The following excerpt is taken from Making Today Count for Eternity by Kent Crockett, Multnomah Publishers, 2001, pages 105-108.
After the new earth is created, the new Jerusalem will be transferred from heaven to earth. “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God…” (Rev. 21:2). The new Jerusalem, the capital of the new earth, is described as a cube of fifteen hundred miles long, wide and high, or about half the area of the United States. Because the city is fifteen hundred miles high, some people believe it will be structured in stories, one layer upon another. The heavenly city is called by several names:
The new Jerusalem (Rev. 3:12, 21:2)
The holy city (Rev. 21:2, 22:19)
The Jerusalem above (Gal. 4:26)
The city whose architect and builder is God (Heb. 11:10)
The city which God has prepared (Heb. 11:16)
The heavenly Jerusalem (Heb. 12:22)
The city of the living God (Heb. 12:22)
The city which is to come (Heb. 13:14)
My Father’s house (John 14:1-3)
Thousands of years ago, Abraham “was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10). The writer of Hebrews exhorts us, “For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come” (Heb. 13:14). God has prepared this heavenly city for all who love him. “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them” (Heb. 11:16). Jesus said in his Father’s house are many dwelling places, which he has prepared for his followers (John 14:1-3).
Let’s take a walk around the city, shall we? The new Jerusalem is surrounded by a wall with twelve gates, with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel written on each gate. Revelation 21:21 tells us that each gate is a single pearl. (Can you imagine the size of the oysters?)
Notice the wall has twelve foundation stones, and on each stone are the names of the twelve apostles. The Old Testament age is represented by names of the twelve tribes on the gates, while the New Testament era is represented by names of the twelve apostles on the foundation stones. Both Old and New Testament believers will dwell in the heavenly city.
Brilliant light radiates out from the new Jerusalem because the glory of God is its light source. The glow of the city illuminates the entire planet. “And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. And the nations shall walk by its light…” (Rev. 21:23-24). Won’t it be nice not having to pay electric bills or change lightbulbs anymore?
The details about eternity are hazy at best, but let me tell you what I believe will occur. The redeemed people from all periods of history will be the citizens of the new earth. Although all of us will have a dwelling place in the new Jerusalem, we will have responsibilities on the new earth outside the city. Evidently, lots of traffic will go in and out of the city, to and from the new earth. I believe that people will have assignments in different areas of the new earth, which will be divided into nations.
There will not only be nations on the new earth, but also kings. “The kings of the earth will bring their glory into it” (Rev. 21:24). Who are these kings who enter into the city? Let’s speculate a little further. Kings are the highest authorities in countries, so these kings probably hold the highest positions in the nations on the new earth. No doubt they represent the most faithful servants of the Lord from this present earth. Jesus said, “He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations” (Rev. 2:26).
In this future kingdom of God, some people will be selected to rule in these high positions as kings. Didn’t Jesus say that those who humble themselves will be exalted (Luke 14:11)? Several times He told us the last will be first, and that servants and slaves will be great in His kingdom. He also taught that if we are faithful with a few things, He will put us in charge of many things (Matt. 25:21).
Those who faithfully served God during their lives on earth will be promoted to rule over nations, while others will be given authority over cities. Remember the parable of the minas (“pounds” in KJV)? The faithful slaves were rewarded by being placed in authority over cities. After the master received a kingdom for himself, he put one slave in charge of ten cities and another in charge of five cities. Could it be that Jesus actually meant literal cities–not on this present earth, but on the new earth? Slaves in those days were never put in charge of cities, so it’s possible that he was referring to future responsibilities in the kingdom of God. I’m not trying to form a doctrine base on so few facts, but I find it fascinating to speculate how all the pieces fit in this gigantic, eternal puzzle.
When we work all this information into a composite sketch, it might look something like this: God will set up a government composed of different ranks and positions. Nations will cover the earth, with kings in authority over each one. Jesus will be the “King of kings” and the “Lord of lords” throughout eternity (Rev. 19:16). Positions throughout the kingdom, from least to greatest, will be assigned according to how faithfully we lived on earth. Although we will have different duties and assignments, everyone in heaven will be totally fulfilled as we worship and serve King Jesus together.