We believe that New Jerusalem is a real city. At the same time, we also accept all correct explanations about its spiritual meaning. The Lord’s words, prayers, and actions on the night before His crucifixion was very precious.
One of the Lord’s promises was described in John 14: 1-3: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
From this passage, we can be certain that the Lord was talking about the Father’s house. We know now that He was referring to New Jerusalem, a place that has many rooms. It is not a symbolic expression but a house, a real dwelling place with many rooms. The Lord also said that if it were not so, He would have told us. He clearly said, “…for I go to prepare a place for you.” Therefore, He is preparing the place now. And He continued to say, “… I go and prepare a place for you…” Some other translations use the word “mansions” instead of “rooms,” so we know that He is not just preparing a tiny room for us .
The word “prepare” appears in both the previous passage as well as 1 Corinthians 2: 9, which says “What God has prepared for those who love him…” and in Revelation 21: 2, which reads, “…prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” Some people think that New Jerusalem is not a real city, but their explanation does not make sense. If the place and city mentioned in the Bible were not real, what could be real in the Bible then? Actually, John 14: 3 is simple and direct. By referring to other Bible passages as well, we know for sure that New Jerusalem is a real city.
Let’s read Hebrews 11: 8-10, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” This passage is very clear.
Let’s continue to read verses 13-16: “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 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 for them a city.”
These people were waiting for a real city; it was impossible for them to look forward to something that had no real substance. It would be ridiculous to say that they desired a sign or symbolic expression! Furthermore, how could God be the designer and builder of a mere symbolic expression? These people who were seeking their homeland also acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. They made it clear that they were seeking an everlasting and better country. Indeed, they had already seen what God had promised them, such as a real country. They greeted those promised things from afar. For this, they even left their former homeland. What they desired was a better country, not a better symbolic expression. The scripture says very clearly that God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for a city for them
If this city was a reference to the church, then Abraham and all these people would have been waiting for the church. How could that be? It would have been impossible because the church was a mystery in the Old Testament time. Not even the prophets knew about the church. Therefore, it was impossible that they were waiting for the church, since they did not have any knowledge of the church. On the other hand, if they had misunderstandings about this city that they were waiting for, I think God would have corrected them. But actually, they were not mistaken; God even praised them and declared that He is not ashamed to be called their God. God has truly prepared a city for them. They desired a better country. The homeland they left was a real place, just as the better country they desired and sought was also real. This better country is in heaven.
God is the designer and builder of the city. It will be the most beautiful. It is very clear that it is NOT the church. Neither is it something symbolic and immaterial. They were seeking a real place. No other explanation makes sense. Hebrews chapter 12 also tells us clearly that the heavenly Jerusalem is neither the church nor a symbol, because there are many concrete and important elements. The festal gathering of innumerable angels will not take place within the church, nor will this gathering be a symbolic one. It is also impossible for the spirits of the righteous to be within the church. This cannot be a symbol either. The scripture is actually very clear. The misunderstandings come from man because it is hard for them to accept the truths behind New Jerusalem. They cannot believe the enormous size of the city. On the contrary, we think the enormous size of the city makes it more believable. Otherwise, the rooms for us will be way too tiny. This proves that it is God’s word. Some people think it is impossible to have pearls taller than 1000 miles to be the gates. Actually, it makes sense for the pearls to be this large. It’s because they symbolize how much the old saints suffered in order for the church to come into being.
Hebrews 13: 14 reads, “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” We cannot say that the cities of that time were real, but that New Jerusalem was not. Also, consider that the word “we” in the verse e refers to the church. So it wouldn’t make sense for the church to seek for the church, if “the city” actually referred to the church. This is impossible. Therefore, we know for sure that New Jerusalem is a real city.