I recently had a discussion with a fellow believer who had watched a video describing the New Jerusalem in great detail. One of his comments concerned the "fact" (according to the preacher), that the 1500 mile vertical dimension of the city would mean apartment towers rising 33,000 floors into the air.
I have not seen the video but the subject intrigues me so I decided to investigate the claim as told to me. My first approach is this simple calculation: 1,500 miles = 7,920,000 earth feet. Allowing the average normal ten feet per level in skyscrapers, it appears the apartment tower could contain 792,000 floors; not 33,000.
Subsequently I found an online audio of the sermon by Dr. Erwin Lutzer of Moody Bible Church in Chicago. I listened to it. If you want to hear it for yourself, you can find it at this link. Lutzer - New Jerusalem
What he actually said is, based on Rev 21:16, the city could be a cube or pyramid of the height seen by John in his vision. Allowing twenty feet per floor would make a structure 396,000 floors tall. His math is correct. He talked about many aspects of occupying a place in one of the "many dwellings" Jesus said are in His Father's house.
I have constructed images in an attempt to visualize the phenomenon of New Jerusalem if placed on our existing Earth (which will be replaced). I discovered that most of the height of the city is beyond the level of atmosphere humans can breathe.
The first 60,000 feet of atmosphere, called Troposphere, are where we now live. Humans cannot breathe if air becomes too thin. That is why high flying airplanes have pressurized cabins.
Above the Troposphere is the Stratosphere extending out to 160,000 feet, or about thirty miles. Beyond it is the Mesosphere up to 285,000 feet or about 54 miles above the surface of Earth. Then there is the Thermosphere ending at 400,000 feet, about 75 miles up, and beyond that is the Exosphere extending to about 6,000 miles into solar space.
Below is a pretty closely scaled set of images showing the relationship between current Earth and New Jerusalem.
Following my discourse you will find the full Bible text regarding this topic along with part of an article on wikipedia.org. For now, let's examine what we know so far according to Biblical text and scientific knowledge.
Before I make any assertion regarding what is possible, I clearly state that "With God all things are possible". All things. We are limited to what we believe is our knowledge of the cosmos God created. We can see things only through the lens of what we believe is physically true as expanded by our imaginations. Having said that, this follows.
1. God intends to destroy this entire cosmos and make a new one ... a new heaven and new earth. According to scripture this is a future event. It has not yet been accomplished. It will become the new reality when God the Father, who alone knows when, causes it to happen. [Isaiah 65:17 and Matt 24:36].
2. Jesus said He went to prepare a place for believers then will come back and get us so we can be where He is. [John 14:2-3].
3. Despite what is often taught from pulpits and the Lutzer sermon, the dead in Christ are DEAD. Else, why would He have said this ...
Last day of what?
Last day of existence of this world and this age.
Because God is omnipotent He can choose whether to have already created the new cosmos in some space He has set aside, or to take millions of years to create it, or do it instantly when He so decides. We have no ability to know what is in the mind of God except as He has revealed it in scripture and by the Holy Spirit. What He has revealed is plain ... a New Earth and New Jerusalem coming down to it.
4. There is no sea on the New Earth [Rev 21:1]. It is all land or surface. The fact that our cosmos is filled with round and ovular objects does not mean there will be a similar situation in the new cosmos. Bearing in mind that God is not bound by the natural laws He placed on our present cosmos, the new one can have any form and manifest in any manner He decides. We may live forever on a new flat earth floating amidst the new heavens.
In Rev 21:5 God says, "Behold, I am making all things new."
5. No temple [Rev 21:22].
6. No sun or moon [Rev 21:23]. The City is illuminated by the Glory of God and the Lamb.
7. It is walled and gated with gates always open. [Rev 21:24].
8. The wall, made of jasper, is seventy yards by human and angelic measure. Logically, though not stated, is this measurement refers to the height of the wall. [Rev 21:17].
9. There are 12 gates in the wall, each gate a single pearl. [Rev 21:21]. A little sarcasm if you will, there must somewhere be some mighty big oysters working on these gigantic pearls. All we know is what John told us he saw and what he understood it to be. In the same verse he says the street (singular, not 'streets') was pure gold but transparent as glass.
If you walked along the street, it being transparent yet gold, what would you see below it ? There is no mention of sewers or subways. Life in New Jerusalem will not be anything like life in the flesh on this Earth. The street is obviously at least fifteen hundred miles long in one direction, or it could be a continuous spiral or random shape running throughout the City. Take your pick.
Summation: Time will exist in New Jerusalem. We who are saved will inhabit the City and be permitted to go in and out through its pearl gates. (Why I would want to go out I don't yet know). There will be nations, apparently outside the City? Nothing unclean will be able to pass through the gates and enter New Jerusalem. God will dwell there, manifest in some manner we cannot conceive.
We will have bodies like our risen and ascended Lord, though we don't yet know what He is like [Paul said]. However, John saw Him so if we are going to be like Him, we will be clothed in white, have skin like molten bronze, and faces shining like our present sun.
We will not remember Earth or our trials and tribulations when we live there. [Isa 65:17].
Our offspring and name will endure before God. [Isa 65:22].
The details of physical and spiritual attributes of New Jerusalem are not as important as being there is. If you want to live there forever and don't know if you qualify, this web page might help you. Click the link to view it. How to get to New Jerusalem
Isaiah 65:17 New American Standard Bible
[ New Heavens and a New Earth ] “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind."
Isaiah 66:22 New American Standard Bible
“For just as the new heavens and the new earth Which I make will endure before Me,” declares the LORD, “So your offspring and your name will endure.”
2 Peter 3:10 New American Standard Bible
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.
2 Peter 3:13 New International Version
But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
Revelation 21 New American Standard Bible
The New Heaven and Earth
21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God.
Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.
There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west. And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall. The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements.
The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst.
And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.
I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.
In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Christianity interprets the city as a physical reconstruction, spiritual restoration, or divine recreation of the city of Jerusalem. It is also interpreted by many Chrisutian groups as referring to the Church to be the dwelling place of the saints.
John of Patmos describes the New Jerusalem in the Book of Revelation in the Christian Bible, and so the New Jerusalem holds an important place in Christian eschatology and Christian mysticism, and has also influenced Christian philosophy and Christian theology. Such a renewal of Jerusalem, if a reconstruction, is an important theme in Judaism, Christianity, and the Bahá'í Faith. Renewed Jerusalem bears as its motto the words Ad librum (Latin: "as by the book".)
Many traditions based on biblical scripture and other writings in the Jewish and Christian religions, such as Protestantism, Orthodox Christianity, and Orthodox Judaism, expect the literal renewal of Jerusalem to some day take place at the Temple Mount in accordance with various prophecies.
Dispensationalists believe in a literal New Jerusalem that will come down out of Heaven, which will be an entirely new city of incredible dimensions. Other sects, such as various Protestant denominations, modernist branches of Christianity, Mormonism and Reform Judaism, view the New Jerusalem as figurative, or believe that such a renewal may have already taken place, or that it will take place at some other location besides the Temple Mount.
It is important to distinguish between "the camp of the saints, and the beloved city" spoken of in Revelation ch.20:9, and the New Jerusalem of chapter 21. Rev.ch.20:9 refers to an earthly City, description and purpose of which is found in book of Ezekiel, starting with chapter 36 and ending with ch.48. One of the most obvious differences is, the dimensions of the New Jerusalem of Rev.ch.21 are 1000 times bigger than dimensions of the city in Ezekiel ch.48 (and in Rev.ch.20:9) New Jerusalem of Revelation ch.21 is 2225 km. in length, width, and height, a city of these gigantic proportions can not be located on this earth, but as stated in ch.21 comes down from heaven on to the new earth.
Written by © Wayne Hepburn, October 2012