22. The New Jerusalem From God
A New Heaven and a New Earth
Somehow, we intuitively know deep within our soul that this life on Earth is not all there is and that we are created for more than this world. When we get time to think critically about life and death and our purpose, i.e., what we are to be doing while we are on Earth, we can only conclude that life is illogical without life beyond the grave. There is a story about Professor T. H. Huxley, the famous agnostic (who, by the way, invented the term "agnostic" and applied it to himself). Huxley reversed his views before his death and came to believe in God and an afterlife. As he lay dying (so his nurse reported), he raised himself on his elbows and gazed into the distance as if surveying some invisible scene, then dropped back on his pillow and murmured: “So, it was true! So, it was true!”
Yes, it is true. In the Father’s house are many rooms (John 14:2). Perhaps, you have read the English King James Version, which translates the Greek word monai as mansions, but the original Greek term means dwelling places or rooms. We will live with God in His house, and His home has many rooms for us to abide with Him. Those of you who have lived with the insecurity of moving from place to place, there is great hope amid unfortunate circumstances! We will have an eternal house in the heavens where we will forever be at home with God! (2 Corinthians 5:1).
At the age of seventeen, I worked as a commercial fisherman with my father on his boat when we caught one of the largest magnetic mines that the Germans laid near the harbor from where we worked. It looked brand new, having been under the mud since WW II. Our net had pulled it out of its resting place. We had to lay the mine on our deck to salvage our net. Any instant could have been my last. We managed to get it safely out of the area where we usually dragged our nets. God was very faithful to keep nudging my soul after the near-death instance. Thoughts of where I would go at death began to be constantly on my mind. I knew intuitively that there was a heaven, but I was afraid that I would not go there because I fell far short of what I considered a good life, weighed down by my failures and sins. At that point, I had heard nothing about the grace of God or His plan of salvation.
The awakening to consider one’s life beyond the grave is a grace of God given to us. Philip of Macedon, Alexander the Great's father, commissioned a servant to stand in his presence each day and say, "Philip, you will die." In contrast, France's Louis XIV decreed that the word death not be uttered in his presence. It is a good thing to reflect on where you are going in life and where you'd like to go when this fleeting life on Earth is over. The words of our study in Revelation, chapter twenty-one, are most comforting to the believer in Christ because it talks about the home to which God has called us to belong.
1Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first Earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:1-4).
After writing about the Millennium and the Great White Throne judgment in chapter twenty, and Death and Hades being thrown into the Lake of Fire, John is now given revelation on a new heaven, new earth, and a new Jerusalem. The Greek word in v.1 translated as "new" (kainon) means new in quality rather than brand new in another place. The Earth will be restored entirely new for a new humanity without sin and having no death or disease. Why is there no more sea? The sea may represent the place where evil rose, as in the Antichrist rising up from the sea in Revelation 13:1. The sea is symbolic of the commotion and volatility of men “You stilled the roaring of the seas, the pounding of their waves, and the tumult of the nations” (Psalm 65:7). No more sea could be describing not something physical but a moral or spiritual sea no longer on Earth. Before there were instruments of navigation, the sea was seen as a place where men were lost. The sea would no more be a place of insecurity.
During the 1,000 year reign of Christ, Jesus will sit on his throne in Jerusalem, but now, coming down from heaven is a New Jerusalem. This Jerusalem is utterly different from the millennial Jerusalem. The “Lord God Almighty and the Lamb” (v. 22) will come and dwell on Earth with the Bride of Christ, the elect of God. We see a picture of great intimacy with the Lord drawing near to us and wiping the tears of pain from our eyes. At the end of the Millennium, there will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain.
What do you think it will be like to live with no fear, no death, mourning, crying, or pain?
How would living without fear of death or any pain change the way you would live your life?
5He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death” (Revelation 21:5-8).
The words that John hears about God’s living with man seem so fantastic to John that God has to command him to write a confirmation statement to assure us that God's word about our new home is trustworthy and entirely true (v. 5). “Has He said and shall He not do it, or has He spoken and shall He not make it good” (Numbers 23:19). This place, my brothers and sisters, is our destiny and our home. He who began a good work in us will also finish it. He is the Beginning and the End (v. 6). Cities, including Jerusalem, were built around water sources, and Jerusalem in the Old Testament had what is known as a Karst Spring, also known as a siphon spring from an underground source that came gushing up in the City of Zion. We don't know when the siphon spring stopped gushing, but it is possible that the earthquake at the death of Jesus (Matthew 27:51) stopped the Karst spring from gushing up to the Temple from the Gihon. In this prophetic passage, the Lord confirms that the spring of the water of life will flow freely and liberally from Jerusalem. Jesus also prophesied that from our innermost temple, our spirit, would flow rivers of living water: “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them” (John 7:38). Those who are victorious will inherit all and will be God’s children. “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2 Emphasis mine).
The Home of the Newly Married Couple
In Middle Eastern weddings, the bridegroom's responsibility is to prepare or build the place where the couple will live after the marriage. Now, God shows us what the Lord has prepared for those who love Him. The holy city descends from above. It’s not something that humans build on Earth, but something that Christ has made descending to Earth for His people. It's not New Washington or New London, but it is the New Jerusalem, the place where God has promised to dwell forever. He told Solomon that, in Jerusalem, He had put His Name forever. “My eyes and my heart will always be there” (1 Kings 9:3). Could that be the reason the enemies of the God of Israel want Jerusalem so much? They want to stamp out the name of the God of Israel from Jerusalem entirely and for the embodiment of Satan himself, the Antichrist, to sit enthroned on the sacred mount at the center of Jerusalem (2 Thessalonians 2:4).
Verse 2 says that the New Jerusalem comes down prepared as a bride. There have been different interpretations of this verse, and I still count it as a mystery. Some have interpreted this passage by suggesting the city itself is the Bride. Those that hold to that position remind us that we are being built into a temple as living stones: “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). Another verse to consider is Revelation 21: 27, which says that only those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life will live there, suggesting a dwelling place where the Bride inhabits. God Himself will live with them (v. 3). This city will be our dwelling place, and God Himself will live with us. In his narrative, John now describes the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven from God.
The New Jerusalem, the Bride of the Lamb
9One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 14The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Revelation 21:9-14).
How beautiful it must have been for John the Apostle, the person who wrote down the Revelation, for He sees his name on one of the foundation stones (Revelation 21:14). We don't yet know how our efforts affect others for Christ in this world; only God knows, but interestingly, John gets to see that his life has made a difference for eternity.
While still living on Earth, John saw the impact of his life. As you reflect upon your life, what would you like to have accomplished when looking back on your life?
15The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 16The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long. 17The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits thick. 18The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass (Revelation 21:15-21).
The wall around this city is 144 cubits thick. That is equivalent to 216 feet. The New Jerusalem size is 12,000 stadia and as wide as it is long, which today measures 1,400 miles wide and 1,400 miles long. That is an area extending from California to the Appalachian Mountains of the Eastern United States and from Canada to Mexico. The ground level alone is nearly two million square miles. Don't forget, though, the distance is as high as it is wide and long (v. 16). If each story is a generous twelve feet, that will make 600,000 stories. Billions of people will be able to live there with many square miles per person. The dimension of the city is a perfect cube.
In Solomon's Temple was a room that only the High Priest, once a year, with the sacrificial blood of a slain animal, entered beyond the heavy curtain that kept man separated from the very presence of God. This curtain was torn at the exact time of Christ's sacrificial death on the cross (Matthew 27:51). The room of the Most Holy Place, where God alone dwelt, was a cube of twenty cubits (1 Kings 6:20). The New Jerusalem's dimensions reflect the fact that God wants for Man to live with Him forever. It is a picture of us invited into the very presence of God and enjoying fellowshipping with Him and His people permanently in the Holy of Holies.
Can you imagine what it will be like for you who know Christ to be in that moment and to be part of the vast multitude shouting “Hallelujah!” to God? (Revelation 19:1). Imagine knowing that the fight of faith is over and that you will soon enter into the wedding celebration of the Lamb! How can anyone not want such a relationship with God as this? So loud will be the sound of all those commingled voices that it will sound like "many waters;" similarly, so great will be the joy of the redeemed of the Lord. What a happy day that will be! Don't you think the joy on the face of the Lord Jesus will be great as we look upon Him on that day? He will look upon you as He beholds the result of the substitutionary work He completed on the cross for His people. I borrow from the words of C.H. Spurgeon here:
The marriage of the Lamb is the result of the eternal gift of the Father. Our Lord says, "Yours they were, and you gave them to Me." His prayer was, "Father, I will that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am. That they may behold My glory, which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world." The Father made a choice, and the chosen He gave to His Son to be His portion. For them, He entered into a Covenant of Redemption, whereby He was pledged in due time to take upon Himself their nature, pay the penalty of their offenses, and set them free to be His own.
Beloved, that which was arranged in the councils of eternity and settled there between the high contracting Parties is brought to its ultimate end in that day when the Lamb takes unto Himself in everlasting union the whole of those whom His Father gave Him from of old.
Next—this is the completion of the betrothal, which took place with each of them in time. I shall not attempt to elaborate distinctions. However, as far as you and I were concerned, the Lord Jesus betrothed each one of us unto Himself in righteousness when first we believed in Him. Then He took us to be His and gave Himself to be ours so that we could sing— "My beloved is mine and I am His." This was the essence of the marriage. Paul, in the Epistle to the Ephesians, represents our Lord as already married to the Church. This may be illustrated by the oriental custom by which, when the Bride is betrothed, all the sanctities of marriage are involved in those espousals. There may be a considerable interval before the Bride is taken to her husband's house. She dwells with her former household and has not yet forgotten her kindred and father's house, though she is still espoused in truth and righteousness. Afterward, she is brought home on an appointed day, the day which we should call the actual marriage. Yet, the betrothal is, to Orientals, of the very essence of the marriage.
22I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the Earth will bring their splendor into it. 25On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 21:22-27).
What things stand out to you in this description of the home that God is building for you?
It is the answer to Jesus’ prayer, “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21). The New Jerusalem is the place where Christ enjoys eternity with His Bride. A place where there will be oneness of heart and mind, where we will live with God forever and ever.
They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads (Revelation 22:4).
What joy it will be to see the face of Christ and behold His beauty and live in a relationship with Him. Are you beginning to see the value that God Himself places on you? “What is man that you are mindful of him?” King David said (Ps. 8:4). How special we are to God, for of all the places in the Universe for the Lord God Almighty and His Son to live, God chooses to live with Man in the New Jerusalem. No matter where you are, the God of heaven is looking for you to come to His home and live with Him forever and ever. The invitation is for you and your family. There's nothing you can do to earn it, for it is only by grace, God's undeserved favor. Will you give your life to Him? He wants you to know the free gift of eternal life and that Heaven is your eternal home.
How wonderful it will be to live with God. The tears of this world will be dried from our eyes by the gentle touch of the Lord Himself (v. 4). He has purposely not told us much about heaven because many of us would want to leave the Earth before the time allocated to us. In another place, Paul the Apostle tells us the following:
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him (1 Corinthians 2:9).
In our wildest dreams and imaginations of heaven, we cannot imagine how good it will be for those of us who walk with Christ on this Earth. If your heart is troubled by what is going on in this world, consider the invitation that Christ gives: an offer of eternal life. You can be assured that you will one day be with God Himself in His holy house. Christ has fully paid the price for you to be with Him. If you would like to know more about God's plan of salvation, please click on the following link to the study called How Can I Be Sure of My Faith?
To close this study, I invite you to listen to a song that illustrates this coming day, a day for which all creation is longing and waiting. You can click on the link below or paste the address into your browser. You will need about seven minutes to view and worship.
Prayer: Father, thank You for speaking to me about Your will for my eternal destination. Remind me every day that You are preparing a place for me and that You are preparing me for that place – the life that is to come. Make me ready for my eternal home with You. Amen.