THE NEW JERUSALEM

 

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“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away, and there was no more sea. And I John saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 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” (Revelation 21:1-3).

by George Tabac

 

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The present ecclesiastical heavens and the evil social structure of earth will pass away in Armageddon. It will be replaced by the earthly phase of God’s kingdom. The fact that this New Jerusalem is coming down from God out of heaven shows the first phase to be in operation will be the spiritual. When the church is glorified, it will begin setting up the earthly kingdom.
The word “tabernacle” means “dwelling place.” The dwelling of God will then be with men. It will be manifested through the visible earthly representatives of the new order, the Ancient Worthies.

Appearance of the New Jerusalem

“And the city lieth four square, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with a reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal” (Revelation 21:16).

In this vision John saw the city in the shape of a perfect cube, the length, breadth, and height were all equal, twelve thousand furlongs or 1,500 miles each. These are immense dimensions. For example, the size of the lower 48 states of the United States is 1,581 miles north to south and 2,680 miles, east to west. That means if the New Jerusalem was literal, it would cover more than half the country. This simple fact suggests there is room for all who are willing to enter. No one will be excluded who wants to live by its standards.

“And it had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates” (Revelation 21:12,13).

This perfect cube was oriented to the four points of the compass with three gates on each side. This orientation suggests that this city is for people of all lands, in every direction. Identical gates on each side of the city suggest all will have an equal opportunity to enter. These gates are a beautiful picture of what will be required of mankind to enter into the New Covenant arrangement. These requirements will be the same for all people.

“And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. … And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel” (Revelation 21:14,17)

The Dimensions

The wall had twelve foundations, and each represented one of the twelve apostles. But why would there be twelve foundations under a wall that goes around the city? And what is meant by the wall being 144 cubits?

The walls of ancient cities were built for the safety and protection of its inhabitants. This is also true of New Jerusalem. The 144 cubits refer to the wall’s thickness, not its height. Using a cubit of 18 inches results in an astonishing wall thickness of 216 feet. This illustrates the absolute and complete protection provided to all within. “They shall not hurt or destroy” (Isaiah 11:9). No enemy from north, south, east, or west, not even Satan himself, will be able to breach the walls of this city. The walls represent the church, all-powerful divine beings, possessing immortality. This strength is suggested by the walls being 144 cubits thick, the number of the church (See Revelation 14:1).

These walls are made of living stones described by the Apostle Peter. “Ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5 ASV). They are also depicted in the walls of Solomon’s Temple. “And the house, while it was being built, was built of stone prepared at the quarry, and there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house while it was being built” (1 Kings 6:7 NAS77).

All the chiseling, chipping, and polishing of the heavenly class will be done while in the flesh, here on earth. We are now in the quarry. Our experiences are custom made, fitting us for a place in those walls of protection for New Jerusalem.

The Foundations

By having 12 foundations the vision may be suggesting a different placement for these foundations than is customary. Since the city is in the shape of a cube this likely indicates that the 12 edges of the cube are to be considered the foundation points. If this is the case, then the intent may include a wall on both the top and bottom of the structure. This suggests an even greater surrounding wall of protection for those within. Twelve edges hold the cube together, giving strength and stability. They correspond to the twelve apostles who are the foundations upon which the walls, (the church), are built and held together and shows their special place in the heavenly government. Their guidance gives strength and unity.

The city was also 12,000 furlongs on each edge. Twelve edges multiplied by 12,000 furlongs equals 144,000. This demonstrates how the church class, with its divinely appointed apostles, will surround the city and be a wall of protection to those within.

The Area

The area of one wall was 12,000 by 12,000 furlongs. Multiplied together gives 144,000,000. This now takes into account the length of time (1,000 years) the church will act as a wall of protection.

The Righteous Shall Shine Forth

The dimensions of the New Jerusalem draw a larger picture and shows a marked relationship to the sun. The area of the overall cube results in an interesting result. 144,000,000 (area of one side) times six sides, (six sides to the cube) equals 864,000,000. The diameter of the Sun is approximately 864,000 miles. This provides a picture of how the church will shine as the sun for a thousand years of the Millennium. “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matthew 13:43). The Designer of the Universe is showing us the remarkable connection between the earth’s source of light and the city of light, which will sustain and protect all within it.

Parallels in Time

Time is also commensurate with the numbers of the New Jerusalem and the cosmos as demonstrated in the following chart:

Correlation to the Earth

New Jerusalem’s measures also correlate with the size of the earth. This interesting connection expresses the harmony and purpose of New Jerusalem. Smith’s Bible Dictionary gives a furlong as 220 yards or 660 feet. Thus 12,000 furlongs is 7,920,000 feet. This is confirmed in the New American Standard translation of Revelation 21:16, which says each side is 1,500 miles or 7,920,000 feet.

Each side of the New Jerusalem then is 7,920,000 feet. The earth itself is not a perfect sphere. Due to its high rotational velocity, the equator bulges out some 26 miles more than at the poles. However, the average diameter of the earth is approximately 7,920 miles. This close correlation connects the dimensions of the New Jerusalem with the dimensions of our planet to show that the New Jerusalem is for the ultimate purpose of blessing all the families of the earth.

Ezekiel’s Vision

In the vision given to Ezekiel, a city south of the holy sanctuary has measures that also relate to New Jerusalem. As mentioned in the previous article, the unit of measure in Ezekiel’s Temple and city was the “great cubit,” a cubit plus a hand breadth (Ezekiel 40:5). This comes to slightly over 21 inches or 1.76 feet.

The city of Ezekiel’s vision was a perfect square, each side of 4,500 cubits (Ezekiel 48: 30), or 7,920 feet. This correlates to one side of the New Jerusalem.

The side of Ezekiel’s city matches that of New Jerusalem. Thus, the perimeter has a similar correlation. See the illustration below.

We stand in awe as we behold the work of the Great Architect who designed our earth and gave us the New Jerusalem and Ezekiel’s city as symbols to describe His interest in mankind, the earth, and our life-giving sun.

Raised Outside the City

New Jerusalem illustrates the necessary progressive steps for all to take in the kingdom in order to receive everlasting life. In Revelation 22:17, reawakened mankind are pictured outside the city where they will hear a call.

“The spirit and the bride will say, ‘Come,’ and let him that heareth say ‘Come’ and let him that is athirst come, and whosoever will, let him come and take of the water of life freely. … Blessed are those who wash their robes that they may have right to the tree of life and may enter by the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:17, 14 NAS).

To receive life, there must be a thirst for righteousness and a desire to serve God. Mankind will hear this call outside of the city walls, wash their robes, and enter this city. The washing describes cleansing themselves through a consecration to righteousness.

The river and trees of life described earlier in Revelation 22:1, 2 are part of the New Jerusalem picture. Partaking of them will be the reward for those seeking righteousness (verse 12).

Gates to the City

“And the gates thereof shall in no wise be shut by day; night in fact will not be there” (Revelation 21:25 Rotherham).

The gates of ancient cities were often shut at night. However, in New Jerusalem they remain open. This openness is depicted by Isaiah. “In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in. … Trust ye in the LORD forever: for in the LORD Jehovah is everlasting strength” (Isaiah 26:1-4). The gates will be open so that righteous nations may enter freely. The promise of perfect peace, which so many seek during this age, will be commonplace among those who enter this fortified city of God.

All the gates of this wonderful city lead to the broad highway of the city, corresponding to the Highway of Holiness of Isaiah 35. Unlike the Narrow Way of the Gospel Age, this road will not be strewn with pitfalls and hazards. Satan, the ravenous lion, will not be there. The “redeemed” will walk there. What a glorious future awaits our fellow men and women.

“And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: … And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass” (Revelation 21:12,21).

The twelve gates of this glorious city are of pearl with an angel standing by each one. Upon each are the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. These gates provide access to the city of blessing, a picture of consecration to righteousness.

The gates are referred to as pearls. This recalls the words of Jesus, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man seeking goodly pearls. Who when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:45, 46). The church sees the value of the high calling as a way of sacrifice, the pearl, and gives her all in full consecration. Similarly, mankind will hear a call and also understand the value of what is placed before them. Their pearl will be the opportunity to gain perfection and everlasting human life. Those who appreciate this will give their all in consecration.

“Pearls are formed inside the shell of certain mollusks as a defense mechanism against a potentially threatening irritant such as a parasite inside the shell, or an attack from outside that injures the mantle tissue. The mollusk creates a pearl sac to seal off the irritation. Pearls are thus the result of an immune response” (Wikipedia).

A pearl is formed layer by layer, exhibiting a luster from its translucent layers. Sin and death have been like parasites on humanity. But the experience will contribute to the development of something beautiful: willing hearts submitting to God. They will pass through gates of pearl, reminders of their past experiences which bring great value to their present lives. The gates were named after the twelve tribes of Israel, suggesting the Ancient Worthies, as representatives of God, will assist others to enter in (R1353). The first ones to enter will be “the holy remnant of Israel” who will then assist the Ancient Worthies to further educating the race. All who enter become “Israelites indeed.”

Isaiah 60

“Thy gates shall be open continually, they shall be not shut day or night, that man may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles and that their kings may be brought. … Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction … thou shall call thy walls salvation and thy gates praise, the sun shall be no more thy light by day neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee. But the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light and thy God, thy glory” (Isaiah 60:11,18,19).

This lovely passage from Isaiah provides another parallel to the New Jerusalem picture. The gates will be open continually and no destruction will be allowed within. Rather than the sun and moon, the Lord God will be its light. This last phrase closely matches Revelation 21:23, “The city had no need of the sun neither the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God did lighten it and the Lamb is the light thereof.”

They Shall See His face

“They shall see his face and his name shall be in their foreheads” (Revelation 22:4). By the end of the Millennium, mankind will see God’s face in the sense of having His complete favor turned toward them. This process began with Jesus’ return, described by Peter in Acts 3:19. “Repent … and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” The Greek word for “presence” is prosopon (Strong’s 4383). It means “from the face of, as a mark of favor” (Volume 2, page 188). God’s favor began to turn at the second advent of Christ but will not be fully turned to man until the kingdom work is accomplished.

Finally, this world will understand God’s deep love for them. Each one will be transformed into God’s character likeness. Holiness, purity, and love will be engraved in their hearts and minds. An engraving in one’s forehead is a mark of identification. As a slave was once marked by his owner, so mankind will be devoted to the Giver of Eternal Life. This is similar to the church being sealed with the mark of God on their foreheads (Revelation 7:3).

The River of Life

“He pointed out to me a river of water of life, bright as crystal, issuing forth out of the throne of God and of the Lamb in the midst of the broad way” (Revelation 22: l,2 Rotherham).

Flowing through the city will be a river of water of life from the throne of God and Jesus. This is similar to the river in Ezekiel 47, which flows from the temple, a picture of Christ and the church. It flows out past the east gate and down to the Dead Sea. Because of the high salt content, there is no life in the Dead Sea. This aptly represents mankind in the tomb of death. But everything the river touches comes to life. “Their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many” (Ezekiel 47:10). Every nationality and every individual will be touched and brought to life. They will be “exceeding many” in number.

In contrast to Ezekiel, this river is described within the walls of New Jerusalem. After entering the city, those raised from death partake of the fruits grown by the river. “On either side of the river was there the tree of life which bear twelve manner of fruits and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:2).

This alludes to the Garden of Eden where there was a single “tree of life” (Genesis 2:9). In Revelation, the tree of life on either side of the river indicates that more than one tree is referred to. Young’s translation uses the word “trees.” This imagery is from Ezekiel 47:7, “at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and the other.”

These trees yield 12 crops of fruit, bearing monthly. These 12 crops, harvested 12 times a year, times 1,000 years, yields 144,000 crops used to feed the nations. The 144,000 of the church class will bring life-sustaining instructions to the world, mentally, morally, and physically (R3625). Bro. Russell suggests the monthly harvest indicates “the fruit is adapted to the changing conditions of men as they are brought toward perfection — fruit suitable for each changing season” (R334). The leaves of the trees heal the nations. Sin has brought many diseases to our race. These will all be healed through the power of God’s kingdom.

Multiplying 144,000 x 144,000, we get 20,736,000,000, perhaps the number of people eventually granted eternal life.

Two Classes Shown

All who will receive eternal life will be inside the walls of New Jerusalem. Others will be outside. Either they refuse to enter through cleansing and consecrating to righteousness, or, having started up the highway of holiness, prove unfaithful in the final test and are removed into second death (Revelation 22:19). These comprise the goat class of Matthew 25 and are pictured outside the city. “The fearful and unbelieving, and the abominable and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers and idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death [everlasting destruction]” (Revelation 21:8). It will be a great relief for mankind when the ungodly ones are removed.

In this lovely picture are the inspiring words, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes” (Revelation 21:4). It will be as if our heavenly Father was in a nursery reaching down and wiping the tears from his children’s eyes.

“There shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain for all these former things are passed away.” The cause of all sorrow will be gone.

“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).

The vision ends with the words: “And they shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:5). Finally, after the long arduous journey through sin and death, evil and corruption, mankind will be given dominion over all the earth as kings. They shall reign forever as perfect human beings in direct covenant relationship with God, subservient to His greater dominion.

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