By Asher Intrater
Three times in the book of Revelation it is stated that heavenly Jerusalem descends from heaven.
To the faithful at the church in Philadelphia, identified as a great example of a church, God promised:
“I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God.”
At the founding of the new heaven and new earth at the end of the millennium, John foresees the new Jerusalem as well.
The Jerusalem of above is the dwelling place of all the angels who stayed loyal to God, and of the spirits of godly men and women who have passed away. Since the international community of people who believe in Yeshua, that is, the Church, is called the bride of Messiah (Ephesians 5), so also heavenly Jerusalem is called here a ‘bride’, since that is where the people are:
“… the holy city New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people…”
The descent of the New Jerusalem is a joining together of the dwelling places of God and man into one. Most of chapter 21 is dedicated to describing this heavenly dwelling place. It is the final restoration of the Garden of Eden, the ultimate marriage of the Lamb, and the total reconciliation between God and mankind.
“And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.”
The New Testament idea that there is a heavenly Jerusalem is similar to the rabbinic idea that there are two Jerusalems, one “of above” and one “of below”. There is also a tabernacle in heaven and a courtroom of heaven that are parallel to the tabernacle and “Sanhedrin” here below.
When a godly person “passes away”, his body goes into the grave and his spirit rises into this heavenly city, called Jerusalem. There he will stay until it is time for him to receive his resurrection body. Then the saints living in the heavenly Jerusalem will descend and pick up their earthly body, resurrected to be able to live forever in the restored paradise of the Garden of Eden.
This is the dwelling place described by Yeshua in John’s gospel:
“In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places…
If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself….”
So there the righteous will live with Yeshua and God the Father. At the time of the new creation, that heavenly dwelling place comes down. If it comes down, there must be a place for it to come down to. That place is on earth. Its center is Jerusalem.
The righteous will always be in Jerusalem. First they will be in the Jerusalem that is in heaven, and then in the Jerusalem that comes down to be part of the new heaven and earth that will be restored on the earth. So yes, certainly the spirits of the righteous go up into heaven when they die. But ultimately their dwelling place will be back here on earth as that heavenly Jerusalem comes down.
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