A City in Space
“Sanctified imagination” is required here and all comments are welcome. Is New Jerusalem as described in the Book of the Revelation the place we think of as "heaven"--the place good people go when they die (if they know Jesus)? We usually think of heaven as "up" but more likely our tiny planet and its inhabitants are embedded in a vast unseen realm of 10 or more dimensions. This article assumes New Jerusalem is a huge orbiting satellite measuring 1500 miles on a side. This place is not the "heaven of heavens" nor the throne room of God. But for the sake of discussion, I have assumed NJ is a geostationary satellite parked on the equator or hovering somehow over the earthly city of Jerusalem. It already exists, apparently, since Jesus went there after His Ascension to prepare a place for His Bride, the true Church. This substantial object is currently "cloaked" and can't be seen or detected at this time.
The sun and the moon both subtend an angle of about 0.5 degrees in the sky. This is not a coincidence. They are nearly the same size in the sky so that eclipses can happen. This seems to be by design rather than coincidence.
The sun is an ancient symbol of Jesus the Light of the world. Malachi 4:2 for example says, “But to you who fear My name, The Sun of Righteousness shall arise, With healing in His wings...”
The true church, which has no light of its own, shines feebly by reflecting the light of the sun. (Eclipses were of course of special interest to the ancients).
A beautiful symbolic picture of Christ’s church militant and triumphant is foreshadowed in Song of Solomon 6:10, “Who is she who looks forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army with banners?”
The church as the “lesser light” rules the night and the greater light rules the day. (Genesis 1:16-18)
Suppose the city of New Jerusalem—(1500 miles on a side and cubical—if one takes the dimensions given in the Book of the Revelation at face value—were arbitrarily parked in a geostationary orbit 22,200 miles above the Equator. The great orbiting city, (home for followers of Jesus after the Rapture of the church), would occupy 1500/22200 radians of subtended angle in the sky—or about 7 degrees. (A radian is 57 degrees). This artificial moon, NJ, —would appear to be about 14 times bigger than the earth’s present full moon. The orbiting city would probably appear to travel North and South of the Equator—as the sun and moon appear to do with the changing seasons of the year.
New Jerusalem was seen in a great vision by the Apostle John in 95 AD which has led to speculation about certain mysterious objects in the sky which might be traveling in very elongated orbits so that they show up locally only in several thousand years.
The plane of the Ecliptic is tilted 22.5 degrees from the earth’s rotational axis. Arbitrarily let’s assume NJ is in a synchronous orbit. This artificial moon, New Jerusalem, will evidently descend to earth over the present Jerusalem at the close of the Tribulation. Or at the close of the Millennium?
For a man standing anywhere on the earth, all directions are up or down. This means "heaven" would seem to be spherical and surrounding the earth. That is, earth appears to be embedded in heaven. This is actually what the Bible implies. See Absolute Geocentricity for a discussion on an absolute center for the universe. There appears to be no preferred direction out into space from earth. actually our observer standing on the earth, unless he is at the North of South poles, can walk East or West. East is the direction of the rising sun. The Tabernacle of Moses and the two Temples in Jerusalem that followed, were aligned East and West. Likewise the tribes of Israel camped in an East-West orientation as shown in the accompanying figure.
No one will confuse the Lord Jesus (likened to the sun) with the moon, (likened to the church) during this seven year transition at the close of the present age.
“Behold, He is coming with the cloud, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:7-8)
Jumping ahead to the final chapters of the Book of the Revelation,
“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 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. 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.”
Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” (Revelation 21:1-5)
“...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 144k (The one hundred forty four thousand)he 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 seven year Tribulation period following the Rapture, will involve the conversion of many millions of people living on earth who are reached primarily by the evangelistic work of 144,000 of “Christ’s Commandos.” These converts will be martyred and represent a separate class of believers from the church or from Israel.
See The 144k (The one hundred forty four thousand).
Most Christians today apparently look forward to escaping from this planet (they assume) and going to some idyllic paradise where they no longer need to be involved with lost sinners, or anyone else “left behind” on the planet. Such a fanciful scenario can’t be found anywhere in the Bible! The return of Jesus will not focus on our deeds and accomplishments but on His worthiness as the heir of all things.
Jesus Himself will evidently come and go during the Tribulation period while sojourning in New Jerusalem with us, His Bride. Are we not privileged to walk in step with Jesus in those days since we are destined to rule and reign with Him? See Psalm 45.
I see the seven-year Tribulation period as a time of transition from the present grim state of affairs to the open Second Advent of Jesus with His church and the coming of the Kingdom of God right here on earth. These ideas did not originate with me: they were brought forth decades ago by Ray Stedman.
I ask that these ideas be scrutinized ruthlessly, but I believe the time of the end is near.
Portals and Gates are often important in the Bible. Some portals we would except to find in the universe might be connecting places where one stepped from the usual mundane, familiar world of four dimensions into multi-dimensional space time. The Wardrobe cabinet in the Narnia tales of C.S. Lewis is one well-known fictional example. Another is found in the Harry Potter stories of J.K. Rowling. Yet a third example is the famous Tardis of Dr. Who. Children’s stories have long taken liberties of imagination with what is real and what is fantasy. "Real Life" is way stranger than fiction nonetheless. Time Warps are surely to be expected in heaven.
For example, Jesus appeared and disappeared regularly during the forty days between His resurrection and ascension. There are sound reasons to believe He will exhibit the same behavior at the close of the age we live in now. Similarly all of the loyal followers of Jesus will enjoy superlative new abilities which are featured in resurrection bodies:
New Jerusalem is probably multi-dimensional inside even though outwardly appearing to be three dimensional (four walls, twelve gates, foundations). The stone called “jasper” in Revelation is probably the diamond according to Ray. The stone we call jasper today is not transparent. “Jasper” Is seen in Revelation 4 and again in 21:
“Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone (blood red) in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald...” (Revelation 4:2-3)
“...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, (thick?) 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.” (Revelation 21:9-21)
One of the forms of pure gold is transparent, by the way.
From the outside looking in, New Jerusalem will reflect sunlight better than the earth’s moon which has an average albedo of only 0.12. If NJ is four-side and not gyroscopically locked in a fixed orientation, we might expect great dazzling beams of sunlight to be shining on the earth by night. It is possible that light from inside NJ might shine out through the 216 foot high outer wall. (The walls may be 216 feet thick, not high? In that case, the walls could be 1500 miles high.) We are not given many details about the interior of NJ, which we have suggested is multidimensional. There is an “exclusion zone” outside the city. See The Excluded Ones. Twelve gates suggests lots of traffic in and out. Presumably there will be controlled down to earth ventures in the service of the Commander-in-Chief.The city has twelve gates each made from a single gigantic pearl. A “foundation” under girds the city walls. A few additional details on City Center are given in Revelation 22:
“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. 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.” (Revelation 21:22 - 22:5)
The time frame for the sequence of events in the Book of Revelation after 4:1 is not totally linear and sequential--since John, the observer, was still in his old mortal body when he was given his tour of “heaven.” The reader of Revelation is presently trapped in linear, historical time. Indeed, he or she is constrained to live life one day at a time "down here" from birth to death. The record books of history list our DOB and our DOD. Not so the vantage point of heaven runs on very different clocks. God Himself is the “high and lofty one who inhabits eternity.” (Isaiah 57:15) Past, present and future are eternally “now” to our Lord. God does act within time and outside of time—both. He reveals Himself progressively in history from creation to the Second Advent. It is our present body with several internal clicks, rhythms and cycles that lock us into linear, historical calendars. Our new bodies, already built for us to occupy when we die, run according to very different clocks. The Resurrection Body is explained in 2 Corinthians 5.
There is no need for a follower of Jesus to view eternal realities in the heavenly places strictly through the lens of earth-bound lenses. Pay attention to verb tenses in the New Testament! For example, those who know Jesus have already come to New Jerusalem. Looking out through my present old eyes I can not see the splendor just behind the temporal, visible realm.
“For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. (For they could not endure what was commanded: “And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.” And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.”)
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.
See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:18-29)
An enigmatic passage mentioning two Jerusalems is found in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. The Old and New Covenants are contrasted in this passage, but the two Jerusalems are probably literal as well.
“Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children— but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written:
“Rejoice, O barren,
You who do not bear!
Break forth and shout,
You who are not in labor!
For the desolate has many more children
Than she who has a husband.”
Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.” (Galatians 4:21-31)
I wonder if the new heavens and new earth will be ALL new or just a cleansed old universe. Bryce will know. He is on the planning commission I think? We are creatures of habit and ALL brand new would be scary.
2 Peter 3:5-13 (NKJV) "For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 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."
We are very close to foolishness when we attempt to begin speaking of such things — we have not the capacity at present to suitably imagine, let alone comprehend, even our own resurrection. How much less the general ‘palingenesis’!
1 Corinthians 15:35-58 (NKJV) "But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain. But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body.
"All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. "So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. "However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.” "'O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’
"The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."