Ezekiel, from Chapters 40 through 48, describes the vision God gave him of the end-time Jerusalem and temple. Since 70 A.D. when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the temple, there has been no temple. Ezekiel was shown exactly how the new, transformed temple area would look with exact dimensions, and how the whole city would look, including how the land would be divided among the twelve tribes of Israel when they would be one nation.
This Jerusalem Ezekiel saw is the kingdom of Israel during and after the seven-year tribulation period. This Jerusalem is restored with the third temple built in which offerings are sacrificed by the Jewish people—referred to as the “millennial temple.” It will also be desecrated by the Antichrist during the tribulation (see Matt. 24:15).
Ezekiel witnessed the climax of all the ages: he saw the glory of the God of Israel enter the temple from the east, and he heard His voice like the roar of rushing waters and saw the whole land fill with His radiant glory. He heard a voice speaking to him, “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place of the soles of my feet. This is where I will live among the Israelites forever. The house of Israel will never again defile my holy name . . . .” (Eze. 43:7). Jesus own feet will descend upon Earth causing a great earthquake.
The prophet Zechariah, who appears on the scene after the Jew’s return from Babylonian exile, fills in some blanks. Chapter 14 of his book describes the day the glory of the Lord fills the temple. Jesus Christ will have just ended the battle of Armageddon to keep mankind from destroying themselves. “On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south” (Zech. 14:4).
On that day there will be no light, no cold or frost. It will be a unique day, without daytime or nighttime—a day known to the LORD. When evening comes, there will be light. On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter. The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.—Zechariah 14:6-9 (emphasis mine)
That unique day will be the first day of the next one-thousand years when Jesus will reign as King in Jerusalem. It will be inhabited and will never again be destroyed. All peoples of the Earth will go up to Jerusalem to worship the King of kings and Lord of lords, and any nation who rebels against the Lord will see no rain in their land. If they do not go to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, they will experience plagues. The great earthquake that will split the Mount of Olives when Jesus’ feet hit Earth will cause the whole city to be raised up, and water will flow out from Jerusalem to the eastern and western seas.
Jerusalem transformed like heaven on earth
Jerusalem will be like heaven on Earth, but it will not be heaven . . . yet. Jesus will be THERE, yes, but that is not all. You and I will be there in our glorified bodies. Jesus did not come back to Earth alone. Look at Zechariah 14:5 that says when He comes He will bring all His holy ones with Him. That is you and me, made holy by His blood.
We truly are His feet! For us and the whole house of Israel, the LORD says, “I will glorify the place of my feet. The sons of your oppressors will come bowing before you; all who despise you will bow down at your feet and will call you the City of the LORD, Zion of the Holy One of Israel” (Isa. 60: 13-14).
Moving from Zechariah 14 to Revelation, Chapter 19 describes the wedding supper of the Lamb after His bride had made herself ready. John saw with his own eyes the rider on the white horse, Jesus Christ, His eyes like blazing fire and a crown on His head and his robe dipped in blood—His name the Word of God. He witnessed the armies of heaven following him, also riding on white horses, dressed in white linen. The army bride and Jesus Christ will fight against the armies gathered together at the battle of Armageddon. We—the army bride—will be there. We will witness with our own eyes the capture of the beast (the Antichrist) and the False Prophet as they are thrown into the lake of burning sulfur.
[John] saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.—Revelation 20:1-3
Jerusalem transformed during millennial kingdom by the presence of the LORD
No longer will the devil be able to deceive the nations or individuals or make war against those who hold fast to the testimony of Jesus—for one thousand years, anyway. Dr. Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins capture this thousand-year millennial kingdom in their fictional story, based on their interpretation of Scripture, in the last of sixteen books of the Left Behind series, Kingdom Come. It takes them 350 pages to show what this period of time will look like. Their view is that those Christians who were raptured, or martyred during the tribulation, will be living on Earth and in Jerusalem in glorified bodies. Believers who managed to make it through the tribulation will still have human bodies while continuing to marry and have babies.
During the millennial kingdom, Jerusalem is transformed by the presence of the LORD, which is a picture of His mighty love, patience, and how He transforms our lives—little by little. Unbelievers left behind after the Rapture, who are faced with the tribulation period because they did not trust Jesus as personal Lord and Savior, will still be given the chance to follow Him. The whole reason for all the plagues and terrible calamities that will happen are so “man” will turn from his wicked ways, repent, and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is his creator and Lord of all (see Rev. 9:20-21). Again, and again, man will be given a second, third, fourth chance, but somewhere down the road, it will be too late.
Only believers will live in the millennial kingdom – the transformed Jerusalem
Babies who are then born and grow up will be given the choice and opportunity to follow Jesus. The opportunity to sin will still exist on Earth during the thousand years because it is still the old Earth and the old heaven. Before Jerusalem can become the “New” Jerusalem, remaining throughout eternity, all the effects of humanity’s sins must be destroyed from Earth. Peter tells us how it will happen:
The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. —2 Peter 3:10-13 (emphasis mine)
The heavens and the earth have to be made ready for the entrance of the Holy City, purged and cleansed by fire, to make way for the Throne of our Holy Father God which will replace the temple where He and His Son will take up residence. We will all be “there,” home . . . at last.
This will be New Jerusalem, also known as heaven.