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Is the “Golden Gate” a Foretaste
of the Millennial Temple?

(Copyright © 1975, 1977, 1979, 2023 by Daniel B. Sedory)

 

    Introduction: I initially wrote this in 1975 while still in college working on a Computer Science degree, but I did add a few notes to it later on. It was due to the experience mentioned in the beginning of this paper that I concluded one should never make a statement about Scripture (the Bible) without first having done as much studying of the CONTEXT as one possibly can; not simply relying on something someone else told you was in the Book.

 

THE PAPER :


    [Way back in 1975], I was a member of a group known as Messianic Fellowship [at Cal State, Northridge]. During my free time on campus, I had the opportunity to present Scripture passages about the Messiah to some of the Jewish students there. In the course of a discussion on prophecy with one student, I made a statement similar to this: ‘And if you want to prove I am wrong, make a plan to blow up the Golden Gate in Jerusalem. For God has said that it will remain shut until Jesus returns as King Messiah.’


Click on photo to see full size image under Wikipedia article, Golden Gate.

    I [had] believed that I was trusting in the sure Word of God regarding the matter. The man who had organized the Messianic Fellowship, and whom I looked to for guidance in the area of Jewish evangelism, often referred to this sealed gate during his slide presentations of Israel and Jerusalem. And he would quote a Scripture passage as evidence for the closure of the gate.

    Later that year, I heard another Bible teacher mention the same passage concerning the Golden Gate. But the comment was quite different from that which my friend had given:

    Whether or not this teacher’s history was correct, did not concern me at that moment. I suddenly realized that I had never examined those Scriptures myself. I did not even know what the context was about or what was in the rest of the chapter.

 

Ezekiel 44:1-2

    These are the verses which are quoted in order to substantiate the claim that the Golden Gate will remain shut until the Second Coming of the Messiah. What is the context surrounding this passage? What gate is Ezekiel referring to?

    Chapters 40 - 46 of Ezekiel concern the worship of God and the new temple in the Millennial Kingdom. A description of “the gate which faced east” is given in 40:6-16. The remaining verses in the chapter and those in 41 and 42 describe the rest of the Millennial Temple area. The beginning of chapter 43 (verses 1-9) describes the return of the Glory of God to the temple! A more detailed description of the temple’s interior and its worship completes the chapter. Unless I was to believe in a subjective and allegorical interpretation of Scripture, I had to admit that Ezekiel only referred to the eastern gate of the Millennial Temple, and that once the Glory of God had entered, it was to remain “among the sons of Israel forever.” (43:7). [Therefore] this passage cannot be used as direct evidence for the Golden Gate remaining sealed. Is there another way to relate our experience [concerning the Golden Gate] to this passage?

    Concerning this inevitable question: “Did Jesus — as a manifestation of God’s glory — walk through the Golden Gate?” I will simply answer with a negative [No!]. I have prepared a summary of the history of the Golden Gate which can be found in the Appendices to this paper. Other questions of this nature may have a solution there also.

  [ To clarify just a little, since I’m still digitizing this paper: The Golden Gate in Jerusalem did not exist at the time of Jesus! Not only both sides of the gate itself, but neither did their portals, nor most of the wall in which the gate was built! The ground level of the wall and the closed gate (both of which have been there for many centuries) is roughly a yard or more above what may be the top of an old gate that existed there prior to the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 CE. See Exclusive New Photos of Ancient Jerusalem’s Eastern Gate concerning James Fleming’s discovery in 1969. The Solomonic Nature of the East Gate by Arthur Chrysler includes this diagram (duplicated from Fleming’s original BAR article) which shows the location of the arch under the Golden Gate.]

 

Is the Golden Gate a Foretaste of the Millennial Temple?

    In Acts 2, Peter quotes Joel 2:28-32 and applies it to the events of that day. How are we to understand this use of a prophecy which can only be fulfilled after the Second Coming [of Christ]? Joseph Dillow has described this use of Joel as an “illustration” of what will happen in the Kingdom:

    Could we apply the same reasoning to the Golden Gate and Ezekiel 44:1-2? The first consideration must be the fact that the Holy Spirit allowed Peter to use Joel’s prophecy under inspiration of the Scriptures. A statement by Jesus on the eastern gate would be most helpful here, but there is none. Therefore, if we are to consider the Golden Gate as a foretaste of the future eastern gate, then we must realize that our conclusion would be based [only] on our own experience of its history with no support in Scripture.

    Using this definition of foretaste: “something that serves to indicate what is to come,” the most we can say is that the Golden Gate may appear to be a foretaste, and to say otherwise is not only a presumption upon God’s work in history, but also a very dangerous assumption. Any conclusions which we draw solely from our own experience of this world may have as their basis “the ruler of this world,” “the prince of the power of the air.”[*]

 

A Foreshadowing of God’s Work in History

    If the Golden Gate is to be referred to at all in the context of Ezekiel 44, I would prefer to call it a “foreshadowing” of the eastern gate which I know that God will shut during the Kingdom. Although the noun “foreshadow” may be broadly defined to include the meaning of “foretaste,” I would add to the verbal form (“to shadow or typify beforehand”) the fact that a shadow may or may not be a good indication of that which is about to take place.

    As long as the Golden Gate remains shut through many marvelous circumstances, I might consider it a foreshadowing of the work of God during the Millennial Kingdom. But if the “shadow” no longer reflects the truth in the Scriptures, then I have simply come to the end or my subjective experience, such as, the length of time that the Golden Gate has remained sealed. We must stand with the Word of God, and confine our conclusions to its clear statements. We must measure our experience of history by the unchangeable Word of God, and never the opposite.
    [ In other words, I have no problem with anyone telling someone: “The Golden Gate reminds me of what God is going to do after His Glory returns to the Temple again as prophesied in Ezekiel.” ]

 

From Where Has This “Popular Interpretation” Arisen?

    In Ungerís Guide To The Bible, the caption under a picture reads: “The sealed Golden Gate in Jerusalem’s Eastern Wall, which some expect the returned Messiah to open.”[3] After searching through many commentaries containing a number of diverse viewpoints, I have found only two [at that time] that have made mention of this “popular belief.” In Charles L. Feinberg’s commentary on Ezekiel, he has made the following statement:

    [ Soon after typing out this paper in 1975, I found another commentary which also mentioned the “popular belief” about Ezekiel’s words:

[ This page contains source quotes from a number of Bible expositors concerning the "Golden Gate".]

 

    Although The Wycliffe Bible Commentary makes no mention of the “popular interpretation” of Ezekiel 44:2, it does contain this brief historical note following that verse:

    When compared to Dr. Feinberg’s statement above, this comment remains somewhat uncommitted, but the reason for its inclusion is probably the same: An attempt to clear up a popular misconception.

    This interpretation, however, is not of recent origin, nor is it confined to Christianity, let alone Evangelicalism, as the following quotes will show:

    In his homiletical notes to Ezekiel 44, W.F. Adeney writes that “Tradition associates this now inaccessible archway with the gate which Ezekiel said should be shut till the Prince passed through it.”[12] Is there any relation between the various legends or traditions and the “popular interpretation”? The gate was sealed because of an Islamic fear that a Christian Messiah might enter through it. But how did the Turks acquire this superstition? Although an answer to this question may be possible, it is beyond the scope of this paper. We must realize that Ezekiel 44:1-2 may have been used as a “proof text” to support and perhaps modify an earlier tradition. I believe that the only significance we can attach to the Golden Gate is its shadowing of the future East Gate of the Millennial Temple. (The only basis for this “shadowing” being the fact that it is an eastern gate of the temple site [not of the Temple itself], and that it has remained shut for about four and a half centuries.)[**]

 

A “Prince” May Yet Enter the Golden Gate

.

    Before bringing this paper to a conclusion, I would like you to consider the following statement: “If the Golden Gate remains standing throughout the Tribulation period, I do believe that Jesus will enter Jerusalem by it - whether it be open or closed.” Would you agree with that statement? If you do, you may find that you yourself have been affected by the "popular interpretation". I had also believed that this was possible, but then I found that there would be a problem with Zechariah 14:1-15. In verses 4 and 5, Jesus returns to the Mount of Olives just east of Jerusalem, but then the mountain is “split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley,” and the remnant of Jerusalem flees towards their Messiah’s “mountains.” After this, God will destroy the armies which have attacked Jerusalem. Is it not the Millennial Temple which Jesus returns to as the King of the Kingdom?[13]

    There is another prince referred to in Scripture who is far different from the one in Ezekiel 44:3. In Daniel 9:26-27, he is known as “the prince who is to come,” and in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 Paul wrote that he will take “his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.” Many have been unable or have refused - as General Allenby did - to enter Jerusalem through the Golden Gate. What will the coming prince do, if he is given the opportunity; the one who will be worshiped by “all who dwell on the earth” (Revelation 13:8)? Whether he comes as a messiah or as a conqueror, is it not possible that the Golden Gate could be a means whereby the antichrist will deceive millions?[14]

 

Conclusion

    There is simply no Biblical support for this tradition which has been turned into "popular theology". Whatever the complexities of its origin, the “popular interpretation” [of Ezekiel 44] has no right to become an apologetic for the truth of the Scriptures. The Word of God must be the basis for our conception of [prophetic] history.

 

Appendix 1 (Summary of Historical Events Concerning the Golden Gate).

 


 

Postscript

    Many years after writing this paper, I came across a commentary on Ezekiel by Charles Dyer which briefly summarizes the differing views on Ezekiel chapters 40 and following in these words:

Dyer eliminates the first view “because it suggests that Ezekiel was mistaken...” in what he wrote, and those who returned to Israel never followed the plans in Scripture for the temple! The second view “violates the normal meaning of Ezekiel’s words. Those who hold this view are inconsistent for they interpret Ezekiel’s earlier, now-fulfilled prophecies literally, yet interpret his yet-unfulfilled prophecies symbolically.”[16] The third view is, of course, that which both Dyer and the author of this paper hold to, and is expanded upon in Dyer’s commentary. Concerning the topic of this paper and Ezekiel 44:1-3, Dyer wrote:

 

 


Footnotes

1[Return to Text] From a taped lecture by Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, “The Shechniah Glory of God.” It was given at the Jews for Jesus Bible study in Santa Monica, CA in the Fall of 1975.

2[Return to Text] Joseph Dillow, Speaking In Tongues (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975), p. 104 (italics added).

[*][Return to Text] See John 12:31; 16:11 and Ephesians 2:2. These thoughts would also apply to those who would consider the Golden Gate to be a “double fulfillment” of Ezekiel’s prophecy. There is no indication of this from Scripture; not to mention the fact that the Glory of the Lord never passed through the Golden Gate. It is probable, however, that the Glory of God (as manifest in Jesus) did pass through a gate either under (or near to) the site of the Golden Gate (see as one example, p. 340 of Thompson's, The Bible and Archaeology, in Appendix 2).

However, there is no justification in Scripture for believing that a “double fulfillment” can be based on our experience alone. And although there may be difficulties in perceiving the fulfillment of some prophecies (such as, “extended installments”), they are not only based upon our experience of history, but also on the clear Word of God. (See Leon J. Wood, The Bible and Future Events, pp. 25, 14 and 55.)

3[Return to Text] Merrill F. Ungar, Ungerís Guide To The Bible (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale, 1974), p.403.

4[Return to Text] Charles Lee Feinberg, The Prophecy of Ezekiel, The Glory of the Lord (Chicago: Moody Press, 1969), p. 257 (underscore added).

5[Return to Text] Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett F. Harrison, eds., The Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1962), p. 763.

6[Return to Text] J. Boudet, ed., Jerusalem: A History (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1967), p. 207.

7[Return to Text] Ibid., p. 207.

8[Return to Text] Mina C. Klein and H. Arthur Klein, Temple Beyond Time (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1970), p. 123.

9[Return to Text] Ibid., p. 170.

10[Return to Text] Solomon H. Steckoll, The Gates of Jerusalem (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, Publishers, 1968), p. 30.

11[Return to Text] "Jerusalem," in the Encyclopaedia Judaica (Jerusalem, Israel: Keter Publishing House, Ltd., 1971; New York, the Macmillan Company), Vol. 9, p. 1434.

12[Return to Text] In The Pulpit Commentary, H.D.H. Spence and Joseph S. Excell, eds., (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Eighth printing, 1975), Vol. 12, p. 393.

**[Return to Text] Although the “popular interpretation” has been expressed by many in discussions and films on Israel, the only author I [knew of in the 1970s] who accepted it in print was Peter Stoner in his book Science Speaks (3rd Revised ed., 1969, pp. 84-86). You can find those comments online in Chapter 2 - Prophetic Accuracy, "The Golden Gate". Note: Stoner was not a Biblical scholar and apparently had simply accpeted what George T.B. Davis had written in his 1931 book, Fulfilled Prophecies That Prove the Bible. Josh McDowell in his book Evidence that Demands a Verdict, quoted passages about prophecy from Stoner’s book a handful of times, but he never quoted anything Stoner wrote concerning the Golden Gate! It did, however, appear once in a table of probabilities, mistakenly giving some credence to it.

Apart from what Stoner wrote about the Golden Gate, he also accepted the Universe as being many billions of years old and that the Creation account in Genesis was not to be taken as a literal week; clearly stating (on p. 64), “the days of Genesis... [were] separated by long geological periods of time. This makes perfect harmony between science and the Scriptures.” Half of his book was in fact about harmonizing (more like conforming in my opinion) Scripture with various scientific theories of his time.

Note: Only after digitizing this paper did I find that Norman L. Geisler had written under "Nonmessianic Predictions;” and the entry “The Closing of the Golden Gate,” that “Ezekiel 44:2 predicted that it would be closed one day, and not reopened until the Messiah returned” in his 1999 book, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics; a surprising statement from someone who had been a professor of Systematic Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary (from 1979-1988). But as we have pointed out in this paper, that statement is illogical after reading the prophecy in its context: Ezekiel wrote about a Temple gate being closed “forever.” There is nothing in Scripture about a gate being shut before either the Shekinah Glory of God or the Messiah returns! Geisler noted under the book's entry "Prophecy, as Proof of the Bible" that his main source in this regard had been the “comprehensive catalogue of prophecies, Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecies, [by] J. Barton Payne,” who was a professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis, and one who spiritualized such passages of Ezekiel.

13[Return to Text] For this scenario, see also Leon J. Wood, The Bible and Future Events (Zondervan, 1973), pp. 147-148 (especially points d. and i.) and p. 185. Assuming that the Golden Gate is not considerably altered during the construction of the Tribulation temple (Daniel 9:27; 12:11 and Matthew 24:15), it will probably be destroyed - along with the temple - during the earthquake of Zechariah 14 which splits mountains and creates a valley.

14[Return to Text] The antichrist may even employ Messianic prophecy relating to the temple (for example, Malachi 3:1) as propaganda for his world leadership. That OT verse states: "Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming," says the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 3:1; NAU; underlining added.)

15[Return to Text] Charles H. Dyer, “Ezekiel” in John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, eds., The Bible Knowledge Commentary, An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty. OLD TESTAMENT (Victor Books: Wheaton, IL, 1985. Third Printing, 1986), p. 1303.

16[Return to Text] Ibid., p. 1304.

17[Return to Text] Ibid., p. 1309.

 


First Posted on: 18 SEP 2023 (2023.09.18). The original paper was slightly revised in 1977 and 1979.
Updated on: 20 SEP 2023 (2023.09.20); added more online references and a picture of the Golden Gate, September 21, 2023 (2023.09.21); finished digitizing the paper, October 1, 2023 (2023.10.01); finished digitizing both Appendices, and made some minor changes to paper, October 4, 2023 (2023.10.04); minor correction, added Postscript and Dyer quotes, October 7, 2023 (2023.10.07); added more online references, such as the 1969 discovery of what may be a gate below the Golden Gate.

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