“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" where the angels live, and where the throne room of God is located (Revelation 4,5), nor the Third Heaven visited by Paul. 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.
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many rooms, (Greek: mone); if it were not so,I would have told you. I go to prepare a place (topos) for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” (John 14:1-4)
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)
The main description of New Jerusalem is in Revelation 21, and the timing here in this Chapter is after the Millennium. "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." (Revelation 21:1,2),
There are Two Jerusalems in the Bible, the heavenly city and Jerusalem, Israel. Revelation Chapter 21 (in earth time) is after the millennial rule of Jesus on earth. Jerusalem Above could have been constructed anytime by Jesus after the resurrection.
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.
Please scrutinize these speculations ruthlessly, but please stay within the bounds of what the Bible says or doesn't say. Remember that time as we experience it in our present bodies, "earth time") is not the same time as experienced by those who have their new resurrection bodies and live in "heaven." (See The Time Papers).
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 Stedman. 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)
It is conceivable that New Jerusalem should be parked in a synchronous orbit above the Equator.
Jerusalem, Israel is situated at 30 degrees North Latitude. From antiquity, Jerusalem has been considered the meeting place of East and West, and the World Navel.
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,s
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."
Christians have always placed religious significance on Jerusalem as the site of the crucifixion of Jesus and other events central to the Christian faith.
In particular, the destruction of the Second Temple that took place in the year 70, a few decades after Christianity began its split from Judaism, was seminal to the nascent Christian apocalypticism of that time. In the Olivet discourse of the Gospels, Jesus predicts the destruction of Herod's Temple, and promises that it will precede the return of the Son of Man, commonly called the Second Coming. This prophecy of the renewal of Jerusalem by the messiah echoes those of the Jewish prophets. John of Patmos' vision of the New Jerusalem in the Book of Revelation draws on the Olivet discourse and all the historical precursors mentioned above.
Based on the Book of Revelation, premillennialism holds that, following the end times and the second creation of heaven and earth, the New Jerusalem will be the earthly location where all true believers will spend eternity with God. The New Jerusalem is not limited to eschatology, however. Many Christians view the New Jerusalem as a current reality, that the New Jerusalem is the consummation of the Body of Christ, the Church and that Christians already take part in membership of both the heavenly Jerusalem and the earthly Church in a kind of dual citizenship. In this way, the New Jerusalem represents to Christians the final and everlasting reconciliation of God and his chosen people, "the end of the Christian pilgrimage." As such, the New Jerusalem is a conception of Heaven, see also Heaven (Christianity).
Christianity interprets the city as a physical and/or spiritual restoration or divine recreation of the city of Jerusalem. It is also interpreted by many Christian groups as referring to the Church to be the dwelling place of the saints.
John of Patmos describes the New Jerusalem in the Book of Revelation in the Christian Bible, and so the New Jerusalem holds an important place in Christian eschatology and Christian mysticism, and has also influenced Christian philosophy and Christian theology. Such a renewal of Jerusalem, if a reconstruction, is an important theme in Judaism, Christianity, and the Baháʼí Faith. Renewed Jerusalem bears as its motto the words Ad librum (Latin: "as by the book".)
Many traditions based on biblical scripture and other writings in the Jewish and Christian religions, such as Protestantism, and Orthodox Judaism, expect the literal renewal of Jerusalem to some day take place at the Temple Mount in accordance with various prophecies. Dispensationalists believe in a literal New Jerusalem that will come down out of Heaven, which will be an entirely new city of incredible dimensions. Other sects, such as various Protestant denominations, modernist branches of Christianity, Mormonism and Reform Judaism, view the New Jerusalem as figurative, or believe that such a renewal may have already taken place, or that it will take place at some other location besides the Temple Mount.
It is important to distinguish between "the camp of the saints, and the beloved city" spoken of in Revelation 20:9, and the New Jerusalem of chapter 21. Revelation 20:9 refers to an earthly City, description and purpose of which is found in book of Ezekiel, starting with chapter 36 and ending with chapter 48. One of the most obvious differences is that the dimensions of the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21 are 1000 times bigger than dimensions of the city in Ezekiel 48 (and, in Revelation 20:9). New Jerusalem of Revelation 21 is 2225 km in length, width, and height. A city of these gigantic proportions cannot be located on Earth; but, as stated in Revelation 21, A New Heaven and a New Earth, the city comes "down out of Heaven from God", presumably onto, the "new earth."
The term New JerusalemGreek: Ἰερουσαλὴμ καινὴν, Ierousalēm kainēn occurs twice in the New Testament, in verses Revelation 3:12 and Revelation 21:2 of the Book of Revelation. A large portion of the final two chapters of Revelation deals with John of Patmos' vision of the New Jerusalem. He describes the New Jerusalem as "'the bride, the wife of the Lamb'", where the river of the Water of Life flows (Revelation 22:1).
After John witnesses the new heaven and a new earth "that no longer has any sea", an angel takes him "in the Spirit" to a vantage point on "a great and high mountain" to see New Jerusalem's descendants. The enormous city comes out of heaven down to the New Earth. John's elaborate description of the New Jerusalem retains many features of the Garden of Eden and the paradise garden, such as rivers, a square shape, a wall, and the Tree of Life.
According to John, the New Jerusalem is "pure gold, like clear glass" and its "brilliance [is] like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper." The street of the city is also made of "pure gold, like transparent glass". The base of the city is laid out in a square and surrounded by a wall made of jasper. It says in Revelation 21:16 that the height, length, and width are of equal dimensions – as it was with the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle and First Temple – and they measure 12,000 furlongs (which is approximately 1500.3 miles, or 1 furlong = approx 220 yards). John writes that the wall is 144 cubits, which is assumed to be the thickness since the length is mentioned previously. 144 cubits are about equal to 65 meters, or 72 yards. It is important to note that 12 is the square root of 144. The number 12 was very important to early Jews and Christians, and represented the 12 tribes of Israel and 12 Apostles of Jesus Christ. The number symbolizes completeness in Revelation. The four sides of the New City represent the four cardinal directions (North, South, East, and West.) In this way, New Jerusalem is thought of as an inclusive place, with the 12 gates accepting all of the 12 tribes of Israel from all corners of the earth.
There is no temple building in the New Jerusalem. God and the Lamb are the city's temple, since they are worshipped everywhere. Revelation 22 goes on to describe a river of the water of life that flows down the middle of the great street of the city from the Throne of God. The tree of life grows in the middle of the street and to both sides of the river. The tree bears twelve (kinds of) fruit and yields its fruit every month. According to John, "The leaves of the tree were for healing (those of all) nations." This inclusion of the tree of life in the New Jerusalem harkens back to the Garden of Eden. The fruit the tree bears may be the fruit of life.
John states that the New Jerusalem will be free of sin. The servants of God will have theosis (i.e. the power or likeness of God, that is "in his image" of holiness) and "His name will be on their foreheads." Night will no longer fall, and the inhabitants of the city will "have need (of) no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light." John ends his account of the New Jerusalem by stressing its eternal nature: "And they shall reign forever and ever."
It had a great, high wall with twelve gates and with twelve angels in charge of the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of the people of Israel. There were three gates on each side: three on the east, three on the south, three on the north, and three on the west (Revelation 21:12-13). The twelve gates were twelve pearls; each gate was made from a single pearl (Revelation 21:21a). The gates in the north wall are named for Reuben, Judah, and Levi; those in the east wall, for Joseph, Benjamin, and Dan; those in the south wall, for Simeon, Issachar, and Zebulun; and those in the west wall are named for Gad, Asher, and Naphtali (Ezekiel 48:31-34).
The New Jerusalem gates may bear some relation to the gates mentioned in Enoch, Chapters 33–35, where the prophet Enoch reports that from each of the four "heavenly gates – opening in heaven – three (new gates) were seen distinctly separating (off, as if) the extremities of the whole earth" [were pulling apart each of the four gates into three new ones]. Thus, the four gates were each replaced by three new ones, totaling twelve [i.e. 3 x 4 = 12] gates in all. [33, 3.][ref. Laurence translation, Book of Enoch.]
In 21:16, the angel measures the city with a golden rod or reed, and records it as 12,000 stadia by 12,000 stadia at the base, and 12,000 stadia high. A stadion is usually stated as 185 meters, or 607 feet, so the base has dimensions of about 2220 km by 2220 km, or 1380 miles by 1380 miles. In the ancient Greek system of measurement, the base of the New Jerusalem would have been equal to 144 million square stadia, 4.9 million square kilometers or 1.9 million square miles (roughly midway between the sizes of Australia and India). If rested on the Earth, its ceiling would be inside the upper boundary of the exosphere but outside the lower boundary. By way of comparison, the International Space Station maintains an orbit with an altitude of about 386 km (240 mi) above the earth.
The Book of Revelation was composed during the end of the 1st century AD near the end of Domitian’s reign (A.D. 96), or some date it earlier during the later end of the reign of Emperor Nero Domitius (54 to 68 CE). The work is addressed to the seven churches that are in Asia" (1:4). Revelation is normally broken into three sections: the prologue (1:1-3:22), the visions (4:1-22:5), and the epilogue (22:6-20). This study is principally concerned with chapter 21.
The author of Revelation was both a Jew by birth and a believing Christian. For the author and the addressees of Revelation, they are searching for the Lord to vindicate them and judge the "inhabitants of the earth," for their suffering (6:10). The fall of Jerusalem coupled with the Neronian persecutions form the tension within the subtext of Revelation.
Throughout Revelation, several references to the Temple are made REV 3:12,7:15,11:19,14:15,16:1. This Temple appears to be of heavenly origin. When the eschaton arrives in REV 21:1, the reader expects the temple to come down from heaven with the New Jerusalem. Revelation 21 even contains typical New Jerusalem terminology that accompanies a restored Temple. Specific measurements are given for the new city (Ezekiel 40–48, 4Q554), and the city is built with gold, sapphires, and emeralds (Isaiah, Tobit). In addition, 21:21 references the "twelve gates." Revelation maintains another typical aspect of New Jerusalem tradition – the reunification of the twelve tribes of Israel (Ezekiel 48:33-34).
Verse 22 marks a sudden and remarkable shift in New Jerusalem apocalyptic rhetoric: "I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb." Following with the tradition of 3 Baruch and 4 Sibylline Oracles, Revelation foresees an eschaton without the Temple. Why has the Revelation suddenly denied an eschatological Temple? Verse 23 sheds light on this disparity.
Verse 23 proclaims, "And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is the light, and its lamp is the lamb." For the author of Revelation, there is no need for a Temple because the Lord will be the New Jerusalem's eternal light and Jesus (the lamb) will be its lamp. This re-interpretation utilizes Isaiah to make its case: "The LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun shall no more go down, or your moon withdraw itself; for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended." (Isaiah 60:19)
The Temple is discarded in the eschaton because the Lord will provide illumination for the New Jerusalem, and Christ will be the glory for its residents. Henceforth, Christians believed that the New Jerusalem no longer required a Temple. For Christians, their Lord sufficiently replaced the Temple.
Notes by Lambert Dolphin
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