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# Calculating the Circumference of the Earth

### by Bob Pickle

Modern science tells us that the circumference of the earth about the equator is 24,902.4 mi. (40,076.5 km), and that the circumference about the poles is 24,860.2 mi. (40,008.6 km). Using data from the biblical books of Ezekiel and Revelation, we can easily arrive at a number between these two figures.

## Initial Motivation Behind the Study

The whole idea was something the author stumbled across in high school for the following reason: Nineteenth century visionary Ellen G. White described seeing a temple on a Mount Zion in the new earth at a distance from the New Jerusalem (Early Writings 19). Concerning the New Jerusalem, the book of Revelation says:

And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. (Rev. 21:22)

John in Revelation said there would be no temple inside the city, but he never said there would be no temple outside the city. Is there any biblical evidence to support the idea of a temple outside the New Jerusalem? The author found the evidence he was looking for in Ezekiel, and in the process ended up calculating from the Bible the the precise circumference of the earth.

## The Two Cities

Revelation describes the New Jerusalem as a square city with twelve gates, three to a side. Each gate has one of the names of the twelve tribes over it, though we don't know which name is over which gate (Rev. 21:10-16). God is described as dwelling there (Rev. 22:3).

Interestingly, Ezekiel describes a very similar city where God shall dwell. It too is square, with three gates to a side. Going further than the book of Revelation, Ezekiel even tells us which tribe's name is over which gate. (Ezek. 48:30-35).

Our present Jerusalem has never been square during its long and eventful history. It never has had three gates to a side.

One additional detail Ezekiel adds concerns the dividing up of the promised land. Even non-Jews could get a portion (Ezek. 47:22:23)! While this might be true in the new earth with its New Jerusalem, the precise arrangement Ezekiel describes has never yet transpired.

## Small-Scale Representation of New Jerusalem

While the New Jerusalem is 12,000 furlongs in circumference, 3,000 furlongs to a side, Ezekiel's city is but 4,500 cubits to a side, quite a bit smaller. Since Revelation's city is roughly 230 times the size of Ezekiel's city, we might say that Ezekiel's city is intended to be a small-scale representation of the New Jerusalem.

Actually, this would not be unusual in the Bible. A careful reading of Hebrews 8:5 and 9:23 suggests that the sanctuary that Moses constructed in the wilderness was but a small-scale representation of the temple in heaven.

The heavenly temple is referred to often in Revelation. In Revelation 5:11, John beholds millions of angels standing before God's throne in the Holy Place (cf. Rev. 4:5). Obviously, the heavenly temple has to be massive to accommodate so many worshippers.

The sanctuary Moses made contained a Holy Place about fifteen feet by thirty feet, and a Most Holy Place fifteen feet square. The temple Solomon constructed doubled these dimensions, producing places with four times the square footage. Since Moses' sanctuary and Solomon's temple were obviously too small for millions of worshippers to assemble within their premises at the same time, the earthly must have been merely a small-scale representation of the heavenly reality.

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## A Temple Far Away from the City

Far beyond the walls of Ezekiel's city stood Ezekiel's temple complex. How far? Regardless of how you interpret the description Ezekiel gives, it was a minimum of 5,000 cubits away to the north. Since the temple has never been at a distance from Jerusalem, we must be reading a description of what things will be like in the new earth.

After the Israelites returned from their captivity in Babylon in the sixth century B.C., Zechariah plainly stated:

Therefore thus saith the LORD; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the LORD of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem. (Zec. 1:16)

So the temple was to be rebuilt within Jerusalem, not without. And thus it has always been. Though there is talk in some sectors about rebuilding the Jewish temple, none have called for its rebuilding a mile and a half from the city. And Jerusalem itself today would not fit within the area of Ezekiel's city. Ezekiel must be depicting a small-scale representation of things in the new earth.

## Two Mountains and the Mount of Olives

We would need a rather large plain for the New Jerusalem to land upon when it comes from heaven as Revelation 21 describes, since it is roughly 350 miles to a side. This is hinted at in the following verses:

In the visions of God brought he me into the land of Israel, and set me upon a very high mountain, by which was as the frame of a city on the south. And he brought me thither, and, behold, there was a man, whose appearance was like the appearance of brass, with a line of flax in his hand, and a measuring reed; and he stood in the gate. (Ezekiel 40:2, 3)

Ezekiel then accompanies the "man" as he measures the temple complex which from afar looked like a city.

Revelation gives a similar description:

And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. (Revelation 21:10)

John then accompanies the angel as he goes about the city and measures it.

While Ezekiel was on a mountain just to the north of the the temple, which itself was a ways to the north of the city, it appears that John was on a mountain near to where the city descended. Where did these mountains come from?

Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. . . . All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin's gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king's winepresses. (Zechariah 14:3, 4, 10)

While Ezekiel was likely on the northern half of the former Mount of Olives, it would appear that John was likely on the southern half.

## The Map of the Promised Land

Ezekiel provides an overall map of the promised land (Ezek. 48:1-29). This map is the key to our calculation. From east to west we have thirteen strips of land, twelve being for the twelve tribes. These thirteen strips lie against one another from north to south. The eighth strip is exactly 25,000 cubits wide, with a 25,000-cubit-wide square in its center. For the purposes of our calculations, we shall assume that all thirteen strips are the same width, though the overall map Ezekiel describes suggests strips larger than this. Using this one assumption, we end up with a map looking something like this:

The 25,000 cubit square between Judah and Benjamin looks something like this, with the temple positioned 5,000 cubits away from the city:

Or maybe the description Ezekiel gives is of the temple being in the first 10,000 cubit strip, and thus 15,000 cubits away from the city:

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## Small-Scale Representation of New Earth

If Ezekiel's city is a small scale representation of the New Jerusalem, what would the entire map of Ezekiel be, but a small scale representation of the entire earth? After all, the inheritance God promised Abraham was not just the land of Palestine:

For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. (Romans 4:13)

But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. (Psalms 37:11)

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)

## The Basic Idea

Assuming that all thirteen strips of land are the same width, or rather, assuming that Ezekiel's small-scale representation was intended to represent thirteen strips of land of the same width, we have a map that from top to bottom is:

13 x 25,000 cubits = 325,000 cubits.

Now we are ready for our calculations.

Perhaps the simplest way to put it is this: If we enlarge Ezekiel's map till Ezekiel's city is the size of Revelation's New Jerusalem, then Ezekiel's map encircles the globe.

The proportion of Ezekiel's city to Revelation's New Jerusalem is the same as that of Ezekiel's map to the earth's circumference:

Ezekiel's Map / Ezekiel's City * Revelation's City = Earth's Circumference

## Calculations a Bit Off

Let's first use the furlong that most references tend to use, the English furlong of 660 feet. Since the New Jerusalem is 3,000 furlongs to a side,

660 ft. x 3,000 furlongs / (5,280 feet / mi.) = 375 mi. (603.49 km)

Now we plug in the 4,500-cubit length of Ezekiel's city and the theoretical 325,000-cubit length of Ezekiel's map:

325,000 cu. / 4,500 cu. * 375 mi. = 27,083 mi. (43,585 km)

This amounts to an error of just under +9%, which is close enough to be intriguing.

## Calculations Right On

Since the apostle John didn't live in England, he never heard of the English furlong. Instead, he used the Roman furlong. The author has found three different measurements for the Roman furlong: 606.25 feet, 606.5 feet, and 606.84 feet.

Using a furlong of 606.25 feet:

606.25 ft. x 3,000 furlongs / (5,280 feet / mi.) = 344.46 mi. (554.34 km)

325,000 / 4,500 * 344.46 mi. = 24,878 mi. (40,036 km)

This result is .071% more than the polar circumference and .098% less than the equatorial circumference.

Using a furlong of 606.5 feet:

606.5 ft. x 3,000 furlongs / (5,280 feet / mi.) = 344.6 mi. (554.56 km)

325,000 / 4,500 * 344.6 mi. = 24,888 mi. (40,052 km)

This result is .112% more than the polar circumference and .057% less than the equatorial circumference.

Using a furlong of 606.84 feet:

606.84 ft. x 3,000 furlongs / (5,280 feet / mi.) = 344.80 mi. (554.89)

325,000 / 4,500 * 344.80 mi. = 24,902 mi. (40,075 km)

This result is .170% more than the polar circumference and .0001% more than the equatorial circumference.

These extremely small margins of error make the subject more than just intriguing.

## The Size of the Temple

We can use the same ratios to calculate the size of the Holy Place and Most Holy Place. Ezekiel's Holy Place was 20 by 40 cubits, and his Most Holy Place was 20 by 20 cubits (Ezek. 41:2, 4).

Since exact precision isn't all that important, we'll just use the furlong of 606.5 ft. We must make two calculations, one for 20 cubits and the other for 40 cubits:

20 / 4,500 * 344.6 mi. = 1.53 mi.

40 / 4,500 * 344.6 mi. = 3.06 mi.

It is quite possible, therefore, that the heavenly temple which will be outside the New Jerusalem will have a Holy Place about 3 by 1.5 miles, and a Most Holy Place about 1.5 miles square. No wonder the structure can accommodate millions of worshippers.

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## Conclusions

The basic thought is that the new earth will be divided up into thirteen strips of land of equal area, and all the redeemed will get their inheritance in one of those thirteen strips. Another way to look at it would be for the globe to be divided up into thirteen wedges. All the wedges would meet at the equator.

We should remember that in the new earth we will not have the vast oceans we have today (Revelation 21:1). We also would not have the polar ice caps. Even evolutionary geologists, with their fanciful speculations of a four-and-a half-billion-year-old earth, tell us that for most of that conjectural period, there was no ice at the poles. So thirteen wedges could conceivably consist of equal portions of habitable land, all basking in a moderate climate, a climate much like what the earth must have had before Noah's flood.

In this little study, we have evidence of a God who knows all about our planet, and who inspired holy men of old to write the words of Scripture.

## Definitions

New Earth - A biblical concept. After the end of sin and sinners, God creates a new heaven and a new earth in which there is no more death or pain or sorrow. Vivid descriptions are contained in Isaiah 65, 66, and Revelation 21, 22.

New Jerusalem - Where God dwells now in heaven. This city is to descend to earth at the end of the millennium. Described in Revelation 21, 22, and referred to in Hebrews 11.

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