"East" A Prophetic Symbol

 

Introductory Thoughts

 

The Hebrew word for “east” is kedem or qedem.

  • Anciently, it meant “in front of.”

  • When facing the rising sun, it was:

  • “In front of,” meaning the direction of “east” [right was south; left, north; and behind, west].

  • This was tied to the rising sun.

  • It symbolized deliverance from darkness

  • A new beginning

As God chose to decree a seven-day clock, representing a week, He adopted kedem as a prophetic symbol for:

 

1.  Life

2.  Light

3.  Newness

4.  Deliverance (later)

 

“And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed” (Genesis 2:8).

  • The Septuagint translates this place as “Paradise in Eden.”

  • What it is “east of” is not defined in this pre-flood world.

  • But that Garden was “eastward” (miqqedem), and this direction is noted!
  • Then comes another east reference related to one of the four Garden rivers:Tr

“And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that [is] it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates” (Genesis 2:14).

  • God chose to introduce directional messages related to:

  • The Garden – where life was given to man
  • The Garden – where life was given to manThe River – that brought it water to the east
  • Why did He describe this?
  • We can capture more insight through noting its continued importance.

Adam and Eve were placed “east” of the Garden when driven from that “home” (Genesis 3:24).

 

On the Day of Atonement the blood was taken into the Most Holy Place first on behalf of Aaron himself as the High Priest, then for the people (Leviticus 16:11-15).

  • This blood was sprinkled on the east side of the mercy seat

  • And before the ark/mercy seat on the east side

  • This signified the cleansing and deliverance from sin that the Messiah would bring.

  • Immediately – east part of mercy seat

  • Future – east of the ark towards the rising sun

The Tribe of Judah was encamped to the east of the tabernacle

  • It was through them that the Messiah or Deliverer would come (Isaiah 11:1).

  • Jesse, David’s father, was of the lineage of Judah.

  • The “standard” or symbol of the Tribe of Judah (a Lion) was to be placed “on the east side” of the camp “toward the rising of the sun” (Numbers 2:3).

Many other references are made related to the “rising sun” (Numbers 34:15) and the east in the Old Testament.

  • When qedem was used with the name of God, elohiym, intriguingly, the “in front of” or “east” suddenly meant “eternal God.”

  • Malachi recorded the words of “the Lord of host”: “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings” (Malachi 4:2).

  • As east was simply viewed as “toward the rising sun”:

  • It also drew a higher and more sacred intimation.
  • Deliverance would arise with healing or restoration in its wings.
  • In Revelation 7:2 an angel “ascended from the east,” ordering the four angels with the “winds of strife” to hold them:

  • Until that healing or restoration was complete, i.e.:
  • The sealing

The Tabernacle and later the Temple entrance faced the east. 

  • In Solomon’s, and later, Herod’s Temple, a straight line could be made from the Most Holy through the:

Holy Place

      Temple court entrance

            East gate of Jerusalem

                  Over the top of Mount of Olives

                        East – towards the rising sun

 

The gate of Jerusalem had beautiful relief work, typifying the city of Shushan.

  • The gate was called the “Gate Beautiful” (Acts 3:2, 10) or the “Gate of Susa” (history).

  • It commemorated “Deliverance.”

  • By Cyrus (of Persia when Shushan would be its capital) from Babylon
  • By Esther (who lived in Shushan) from Haaman’s deceptions

Thus, east, again, symbolized “deliverance.” The city of Shushan became a symbol for the City of Deliverance. That would later be seen as the “New Jerusalem” in Revelation. 

  • This gate was so sacred to the Jewish people in recognition of that city.

  • They had special “keepers of the gate” (I Chronicles 31:14, Nehemiah 3:29) guarding it.

Christ, it is believed, entered Jerusalem at the onset of the Passion Week through that gate.

  • He was to be the Deliverer.

The Fascinating Story of Ezekiel

God’s glory is about to depart from the Jewish temple – forever – (save for Christ’s actual presence at the first advent).

  • Coals from the temple are scattered over the city (Ezekiel 10:2).

  • This denotes either purification or, as here, final judgment (Revelation 8:5; cf. Deuteronomy 4:24).

  • God’s glory journeys in a defined route as it departs:

  • From above the cherubim

  • To the Threshold of the temple

  • Moves to the “east gate” of the city

  • At this gate the wicked leaders of the city are judged.

  • God gives at this east gate His everlasting covenant promise (Ezekiel 11:16:20)

  • Restoration will come: “they shall be my people, and I will be their God” (vs 20).

  • Glory moves to the Mount of Olives – “east of the city” (Ezekiel 11:22).
    • Now
    • Ezekiel’s vision of the departure of the Shekina stops.
    • God’s glory symbolically awaits “in the east” to return (which he implied in the covenant promise to His people and church).
     

The glory does return – in beautiful imagery of the second advent and restoration of man.

  • Ezekiel 40–48

  • Concludes his prophetic book
  • Yaheweh returns to the temple
  • Establishes His residence in the city
  • This fulfillment vision begins on the 10th day of the first month.

  • That is the day the Passover Lamb is chosen (Exodus 12:3).
  • Ezekiel is taken to a high mountain
  • Where he sees a city to the south

  • A divine being with a measuring stick prepares to take him around the temple to measure it (Ezekiel 40–42)

  • They approach the temple through the “east gate.”

Then an awesome picture comes:

  • From that eastern gate

  • He sees “the glory of God” approaching from the east.

  • The glory of God enters the temple “by way of the eastern gate.”

This is a beautiful depiction of the Latter Rain entering the hearts of God’s people at the end of time.

 

Finally, on the Sabbath of the New Moon (Feast of Trumpets):

  • The eastern gate which had been closed for six days

  • Is to be opened

  • The Prince will enter there (Ezekiel 46:1-2)
  • To give inheritance (vss 16-18; 47:12; 48:29) to His people

The name of the city?

 

“The Lord is there” (Ezekiel 48:35).

 

Thus, East:

 

  • Is the direction of:

  • Hope

  • Restoration

  • Movement of God’s glory

  • “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:27).

  • In prophecy: east = deliverance.

Franklin S. Fowler Jr., M.D.; EndTime Issues..., Prophecy Research Initiative
EndTime Issues..., January 2008 - endtimeissues.com