Revelation 21: 1-2


Elder Phillip N. Conley

Revelation 21:1-2, "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."

This morning, there are passages that are discussed and debated more than others, and this account is one of the ones at the top of the list. A few weeks ago, one of my segments mentioned (in passing) a view of passages like this that many have requested that I write further about.

These last two chapters of the Bible are rich, deep, and certainly contain more than this little segment can discuss. But, perhaps we can hit some high points to stir up our pure minds by way of remembrance to search and dig in these things for the furtherance of our understanding of the truth for God's honour and glory. From the outset, it should be noted that all discussions about the church and heaven can get difficult to rightly divide, for the same substance dwells in both. If you have a piece of pie that is sliced but situated with the rest of the pie, it takes examination (due to the type of pie, sometimes strict examination) to see what the piece is in relation to the pie (and vice versa). Therefore, texts like this one that have both situated together are difficult (for me anyway) to discern sometimes whether it is one, the other, or both.

It is interesting to note from the outset of the 21st chapter of Revelation that John mentions two things. He first mentions the new heaven and new earth, and then follows that statement by talking about the holy city. In the verses to come, he will go back and forth between both cases in different forms and fashions, but it is necessary to see that he mentions two things.

Perspective is key in rightly dividing certain concepts in the Bible. Many times, I think discussions of this passage are from a perspective of one viewing John from the flank or side. Let us try to imagine (in our mind's eye) the perspective of John. He obviously is looking upward as he later says that he is in the mountain watching the city come down from heaven to tabernacle with men. So, instead of looking from a sideways perspective, let us try to put ourselves in John's shoes and look upward. By doing so, we see the new heaven and new earth (wherein dwelleth righteousness), and we behold the downward procession of the holy city. From this vantage point, we see that the holy city is the extension of the plane (new heaven and earth) above it. If we stared at a portrait that had raised and lowered indentions to denote changes in elevation, it is obvious that the raised and lowered sections are still part of the picture. However, they are not all the picture.

Likewise, when we are dwelling in the holy city (worshiping in spirit and in truth), God has extended the earnest of our inheritance downward to us for the purpose of partaking of the joy of His salvation for His ultimate glory. But, by going up the mountain (laying aside the things of the flesh), there is an indication that our inheritance extends to us in a REAL fashion as we partake of the fat things of God. However, as wonderful as this time and experience is, if we are looking upwards in the direction that this extension (holy city or church) comes from, we can see that it still pales in comparison with the whole.

Sometimes, we mistakenly think of the church as the place designated or set aside to worship, but in point of fact, the church is when members of the kingdom are earnest in their venture to press into it in a visible fashion together in worship to God. By doing so, we are not focusing our attention around the location that the holy city has extended to, but rather, we are looking upward in the direction it has come from. With the eye of faith in focus, we begin to realize that what resides above us is where there are no more sufferings at all. 

While God wipes away our tears in this life when we are comforted in His city, up there, we have no tears, since there is nothing to cry about. It is all peace and love, and the love of God flows freely through all. When looking at this higher and nobler plane, words begin to fail us to describe its inestimable worth. We long and yearn to see it with our own eyes.

Our new man seeks release from the bondage of corruption and death, and one sweet day, we will be there wholly (body, soul, and spirit). At that day, we no longer will need to look upwards by faith, but rather, we can then look around us in real manifestation. No wonder why John concluded this awesome sight by saying, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus."

P.S. It is my hope that this is not offensive or divisive to any. This subject has been the source of much conversational discord, but my hope is that this signifies the correctness of both positions. Both sides of the argument make valid points, and I believe, in point of fact, they are both right. If I have erred in my thinking, please brethren instruct me as I stand as one that still needs to be taught and learn much.