The New Jerusalem, Paul Gustave Dore (1832-1883) | Source: Dore Bible Gallery Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.
A Quote from Dr David L Cooper, Biblical Research Society
‘Since God has the proper sense of proportion and since this New Jerusalem will be fifteen hundred miles in each direction, I conclude that the new earth to which it comes and upon which it rests forever will be an enormous one. It is impossible for us, with our limited comprehension, to understand these vast proportions.’
New Jerusalem will not descend literally from Heaven at some time in the future.
In my opinion, the emphasis on earthly Jerusalem and National Israel has had a detrimental effect on Christianity. Not only does Dispensationalism cause Christians to neglect the fact they are citizens of Heavenly Jerusalem, with its benefits and responsibilities, it has sidetracked the Body of Christ from its original focus, the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I will seek to prove from the Scriptures that contrary to the teaching of Dispensationalism, New Jerusalem is a present day reality, a city inhabited spiritually, and to be enjoyed by all born again believers.
The Tabernacle of God is With Men
John alluded to Ezekiel 37:26-27 in Revelation 21:2-3. By doing so, he affirmed the New Covenant fulfilment of Ezekiel’s prophecy. The New Covenant, established in AD 70, is synonymous with the ‘covenant of peace’ and the ‘everlasting covenant’.
God’s dwelling place is not a future temple made with hands, He tabernacles within the hearts of His people today.
Ezekiel 37 vs Revelation 21
Eze 37:26-27 KJV Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. 27 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Rev 21:2-3 KJV And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 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.
Ezekiel 37:27 ‘My tabernacle – The tabernacle wherein I will shew my presence among them. Their fathers had a tabernacle, but the Messiah shall bring with him a better, a spiritual, and an heavenly. They shall be my people – By my grace I will make them holy, as the people of a holy God; and I will make them happy, as the people of the ever blessed God.’ — John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes
An Allegory of the Old and New Testaments
Hagar and Sarah were Symbolic of Two Covenants and ‘Two Jerusalems’
Paul encouraged the Galatians to be faithful to the Gospel he had imparted to them, and to beware of Judaisers who had infiltrated the Church. These false teachers insisted on combining the Gospel of Grace with the Old Covenant Law.
Gal 4:22-26 KJV For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. 24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. 25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. 26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
Paul explained that Hagar being a bondwoman represented the bondage of the Old Covenant and correlated to ‘earthly Jerusalem’, while Sarah a freewoman represented the freedom of the New Covenant and correlated to ‘heavenly Jerusalem’.
‘Jerusalem which now is’ In bondage to the Law given to Moses at Mount Sinai, whereas ‘Jerusalem which is above’ is New Covenant freedom in the Holy Spirit, through the death, resurrection and glorification of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Gal 4:30 KJV Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.
In a spiritual sense, Hagar the bondwoman typified the casting out of the Old Covenant, while Sarah the freewoman typified the establishing of the New Covenant.
The Church at Galatia had freedom, but was in danger of being rescinded if entangled in the bondage of Judaism and the Old Covenant Law.
Therefore, New Jerusalem is not a material city to descend from Heaven in the future, but a spiritual city to enjoy now in the New Covenant Age.
Are Believers Really Living in ‘The New Jerusalem’? Yes, Although Many Do not Realise it!
Heb 12:22 KJV But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
Many scholars today teach Heavenly Jerusalem is still future and will materially descend to earth from heaven. Nonetheless, the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews explicitly proclaimed Heavenly Jerusalem, also called New Jerusalem, was and is a present reality… Revelation 3:12; Revelation 21:2
There was no need for physical death and resurrection for 1st century believers to enter into the Heavenly City; they entered while still alive in their physical bodies!
A Quote from Alexander McLaren
Hebrews 12:22-23 ‘For, says my text, ‘Ye are come,’ not ‘Ye shall come.’ The humblest life may be in touch with the grandest realities in the universe, and need not wait for death to draw aside the separating curtain in order to be in the presence of God and in the heavenly Jerusalem.
How are these things brought to us? By the revelation of God in Christ. How are we brought to them? By faith in that revelation. So every believing life, howsoever encompassed by flesh and sense, can thrust, as it were, a hand through the veil, and grasp the realities beyond. The scene described in the first words of my text may verily be the platform on which our lives are lived, howsoever in outward form they may be passed on this low earth; and the companions, which the second part of our text discloses, may verily be our companions, though we ‘wander lonely as a cloud,’ or seem to be surrounded by far less noble society. By faith we are come to the unseen realities which are come to us by the revelation of God in Christ. ‘Ye are come unto Mount Zion.’
How can this be? They had come ‘To the general assembly and church of the firstborn’.
Jesus the Firstborn Among Many Brethren
Heb 12:23 KJV 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,
Christ is fully God and fully man; He was not a created being, as some falsely teach from this verse. In Scripture, firstborn often signified a well-beloved, or best-beloved son; one preferred to all the rest and distinguished by an exclusive right and privilege.
Exo 4:22 KJV And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn:
God called Israel his son and his firstborn.
Jer 31:9 KJV They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.
Ephraim was God’s firstborn.
Rom 8:29 KJV For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Paul said Jesus was the ‘firstborn among many brethren’ meaning that Christ was the Pre-eminent One, the Ultimate Model.
The General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn
Having already come to Heavenly Jerusalem and the church of the firstborn, citizenship of the 1st century Church did not rely on resurrection from physical death.
Rom 6:5 KJV For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
The 1st century believers had joined with Christ in His death and resurrection.
1Co 12:13 KJV For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
The Church was living in the Heavenly Jerusalem by the power of the Holy Spirit of Promise.
Heb 6:5 YLT and did taste the good saying of God, the powers also of the coming age,
During the transition period between the Old and New Covenant, the general assembly and church of the firstborn tasted of the powers of the New Covenant Age.
Heb 12:27-28 KJV And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.
A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible
Hebrews 12:27 ‘The removing of those things that are shaken – The whole of the Jewish polity, which had been in a shaken state from the time that Judea had fallen under the power of the Romans.
As of things that are made – That is, subjects intended to last only for a time. God never designed that the Jewish religion should become general, nor be permanent.
Those things which cannot be shaken – The whole Gospel system, which cannot be moved by the power of man.
May remain – Be permanent; God designing that this shall be the last dispensation of his grace and mercy, and that it shall continue till the earth and the heavens are no more.’
Due to the constant bombardment of Dispensationalism’s ‘end times’ pessimism, many Christians miss the present blessings our Heavenly Father has provided through His Son. ‘Blessed Assurance’ is quickly replaced by ‘Hold the Fort for I Am Coming’.
If New Jerusalem received the enthusiasm and resources given to earthly Jerusalem, the furtherance of the Gospel would benefit greatly.
Heavenly Jerusalem, the City of the Living God, is a present spiritual reality for those ‘in Christ’. It is not a literal, material city.
The question is, earthly or heavenly Jerusalem, which one is your capital?
What do you think?