The subject of our final chapter, the heavenly city and our eternal future happiness there, is such a tremendous, subject and such a wonderful, almost unimaginable “happy ending” that the final chapters of the Bible are also devoted entirely to it. Revelation chapters 21 and 22’s description of heaven is this grand finale of the Bible, the thunderous climax of the symphony of God, and reveals a place of resplendent beauty beyond the imagination of man.
The most stupendous things that you never even dreamed of are already in existence in that way-out home of the children of God—that heavenly city whose builder and maker is God. Even John’s description in Revelation couldn’t possibly do it justice. It is such a beautiful place that you can hardly even imagine it.
The more I think about heaven, the more thrilled I am and the more excited I get about what the Lord has prepared for us there. “As it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:9–10).
They say that anticipation is 50 percent of enjoyment, so why not enjoy half of heaven now? We’re halfway to heaven here in spirit, and we can get half of the enjoyment ahead of time just by thinking about it, praising the Lord for it, thanking the Lord for it, reading about it, and anticipating it. We can have 50 percent of our enjoyment right now just by looking forward to it. After all, that’s where we’re going to spend eternity, so it’s a pretty important place, don’t you think? It’s our eternal home, the place that Jesus has gone to prepare for us forever, so we certainly ought to be interested in it.
In fact, all God’s children of faith since the beginning of time have been looking for “a city which hath foundations”—eternal foundations—“whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). They were not satisfied with being citizens of this world, with its earthly, flesh-and-blood kingdoms of natural men and evil spirits. But rather they looked for a country made by God, a heavenly country, a heavenly city, built by the Lord.
For these all “confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:13–16).
God as good as says He’s proud of His pilgrims who know that this world is not their home and are just passing through, trying to get a job done for Jesus on the way. “For He hath prepared for them a city.” He’s got a city for you and me where we’re not going to need any passports or visas or even money. It’s your town, your hometown in heaven, and they’re all going to be your people.
So if you’re still looking for the perfect city and the perfect government in the perfect country with perfect people, just wait a little longer—it’s coming. Jesus promised, “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 unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2–3).
That’s the only country where we really belong—the kingdom of God, the heavenly city. We seek a better country, the kingdom of heaven. That’s our nationality, our citizenship, our country—a country that has never persecuted the poor or oppressed the weak or destroyed the minorities of the world; a country that has never lost a battle and never fought a war for the wrong reasons.
We are citizens of the only righteous nation in the universe, the kingdom of Jesus Christ. We, in effect, renounced our citizenship in this world when we received the King of kings and the Prince of Peace, Lord of lords, God of heaven, Son of Righteousness and His kingdom into our hearts.
Heaven is a great place to look forward to, and I hope you will get thrilled and excited about it, as it will help you to bear some of the burdens and trials that you’re going through now when you realize the wonderful things that God has in store for you. “For the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
When you think about heaven, it helps you to bear some of the things you have to go through now. This is one reason that Moses could do it, because he had “respect unto the recompence of the reward, as seeing Him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:26–27). He looked past all the troubles he had in Egypt and all the problems, and he saw the Lord and His reward in the future. He could put up with the present by foreseeing the future, thank the Lord! Seeing heaven helped him endure all that he had to go through here on earth.
“By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.” He could have been pharaoh, the king of Egypt. “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward” (Hebrews 11:24–26).
He esteemed the reproach of Christ greater than all the riches of Egypt, the most powerful nation on earth, the richest nation in the world in that day, of which he could have had the most powerful position as its king. He looked beyond this earthly veil, this earthly level, and looked for an eternal heavenly city whose builder and maker is God.
All of those wonderful Bible heroes who are memorialized in God’s hall of fame in the 11th chapter of Hebrews considered themselves pilgrims and strangers here because they all looked for that heavenly city which hath foundations, the one country that really belonged to them and that they belonged to. They were able to endure all kinds of tribulation on this earth, and suffering and hard work and even torture and death, because they looked forward to that city, “a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1).
So it pays to think about heaven and talk about heaven and try to visualize heaven and what you have to look forward to—knowing that the suffering of this present time is nothing compared to the glories that we are going to share in the near future. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17–18). Hallelujah!
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come” (Colossians 3:1–2; Hebrews 13:14).—The heavenly city, which will come down from God out of heaven and dwell with men. This is the hope of all ages: That now-unseen eternal world where we shall dwell with Him forever. That’s what we’re all looking forward to. Not pie in the sky, but heaven on earth! A new heaven and a new earth with its eternal city.
So as you read the following description of heaven and our wonderful future there, pray and ask the Lord, as did David of old: “Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law” (Psalm 119:18). Paul the Apostle, when writing to some of his followers about heavenly things, told them that he prayed continually “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:16–18). Ask Him to open your eyes and thrill your heart as you read about the wonders He has in store for you.
This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through.
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me from heaven’s golden shore
And I can’t feel at home in this world any more.
Oh Lord, You know, I have no friend like You.
If heaven’s not my home, then Lord what would I do?
The angels beckon me from heaven’s golden shore
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.—J. Reeves
The Bible’s picture of heaven
Revelation chapters 21 and 22 offer the most detailed, specific description in the entire Bible of what heaven is like. “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea” (Revelation 21:1). The earth today is clothed with its surface and its atmosphere, but at the end of the Millennium, in the Battle of Gog and Magog, God is going to completely remove them both by fire and renew and recreate a beautiful new earth and new heaven—clean air, no pollution, no contamination, no poisonous gases or chemicals. It’ll all be cleaned up and purged with fire. He will then recreate the beautiful Garden of Eden and the surface of the earth, and we will have a new earth under a new heaven.
The new earth and the new heaven will be without sin, without war, destruction, death, sickness, tears, pain, without any of these things we suffer today.
There will be no more sea. Today, more than two-thirds of the earth’s surface is covered by water, by seas, so when the seas are all dried up and evaporated during the fiery cataclysm of Gog and Magog, there will be room for the billions of resurrected folks of all ages who don’t make it into the heavenly city, but will be living outside. He also says that “every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low” (Isaiah 40:4), so there will be four to five times as much habitable and arable land area then.
“And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 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” (Revelation 21:2–3). You’re not going to go to heaven to live with God; God is going to come to earth to live with you! The Bible says so. John didn’t say, “I saw the heavenly city and we took off for it.” He said, “I saw it coming down from God out of heaven.”
The place we’re going to dwell with the Lord forever hereafter is not some fanciful dreamland way off in outer space, but an even more amazing city that’s going to come down from God, out of heaven, to a new earth, and God’s going to come down and live with us, and us with Him. We’re not going to go off to some faraway place called heaven where God is supposed to live, but we have a real down-to-earth God, who’s going to come live with us, and make heaven on earth.
First the Lord is going to purge, purify, and renew the whole earth so that it will be perfect, beautiful like the Garden of Eden, a new heaven and a new earth, and then the heavenly city, New Jerusalem, is going to come down. Like a bride adorned for her husband, it will come down out of heaven from God to the earth. And He says that the tabernacle of God, or the dwelling place of God, is then going to be with men.
It will be like God taking over the world by invading it from outer space—bringing down the heavenly city—restoring Him forever as the King of kings, and His nation and His kingdom and His government as the new world order. Science fiction stories and space stations and space cities don’t even come close to this one! Ours is 1,500 miles long, 1,500 miles wide and 1,500 miles high—2,400 kilometers. No sci-fi movie or book or story can compare with this reality.—Nothing as beautiful or as enormous or as magnificent as God’s great heavenly city.
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4). To me, this is one of the most beautiful verses in the entire Bible. But if you’ll read carefully, you’ll see that it doesn’t say there aren’t going to be any tears. I think a lot of us, when we get to heaven and face the Lord, are going to be ashamed and cry and weep over our sins and failures.
But isn’t the Lord wonderful and loving and merciful? He says He’s going to wipe away all those tears, and He’s going to wipe away the memories of those evil years, and there will be no more pain, no more death, no more sorrow, no more tears. Only eternal, wonderful happiness, joy, and paradise on earth, like what we who love the Lord have now, only better, forever and ever and ever. Hallelujah!
All the evil and sad things will be forgotten and blotted out like a bad dream, like a nightmare, and He’ll wipe away all the tears from our eyes. There’ll be no more pain or sorrow or death or crying, and everything will be happiness from then on. Isn’t that wonderful?
It’s going to be so wonderful that you’re going to forget about all your troubles of the past. It’s going to be so wonderful that you’re going to forget about all the trying and terrible things you’ve been through. It will be worth it all when we see Jesus.
Life’s trials will seem so small, when we see Christ.
One glimpse of His dear face, all sorrow will erase.
So bravely run the race, ’til we see Christ.—E. K. Rusthoi
All things new
“And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be My son” (Revelation 21:5–7).
In this wonderful heavenly city, His overcomers shall “inherit all things.” And “who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:5, 4). The Lord loves faith and He loves His faithful children, and He is going to reward them greatly.
But I don’t think you could possibly realize or appreciate what heaven will be like or what He has in store for you there unless you first know what you’re going to be like. His children will be raptured and resurrected in new, supernatural, eternal bodies when Jesus comes to temporarily take His bride off the earth at the end of the Great Tribulation period. He’s going to come down in glory and we’re going to rise in glorious, resurrected, heavenly, raptured bodies—just like His.
“We shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible (our present bodies) must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:51–54).
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). We’re going to have the same kind of body that He has now and has had ever since His resurrection, the one which He went to heaven in and came back and visited in and still has today.
When Jesus came back from the dead, He still looked like Himself, could still eat, drink, and even cook. He said, “Touch Me. Feel Me. See that it is I. A spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see Me have” (Luke 24:39). Then He sat down and ate with them. And if you ask me, that’s pretty human, pretty natural! He said to Thomas, “Thrust thy hand into My side and see, and touch the nail prints in My hands, and be not faithless, but believing” (John 20:27). He still even had the scars.
So Jesus was still “human” and still had a body of flesh and bone. And we will be the same. Because “He shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). We are going to have a new kind of spiritual, resurrection, eternal, glorified body, and yet it’s going to be material enough and natural enough and recognizable enough to actually be constructed as we are now, of flesh and bones, but eternal, incorruptible, immortal flesh and bones.
Jesus said, “I am come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). So although I don’t know just exactly what it’s going to be like in heaven, I know it’s going to be better than it is today, a beautiful heaven on earth without sin, without wickedness, without trouble, without weariness, pain, sickness, or problems. We’re going to have wonderful new bodies, new models, and will be able to enjoy this world to the full as we never enjoyed it before.
“How excellent is Thy lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings. They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of Thy house; and Thou shalt make them drink of the river of Thy pleasures. For with Thee is the fountain of life: in Thy light shall we see light” (Psalm 36:7–9).
Another wonderful thing about heaven will be our reunion with all of our loved ones. It’ll be the greatest family reunion ever known, with all of your loved ones and relatives and children and parents and ancestors and descendants and ascendants and fellow laborers and friends from whom you’ve been separated, or who have departed already. So that’s another thrilling aspect of heaven to look forward to.
When we all get to heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be.
When we all see Jesus,
We’ll sing and shout the victory.—M. Gilley
Everyone there is going to be good and loving and kind and helpful, loving the Lord and caring for each other. The perfect society, the perfect community, in perfect fellowship with each other and the Lord. There will be no hate or jealousy or selfishness or cruelty.
Our heavenly home’s divine design
“And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal” (Revelation 21:9–11). Like a diamond, in other words.
The city is so beautiful that God likens it unto His crowning creation, a beautiful woman. Earlier in verse 2, John said that he saw the holy city descending “as a bride adorned for her Husband,” so we know this reference to the city as “the bride” is symbolic, as it’s obvious that this marvelous city which He has prepared for His true bride, His church, is a very literal, down-to-earth, heavenly home with literal walls and mansions and a river and trees and gates and exact physical measurements and dimensions.
“And it had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations (or twelve levels) and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Revelation 21:12–14).
There was an angel guarding each gate. Now why would the city have a big tall protective wall like that and each gate guarded by an angel unless there were some people outside who they didn’t want to get in? This is another indication to me that there will be people outside who are not quite in good enough shape to enter the city.
He says that the names of the twelve original apostles are on the wall. What better way could He immortalize and honor them for their great work in laying the foundation and preparation for the whole church than to put their names on the gates and walls?
“And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal” (Revelation 21:15–16).
Do you have any idea how long 12,000 biblical furlongs equals in modern measurements? One furlong equals one-eighth of a mile, or 200 meters. Thus 12,000 furlongs equals 1,500 miles, or 2,400 kilometers. And that is a very big city: 1,500 miles in each direction—wide, long, and high. It’s almost beyond comprehension.
The base area would be as large as half of the United States or half of Europe. And can you imagine it being 1,500 miles, or 2,400 kilometers, high? Airlines usually fly their planes around six to eight miles high, thirty to forty thousand feet or so. But God’s heavenly city is going to be 1,500 miles high.
His great space city is coming down to earth, but it won’t even be able to get all the way out of space. The apex and most of it will still be up there in outer space. What a view! If you were to divide its 1,500-mile height into twelve levels, you’d have 125 miles to each level, or about 650,000 feet— room for 65,000 floors on each level.—Or nearly 800,000 stories high. How’s that for a skyscraper? When it comes to building a heavenly home for His children, God’s no piker. No wonder the Bible calls Him, “He that buildeth His stories in the heaven, and hath founded His troop in the earth: The Lord is His name” (Amos 9:6).
Although I can’t prove from the Bible that the heavenly city is in the shape of a pyramid, there are some scriptures about heaven which seem to indicate that it is so. Hebrews 12:22 says, “Ye are come unto Mount Zion, the city of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.” So it must be mountainshaped. And several other scriptures speak of “the mountain of the Lord’s house” (Isaiah 2:2; Micah 4:1).
Just imagine, if you were to get up on top of that pyramid, 1,500 miles high, do you know how far you’d be able to see? You’d be able to see 4,000 miles or 6,400 kilometers. And since the structure of the city is transparent, you’ll also be able to see out through the walls to the beautiful new earth outside, God’s new creation. You’ll still be able to see the beautiful sunrises and sunsets in a new atmospheric heaven, probably even more beautiful than the one we have now.
You won’t even have to wear oxygen masks on the upper levels. And it’s all automatically illuminated by Jesus. Of course, the people living up that high within the city will all have supernatural bodies and they won’t need oxygen; they will be able to live without it.
The tremendous capacity of this marvelous, final, great heavenly city that Jesus has gone to prepare for His followers is simply amazing. I remember hearing unbelievers trying to disprove the Bible, say, “Even if He made it that big, there still wouldn’t be room enough to hold all the real born-again Christians, much less anybody else.” That’s ridiculous.
Being 1,500 miles square means that the base area is 2,250,000 square miles—or three-fourths the size of the continent of Australia. And with a height of 1,500 miles from the bottom to the apex, it has a total volume of 1,125,000,000 cubic miles. (That’s 1 billion, 125 million cubic miles.) “In My Father’s house,” Jesus said, “are many mansions [rooms or dwelling places]: 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 unto Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2–3).
Just think, one of these days you’re going to own a mansion that isn’t going to cost you anything. No upkeep, no expenses, absolutely nothing except what it’s already cost Jesus. It will be commensurate with your works on earth, what you already paid for it down here. There are some things that you’re working for right now that you’re not going to receive till you get there, but you’ll find that whatever you’ve paid here is not worthy to be compared with the glory to be revealed there.
I remember William Branham, a famous prophet of God that I met in the U.S. many years ago, relating a dream the Lord gave him about heaven. He had recently been through a personal tragedy, as he and his wife were caught in a big flood and he got lost from her. He finally found her at the hospital, but she died shortly afterwards from exposure and shock.
William Branham also got very sick with tuberculosis from exposure and cold and wandering around in the wet and the water, and he nearly died too. In fact, I think he wanted to die because he’d lost his wife and child in the flood. But he said that while he was so sick in the hospital and telling the Lord that he wanted to die, he dreamed that he was walking across these beautiful flowery fields surrounded by wooded hills, and there was this beautiful little cottage.
Suddenly his wife and little child ran out to greet him and took him in their arms and loved him and said, “We’re so glad you got here. It’s so lovely here.” She took him into the cottage and said, “We’ve even saved your favorite old rocking chair.” And there it was, sitting in the living room. He sat down and rocked in it and thought, “How beautiful, how beautiful.” He said, “I realized it must be heaven because there was my wife and child, but I never dreamed it would be this beautiful. Just like I always wanted—only even more beautiful and better.”
Heaven is the place that Jesus has gone to prepare for you, that where He is, there you may be also. So I’m sure that when you see what He has for you there, you’ll agree that “eye had not seen and ear had not heard, neither had it entered into the heart of man” what the Lord had in store for you (1 Corinthians 2:9).—Things you didn’t even imagine could be so beautiful and so wonderful, and I’m sure you’ll be quite satisfied with your quarters.
Back to the angel with the golden measuring reed in Revelation chapter 21: “And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits (216 feet high) according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass” (Revelation 21:17–18).
“And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper (diamond); the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony (sparkling quartz); the fourth, an emerald; the fifth, sardonyx (striped onyx); the sixth, sardius (ruby); the seventh, chrysolite (olivine); the eighth, beryl (magical crystal aquamarine); the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus (green emerald or jade); the eleventh, a jacinth (amber); the twelfth, an amethyst (clear purple quartz)” (Revelation 21:19–20). Some of the most precious stones in the world today, precious jewels of all colors of the rainbow. What a city!
Man has never seen such beauty, such riches, such luxuries, such wealth of precious stones as you’re going to see in the day the heavenly city comes down to earth. The wall alone would be enough to thrill the heart of any connoisseur of precious stones.
“And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl” (Revelation 21:21). Can you imagine the gates for such a city, whose wall was 216 feet high? Can you imagine a pearl with a diameter of ten or twelve feet? Each gate a pearl, twelve gates altogether, three gates on each side of the city, north and south, east and west.
“The street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass” (Revelation 21:21). The gold of this earth is not transparent and it doesn’t look like glass; it’s very heavy and solid. But the gold of the city will be transparent glass, like beautiful golden crystal. It’s going to be an everlasting gold, crystal gold.
Not only the streets are made of this pure, crystal-clear gold, but as we read a few verses earlier, the entire “city was pure gold, like unto clear glass” (Revelation 21:18). Think how beautiful that is! The whole city is like crystal gold. So you’ll be able to see out of the city through those transparent walls, out onto a beautiful, fully restored and recreated new earth.
“And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it” (Revelation 21:22). God Himself and His Son are the temple of it. The place of worship is Jesus. Everyone is going to worship in the Lord without buildings, temples, synagogues, mosques, cathedrals, or churches.
“And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof” (Revelation 21:23). It doesn’t say there’ll be no moon and no sun, but it says in the city they won’t need the moon and the sun, because it will have its own light, the light of God and His Son Jesus. But the sun and moon will still continue on in the world outside the city on the planet earth, which will still exist with its new Garden-of-Eden-like surface.
But inside this heavenly city we won’t need these earthly lights, because the Lord is the light thereof, and it will be light all the time, all day and all night. We’ll never have to sleep, because we’ll never get tired or weary. And for those on the outside, it will be a blessing just to live anywhere within view, within sight of that city, just to be able to see it at night and thrill to its gorgeous splendor, resplendent with the golden, supernatural, miraculous light of God. God’s Word says that even the sun and the moon shall be ashamed in comparison with the glory and the beauty and the light of that holy city here on the surface of the earth (Isaiah 24:23).
The inhabitants of the earth will be able to look up and view that beautiful city and know that God is there, that God now lives on earth with man. He’s come down out of heaven to make His dwelling place with man, and that’s His beautiful city, His capital city. And if you’re not one of its citizens living inside the city, you’ll be able to look up from the surface of the earth and be thankful that you’re even there at all.
“And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it (in the city) and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it” (Revelation 21:24). There will still be nations and kings on the surface of the earth, outside the city. Of course, they’ll be nations ordained by God and kings appointed by Him—righteous kings, good kings, teaching the people to love and serve the Lord. And they’ll be bringing glory and honor into the city.
“And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:25–27).
The city’s going to be open day and night, 24 hours a day, and only the saved, only those written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, shall enter through its pearly portals. No dirty city streets, no vile vice, no filthy crime, no sin; not Sin City, as most are today, but the sacred City of God.
God’s city is going to be perfect and pure and governed by God Himself. It will be the peak and ultimate of heaven on earth, in a perfect atmosphere, a heavenly environment, with the most excellent housing the world has ever known. Full of precious stones and jewels, and best of all, full of precious souls, immortal souls, saved souls that love Jesus and that you won to the Lord—billions who will be there because there were millions of faithful witnesses down through history, from the time of Adam and Eve in the first Garden of Eden until the Millennium, the next Garden of Eden, until the new heaven and new earth.
“And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. And in the midst of the street of it”—or, in other words, in the midst of the course of it—“and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:1–2). Here we see a beautiful river that flows right out of the throne of God right through the center of the city, which is like a beautiful park. In some places it’s going to be like a beautiful park, and this wonderful river of life is going to flow right through it. “There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved” (Psalm 46:4–5).
The prophet Ezekiel also caught a glimpse of this wonderful river and these heavenly trees and described them thus: “And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine” (Ezekiel 47:12).
“Healing” for the nations
“And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:2). What nations? If there’s not going to be any more pain or death or sickness or sorrow or crying, then what in the world are the leaves of the trees and why do they have to be used for the healing of the nations? To me the answer is apparent. The kings and nations outside the city who “bring their glory and honour” to the city (Revelation 21:24–26) are obviously a class of people who still need some kind of healing. They are not in hell, not in the Lake of Fire in the center of the earth, nor are they the born-again, the bride, who enter and enjoy the heavenly city.
Remember, only the saved will be allowed to walk in the city. “And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it.” The only ones who can enter it are those “written in the Lamb’s book of life.” But it also says that “the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.” So it’s clear that there will be whole “nations” outside the heavenly city of the saved, whose “kings” will pay their respects to the city. Although these “unsaved” nations, peoples, and kings will not be allowed to live inside the holy city, New Jerusalem, they will be allowed upon the recreated surface of the beautiful new earth. They will have been resurrected and been to the Great White Throne Judgment of God, and each one’s judgment will have been decided, where he should go.
Apparently, although these folks were not saved in this life and thus will not be allowed entrance and citizenship to the great heavenly city, they will have either been entirely spared from or even released from the Lake of Fire, the place of severe punishment, and will be allowed to live on the surface of the earth outside the holy city, where His saints will rule over them. Speaking of the inhabitants of the holy city, it says, “And they shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:5).
So the new earth will apparently be populated by both those who were judged at the Great White Throne Judgment and were not considered bad enough to go to hell but were not saved enough through Jesus to go to heaven, and those who actually did go to hell, to the Lake of Fire, but who learned their lessons there, served their sentence and were then mercifully released, having finally come to the light and repented and reached some sort of reconciliation with God.
Since none of them were a part of the First Resurrection—the salvation of the first saints of God, the saved of this age of grace—but were all a part of the Second Resurrection, they will be in a separate class from us and will be permitted only to live on the surface of the new earth outside the heavenly city, while we will occupy the city itself. But to be able to enjoy the surface of the new earth, a genuine heaven on earth, will be a heaven in itself, salvation in itself, so they will certainly be thankful.
It will be paradise compared with hell and its prisons and its Lake of Fire and its torments, so that they will come, in a sense, to their final reward, depending on the degree of their sin, the degree of their punishment, the degree of their repentance, the degree of their reformation, you might say, or regeneration or reconciliation—but never within the holy city, only outside.
Even then, God’s going to continue to have mercy. He’s going to send His saints out of those twelve pearly gates of that holy city with the leaves of the tree of life for the healing of the nations. If that’s not a literal tree or literal leaves, it certainly is a marvelous figurative picture of the fact that we will be taking life from the city, some healing power or healing methods, to those outside who apparently still need some kind of healing. Maybe it is spiritual healing, maybe it’s mental healing, maybe it’s just simply to get them better prepared to know God and worship Him and love Him and serve Him in the outside.
It will definitely be another one of God’s ages or stages, one of His eras in which things are all going to be settled and made right and purified. The nations of the earth are going to be healed of all their diseases and sins and rebellions, and everything is going to be made perfect in a complete, eternal, universal reconciliation of all things to God Himself, both His natural creation and also man, all men who have ever lived on the face of the earth. It’s thrilling to think that we will still be engaged in the thrilling, soul-satisfying process of the redemption of man, of all men everywhere, the whole world for whom Jesus died. God’s Word says that He died for all men, “that all men might be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4).—Even those who don’t receive Him now, but who will believe and receive Him later.
So we will still have a job to do even in that heavenly city on the new earth and new heaven. Outside there will be all kinds of people who will still need the Lord’s healing and our help. That idea of us floating around on clouds, fiddling with harps and doing nothing, that’s the imagination of some cartoonist who has no idea of what it’s really going to be like!
It says we shall “reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 22:5). No matter how powerful and supernatural you are, ruling and reigning and governing is still a form of work. Even the angels are called “ministering spirits” (Hebrews 1:14), which means “serving” spirits. So if even the angels are ministering spirits, surely we’ll be ministering and helping others too.
You’re going to have lots of work to do in the afterlife, but it’s going to be a lot easier, thank the Lord. There’ll be no sorrow, no sickness, no pain, no weariness, no death, no more tears, and no more crying. That’s certainly going to make things easier.
But let’s hope that even in the new earth, there will someday come an end to the healing of the nations with the leaves from the tree of life.— So that all suffering and all punishment and all hell on earth will eventually end; so that all men everywhere, all the billions who ever lived, will finally be restored and reconciled and in a sense, saved, and live either with the elect, the elite, within the city, or else outside the city on the new earth, in varying stages and conditions and levels of either forgiveness or shame and contempt or whatever.
Not willing that any should perish
It sounds like a monumental, colossal task, that God is finally going to save everybody, or at least reconcile everybody, and restore everybody to some form of bearable existence on the earth. There are scriptures indicating that the time will come when everybody will believe, everyone will repent, every knee will bow, everyone will worship the Lord, every man will know Him, everyone will be corrected and virtually everyone will change.
What more could God do to show His almighty power and the fact that He never fails than to reclaim and regenerate and reconcile and reconstitute His entire creation, including everybody He has ever created? What greater thing could God do to prove that He never fails and love never fails than to finally “save” everybody? It won’t all be the same kind of salvation, but if He wants to, in a sense, He can save everybody and change everybody and restore everybody.
I am convinced that He still wants to teach and train and show everyone His love, and help them to receive it and get used to it and adapt themselves to it and His kingdom and His way of doing things and thus completely restore His whole kingdom and His whole creation, so that it will be one great grand victory in the end. So that nothing will be lost, nothing will be destroyed that was good, and He salvaged everything He possibly could.
The day is coming when, “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10–11). The Bible even says that He is “the Saviour of all men, especially of those that believe” (1 Timothy 4:10). For “God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Who will have all men to be saved” (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4).
The Bible says there’s no end to His mercy. His mercy is from everlasting to everlasting. “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will He keep His anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him. For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust” (Psalm 103:8–14).
It will be a better world then with better people who will have learned their lessons of the Law of the Love of God and will be happier than ever before, because at last they will be purged and purified of their sins of rebellion against Him and healed by the leaves of the trees of life, which His saints shall minister to them from where they grow by the river of life within the city.
There will be nothing but righteousness then— no more evil, no more wicked, no more wickedness, no more disobedience. All men everywhere will worship Him, all men everywhere will know Him, all nations shall fall down before Him and serve Him, and the whole earth will be restored.
“That in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him. That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:10, 2:7).
And when that’s all done, who knows what God will have in store for us? Who knows but what the Lord may want us to colonize other worlds. What’s the whole universe and all this huge amount of space for if He’s only interested in this one little planet? So maybe there will be other worlds that we will have to salvage and save and restore and regenerate, reconcile and teach and train and heal. Maybe God didn’t go that far in His Word because we don’t have to know that far. He went far enough even to tell us this much, as much as He has.
Heaven is not the end. It’s only the beginning.
Are you ready for it? Have you got your reservation in? Are you going to be able to walk in that city? It says, “Only the saved shall walk therein” (Revelation 21:24).
Admission to this great heavenly city is free— already paid for by the blood of Jesus on the cross. All you have to do is receive Jesus as your Savior. Take Him now. Have your name put in the Lamb’s Book of Life in heaven so you’ll be sure you’ve got your reservation confirmed for one of those dwelling places in God’s golden city. That’s the place you’ll be happy forever with Jesus. If you love and receive and live for Him now, you can enjoy Him and heaven forever.
“And the Spirit and the bride say, come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17). God bless you with His wonderful gift of eternal salvation and a truly heavenly future to look forward to.
- A More Sure Word of Prophecy (2 Peter 1:19)
- From Here to Eternity
- “Signs of the Times”
- The Rise and Reign of the Antichrist
- The Great Tribulation
- The Second Coming of Jesus Christ
- The Marriage Supper of the Lamb
- The Wrath of God and the Battle of Armageddon
- The Millennium
- The Battle of Gog And Magog
- The Great White Throne Judgement
- The New Heaven and The New Earth