Monday, July 25, 2005


The New Jerusalem

According to gospel music (white and black), according to numerous sermons, and according to books about heaven, after the resurrection we will live forever in a massive city with golden streets, gates of pearl, and foundation stones of precious gems. But not according to Revelation chapter 21.

The misrepresentation of the Holy City, New Jerusalem, as our final eternal home is so engrained in us by our misguided Christian cultures that it is hard to pull away from it. Help me as we read with our eyes open and discover what John is actually describing.

“Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb,” says verse 9. “He showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,” says verse 10. This glorious city is not a place, not our future residence. It is the bride herself. Wow! How long has that been in the Bible?

This city is a description of the church of Jesus Christ, with the gold and jewels symbolically portraying its beauty, value, and endurance. The apostolic foundation stones reflect the authority the church is built on, while the patriarchal gates show the Biblical entrance into it. The cubic dimensions symbolize the perfection and completeness of its makeup. The divine presence (instead of a temple) demonstrates the fulfillment of God’s ages-long purpose to live with his people and be their God. Though the city sheds its light to the nations, only those written in the Lamb’s book of life can enter.

Is it possible for us, surrounded as we are by so many references to the Holy City as a “where,” to really think of it as a “who”? Only if we read with our eyes open and redraw the mental pictures we were given.

I have often wondered...if those numbers in revelation are representing its completeness, then what about the seven bowls and trumpets? Are those numbers mearly symbolic of completeness? It would seem odd since John vividly describes each of them in great detail. Don't the Mormons take the number saved 144,000 to be literal? (I am not a Mormon, but I have a tough time explaining why this is figurative and others aren't). How do we know which numbers in revelation are specific and which are metaphoric? Thanks for your blog...I have enjoyed every entry and continue to try to read with "open eyes" :)
Eugene Peterson, in his commentary on Revelation called, "Reversed Thunder," suggests taking the book poetically, instead of choosing between literally and figuratively. That has helped me. I look at Revelation less as a prediction of future events (though there is some of this) and more as a conclusion to the entire Bible. John weaves in references, images, and themes from throughout the whole of Scripture. Many of the judgments (bowls and trumpets) are described in terms of a reversal of the original creation of the heavens and earth (Genesis 1), making way in the final 2 chapters for the new heavens and new earth.
By the way, I think it is the Jehovah Witness group that claims to be the fulfillment of the 144,000 of Revelation. then by seeing it as "reversal," you mean instead of God creating out of nothing, he is bringing destruction out of nothing? I see where this certainly gives more breathing room for interpretation than the literal/figurative approach. So does Peterson's view fall into a particular eschatology? Preterist? Idealist? Historical? And thanks for the Jehovah Witness correction. Part of the reason for my being able to keep up with your blog and ask questions is because I am currently homestricken with mono. Unfortunately, this also brings about poor memory, and laziness to look things up :)
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?