The question has been raised as to just what does our God and His Son reside in when They come down to earth to start the millennium?
Of course the answer to this question may have little to do with our day-to-day activities, and that being the case, could easily be dismissed as something of “lessor” importance. However, I see the answer as being very important in helping the Church members through a very difficult time ahead – the Bible calls it the worst time in human history (Mat 24:21; Dan 12:1) – by giving them an insight into just how different the Millennium will be, compared to the world we see today. To put it bluntly, it helps explain why the difference is worth dying for, if that is what is required.
In my mind, the Bible establishes that there will be a physical temple for God and Christ to return to at the end of the six thousand years of Satan’s rule. The key Scriptures that I have found to establish that are, Ezekiel 43:1-7, Mal 3:1-5; 2 Thes 2:4; Rev 11:1,2. Ezekiel 43 establishes the fact that God will spend time in the temple and will have a throne there. But will this man made – stone and mortar – temple be suitable for God and Christ to dwell in exclusively for the next 1000 years? The indications are that it isn’t, and God the Father has a much better solution already in mind.
Let’s go back to the basics for a moment. As best we understand it today, the Bible is mainly for, and about, the 7000 years after the Genesis “creation” events. This week of seven “1000 year” days is further broken down into six days or 6000 years under Satan as “the god of this world”, and then 1000 years under God as the Creator and Christ as “King of Kings and Lord of Lords”. So that the billions of people who missed out on being part of the first resurrection, can see and appreciate the difference in the world when God’s laws are obeyed by the majority, the 1000-year rule of Christ will produce some stunning results. Hence, it is only fitting that God be housed in something greater than what man can make today.
The Scriptures tell us that the new City of Jerusalem in the World Tomorrow, is something far greater than what we have come to know as cities in the history of mankind so far. Rev 3:12 and Rev 21:2,3 tell us that it is a city made by God, and is brought down to the earth. There is no actual temple area within the city, but God the Father and Jesus Christ are themselves the temple (Rev 21:22). I take this to mean that the new City of Jerusalem is the home and temple of those who are resurrected as spirit beings (Heb 12:23). The temple for the physical humans on earth is situated just to the north of the city (Ezek 48:9-20). This New Jerusalem is described in Rev 21:9-27, and is a thing of such beauty and splendour that it is hard for us to imagine today.
OK. We can read about this special city, but does it tie in with becoming the residence of God the Father and our Lord at the beginning or the end of the millennium? We believe that a case can be made for the New Jerusalem arriving on earth around the start of the Millennium. Just to define our terms a little more, when we say at the start of the millennium we mean to indicate a time after the first resurrection but before the second resurrection. That is, there are still live humans on earth. When we say after the millennium, we are talking about the time after the second resurrection and the final judgment period, and there are no flesh and blood humans left on earth. The third option of the New Jerusalem coming after the second resurrection but before the final judgment does not make any sense to me, though it maybe possible I guess.
First up, let’s look at the Scriptures that seem to put the New Jerusalem coming at the start of the millennium.
Rev 21:1,2 Describes the New Jerusalem coming down from “heaven” or “above” as the word can also mean. The time frame of there being a “new (or renewed) heaven” and a “new (or renewed) earth” indicates to me that the New Jerusalem arrives after the mess caused by the events leading up to and including the seven last plagues, has been cleaned up. The air is clear, the water is pure, and the grass and trees are growing again. It is possible to be just 45 days after God and Christ come down to the earth, if the 1290 days and 1335 days of Dan 12:11,12 start at the same time.
Rev 21:3,4 These two verses give strong evidence that there are still humans alive on the earth at the same time as God the Father and our Lord are dealing with the people who have survived the tribulation. Hence this indicates that God’s home – the New Jerusalem – is established early in the millennium. My thought is, if humans can still remember pain and tears, then they are humans from the Old World and are just starting to live under the Government of God.
Rev 21:5 I feel that this verse gives the time-frame of when Acts 3:21 “ … the times of restoration of all things …” and Rom 8:21 “because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” will be fulfilled, and again points to a “during the millennium” setting.
Rev 21:6,7 People overcoming and asking for salvation all point to flesh and blood humans being around.
Rev 21:8 “ … but cowards … and unbelievers …” This is certainly not talking about spirit beings.
Rev 21:9 The reference to the “seven last plagues” has a “beginning of the millennium” ring about it. The word translated “bride” in the NKJV could have some problems. An alternate rending is given in the margin of "woman". The Believer’s Bible Commentary has this to say – “This may mean that the city is the residence of the bride”. As best as we can see, only two Greek characters need to be changed to make “bride” become “bride chamber”. With about “2500 real differences” (Good News July/Aug 2004 Page 21) between the original NT and what we have today, it may be possible that this is one of them. Certainly it makes more sense to me for the New Jerusalem to house – along with others – the Bride of Christ, than for the city and its detailed description to just “represent” the Bride.
Rev 21:24,26,27 are talking about nations and certain people not being allowed to enter. Again this points to a millennium setting. Access only being allowed to those whose names are in the book of life (v27), indicates that just not “anyone” can come and go as they please. It will be a very special place, but still available to living people who are worthy.
As I understand it, the "Churches of God" have traditionally placed the coming of the New Jerusalem after the millennium – see WCG Bible Correspondence Course 39 – but there are other possible explanations for the Scriptures that are used for this.
The position of Rev 21:1. This comes after the Great White Throne Judgment is discussed in Rev 20:11-15, which has led some to believe that the New Jerusalem is brought to earth after the millennium. However, the book of Revelation is not written in total time sequence. There are insert chapters, and there are places where the story jumps forwards and backwards. For instance, the story of the two witness of Rev 11:1-13 is told between the 6th and 7th Trumpet, yet their activities for “one thousand two hundred and sixty days” would have to go back to before the 6th Trumpet.
In simple terms, Rev21:1 can not be slotted into history just because it comes after Rev 20. A possible reason that Rev 20 & 21 are not in strict time sequence, is that Rev 20 deals with the first and second resurrections, and by skipping over time, keeps the subject matter together.
Another Scripture that has been used to put the New Jerusalem arriving after the millennium, is Rev 21:1 where it talks about there being “no more sea”. If the sea has gone then people put the timing after the events of 2 Pet 3:10-13 where it describes the earth being purified by fire and melting. That is, there are no physical humans left alive. One of the problems is that 2 Pet 3:10-13 is incorrectly translated, and is not referring to the destruction of the earth and its people, but to a time of judgment when the facts are made known. In part, see the margin of NKJV.
However there are at least two other explanations of why John mentions that there was no more sea and that still allows for a time frame at the beginning of the millennium. The sea could be used as a type of the mass of sinful humanity that spawned several beasts – powerful human governments – in the past (Dan 7:2,3; Rev 13:1). Rev 17:15 (NLT) also uses water to represent “masses of people”. Certainly the sea exists at the time of the second resurrection (Rev 20:13).
It could also be referring to the sea that is dried up or held back, so that Israel can return to their Palestine (Zec 10:11; Isa 11:11-16 esp v15; Isa 50:2).
I feel the second explanation is the most likely.
In Rev 21:16, the length of each side of the city – including three gates – is put at 2220 km (NLT).
However, in Ezek 48:30 the length of each side – again including the three gates – is put at 2.4 kilometers (NLT) for a total of 9.6 kilometers around the City. Ezek 48:15-20 also gives the City a length of each side of 2.4 kilometers, and that the Temple and the City are situated in an area of land 13.3 kilometers square.
So how do we reconcile this great difference in the size of the New Jerusalem as described in Ezekiel and Revelation? Well in once sense we can’t. We don’t have access to the original manuscripts at this point in time; so there is no way we can be sure of what the original writers recorded. However we can apply some simple logic and come up with a solution – but we should always leave the door open for correction by Christ at a later date.
The problem seems to be with either the Greek word “stadia” in Rev 21:16, or the figure of 12,000. As I have mentioned earlier, men have identified around 2,500 possible differences between the original New Testament documents and what we have today. Of course, most of these are minor, but it just may be that the original word for the “stadia” that we have today, could have been something different, or the word “thousand” has been inserted.
If we leave out the word “thousand” in v16 then the city would be about 2.2 kilometers square. Since we are not absolutely certain to the length of the cubit used in Ezek 48, this is close to the dimensions given in Ezekiel. Alternatively, if the original word for “stadia” was something that was about the span of a human hand (20-cm) then the size of the city would be close to the Ezekiel measurements.
Whatever the reason, I feel that it is best – until Christ reveals otherwise – to assume that the city described in Ezek 48 is the same city described in Rev 21, and is about 2.4 kilometers square. The dimensions and description of the temple as given in Ezek 40 – 48 are very specific, as is the description of the New Jerusalem given in Rev 21. Therefore I see these, as literal objects, not types for something else. The temple is small (265 meters square – Ezek 42:16-20 NLT) with just three gates (North, East & South, Ezek 40) and sits to the north of the city (Ezek 40:2; Ezek 48). The New Jerusalem is much larger (2.4 kilometers square) and has three gates on each side for a total of twelve (Ezek 48:30-34, Rev21:13).
Having the possibility of God the Father and Jesus Christ His son living right here on this earth, in their own city that shines with great brilliance from within, and made with the most beautiful materials, is certainly something to look forward to.
In the past, this image of the New Jerusalem has motivated other people too. Heb 11: 10 (NLT) “Abraham did this [moved to another land] because he was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God”
Our future home, a place where we can be a family with our Father and Elder Brother, is held up as a prize worth striving for, in Heb 12:18,22-24,28 (NLT).
V18 “You have not come to a physical mountain …
22 No, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to thousands of angels in joyful assembly.
23 You have come to the assembly of God’s first-born children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge of all people. And you have come to the spirits of the redeemed in heaven who have now been made perfect.
24 You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and the people, and to the sprinkled blood, which graciously forgives instead of crying out for vengeance as the blood of Abel did.”
These Scriptures do indeed describe a very special place to be.
Heb 12:28 “Since we are receiving a Kingdom that cannot be destroyed, let us be thankful and please God by worshipping him with holy fear and awe”
Bob Orchard Dec 2012
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