The New Jerusalem, a quasi natural-spiritual city that will float down out of the heavens above at the end of the world? A city that is made out of gems and silver and streets of gold?
Well, can I encourage you to rethink that just a bit? Of course there is a heaven if we are talking about "in his presence is fullness of joy and at his right hand are pleasures evermore" (Ps. 16:11). But the New Jerusalem was never about going to heaven. It was simply a synonym for how everyone would belong to the community of the presence of God on earth.
THE NEW JERUSALEM: the Church of Philadelphia
Revelation 3:1 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. 12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.
Here is another promise to those prior to the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. The overcomer was the one who held to Christ and did not return to the Jewish temple system that would come to ruin by the destruction of the Romans. Some suggest that these in Asia Minor would not be affected, but that isn't true. The Romans marched right through this area on the way to Jerusalem.
One perspective, the futurist perspective of Revelation, believes that Jesus is returning to rebuild Jerusalem, re-establish the sacrifices, and build a natural kingdom here on the earth.
But here are some things for you to think about.
1. Remember Saul? God wanted to be their king, and the prophet Samuel wept because they wanted an earthly king like the other nations. It was never God’s original intention for the earthly king, but rather a spiritual king. Can you imagine leaving heaven where you have perfect eternal access to the Father, Son and Spirit unhindered by any limitations… and then you come back to earth and set up a physical kingdom and then you have to make an appointment to see Jesus if you want to spend time with him?
2. Paul said it is the natural first, then the spiritual. Natural king, spiritual king. Natural Jerusalem, spiritual Jerusalem. The author of Hebrews says that they were looking for a city whose builder and maker was God… they looked forward to a spiritual reality, a citizenship in heaven, better than earth. When we read Paul in Galatians he speaks of two Jerusalem’s, one which is the Jerusalem above which is like Sarah, and the other is the Jerusalem below that was like the “bond-woman” and then he says it was time for the bond-woman to be “cast out”. Jesus said he was taking the kingdom from Jerusalem. Genesis says Jesus was going to take the scepter from Judah.
So here is Jesus in Revelation promising them they would PERMANENTLY be a part of the New Jerusalem in which they will GO OUT NO MORE. They would never have to flee this city. They would always be IN this city.
Here is the fulfillment in AD 70: Revelation 21:2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 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.
Notice verse two gives us the symbolism and verse three gives us an explanation of it.
Did you see what he said about the New Jerusalem? The New Jerusalem isn’t a physical city, it isn’t located in a place in the middle east. The New Jerusalem is when God came down and began to tabernacle with men. It is humanity as the tabernacle of God, the temple of the Spirit.
He says HOW this works… the tabernacle, is with men. Not believers. Not with Jews. Not with Gentiles. With mankind.
You and you and you are the New Jerusalem, the city of peace is made up of people… many who don’t know it yet. Many are unable to see it. But God is here dwelling with and in humanity. The New Jerusalem is the network God created by joining everyone together in the Spirit.
And the jasper walls? That is us. And the pearl gates. That is us. And the streets of gold… those are all descriptions of the people of God joined together by the presence of God dwelling among us. It is the network of relationships. It is the community of mankind.
Paul said in Galatians 4:21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, 24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— 25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children— 26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all…
28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. 29 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. 30 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.” 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.
Paul compares the the Jerusalem which "now is", i.e. the Jerusalem that existed physically in Paul's day to the bondwoman who gives birth to bondage. But there was another Jerusalem... the one above that is the mother of ALL... everyone, Jew, Gentile, male, female, etc. Soon from Paul's vantage point the old bondage based Jerusalem was going to be "cast out" (AD 70).
Do you see how beautifully these fit together? All humanity is part of the the New Jerusalem NOW... not later. Look at the gold in others, the gems that they are, the pearls which they display.
You ARE the treasure that was hidden in the field of the world, under all the dirt, but Jesus was the one who gave everything that he might have you!