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What did Apostle John mean in the book of Revelation when he wrote about the “new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven”? Does this mean there will be an actual city made of gold, with its foundation made of jewels, descending from the sky and replacing the old city of Jerusalem? Is this what we are to expect?

It is important to remember that the book of Revelation was a vision given to John in signs and symbol, as Rev. 1:1 states, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him … and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John.” We should not, therefore, expect what is said in Revelation to have literal meaning. Only when it was unavoidable was the literal meaning used.

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth:
for the first [former] heaven and the first earth were passed away;
and there was no more sea.”
  Rev. 21:1

The first verse of Revelation 21 explains the time period when the New Jerusalem will descend to earth. In Bible symbolism, heaven represents religious rulership, and earth represents society. Religious systems and earthly society, as we now know it, will be replaced by a new spiritual rulership (a new heaven) and a new earthly society (a new earth).

These future turn of events are also vividly described in 2 Peter 3:11-13: “…what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”

Verse 1 of Revelation 21 ends with the statement, “And there was no more sea.” In Bible symbolism sea represents the restless masses of mankind. All the restlessness and turmoil which humanity had to fear in the past will be done away with.

“And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem,
coming down from God out of heaven,
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”
Rev. 21:2

John saw in vision what will take place in the future. In scripture a city represents a religious government. John saw New Jerusalem, the new religious ruling government, replace the counterfeit religious government, which was great Babylon, the Antichrist system, destroyed in Rev. 18:21.

The New Jerusalem coming from out of heaven indicates that it is of divine ordination. It is the new religious government of Christ and his Church (faithful Christians) whose power and control comes down to teach and bless the world of mankind in the earthly kingdom.

“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying,
Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them,
and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” Rev. 21:3

The great voice is the voice of Jesus. He identifies himself again in verse 6, saying, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.” Jesus was the first and last direct creation of God.

The great voice states that the tabernacle is now among men. The tabernacle represents something that is only temporary. What will be temporary during this time is mankind’s relationship with God through a mediator - Christ and his Church. Christ will mediate, or stand between, God and mankind. Because mankind will not be perfected until the end of Christ’s 1000-year reign, they will need a go-between to stand between them and God, because God cannot deal with sin.

This will be the job of Christ and the Church. They will mediate between God and mankind by teaching mankind righteousness and helping those who are willing to come to a condition of harmony with God, a permanent condition, where “God himself shall be with them.” When the mediation is complete, Christ and his Church will turn the kingdom back over to God, that He may be all in all. (1 Cor. 15:28)

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes;
and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying,
neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” Rev. 21:4

The former things include all things pertaining to the permission of evil mankind has been going through, the years of sin and death, and the 1000 years of Christ’s reign that are needed to restore mankind back to perfection. After mankind is fully perfected, there will be absolutely no remnants of the old heaven and earth. There will be no more tears, death, sorrow, or crying when Christ hands the kingdom back over to the Father.

The work of the earthly kingdom will be a gradual work. It will begin with those who live through the coming great time of trouble, and it will in time progress to those who will be raised to life from death. Mankind will be helped and encouraged to grow to perfection through a resurrection by judgment [trial] (John 5:29). Not a judgment or trial for past sins, but a trial for life, as Acts 3:23 says, “And it shall come to pass, every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.”

“And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold,
like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city
were garnished with all manner of precious stones.”
Rev. 21:19

This verse is not saying that there will be physical walls of gold. Gold represents the highest form of spirit nature, divine nature. The city is said to be of gold because it will be comprised of Christ and his Church who will have attained that nature.

The precious stones of the foundation are interpreted for us in verse 14, “And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” Each of the apostles, as well as each member of the heavenly Bride of Christ, will be garnished with precious jewels - beautiful character attributes. (1 Pet 3:3-4)

“And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon,
to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
And the nations shall walk in the light of it.” 
Rev. 21:23,24

The New Jerusalem will not need the sun or the moon. Nothing in this statement indicates that the world of mankind will not need sunlight and moonlight during the earthly kingdom. Psalm 72:5 says, “They shall fear thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations.” And although it will be true that Christ and his Church, as spirit beings, will not need literal sunlight and moonlight, nevertheless, this is not the thought.

The sun and the moon here are symbolic. The sun signifies the light of this Gospel age; the moon signifies the typically reflected light of the Gospel in the Mosaic Law and the prophets who lived before Jesus. The glorified Church will have no need of the light which in the present time she so much enjoys through the Old and New Testament. Then she will be so filled with all the fulness of God that nothing could add to her blessing of knowledge and divine favor.

And then “the nations shall walk in the light” of healing, refreshment and life coming down from the New Jerusalem.


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Last modified: 11/09/13