that temple and its measurements to the world in this end time. … It is time to declare Ezekiel’s temple and its exact dimensions. This will help make the World Tomorrow real—it’s almost here!”
In Ezekiel: The End-Time Prophet, he writes: “God says we are to show the physical temple to the nations of Israel. … Our job is to make that vision real to those who will listen. … We must not remain silent. … God has an Ezekiel work today, or Ezekiel lived in vain!”
The project was nearing completion just as Armstrong Auditorium opened. Leading this endeavor was Philadelphia Church of God minister, artist and historian Gary Rethford.
Using an 8-foot-square plywood base and a scale a little smaller than the HO gauge scale used for model railroads, Mr. Rethford and his team worked for nearly two years on the 3,000-piece rendering—after about three years of study into the subject from the chapters in Ezekiel plus other details about the first temple in Kings and Chronicles.
Where the Bible was silent on some of the details, artistic license was taken. For instance, a reflecting pool separates the outer and inner courts, which cannot be known for sure, but was inspired by a feature from the Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena, California. The overall shade of the walls and gates also are not known yet, but the color and texture was chosen to match much of the buildings on our Armstrong College campus.
The end result—comprised of foam board, Plexiglas, approximately 250 figurines and 127 led lights—is a remarkable, picturesque look at these future temple grounds.
Even more remarkable is that Ezekiel’s future temple complex, represented by this model, is itself just a model! It is a model for how new Jerusalem will look and operate. It is patterned after the heavenly Jerusalem—to descend upon this Earth after the events recounted in the final verses of Revelation 20 (and also described in detail in Psalm 46). It truly is a “shadow of heavenly things” (Hebrews 8:5). God is currently preparing offices and palaces in that city for each of us (John 14:1-2). “God has many offices to fill in His Ezekiel temple,” Mr. Flurry writes in Ezekiel: The End-Time Prophet. “These same king-priests will later have offices in new Jerusalem!”
This new Jerusalem descends, as Peter and John wrote, after the Earth is burned with fire. Psalm 46:1-2 also describe this tumultuous time. The Ezekiel temple will have been burned up and replaced with a holy city—an entire city that is 1,500 miles long, deep and tall at its pinnacle. This city actually has no “temple” in it, because God the Father and Jesus Christ dwell therein (Revelation 21:22).
This is the time, Isaiah described, when “thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken” (Isaiah 33:20).
Set your heart on this vision! Set your imagination on this future Jerusalem—both the permanent “tabernacle” of heavenly Jerusalem, and the foreshadowing grand physical complex we call the “Ezekiel temple.” Learn all you can about its measurements—from the worded descriptions in Ezekiel 40-48 and the visual descriptions from our model. And let this vision inspire you to be there, as loyal sons of Zadok, working alongside the King of kings!