At the time when ‘heaven and earth will pass away’ (Matthew 24:35), a new heaven and earth will be created. John sees in a vision and writes, ‘Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea’ (Revelation 21:1). John proceeds to describe the vision saying, ‘I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband’ (v2). The new earth is figuratively called the New Jerusalem, the Holy City, or the City of God. The earthly Jerusalem, the City of David, initially belonged to the Jebusites who underestimated David’s strength saying to him, ‘You will not get in here; even the blind and the lame can ward you off’ (2 Samuel 5:6). ‘Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion, the City of David . . . David then took up residence in the fortress and called it the City of David . . .’ (v7,9).
What made earthly Jerusalem remarkable was not only that a powerful King ruled from there, but that God dwelt there. This happened when ‘David went down and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing’ (6:v12). The ark of God was ‘called by the Name, the name of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim that are on the ark’ (v2). In other words, the ark of God which carried the Word of the Testimony, the Name of God, meant that God’s presence and glory was there- for where the ark was, God was. When David brought the ark to Jerusalem, the City was known as God’s dwelling-place, thus distinguishing it from other cities. The Sons of Korah sing concerning Jerusalem saying, ‘the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day’ (Psalm 46:4-5).
Concerning the New Jerusalem, John hears a loud voice from the heavenly throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God’ (Revelation 21:3). When the ark of God was in the City of David, God gave David ‘rest from all his enemies around him’ (2 Samuel 7:1). Similarly, in the New Jerusalem, God ‘will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’ (Revelation 21:4). All what we know in the current world system in regard to time, emotions, aging, and death will be done away with. Paul says, ‘Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality’ (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).
Earthly Jerusalem was fortified so that unrestricted persons could not access. David ‘built up the area around it, from the supporting terraces inward. And he became more and more powerful because the Lord Almighty was with him’ (2 Samuel 5:9-10). David fortified Jerusalem to ensure that his power remained intact, and to shield the people from attacks. In the same way, those who will be granted access into the New Jerusalem are only those who clothe themselves with the imperishable and with immortality. In other words, for those who ‘clothe(d) yourselves with the Lord Jesus’ (Romans 13:14). Those who ‘do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature’ (v14), but instead grow in their spiritual life by faith in Christ Jesus during their only life here on earth.
John observes those excluded from the New Jerusalem were, ‘the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practise magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is the second death’ (Revelation 21:8). It is only by repenting and turning to Jesus while living this one and only earthly life can one escape the second death. For in the New Jerusalem, ‘Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life’ (v27).
The splendour and magnificence of earthly Jerusalem cannot be compared to that of the New Jerusalem which ‘shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel . . . The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass’ (v11-12,21). John continues to describe that ‘The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp’ (v23). Since God will dwell among the people, John says; ‘I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple’ (v22). In other words, we will have direct access to God so that, ‘On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honour of the nations will be brought into it’ (v25). So, the bottom line in the New Jerusalem, as God says is, ‘I am making everything new!’ (v5).
‘Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it’ ~ Matthew 7:13-14
‘Jesus answered, ‘Verily, verily, I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again’ ~ John 3:5-7
‘Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city’ ~ Revelation 22:14