Friday, September 18, 2015

Heaven: The New Jerusalem - our future home

I've been writing about heaven. Included under the generic umbrella of "heaven" are the terms, Paradise, Abraham's Bosom, Millennium Kingdom, and New Jerusalem. Today I'd like to examine New Jerusalem. The following are quotes from the GotQuestions article "What is the New Jerusalem?" Here at the beginning of their article, we find many terms for the New Jerusalem, which is a city, it's in heaven, and is also heaven itself. See? The topic of heaven is not as simple as one would expect, but is always glorious to study.
The New Jerusalem, which is also called the Tabernacle of God, the Holy City, the City of God, the Celestial City, the City Foursquare, and Heavenly Jerusalem, is literally heaven on earth. It is referred to in the Bible in several places (Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 11:10; 12:22–24; and 13:14), but it is most fully described in Revelation 21.
Please read Revelation 21, it is a short chapter, but too long to post entirely. Every Christian knows that upon our death or at the rapture if we're living, we go meet Jesus instantly and are given glorified bodies. Our abode will be New Jerusalem, which is presently in heaven. John MacArthur calls it the "Capital City of Heaven." It is a city, with specific dimensions and specific adornments and specific inhabitants. It is not ethereal. It is real, physical, and it is our destination! Here is a chronology of when and where this magnificent city appears.
In Revelation 21, the recorded history of man is at its end. All of the ages have come and gone. Christ has gathered His church in the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:15–17). The Tribulation has passed (Revelation 6—18). The battle of Armageddon has been fought and won by our Lord Jesus Christ (Revelation 19:17–21). Satan has been chained for the 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth (Revelation 20:1–3). A new, glorious temple has been established in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 40—48). The final rebellion against God has been quashed, and Satan has received his just punishment, an eternity in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:7–10.) The Great White Throne Judgment has taken place, and mankind has been judged (Revelation 20:11–15).

In Revelation 21:1 God does a complete make-over of heaven and earth (Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:12–13). The new heaven and new earth are what some call the “eternal state” and will be “where righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). After the re-creation, God reveals the New Jerusalem. John sees a glimpse of it in his vision: “The Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Revelation 21:2). This is the city that Abraham looked for in faith (Hebrews 11:10). It is the place where God will dwell with His people forever (Revelation 21:3). Inhabitants of this celestial city will have all tears wiped away (Revelation 21:4).

The New Jerusalem will be fantastically huge. John records that the city is nearly 1,400 miles long, and it is as wide and as high as it is long—a perfect cube (Revelation 21:15–17). The city will also be dazzling in every way. It is lighted by the glory of God (verse 23). Its twelve foundations, bearing the names of the twelve apostles, are “decorated with every kind of precious stone” (verse 19). It has twelve gates, each a single pearl, bearing the names of the twelve tribes of Israel (verses 12 and 21). The street will be made of pure gold (verse 21).
I can't imagine this! The street of gold (street singular, not streets plural), the Tree of Life, the magnificent River of Life (Revelation 22:1-2), the light of His glory... Wow!

The Holy City in heaven is hinted at in John 14:3,

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

New Jerusalem is the place He has been preparing. Imagine living in a place specially designed just for us, He who knows the heart. Our individual abodes will be perfectly suited to each one of us, and it will be bright with sinless glory of the Lamb.

Here is a verse which describes the beauty-

And 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. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. (Revelation 21:10-11).

New Jerusalem, by Gustave Dore
Being able not only to view God's glory but live in it is a mind-altering and an exceedingly shattering concept. His gifts to us are truly boundless.

Let's imagine it on a more personal level for a moment. Imagine a beggar like Lazarus in Luke 16, begging outside your gate. The man is filthy, and his hair is crawling with bugs. He has open sores, pus filled dripping sores. His skin is grimy with human oils and ground-in dirt from the streets. He drools, and his face is covered with snot on which the flies land and cannot escape. "Gross" doesn't even begin to describe this filthy person.

That is how we look to Jesus, mired in our sin. Worse even. (Genesis 6:5)

Now imagine that you bring this person inside your home and wrap your baby's innocent and clean blanket on him and hug him and invite him to stay in your home.

This is a pale shadow of how it is that Jesus could look down from heaven and see us, sin covered filthy rags, bones full of poison and mouths full of pollution, and clean us and wrap us and invite us to stay with Him inside His clean and innocent home- The New Jerusalem.

It is encouraging to think of the glories that await in New Jerusalem, AKA heaven, AKA the Holy City, AKA the Bride Adorned. It is also sweet to read Revelation and receive the promised blessing. Reading it gives us a blessing the verse says (Revelation 1:3) and I personally believe the blessing to the one who reads the book is .... the deeper knowledge of Jesus, and the lengths to which He has gone to provide for us a home in glory.

Again, read Revelation. Ponder His promises about the future home He has prepared for us. He has prepared another home, you know. Hell was prepared for the devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41). Its mouth was enlarged to receive sinners. (Isaiah 5:14). Yet He chose to redeem some from their sins, and that is us, His bride. We will live in beauty, perfection, glory. And all due to Jesus, because HE descended to live among polluted and depraved people. He lived perfectly, was innocent of all charges but was executed in humiliation anyway. He absorbed all God's wrath for sinners, taking on to Himself OUR punishment, and then was laid in a grave not even his own but was someone else's. He rose to heaven and has ever since, been interceding for us at the altar of God, he has prayed for us, sent angels to us, given us His Spirit, and has prepared a place for us to dwell in comfort and love.

Anyone, and I mean ANYONE, who says they "want more" is insane. Anyone who says they "don't have the time nor time inclination" to contend for the faith He delivered is profoundly malevolent. Jesus gave us all this and more, He gave us Himself.

O brethren, read Revelation. It ends well. It really ends very well. It is well with our souls.


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Further Reading

Heaven series by John MacArthur 1: What Heaven Is
Heaven series by John MacArthur 2: What Heaven is, and What it is Like
Heaven series by John MacArthur 3: The New Jerusalem


3 comments :

  1. Amen. Come quickly Lord Jesus.

    When we all get to heaven
    What a day of rejoicing that will be
    When we all see Jesus
    We'll sing and shout the victory.

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  2. As this world gets more evil and insane, I am longing for that city more and more. Every day I see things that make me say, "Lord, get us out of here." I have let go of this world. The rapture appears to be soon, and I certainly hope it truly is.

    God will prepare a place for us based on our changed, perfected hearts according to His design. I don't believe I will carry any of my current desires from my fallen nature into that glorious realm.

    I don't believe the picture is beneficial at all. Nothing man can imagine can possibly be accurate and can only do an injustice to the actuality of what God Himself has prepared. I believe it is foolishness for man to even attempt it. I don't believe in putting false images into people's minds, including movies and the like. The intent may be good, but the outcome is inaccurate.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your comments. I understand your point. Here is my reasoning for re-publishing Dore's 1850s piece of art. I know you may still disagree and that is OK

      Jesus is not in the picture so the 2nd command was not violated

      The point I'd wanted to make in the essay is that New Jerusalem is concrete, a real place. I wanted to emphasize that by putting a picture up. Modern representations are just silly. Usually the older art is better.

      The bible describes the City concretely. I know we can't imagine what He has prepared, but in this case, we can and we should. He specficially told us in His word. Now of course the actuality isn't possible to imagine fully, but I believe that when Jesus took the time to concretely and specifically put in the bible the actual look and dimensions of the city, that it's edifying to ponder it. (Philippians 4:8). We are not going beyond scripture but praising Him in what scripture has already revealed.

      nevertheless I thank you for your comment because it is thought provoking and it's good to be careful

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