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The Church Life of the Age to Come.
SACRED CITY OF THE AGE TO COME.
considering the Church life of the age to come, it is natural to commence with some considerations of its sacred city and vast and magnificent temple. For while there will be local centres for public worship, possibly something after the manner of the Jewish synagogues of past time, yet the great centre of worship will be the Temple of Jerusalem. Nor are we left to wild speculation as to the character and description of this great synagogue. For the Holy Ghost has left us the full and detailed account in the prophecies of Ezekiel (chap. xl., xlviii.)2
Here we have much to guide and instruct the devout and humble mind, though a prurient curiosity might prepare many questions which would find no solution in these chapters. But as we carefully peruse these wonderful descriptions, and remember how the
1 Mal. i. 11.
2 "The Second Advent," Rev. J. Bennett, p. 148. The reader should distinguish between this great Millennial Temple and that which the Jews, who return to their land in unbelief, will build for their old Levite worship, and which will be destroyed (Dan. xi. 31; 2 Thess. ii. 3, 4.
poor captives under the willows of Babylon may have pondered over these predictive records, and perhaps wondered when and how these things could and would be fulfilled; we are instructed in many things relative to this city, which will afford us much pleasure in the consideration.
I. THE NEWLY RE-BUILT AND RESTORED JERUSALEM.
And it should not be forgotten that this city will not be the city which the Jews will have rebuilt on their return in unbelief, in which they will rebuild their temple, and in which the Antichrist will set up his speaking image, and all of which will be destroyed when the Lord fulfils Zech. xiv. 4. For when He comes in all the glory of His great Epiphany, and destroys that city and the temple in judgment, and by earthquake, He will then alter the configuration of the whole topography of that district, so that the site for the foundation of the Millennial city and temple may be thereby secured and prepared, and that the whole of this thing should be of the Lord: the preparation of the site, the erection of the city, and the building of the temple; hence it might well be called, "Jehovahshammah" (Ezek. xlviii. 35), "The Lord is there."
The site for the Millennial Jerusalem will be thus formed-divinely formed, shall we not say? An earthquake from the hand of God, which, instead of being a mere wild agitation of terra firma, shall be just the simple act of the divine power, shaping the earth according to the dictate of His own wisdom. Such a convulsion, which is to fulfil a prediction uttered 500
years before Christ, must needs be under the guidance of His hand who "looketh on the earth and it trembleth, who toucheth the hills and they smoke" (Psa. civ. 3). Thus will He fulfil the ancient prediction of Zech. xiv. 10, and prove once more to the atheistic and agnostic sinners who shall fall in that day under the energy of that divine hand, that "the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth."
And synchronizing, we believe, with this great act of God, will be the fulfilment of these remarkable words in Joel ii. 16: "The Lord shall roar out of Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake; but the Lord will be the hope of His people, and the strength of the children of Israel."
Nor can the exhaustive fulfilment of Haggai ii. 6, 7, be referred to any other time, but will then be verified in their significance and grandeur: "For thus saith the Lord of hosts, Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens and the earth, and the sea and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come; and I will fill this House with glory, saith the Lord," a prediction which certainly has never yet been fulfilled.
Thus the site for both city and temple will be formed at the glorious Epiphany of "the Second Man, the Lord from heaven" (1 Cor. xv. 47).
II. THE SITE BEING PREPARED, THE CITY MUST BE ERECTED.
For the Lord hath a sacred purpose to perform, and His covenant with Abraham cannot be disannulled.
Nor can He fail to fulfil that beautiful prophetic Psalm cii. 16: "When the Lord shall build up Zion He shall appear in His glory."1
To the same time must be referred the fulfilment of Isaiah i. 26, "Thou shalt be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city." And the same prophet refers to the same city in chap. lx. 14: "They shall call thee the city of the Lord." And again (chap. lxii. 3), "Thou shalt be called a city not forsaken."
Nor can we place any other date to Ezek. xlviii. 35: "It was round about 18,000 measures; and the name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there." And to this same time we refer the fulfilment of Zech. viii. 3 and 5: "Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth."
Now if the context of each of these Scriptures is duly considered, it will be seen that they must all synchronize, and must, we think, all be referred to the same date in the sacred calendar of prophecy-viz., the second advent of our divine Lord, and the restoration of His ancient people.
And if we only consider the last text (Zech. viii. 3), this will be evident. For certainly Jerusalem (any more than any other city) has never yet been "the city of truth." For in her brightest days, the days of Solomon, she was far from this. But these words must be verified; and when He "turns again Zion," then these words shall be fulfilled, Isa. lxii., "They shall call them the holy people, the redeemed of the Lord, a people near unto Him" (Psa. cxlviii. 14).
1 Third series of "Aids to Prophetic Enquiry," p. 212, et seq.
"Then shall they call her walls, salvation, and her gates, praise" (Isa. lx. 18).1
The size of the city may be gathered from Isaiah lx. and lxii.
"Daughter of Zion, from the dust
Exalt thy fallen head;
Awake, awake, put on thy strength,
The day of freedom dawns at length,
Rebuild thy walls, thy bounds enlarge,
Say to the South-' Give up thy charge,
They come, they come: thine exiled bands,
Have heard thy voice in distant lands,
Thus, though the universe shall burn
1 Bishop South, in loco, and Dean Stanhope. See specially the last verse of Psa. xiv.: "When the Lord bringeth back the captivity of His people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad." It should not be forgotten that the Millennium will be the time of Israel's supremacy, as well as of universal conversion.