One of the most remarkable paradoxes of the Church of our times is its abhorrence of materiality in connection with the eternal future, whilst practically up to its ears in materialism and earthiness.  Its ‘heaven’ has no substance, no reality, for the soul to lay hold on: it is nothing but a world of shadows, of mist, of dim visions of blessedness.  On the other hand, that a real City as well as a perfected moral system is to be understood in the Apocalypse, I see not how we can otherwise conclude.  It stands in antithesis to the final Babylon; and John is called by one of the same particular angels, in precisely the same way, to be shown it as he was called to be shown the Great Harlot (Rev. 17: 1).  All the elements of a city are indicated.  It has specific dimensions.  It has foundations, walls, gates, and streets.  It has guards outside and inhabitants within, both distinct from what characterizes it as a real construction.  It is called a city – the Holy City.’  It is named as a city – the New Jerusalem,’ as over against the old Jerusalem, which was a material city.



- J. A. SEISS, D.D.



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There are many things in the description that have their most natural (their normal) application to a great City, as is evident upon the bare perusal.  This application is supported by the following considerations:- (1) A material dwelling-place is as necessary for resurrected saints as was Eden for Adam or Canaan for Israel.  (2) It should occasion no surprise if the same loving care that will raise and glorify the body should prepare a fitting and glorious abode for it.  (3) The nations will consist (probably) of men in the flesh.’ freed from sin and the curse, begetting a holy seed (such as would have been begotten had Adam never sinned), the descendants of those who live in the flesh during the Millennial Kingdom, now dwelling in blessedness under the government of the New Jerusalem.



- E. R. CRAVEN, D.D.



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1. The New Jerusalem is a literal city because of the literalness of its description.  If gold does not mean gold, nor pearls - pearls, nor precious stones - stones, nor exact measurements - real dimensions, then the Bible means nothing accurate nor reliable.  There is no one on earth who can assure your heart concerning the meaning of these ‘symbols’ - if they are symbols!  Nowhere in God’s Word, for instance, is there any account of the ‘symbolism’ of precious stones.  Twelve such stones are found in the high priest’s ‘four-square’ breastplate (Exod. 28: 15-21):- sardius, topaz, carbuncle, emerald, sapphire, diamond, jacinth, agate, amethyst, beryl, onyx, jasper.  No one doubts that these were literal stones; but to deny that they are literal stones in the Revelation, and to admit them in Exodus as literal, is not only absurd, but unbelieving.



2. A second reason to consider the city a literal one is that child-like faith in reading the account always regards it as such.  As the little girl asked her mother concerning the preacher who said that our Lord’s words in John 14., “I will come again,” did not mean that He would come back in person:- “Mamma, if Jesus did not mean what He said, why didn’t He say what He meant?”



3. Abraham and the patriarchs looked for a city - not a state of mind!  The sublime faith of Abraham led him to leave a city in the most remarkable civilization known on earth, and become a stranger and pilgrim of the earth, caring only for a cave in which to bury his dead; for he looked for the city that has the foundations, whose architect and maker is God.”  Abraham will be satisfied with nothing short of a place, such as he looked for.



4. In all other parts of the Bible, simple faith in God’s statements is asked from man; why not then in Revelation 21., of all places, here at the end of God’s book!  Wherefore do questionings arise in your hearts?” the Lord asked, when He presented Himself in a risen body in the Upper Room.  But if reasonings and doubts of the reality and literalness of His body were excluded then, when the human mind would naturally be astonished, how much less can questionings and doubts be admitted as to the literalness of the marvellous city of Revelation 21., which is to be the eternal home of our Lord’s risen body, and that of His saints in glorified bodies?



5. If the New Jerusalem is not to be taken literally, we cannot claim that the millennial Jerusalem of Ezekiel 20., 40., 48. and Zechariah 14. can be literal.  But to deny these is to abandon faith in the accuracy of God’s Word.



6. In this book of the Revelation the former Jerusalem is literal (11: 8); and also Babylon, the Great (8: 10).  Indeed both Jerusalem (the great city), and Babylon, were the objects of the last fearful earthquake (the former partial, the latter final) of Revelation 16: 19.  Just so also, as the old earth which disappeared was literal, and the new earth which takes its place is literal and substantial, so also must the New Jerusalem be.



7. The unfolding of divine things in the Bible is precisely contrary to the idea that in order to have spirituality, material things must be left behind.  The old Manichaean heresy governs millions who call themselves Christian; though it is a Satanic lie, and pagan, and utterly anti-biblical.  The Bible leads on to a literal and blessed home of the redeemed, possessed of bodies like Christ’s body - real and holy, incorruptible, immortal.*


* Serving and Waiting.




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Which city matters?*


[* From ‘Thought for the Week’, Leader, March 30, 2012]


Recently the announcement was made of the three new cities created in the United Kingdom as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.  By now you will gather that Coleraine is not one of them!  The following thought was written 10 years ago when Coleraine’s application as part of her Majesty’s Golden Jubilee failed in 2002.  My thoughts at that time haven’t changed.



What a pity we are not going to get the chance to live in a city after all!



Cities to me are vast conurbations, bustling centres, thousands of people, traffic jams, undergrounds, museums and art galleries, open bus tours, cathedrals and busy airports.  However interesting they may be to visit, they are not very inviting to live in.



I wonder how many of you who are reading this, actually moved from a city to live here in Coleraine?  Some of us were only too glad to get out of them for a more leisurely lifestyle.



Whatever the criteria for the selection of a new city were, we didn’t seem to meet it, or at least we were apparently not better qualified than (Lisburn and Newry), (Perth or Chelmsford or St. Asaph!) but then that is a matter of personal taste!



Many of us have been born and bred in Coleraine and district and some of us probably have never been to Lisburn or Newry and may wonder what they have that we don’t?  That is a question for the Queen, the Lord Chancellor and the Secretary of State to answer, because it was they who decided who should get the nod.



Apparently we are not qualified to be a city, but no matter what the outcome of this Jubilee Committee, it does not take away from the fact, that we can be qualified to live in a city.



This city is nothing like you and I have ever seen, no matter if you have travelled throughout the world.  This city does not appear in any of the glossy travel brochures, or in any holiday programmes on television.  It is a city established by Royal decree and one where the King of all Kings lives and reigns.



It is a city that does not have any health, lighting, heating or crime problems.  There will be no need to work, no need to worry, no need for banks even any need for churches!



In fact a man called John described the city like this.  It would have no tears, no death, no mourning, no crying and no pain.  There will be no night there, no need for a lamp or even the light of sun.



Now that sounds like a city that I would like to not just visit but also live in.



When I read my Bible, it tells me that there is a royal invitation given to each one of us to come and live in that city.  It is not issued from Buckingham Palace but comes to us, young and old, from the only One to come from that city to live in our world.  He came so that He might personally extend his father’s invitation to come and live with him in this wonderful city for ever and ever.  In fact He was even prepared to pay all the costs, so that we might be able to move there and live there for ever and ever.



Let’s not be too disappointed that the chance to live in the city of Coleraine has passed us by yet again.  However, let us make sure that we do not pass by the opportunity to live in the ‘Eternal City.’



The invitation is open to you today.  The response is just a matter of faith.



For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.’  Hebrews 14: 13.