“Heaven is a large place, good friend. Large empires have many and diverse customs. Even small dominions have, as you doubtless know by what you have seen of the matter on a small scale in the Wart. How can you imagine I could ever learn the varied customs of the countless kingdoms of heaven?” Mark Twain
NYC Mayor Ed Koch’s tombstone reads,” My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish.” Koch’s spiritual forefather, Abraham, looked for a city whose builder and maker was God. That’s not a bad epithet for a life.
Evangelicals don’t talk much about the New Jerusalem. We might be tired of all of the charts and diagrams. St. John’s vision of the New Jerusalem is God’s way of saying, “Heaven is a real place.”
If you think New York City is inspired (cf. Thomas Howard’s “The Secret of New York City”), imagine the magic of the New Jerusalem? The New Jerusalem, shaped like a cube (cf. the Holy of Holies), will be the place where God lives. If you thought Mayor Koch was great, imagine a city where God is in charge.
What about heaven?
St. John the Revelator writes: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”
John describes heaven’s choir with images that brought to mind Imperial Rome’s choir. When John describes the city of God, he uses images that the 1st century man understood. Are they literal? Of course not. Are they real? That’s John’s point.
Most of us don’t get too excited about heaven because we have heard too many sermons like Mark Twain’s satirized.
We don’t want to go to some far off place where its singing 24×7. However, we’d love to go the New Jerusalem. Why? Because that is where God lives.