Revelation Chapters 21-22, dealing with the New Jerusalem, is almost universally misunderstood by Christians.
- The New Jerusalem is not “heaven.”
- The New Jerusalem is not a new city on some other “new” planet.
- The New Jerusalem is not a celestial city that will hover over the earth.
The New Jerusalem is the present city of Jerusalem when it is restored by God at the second coming of Jesus Christ, and co—inhabited by the Father, the Lamb, and the redeemed. This fact can be proven conclusively by demonstrating that its features are drawn primarily from two Old Testament prophetic books, Isaiah (chapters 54, 60, 62, 65-66), and Ezekiel (chapters 43, 47, 48). All of these passages describe the restored city of Jerusalem in the Millennium. The parallel passages in Revelation, drawn directly from these prophecies, are far too numerous to be coincidence. And the context of the Old Testament passages leaves no room for doubt that they refer to the present city of Jerusalem, having been restored. This fact is devastating to both amillennialism (which sees no future for the earth after the second coming), and dispensationalism (which holds a dichotomy between the eternal destinies of Israel and the Church).
The restoration of Jerusalem, and the permanent inheritance of the land God promised to Abraham, is the true hope of the Christian. This earth will be restored, and become the permanent possession of the righteous, with the Father and the Son living among men.
The New Jerusalem is the present city of Jerusalem when it is restored by God at the second coming of Jesus Christ. Not only is this proven by the clear dependence of Revelation on Isaiah and Ezekiel, but also by the fact that the “New Heavens and New Earth” in which the New Jerusalem resides, is during the Millennium, not after it.
Revelation 21:1 states: “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.” Everywhere else in Scripture the passing away  of heaven and earth is at the end of this present age.  Thus, the Millennial age would not be the “first” heaven and earth, but the second (within the context of Revelation) if this passage is placed after the Millennium.
Isaiah 65-66 places the “New Heavens and New Earth” during Christ’s reign on earth, not after it.  And Peter acknowledges that this promise from Isaiah is what Christians are looking for at the second coming of Christ.  Thus, every place in Scripture that refers to the “New Heavens and New Earth” should be understood from Isaiah’s prophecy, and Peter’s precedent in applying this promise to Christians at Christ’s return. We would not expect Revelation to contradict this. The “New Jerusalem” is within the “New Heavens and New Earth” in Revelation 21:1-2, and therefore appears at the second coming of Christ.
1. John saw “no more sea.”
From this statement it is supposed that the “new earth” is some other new planet, created specifically for the redeemed, and that there will be no oceans. However, notice that “sea” is singular, not plural, and has the definite article in the Greek. It therefore refers to a particular “sea.” This is the Red Sea, through which the Israelites were led by God to the Promised Land. This objection suffers from the same deficiency we have already exposed, interpreting Revelation in isolation from Old Testament prophecy.
15 The LORD will utterly destroy the tongue of the Sea of Egypt; With His mighty wind He will shake His fist over the River, And strike it in the seven streams, And make men cross over dryshod.
16 There will be a highway for the remnant of His people who will be left from Assyria, As it was for Israel in the day that he came up from the land of Egypt.
10 Are You not the One who dried up the sea, The waters of the great deep; That made the depths of the sea a road for the redeemed to cross over?
11 So [in like manner] the ransomed of the LORD shall return, And come to Zion with singing, With everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness; Sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
The permanent elimination of the Red Sea, of which the previous dividing was just a sign, will be to make a permanent gateway for all of Africa to the Holy Land, so they too can come up to Jerusalem to worship unobstructed.
2. John saw “no temple” in the New Jerusalem.
Yet, the prophecies from Ezekiel refer to the Millennial Temple in great detail. However, there are two Greek words for “Temple.” One refers to the whole temple, including its courts and various buildings. This is the word usually rendered “temple” in the New Testament. However, John used a different word. This term in its strictest sense referred to the inner sanctuary, the place where the Ark of the Covenant resided as a substitute and representation of God’s actual presence. This very private area was cloaked in the veil, which separated this space from the rest of the Temple, and hid the Ark of the Covenant from the view of everyone, even the priests serving in the Temple, (Heb. 9:3).
The Millennial Temple is conspicuously missing the most important feature of the old Tabernacle and Temple – the Ark of the Covenant hidden behind the veil in the Holy of Holies. The Ark was a symbolic representation of God’s Throne, implying His symbolic presence in the Holy of Holies. In its place will be the Throne of God, with Jesus seated bodily upon it.
6 Then I heard Him speaking to me from the temple, while a man stood beside me.
7 And He said to me, “Son of man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel forever.
16 “Then it shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land in those days,” says the LORD, “that they will say no more, ‘The ark of the covenant of the LORD.’ It shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit it, nor shall it be made anymore.
17“At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the LORD, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem. No more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts.
3. The dimensions of Jerusalem in Ezekiel are much less than those given by John of the New Jerusalem.
To answer this objection, let’s first look at the dimensions given in Ezekiel of the city.
30 “These are the exits of the city. On the north side, measuring four thousand five hundred [cubits] 31(the gates of the city shall be named after the tribes of Israel), the three gates northward: one gate for Reuben, one gate for Judah, and one gate for Levi; 32 on the east side, four thousand five hundred [cubits], three gates: one gate for Joseph, one gate for Benjamin, and one gate for Dan; 33 on the south side, measuring four thousand five hundred [cubits], three gates: one gate for Simeon, one gate for Issachar, and one gate for Zebulun; 34 on the west side, four thousand five hundred [cubits] with their three gates: one gate for Gad, one gate for Asher, and one gate for Naphtali. 35 All the way around shall be eighteen thousand [cubits]; and the name of the city from that day shall be: THE LORD IS THERE.”
Notice that the word “cubits” is in brackets (or italics in the NKJV). This is because the word does not appear in the Hebrew text, but was assumed and supplied by the translators. The unit of measurement is not given in this text. The LXX has, “four thousand five hundred measures.” However, earlier in Ezekiel, the “reed” was identified as the “measure” (Ezek. 40:5), its length being “six cubits, the cubit and handbreadth.” That is, it was six long cubits, each cubit consisting of the distance from the elbow to fingertip (18”-20”), plus the width of the hand (4”). That works out to a cubit of 22-24 inches. Six of these long cubits make up the “measure” rod. If the long cubit is 24 inches, the “measure rod” is 144 inches, or 12 feet exactly. The length of each side of the city was 4,500 “measures” (rods) of 12 feet. That is equal to 54,000 feet, (about 10.2 miles).
In Revelation, the measurement of the city is given as “12,000 stadia,” the length and width being equal. But, whether this figure is the length of each side, or the circumference of the city, was not stated by John. There are two reasons it most likely refers to the circumference. First, the parallels to Ezekiel are obvious, and Ezekiel gave both the length of each side (4,500 measures) plus the total circumference (18,000 measures). Since John gave only one measurement (12,000 stadia), it is more likely that he gave the total. Second, 12,000 stadia would put exactly 1,000 “stadia” between each of the 12 gates. Therefore, with a circumference of 12,000 stadia, each side of the city would measure 3,000 “stadia.”
And if we suppose that John was referring to the Greek race course, it would make the New Jerusalem about 300 miles across, a size that cannot fit within the Holy Land.
The Greek word literally means “a fixed standard of length” without implying any particular length. The most common application of the term was no doubt to the Greek race course. But this was not likely John’s meaning. In this context, a “fixed standard of length” had just been introduced in the previous verse – the golden measuring rod carried by the angel (v. 15). But, what would the fixed length of the rod be? Unlike Ezekiel’s prophecy, where the length of the rod was clearly defined as 12 feet, Revelation does not give the measuring rod’s length. However, if we suppose that the angel’s measuring rod in Revelation was 18 feet long, (instead of the 12 foot rod in Ezekiel), the measurements come out exactly the same as Ezekiel’s. Three thousand 18 foot rods in Revelation would measure 54,000 feet. Four thousand five hundred 12 foot rods in Ezekiel also measure 54,000 feet. The one-third greater length is probably why it is called a “golden measuring rod” as opposed to simply a “measuring rod” as in Ezekiel. There is no conflict between Ezekiel’s and John’s measurements. And a city of this size, (10.2 miles square, or 104 square miles), fits comfortably within the land boundaries in Ezekiel 48.
4. The New Jerusalem descends from heaven.
From this it is assumed that it cannot be the present city of Jerusalem, which is already here on earth. However, notice the obvious parallel between Ezekiel’s first sight of the restored city of Jerusalem, and John’s first sight of the New Jerusalem.
2 In the visions of God He took me into the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain; on [or above] it toward the south was something like the structure of a city.
3 He took me there, and behold, there was a man whose appearance was like the appearance of bronze. He had a line of flax and a measuring rod in his hand, and he stood in the gateway.
10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
11 having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.
It is easy to suppose that Ezekiel also saw the city descending, viewing it from high up in a mountain. What would be the point of taking Ezekiel up into “a very high mountain” to view the city if it was not suspended (as with John’s vision)? The parallel here is undeniable. Therefore, it is quite likely that both Ezekiel and John saw the same city suspended in the air, descending.
The question is, why? The answer is that Jerusalem is portrayed throughout the Old Testament as being both the physical city and its inhabitants. They are viewed as a unit, referred to as the “daughter of Jerusalem” and “daughter of Zion.”7 This is true of Jerusalem both before and after the second coming of Christ. The city is portrayed as a woman many times. In fact, in Isaiah 54 Jerusalem is called “a woman forsaken,” a “widow,” and the wife of the Lord.
- For your Maker is your husband, The LORD of hosts is His name; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth.
- For the LORD has called you Like a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, Like a youthful wife when you were refused,” Says your God.
- “For a mere moment I have forsaken you, But with great mercies I will gather you.
- With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment; But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,” Says the LORD, your Redeemer.
Note that Jerusalem (and her inhabitants) was divorced by God, but He promised to remarry her. This is why the city of Jerusalem is called “the Lamb’s Wife” in Revelation 21.
9 “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, …”
Paul referred to “the elevated Jerusalem” as “the mother of us all,” and then immediately quoted Isaiah 54 to prove it. The city itself is to be the abode of God among redeemed mankind. The redeemed which make up this city will be caught up into the air to be united with the Father and the Lamb at the second coming, and to descend with Him. Therefore, the city is portrayed symbolically as descending from clouds.
That this really is the present city of Jerusalem restored, as the capitol of the restored earth, is very plain from many of the passages quoted in this article which refer to her past affliction in contrast to her glorious future. A city in heaven could not possibly have a past described as: “a woman forsaken,” “widowhood,” “desolate,” “the shame of your youth,” “a youthful wife refused,” “with a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment,” “afflicted one, tossed with tempest, and not comforted,” etc. The many quotes in Revelation from the Prophets to describe this New Jerusalem come out of such passages. Therefore, there can be no question that the New Jerusalem in Revelation is the same city described in Isaiah as the woman that God divorced for her unfaithfulness, but will restore her. This is the “New Jerusalem” that John saw.
 The Greek word does not mean to cease to exist, but to pass by. This implies a change in form. “For the form of this world is passing away,” (1 Cor. 7:31).
 Matt. 5:18; Matt. 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33, 2 Peter 3:10
 See: Isaiah 65:17-25, and Isaiah 66:7-23
 Peter 3:10-13
By Tim Warner Copyright ©