I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.
This week, we are looking at the top 10 questions people have about heaven and what the Bible says. The third question is this: “When people die, do they go to purgatory?” Not at all. In Luke 16, Jesus tells the story of a rich man and Lazarus. Both men died. Lazarus, because of his righteousness, was taken into the presence of the Lord, called Abraham’s bosom. But look at what happened to the rich man: “In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom” (v. 23). This passage shows us that when an unbeliever dies, he doesn’t just go to some waystation waiting until the final judgment. An unbeliever immediately begins to experience the torment of being separated from God while he awaits the white throne judgment, after which he will be permanently sent into the lake of fire, which is the final dwelling place of all the unsaved. In the same way, when a Christian dies, he goes immediately into the presence of Jesus and experiences blessings while he awaits the new heaven and the new earth that will be his ultimate dwelling place.
Question number four: “What is the difference between the millennial kingdom and the new heaven and new earth described in Revelation?” Revelation 20 tells us that after Christ returns to earth at His second coming, He will bind Satan and reign on the throne of David for 1,000 years. During this time, the earth will experience a renovation. Because Satan has been bound, much of the curse of the earth will be lifted. Those who are in their natural bodies will live longer. The earth’s vegetation will increase. It will be this present earth that has been improved. Then, after the millennium and after the white throne judgment, God will destroy this present earth (2 Peter 3:10). John says, “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. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 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’” (Revelation 21:1-3). After the present heaven and earth were destroyed, John saw the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven.
Some people don’t understand that our ultimate dwelling place is not somewhere in outer space. Our ultimate dwelling place is on earth. We are not going up there to dwell with God; God is coming down here to dwell with us. The center place of this new heaven and new earth is the New Jerusalem. John describes what this city will be like. It has 12 gates. It has a great wall. It has foundation stones. There will be no night. But one of the interesting aspects of this New Jerusalem is the size. John describes it as a city that is 1,500 miles long, wide, and high. Now that’s one big city! There is no reason to think it is going to be the only place we live. The new heaven and new earth will be large enough to contain everybody who wants to be there.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Truth About Heaven” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.