Skip to main content

Heaven and Hell in the Present: Part 2

*For the first part of this Question, please see the previous post.

Q: If you think heaven is a physical place, do you think it includes the new Jerusalem?
In the previous post, we discussed that Scripture does seem to indicate that both the present Heaven and Hell are physical places. There are popular ideas that abound that suggest that Heaven and Hell are on Earth or are states of mind (among other ideas), but the Bible speaks of a place that is separate from Earth and is more than a simple state of mind. These places are genuine, external realities -- just like Brighton, MI is a real place that real people can go to, so are Heaven and Hell (although you don't book these trips through a travel agent!).

Although these places exist in the present, the question above is a great one because the Scriptures describe the final destination of the saved as the "new" Jerusalem ... so is this "new" Jerusalem a part of the present heaven?

Upon an initial reading of the passages that refer to this place (Revelation 3:12; 21:2) it seems possible that the New Jerusalem is being held in the present Heaven with God until this glorious day. Here are both passages:

12 Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. (Revelation 3:12, NIV, emphasis added)

2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (Revelation 21:2, NIV, emphasis added)

By just reading these above descriptions, it seems entirely possible that the New Jerusalem is with God presently, awaiting its revelation at the end of time. However, we must remember the context of Revelation and what is happening:

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw--that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 1:1-2, NIV, emphasis added)

Much of what is being revealed in the book of Revelation is future-oriented (at this point, it would be possible to open a humongous can of worms on interpretive issues relating to Revelation -- for the sake of simplicity, everything is future at least as it pertains to the point of view of the human author, John; whether these events were fulfilled in AD 70, are all yet future, or any other of the myriad other possible interpretations, to John they have not taken place yet).

Since this is a revelation of a future event (at the consummation of human history), it is not necessary to assume that the New Jerusalem is a present reality, even if in the future it will come down from Heaven from God. For some clarity on this, we need to go back a verse before Revelation 21:2.

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. (Rev 21:1, NIV, emphasis added)

According to the revelation that John is receiving, the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven from God after the first heaven and first earth had passed away. This is clearly a yet future event.

Several other passages point to the reality that at the final judgment, God will destroy the present heaven and earth and make all things new (e.g. Isaiah 66:22; Matthew 5:18, 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33; 2 Peter 3:10-13; and Revelation 21:5).

Therefore, the present physical heavenly place does not include the New Jerusalem. God will create and prepare this new city for His redeemed at the end of time, and when it is prepared it will descend from Him in heaven to the new earth.

Comments

Popular Posts

Prayer vs. Petition

Q: What's the difference between prayer and petition? Phil 4:6 for example.

A: An excellent word study question! When attempting to study words from the text it is necessary to analyze the word being studied in the original language (in this case Greek) as attempting to look up the words in English will often produce erroneous results.

For example, in English the word petition has within its range of meanings things that are certainly not within the scope of meanings for the Greek word (i.e. “a sheet that is signed to demonstrate agreement with some principle or desire for some social action to be taken” is part of the range of “petition” but not of the Greek deesis from which “petition” is translated).

The word most commonly translated as “prayer” in our English Bibles is proseuche, which appears 36 times in the New Testament (NT) in one form or another (for the purposes of this study, we are only examining the usage of these words as nouns – the verbal forms will not be included…

The Church Isn't A Business

I used to be a salesman. I sold a lot of different stuff. I worked retail. I did door-to-door. In all my various jobs my function was essentially the same. I was the link between company and customer.

Successful companies know their customer demographics. Many sales meetings revolve around numbers. Persons are treated as statistics. The customer becomes a set of numbers, preferences, and habits. Really successful companies cater their goods and services to a target demographic.

It's all about the consumer experience.
I remember when I began in pastoral ministry. People assured me that my experience as a salesman would be beneficial. They said there was a lot of overlap between pastors and salespeople. That may be true in our experience. But is it true of what we read in Scripture?

When I open my Bible and read about Christ's church I see a beautiful design that is very different from a business. Night and day different.

When Jesus walked the earth He rebuked those who failed t…

Three Obstacles To Salvation

My children sometimes enjoy making obstacle courses. In our backyard. In the basement. They enjoy racing against each other to see who can get through the course the fastest.

Some adults enjoy obstacle courses.

I am not one of those adults.

Obstacles are annoying to me. I prefer a straight, smooth course. Even still, life is filled with obstacles. They are unavoidable. We must learn to deal with them.

Everyone who desires to live as a witness of Jesus Christ needs to understand three common obstacles to the salvation of others. We must understand and look for them so we can faithfully navigate the way.

1. The Enemy. The Bible describes the devil as the god of this world. Part of his work is to blind people to the gospel.

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
(2 Corinthians 4…

Lift Up The Son, Part 1

"As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life." (John 3:14-15)
There is a difference between outreach and evangelism. Outreach can take many different forms. It can be service. It can be advertising. Outreach can (and should) contain evangelism. But it doesn't always.

Sometimes Christians fall into the trap of preaching ourselves. Preaching our churches. Preaching our favorite doctrines, moral battles, pressing burdens, or our pet programs.

To be sure, there is a time and a place for all of that.

But Christians must also remember the counsel of Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles:

For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus' sake. (2 Corinthians 4:5)
We do not preach ourselves. We preach Christ Jesus as Lord. We present ourselves as servants of others for Jesus' sake. Our service to them can take many forms. …

The Promised King

As Peter wraps up his explanation of Christ on the Day of Pentecost he uses two additional Old Testament passages.
The first reference is seemingly a paraphrase of Psalm 132:11. It could simply be a summary of several Old Testament passages. The final passage is Psalm 110:1. Both texts serve to drive home the same point: Jesus is the promised king from the line of David.

Psalm 132 in Context
Psalm 132 is a Psalm of Ascents. It would have been sung by faithful Israelites on their way to the Temple to worship. This particular psalm calls on the Lord to remember His promise made to David. This promise included:

God providing a king from David's line to rule on the throne foreverGod choosing Zion as His habitation foreverGod's blessing upon His people for their faithfulness to the covenantGod bringing shame upon the enemies of His king
All of these hopeful truths are found repeatedly throughout the Old Testament. This psalm served as a reminder of God's promises and a stimulus t…