One of God’s most wonderful promises to those who love Him is the creation of the new Jerusalem, a place of unimaginable beauty and perfection. In fact, Jesus promised to go ahead of His followers and prepare a place for them in the new Jerusalem, and the Old Testament heroes who exhibited unwavering faith in the Word of God had their eyes trained on this future city, a place where justice would reign and righteousness would endure for all of eternity.
“All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” Hebrews 11:13-16 (NLT)
The same New Testament chapter points out that Abraham himself confidently looked forward to the new Jerusalem:
“Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.” Hebrews 11:10 (NLT)
So when will this city arrive?
It will arrive in the aftermath of the Glorious Appearing of Jesus Christ:
“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!” Isaiah 9:6-7 (NLT)
As history proves, this child has already been born to us, and He freely offers the gift of eternal salvation to all who will accept it. Unfortunately, the entire world can see that His government and its peace have not yet arrived. But just as surely as the first part of this prophecy was fulfilled, it is a certainty that the rest of this prophecy will be fulfilled. And someday soon, those who love Him will witnesses the following:
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” Revelation 21:1-2 (NLT)
The Promise of Jesus
In a conversation with His disciples, the Lord Jesus said the following:
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.” John 14:1-4 (NLT)
Where is this place that Jesus is preparing? What does His Father’s home look like?
The bible provides us with a number of details. The place, of course, is heaven – His Father’s home, the place where God dwells.
Just as whatever plane the President of the United States occupies is known as Air Force One, wherever God chooses to dwell is known as heaven. And the bible clearly states that God will one day dwell with human beings in the new Jerusalem. Biblical descriptions of the new Jerusalem are descriptions of the place Jesus has prepared for us. The new Jerusalem is heaven.
So let’s examine what the bible says about this place:
The Pearly Gates
The physical description of the new Jerusalem paints the picture of a city beyond compare in its magnificence and enormity. The apostle John provides us with some details:
“So he took me in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and he showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God and sparkled like a precious stone – like jasper as clear as crystal. The city wall was broad and high, with twelve gates guarded by twelve angels. And the names of the twelve tribes of Israel were written on the gates. There were three gates on each side – east, north, south, and west. The wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were written the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” Revelation 21:10-14 (NLT)
The new city will shine with the glory of God, perfect in its beauty. And, as revealed in the following passage, its enormity will be unprecedented.
“The angel who talked to me held in his hand a gold measuring stick to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. When he measured it, he found it was a square, as wide as it was long. In fact, its length and width and height were each 1,400 miles. Then he measured the walls and found them to be 216 feet thick (according to the human standard used by the angel).” Revelation 21:15-17 (NLT)
The length, width, and height of the new Jerusalem will all be 1,400 miles in length. To put this into perspective, this is a distance equivalent to almost half of the continental United States! Opinions differ as to whether the new Jerusalem is shaped like a cube or a pyramid. Whether a cube or a pyramid, it would still be the largest city any human being has ever entered. And its beauty is accentuated by the following construction materials:
“The wall was made of jasper, and the city was pure gold, as clear as glass. The wall of the city was built on foundation stones inlaid with twelve precious stones: the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.” Revelation 21:18-20 (NLT)
The human mind cannot begin to imagine the true beauty of the new Jerusalem. Pure gold as clear as glass? An entire wall made of jasper? Its foundation stones will be inlaid with some of the most colorful and exotic stones ever created, and to top it off, the twelve gates will each be constructed from a giant pearl:
“The twelve gates were made of pearls – each gate from a single pearl! And the main street was pure gold, as clear as glass.” Revelation 21:21 (NLT)
Almost everyone has heard of the pearly gates of heaven. But unlike most of the artist renderings we’ve seen, the actual pearly gates will each be composed of a single pearl.
God Will Dwell Among Us
But the most glorious aspect of the new Jerusalem has nothing to do with its material splendor. The best part of the new Jerusalem will be that God Himself will dwell among men:
“I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, ‘Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.’” Revelation 21:3 (NLT)
In the new Jerusalem, physical and spiritual life will be illuminated by the presence of the Lord Himself. There will be no need for the sun, the moon, or the building of a temple:
“I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light.” Revelation 21:22-23 (NLT)
In the new Jerusalem, we will see the very face of God:
“No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no night there – no need for lamps or sun – for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.” Revelation 22:3-5 (NLT)
The new Jerusalem will be heaven, the place of final destination for those who believe in Jesus Christ. For He Himself will live among us:
“But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives.” Philippians 3:20 (NLT)
The River of Life
In addition to the presence of God, a river filled with the water of life will flow from the throne of the Father and the Son and down the main street:
“Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.” Revelation 22:1-2 (NLT)
The river will be flanked by a tree of life, bearing a new fruit each month, and its leaves will be used to heal the nations. The prophet Ezekiel witnessed this same vision:
“Fruit trees of all kinds will grow along both sides of the river. The leaves of these trees will never turn brown and fall, and there will always be fruit on their branches. There will be a new crop every month, for they are watered by the river flowing from the Temple. The fruit will be for food and the leaves for healing.” Ezekiel 47:12 (NLT)
The scriptures describe a new Jerusalem bursting with life, sustained by the living water of Christ:
“Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland. The parched ground will become a pool, and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land. Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish where desert jackals once lived.” Isaiah 35:6-7 (NLT)
To all who wish to drink from this water, the Lord Jesus Christ issues a free invitation to come:
“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ Let anyone who hears this say, ‘Come.’ Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.” Revelation 22:17 (NLT)
More Characteristics of the New Jerusalem
The aforementioned aspects of the new Jerusalem don’t even begin to offer a comprehensive view of what God’s city will look like. Below are a few verses which provide further illustration of the new Jerusalem’s characteristics:
No More Disabilities
“And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf. The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy!” Isaiah 35:5-6 (NLT)
No More Death or Crying or Pain
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:4 (NLT)
“I will rejoice over Jerusalem and delight in my people. And the sound of weeping and crying will be heard in it no more.” Isaiah 65:19 (NLT)
“Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.” Isaiah 35:10 (NLT)
No More Darkness
“The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the world will enter the city in all their glory.” Revelation 21:24 (NLT)
“Its gates will never be closed at the end of day because there is no night there.” Revelation 21:25 (NLT)
The descriptions of the new Jerusalem provide a laundry list of the very things which mankind longs for – fellowship with God, the presence of justice, the achievement of everlasting life, the admiration of exquisite beauty, and the absence of fear, crying, and pain. By every account, the new Jerusalem is the paradise of which mankind has dreamed since the fall of man. How then, does a person become a citizen of this new Jerusalem?
The bible tells us that citizenship is freely granted by the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ:
“And the one sitting on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making everything new!’ And then he said to me, ‘Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.’ And he also said, ‘It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega – the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.’” Revelation 21:5-7 (NLT)
To all who are thirsty, Christ will give freely from the springs of the water of life. However, certain people will not be allowed to enter the city:
“But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars – their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” Revelation 21:8 (NLT)
“Outside the city are the dogs – the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie.” Revelation 22:15 (NLT)
The reason these people will never be allowed to enter the new Jerusalem is because nothing evil can ever be allowed in the presence of the Holy God, and God will reside in the new Jerusalem:
“Nothing evil will be allowed to enter, nor anyone who practices shameful idolatry and dishonesty – but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” Revelation 21:27 (NLT)
Unfortunately, the list of those who are not allowed to enter provides an accurate description of mankind:
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 3:23 (NLT)
In spite of our shortcomings, not all hope is lost! A person can be made new again by belief in the living Son of God, Jesus Christ. Known as the Lamb of God, He gave His life as a sacrifice for our sin so that God can call us righteous and allow us entry into the new Jerusalem:
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NLT)
If a person believes in Jesus Christ, that person will not perish, but will have instead, eternal life. And this eternal life will be lived out in the confines and vicinity of the new Jerusalem, where God dwells among men:
“All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God – the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God.” Revelation 3:12 (NLT)
This is a promise from the Lord Jesus Christ. May His coming be soon!
“He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon!’ Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people.” Revelation 22:20-21 (NLT)
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!