As we discovered in the last article, our eternal dwelling with God will be remarkably different from the current earth, both physically and politically. Revelation 21:1 reveals that all the land will be together, with no sea to divide the nations or people’s. In this we understand there will be no division, as Christ will have finally put down all unrighteousness and reigns from the river to the ends of the earth (Psalm 72). God will have eradicated every vestige of sin and its result: the curse. In so doing, creation will no longer be groaning or travailing, as God makes all things new (I Peter 3:10-13).
John’s attention now shifts to the New Jerusalem, with its remarkable geography.
(Revelation 21:2-3) Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.
(Revelation 21:16) The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal.
(Revelation 21:23) The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.
A VERY BIG AND BEAUTIFUL CITY
Without getting bogged down in debate, we must understand that the New Jerusalem is massive. We must understand that scripture has many passages that are allegorical. With that said, this is not one of them. When God commands someone to measure something and exact dimensions are given, we must refuse the tendency to make allegorical the thing revealed, because of it’s massive size or the implications. There is speculation as to the type of measurement, John uses, whether it is a Greek or Romans “stadia” (furlong is our closest English equivalent). Despite this speculation, the heavenly Jerusalem is massive, bigger than any city we have ever seen or conceived. It’s massive majesty gives credence to God’s word.
(1 Corinthians 2:9) But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
Even though, we see this massive and glorious city, we also know it defines the complete and final approach of all that saints, as the bride of Christ, following her Husband to this earth. As we see a glimpse of this in Hebrews 12:18-24, now we see its consummation as Jesus Himself is found dwelling in the midst of His Bride forever.
NO NEED FOR SUN OR MOON
From the beginning of God’s original creation of the earth, the sun and moon, and they have been essential to man’s existence. In the new heavens and new earth, both the sun and moon are obsolete. Let us observe the Lamb of God (Jesus Messiah) is not just the light of the New Jerusalem, but He is then the light for the entire new earth (vs. 24). This could likely mean there is no sun or moon, but even if there were, remember the glory of Jesus Christ is brighter than the sun at noon day. Paul encountered that in (Acts 26:12-18).
Jesus is the brightness of God’s glory, and literally the Light of the world (Hebrews 1:3). He lights the new heavens and the new earth, from the new Jerusalem; from the true Temple of God, that Tabernacle not made with human hands or materials. The Temple has physical structure, the bride of Christ dwells in it, surrounding our Savior forever. In our passage we see the marriage metaphor and this is the consummation of our marriage to Christ, after the marriage supper in heaven. Yet here and now we can have more than a foretaste.
As individuals, if we obey the commands of Jesus, He and our Father dwell with us even now (John 14:21, 23). This is only a deposit though, as Christ has more in mind for His glorious indwelling with us.
(Ephesians 3:14-19) For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
This is the fullness of the Spirit in our life, and on this old dying and cursed earth, it’s as close to heaven as we can get, next to dying in Christ, for absent from the body is present with the Lord. The lack of the fullness of the Spirit of God, is the singular biggest reason we do not long for heaven and the Blessed Hope in our lives. Why you may ask? Because the fullness of the Spirit in us is heaven’s King and Kingdom power, resident in the believer. This is not only for the purpose of glorifying Jesus Christ but is a sort of spiritual GPS leading us home. How many are insensitive to the hope of heaven, who call themselves Christians? I would venture to say that a Christian who does not long for heaven, does not live a life worthy of their calling in Christ, in being a word of God, power of God, or example witness for Jesus Christ. Those who are have heaven in their heart by the Holy Spirit fullness.
As real as the experience of heaven can be in us as individuals, right now, we as a church ought to experience heaven in our midst when we gather together; this too should make our hearts long for our eternal home with Christ (Ephesians 2:19-22).
(Ephesians 2:19-22) Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
Wherever two or three or three-hundred are gathered together, ministering Christ and ministering Christ to each other and the lost, we have a wonderful foretaste of heaven. Revelation 2 and 3 speak of a few churches in danger of losing this foretaste, in America we have in most places.
MORALLY AND SPIRITUALLY PERFECT
(Revelation 21:3-4) And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
Not only do we see God dwelling in our midst, in the presence of Christ forever, in the new heavens and the new earth, we also encounter God’s holiness in everyone and everything. In this eternal reality there is no more death, sorrow, pain, crying… but only unspeakable joy, joy, joy!!! The reason for a lack of any bad things is because there is no more sin, no more curse. As stated earlier, this happens after the Great White Throne in Revelation 20:11-15. It is at this time God renovates the creation we have now as Peter describes judgment.
(2 Peter 3:10-13) But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
What a Day we look for, when everything we see, all we encounter, and all we do, is settled in righteousness and holiness as God is dwelling with us as He intended. We live in a world where every good thing is challenged daily by the wickedness in humanity or the devil’s minions, or the violent groaning of creation itself. As we attempt to celebrate the goodness of God, we are reminded often hourly of that reality, that heaven is coming, but not yet present. Despite even the blessedness of the Holy Spirit, with Christ enthroned in our hearts with the power of His kingdom, we know there is a day where He takes His eternal throne among us. Jesus present with us is what makes the blessing of eternity heaven.
HEAVEN’S ATTENTION ALL ON JESUS CHRIST
Today’s renditions of heaven, even in Christian culture, are generally off for one very large omission; Jesus is the center of attention. Many books and sermons seek to stir passion in the individual to look to heaven by describing golden streets, massive gem-like foundations and gates, and many other aspects. The problem with this is not that these things are not present, but that they are not the focus. Many a saint is pining away for the day when they will get to see this person or that person, they have been missing. I certainly understand that human pull, and do not seek to disparage a hurting soul, who misses another human being, yet if our focus is on mere departed humans, we will miss the One who is the reason heaven is heaven.
There is a song called “This Was My Hell” written by the band Disciple. In this song, the singer has a dream where he is in heaven, but Jesus was not there… “This was my Hell, living without you here… Even Heaven is Hell if somehow You were not there”. I agree that without Jesus as the center of attention, heaven would be unbearable.
Let me declare that heaven wonderful and real, and filled with many awesome and understandable things. Yes, we will be reintroduced to those who were in Christ and passed on before us. This means children, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters and friends. We will meet for the first time, those who were martyred for Christ and many whom we prayed for and prayed for us. Despite this wonder, there is only One Person we will all be looking for in that great Day. Jesus!!! Heaven is heaven because we get to see and be with Him. PERIOD!!! In fact, it is this truth that guides our walk and empowers our sanctification and perseverance (I John 3:1-3). We get to be with Jesus as the King of kings, the Ancient of Days, the Lamb of God, as described in Revelation 1:10-17; a vision of Christ which caused John to fall face down in weakness and fear. Let that aspect of heaven guide your life and hope. He is coming, behold every eye will see Him.
(Revelation 22:1-5) And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.