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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THE NEW JERUSALEM

Rev 21:1-4 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. 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. 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.

In preceding chapters of the Book of Revelation, the history of the church of Christ, and the trials and tribulations it experienced within a world of unrighteousness, is revealed and discussed in prophetic symbolism. It culminates with the persecutors of Christ's church, the godless followers of Satan, being banished forever from the sight of God, and being cast into the lake of fire as their eternal punishment. But it doesn't end there. The remainder of this sacred book is given to the revelation of the final destiny of the obedient followers of Christ - God's beloved children. What lies in store for these faithful saints is eternal happiness and splendor that is impossible to humanly comprehend. The only understandable conception of heaven can be described in words of this world that are known to mankind. The battle between the evil, worldly powers of Satan and the spiritual, righteous powers of Christ Jesus is finally over. Our Savior, the Son of God, and His followers are victorious. With the dawning of that first bright eternal morning, in words that men and women can understand, eternal heaven is revealed in the lesson text in all of its blissful glory.

As John's vision continues, he saw a new heaven and a new earth,whichis to exist forever. The reason for this is because the first heaven and the first earth were passed away. There will never be a symbolic sea to separate God from His children, as a physical sea separates mankind from various parts of the world. Certainly John was aware of this fact since he was banished to the Isle of Patmos and separated by a great sea from the churches he was instrumental in founding. The reference to heaven, in this context, is not the heavenly abode of the saints in the presence of God, but that portion of the universe God created in the beginning of time - the atmosphere under which the world exists, including its stars, planets, and the sun around which the earth rotates. 2 Peter 3:10 assures this as he described Judgment Day: But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Following this, Peter continues by saying that, according to God's promise, we are to look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness (2 Pet. 3:13).

We are also to learn from the lesson text the significance of the tabernacle of God, referred to in verse 3. From the Old Testament we know that the tabernacle was a temporary place of God's abode. It was place in which God resided with His chosen people, Israel, while they continued in their wilderness wanderings. Symbolically, the new tabernacle will be the eternal home where God will dwell with His people: He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. This was made known to John by a heavenly proclamation - by a great voice out of heaven. But before this is to take place, John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

We know, from New Testament references, that Christ Jesus, as prophesied in Isaiah 61:10, is the Bridegroom (Also see John 3:29), and the bride, also referred to in the same verse of Isaiah, is His church, according to Ephesians 5:25-33 and 2 Corinthians 11:2. We can conclude that the holy city, New Jerusalem, symbolically represents the obedient members of the church of Christ that will be gathered together by our Savior and carried into spiritual heaven to live with God throughout eternity. And there, 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. The city in which their will never be found any travail for mankind, only eternal bliss is, indeed, the New Jerusalem.