Imagining what heaven will be like can fill a person with hope and expectation. Questions like who will be in heaven and what people will do there are common. Another question many people want to know is what heaven looks like.
The New Jerusalem is one of the most detailed descriptions of heaven in the Bible. John calls it a Holy City with gold streets, jeweled walls, and a river flowing through it. God’s throne, and the Lamb, who is Jesus Christ, are central to the New Jerusalem, which is part of the New Heavens and New Earth.
How big is the New Jerusalem? What will be the centerpiece of the New Jerusalem? What will the New Heavens and New Earth be like? Will the Garden of Eden be in heaven? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.
What will the New Jerusalem look like?
The passages in the Bible that provide the most information about the New Jerusalem are chapters 21 and 22 of the book of Revelation. The “Holy City” (Rev. 21:2a) is part of the New Heavens and New Earth (Isa. 65:17, 66:22; 2 Pet. 3:13). Some envision the New Jerusalem as similar to a capital city of the eternal, sinless, Christ-centered new world.
Who constructs the New Jerusalem? God is the city’s architect and builder (Heb. 11:10). The New Jerusalem descends from heaven and is likened to a bride dressed for her groom (Rev. 21:2b). The imagery reminds the reader of a wedding.
How big is the New Jerusalem? The New Jerusalem is symmetrical: “The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia” (Rev. 21:16, ESV). 12,000 stadia is about 1,380 miles or 2,220 kilometers.
What does the New Jerusalem look like? The Holy City is pure gold, including its streets. Walls surround the city. They are adorned with valuable jewels like jasper, sapphire, agate, emerald, onyx, carnelian, chrysolite, beryl, topaz, chrysoprase, jacinth, and amethyst. The Holy City has 12 gates, each made of a single pearl (Rev. 21:18-21).
“To Christians heaven is a house, a dwelling-place, a resting place, their everlasting home, their Father’s house where there are many mansions. It is a house in the heavens that as far excels the palaces of this earth as the heavens are high above the earth. It is a city whose builder and maker is God, and it is eternal in the heavens. The most marvelous thing about it is that God has prepared it for those who love Him.” (Matthew Henry)
Does the Holy City have a sun? There is no need for a sun in the New Jerusalem because God’s glory will illuminate it (Rev. 21:11). “And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Rev. 21:23).
What will be the centerpiece of the New Jerusalem? The Throne of God. “No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him” (Rev. 22:3). The “Lamb” John refers to is Jesus of Nazareth who died for sin and who the Father rose from the dead to save all people from eternal death and give them new and everlasting life. In response, the faithful will worship him forever.
Does the New Jerusalem have water? A river flows down the center of the Holy City, descending from God’s throne (Rev. 22:1). The Tree of Life bears fruit on each side of the stream (Rev. 21:2).
Why should people look forward to the New Jerusalem? The faithful men and women of the past, like Abraham, looked forward to the Holy City (Heb. 11:10), which God prepared for him (Heb. 11:16) and others. Believers will see God face to face in the Holy City (Rev. 22:4). There will be no more crying, mourning, or pain there (Rev. 21:4).
“To pretend to describe the excellence, the greatness or duration of the happiness of heaven by the most artful composition of words would be but to darken and cloud it; to talk of raptures and ecstasies, joy and singing, is but to set forth very low shadows of the reality.” American pastor and theologian Jonathan Edwards
What will the New Heavens and New Earth look like?
The Bible teaches that people will spend eternity on a New Heavens and New Earth after the Second Coming of Christ. Theologians debate if this means the present universe will be renewed or if God will make an entirely new created order. Either way, the description suggests a physical reality whose spiritual aspects are without the effects of sin.
- Isa 65:17, “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.” (ESV)
- Isa 66:22, ““For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me, says the LORD, so shall your offspring and your name remain.” (ESV)
- 2 Peter 3:13, “But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (ESV)
What will the New Heavens and New Earth be like? Passages that describe the New Heavens and New Earth suggestion that there will be new realities, yet also continuity. For example, wolves, lambs, leopards, goats, cows, and bears will all be a part of the New Earth, but their natures will be different.
“The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea.”
(Isaiah 11:6-9, ESV)
“I don’t know about you, but the more I think about the new heaven and the new earth, the more excited I get! It is incredible to think that one day soon we will not only experience the resurrection of our carcasses, but the renewal of the cosmos and the return of the Creator. We will literally have heaven on earth.”Hank Hanegraaff, Resurrection, p. 92.
Will the Garden of Eden be in heaven?
The Bible doesn’t clearly say if the Garden of Eden will be in heaven, though some theologians speculate that it will be. Some have imagined that Eden may be part of the New Jerusalem in a similar way that Central Park is to New York City.
“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 22:12-13, NIV)
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