We ended chapter 20, where the thousand years have come to a close.
Satan has been thrown into the lake of fire along with the false prophet and the beast or antichrist.
The dead were brought before the great throne, the books were opened, and they were judged according to their deeds/works. This sentence can throw many for a loop as it opposes one of the main themes of traditional religion. I say this because Matthew’s gospel, which shows the same throne, indicates that the judge, Jesus, shows many of them mercy.
We also found out that the fallen angels also stand before this throne. Their names are NOT written in the book of life and, therefore, find NO mercy.
The NASB has this as the opening line for chapter 21,
The New Heaven and the New Earth.
The question was asked, I thought the heavens and the earth were burned with fire, so when does that happen?
Well, we are about to find out.
Revelation 21:1 NASB Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.
Think this through. The thousand years are done; the final judgment at the white throne is done; Satan, the beast, the false prophet, and all those dead people that did not have their names in the book of life are cast into the lake of fire. The fallen angels are NOT our problem, and yet God has judged them; therefore, the judgments are over and done.
The heavens, filled with the debris from broken spacecraft, and polluted earth, have to be cleaned up. I suppose this is where the burning comes into play and why there is a new heaven and a new earth. Second Peter 3 also speaks of these things burning.
But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:7 NASB)
I always try to find a witness or two from the Old Testament, so let’s run with this.
““Of old, You founded the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. Even they will perish, but You endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing, You will change them, and they will be changed.” (Psalms 102:25-26 NASB)
If you had doubts about God having or showing anger, read Zechariah.
“…My decision is to gather nations, To assemble kingdoms, To pour out on them My indignation, All My burning anger; For all the earth will be devoured By the fire of My zeal.” (Zephaniah 3:8 NASB)
Do we care what the timing is, seeing as this is God’s plan of redemption, a plan where the timing is entirely His?
There should be no concern on our part, especially since all this happens after the thousand years and the judgments involved with the great white throne. Everything I see in scripture shows me a new Jerusalem coming down at the beginning of the millennial reign. One of the proofs that it comes down at the beginning of the 1000 years comes from Revelation 20 verse 9, where the nations, having been deceived, surround the Holy City to kill God and, I suppose, God’s people. This battle is where God kills all those participating with fire and then recalls the dead from among the nations, from all-time to the great throne for judgment.
Revelation 20:9 NASB “… they came up …and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.”
As I advanced in this study of Revelation 21, I became concerned about what becomes of the city made of gold as everything burns up. I wouldn’t be surprised if many have a similar question because of erroneous religious teachings. I say this because I had no firm grip on effectively anything that happened from the initiation of the seven years to the great white throne.
The answer to my concerns was just a verse away, as God replaces those things.
Revelation 21:2-3 NASB “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. (3) And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,”
Consider Isaiah 52:1.
“… O Jerusalem, the holy city; For the uncircumcised and the unclean Will no longer come into you.” NASB
If Isaiah 52:1 was speaking of the Holy City, after the 1000 years, why would there need to be any discussion about the uncircumcised and unclean coming into the place?
As you just saw, there are NO unclean and uncircumcised after the great throne, and I do not think there is any need to discuss the uncircumcised any longer, as the Apostle Paul informed us that circumcision is by faith and of the heart.
But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter…” (Romans 2:29 NASB)
Perhaps Ezekiel 43:7 answers our questions.
Ezekiel 43:7 NASB “…I will dwell among the sons of Israel forever. And the house of Israel will not again defile My holy name, neither they nor their kings, by their harlotry and by the corpses of their kings when they die,”
The Bible, speaking historically, informs us that Israel did defile God’s Holy name. The fact that God has to say, “And the house of Israel will not again defile My holy name…” proves that. You can’t have a conversation like this unless something brings about a drastic change, and there is; we see it in Revelation 19:11-14. Moments after Jesus returns to earth as the warring messiah, He sits on the throne in the New Jerusalem and sits as the judge. At this point, the days of Jewish denial are over. Here comes another of my theology crushers. Everyone not in Christ, entering the millennial reign, still has the free will NOT to worship Messiah.
Do you know what a person during the millennial reign who refuses is called?
One from among the nations – a person who is NOT a Jew, nor are you a believer, although those designations shouldn’t even exist any longer. In my mind, this puts the Holy City on the ground, at the beginning of the millennial reign, long before the white throne judgment.
Zechariah chapter eight backs me up on this previous assertion.
“Thus says the LORD, ‘I will return to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the LORD of hosts will be called the Holy Mountain.” Zechariah 8:3 NASB
When does Jesus come back and do this?
At the end of the seven years of wrath, we are told that when Jesus returns, He stands upon the Mount of Olives, and it splits in two. A portion of this answer is what I pointed out in the previous paragraph. Everything Zechariah describes can be assigned to the millennial reign. Once again, we have no evidence that this applies to the time after the white throne judgment.
Ezekiel 37 talks about His sanctuary being among the nations.
“And the nations will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel when My sanctuary is in their midst forever.“‘” (Ezekiel 37:28 NASB)
Trying to attribute this imagery to the time after the 1000 years doesn’t work because it talks about the nations knowing that Jesus Christ is the Lord. Something just became obvious to me; this does not tell me that all of those from among the nations will convert their understanding into a relationship with the Father. I am aware that a thousand years is a long time and the population, among the nations, will grow exponentially, to the point that their numbers will be uncountable by the time that Satan, once again, deceives them.
If you struggle to grasp this, you need to remind yourself that the Jewish understanding of nations is about those outside of Judaism. Accordingly, the nations would be entirely outside of a relationship with God. In contrast, those that have passed the great white throne are all in a relationship with the Father.
The best way I have to grasp the Holy City is to see it as a heavenly place.
Dake’s commentary tells us that Jerusalem “…is called new (referring to the Holy City) because of its eternal freshness and newness, not because it is new in existence. It is as old as heaven and was promised to the earliest saints on earth.” Emphasis mine.
Do you have a problem with that?
Then consider what 2 Corinthians 4:18 has to say.
“while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
(2 Corinthians 4:18 NASB)
The NASB restated tells us that we, followers of Christ, DO NOT look at things that are seen because those things are temporary. Sadly, our government seems relatively corrupt and fixed, but it too is only temporary. A day is soon coming when they will figure this out. We, the followers of Christ, are looking at, and waiting for, something called Heaven and a relationship with the Father, which is eternal; this is our hope.
Consider this. Christ died, rose again, came back, and was seen by over 400 people. But to Thomas, and I am sure there were more, He said, touch Me spirits don’t have flesh and bone as I do. (You can read this in Luke 24:39.)
I hope that I have made my point that the Holy City is here on earth during the millennial reign.
For all intents and purposes, the Holy City is as real as it can get. However, when the old earth we are currently standing on gets burned up, the Holy City seems to get put in storage or simply disappears when God eradicates the old polluted planet by fire and makes a new one a good place to put the new Holy City, we read about in Revelation 21:1.
Isaiah speaks of the New heaven and earth. “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; …” (Isaiah 65:17 NASB)
Isaiah chapter 25 describes so many details that happen only moments after Jesus returns as the warring Messiah that Israel has been looking for. One of those examples comes from verse eight.
He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 25:8 NASB)
God Will Swallow Up Death Forever.?
Since this time indicates Jesus’s return to earth, a time in which peace reigns. You might assume that death would be eliminated, which would be the reason for no more tears. However, if I look for the word death and nothing else, some passages indicate that people are still dying during the millennium, making this statement not precisely accurate. For example, Satan’s ability to deceive the nations; God’s response to their actions is to send a firestorm and kill all those that attempted the takeover.
Another example of death comes from Isaiah 65.
“Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.
(Isaiah 65:20 NIV)
People are dying; we know this because there is apparent dismay when a person dies young. Since no one truly dies, maybe I can give this a pass. Another aspect of this conversation lies in the fact that only those among the nations that have NOT received healing from the leaves of the trees of life will continue to die; this also means that births will continue to occur among the nations.
My wife asked me if I thought we would continue to have babies in heaven. I responded by saying, I do not think so, as we will be like the angels, and they do not partake in marriage as we do. Sorry if this last part ruins your dream and causes you to demand a refund. But think about it. If you are honest, you will admit that “love making” is nothing more than our yearning for a deeper relationship than our broken mindset can give or receive. All we get is momentarily distracted from life’s pressures for a few minutes. Only God can love you the way you long for. An example, though broken as well, was David and Jonathon. Don’t go trying to make this more than what it is. I understand it a bit more because I had a fishing buddy like that. When he got married, I lost him to a wife that did not like the God I represented or me.
I guess we all have to make choices. I chose God.