Summary: At the end of time, heaven and earth will be united in Christ
I invite you to turn in your Bibles to the book of Revelation, chapter 21, and follow along as I read v2.
2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Amen. The word of God. Thanks be to God.
A Christian was obsessed with the idea of taking her wealth with her to heaven. Now she knew the Bible teaches that you can’t take it with you, but she was so obsessed that she prayed and prayed that God would give her permission to take some of it with her.
Finally, her persistence in prayer paid off. God said, "Okay, enough all ready! You can take one suitcase to heaven."
The woman thought, "What do I take? What are the most valuable things that I can put into a suitcase?" Finally she made her decision and filled her suitcase full.
Then one day she died. When next we see her, she is slowly approaching the pearly gates rolling her suitcase behind her. St. Peter met her at the gate, saying, "Wait a minute. What do you think you’re doing? You’re not allowed to take anything into heaven."
She answered, "I have special permission from God Himself to take this suitcase into heaven."
Peter scratched his halo, and said, "That’s unheard of. I can’t imagine God letting you do that. Let me look inside your suitcase." So the woman rolled the suitcase over, Peter opened it up, and it was filled with gold bars.
Peter said, "Well, all right. If God said so, I suppose you can take that in if you want to. But why would you want to bring pavement into heaven?"
Now that is just a joke, but it makes a valid point. Values in heaven are different from values on earth. The New Jerusalem is not at all like the Old Jerusalem.
If you asked me about the old Jerusalem, I would probably reply that it is a city in the holy land, the ancient capital of Israel and the capital of the modern state of Israel. Jews call Jerusalem “the holy city.” Moslems call it “El Kuds” meaning “the holy.” Christians also have a certain reverence for Jerusalem because so much happened there that is important to our faith, but ultimately it is just a city, and we do not look toward any earthly city as a holy place; rather, we look heavenward, toward the New Jerusalem. The New Jerusalem is the goal of human history and the goal of the individual human life.
Human history began in paradise, the Garden of Eden; history ends in paradise, the New Jerusalem. In Rev. 21:6, Jesus says, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.” What began in Christ in Genesis is finished in Christ in Revelation.
We can draw some fascinating parallels between the first and last books of the Bible: Genesis 1:1 says God created the heavens and the earth. Revelation 21:1 speaks of the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. Genesis 1:16 speaks of the sun in the sky being created. Rev 21:23 tells us that the new creation will not need any sun because the glory of God will light up that world. Genesis 1:10 speaks of the creation of the seas. Rev. 21:1 says there will be no more sea. The sea in the book of Revelation is a symbol for turmoil and trouble. None of that is found in the New Jerusalem. In Genesis, we read of the beginnings of sorrow and pain, In Rev, 21:4, we are assured that there will be no more sorrow and no more pain. In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve learned about death, and death has been the curse and the fear of all humankind ever since. Rev. 21:4 says there will be no more death in the New Jerusalem
By now, you are probably saying that the New Jerusalem sounds like a wonderful place to be. How do I get there? When can I go?
Right now, the New Jerusalem is in heaven. That is implied in Rev. 21:2 when John the seer says, “And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.” John has a vision of the end of time when heaven and earth are merged in Christ. But prior to that vision, in our time, the New Jerusalem is in heaven.
Last Sabbath, I was talking about questions people ask me as a minister. One question I am frequently asked is: What happens to me when I die? The answer is simple. If you have believed on Jesus, you go where Jesus is. You go immediately to heaven.