The Purpose of God is the Heavenly City Planted on Earth
9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:
10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
The scriptures above are a reference to Abraham, who according to Paul (Rom. 4:16) was the father of us all. While he was the human father of many nations and the faith, he still had as his main focus the city that was to be built and made by God Himself.
Living in temporary dwellings, it testified to the fact there was a heavenly city to come in the future, which transcended even the land God promised that he was wandering about in.
Abraham wasn’t only the father of Israel, he was the father of numerous nations, which points to New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven, a representation of the purpose and thought of God for His people.
Understanding New Jerusalem
I’m not going to get into all the elements that were included in New Jerusalem, including the Lamb, the throne, golden street, river of life, the tree of live, and the light that permeated the inner part of the city as John observed it.
What I want to comment on is the fact that New Jerusalem represented the full thought of God as represented by the various things that were included in the heavenly revelation of the City.
This shouldn’t be taken literally as far as some of suggested. There have been times over the years where silly people even say there is a square city coming down from outer space that will plop down somewhere on earth. This is ludicrous. The city reflects the purpose of God for man, and that is how it should be understood, as it’s meant to be what His people are to model and represent on planet earth.
The major point in this article is that it is a city that it describes. A little earlier the city is announced as the Lamb’s wife (Rev. 21.9), but that’s a reference to a people that have understood and embraced that which was described within the city, specifically an obedient people obeying His laws and commands, which the throne represents. The heavenly city has at its core the Lamb of God in the center of the throne. Nonetheless, it’s still a city.
The significance of that is while the throne of Jesus Christ is centered in heaven, the city comes down out of heaven for the purpose of taking the meaning of the city and applying it to all the localities spread across the planet.
It’s also the specific answer to the part of the prayer Jesus taught us to pray, that His kingdom would come and will be done on earth as it is in heaven. There are a lot of details to work out in response to that, but in the big picture of things, this is the answer to that prayer given to us by Jesus.
Why a city?
I see the reason God revealed His purpose to us as a city is because that is exactly how the church of Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God is to operate.
That’s why we are shown various way the church incorporated these things in a practical way. For example, they had guidelines for taking care of widows, and were expected to have spiritual men that would judge between God’s people that had issues to resolve.
In a sense, it would be accurate I believe to say the church is meant to be considered a city within a city, meaning it operated in a way that limited its dependence on the corrupt and hostile culture it lived in the midst of.
The key is to understand a city is something local. New Jerusalem didn’t come down as a state, province or nation, it came down out of heaven as a city. And as mentioned earlier, Abraham was looking for a city whose builder and maker was God, not something else. The point is God looks to work at the local level. From there He expands His work to surrounding areas as part of His strategy (Acts 1:8).
God revealed His full purpose as a city because it was the strategy He would use to spread the kingdom of God across the planet.
The city of God coming down out of heaven is one that is centered in the throne of God. The bride of Christ are the people that first, walk into obedience to all the moral laws and commands revealed from Genesis to Revelation, and model that way of life to one another, and the unbelievers they are in contact with.
That way of life is meant to spread across the entire world, resulting in local areas being taught the gospel, and from there to obey all the things Jesus commanded throughout the scriptures.
The result of all of this is there will emerge a new creation civilization that will be the health of the nations.