As I’ve noted throughout this series, cities are complex places, displaying all shades of reality–best to worst. The New Jerusalem (as described in Revelation 21), however, is the eternal city that we look forward to as Christians that will not be plagued by systemic racism, corrupt leadership, anger, pain, or any other kind of evil. Perfection and joy and unity will characterize that city.
A reminder for my brothers and sisters in Christ: the New Jerusalem comes at the resolution of the story of this world. There is much pain and sorrow yet to be faced, but at least we know that one day it will all be made perfect and right. I hope this story ignites that hope inside of you, dreaming about what it could be like to be in that new city with our Lord one day…
The empty, golden streets sparkled under the light of glory radiating from Zion. The holy hill was bathed in light from the throne room out, into every conceivable corner of the awaiting city. The Father had prepared and lighted a place where He would dwell with His people in eternal day. Every building stood luminous, parapets and pagodas next to Victorian mansions and Arabic palaces. Colors yet unseen and treasures unheard of on the earth below lined each block. Every brick, jewel, flower and plant caught the brightness of the sky. Twelve pearl gates glowed effulgently around the perimeter of the city. Gentle music of celestial choirs near the throne caught the breeze and filled the air with praise and harmony. The sky itself was painted with the shimmering pastels of dawn, subdued in anticipation.
Gradually, the chorus from the throne room rose to new heights in a jubilant, euphonious cheer. Adulation of the Almighty started pouring down the mountain, flooding its base. Cherubim, seraphim, and every kind of heavenly creature emerged from on high, singing in mellifluous unity and descending Zion into the city.
As they passed through the streets, they cried, “Holy, holy, holy!” into the alleys and paths and parks. To the fountains and flowerbeds they cried, “Worthy, worthy, worthy!” But their praise had not yet met an ear to hear it. Through the center of the city on the broadest road they went, headed north to Judah’s gate. When they arrived, the roaring host swelled with movement and sound. Here they waited, unable to contain their heavenly joy and bliss. A mighty angel stood outside the gate, resolute in his solemn duty, waiting just as expectantly as the throng behind.
After a few moments, the clouds beyond the gate stirred, and a powerful wind began blowing from beneath the city into the gate. A hush fell over the heavenly horde, and stillness too. The great pearl gate swung open slowly. The angel stepped aside to the city wall, knelt down, planted his sword in the ground, and bowed his head to honor him who was finally arriving.
From amidst the clouds, a man rose with his arms extended upward. He floated up completely into view and landed just before the threshold of Judah’s gate. He stood there for an instant, and the cosmos stared. Every creature held their breath, drinking in his form. He was majestic and victorious, the firmest man to ever stand. His head was held high. He was glorified, and all the crowd strained to see his hands and his feet in the light shining from the mountain.
Then he took a single step, and entered the city. In the silence, the sound resounded, and every being felt the tremor in the ground. A human foot! Come through Judah’s gate! They all roared more ardently than before. They welcomed him with every ounce of strength and adoration that they had. Their darling had returned. They feared him, they were in awe of him, they loved him.
As heaven’s worshippers reeled in the city, a new throng was forming, this one outside every gate of the city. From Reuben, from Dan, from Simeon, from all. In unison the other eleven gates opened, and the city began to fill. The angels from every gate found every name of every person in the book of life as they passed through the jasper walls. Once inside, the people joined the exultation. It was ages of the faithful, from Eden to the ends of the earth. They were every tribe and tongue, every color and nation. All together they delighted to follow their champion.
He placed his hand on the shoulder of a man next to him, who had the same scars in his hands. Then he arced his arm toward Zion, displaying the horizon. With this gesture, he led them all forward. Through the center of the city they went, this time the streets brimming with people. Everyone danced and shouted and revered the Lord, God of Israel, and his Word. The humans and spirits took up a hymn together: “Praise the Lord. Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the saints. Let Israel rejoice in their Maker, let the people of Zion be glad in their King.”
The march proceeded to the mountain, and the celebration stirred in the wake of the man who entered through Judah’s gate. He led them up the heights, and into the throne room itself. To the epicenter of glory he took them, the entire multitude. The Father of heaven and earth welcomed them in, the train of his robe cascading down from the throne. Infinite goodness and holiness emanated from him into the furthest corners of the universe. His love for the Son and for his Spirit reverberated, shaking the very foundations of the mountain. More heavenly beings flew dizzying spirals around Him, never ceasing in their praise and service and proclamation of His authority over all that He had made.
The heavens dressed the Son in splendor at the Father’s command. He was given a scepter and a scroll with seven seals. His crown exceeded any other ever worn in brilliance and nobility. As a man, he approached the throne of the living God, and sat down at his right hand. The millions of millions watching were breathless. They bowed, prostrating themselves on the ground. “Hail heaven’s king!” they cried. “Hail our priest! Hail the great prophet! Hail the righteous judge! Hail the triumphant warrior! Hail the lamb! Hail lover of the world!”
When the saints saw him crowned, they bowed in utter abandon. They threw their crowns at his feet, declaring his reign forever. No acclaim on earth could they remember, nor any pain, nor sadness, nor defeat. Nothing could grip them more than the glory of their King, the truth incarnate and his magnificence. Their day would never end again; their horizon was eternity at the feet of their Savior, and they rejoiced as was never heard on the earth.
The refrains of the throne room were echoed for all eternity, for thousands more eons. They loved him and inhabited his city forever, God with humanity–praising the man who entered through Judah’s gate.