In short, the “New Jerusalem” is a “city IN HEAVEN” and “Heaven” takes in the whole universe made up of solar systems, galaxies, and last, but not least, the Paradise of God (God’s “dwelling place”). Here are a few scriptures (from the NASB) which teach us that the New Jerusalem is a “city in Heaven.”

Hebrews 11:10 & 16: “For he (Abraham) was looking for a CITY which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God…But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a HEAVENLY ONE. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has PREPARED A CITY for them.”

Hebrews 12:22-24: “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the CITY OF THE LIVING GOD, THE HEAVENLY JERUSALEM, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are ENROLLED IN HEAVEN, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant.”

It is clear that God has prepared the New Jerusalem, the “heavenly Jerusalem,” to be the eternal home of all the Old Testament saints and the “church of the firstborn” (all believers who trusted in Christ as their Savior from the Day of Pentecost [see Acts 2] to the Rapture [see 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18]). There will also be innumerable angels living there too, but most important of all God the Father and Jesus (the Son of God) will be there. It is described in great detail in Revelation chapters 21 and 22 and thus I believe it is a LITERAL CITY. It will be God’s “heavenly capital” for all eternity from which He will rule. We read about this in Revelation 21:1-5: “Then I saw a NEW HEAVEN and a NEW EARTH; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the HOLY CITY, NEW JERUSALEM, coming down OUT OF HEAVEN FROM GOD, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from THE THRONE, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among men, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.’ And He WHO SITS ON THE THRONE said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ And He said, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true.’” God has, from the beginning, desired to “dwell with men” and this will be the fulfillment of that desire! Again, He will live in the heavenly city with all the saints in heaven and He will rule from there on His throne. As we just read, sin and all of its terrible effects, will be removed forever! Praise be to God!

We also saw that there is a “New Earth” so that begs the question, “Who will be living there?” Due to limited space, let me just say that after the Rapture of the saints and the resurrection of all who died believing in Jesus Christ, there will be a seven year tribulation period culminating in Christ coming in power and glory to establish His 1,000 year kingdom on earth (see Matthew 24:3-31). Before the Millennial Kingdom begins He judges the nations to determine who will live on the earth during this time (see Matthew 25:31-40). Those who do enter the kingdom will live through the whole kingdom age and they, along with those who are born in the Millennium and believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior, will be transferred to the New Earth when the present earth and heavens pass away and are replace by the “new heaven and the new earth” (as we saw in Revelation 21:1). God will also dwell among them even though His throne will be located in the New Jerusalem in heaven.

Before we close we need to show scriptural support for what I said at the outset when I declared that “Heaven takes in the whole universe of solar systems, galaxies, and the Paradise of God” and thus the New Jerusalem is only a small part of heaven. In 2nd Corinthians 12:2 the Apostle Paul relates the great experience he had when he was “caught up to the THIRD HEAVEN” and he also described it as being “caught up into PARADISE” (verse 4). If he speaks of Paradise (where God lives…see Luke 23:43 and Revelation 2:7) as the “third heaven,” then it stands to reason that there must be a “first and second heaven.” What is the “first heaven?” We believe it is the “atmospheric heaven” right above us. In Ephesians 2:2 we learn that this is where Satan lives, for he is called “the prince of the power of THE AIR.” What is the “second heaven?” We believe it is the “stellar heaven” which contains the sun, moon and stars that make up the solar systems and galaxies. You can read of God’s setting the stellar heaven in order in Genesis 1:14-19. We spoke of Abraham earlier and now I am reminded of the time that God took him out on a star-lit night and He told him, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them. And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be’” (Genesis 15:5). Abraham gazed into the “first heaven” (the atmosphere right above him) and then beyond into the “second heaven!” Of course, he wasn’t able to see the “third heaven,” which is beyond the first two heavens, for even man’s greatest telescopes are unable to reach the Paradise of God. I would give you one more thought concerning these “three heavens.”

You will recall that the Tabernacle in the wilderness was referred to as “the PATTERN OF THINGS IN THE HEAVENS” in Hebrews 9:23 (KJV), which means the Tabernacle served to illustrate things in heaven. How many SPHERES did the Tabernacle have? Ah, it had THREE SPHERES; the outer court, the holy place, and the holy of holies. Once a year the high priest was privileged to pass through each sphere to present a sacrifice to God for the sins of his people beyond the veil in the “holy of holies” where God dwelt. Dear ones, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and our Great High Priest, passed through the actual heavens into the very “holy of holies” to present the merits of His atoning work on Calvary to God the Father. We will end by quoting the verses that teach us this sublime and precious truth. “Seeing then that we have a great high priest that is PASSED INTO THE HEAVENS, Jesus the Son of God…It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the HEAVENLY THINGS THEMSELVES with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the FIGURES OF THE TRUE; but into HEAVEN ITSELF, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 4:14 and 9:23-24…KJV).  (437.1)  (DO)