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

The Sign of Jonah

Q: Jesus Himself states, "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." According to John 19:31, it seems as though Jesus died on the "day of preparation" which was immediately followed by the sabbath, and then followed by the first day of the week. This leads us to when Mark 16:2 happened, the ladies went to the tomb "very early on the first day of the week". It was at this time that the empty tomb was discovered. My question is, according to history and maybe even Greek text, is there any explanation as to why Jesus said that He would be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights when as I am reading the accounts, I am not coming up with three days and three nights? Thank you, as always! A: This question has been raised by many people. Numerous answers have been suggested. The reasons for asking this question are good on

Who the Heck is Melchizedek?

Melchizedek, Priest and King Question – I've read about Melchizedek a number of times but am confused about who he is entirely. Can you let me know about him, I feel like I'm "missing" something? Answer - Join the club! I think this is a question that has been asked almost as long as the scriptures have been in print and distributed for people to read and study. Melchizedek is one of the most mysterious characters to appear in the Old Testament narrative. The Book of Genesis is categorized as a history book. Rightly so. It contains thousands of years of history. From the literal beginning of history to the death of the man whose name was changed to Israel. Among other things, it is a book of lineages and genealogies tracing mankind from the first created man (Adam) to the patriarch of the nation that God chose to be His representatives on earth. So, it is a little surprising that in the middle of this narrative, in the story of the life of Abraham, that a

Smoking Hookah

Q: This week a young Christian talked with me about the practice of smoking Hookah. They attend a church [which] is reaching out to the many Indian and Muslims in the surrounding areas. Their church also have several ministries that support missions in India and Arab countries. As they spoke with me they said that many of their Christian friends are smoking the Hookah. They said that they have been told that certain types of Hookah smoking involve no tobacco but are simply flavored water, other types of Hookah smoking do include tobacco but in a ‘more pure’ form than that of cigarettes that have additives. The Christians that they know of who partake in smoking Hookah do not feel that there is anything sinful in this practice and believe that it is just a part of certain cultures as a way to relax and socialize. Apparently during certain celebrations some of these culture groups get together as a family and include smoking the Hookah together as part of the festivities. These Chris

What is Salvation, Part 4

Q: What is salvation and can you lose it? There's the saying "once saved always saved". Using the scripture that no one is able to snatch them out of the Fathers hand. (John 10:29) but it says in verse 27 My sheep hear my voice, I know them and they follow me. So the no snatching is referring to those who hear and follow, in other words who are obedient to His Word. So, the ones that do not heed the call of the Lord and follow can be snatched? What about sin hardening the heart? (Hebrew 3:13) Shipwrecked faith? (1Tim 1:19) I have heard the saying - "It's not how you start the race but how you finish it." In Hebrew 3:14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, If you aren't a true follower of Christ then how can you have the strength on your own to even run the race. It is because of Christ and who He transforms you to be that you would even want to