Where will this new temple be built? Will it be built on the same site as the older temples of Solomon, Zerubbabel and Herod? The Bible alone has the answer. There is no other inspired prophecy available.
The first thing we must establish is what is the correct name of the place where it is to be built. Then, the only remaining problem is to learn for sure where that place is located.
Many places in the Bible refers to Zion as the place of God’s future habitation. It is from Zion that Jesus Christ will rule the world during the millennium. Let us notice a few of these many places:
“Yet have I set my king upon the holy hill of Zion” (Ps. 2:6). “Sing praises to the Lord, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings” (Ps. 9:11).
Some people have applied these and similar scriptures to something already past. But that is not so! These scriptures refer to the time when Christ, the King over the whole earth, and David under him will rule from Mt. Zion!
The entire 48th Psalm has reference to that future time when Jesus Christ will rule from Zion. Here is just a part of that Psalm.
“Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. Beautiful for situation the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north the city of the great King” (Ps. 48:1-2). This is not referring to the kingdom of David in ancient times. It is a prophecy of God’s throne during the millennium.
“In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion” (Ps. 76:2). Salem was the place where Melchizedek ruled in ancient times. When we read carefully in both Old and New Testaments about Melchizedek, it becomes clear that He is actually the same personage of Jesus Christ of the New Testament, and Salem was the place where he was King. It later was a part of Jerusalem and is the same part of Jerusalem where he will rule again.
“For the Lord hath chosen Zion: he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest forever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it” (Ps. 132:13-14).
There are many more scriptures similar to this. The law will go forth from Zion (Isa. 2:3; Micah 4:2), the Lord dwells in Mt Zion (Isa. 8:18; 18:7), and reigns in Zion (Micah 4:7). He is to be there with the one hundred forty four thousand (Rev. 14:1) immediately after his coming.
These verses cannot refer to Old Testament times when Jesus Christ also ruled from His temple. They can only refer prophetically to the coming time when Christ the Lord will rule from Mt. Zion.
Where was Solomon’s temple built? Was it built on Mt Zion? The answer from the Bible, though surprising when you see it, is no!
“Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord at Jerusalem in mount Moriah” (II Chron. 3:1). Nowhere in the Bible does it say that Solomon built his temple on Mt. Zion. This same scripture makes that plain. Mt. Moriah was the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite that David bought (I Chron. 21). It was also at this place where Abraham went to sacrifice his son Isaac (Gen. 22:2).
Mount Moriah is acknowledged by all students of the Bible to be the easternmost hill of ancient Jerusalem, where the present Moslem “Dome of the Rock” is located. It is on this hill that all ancient temples – Solomon’s, Zerubbabel’s and Herod’s have been built. Josephus remarks that the second temple was built in the same place as the first one and of course it was still standing when Herod built his.
Can this Mount Moriah be the same as Mt. Zion? The answer should be plain from the following scripture: “Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the princes of the fathers’ houses of the children of Israel, unto king Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion” (I Kings 8:1).
The Bible here states that the Ark of the Lord was brought from Zion to the new temple. As we have already seen, the temple was built on Mt. Moriah. The ark was moved from Zion to Moriah. Certainly this plain clear verse should prove forever that Zion and Moriah are two different places.
This scripture also shows that the city of David is Zion. Zion is a part of Jerusalem; Zion does not mean all Jerusalem. The two words are different and not synonymous. There is another important point to notice in the preceding verse. Notice that the ark was brought “up.” It was not brought down, across or over.
There is a companion place to this scripture in II Chron. 5:2-5. The account in Chronicles uses the expression that it was brought “up” four different times.
We generally refer to taking something up in two ways, either up in the sense of height, or to the north. In this particular place, it will become evident as we proceed further that the ark was brought not only up in altitude, but also up north.
Mt. Moriah was formerly the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. David sinned against God by numbering Israel. And as a result there was a plague from God. The prophet Gad went to David and instructed him to buy the threshing floor of Ornan and raise up an altar on the site. The account is found in II Sam. 24 and in I Chron. 21. The Bible account tells how David went from his home in Zion, to the threshing floor:
“And Gad came that day to David, and said unto him: ‘Go up, rear an altar unto the Lord in the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite.’ And David went up according to the saying of Gad, as the Lord commanded” (II Sam. 24:18-19).
This account shows how David also went up to Mount Moriah.
At the present time some people consider the southwest hill of Jerusalem to be Mt. Zion. It is so labeled on some maps. It is part of the old city of Jerusalem.
This particular mountain is some one hundred feet higher than Moriah. Certainly it could not be said that this was the City of David. It would have been said that the ark was brought “down” instead of “up,” from this mountain to Moriah. This cannot with any stretch of the imagination be the Mt. Zion of the Bible.
“Till a few years ago it was the general opinion that the southwest hill, the most massive and dominant of the heights of Jerusalem, was Zion, but the trend of opinion is now decidedly toward the whole or southern part of the Temple hill” (Peloubet’s Bible Dictionary, article Jerusalem).
Just where is Zion then? It is obviously not the southwest hill. We have seen that it can’t be Moriah.
The previous quotation offers a suggestion, that Zion is either, “the whole or southern part of the Temple hill. The temple hill of course is Moriah. Since it cannot be Moriah, it might be the southern part of the same ridge or hill, which is often call Ophel.
“The southern part (of Moriah) was called Ophel. Most scholars now regard this or the whole Temple hill as the famous hill of Zion, David’s city, his original fortress which he captured from the Jebusites” (Ibid).
The southern part of this hill is quite a bit lower than Moriah. Certainly it would have been proper to say that the ark was taken up to Moriah, if this is the place.
But now for further Bible proof on this location of Zion. What is Zion supposed to be like in this end time, before it is made the capital of the whole world? Keep in mind that these prophecies are often dual in meaning. We are concerned with the physical aspects of the prophecies concerning Mt. Zion. We are not now concerned with the spiritual type of Zion, God’s people, who are also referred to as Zion (Isa. 51:16).
The world is not concerned about Zion today as this scripture states: “This is Zion whom no man seeketh after” (Jer. 30:17) Some people look to a hill in the southwest section of the old city called Zion. Some look to the site of the old temple, now occupied by the Dome of the Rock. The Moslems, the Christians, the Jews look to the place of the dome of the rock as being desirable. It means no one is interested in seeking after the real Zion.
“Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field” (Micah 3:12). Where is the only place within the area of ancient Jerusalem which would fit this prophecy? Only Zion. The southeast hill has been of little concern over the centuries. Even into this century it has been so.
“It (Jerusalem) has grown considerably on the northwest and left the southeastern portion in the hands of the farmer and market gardener. ‘Thus said the Lord of host: Zion shall be plowed as a field’” (Jer. 26:18)
There are a few things we should know about Zion. It was known as the City of David, and before that it was the Jebusite stronghold. Before that it was called Salem during the time of Melchizedek’s earthly priesthood.
In ancient times the only source of water in the area was Gihon. Gihon has in modern times been named the “Fountain of the Virgin.” The site now in question, sometimes called Ophel, in its northernmost area, is immediately adjacent to the spring. The spring is immediately overlooked on the west by this hill. In ancient times it was necessary to have a source of water close to any stronghold, so that in the time of an attack water would be available. Such a stronghold would naturally be close to such a source.
In this particular case, the Jebusite made a “gutter” or entry down to the spring. It was through this gutter that many believe Joab first entered into the city to open it to attack so that David could take the city (II Sam. 5:8).
This lower extremity to the south is now generally accepted as being the location of the old Jebusite stronghold. David made this stronghold his city, adding to and strengthening it. Certainly this can be none other than the Bible Zion.
“If the words of I Kings 8:1, 4 (Cf, II Sam. 24:18-19) are to be taken literally it must have been south of the Holy Place of the Jews. In this direction, on a site so situated as to command the spring, it has been placed by Birch. . . Stade. . . Robertson Smith. (Encyclopedia Britannica). Sayce, Von Alten, Klaiber, G. A. Smith and the majority of recent authorities” (Hastings Bible Dictionary, Article, Zion).
Since we take the Bible to be literal, we also must come to this same conclusion. Here is further evidence supporting this same conclusion. “Zion (which is synonymous with the Ophel) is properly the southern part of the eastern hill on the top of which was built the temple, so that the name came to be given to the whole hill” (Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed., article, Zion).
This same source in a footnote to the same article states as follows: “Christians of the 4th century removed the name to the S.W. hill, and this tradition has persisted until modern times, when archaeological and topographical evidence has re-identified Sion with the E. hill” (Ibib).
Another source states as follows: “For a very long time people were mistaken about the exact situation of the old Jebusite city. Enlightenment came only with the excavation of the southeastern hill, much lower than the one to the southwest, and outside the present city walls. This revealed that the original Zion must have stood on the southeastern hill. Although the spur (several times referred to in the Bible as Ophel, meaning ‘swelling’ or ‘lump’) on which the city of David stood is lower than the surrounding mountains, a strong town could be built there, thanks to the valleys on either side and the spring which rises at it foot; but its weakest point, the northern side, had to have very strong defenses. This may have been the site of the sector of the defenses called the Millo in the Bible. The Jebusites had sunk an almost vertical shaft into the limestone hill within their ramparts, so that in the event of a siege they could still obtain water from the spring, the normal approach to which was then walled up. The account of the capture of the town seems to imply that Joab crept up the shalt and took the Jebusites completely by surprise. At the beginning of the century, an English climber demonstrated on the spot that this unusual style of mountaineering must have
called for extraordinary agility” (Atlas of the Bible, L.B. Grollenberg, pp., 68, 70).
Because of the much lower elevation compared to the hills around it, some may say that this must not be the right place. But Mt.Zion is sometimes referred to as a hill and not as a mountain. It is a narrow spur of raised ground when seen on a map or in a photograph. In a spiritual type this same idea is mentioned by the prophet Isaiah (chapter 49. He refers to Zion in verse 14. Later on, still in reference to Zion the prophet says that the place is too “narrow,” verse 20.
This small spur of land might well be considered a very unlikely place for God to set His temple, because of its low relation to another nearby hill. The scriptures tell us that one of the punishments on the city is that it will be low (Isa. 32:19).But, it will not always be that way.
There is some evidence in Josephus that part of the hill of Zion was at one time cut down to a lower elevation. If men made it lower, God will someday raise it up. It will be exalted above the hills (Isa. 2:2 and Micah 4:2). It will be established as the top of the mountains (Micah 4:1). Christ will build up Zion (Ps. 102:16). Since it will be exalted, it must be low now.
We read that mountains are going to be made low and valleys exalted at the revealing of Christ. He will exalt Zion and it will become an high mountain (Isa. 40:9).
David never had his tabernacle in Mt. Moriah. He had it in his own city, which was Zion. It has since been completely ruined. Since David lived in Zion here is another reference to show how it will be raised up. “In that day, will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen. And close up the breaches thereof, and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old” (Amos 9:11).
Is it possible that the place called Zion by God has changed to mean a different place today? Or, is it the same Zion as David and the Bible refer to. David answers the question for us. Zion could never be changed or moved to another place. “They that trust in the Lord are as mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abideth forever” (Ps. 125:1)
Christ will again rule from that same Zion just as He did while in the office of Melchizedek from Salem, which was Zion. Just has he did as the Lord of the Old Testament during the days of David, when the Ark of the Covenant was there.
God has shown by His word where Zion is. He will raise it up in the time He has set. Then the beauty and glory of Zion shall be the joy of the entire world.