The Vision of God for Earth is Based Upon Heavenly Jerusalem
22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
Did you know that the writer of Hebrews clearly revealed that the early believers had already come to the heavenly Jerusalem? It is stated very clearly in Hebrews 12:22.
There are other ways of describing it in verses 22 and 23, including mount Sion, the city of the living God, general assembly and church of the firstborn, and the spirits of just men made perfect.
All of those are different descriptions of the same thing, which are those that have been saved, born again, born from above, regenerated, or however you think in terms of those that are truly believers in Jesus Christ.
This is important to understand because many Christians wrongly believe that New Jerusalem described in the last two chapters of the Bible is some future event that is going to happen, rather than something that was birthed almost 2,000 years ago.
The major error comes from those that have unfortunately tied it into end-time or eschatological events, rather than the revelation of the ultimate purpose of God for mankind. To attach it to so-called end times events ends up removing it from its comprehensive revelation, while clouding its true meaning.
That isn’t to say that the vision of God as revealed to John in the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, concerning New Jerusalem, has been fulfilled, only that it came down from heaven at the birth of the early church; specifically when the Spirit of God fell upon those that had been praying during Pentecost. It is in the process of being fulfilled to the satisfaction of God the Father and Jesus Christ.
The birthing of the early church was the city of God in its embryonic stage. Since then it has continued to expand and enlarge throughout the earth. This is what the kingdom of God represents as it relates to this planet.
The fact that it is a direct revelation of the purpose of God is confirmed by the first couple of chapters of Genesis, where it describes the various things God created. If you read those chapters and compare it to the last couple of chapters of Revelation, you’ll see that there were many things that were in the garden and surrounding creation that were fully developed in New Jerusalem.
For example, gold, the tree of life, light, and a river, among other things. The difference is, that which they represented in type were fully revealed for what they are to be in its practical outworking in God’s people in this age.
There’s no doubt in my mind that when God created the heavens and the earth, they were based upon the model of New Jerusalem revealed in Revelation.
Abraham and the city of God
In Hebrews 11 we’re given a clear look at how God was working in Abraham concerning His purpose on earth as related to a city. In verse 10 it says this:
10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
In the prior verse it says, “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.”
The reason Abraham, Isaac and Jacob sojourned in the land of promise as if they were dwelling in a strange country, or a country not their own, was because God hadn’t yet started to build or birth the city. Again, that happened at Pentecost when the Spirit of God fell upon the believers.
In verse 13 this is confirmed when it states that the patriarchs and Sarah “died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”
Peter uses similar language in his first epistle, when he says this in chapter 2, verses 10 and 11:
10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
The point here is Peter clearly describes those that have faith in Jesus Christ as the people of God, and he identifies them as strangers and pilgrims, similar to the writer of Hebrews.
At issue isn’t the idea of some type of tiny, rag-tag group of believers hiding away until the end of the age, the issue is that as with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, even though they sojourned in the land promised them, the time hadn’t come for the promise to be fulfilled. That was the reality in the early days after New Jerusalem, or the purpose of God, was birthed in a people.
It’s the same with true Christians and planet earth. We’re called to take dominion of the earth, and in this age we’ll eventually inherit the earth as promised by God.
The vision given to John of New Jerusalem reveals what it is that will ultimately fill the earth. This is what we pray for when saying ‘thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’ New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven is the answer to that prayer.
As Hebrews 11:16 says, the patriarchs desired a better country, “that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.”
That isn’t exclusive to geographic heaven, it refers to the spiritual quality and intent of the city, one which God always intended to fill the earth; the eternal purpose of God has never changed, that’s why it’s identified as the eternal purpose. It was in the heart and mind of God from before the foundation of heavens and earth were laid.
Jesus Christ the foundation
In 1 Peter 2:4-6 it tells us that Jesus Christ was the chief cornerstone that was laid in Sion (Zion). Remember Zion was one of the ways God’s people were described in Hebrews 11.
In verse 5 it talks about us also being “lively stones,” based upon us coming unto the “living stone,” i.e., Jesus Christ, as the cornerstone the city of God is built upon.
What that means in part is that when Jesus Christ came down to earth from heaven, He was the personification of what would eventually become New Jerusalem. It was never the plan of God to have Christ alone as His purpose, because the Father could have had that when He dwelt with the Father as the Word of God.
The purpose of God was to have a many-membered man that bore His image spread across the earth. Jesus Christ, as the seed, had to be first planted in order for that to happen.
What’s important to understand is we as living stones are being built up into a spiritual house or city, and we are always being moved and changed by God to become – within and without – what is revealed in New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven.
By within and without, I’m referencing the fact that John was given a view of the city as it was seen and revealed from without and within.
While God offered Abraham and his natural descendants the promised land, God always had the intention of His seed, Jesus Christ, inheriting all of the earth. He expresses His Lordship and Kingship through an obedient people. That’s how we inherit the earth over time.
Eventually we will not be considered strangers and pilgrims on the earth, but its rightful heirs. Eventually, as we are transformed more and more into being bearers the image of Jesus Christ, that image will be reflected in the visible realm of the earth, and any other place His people may end up inhabiting.