Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:1-27
What if I told you everything around you, every chair, every building, every blade of grass was destined for destruction? I don't mean an esoteric diminutive destruction, I mean a simple wiping clean of a chalkboard, and the rewriting of physics, space, time, gravity, matter, and the laws which govern the universe.
That's pretty amazing isn't it? New Jerusalem is a giant cube. 12,000 stadia is about 1,500 miles. If you were to look at that on a map, it would be the length from Maine to Florida, across the whole eastern seaboard. Then take that length and fit it into a cube shape.
Do you know the first thing I think about when I think about the cube shaped New Jerusalem? I think of the Borg from Star Trek. Yes, I'm that nerdy. They are kind of like space zombies. "We are the Borg you will be assimilated resistance is futile." And they shoot nano-probes into your neck and you become Borg too. It's pretty scary. Anyway, I digress.
So we will live in this giant cube-shaped city. Are you freaked out yet? Don't worry, I'm sure it'll be great.
It's really quite hard to imagine what it will be like. We will most certainly have bodies, different from ours now, eternal bodies, but I dare say they will be material. But they won't disintegrate and wrinkle over time. We will have friends, and all people will be our family. We'll share all things. But we won't be married, male and female. But we will be in constant interaction with others, the family of redeemed humanity, under God, married to Christ and in joyous peace at all times.
We will most certainly be interacting with animals. That's something I look forward to greatly. I'm an animal lover. I've had many pets over my life, cats, dogs, gerbils, hamsters, ferrets, and other animals. It's great fun. Humanity was originally meant to tend animals, and interact with animals and be in relationship with animals. It'll be nice to get that back the way it ought to be.
Of course the primary centerpiece of this city will be intimacy with God. God's presence will no longer be shrouded. Right now at this moment we are shrouded from the full presence of God. We can't see God. We can't necessarily feel him or his presence. At times we may feel his presence and sense his Spirit in us, but other times are desolate and joyless.
In the New Jerusalem we will exist in the consistent, full presence of God almighty. That is the best part. Joy will be constant, and unending. Every moment will be filled to the brim with joy. These days joy can be as fleeting and elusive as happiness and meaning. We grasp out for them, but they aren't there. We seek them, yet we don't find them. We long for joy in our hearts, we long for happy days and peace, and we're filled to the brim instead with bitterness, disappointment, envy, strife, and all-consuming depressions. Evil multiples evil and we wonder if we can stand another day of this lonely, hopeless drudgery to a city we can only vaguely imagine in our minds. It is not easy. But we can do it.
Today people live for now. We aren't like that. We don't live for today. We don't live to gorge our various urges and desires. We live for a tomorrow. We live daily knowing our deeds are being measured and tracked. We live for others. We aren't like the world. We shouldn't live like them. We're being poured out for others, on a daily basis. That is our purpose now. And joy comes later. Joy also comes here and there now, but joy eternal is what we are waiting for later. The presence of God is shrouded from us today, but in the next life we will live in the fullness of his presence.
In those timeless days I imagine it will make a lot of sense. We won't even really consider the former times when life was so hard. We will simply be thankful that we were careful to obey his commands and love those around us. That is the hope for eternity. It is a real hope. It is based on a renewal of reality that will in fact take place. We know from the scriptures, the Holy Spirit, and the raw evidence that Jesus Christ is Lord, He is alive today in heaven, and that he is coming back to rule over the city of God.
We are destined to live in the city of God. Yet there are so many other factors that come into play. The great city, New Jerusalem, massive, huge, will come out of heaven and rest on the Earth. This city will have twelve gates, each gate representing one of the twelve apostles, with their names on them. They were made pillars for his kingdom, and they are honored in the coming city.
Revelation says a river will flow through the city, and on both sides of the river is growing the tree of Life. The tree of life if you remember is first discussed in Genesis, and Revelation ends with the tree of life. Jesus Christ himself is the river leading to the tree of life. He is the way, the truth, and the life. So this imagery indicates that Jesus Christ is this river we paddle down, to reach the eternal city, New Jerusalem, where at the center of the city, at the crossing of golden streets, we find the river of Christ flowing through this giant tree of life; the river leads us directly to it. And every month the tree of life produces a new fruit.
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