Revelation 21:9-10 reads, “Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, ‘Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.”
The holy city is a real city. The above verses say, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” The holy city is a real city carrying very important messages. However, you can’t equate the city as the Bride because people other than the church will also live in the city.
The Lord once said on earth, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets…” (Matthew 23:37) This verse does not imply that the city of Jerusalem actually killed the prophets. Instead, it is referring to those who lived in it. Similarly, when you say that New York is miserable, you are not saying that the city itself is miserable but that the people of New York are miserable.
The Bride is the most outstanding among all who dwell in the city. Of course, other people will also dwell in the city. But the church will remain the most prestigious and glorious. The Lord also said that He has prepared a place for us. This city is extremely beautiful, so it is rightfully called the Bride. However, this does not mean that the city is fake. Calling the city the Bride expresses in human terms the relationship between the Lord and the church, and the deep love union. This relationship is different from those on earth. So, here are some descriptions about the city. It would not make sense to use New Jerusalem as a symbol to refer to the Bride, which is another symbol. A symbol is used to represent the true form of reality. Simply put, the city is a real city with deep meanings. It shows many aspects of the church, as well as the glory of God and the Lord Himself. The Bride will be the most unique and important residents of this city. Therefore, it is rightful to call this city the Bride.
If the city was the church, it would make it very difficult to explain Rev 21:16-17. Instead, New Jerusalem is a real city with twelve gates and pearls.
Revelation 21:16-17 reads, “The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal. He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurements, which is also an angel’s measurement.”
This city is real. It has gates and a wall. It also has measurements. This city lies foursquare, and its length, width and height are equal. The Book of Hebrews talks about “shadows” and “realities”. (Hebrews 9:23, 10:1) 1 Kings chapter 6 says that the Most Holy Place in the temple had the same width, length and height, just like the holy city mentioned in Revelation, except that the holy city is more precious than the Most Holy Place. It is filled with God’s glory; the Most Holy Place in the past also had God’s light, but it could not be compared to this city, which is filled with God’s glory. The Lamb is the lamp of the city.
The shadows were made to resemble things that are real. It would be completely wrong to think that the shadows such as the Most Holy Place are real, but that the true forms, like the city, are not. Indeed, there is a real city in heaven. Those shadows on earth are used to help us to understand the true form in heaven.
Revelation 21:21-27 reads, “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
The city is so immense that some people think it would be impossible to have such a large city. You can do the math—the length, width and height of the city would each be longer than the distance between Hong Kong and Beijing. In particular, some people find it hard to accept the great height of the city. Some think that the city is out of proportion to the size of the earth. In addition, the 12 gates of pearls will be unbelievably gigantic! It’s hard to believe that there’s a clam that could produce such a big pearl! Therefore, they conclude that it must be a symbol, not a real city.
When I was young, I did some math to estimate the total number of people who will live in heaven. This includes people who have been saved, babies who have never sinned, and all the saints from past generations. I felt that those who have not yet believed should repent as soon as possible. The Lord told us there are many rooms. But after all these generations, the rooms should be filled almost to capacity. We truly need such a big city to live in; otherwise, our rooms would be very tiny. Also, there will be some areas of the new city that we’ll be sharing with other residents. So if the city was not huge, our living spaces would be too tiny. Given that we will become the most glorious and honourable kings, small spaces wouldn’t be suitable for us to live in.
The Father will bring many sons into great glory. This also proves that these are God’s words. Elevators and airplanes did not exist during John’s time. How would it be possible to travel up such a tall city? This also shows that these are God’s words. People cannot believe it because it is beyond their understanding. Actually, when we have a resurrected body, we’ll be able to go to the top of the city in no time. Because of the resurrected body, it does not matter how high the city is; we’ll be able to reach the top immediately. The size of the city is actually very appropriate. If these were not God’s words, how could John imagine such unusual things? Even though these words could be hard for some people to believe, he still wrote them down because they were true.
Try adding up the number of people in heaven. The Bible tells us very specifically what the volume of the city is. The length, width and height are equal. Just multiply the numbers and consider the public spaces along with the natural beauty. Then you will know that the Bible’s account of the city dimensions has to be true. In fact, such descriptions prove that it is the word of God.
Some think the city is out of proportion. Indeed, a city as wide as the distance between Hong Kong and Beijing is very special. But I believe that the new earth will be bigger than the present earth. How much bigger? I don’t know. God will surely have the best plan.