Brothers and sisters, today’s topic of Treasures for the Soul is “Is the heavenly New Jerusalem a real city?”
Revelation chapters 21 and 22 talk about New Jerusalem as the completion of God’s will. This is very important! Unfortunately, some mistaken it as a symbolic expression, and some think it only refers to the church. It states clearly in Hebrews 12: 22-24 that firstly, when we draw near to God or pray, we aim toward heaven, not inside of a person; secondly, New Jerusalem is a real city, because there will be the festal gathering with innumerable angels, the assembly of the firstborn—the church, and the spirits of the righteous made perfect, etc.
Today I want to share a very important message about New Jerusalem. It says in Revelation chapters 21 and 22 that it is our ultimate final destination. It’s the completion of God’s will, the most precious and important. The city itself is very precious, but what’s inside the city is even more precious and beautiful. It’s most appropriate for the most beautiful people to dwell in the most amazing place. New heavens and new earth are even more marvelous than the garden of Eden!
I’d like you to know that New Jerusalem is a real city. Since it’s very important, let me explain it in greater detail, so that you may have assurance about it. Many believers don’t fully understand New Jerusalem. They may have been misinformed by some preachers, even though these preachers may be precious and well known. We must understand New Jerusalem according to the words of God. And since this is about the completion of God’s will, it could bring severe consequences if this truth is misrepresented!
Hebrews chapter 12 is very precious. Verse 22 reads, “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…” Whether the city is real or not is very important. Now we have come before God’s throne. With confidence, we have come before God. But where is God? Where is His throne? Paul told us to mind the things that are above. Things that are above are very precious. Every detail mentioned in this passage is rich in meaning. For example, the phrase “Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant” is short, yet it is very rich in meaning. Even the covenant is already very amazing, not to mention the name “Jesus.” What the covenant represents is truly beyond words!
What can we find in New Jerusalem? Let’s continue with verses 22 to 24: “…and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”
“The spirits of the righteous made perfect” refer to those believers who died before the time of the church. They were in Sheol and rested in Abraham’s bosom. The Lord has taken them up to heaven. Therefore, paradise is now in heaven. Paul also talked about his experience of being caught up to the third heaven, to paradise. These spirits of the righteous are not part of the church. The firstborn are the church.
This passage is very important because it helps us to be clear about a lot of things. It also helps us in many aspects, and corrects a lot of wrong teachings. For instance, many believers still have misunderstandings about drawing near to God and praying to God. They believe that they should pray towards their hearts. That is why this is referred to as a “centering prayer.” Now we see that when we pray to God, we are not drawing close to our hearts; rather, we are coming to heavenly Jerusalem, where God’s throne is. We are coming to the throne of grace, before God. This is extremely important.
This passage clearly tells us New Jerusalem is a real city. Hebrews chapter 12 tells us who will be in the city. If the city was only a spiritual interpretation or symbolic expression, the Book of Hebrews would not have told us so many details about it. And why would it mention the throne if it wasn’t real, or the spirits of the righteous if they were not real spirits? And Hebrews chapter 12 also mentions us! It doesn’t make sense to think that New Jerusalem is the church. How could the church be inside the church, and how could the assembly of the firstborn be inside the church? How could the spirits of the righteous be part of the church? Clearly, these are two different groups.
This passage also talks about the assembly of the firstborn and the festal gathering of innumerable angels. So, how could the festal gathering of innumerable angels be part of the church? Therefore, thinking that New Jerusalem is the church doesn’t make sense. New Jerusalem is a real city, where the church dwells. Among those who dwell in the city, the church is the core. We are the firstborn and the bride.
New Jerusalem is a real city. Otherwise, how could the church assemble inside the church? The Lord is in heaven. It doesn’t make sense to say that His resurrected body is inside the church. His body cannot be in heaven and on earth at the same time. The city and the church are two different entities. The city is a real city whereas the church is a group of real people, the firstborn. The city is not the church.
New Jerusalem is rich in spiritual meanings. It also shows the glory of the church. Being God’s creation, New Jerusalem expresses God’s glory, and it illustrates what the church should be like.