Let’s read Revelation 21:1-2, “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, SAW THE HOLY CITY, NEW JERUSALEM, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (NKJV). Now let’s read verses 9-10, “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me, saying, ‘Come I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and SHOWED ME THE GREAT CITY, THE HOLY JERUSALEM, descending out of heaven from God.” It is important to see that the first thing John saw was the “new heaven and the new earth.” We are NOT given a detailed description of these two; the only thing said is that “there was no more sea.” But then John was given an amazing vision of a “heavenly city” called the “New Jerusalem.” This city is NOT heaven, for we read that it is “coming down out of heaven.” It is also NOT earth, for it appears this heavenly city will either “hover above the earth” or “rest upon the earth.” Is this a “literal city” or is it “symbolic?” Some believe that it is indeed LITERAL; others believe it is to be taken as SYMBOLIC but that it symbolizes a true REALITY. I believe this is a “REAL city” (but unlike any earthly city we’ve ever seen) where the heavenly saints will live. We read in Hebrews 11:10 that Abraham “waited for THE CITY which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Verse 16 teaches us that God “has prepared for them (Old Testament believers) A CITY.” This heavenly city is spoken of again in Hebrews 12:22-23 as the home of “an innumerable company of angels…the general assembly and church of the firstborn…the spirits of just men made perfect” and of “Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant.” And in Hebrews 13:14 believers living today are told, “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.” Believers today make up the “Bride of Christ” and this city will be its special home, for we had read of the “bride, the Lamb’s wife,” in verses 2 & 9. The important thing to grasp, which is related to your question, is that the description that follows (in verses 11-27) is “of the CITY” and not of the New Heaven and the New Earth.

You had asked “Is it symbolic of God’s glory?” We have the answer in the first description of the city which says, “having the glory of God.” It doesn’t symbolize God’s glory, yet God’s glory is in it! His glory will be “the LIGHT of the city.” This is borne out in verse 23, “The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for THE GLORY OF GOD ILLIMINATED IT.”

We don’t have the space to go over the whole description, but I do want to call your attention to verse 16 which says, “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” (KJV). The LENGTH and the BREADTH and the HEIGHT of it are equal.” This means that the city is three-dimensional, with its length, width and height each being over 1400 miles! The size is vast and has no equal on earth, for our cities only have a “length and width.” Granted, people have built “skyscrapers,” but the tallest one is 2,722 feet high (about a HALF MILE high). The “longest city” in the world is Mexico City, which extends for 200 miles and has a population of over 20 million people. But again, this city has no real HEIGHT, so it pales in comparison to the heavenly city called Holy Jerusalem. One can hardly comprehend how awesome this city will be and this is the HOME that the Lord Jesus will be taking believers to when He comes again to “receive us unto Himself” (see John 14:1-3). We will no doubt “leave Home” at times to explore God’s New Heaven and New Earth and to have fellowship with believers living on the New Earth, but the New Jerusalem will be our eternal residence.  (DO)  (534.1)