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Heaven Can Wait II, The New Jerusalem

There is a popular “Christian” sentiment on the part of religious leaders that "Heaven is wherever Christ is." This is tied into the belief that Heaven is the eternal dwelling place for those who died as believers. But the idea that Heaven is wherever Christ is, no matter how well intentioned, is not theologically accurate. For if this sentiment is a verity, then it opens up all sorts of debate akin to how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. To wit, was Heaven on Earth during Christ's ministry, and not "in Heaven?" And if Heaven is wherever Christ is, where does that leave our Father and everyone else when Christ is on Earth? For as Christ said, "Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Does this mean that the harp playing angels, and all the folks who died and "went to Heaven" are traveling around to meetings with Christ? If this isn't the case, then how can we say, "Heaven is wherever Christ is too?" While this may appear to be a trifle, the Roman church instigated doctrine of dying and going off to Heaven is a major error in relation to the Biblical doctrine delivered by Christ and the apostles in the first century. It turned Christianity into Churchianity.

The Roman church's rerouting of Biblical doctrines has gotten them into conundrums over the millennia. [See the Sneakers article, Nope To Pope]. But the Protestant denominations are not immune to this muddle either. So let’s take a real life example, and you decide for yourself. For this, let’s go to the word of God in Revelation, chapter 21, verses one and two.

They read, "And I saw a new Heaven, and a new Earth: for the first [Greek, protos, meaning the former] Heaven, and the first Earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. [See the Sneakers article, No More Oceans].

And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."

From both these verses we’ve just read in the Biblical record, let’s take a little logic quiz. Disclaimer, there are no trick questions in play here.

1- “I saw a new Heaven, and a new Earth.” T or F: Heaven and Earth are one in the same? And, T or F: Heaven and Earth are two distinct entities?

2- “I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven.” T or F: The new Jerusalem is in Heaven? And, T or F: The new Jerusalem is out of Heaven?

3- As there is a new Earth, and the new Jerusalem is out of Heaven, then, T or F: The new Jerusalem is a city of Heaven. And, T or F: the new Jerusalem is a city from God on the new Earth?

If you answered False to all the first questions, you got them correct. If you answered True to all the second listed questions, you got them correct. 

Now, having answered these questions, which conclusion would you come to:

1- The new Jerusalem is the heavenly city1, and by being in the New Jerusalem, we will be in Heaven.

2- The new Jerusalem is the holy city, and by being in the new Jerusalem, we will be on the new Earth.

If you chose the second statement, you are in agreement with the word of God in the Biblical record. If you chose the first statement, you are someone who preaches based on personal beliefs. For the first statement is a quote from an answer to a query concerning this subject.

The "ultimate point made" by this preacher was that we don't need to choose, as if the choice is ours, between going to Heaven or being in the new Jerusalem on Earth, “for they are the same place." How one can be “out of Heaven” and “in Heaven,” or be “in Heaven” and “on the new Earth” at the same time, quantum entanglement notwithstanding, if it exists then, is a mystery.

This is why it is important to let the Biblical record interpret itself. Why this person came to the conclusion that the new Heaven and new Earth are one in the same, anymore than the present Heaven and Earth are one in the same, I cannot say. But, it may be that once we get a particular idea stuck in our heads, namely “we die and go to Heaven as the eternal dwelling place,” then it appears that we tend to see and interpret any and all verses according to what we want to believe no matter what the truth of the word of God tells us. This is like Orwell’s doublethink, or believing two mutually contradictory points at the same time, not unlike political campaign proclamations. It allows us to avoid the complications associated with cognitive dissonance. But, it also snuffs out our holy curiosity, and our ability to prove the truth as the apostle Paul instructed. [1 Ths. 5:21; see the Sneakers article, A Life And Death Pickle Of A Predicament].

No matter what our reasoning for replacing the truth with falsehoods, there is a principle that we should bear in mind when approaching the word of God and living our lives. In the Old Testament it reads, "Her [the House of Israel] priests have violated my law, and have profaned my holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they showed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my Sabbaths, and I am profaned among them." [Eze. 22:26]. This could just as easily read for the House of Israel today, "Her pastors have violated my words, and have dishonored me: they see no difference between the truth and the lie, neither have they put any difference between the righteousness and unrighteousness, and have hid their eyes from my redeeming, and I am defiled among them." [See the Feature article, Why Do We Believe The Lies?].

The first bedrock principle of Biblical research I learned as a new student of theology came from my professor, the head of the theology department, who later became a good friend. It is, “Let the Bible interpret itself.” The next key principle is, "Biblical context is our primary interpreter." These are vital companions for all of us to have when pursuing our Biblical studies.

Modern Churchianity, while it claims the Bible as its foundational text, ignores the plain truth of the word of God. Irrelevant verses are taken out of context, and from this, various belief systems emerge to become “gospel.” This is one reason for the more than 30,000 Christian denominations today.

It is the same with the beginning of life. "Pro-lifers" ignore the clear and plain statement in Genesis 2:7, with the creation of the first man by God, and the breath of life making alive the first man. This is colossal Biblical context. Ignoring this, however, pro-lifers take verses not addressing the issue, therefore way out of context, as proof that life begins at conception.2 In turn, this raises the same type of problematic questions we discussed in the first paragraph of this article. When we redefine the truth of the word of God to suit our purposes, turning it into a lie, we pay the price of ignorance. [See the Feature articles, Life In The 'hood and And Now, A Word From Our Sponsor; also the Sneakers article, Biologically Irrefutable, Guv'nor?].

In fact, this deceitful idea of going to Heaven is from Satan originally. "For you [Lucifer] have said in your heart, I will ascend into Heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God ...." [Isa. 14:12-14]. This longing of going to Heaven as the ultimate end was incorporated into the Roman church and then passed along to the rest of us. This lie has pervaded Christianity and our lives so thoroughly that we are in complete darkness regarding the unique and wonderful plan of God for us in the Christian age; for it is the first time in the history of the world that the Spirit of God was made available to the House of Israel. [See John 15:26; and Acts 2:38; also Eze. 34:30]. Rather than moving forward in our spiritual growth and understanding, on a fool's errand, we spin round and round chasing the lies. [See the Feature article, Moving Forward].

The false idea of going to Heaven has invaded Islamic beliefs as well, perhaps through the pervasiveness of the Roman church teachings in the centuries before the founding of Islam. "Throughout our lives, we strive to believe in and serve Allah, with the ultimate goal of being admitted to heaven (jannah). We hope that our eternal lives will be spent there ...." [Heaven In The Quran; also see Mohammad To Marry Virgin Mary In Heaven]. This wording is identical in principle to the "Heaven is the ultimate end" found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition, Part One, Section Two, Chapter Three, Article 12, II. Heaven.

Ancient Israel, and Judaism, however, have no tradition of going to Heaven. "No one knows exactly why the Torah doesn't discuss the afterlife. Instead, the Torah focuses on "Olam Ha Ze," which means 'this world' ... "Olam Ha Ba" literally means "the world to come" in Hebrew." [No Going To Heaven In Old Testament]. Olam also means world without end as in generations of eternal ages. As the Biblical record is one book written to the same people, it is not surprising that the New Testament is in complete agreement with the Old Testament in this regard. The plan of God has remained unchanged since before the foundation of this world. And it remains unchanged for all the nations of Israel today. [See the Feature article, The Good News Colour Revolution].

As to "No one knows why the Torah doesn't discuss the afterlife," it is simply because the entire plan of God was not made known in the age of the law covenant. To a greater extent, it is made known to us in the Christian age through the writings of the apostles. [See Heb. 2:8, 9]. Yet, we have pushed it aside for the lies. But, as we see here in "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him, to show to his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his messenger to his servant John: who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that reads, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand." [Rev. 1:1-3]. It's all a matter of timing throughout the ages of God's plan. Everything takes place in its rightful order as planned. [See 1 Pet. 1:9-12].

No doubt, someone will raise the point about what Jesus said on the cross to one of the criminals being crucified, "And Jesus said to him, Verily I say to you today you shall be with me in paradise." The first point we should make is that "today you shall be with me in paradise," meaning they went to Heaven is not the case. Christ was in the grave for three days and nights. Remember, he told Mary Magdalene not to touch him after his resurrection for he had yet ascended to his Father in Heaven. So that leaves out going to Heaven on the crucifixion day, the Passover.

Second, the Greek word for paradise is paradeisos. Paradise is not a reference to Heaven, but to earth. It refers to a closed-in garden, a beautiful park, or the part of Hades [the grave in the earth] the Jews came to think of as the separated place of those dead until resurrection to eternal life. This idea may have evolved from the command "... that you may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean." [Lev. 10:10]. So then, did Christ simply tell the criminal that he would be in the grave that day too? In the big picture scheme of things, it's most likely that Christ was telling this man he would be resurrected to eternal life on the new Earth, in the new Jerusalem, whose wall will make it a new, closed-in "garden in Eden." This is an exact tie-in to the entire plan of God, the promise made to the ekklesia in Rev. 2:7, and in the rest of Revelation chapter 21.

Therefore, instead of banging ourselves into a brick wall of deceit about going to Heaven as the ultimate end, Christians have an incredible, and glorious view of the endless plan of God that is revealed to us here in the Book of Revelation. But as we see no difference between the lies and the truth, we spend our spiritual currency on worthless profanities that as blind sheep lead us to the Apocalypse, the time of Jacob's trouble, instead. [See the Feature article, Why Do We Believe The Lies?].

Now that we have a grasp of verses one and two, let’s see what the rest of the chapter here in Revelation says about our being on the new Earth, with the new Jerusalem, rather than dwelling in Heaven, old or new. [See the Feature article, Heaven Can Wait].

Verse 3 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.

This verse is definitive concerning the whereabouts of God, and those of us written in the Book of Life when it comes to the new Heaven and Earth as we’ll read in verse 24. This also goes to the point that was brought forth in our Feature article, The Good News Colour Revolution, that dying and going off to Heaven is not “the ultimate end.” Rather this is about the resurrections and eternal judgment, the plan, the kosmos, of God in that this marks the beginning of a new age after the second resurrection, among the endless ages to come on the new Earth. [See the Feature article, Three Temple Ages Make A Plan and the Sneakers article, Name Those Tenets].

God’s plan is an ordered arrangement, the kosmos as it reads in Greek. Each age has its generations and its purpose, as does the Christian age, and the ages yet to come. This is how it was from the beginning. “These are the generations of the heavens and the Earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the [first] Earth and the heavens ….” [Gen.2:4].

The first fruits who are asleep in Christ, are in a temporary, not ultimate, state, returning with him to the first Earth at the first resurrection. [See Rev. 20:5, 6]. “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead [those temporarily asleep in Christ] shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” [1 Cor 15:52; also see Rev. 11:15]. The first death means we are either asleep in Christ, or asleep in the grave awaiting resurrection. We are not alive in Heaven. This includes King David even though one day he will sit at the right hand of our Lord. [See Acts 2:29-36].

As Paul told the ekkelsia in Thessalonica, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep [Greek, koimao, to cause to sleep], that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus, God will bring with him. [From where to where? Heaven to Earth as in "your kingdom come"]. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we, which are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them who are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain [on the Earth] shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” [1 Ths. 4:13-18]. This is a reference to Christ's return at the first resurrection, and those who are raised from the dead, those asleep in Christ, to immortality with the Lord. [See Rev. 20:5, 6].

For those called and chosen, ordained to eternal life, are dead in the flesh after our last breath like everyone else. But, it means we are asleep in Christ as all the apostles are, too, until Christ's return. Sleep is a temporary state of the flesh as opposed to the death of the flesh. Likewise, sleep in Christ is a temporary state as well. This is why those who died in the flesh, and then are asleep in Christ, shall rise, or wake up to immortality first. Therefore, “Going to Heaven is not the ultimate end or goal,” or finality as the resurrections from the dead make clear.

There is much more to God's plan on Earth in the endless ages ahead. “To Him be the glory in the church in Christ Jesus to all the generations of eternal ages," literally, 'of the age of the ages.' Eternity is conceived as consisting of 'ages' (these again consisting of 'generations') endlessly succeeding one another." [Eph. 3:21, A.R. Fausset, JFB Commentary].

Verse 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

For those, in the ages of this world who are written in the Book of Life, there shall be no more sorrow, nor pain, nor death. These former things have passed away for them. However, on the new Earth, in a new age, as we read above, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men ….” The word men is anthropos, meaning mortal man. It is the same word the apostle Paul used when he referred to the first man, Adam. [1 Cor. 15:45]. And while those who are written in the Book of Life will have been raised to immortality, from both the first and second resurrections, mortal men will live and die on the new Earth, all part of the plan of God for the new age and ages to come. This goes to show how unique and special the Christian age is for us.

“For, behold, I create a new Heaven and a new Earth: and the former [the first Heaven and Earth] shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be you glad and rejoice forever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her [Jerusalem], nor the voice of crying." As Amadeus Mozart put it, "I thank my God for graciously granting me the opportunity of learning that death is the key which unlocks the door [the resurrections] to our true happiness."

“There shall be no more an infant of days, nor an old man that has not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner [Heb. chata', to miss the goal or path] being an hundred years old shall be accursed. [Heb. qalal, to be of little account, insignificant, diminished, i.e., those who don't get it, will have little to show for their efforts].

"And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people [the oldest known trees are about 5000 current Earth years old], and mine elect [Hebrew, bachiyr, God’s chosen] shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed [Hebrew, zera] of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.

“And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” [Isa. 65:17-24]. And what we've just read here takes place in a new age on the new Earth.

This is hardly a description of being in Heaven for eternity while taking harp lessons from angels or staring at God all the time. As we've learned, the new Jerusalem is on the new Earth with God, and not in Heaven. However, this means between Christianity and Islam, there are about 4 billion people today who think they are off to Heaven as the ultimate end, with Muslims thinking unconverted Christians will go to Hell forever and vice versa. The destiny of mankind on this Earth, however, is neither Heaven or Hell. It is eternal life on the new Earth, in the new Jerusalem or eternal death. [See Deu. 30:19; also footnote 1].

On the new Earth, there will be mankind offspring or children born too. “ … for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.” As to “for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed,” in other words, man’s life on the new Earth, in their new age will be much longer than we currently experience or more like the age before the flood of Noah’s time. Even at 100, which is old by today’s standards, it will be like childhood then. 

The example here is given for us to understand in our current Earth years due to the fact we mortals normally are restricted by the constraints of living in this past, present, future, length, width, height world. [See Mat. 17:20]. However, both time, and space, are singularities that have expanded into existence in our consciousnesses that we call life. When we cease to be conscious, physical observers, both time and space cease for us as well. This life, our observed matrix, is what our physical senses were designed to allow us to experience. To access and have knowledge of anything beyond this world in this life, it must be through the spirit.

As we are told, “there should be time no longer,” Rev. 10:6, "for the former things are passed away." Time is an illusion within an illusion. This is to say time is a temporary construct on this interim Earth in this interim universe. It is this life, rather than the "afterlife," that is the anomaly for our Creator, for God is of the Spirit. In this world, the past is the present and the future is the past, which is to say the past, present and future are all one as Solomon stated it a few thousand years ago in the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes, 3:15. As Einstein pointed out more recently, [or was it at the same time?], " ... the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” So, too, distinctions in space, hence quantum entanglement. Yet, it's the world we live in ... for the time being. [See the Feature article, Brown Paint: Quantum Potentialities; also The Puzzle Of Time In Our Universe. Scientists still don't know what to make of it].

The new Jerusalem neither has a sun, nor a moon to light it, both key elements in our measuring time ... years, days and months. As it says, “And the city had no need of the sun, neither the moon ….” And in verse 24, “ ... the nations [Greek, ethnos, people] of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it” meaning the new Jerusalem. Being immortal, the illusion of time will have passed away.

Verse 5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

Therefore how valuable are the material goods of this temporary world we spend so much time pursuing? And how valuable then is the advice Christ gave us, "And I will say to my soul [Greek, psyche, the breath of life], you have laid up many possessions for many years; take it easy, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said to him, Fool, this night your life shall be required of you: then whose shall those things be, which you have provided? So is he that lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." [Luke 12:19-21]. Pursuit of the accumulation of material possessions is vanity and foolishness. [See the Sneakers article, Do You Have The Right Stuff?].

Verse 6 And he said to me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

It is done references God's plan for this heaven and Earth. [See the Feature article, The Final Prophecy: It Is Done]. The reference to Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, is like our modern day expression of "everything from A to Z." The word beginning, Greek archēis used in an absolute sense as we see in Genesis, "In the beginning [Heb. re'shiyth] God created the heavens and the Earth." And this is when time began as well. [See chapter four, Creation In Six Days, But Who’s Counting? in The Blind Man’s Elephant, a complimentary PDF on the Home page].  

The end is the Greek word telos. It references an end to space rather than time, which in this case means the old heavens and Earth. The Greek teleutē is used when referencing the end of time, which is used as a reference to the end of mortal life, death. Thus, at the death of our mortal bodies, time ceases to exist for us. But the illusion of time continues for those still alive in the flesh. It is only at the end, telos, of these heavens and Earth [verse 1] that time, teleutē, will no longer exist.

"I will give to him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely" is similar to what Adam was told in the original garden in Eden. “And the LORD God commanded man saying, Of every tree of the garden you may eat freely….” The exception, of course, was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which has plagued mankind ever since. [Gen. 2:16; see Rom. 5:12]. There are no restrictions of the water of life in the new Jerusalem on the new Earth. [See Rev. 22:1, 2, 17].

The purpose for which all those things the former Heaven and Earth were created is done. Think about it. Everything we know, see, experience through our senses, from where our feet are right now all the way out to the edge of the expanding universe, all of it will be done and gone. All things will be new. The new Earth and new Jerusalem, and the new Heaven, mark the beginning of an altogether new age in God’s plan as we are told in the Biblical record. And if we are found written in the Book of Life, we, too, shall be new, immortal, without the need for any material possessions.
 
Verse 7 He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

Verse 8 But 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 burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Note that the first category mentioned is fearful, which in Greek is deilos. Deilos means timid or cowardly [see Mark 4:40], implying someone who lacks faith, the conviction of the truth. This is someone who doesn't have the strength to trust in the word of our Lord, the truth. As A.R. Fausset states in the JFB Commentary, " ... the cowardly," who do not quit themselves like men so as to "overcome" in the good fight; who have the spirit of slavish "fear," not love, towards God; and who through fear of man are not bold for God, or "draw back.""

The second death is the potential fate of these folks in the great, or second resurrection. Again, these people were not in Heaven, or in Hell as an ultimate dwelling place for that matter, unless we use the Biblical definition of Hell as being in the grave until the resurrection. These people are asleep in the grave as opposed to asleep in Christ. They are raised from their graves, and judged according to their works at the second resurrection. Those found lacking will suffer the second death. And the second death is just that, death. It is not an eternal burning. The lake of fire consumes them. They cease to exist. [See Rev. 20:11-15; also the Sneakers article, What About Everyone Else?].

Verse 9 And there came to me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come here, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife.

Verse 10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of Heaven from God,

Again, the point is made that the new Jerusalem, the great and holy city is from God. It descends out of Heaven to the new Earth. It's not ascending from the new Earth to God in Heaven. Heaven is not our eternal dwelling place.

Verse 11 Having the glory of God: and her light was like a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;

Verse 12 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:

If Christ was the savior to the gentiles, the non-Israelites of the world, why then are the names on the gates of the new Jerusalem those of Israel’s twelve sons? Because it is as Christ said in the first century, “I am only sent to the lost sheep of the House of Israel” in the Christian age. The new Heaven and New Earth mark the beginning of a new age in the plan of God.

The names of the twelve tribes or nations of Israel’s sons as listed in Revelation 7 are Judah, Reuben, Gad, Aser, Nepthalim, Manasses, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zabulon, Joseph [Ephraim], and Benjamin. This list differs from that of Genesis 49 in that the tribe or nation of Dan is not listed among the nations of Israel in Revelation. We are not told whether or not their name will be included on the gates of the new Jerusalem. But, it doesn’t look good. [See the Sneakers article, Who Is Dan, And Where Did He Go?].

Verse 13 On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; on the west three gates.

When the children of Israel left Egypt and wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, they were to pitch, or encamp, three sons to each of the four compass points. Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun pitched on the east. On the south, Reuben, Simeon, and Gad. On the west, Ephraim [i.e., Joseph in Revelation 7], Manasseh, and Benjamin, the sons of Israel and Rachel.  On the north, Dan, and Naphtali. Levi is missing here because “Then the tabernacle of the congregation shall set forward with the camp of the Levites in the midst of the camp ….” See the Book of Numbers, chapter 2 for the details. The differences in the spelling of names reflect whether the name is the Hebrew, in Numbers, or the Greek in Revelation.

Verse 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

The names of the original 12 apostles are Peter, his brother Andrew, James [the son of Zebedee] and John his brother, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James [the son of Alphaeus], Thaddaeus, Simon Zelotes, and Judas.

Like Dan with the nations of Israel, Judas was replaced among the twelve apostles. There were two candidates. “And they, [the apostles] prayed, and said, You, Lord, which knows the hearts of all men, show us which of these two you have chosen that he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. And they gave forth their lots, and the lot fell on Matthais; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.” [Acts 1:24-26].

Verse 15 And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.

Verse 16 And the city lies foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.

The furlong here is the Greek word stadion. A stadion is about 600 feet or 185 meters. So the square pyramid/or cube described here as the new Jerusalem will be about 7.2 million feet to a side, and is just as high. To put this into a little perspective, it is about 1363 miles or 2193 kilometers high, as is each side of its base. This is about the distance from Toronto, Canada to Tampa Bay, Florida, or about the distance from Moscow to Amsterdam.

For you geometry geeks, the volume of this, if a square pyramid, is 844,046,382 cubic miles. If it’s a cube, then it's three times larger, 2,532,139,147 cubic miles. Either way, there is plenty of space for “many mansions.”

If you are wondering how high this is in relation to our present Earth, this would take us into the Exosphere where the “air” essentially is a vacuum. This is not a place for mortal beings, at least on our current Earth. These dimensions appear to indicate the new Earth is much larger than the one we inhabit now, as is the new Jerusalem compared to the current one.

As there are 12 gates, there will be three gates to every 1363 miles or 2193 kilometers. Assuming, though no guarantee, our immortal selves are on the same scale as our current mortal bodies, the scale is spectacular. And as Christ said to the apostles at the Passover meal the night before his crucifixion, “In my Father’s house there are many mansions [mone, dwelling places]: if not, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” [John 14:2].

Verse 17 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.

By comparison, the wall is not very tall, only about 216 feet or 65 meters. A cubit is about the distance from our elbow to the tip of our fingers, commonly about 1.5 feet or just under half a meter.

Verse 18 And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.

And to think the illustrious, though tiny by comparison, pyramids of the pharaohs of Egypt are only made of stone.

Verse 19 And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;

Verse 20 The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.

The 12 foundations of the wall of the city were garnished, or adorned with these precious stones. As it appears that each foundation of the wall circumscribes the city, then each foundation will have about 5450 miles/8723 kilometers of jasper, sapphire, emerald adornments, etc.

Verse 21 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.

So, how valuable is your pile of earthly stuff looking right about now? [Again, see the Sneakers article, Do You Have The Right Stuff? and the Feature article, Brown Paint: Quantum Potentialities].

Verse 22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.

To those in this generation of the church who have remained steadfast in the love of the truth, there is a promise from our Lord. “For you have a little strength, and have kept my word, and have not denied my name … Because you have kept the word of my patience [Greek, hypomone, steadfastness, unswerving], I also will keep you from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the Earth. [This is the time of Jacob's trouble, the Apocalypse, see Rev. 12:6]. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which you have, that no man take your crown. Him that overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go out never more at all: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which comes down out of Heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the ekklesia.” [Rev. 3:8, 10-12; also 12:14].

Those who have remained steadfast and unswerving to the truth of the word of God in this generation, those not fearful [v.8, Greek, deilos, timid, cowardice in face of the truth] will be made a pillar in the temple of God. This is a metaphorical expression, as we may refer to someone as a “pillar of the community.” This would be someone who is upstanding, a tower of strength, a leading light and champion in the community.

There is no temple building in the new Jerusalem, but our Father and the Lamb are the temple of it. Pillars are the main strength of a building that hold up the structure as long as it stands, in this case for eternity. So, those of the church of Philadelphia who overcome will be an integral and permanent part of the new Jerusalem, a tower of strength with our Father, Christ and Jerusalem's new name on them, crowns of majesty on their heads, having upheld the name, the truth of Christ’s words, in this life. [See the commentary regarding Ezekiel 7:20 in the Feature article, And Now, A Word From Our Sponsor].

The apostle John penned the Book of Revelation as he did the Book of John. He makes a distinction between the old and new Jerusalem. He refers to the old by its Greek’s name, Hierosolyma in his gospel book. But in the Book of Apocalypse or Revelation, he refers to the new Jerusalem by its Hebrew name, Hierousalem. In his lifetime, John had seen the Jerusalem of his youth and apostleship, then he saw it laid waste by the Roman army, and he sees it again in vision as the new Jerusalem on the new Earth.

The Greek word for new in describing the new Jerusalem is kaine. “Not the old Jerusalem, once called the ‘holy city,’ but having forfeited the name, Greek, nea, would express that it had recently come into existence; but Greek, kaine, that which is new and different, superseding the worn-out old Jerusalem and its polity.” [A.R. Fausset, JFB Commentary]. Remember, the old Jerusalem will be destroyed having been Edom’s capitol of the sixth empire, Babylon the Great in our age. However, the Jerusalem of the Millennium will pass away with the old Earth. [See Rev. 18, and the Feature article, Obadiah And The Prophetic Parable Of The Tares].

Verse 23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.

Verse 24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the Earth do bring their glory and honour into it.

Verse 25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.

Verse 26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.

I want to quote here from Andrew Robert Fausset’s intro to his commentary on the last two chapters of Revelation, 21 and 22, written about 150 years ago, as it is quite apropos to this subject of “going to Heaven” versus living on the new Earth, in the new Jerusalem. “The remaining two chapters describe the eternal and consummated kingdom [basileia, the power and authority] of God and the saints on the new Earth. [Emphasis added]. As the world of nations is to be pervaded by divine influence in the millennium, so the world of nature shall be, not annihilated, but transfigured universally in the eternal state, which follows it. The Earth was cursed for man’s sake; but is redeemed by the second Adam. Now is the Church [the Christian age]; in the millennium shall be the kingdom; and after that shall be the new world [all things are new … the new Earth and Jerusalem] wherein God shall be all in all.”

The simple point made here is that “Heaven is not the ultimate end, the eternal dwelling place,” but rather the power and authority of God with the saints on the new Earth. And that which is written here in Revelation 21 is the first of the new “generations of eternal ages.”

Verse 27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defiles, neither whatsoever works abomination, or makes a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.

Regarding the Book of Life, see the commentary on Acts 13, verse 48 in the Feature article, The Good News Colour Revolution.

While we have read some very specific details about the new Jerusalem here, this kind of detail is not found anywhere in the Biblical record describing the old or new Heaven. This may be why there are so many erroneous ideas floating around about going to Heaven.

When we die, we don’t “go to Heaven” in the sense of cavorting with harp playing angels before the throne of God, or romping with virgins or whatever idea it is that is promulgated about going to Heaven. Those who are ordained to eternal life are asleep in Christ. Asleep. And what does the apostle Paul tell us about the state of those who are asleep in Christ? “For the Lord himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God:3 and the dead in Christ shall rise first.” Being asleep means we are still dead vis-à-vis the flesh. The dead, those asleep in Christ in Heaven are not alive in Heaven. The first fruits are awakened only at the time of Christ’s return to Earth, the harvest which is the first resurrection. “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised [those temporarily asleep in Christ when he descends from Heaven] incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” [ibid].

Those resurrected and judged to eternal life, either from the first or second resurrection, shall be immortal in the new Jerusalem. In the new age on the new Earth, men will live as we read above, and kings of the new Earth will bring their glory and honour into the new Jerusalem. And men will have the right, the liberty to access the tree of life therein. If this sounds familiar, it's because the first garden in Eden offered this same initial choice to Adam and Eve. "And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil." Once they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they were prevented from access to the tree of life, immortality. [Gen. 3:22]. The new Earth marks a full circle from Adam and Eve in the garden. All things are made new.

Therefore, the corrupted doctrine of “going to Heaven” to be with God, meaning in some state of aliveness, when we die is a lie. It completely negates the entire concept of the resurrections, eternal judgment and the endless generations that make up the eternal ages on the new Earth as the plan of God was intended since before Genesis 1:1. Those not raised up at the first coming, will be judged at the great or second resurrection at the end of the Millennial age. They will either be given eternal life or will be cast into the lake of fire, the second and final death. Thus, it is not locations we are judge to, rather we are judged to eternal life or death. [For details concerning the resurrections, see chapters five and seven in The Hijacked Elephant, a complimentary PDF on our Home page].

When someone, glancing upwards, says, “ I know so-and-so is smiling, and looking down on us right now,” well, this popular notion just ain’t so. At least according to the word of God it’s not. We are either asleep in Christ, or dead in the grave, to be resurrected at the first, or second resurrection. These are cornerstone facts, the foundational principles of Christianity. But when we have evolved away from these principles of the doctrine of Christ to “Heaven is wherever Christ is” and “Heaven is our eternal dwelling place,” there is something very wrong. Christianity has become Churchianity. We fool ourselves when we think we can follow both the truth and the lie. Only one leads to life, the other leads to death.

“For the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it?” [Jer. 17:9]. “There is a way which seems right to a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death.” [Pro. 14:12].


1 There is a reference to the heavenly Jerusalem in the Book of Hebrews, which was written by Paul for those who are mature in the word of God [see Heb. 5:13, 14]. "But you are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the God of the living, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks better things than that of Abel." [Heb. 12:22-24].

These verses are not about going to Heaven after we die. What Paul is telling these mature Christians is that perfection [v.23] brings us to an understanding of what we will experience in the ages to come, including the new Jerusalem on the new Earth. However, Paul's epistles to the Romans, Corinthians and Galatians, for example, were written for those first learning, and still striving to understand the basic principles of Christian doctrine, including the resurrection of the dead, not those "alive in Heaven." The teachings in these epistles equate to elementary school level Christian theology. For those who are grounded in these principles, Paul is taking it to a much higher level of understanding. [However, as a Christian, I would highly recommend reading the Book of James, which in the original order of the New Testament was the first epistle or book to Christians after the Gospels and Acts. Think of it as a Reset button for evaluating your Christian life].

As the apostle Paul says to those who are mature in the word of God, "Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on to perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works [Christmas, Easter, etc.], and of faith [pistis, conviction of the truth] toward God, of the doctrine of baptism, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment." [Heb. 6:1, 2]. Understanding the role of the resurrections from the dead, and eternal judgment equates to understanding that we don't die and go off to live in Heaven as our ultimate dwelling place as we will see further on, here in Revelation 21. It's either eternal life on the new Earth or eternal death. [Also see the Feature article, Heaven Can Wait].

Paul continues, "And this will we do, if God permit. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the ages to come ...." [Heb 6:3-5]. Paul here references the ages to come, the eternity of ages after our Christian age and Millennium, which will be on the new Earth, not in Heaven, as we see with the new Jerusalem. This, of course, ties in with the resurrections and God's judgment to eternal life versus eternal death.

And this is why in verse 22 above in Hebrews, the Greek theos zao reads God of the living. In nearly all the English translations it reads, the living God. While this is a simple inversion of words, it is a huge difference in theological principle. The point of the Biblical record concerning the resurrections is not that God is alive, but that we have the promise of eternal life, beginning with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In the Greek manuscripts, it reads God of the living, as it should be throughout the New Testament text, as Christ duly noted. [See Mark 12:26, 27; also Mat. 22:31, 32]. That great dragon, Satan, the Devil [Rev. 12:9], on the other hand, is the god of eternal death. "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he [Christ] also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil ...." [Heb. 2:14; also 1 Pet. 5:8].

"So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality [i.e., at the resurrections], then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written [Isa. 25:8], 'Death is swallowed up in victory.'" [1 Cor. 15:54]. It's all about those resurrected from the dead, judged to eternal life in the resurrections, and God's plan for us in the eternity of ages, hence God of the living. [See the Sneakers article, What About Everyone Else?].

2 Not to put too fine a point to it, but most Christians would agree that Adam lived, and was the first man. If life begins at conception, a male sperm and female egg are required. As Eve was not yet around, there were no "mankind" eggs even in existence then. Simple logic would tell us that breath, which was around before Eve, is the causational factor regarding the beginning of life.

3 And please, this is not a scriptural prophetic reference, in any way, shape or form, to a certain US presidential candidate, now president. The trump here simply refers to a trumpet, Greek salpigx.


Italics, underline and [ ] are the author’s.

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"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.".

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