In The Bible, the New Jerusalem (also called the tabernacle of God, holy city, city of God, celestial city, and heavenly Jerusalem, as well as Jerusalem above and Zion, Shining City on a Hill), is a literal (or figurative, depending upon the writer's viewpoint) city that is a completely new dwelling for the Saints. Others may believe that it is a physical reconstruction, spiritual restoration, or divine recreation of the city of Jerusalem. Such a renewal of Jerusalem, if a reconstruction, is an important theme in Judaism, Christianity, and the Bahá'í Faith. As a prominent feature of the Book of Revelation, the New Jerusalem holds an important place in Christian eschatology and Christian theology. The New Jerusalem has also influenced Christian philosophy and Christian mysticism, see also Jerusalem in Christianity.
All of the earths beliefs and traditions, based upon biblical scripture and other writings in the Jewish and Christian religions, such as fundamentalist 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 biblical prophecies. Dispensationalists believe in a literal New Jerusalem coming down from God out of Heaven, which will be an entirely new city of incredible dimensions. Still other sects, such as, various Protestant denominations, Mormonism, and modernist branches of Christianity 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.
The paradise gardens of the ancient Near East are the earliest precursors to the idea of the New Jerusalem. In the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis describes the layout of the Garden of Eden as similar to that of the paradise gardens. In both schema, a walled enclosure divided by spans of water protects and delights its inhabitants. Also, the synthesis of geometric and natural arrangements in paradise gardens has an echo in the New Jerusalem. Since Judaism views the renewed Jerusalem as a kind of paradise, the Garden of Eden presents itself as the Jewish prototype for the New Jerusalem. In these ways, the Garden of Eden, as a prominent feature of the creation beliefs of both Judaism and Christianity, is elemental to the idea of the New Jerusalem.
The city of Jerusalem holds immense importance to Judaism. The Jewish faith has long considered Jerusalem its most holy city, the center of the Promised Land, and a symbol of the Jewish people. Indeed, the modern Jewish state of Israel holds Jerusalem as its capital, though this claim is controversial. This ancient and persistent religious significance of Jerusalem explains why Jews began to associate the renewal of Jerusalem with paradise.
The Ark of the Covenant, the Tabernacle and the Temple in Jerusalem were instrumental in the development of the idea of the New Jerusalem. The history of these places of worship tie into that of the New Jerusalem.
The concept of the New Jerusalem has its most immediate origins in Judaism with the destruction of Solomon's Temple and the Babylonian captivity, events that spurred the ancient Jewish hope for a restoration of Jerusalem. When Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon sacked Jerusalem, laid waste the Temple, and took the Jews into captivity in 586 BC, the Jewish prophet Ezekiel foretold of the restoration of Jerusalem to his people. The Jews held Ezekiel's promise of the restoration of Jerusalem close to their hearts during the captivity and afterwards. In the course of history, various other prophets came forth with messages of Jerusalem's renewal. There has long been a belief in Judaism that the Messiah will enter through the Golden Gate, renew Jerusalem and Israel, and save the Jewish people. Zion is related to the New Jerusalem.
Certain elements of modern religious Zionism, especially Christian Zionism, harken back to this ancient Jewish yearning for a restoration of Jerusalem. The idea of The Third Temple has much in common with the concept of the New Jerusalem.
Based on the Book of Revelation, premillennialism holds that, following the end times and the second creation of heaven and earth, the New Jerusalem will be the earthly location where all true believers will spend eternity with God. The New Jerusalem is not limited to eschatology, however. Many Christians view the New Jerusalem as a current reality. Christians view the New Jerusalem as the consummation of the Body of Christ, the Church. According to this view, Christians already take part in membership of both the heavenly Jerusalem and the earthly Church in a kind of "dual citizenship." In this way, the New Jerusalem represents to Christians the final and everlasting reconciliation of God and His chosen people, "the end of the Christian pilgrimage." As such, the New Jerusalem is a conception of heaven.
The term New Jerusalem occurs twice in the New Testament, in verses 3:12 and 21:2 of the Book of Revelation. The new in the New Jerusalem comes from the Greek word kainos, which has a meaning different from neos, the other Greek word usually translated into English as new. Neos refers to something newly created, whereas kainos means something renewed or refreshed. A large portion of the final two chapters of the Christian Bible deals with John of Patmos' vision of the New Jerusalem. He describes the New Jerusalem as "'the bride, the wife of the Lamb'".
After John witnesses the new heaven and a new earth "that no longer has any sea", an angel takes him "in the Spirit" to a vantage point on "a great and high mountain" to see the New Jerusalem's descent. The enormous city comes out of heaven from God, down to the new earth. John follows his narration of the city's descent with an elaborate description. This description of the New Jerusalem retains many features of the Garden of Eden and the paradise garden, such as rivers, a square shape, a wall, and the Tree of Life.
Also according to John, there is no temple building in the New Jerusalem, as the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the city's temple, since they are worshipped everywhere. Revelation 22 goes on to describe a river of the water of life that flows down the middle of the great street of the city from the throne of God. The tree of life grows in the middle of this street and on either side, or in the middle of the street and on either side of the river. Each tree bears twelve fruits, or kinds of fruits, and yields its fruit every month. According to John, "The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." This inclusion of the tree of life in the New Jerusalem harkens back to the Garden of Eden. The fruit the tree bears may be the fruit of life.
John states that the New Jerusalem will be free of sin. According to the Seer, the servants of God will have theosis, and "His name will be on their foreheads." Night will no longer fall, and the inhabitants of the city will "have need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light." John ends his account of the New Jerusalem by stressing its eternal nature: "And they shall reign forever and ever."
These foundation stones are adorned with twelve types of precious stones. In modern times, the precise identification of all these precious stones is not certain, as several of the ancient names may refer to several different types of stones, or may no longer refer to the same kinds of stones that they did at the time of Revelation's writing. Also, the layout of the precious stones is contested. All of the precious stones could adorn each foundation stone, either in layers or mixed together some other way, or just one unique type of stone could adorn each separate foundation stone.
This latter possibility is favored by tradition, as each gate presumably stands on one foundation stone, and each of the twelve tribes has long been associated with a certain type of precious stone. These historical connections go back to the time of Temple worship, when the same kinds of stones were set in the golden Breastplate of the Ephod worn by the Kohen Gadol, and on the Ephod the names of each of the twelve tribes of Israel were inscribed on a particular type of stone.
Given the ambiguities of John’s description, the exact arrangement of the gates, foundation stones, and precious stones of the wall of the New Jerusalem is debated. The layout of the New Jerusalem according to John's vision might follow something like this:
|Stone||Sardus (Ruby?)||Chrysoprase||Chalcedony (Carbuncle?)|
|Stone||Topaz||Jacinth (Turquoise?)||Amethyst (Crystal?)|
One of the more striking features of the New Jerusalem is its vast size. In 21:16, the angel measures the city with a golden rod or reed, and records it as being 12,000 stadia by 12,000 stadia at the base, as well as 12,000 stadia high. A stadion is usually stated as 185.4 meters, or 600 feet, so the base has dimensions of about 2225 km by 2225 km, or 1500 miles by 1500 miles. These measurements equate to an area of 4.9 million square kilometers, which is larger than the 3,892,685 km² of the 25 states of the European Union in 2005, but smaller than the 7,617,930 km² of Australia. It is 79% of the area of the Middle East which may have around 6,289,592 km². In the ancient Greek system of measurement, the base of the New Jerusalem would have been equal to 144 million square stadia. If rested on the Earth, its ceiling would be inside the exosphere. If the entire flat area of the foundation was supported by the Earth, a chord of 1500 miles would generate a trench on the Earth of about 71.6 miles deep at the very center of the base: .
|cube||Many hold that the cubic form is more likely, as a cube carries symbolism obvious to John's audience at the time and is more in keeping with John's establishment of Judeo-Christian continuity throughout the text. A cube is the specific geometry of the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle and the Holy Temple of Israel. Also, in the form of a cube, each of the New Jerusalem's twelve edges of 12,000 stadia each, when added together, would equal a total of 144,000 stadia, a number important to the Seer's numerology elsewhere in the text.||If in the form of a cube, it would have a volume of 11 thousand million cubic kilometers, which is about half the volume of the moon, about a cubic mile for every monotheist ever alive since the time of Abraham.|
|square pyramid||However, the pyramid interpretation still has several adherents. A pyramid would allow a slope for the river of the water of life to flow down from the throne of God, and for the street of the city to ascend. Also, the New Jerusalem in the form of a pyramid would be a less incredible size. Given the Book of Exodus' narrative, the pyramid is sometimes considered a symbol of slavery.||If in the form of a pyramid, the New Jerusalem would have a volume of 3.7 thousand million cubic kilometers - about a cubic kilometer for every follower of an Abrahamic Religion alive today.|
"Furthermore, its height is the same as its width and breadth, the whole comprising a gigantic cubical structure 1,380 miles on every side. A number of writers have interpreted the city to be like a pyramid in shape, with the height of the pyramid equal to the dimensions of its base. Such an interpretation is quite forced, however, the language of the passage being much more naturally understood to mean a cube, with the length and breadth and height all the same. Such a shape was long ago associated with the sacred presence of God, suggesting the attributes of tri-unity as it does. That is, the fundamental cosmic entity of space is a genuine trinity. Space must be composed of three dimensions, but each dimension pervades all space. Space is always referenced to the first dimension (length), but can only be seen in terms of two dimensions (area = length squared) and experienced in three dimensions (volume = length cubed). Similarly, the Godhead is referenced to the Father, seen in the Son, experienced in the Holy Spirit.
The pyramidal shape, on the other hand (whether as in Egypt, Mexico, or the stepped-towers of practically all ancient nations), seems always to have been associated with paganism, with the pyramid's apex being dedicated to the worship of the sun, or the host of heaven. The first such structure was the Tower of Babel, and the Bible always later condemns worship carried out in high places (Leviticus 26:30) whether these were simply natural high hills or artificially constructed hills in the form of a pyramid or ziggurat.
The cube, on the other hand, was the shape specified by God for the holy place, or the oracle, in Solomon's temple (1 Kings 6:20), where God was to "dwell" between the cherubim. Both the language and the symbology thus favor the cubical, rather than the pyramidal, shape".
Morris then continues with a discussion of the resurrected saints' new bodies, writing that these "will be like those of angels, no longer limited by gravitational or electromagnetic forces as at present".
He further writes:
"Thus, it will be easy for the inhabitants to travel vertically as horizontally, in the new Jerusalem. Consequently, the "streets" of the city (verse 21) may well include vertical passageways as well as horizontal avenues, and the "blocks" could be real cubical blocks, instead of square areas between streets as in a present-day earthly city.
The Catholic Encyclopedia article on "Heaven" states that Catholic
theologians deem more appropriate that there should be a special and glorious abode, in which the blessed have their peculiar home and where they usually abide, even though they be free to go about in this world. For the surroundings in the midst of which the blessed have their dwelling must be in accordance with their happy state; and the internal union of charity which joins them in affection must find its outward expression in community of habitation. At the end of the world, the earth together with the celestial bodies will be gloriously transformed into a part of the dwelling-place of the blessed (Revelation 21). Hence there seems to be no sufficient reason for attributing a metaphorical sense to those numerous utterances of the Bible which suggest a definite dwelling-place of the blessed. Theologians, therefore, generally hold that the heaven of the blessed is a special place with definite limits. Naturally, this place is held to exist, not within the earth, but, in accordance with the expressions of Scripture, without and beyond its limits. All further details regarding its locality are quite uncertain. The Church has decided nothing on this subject.
Adrian Gilbert's The New Jerusalem shows that there was a secret tradition that the British are descended from the Lost Tribes of Israel, an idea known as British Israelism, and that the capital city of Britain should therefore be re-modeled as a New Jerusalem for the coming Age of Enlightenment. Gilbert presents evidence showing that this belief has its origins from at least the 6th century AD. It became more popular at the time of Elizabeth I and spread in influence during the Stuart period. It reached its height of influence during and just after the First World War. Gilbert shows that though the full idea of rebuilding London as a New Jerusalem had to be abandoned for practical reasons. Certain building, such as St Paul's Cathedral, contain elements of the plan in their design.
`Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'u'lláh's son, further explains that the New Jerusalem which descends from heaven is not an actual city which is renewed, but the law of God since it descends from heaven through a new revelation and it is renewed. Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, stated that specifically Bahá'u'lláh's book of laws, the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, is the new Jerusalem.Taherzadeh, Adib (1984). The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, Volume 3: `Akka, The Early Years 1868-77. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. ISBN 0-85398-144-2. Bahá'u'lláh, in the Tablet of Carmel, also states that the new Jerusalem had appeared upon the new Mount Zion, Mount Carmel.
The Kaaba, the Most Holy Place in Islam, has several similarities to the New Jerusalem. The Kaaba is a large cuboidal building located inside the mosque known as al-Masjid al-Haram in Mecca. The mosque was built around the original Kaaba. According to the Qur'an, the Kaaba was built by Ibrahim (Abraham) and his son Ismail (Ishmael ). Islamic traditions assert that the Kaaba "reflects" a house in heaven called al-Baytu l-Maˤmur (البيت المعمور) and that it was first built by the first man, Adam. Ibrahim and Ismail rebuilt the Kaaba on the old foundations.
Medinah is the second most holy city in Islam, in which the Prophet Muhammad preached Islam. It has remained there for over 1400 years.
Jerusalem is the third most holy city in Islam, and it is the place of many of the holy Prophets of Islam such as Jesus son of Mary, David, Solomon etc. This city is highly populated by Muslims even today.
American pseudophilosopher Gene Ray has referred to the cubic interpretation of the New Jerusalem in an effort to express his Time Cube theory to religious believers who will only take seriously Biblical scriptures.