Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:2-4, NKJV)
In describing the state of things as it will be in eternity, John has to use the language of this world, for he has no other. He has to liken what he sees in the vision to things that his readers can see in the present world, for this is the only world they know. He has to use whatever language and illustrations he can find in an attempt to describe the spiritual quality of life in the eternal state.
John’s visions symbolize spiritual realities. They are not pictures of the physical characteristics of the new heaven and the new earth. In fact, he makes it clear that the future state of things is vastly different from the present. The heavenly city is not an improved version of the present earthly city. Life as we know it in the present world is to be completely replaced by a new order.
Usually God is pictured as dwelling in heaven and people as dwelling on earth. In the eternal state no such distinction exists, because God now dwells with his people in an order of life never before experienced. It is an order that is holy and beautiful, where God and his people live together in the closest fellowship. All this is possible because the effects of sin in the previous order have now been removed.
This is a dramatic image of restored unity and harmony between the Creator and what he has created. God himself comes to dwell on the earth with humankind. Sin and all its effects are removed. There is no more death or sickness or pain but only peace and harmony, because the relationship between God and humankind has been healed.
Bartholomew, Craig G. And Goheen Michael W. The Drama of Scripture. Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2004.
MySword for Android. Riversoft Ministry, 2011-2019.
The NKJV Bible