In the last book of the Bible we are given amazing pictures of the final destination and eternal home for all who know Jesus Christ. The place is known as New Jerusalem, the heavenly city.
Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.
Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. 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. Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.
But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 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. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” (Revelation 21:9-27)
The term “City of God” is juxtaposed with “The City of man,” in the Bible and constitutes an important topic for one’s homework assignment.
Although New Jerusalem is a “gated community” (12 gates) residents of the city come and go evidently, visiting the rest of the universe on assignment or on “vacation.”
But let’s focus for a bit on “outside the city.” There, outside the walled city an exclusion zone is to be found. This “place” is reserved for outcasts, for those who have refused God’s mercy, grace and love.
God loves everyone who has ever lived. But few respond. The grand total number of people who have ever lived, could well total 100 billion people. (World Population). “Whosoever will may come” is an amazing offer. Jesus was very clear about who goes to heaven and who is excluded. Down through history perhaps only a few percent have allowed Jesus to bring them into His family.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:11-21)
The outcasts from life listed at the end of the Bible are not merely the rebellious or the disobedient or protestors against injustice, they are those who have refused to be made new persons by Jesus usually over a lifetime.
Isaiah Chapter 56 describes people who were outcasts or derelicts, but who have given Jesus permission to be made whole,
Thus says the Lord:
“Keep justice, and do righteousness,
For My salvation is about to come,
And My righteousness to be revealed.
Blessed is the man who does this,
And the son of man who lays hold on it;
Who keeps from defiling the Sabbath,
And keeps his hand from doing any evil.”
Do not let the son of the foreigner
Who has joined himself to the Lord
“The Lord has utterly separated me from His people”;
Nor let the eunuch say,
“Here I am, a dry tree.”
For thus says the Lord:
“To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths,
And choose what pleases Me,
And hold fast My covenant,
Even to them I will give in My house
And within My walls a place and a name
Better than that of sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
That shall not be cut off.
“Also the sons of the foreigner
Who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him,
And to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants—
Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath,
And holds fast My covenant—
Even them I will bring to My holy mountain,
And make them joyful in My house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
Will be accepted on My altar;
For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says,
“Yet I will gather to him
Others besides those who are gathered to him.”
The following list of the Excluded does not include any true followers of Jesus Christ. It can include hypocrites. This list is about persons who have been “unwilling to be persuaded” to come to Jesus for forgiveness, change, recovery. They have refused God’s mercy and grace for a lifetime, until the point in no return. The body may die or be killed, but the spirit and soul cannot die. (Make sure you are not on this list.)
And He, (Jesus) said to me (John), “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.
But the cowardly, (deilos, fearful, faithless, those unwilling to trust. Fear is a big deal to God).
the unbelieving, (apistos, persons who are without faith, diehard skeptics, hardcore rationalists)
the abominable, (bdelysso, detestable, loathsome persons). We might say ugly, twisted people.
murderers, (phoneus: serial killers, mass murders, ordinary murders who are unwilling to be forgiven)
the sexually immoral, (pornos, porn dealers, fornicators, lewd and obscene persons, homosexuals whether active or passive, adulterers, pimps, prostitutes)
sorcerers, (pharmakos: drug dealers, illicit users, pushers, magic, charms and potion dealers)
idolaters, (eidōlatres: teachers and students of false religion)
and all liars (pseudos: Intentional deliberate liars, deceivers. Promoters of falsehood)
…shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:6-8)
It should be obvious that a holy God must ultimately exclude all evil from His presence and from his people. Grace and mercy have brought many millions into new life with Jesus inside the City. But outside of time and space, and separated out of God’s great City of Refuge, eternity completely apart from God will be all too real.
New Jerusalem is reserved for former sinners, now washed in the blood of the Lamb.
“If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. Old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17)
The Excluded Ones are also mentioned in First Corinthians:
“Do you not know that the unrighteous (adikos) will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators (pornos), nor idolaters (eidolo), nor adulterers (moichos), nor homosexuals, (arsenokoites) nor sodomites, (malakos), nor thieves (kleptes), nor covetous (pleonektes), nor drunkards, (methos), nor revilers (loidorus), nor extortioners (harpax) will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
The categories here refer to settled life styles, not to episodes in the lives of persons who mess up, then flee to Jesus in contrition. If you are reading these words and you haven’t “died” yet (physically), you are fully eligible to live forever as a citizen of New Jerusalem--together with some other remarkable people. The fees and deposits and rents were all paid for in advance by Jesus.
The usual English translations of the Koine Greek do not often make clear what is meant for us modern readers. BlueLetterBible.org has great helps for digging deeper. Adikos, for example, means "without righteousness," --the human condition apart from trust in Jesus. Pornos is a broad word covering all forms of sexual behavior outside of God's designed intentions--which of course includes pornography. Eidolo is, as expected, one's devotion to any other gods other than Yahweh. Moichos is adulterer--living in violation of a marriage covenant. Arsenokoites combines the word "man" with the word "bed" and often refers to the dominant partner in sodomy (commonly called "the top"). Malakos, ("soft"), commonly refers to the passive partner, "the bottom," in male sodomy. Pleonnektes refers to any craving or desire for more of something, greediness, including envy of one's neighbor--is idolatry according to Colossians 3:5. Harpax is used to describe extortioners as "rapacious wolves" for example. The verb tense in verse 11, "were" indicates the persons referred to are actually now new persons in Jesus. The usual stages of growth "justified, sanctified, glorified" are juxtaposed here. We have "washed, sanctified, justified" instead. Sanctified means to make holy. This passage is entirely good news to all those who have placed their trust in Jesus Christ as Lord.
“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:16-17)
December 8, 2018, January 28, 2019.