2 Corinthians 12:1-4 reads, “I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven— whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.”
This man in Christ is Paul himself. Note that verse 2 says, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven.” Verse 3 says “And I know that this man was caught up into paradise.” Paul clearly stated that paradise is in the third heaven, and he did not say he “went down to Hades,” but “caught up”. From these words, we know he is talking about a different place, a heavenly place above.
Revelation 2:7 reads, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”
Revelation 22 mentions the river of the water of life and the tree of life on either side of the river. These are in the city of New Jerusalem. Therefore, paradise is another description for New Jerusalem. The trees of life are actually in New Jerusalem. Therefore we know that paradise is basically New Jerusalem.
The word “paradise” originally refers to the beautiful gardens for emperors. Many brothers and sisters may feel that they do not understand much about the things pertaining to heaven. Some have no idea how big New Jerusalem is. It is enormous! Its length, width, and height are greater than the distance from Hong Kong to Beijing. A city of such great height is amazing! Do not think that there are only the streets of gold; at the very least it is a garden city. Hence, there are trees of life, and there must be other trees as well. This paradise by far is more stunning than the garden of Eden. Therefore, what we will gain in heaven is beyond the garden of Eden.
The garden of Eden was very beautiful. Though mankind sinned, this world is still quite beautiful. You cannot imagine how beautiful the garden of Eden was, but New Jerusalem is even better! There will be trees that bear fruit and there will be the river of life. What about flowers? As there will be fruit, there must be flowers, and how beautiful will the flowers of the trees of life be! There will be twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. How amazing! It’s beyond what we know now. Not only will there be water, there are also mountains. It is so beautiful. Look at all the mountains in such a small city like Hong Kong. In short, nothing can be compared to the “garden city” that God is building, better than the garden of Eden; it is even better than all the beautiful places of this world combined. God’s city is massive and magnificent!
I have visited Oceania. Australia, for one, is a big place with a small population. The lights were sparse at night, and what you could see during the day were mostly mountains. I hope that the Lord will open our eyes. The beauty of New Jerusalem is indescribable! There are many deserted places in many countries today, but in New Jerusalem, no place is deserted. It is stunning everywhere, with different characteristics and beauty, all designed by God. I hope that the Lord opens your eyes. It’s a very joyful place.
It’s true that people need community life in the city, but they may not always stay in the city. They also enjoy going to the rural areas to unwind. Every Sunday in Hong Kong, you see more people in the rural areas than in the city. It’s difficult to have the best of both worlds. But in New Jerusalem, there is a most beautiful fellowship. Not only is it a community: everyone will love with their all and everyone desires to give. There will be no sin at all. In the new heaven and new earth, righteousness dwells, more so within the city. The spiritual joy is unimaginable right now! The spiritual experience of being close to the Lord is beyond that on the earth. On earth, we also have beautiful fellowship and unity, but there, we will enjoy perfect unity.
In the whole universe, the most beautiful are Abba, the Lord, the Holy Spirit, and us! We are united to God. Since the most beautiful and noble ones are there, it requires the most beautiful place designed and managed by God. He uses His infinite loving wisdom to establish this place. That place is also the better country which Abraham desired. We won’t have to wait long before that day comes. Hence, it’s important that we know more about this better country, just as those who are immigrating to another country should learn more about the place they are moving to. We should know more about our home, as we are “going home”.