Summary: Heaven is a city!
Revelation 21-22:6 January 4, 2004
New Heavens & New Earth
What’s it going to be like? What will eternity be like? What is heaven like?
It is a good question – not just in a sense of satiating our curiosity – showing us things that we have never seen or dreamed of, but it is also an important question because the destination, speaks to the road that we take to get there – the end does not justify the means, the end clarifies the means. Learning how life ends teaches us how to live!
So what does John see?
John’s understanding of heaven:
The Hebrews and Greeks made one word do the work for which English employs two. Shamayim (Hebrew) and ouranos (Greek) mean either the visible sky over us or the invisible realm of God invading us, with the context determining which sense is being expressed. But whichever sense is at the fore, the other is whispering in the background, making its presence felt.
Heaven is a City 21:1-2
Many of us imagine that eternity or heaven looks like some idyllic English countryside, with rolling hills and big oak trees and willows waving in the breeze down by the stream. But that is not the picture that we are given – heaven is a city!
This is not the only place where heaven is seen as a city – Isaiah sees heaven this way as well.
17 "Behold, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I will create,
for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight
and its people a joy.
19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem
and take delight in my people;
the sound of weeping and of crying
will be heard in it no more.
Paradise is a garden in Genesis, but it is a city in Revelation.
We might be shocked to hear that heaven is a city, especially if we are not too fond of cities, but the fact that it is a city speaks deeply to the core of our faith.
This is what Peterson writes: “Many people want to go to heaven the way they want to go to Florida – they think the weather will be an improvement and the people decent. But the biblical heaven is not a nice environment far removed from the stress of hard life. It is an invasion of the city by the City. We enter heaven not by escaping what we don’t like, but by the sanctification of the place in which God has placed us.”
Our eternal destination is not an escape from the material, natural world, it is a purification and intensification of that world. Heaven is not the big retirement in the sky, it is the place where all of God’s purposes for you and for the world come together.
It is a BIG city!
In verse 15-17 the angel measures the city and it is 12,000 stadia in length. If you follow the footnote down to the bottom of the page, you see that that is equal to about 1,400 miles or 2,200 km. Once again, 12,000 stadia could be the exact size of the city or it could be more symbolic meaning that the city is really big and perfect in size. 2,200 km is about the same distance from here to midway between Regina and Calgary, or the Saskatchewan/Alberta boarder. And it is the same with as it is long – it’s a square!, actually it’s a cube because it is as high as it is long – and you thought the CN tower was big!