In the last blog I mentioned that there are clues in the Bible about the New Jerusalem that point to its reality as a present, spritual reality and not an explanation of eternity in heaven. Heavenly things are mentioned, but I believe they’re allegorical for the kingdom of heaven on earth.
Before jumping into Revelation 21-22 I want to take a quick look at Ezekiel’s vision of the restoration. Something to keep in mind is that Ezekiel’s vision parallels John’s vision (Revelation) in many ways. Ultimately, they were both shown prophetic visions of Jerusalem’s destruction and the New covenant city, the New Jerusalem. In chapter 40 Exekiel is shown “a structure resembling a city” (verse2). Then in verse 5 he explains it as a temple.
It’s strange that a temple structure would resemble a city. Was he seeing a temple, or was it a city? I think but was both. The city is the new temple. When you look at art you have to take a step back to see the full picture. That’s how you properly interpret biblical visions, which are given to us like artwork. All the following details and measurements mentioned by Exekiel may have meaning, but for the sake of understanding the visions as a whole, I’m not going to focus on that now because the measurements are not the main point.
The main point is that the city is the new temple, meaning the New Jerusalem is now God’s dwelling place on earth and no longer the physical city with the physical temple.
In Him you are also being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit. Ephesians 2:22 (CSB)
In the last blog I wrote about the millennium (“1000 year” reign) and how it is figurative. There are aspects of the New Jerusalem that help us see that it is also a figurative spiritual reality.
I probably will not cover everything in this blog, but we’ll go through Revelation 21-22 to look at the aspects of the New Jerusalem to see how we are living this out on a daily basis. That is, those who surrender to Jesus and seek to advance His kingdom daily.
In Revelation 21:1 John writes that he saw “a new heaven and a new earth.” In order to understand this statement correctly you have to put yourself in the shoes of an ancient Jewish person. To ancient Jews, “heaven and earth” was an idiom for the temple (here’s more info on that http://www.reenactingtheway.com/blog/when-heaven-and-earth-passed-away-everything-changed879420187179853150181).
If heaven and earth (aka the Jerusalem temple) had passed away, what then would be the new heaven and earth, the new temple? If you study it out you’ll find that in Jewish literature, the temple was the place where heaven and earth came together. Well, now heaven and earth come together in the children of God, the church who are individually called the temple of the Holy Spirit in the NT and the church corporately is also called God’s dwelling place in the spirit as the above verse states.
John says that he saw the New Jerusalem “coming down out of heaven from God.” To me, that’s a picture of something gradually taking place. It wasn’t past tense, but present tense. I believe there’s a reason it was shown to John in this way. It’s like the leaven Jesus mentioned in Matthew 13 that works itself through a batch of dough until the whole thing is leavened. The leaven is the kingdom of God, the dough is the world being transformed by it. The kingdom of heaven is advancing and has been since the days of John the Baptist (Matthew 11:12). I believe it will continue to advance until the final day when Jesus does come and set His feet on the earth and summon all of the dead to awaken for judgment. Some will be resurrected to eternal life, some to eternal judgment.
I do not think this is something that will happen imminently (any day) because I know that Jesus will return for a bride who is ready and I believe the world will be as close to heaven as it can possibly be. Jesus’ instruction for us to pray “…on earth as it is in heaven” was not just a fancy prayer. I believe that’s what He really wants, it’s what He had in the beginning and He will have it again. I’m not saying the world will be a perfect place, but the Bible tells us that the “world will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” This may sound crazy, but faith is crazy. If what we’re believing for doesn’t seem totally impossible we need to widen our perspective and realize who our God is. Jesus said, “what’s impossible with man is possible with God.”
That’s it for now. We’ll pick up this discussion over the weekend or early next week. Grace and peace 2u.