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:
“After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!’” Acts 1:9-11 (NLT)
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:
“After this, the man brought me back around to the east gateway. Suddenly, the glory of the God of Israel appeared from the east. The sound of his coming was like the roar of rushing waters, and the whole landscape shone with His glory. This vision was just like the others I had seen, first by the Kebar River and then when he came to destroy Jerusalem. I fell face down on the ground. And the glory of the Lord came into the Temple through the east gateway.” Ezekiel 43:1-4 (NLT)
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 lightning lights up the entire sky, so it will be when the Son of Man comes.” Matthew 24:27 (NLT)
In addition, Ezekiel’s vision offers further details of the Lord’s Glorious Appearing:
1) He will appear from the east.
2) The sound of His coming will be like the roar of rushing waters.
3) 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 the man brought me back to the east gateway in the outer wall of the Temple area, but it was closed. And the Lord said to me, “This gate must remain closed; it will never again be opened. No one will ever open it and pass through, for the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered here. Therefore, it must always remain shut. Only the prince himself may sit inside this gateway to feast in the Lord’s presence. But he may come and go only through the entry room of the gateway.” Ezekiel 44:1-3 (NLT)
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 “not one stone will be left on top of another” Matthew 24:2 (NLT). 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, Muslim 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, entered here.” Ezekiel 44:2 (NLT)
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:
“The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted, ‘Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hail to the King of Israel!’ Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it, fulfilling the prophecy that said: ‘Don’t be afraid, people of Jerusalem. Look, your King is coming, riding on a donkey’s colt.’ His disciples didn’t understand at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. But after Jesus entered into his glory, they remembered what had happened and realized that these things had been written about him.” John 12:12-16 (NLT)
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 people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your King is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey – even on a donkey’s colt.” Zechariah 9:9 (NLT)
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:
“Because of the covenant I made with you, sealed with blood, I will free your prisoners from death in a waterless dungeon.” Zechariah 9:11 (NLT)
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 (death in a waterless dungeon).
Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, the Lamb of God who wipes away the sin of the world. He is the Prince who will “sit inside this gateway to feast in the Lord’s presence” Ezekiel 44:3 (NLT). 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 the Lord will go out to fight against those nations, as he has fought in times past. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem. And the Mount of Olives will split apart, making a wide valley running from east to west. Half the mountain will move toward the north and half toward the south. You will flee through this valley, for it will reach across to Azal. Yes, you will flee as you did from the earthquake in the days of King Uzziah of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all his holy ones with him.” Zechariah 14:3-5 (NLT)
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:
“On that day the sources of light will no longer shine, yet there will be continuous day! Only the Lord knows how this could happen. There will be no normal day and night, for at evening time it will still be light. On that day life-giving waters will flow out from Jerusalem, half toward the Dead Sea and half toward the Mediterranean, flowing continuously in both summer and winter. And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day there will be one Lord – his name alone will be worshiped.” Zechariah 14:6-9 (NLT)
When speaking to His disciples, Jesus confirmed that He will one day fulfill the prophecies of Zechariah:
“Immediately after the anguish of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” Matthew 24:29-30 (NLT)
He will also fulfill the prophecies of Isaiah:
“The heavens will be black above them; the stars will give no light. The sun will be dark when it rises, and the moon will provide no light.” Isaiah 13:10 (NLT)
And the prophecies of Joel:
“The earth quakes as they advance, and the heavens tremble. The sun and moon grow dark, and the stars no longer shine. The Lord is at the head of the column. He leads them with a shout. This is his mighty army, and they follow his orders. The day of the Lord is an awesome, terrible thing. Who can possibly survive?” Joel 2:10-11 (NLT)
As well as John:
“The sun became as dark as black cloth, and the moon became as red as blood.” Revelation 6:12 (NLT)
This is why Jesus came – and why He will come again. For as Jesus said Himself:
“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to fulfill them. I assure you, until heaven and earth disappear, even the smallest detail of God’s law will remain until its purpose is achieved.” Matthew 5:17-18 (NLT)
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:
“In that day the Lord will punish the gods in the heavens and the proud rulers of the nations on earth. They will be rounded up and put in prison. They will be shut up in prison and will finally be punished. Then the glory of the moon will wane, and the brightness of the sun will fade, for the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will rule on Mount Zion. He will rule in great glory in Jerusalem, in the sight of all the leaders of his people.” Isaiah 24:21-23 (NLT)
And, finally, God will dwell among His people.
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…
“Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter. Who is the King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty; the Lord, invincible in battle. Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter. Who is the King of glory? The Lord of Heaven’s Armies – He is the King of glory” Psalm 24:7-10 (NLT)