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The Eastern Gate

by Britt Gillette

 

 

In the near future, the world will witness the most awesome event in all of human history. Jesus Christ will physically return to earth in order to exact vengeance on the enemies of God. Known as the “Commander of Heaven’s Armies,” Christ will appear in sky like lightning, and every eye will see Him. His feet will touch down on the Mount of Olives, on the very place from which He ascended, and thus fulfill a prophecy made almost 2,000 years by two angels on the Mount of Olives:

And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. Acts 1:9-11 (KJV)

When Christ returns, He will enter Jerusalem through the Eastern Gate of the Old City walls. In so doing, He will fulfill not only the prophecy of these two angels, but innumerable prophecies recorded by God’s prophets for the benefit of mankind.

The Eastern Gate

Approximately 2,600 years ago, the prophet Ezekiel was given a vision of the Glory of the Lord:

Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east: And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory. And it was according to the appearance of the vision which I saw, even according to the vision that I saw when I came to destroy the city: and the visions were like the vision that I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell upon my face. And the glory of the LORD came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east. Ezekiel 43:1-4 (KJV)

Ezekiel’s vision was no ordinary vision, for He witnessed nothing less than the Glorious Appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ezekiel describes in his vision what Jesus told His disciples when warning them to guard against false prophets who claim the Messiah has arrived – that he is in this place or that place. Jesus tells us not to believe such people, for when He returns, all eyes will see Him simultaneously:

For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.Matthew 24:27 (KJV)

In addition, Ezekiel’s vision offers further details of the Lord’s Glorious Appearing:

     He will appear from the east.
     The sound of His coming will be like the roar of rushing waters.
   
  He will enter the Temple through the eastern gateway.

The fact that the Lord Jesus Christ will once again walk through the Eastern Gate is confirmed in Ezekiel 44:

Then he brought me back the way of the gate of the outward sanctuary which looketh toward the east; and it was shut. Then said the LORD unto me; This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and 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; the prince, he shall sit in it to eat bread before the LORD; he shall enter by the way of the porch of that gate, and shall go out by the way of the same. Ezekiel 44:1-3 (KJV)

Not only does this passage reiterate certain details of the Lord’s Glorious Appearing, but it offers substantial evidence to the unbeliever that the Bible is the Word of God. Why? Because Ezekiel 44 demonstrates the astounding accuracy of bible prophecy, providing evidence that can verified firsthand by anyone who doubts.

Over 2,600 years ago, the Lord declared the Eastern Gate would be shut and would remain closed until the Messiah arrived to open it. For hundreds of years, the Eastern Gate offered convenient, unfettered access to the Temple courtyard. Yet, for almost five hundred years now, it’s been closed.In this generation, the Messiah will open it.


The History of the Eastern Gate

The Eastern Gate is one of eight gates built into the walls which surround the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Eastern Gate provides the only entrance from the East, and it faces the Mount of Olives.

The Eastern Gate was destroyed during the Roman conquest of Jerusalem, and the subsequent destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70, thus fulfilling Christ’s prophecy that there will “not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown downMatthew 24:2 (KJV). Prior to this, the Eastern Gate had never been sealed.

Sometime in the sixth or seventh century, the Byzantines rebuilt the Eastern Gate. The exact year they did so remains a matter of debate. However, for our purposes, what happened after it was rebuilt is of much greater importance. In the year 1541, the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman I sealed the Eastern Gate. Historians disagree as to why he did this, but legend abound that, learning of the prophecies which predicted the Messiah’s entrance through the Eastern Gate, Suleiman tried his best to make sure it wouldn’t happen during his reign. And just in case a sealed entrance didn’t thwart the Messiah’s coming, Muslims built a cemetery directly in front of the gate – conventional wisdom being that a Jewish Holy man would never defile himself by walking through a Muslim cemetery.

It’s been over 465 years since Suleiman sealed the Eastern Gate, and despite numerous well-documented attempts to open it, the gate has remained sealed just as the Lord proclaimed to Ezekiel over 2,600 years ago.

The Identity of the Prince

So is the sealing of the Eastern Gate merely a coincidence? Or is it a bona fide partially fulfilled bible prophecy, poised for its ultimate fulfillment on the day the Messiah comes to open it? To find the answer, we only need to examine the various components of Ezekiel’s prophecy and compare them to the historical record. In so doing, we will learn the identity of the Prince who will open the Eastern Gate and what His doing so will mean for the world.

The first question a person might ask is why is the gate closed? In the aforementioned passage, the Lord tells Ezekiel the eastern gate must be closed because:

The LORD, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it.” Ezekiel 44:2 (KJV)

At the time the Book of Ezekiel was first written, this statement prophesied a future event. However, this event transpired a few hundred years later, when Jesus of Nazareth triumphantly entered the Eastern Gate in preparation for the Passover festivities:

On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt. These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him.John 12:12-16 (KJV)

As this passage states, the triumphant entry of Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled an additional prophecy, one made over 500 years earlier by the prophet Zechariah:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.Zechariah 9:9 (KJV)

This is only one of the numerous Old Testament Messianic prophecies fulfilled in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, but if any doubt exists as to the identity of the rider on the donkey, it should be swept away two verses later when we read of God’s promise to the world:

As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.Zechariah 9:11 (KJV)

Christ sealed this covenant with His blood on the cross not long after His triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. Because of His sacrifice, many have been freed from eternal damnation in hell (the pit wherein is no water).

Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, the Lamb of God who wipes away the sin of the world. He is the Prince who shall sit inside the gateway “to eat bread before the Lord Ezekiel 44:3 (KJV). Because Jesus blessed the Eastern Gate with His coming, it has been sealed shut. No man, no army, and no person but Jesus Christ Himself can open the Eastern Gate ever again. This is God’s promise.

The fact that the Eastern Gate remains closed to this day is God’s testimony to doubters throughout the world. Just as Thomas doubted the Lord until he could see Him with his own eyes and touch the scars on His body, most of the world demands physical evidence as a prerequisite for belief. The Eastern Gate is their physical evidence. It is the testimony of Jesus Christ, and soon, it will be the stage on which the Glory of God will be revealed for all the world to see.

The Glorious Appearing

Just as the two angels testified following the ascension of Jesus, the Lord will one day return just as He left. When He does, He will come as a conqueror, the Commander of Heaven’s Armies. His feet will touch down on the Mount of Olives, and He will go out to fight against God’s enemies:

Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.” Zechariah 14:3-5 (KJV)

Zechariah 14 further describes what this day will look like, the day when Christ will establish His Kingdom on earth, a kingdom which will never be destroyed:

And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: But it shall be one day which shall be known to the Lord, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light. And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one.Zechariah 14:6-9 (KJV)

When speaking to His disciples, Jesus confirmed that He will one day fulfill the prophecies of Zechariah:

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.Matthew 24:29-30 (KJV)

He will also fulfill the prophecies of Isaiah:

For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. Isaiah 13:10 (KJV)

And the prophecies of Joel:

The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining: And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?Joel 2:10-11 (KJV)

As well as John:

And the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as bloodRevelation 6:12 (KJV)

This is why Jesus came – and why He will come again. For as Jesus said Himself:

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Matthew 5:17-18 (KJV)

Even the smallest detail of God’s law will remain until its purpose is achieved. Some would view the sealed Eastern Gate as a small detail in the course of human events. But God has a great purpose for it. One day soon it will play host to the greatest event in human history, the Glorious Appearing of Jesus Christ. And the result will be further fulfillment of the law and the prophets:

And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited. Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.Isaiah 24:21-23 (KJV)

And, finally, God will dwell among His people.

Conclusion

The sealed Eastern Gate is evidence of bible prophecy fulfilled. It provides visible evidence for everyone in this generation. People constantly demand to see miracles, and they constantly demand visible proof of God’s existence. The sealed Eastern Gate provides them with all the proof they need. Still, many will argue the sealed gate is mere coincidence. Unfortunately, they will only realize the folly of their error when Jesus Christ returns in the Glory of God to open the gate Himself. That will not be a happy day for the enemies of God, especially Satan.

Satan would love to prove God wrong by opening the Eastern Gate himself. But he lacks the power and authority to do so. Neither Lucifer, nor man, nor any power in the universe can open what God has closed. But this generation will witness the purpose of God fulfilled when the Eastern Gate is opened in order to receive the King of kings. He is the Lord of lords, the Prince of Peace, the Lamb of God – Jesus Christ…

Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.Psalm 24:7-10 (KJV)

Amen, come Lord Jesus!


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THE EASTERN GATE ..........(take 2)

(courtesy www.gotquestions.org)


The Old City of Jerusalem is surrounded by a wall containing eight major gates. Moving counter-clockwise from the northern-most gate are Herod’s Gate, the Damascus Gate, the New Gate, Jaffa Gate, Zion Gate, the Dung Gate, the Eastern Gate, and the Lions’ Gate. The Eastern Gate, facing the Mount of Olives across the Kidron Valley, is unique in that it is completely sealed shut. Some commentators see the Eastern Gate’s obstruction as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy.

The Eastern Gate of Jerusalem is also called the Golden Gate or the Beautiful Gate (Acts 3:2). In Hebrew, it is Sha'ar Harahamim, the “Gate of Mercy.” It is currently the oldest gate in the Old City, having been constructed in the 6th or 7th century AD. Also, it is the gate that gives the most direct access to the temple mount—if a person could pass through the arches of the Eastern Gate, he would be very close to where the Jewish temple used to stand. When Jesus entered Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives in Matthew 21, He used a gate in the same location as the current Eastern or Golden Gate.

The Eastern Gate was sealed shut in AD 1540–41 by order of Suleiman the Magnificent, a sultan of the Ottoman Empire. It’s believed that the reason for the closing of the Eastern Gate was to prevent the Jewish Messiah from gaining entrance to Jerusalem. Jewish tradition states that the Messiah will pass through the Eastern Gate when He comes to rule. The Muslim Suleiman was attempting to thwart the Messiah’s plans with sixteen feet of cement. The Eastern Gate has remained sealed for nearly the past 500 years.

It’s the sealing of Jerusalem’s Eastern Gate that has caused many students of prophecy to sit up and take notice. The book of Ezekiel contains several references to a gate that faces east. In Ezekiel 10:18–19, the prophet sees the glory of the Lord leave the temple through “the entrance of the east gate of the Lord’s house”; the glory then moves east of the city to the Mount of Olives (Ezekiel 11:23). Later, Ezekiel sees the glory of the Lord return to the temple via “the gate facing east” (Ezekiel 43:1–5).

Then, in Ezekiel 44:1–2, we read of the gate being closed: “The man brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, the one facing east, and it was shut. The Lord said to me, ‘This gate is to remain shut. It must not be opened; no one may enter through it. It is to remain shut because the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered through it.’” Finally, in Ezekiel 46:12 we read that there is one person, a “prince,” who may enter via the eastern gate: “When the prince provides a freewill offering to the LORD . . . the gate facing east is to be opened for him. . . . Then he shall go out, and after he has gone out, the gate will be shut.”

Some interpret these passages in Ezekiel as references to the Lord Jesus Christ. The glory of the Lord coming into the temple is seen as the triumphal entry (Ezekiel 43:2; Matthew 21:1–11). The command to permanently shut the gate because the Lord has entered it (Ezekiel 44:2) is seen as a prediction of the walling-up of the Eastern Gate by the Muslims in AD 1540. And, finally, the “prince” to whom the gate will be opened (Ezekiel 46:12) is seen as Christ Himself at the second coming—the Prince of Peace will return to the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4) and enter Jerusalem by way of the re-opened Eastern Gate.

This interpretation is popular and leads to much dramatic speculation about how and when the Eastern Gate will be unsealed. However, there are some textual problems with that interpretation.

First, there is a difficulty in connecting Ezekiel’s “gate facing east” with the Eastern Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem. Ezekiel specifically says the gate he saw is “the outer gate of the sanctuary” (Ezekiel 44:1); that is, it’s a gate of the temple court, not a gate of the city.

Second, the Eastern Gate of Jerusalem is not the same one that Jesus rode through in His triumphal entry. The modern Eastern Gate was not constructed until centuries after the time of Christ. The original gate that Nehemiah built (and possibly dating to the time of Solomon) is underground, below the current gate, as documented by archaeologist James Fleming in 1969. It was through the lower gate (now underground) that Jesus would have entered Jerusalem in AD 30.

Third, the temple that Ezekiel sees in chapters 40–47 is not the same temple that Jesus was in, and the Jerusalem he describes is quite different from the Old City of Jerusalem that we know of today. The millennial temple (the third temple) measured in Ezekiel is significantly larger than the first two temples, and the Jerusalem of the millennium will have twelve gates, not eight (Ezekiel 48:30–35).

Finally, and most importantly, the “prince” in Ezekiel 46 is not the Messiah. Rather, he is the overseer of Jerusalem during the millennial kingdom. He is not Jesus, but he serves under Jesus’ authority. We know that this prince is not the Lord because he must make a sin offering for himself as well as the people: “On that day the prince is to provide a bull as a sin offering for himself and for all the people of the land” (Ezekiel 45:22). Whoever the prince is, he is a man with a sin nature that must be atoned for.

In summary, the “gate facing east” that Ezekiel describes is different from the Eastern Gate visible today in the old wall of Jerusalem. The current (sealed) gate did not exist at the time of Christ, so the Lord never entered it. The location of the earlier Eastern Gate (the one Jesus entered) is below present-day ground level, and it does not agree with the detailed description of the future temple complex as given in Ezekiel 40–42.

We surmise, then, that the eastern gate of Ezekiel 44 will be part of the future millennial temple complex. It is yet to be built.

How then do we interpret the coming and going of God’s glory and the closing of the eastern gate in Ezekiel’s prophecy? Like this: the prophet sees the glory of the Lord departing from the temple in chapter 10 because of the gross wickedness of the people—this is the first temple, destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC. Later, in chapter 43, Ezekiel sees the glory return to the temple—this is the new, enlarged temple of the millennial kingdom. In chapter 44, Ezekiel is told that the eastern temple gate “is to remain shut because the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered through it” (verse 2). In other words, in the millennium the glory of the Lord will not depart from the temple. The avenue of the prior exit (to the east) is blocked, symbolizing the permanent presence of the Lord among His people. The eastern gate will only be opened on the Sabbath and the New Moon to allow for the priestly duties of the prince (Ezekiel 46:1–2).


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