The New Jerusalem is not an actual heavenly city




All the sects whose teachings and practices are based on the writings of spiritist Emmanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) deny that the New Jerusalem is an actual heavenly city, for Mr. Swedenborg in his book The Heavenly City wrote: ‘I will also say a little about what Jerusalem refers to in the Bible's spiritual meaning. "Jerusalem" means the religion's philosophy. It has this meaning because it was the one place in the entire land of Canaan that had the Temple and the altar, where the sacrifices took place--which means that divine worship took place in Jerusalem. Also, that was where the three yearly festivals were celebrated, which every male in the land was required to attend. So in the spiritual meaning, Jerusalem refers to the religion's worship. This amounts to the same thing as saying that Jerusalem means the religion's philosophy, since our worship is dictated by our religious philosophy and practiced according to it. It is called "the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of the sky" because in the Bible's spiritual meaning, towns and cities symbolize different philosophies. A "holy city" stands for a philosophy about divine truth, since divine truth is what the Bible calls holy. It is called "_New_ Jerusalem" for the same reason the land is called new. As I just said, "the land" stands for a religion, and "Jerusalem" means this religion's philosophy. It is described as "coming down from God out of the sky" because all divine truth comes out of heaven from God, and this religion gets its philosophy from divine truth. Even though Jerusalem was seen as a city, it does not refer to an actual city. This is very clear from the way it was described: Its height was the same as its length and width: 12,000 stadia [1,379 miles]. (verse 16) The measurement of its wall, 144 cubits [216 feet], was made "by human standards of measurement, which an angel was using." (verse 17) It was "like a bride ready for her husband." (verse 2) And later, "The angel said, 'Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife.' And he showed me the holy city, Jerusalem." (verse 9) The Bible calls religion the bride and wife of the Lord: his bride before they are united, and his wife after they have been united’.

Even some Evangelical denominations deny that the New Jerusalem, which was seen by John, is an actual heavenly city. Among them is the Italian Assemblies of God (ADI), which in 1999 published the book of J. Oswald Sanders titled Heaven: Better By Far in Italian, in which book we read as follows: ‘The bride – a city. The lion – a Lamb. Also in this case we find ourselves in the presence of symbolisms and it is reasonable to deduce that the city symbolizes the ideal church as God conceived it at the beginning, and how it will be in the end ….’ (J. Oswald Sanders, Essere con Cristo: cosa di gran lunga migliore, ADI-Media Roma 1999, page 132. Translated by myself).




The apostle John wrote: “And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life. And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 21:9-27; 22:1-5).

As you can see, the New Jerusalem is not to be understood figuratively, for the apostle John saw a true heavenly city. In other words, John did not see something which symbolizes a philosophy about divine truth or the ideal Church of God, but he saw an actual heavenly city. That is evident not only from the detailed description of the city but also from the fact that John says that only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will enter it (cf. Revelation 21:27). Here are some other biblical evidences which confirm that the New Jerusalem seen by John is an actual heavenly city.

The author of the epistle to the Hebrews says that Abraham “was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10 – NIV), and that “here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:14 – NIV). That city is “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Hebrews 12:22 – NKJV), which at God’s appointed time will descend out of heaven.

The apostle Paul says to the Galatians that “the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all” (Galatians 4:26 – NKJV). He calls it ‘the Jerusalem above” to distinguish it from the “present city of Jerusalem” (Galatians 4:25 – NIV), which is in bondage with her children.

In the twentieth century God showed the heavenly Jerusalem to some believers. One of them is Boris Pilipchuk, who in 1996 died and after a little while was restored to life by the Lord. Here is what our brother Boris says about his departure from the body and his brief stay in heaven: ‘Then I began to ascend from the earth. The earth became smaller and smaller. It became so small, and then it disappeared totally. My transportation was accompanied by a continuous whistling in my ears. Then I ended up in an extraordinary place, that was so illuminated, that I began to feel good. I saw a golden staircase, that shone with rays of glory. The staircase was rather wide. On either side of the staircase were golden railings, along which from the end to the top were winged angels in white clothes, with golden belts. Their hair was white, their faces shone so much, like lightning, their eyes were like two lanterns. They had human faces. Their hands and legs were the color of shinning copper chips. On the outside the angels were like humans. Around the staircase and under it, stood a great number of angels, and their number, I simply cannot describe. These were without wings. All the angels were singing psalms. And surprisingly, I did not know, what language they were singing in, but at that moment I completely understood the words of the psalm. They sang: “O worthy are you Lord of all glory and praise. You, Lord, created the heavens and the earth. You are worthy of our praise!” Then I saw an extraordinary light at the end of the staircase. But the light wasn’t like that of the sun or of welding instrument, which has a harmful effect on the eyes. The light was extraordinarily bright, but did not hurt the eyes, warm, calming, full of joy and peace. I was full of delight, to such an extent that mere words cannot describe how I felt. My delight continued to increase and there was no limit to the joy I felt. I don’t know how to describe this vision, this feeling, in words, but I would like you to imagine the picture the Lord showed me. Later on, I heard a voice, coming from the place where the wonderful light was, which said: ‘My son, come to me and I will show you something. I will help you”. From the great number of angels, two angels walked up behind me. One stood on my left and the other stood on my right, just a short distance from me. I didn’t turn my head around, I didn’t look behind me and I didn’t gaze around me, but it appeared as if I could see 360 degrees about me. I wasn’t nervous and didn’t feel any form of discomfort. I was absolutely calm and so joyful to extent, that I cannot describe how I felt, not then and not now. I didn’t ask anyone any question, such as ‘where am I?’ ‘What happened to me? What’s going to happen later on?’ I felt completely confident in myself, as if I was standing in a familiar place. I felt as if I lived there permanently. Then the Holy Spirit, transferred me to a vast open plain, in which very beautiful white horses pranced. In the center of the field, stood a great big city, in the form of a cube. When I noticed it, I began to draw close to it. But I approached it in a different way, not as a man normally walks on the ground. I moved without my feet touching the ground, it was as if I was sliding. The angels escorted me. The closer I approached the city, the more intense was the delight I experienced, from what I saw. There were very high walls, which were multiple in number and of various colors. There were 12 colors in all, which radiated and shone like a bright light. (Later on, after my resurrection, when I studied the 21-22 chapter of the book of Revelations in the Bible, I found a confirmation of what I had seen). I saw the foundation of the city, which was made up of 12 precious stones of this world. I saw a pearl gate, three on each wall. The pearl gate was very big, higher than two meters. I didn’t measure them, but one pearl was larger than two meters, in my opinion. I saw only six gates, because the Lord led me into the city through one of its corners. I saw the two sides of the cube. Then the Lord led me through one of the gates into the city, as we passed through them, I saw two inscriptions. One of them was above the gate and the second was under the gate. One of the names of the tribes of Israel was written above the gate, and under it the name of an Apostle was written. Unfortunately I do not know which gate the Lord led me through, into the New Jerusalem, but now I would like to know that. When I entered into the city through the gates, I stood still in admiration: The city was made completely of gold. The gold was so pure and I had never seen such brilliance before. I had seen how brightly gold articles in a jeweller’s store shone, but this was not comparable, to what I saw at that moment. Gold streets, houses of gold, gold doors – everything was made of gold, transparent like glass. I could never have imagined that gold could appear transparent and so pure. I read about this in God’s word, but I could not really imagine it, to me this issue was concealed. I just couldn’t imagine how a hard metal could be transparent. Now that I saw it, I just wanted to touch it. I touched the walls, I entered some houses and scrutinized everything. I did not ask the angels, where I was to go from here. I seemed to know the way. I was overcome with such a feeling as if I was in a place of my own. As I continued my way further into the city, close to the center, I saw a large tree in one spot. The tree had pear-shaped fruit on it. The size of the fruit was about the size of two average sized fists put together. The leaves on it reminded me of the leaves of a lime tree, only they were larger and like leaves of burdock. When I got near the tree, I wanted to take a fruit from it and began to reach for one. Suddenly with enthusiasm, I was surprised that the hand that I stretched out, was not like an ordinary hand, it was transparent. When I was about to pluck a fruit, the angel who stood a little distance behind me, on my right side, stretched out his hand and stopped me. Gesticulating with his finger, he told me that for now, I shouldn’t pluck the fruit. Then something I didn’t expect took place: Without any form of regret, disappointment from the angel’s action, I left the tree. Generally speaking, within the city, I never experienced any kind of discomfort, or disorder. When I left the tree, I saw an extraordinary bright light at the center of the city. It was very interesting that I didn’t see any shadow not from the trees and not from the houses. There were no shadows there and neither were there any lamps. I didn’t see the sun nor any object that gave light, but the light was extraordinary bright and so pleasant to the eyes, to the extent that I was so delighted beyond measure. I cannot adequately describe in words, the extra unusual condition of my soul… When I saw the center of the illumination, I bowed my head and felt an overwhelming urge to bow my knees. But the angel supported me and I heard a voice, “ My son, I have shown you all that is necessary for you at this time, and you should return now, to declare My Glory, power and dominion, to declare all that you have seen and heard”. Then I began to pray and implore the Lord, asking Him to let me remain there, where I was. I cried, “Lord I don’t want to return”. But the Lord said, “You have a wife, and three children. You have to return to them, for it is not time for you to be here yet”. Then again I began to implore the Lord, ”Lord, I don’t want to return. Allow me to remain with beside You”. But the Lord said to me,” My Son, be meek and self-controlled, do not murmur, go back. You have to declare My Glory” (read the entire testimony which is here).