The following is from Understanding The Whole Bible by Dr. Jonathan Welton (from pages 431-434)
What do you think ?
What spirit is behind this ?
Is he truly making the Bible great again ?
“Heaven certainly exists as the abode of God and believers after death (and after the future final return of Christ). Yet this passage does not describe only something in eternity but something we can experience right now. It is the “age to come” the Jews believed would replace the present evil age. Following are nine evidences that Revelation 21-22 is not a description of heaven but a description of the new covenant world:
- The water of life (see Rev. 22:1). This represents God’s offer of salvation. Jesus spoke about it in John 4 with the woman at the well. He also spoke about it at the feast in John 7. We are invited to come to Him and drink.
- The twelve foundations with the apostles’ name written on them (see Rev. 21:14). Paul also wrote of the Church being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets in Ephesians 2:20. That is not just for the future but for the present.
- The heavenly Jerusalem as a cube (see Rev. 21:16). The city is described as a cube, with each side measuring 1,200 stadia, which in modern terms is approximately 1,400 miles. If we were to measure from Rome to Jerusalem from the East to the West and from the northern edge to the southern edge of the Roman Empire of that day, it would add up to 1,400 miles by 1,400 miles, with the Isle of Patmos exactly at the center of that measurement. 99 So the world of the new covenant at the time was 1,400 miles by 1,400 (or 1,200 stadia), with John on the isle right in the center of the whole thing. Is also stretches out toward heaven, which makes it a cube.
- The absence of the temple in the New Jerusalem (see Rev. 21:22). The temple does not exist in the New Jerusalem because the work of the cross has removed the need for the previous temple. We are now temples, according to First Corinthians 3 and 6.
- The nations will walk by its light (see Rev. 21:24). This suggests that nations still exist as separate national entities, which leads us to conclude that this is a present condition, not the eternal, heavenly condition. Jesus also referred to the Church as “the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14).
- The gates never close (see Rev. 21:25). This illustrates the present ongoing work of evangelism.
- The unclean practice abomination and lying (see Rev. 21:27). Here again we see evidence of pre-final judgment setting. Heaven will not include people of this sort.
- The tree of life has leaves for the leading of the nations (see Rev. 22:1-2). This statement indicates the nations have not yet been healed.
- Sorcerers, immoral people, murderers, idolaters, and those who love and practice lying are outside the gates (see Rev. 22:15). These people are right outside the open gates and may come in at any time. This shows our present reality, not life after the final judgement. Following the final judgement, these people will be sent to the lake of fire. But that is not the picture we see here. Instead, right outside our open gates live all kinds of scoundrels, and the doors remain open so they can come in at any time.
What we see described in Revelation 21-22 is the new covenant world, with the New Jerusalem, the Bride of Christ, the new heaven, and the new earth, and the new temple. All of these describe the new covenant world we live in right now.
The fact that Revelation describes events that happened in the past does not make it less relevant for us. After all, the other historical stories of the Bible-such as Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection- still have relevance for us these many years later. The Bible is full of relevant information for us, even if most of it is not in our future. The relevance does not change just because Jesus’ prophecies have already been fulfilled. The opposite is true. We get to live in the wonderful result of those fulfilled prophecies-the new covenant world with an open door to salvation that all may enter.”