Looking Forward To The New Jerusalem.
Matthew 6: 19 -21; Revelations 21: 1 – 22: 5.
As we look towards the New Year, what ought to be our focus? An evaluation of the concluding chapters of the Revelation of John would perhaps be a start, as it sums up the Biblical narratives bringing both Old and New Testaments’ metaphors and symbols to portray for us the indescribable. The narrative appears to indicate the end of time, but to exist is to be contained within time, yet eternity is timeless. Fascinating! The imageries are a new heaven, a new earth, and a new Jerusalem; implying that our current ‘old’ world as we know it today will probably no longer exist as it is (Rev 21:1-2; c.f., Isa 65). The transformation will be so catastrophic that Scripture demands from us a response as we face the reality of a near total annihilation on earth. Peter’s language was rhetorically unambiguous: “since all these things are to be destroyed, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness” (2 Peter 3:10-13). The present tensions and struggles over our adoptive state as God’s sons and daughters will one day be gone, as we overcome temptations and difficulties with Him. The critical issue at this present moment is our Christological testimony, where our earthly existence is our preparation for life in the new heaven and the new earth, where righteousness is pervasive (Rev 21:3-4; c.f., Lev 26:11-13; Is 25:8; Jer 31:33-34). The new heaven and the new earth will have no seas, neither will there be a sun or a moon. The mind boggles as this turns our earthy bearings topsy-turvy.
The New Jerusalem that will descend from heaven is wholly unlike the historical Jerusalem. It is unrecognizable from the present City of David, and although it has a throne, it has no physical temple, and it is distinctly the habitation of God among His redeemed people from every age in human history. It is a spiritual kingdom where God is the temple, with a distinguishing absence of tears, sorrow, and death (Rev 21: 15-27; Heb 12:18-24). It emerges that believers in this city possess some form of embodiment to be able to ‘gastronomically’ participate in the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:9; with bodies that are neither wholly physical nor wholly spiritual, perhaps one not unlike Jesus after His resurrection?). According to John’s descriptions, and he appeared to have some difficulty depicting it, the new Jerusalem is architecturally divine in its structure; where human language has its limitations in illustrating it, with no conventional equivalent on earth! The richness of symbolism does not escape us in this Most Holy Place coming out of heaven: a colossal square city of about 1,400 miles on each side, where the Temple is God and the Lamb, where the Lion is the Lamb, and where the bride is the city. There is no altar, as there is no longer a need for mediation. The sun and the moon are not required to provide light, as God’s glorious presence is its light and its lamp is the Lamb for all the nations, and there will be no night (posing a scientific conundrum of bending light for a global world). The city gates will remain open forever to facilitate the worship of God. These images present a supernatural scenario.
In the New Jerusalem, all life will be centrally aligned with the enthroned Alpha and Omega and the Lamb. Apparently, there will still be national territories on earth; where the water from the river of life that flows from God’s throne will be for its healing (Rev 22:1-5; c.f., Gen 2:16-17). All these representations were symbolically portrayed. How events and issues will work out we shall find out one day, as God’s plans are really beyond our ability to comprehend (Eccl 8:16-17). There is only one certainty in plain language. Quite contrary to the ancient hidden holiness of Yahweh, His people will be able to see Him face-to-face (c.f., Ex 33:17-23), so much more than what Isaiah saw through the smoke and brightness (Isa 6:1-3). Eye contact with our Lord and God will be the culmination of our profound love relationship. It will be the fulfilment of every believer’s homesick heart, yearning to be in His Presence (c.f., 1 John 3:3). “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus (Rev 22: 20).