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We all know that Jerusalem is the holiest of cities. It has been hotly contested for many many years and it is the epicenter of the world’s major religions. In the New Testament, in the Book of Revelation, we learn about the New Jerusalem, the city of God which comes down from Heaven.
But did you know that the concept of more than one Jerusalem is not just a Christian one? Learn more about the two Jerusalems spoken of both in Revelation and also in traditional Judaism!
New Jerusalem in Revelation
In the Book of Revelation we read about the New Jerusalem coming down from Heaven.
One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”
And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.
It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like 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.
There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. NIV
Origin of the Name Jerusalem
The Hebrew name of the Holy city Jerusalem is Yerushalayim.
This name is believed to have come from Genesis 22:14 where Abraham, after God tested him by having him bring Isaac up to Mount Moriah, named that place “The Lord Provides”, which is translated to Yehovah Yireh (or what you may know as Jehovah Jireh).
It is believed prior to this, the place may have been named Shalem (Salem) where the King of Melchizedek was from.
For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything.
He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace.
He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever. ESV
When you combine the two names you get Yireh Shalem.
So this is one of the possibilities that I tend to subscribe to (different ideas are out there but this one makes sense to me).
The interesting thing about the word Yerushalayim is that it is a masculine plural form. Why would it have a plural form? Because even rabbinical scholars believe there is an earthly Jerusalem and a heavenly city, like the New Jerusalem mentioned in Revelation.
After the Passover Seder is complete, Jewish families utter the words “L’Shana HaBa B’Yerushalayim” or “Next year in Jerusalem!” and sing a song with the same name!
But what about those who live in Jerusalem? Well, some believe this utterance is more about the heavenly Jerusalem than the earthly! And that is a possibility!
But regardless of oral traditions or origins of thought, it remains that both Jews (at least some Jews) and Christians both believe in a heavenly city of God.
New Jerusalem in Revelation – The Bride
So we know from Revelation (and Jewish belief as well) that there is a Jerusalem above. The New Jerusalem is described like a bride adorned for her husband (Revelation 21:9)
Some people wonder why Revelation 21 refers to the New Jerusalem as the Bride. Isn’t that the Church?
The New Jerusalem in Heaven consists of the Church. When the New Jerusalem descends from Heaven it IS the Bride because of all the redeemed who are in it.
So what about those who claim that the Church is not the Bride? So did Jesus betroth Himself to a city He Himself created? That makes no sense.
Jesus cares about people so much He gave His life for them. He is betrothed to us, the Church. He did not give His life for a place but a people.
The Church are not guests to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb that get to watch Him wed Himself to a city! We ARE the Bride!
People will argue this until Jesus returns but one only has to understand Scripture to understand that places and people can be used to mean the same thing.
An example of this is say “the Iraqi forces fell to America”. Well, did America, the physical country, pick itself up and go over to Iraq during the Iraq war and fight? Of course not! America as in the American forces, not the physical country. When the Bible says in 2 Kings 24:20:
It was because of the LORD’s anger that all this happened to Jerusalem and Judah, and in the end he thrust them from his presence. Now Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. NIV
It is not referencing the city of Jerusalem here but the people of Jerusalem because it speaks of ‘thrusting them out of His presence’. He did not pick Jerusalem up and thrust it out of His presence.
So it is the fact that the New Jerusalem is inhabited by His Bride that it is referred to as such.
I will do a study on this difference soon but for the purposes of this article, I don’t want to get into that one too deeply! That is a whole other teaching!
So that being said, let’s carry on and leave that for another day!
However, let’s use this as an opportunity to look at WHO is in the New Jerusalem!
Who Will Live in the New Jerusalem?
Let’s see what the Bible says about who will live in the New Jerusalem!
First, let’s look at what Jesus says in John 14:2-3:
In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. NKJV
So Jesus says He goes to prepare “a place” for us, His Bride. This is similar to what the bridegroom says to his betrothed during the betrothal process in the ancient Jewish wedding.
The Greek word for ‘place’ here is ‘topos’ and it means:
“an inhabited place, as a city, village, district”
So He has, quite literally, gone to prepare a city for us.
The Greek word for ‘mansions’ here is ‘monē’ and means:
So it literally means ‘in My Father’s House there are many dwellings. I am leaving to prepare a city for you and if I go to prepare a city for you I will come again to receive you to Myself’.
The word in these verses in John for ‘receive’ means:
“to take to, to take with one’s self, to join to one’s self”
To join to one’s self as in a marriage.
So wait, we are back to that? Yeah…sorry.
So who will live in the New Jerusalem, this city our Messiah has gone to prepare for us?
Let’s look at some Bible verses about the New Jerusalem and see!
Jesus says He goes to prepare “a place” for us, His Bride. This is similar to what the bridegroom says to his betrothed during the betrothal process in the ancient Jewish wedding.
Bible Verses About the New Jerusalem
Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.
Then I, John, 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 heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.” NKJV
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. ESV
Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. NIV
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. ESV
Yeshua said to him, “Yes! I promise that you will be with me today in Gan-‘Eden” CJB
(Note: Gan-Eden is Garden of Eden or Paradise)
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. NIV
Oh but the New Testament isn’t the only place…
For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress.
No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days… ESV
From these verses (and more that are in Scripture) we can see that those who CHOOSE Jesus, those who follow Him, those who accept the FREE gift of grace and overcome persecution and tribulation for His Name’s sake will live with Him in paradise, in the New Jerusalem, for eternity.
But others will be there as well. There are the Old Testament saints who will also live in the New Jerusalem!
Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.
And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves,
And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord. KJV
So we see there is the earthly city of God and then Paradise where those who give themselves to God will live for eternity.
Well, we know what the earthly Jerusalem has been like throughout history. But what will the New Jerusalem be like?
We know from Revelation 21:11 that it comes down from Heaven, so we know that it not a place God creates here on earth.
Earlier I referenced Jesus’ statement that He goes to prepare a “city” for us. So it will already exist and come down from Heaven.
We know its light is like a jasper stone, clear as crystal, according to Revelation 21:11.
It has a great, high wall and it has 12 gates, 3 in each direction, and at these gates are 12 angels and on them are the names of each of the 12 tribes of Israel. (Rev 21:12-13)
The wall of the city has 12 foundations, each named for the 12 apostles. (Rev 21:14)
The wall, the gates, the city and the streets are all made of the purest precious stones. (Rev 21:18-21)
The city needs no sun or light because God’s glory and the glory of our Messiah IS its light.
It is a city that beams with the glory of the Lord! From its walls to its streets, God is magnified!
A river runs from the Throne through the city that is clear as crystal and the Tree of Life, which bears 12 fruits is on either side.
Imagine, the Tree of Life in our midst once again! And a tree that is able to bear 12 different fruits!
There is no night there and the Throne of God and the Lamb is there and the curse is gone; the curse that cast man out of the Garden is over. Man now dwells once again with the Lord for eternity.
No curse means no pain, no sickness, no sadness. We dwell once again as God intended from creation.
God and man walk as Adam once walked.
Jesus has gone to prepare this city for us and is coming to receive us to Himself. Are you ready?
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Jesus has gone to prepare this city for us and is coming to receive us to Himself. Are you ready?
ESV – “Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”
NKJV – Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
NIV – Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™
CJB – Taken from the Complete Jewish Bible by David H. Stern. Copyright © 1998. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Messianic Jewish Publishers, 6120 Day Long Lane, Clarksville, MD 21029. www.messianicjewish.net.
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