Why is the Eastern
Gate to the Old City of Jerusalem
closed, and what does it have to do with Bible prophecy?
David R. Reagan
Eastern Gate in the old walled city
of Jerusalem has a very special place in my heart, for it was
that gate which God used to open my eyes to His Prophetic Word.
The year was 1967. The occasion was the
Six Day War. As the fate of the new state of Israel hung in the
balance, I searched the newspapers daily for any information I
could find about the war. The turning point came on June 7 when
the Israeli army broke through the Lion's Gate and returned control
of the ancient city of Jerusalem to the Jewish people for the
first time in 1,897 years.
A Mysterious Remark
The next day I read a fascinating news account
about one of the Jewish commando groups that had been involved
in the assault on the city. The article stated that some members
of the group had suggested catching the Jordanian defenders of
the city off guard by blowing open the sealed Eastern Gate. But
the leader of the group, an Orthodox Jew, had vehemently protested
the idea, stating that "the Eastern Gate can be opened only when
the Messiah comes."
That statement caught my eye. I wondered
what the fellow was talking about. I knew nothing about the Eastern
Gate except that it was the only gate of the city that led directly
onto the Temple Mount. I was not aware that it was sealed, nor
did I know that its opening was in any way biblically linked to
the return of the Messiah.
A Remarkable Prophecy
I decided to do some research on the matter,
and that decision initiated my study of Bible prophecy. I had
been attending church for 30 years, but like most Christians,
I knew nothing about Bible prophecy. The topic was generally ignored
by the preachers in the church I grew up in.
My concordance quickly directed me to the
passage that the Orthodox Jew had alluded to. I found it in Ezekiel
44. The context is a supernatural tour the Lord is giving Ezekiel
of the future Millennial Temple (40:1-3).
In chapter 43 the Lord gives Ezekiel a vision
of God's glory entering the Millennial Temple from the east, through
the Eastern Gate. The Lord then says to Ezekiel: "Son of Man,
this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of my
feet where I will dwell among the sons of Israel forever" (43:7).
The Lord then reveals to Ezekiel that the
Eastern Gate will be closed and will not be reopened until the
Messiah returns in glory (44:1-3).
A Momentous Decision
This prophecy was partially fulfilled more
than 400 years ago in 1517 when the Turks conquered Jerusalem
under the leadership of Suleiman the Magnificent. He commanded
that the city's ancient walls be rebuilt, and in the midst of
this rebuilding project, for some unknown reason, he ordered that
the Eastern Gate be sealed up with stones.
Legends abound as to why Suleiman closed
the Gate. The most believable one is that while the walls were
being rebuilt, a rumor swept Jerusalem that the Messiah was coming.
Suleiman called together some Jewish rabbis and asked them to
tell him about the Messiah. They described the Messiah as a great
military leader who would be sent by God from the east. He would
enter the Eastern Gate and liberate the city from foreign control.
Suleiman then decided to put an end to Jewish
hopes by ordering the Eastern Gate sealed. He also put a Muslim
cemetery in front of the Gate, believing that no Jewish holy man
would defile himself by walking through a Muslim cemetery.
A Prophetic Symbol
The Gate has remained sealed since that
time. The Muslim cemetery still blocks the entrance. The old walled
city has eight gates, and the Eastern Gate, and it alone, is sealed
— just as prophesied in Ezekiel 44. The world would call that
an "amazing coincidence." I call it a "God-incidence."
The Eastern Gate is proof positive that
the Bible is the Word of God. Its sealing is clear evidence that
we are living in the end times. The Gate awaits the return of
the Messiah. Then and only then, will it be opened.
An Exciting Vision
I have a vision of what that glorious day
will be like. It is related to the Lord's First Coming. I believe
Jesus is going to replay His triumphal entry into Jerusalem when
When He came the first time, Jesus rode
a donkey from the Mount of Olives down into the Kidron Valley
and up to the Eastern Gate where He entered the Temple Mount for
His last days of teaching. As He made that ride, the Valley of
Kidron was filled with thousands of admirers who had heard about
the resurrection of Lazarus. They waved palm branches and chanted,
"Hosanna to the Son of David!" Within a few days that same fickle
crowd was shouting, "Crucify Him!"
We are told in Revelation 19 that when Jesus
returns He will come as a victorious military conqueror, riding
through the air on a supernatural white horse. In Isaiah 61 we
are told that He will come from the east, and in Zechariah 14
we are told that he will touch ground on the Mount of Olives.
Revelation 19:14 says that all the Redeemed
will come with the Lord. Think of it! You and I will be there
to witness the Lord's return. Zechariah 14 says He will speak
a word that will supernaturally destroy the Anti-Christ and his
Then, I believe we will witness a replay
of the Lord's triumphant entry into Jerusalem. With angels hovering
above and millions of the Redeemed filling the Kidron Valley,
Jesus will ride up to the Eastern Gate on His white horse, and
as He approaches the Gate, it will blow open. He will then enter
the City of David, and to the triumphant shouts of "Hosanna to
the Son of David," He will be crowned the Kings of kings and the
Lord of lords.
I believe that's what Psalm 24 is all about
when it says:
Lift up your heads, O gates, and be lifted
up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in! Who is
the King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, The Lord mighty
in battle . . . The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory.