Not long after I became a Christian in 1973, I found my Dad's Bible, a KJV given to him by a Jehovah's Witness back in the 1950s, when I was still a small boy. Up to then I had an interest in General Science subjects, including physics, chemistry and biology. Within the third category was the teaching of the Theory of Evolution, with which as a young teenager, I became fascinated with the Dinosaurs, as I try to imagine a near paradise world of herbivores such as Brontosaurus, Triceratops Iguanodon and others, when suddenly their paradise was shattered by the approach of the carnivorous Tyrannosaurus Rex, the king of all Dinosaurs, sending all the herbivores running for their lives, with the possible exception of Triceratops, with its three huge horns protruding from a shield for a forehead, squared up to the carnivore and pierced its underside. A victory for the herbivore.
This kind of primeval imagination was still with me as one evening in 1973, alone in the house, during a thunderstorm, I was curious on the Bible's version on how it all began. I turned to Genesis chapter one, and I was emotionally moved to read about the six-day creation, the narrative of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden of chapter two, with my tension mounting up as I began to read chapter three.
"No, Adam, don't eat of that tree!" I thought, tensely as if I was watching a movie. Then it happened. First Eve took a bite out of (I assumed) the apple, then Adam himself took a bite as she held it up to him.
"Oh no!" I thought. So that's the origin of sin. Soon after, when God must have killed an animal to provide the couple with clothing made from its skin, they were expelled from the Garden.
There and then, my assumption that we are products of millions of years of an organic process was shattered. Why? Because when I read those chapters, I believed, and more so, I found myself praying. When I began to share my new beliefs, several unbelievers asked me who was Cain's wife. A question at the time I could not answer, which verified their beliefs that the Bible was a book of fairy tales, while their belief in organic evolution was based on facts. But I never ceased believing. Instead, I began to buy books written on this subject, and to reconcile the existence of Dinosaurs with Biblical Creation, and finished up with the idea that early man and Dinosaurs must have co-existed within the same time frame, and both were wiped out during the Noachian Deluge. This idea is regarded as absolutely ridiculous by evolutionists such as Richard Dawkins, but I find nothing amiss with this theory.
You can read more on this, including Cain's wife and the density of the primeval population in one of my earlier blogs:
Adam and Eve Historical? You Must Be Joking!!! Published August 14th, 2011, together with the blog which follows it.
Not much later, I was reading the book of Revelation, and chapters 21 and 22 absolutely stunned me! These chapters describe a city, New Jerusalem, coming out of heaven to settle upon a newly created Earth. The sheer beauty of the city and the pure holiness of it as given in its description, made me feel so unworthy. I was struggling with the idea of entering this city as one of its citizens. Why was this?
Because back then I had a poor idea of the meaning of God's grace. In the English language, we have the acronym that "grace" stands for Gift Received At Christ's Expense. In other words, the righteousness of Christ was imputed the moment I first believed. Absolutely true, my own righteousness could not get me into this beautiful city, for all my deeds were as filthy rags. But the righteousness of Jesus Christ, who lived a life perfectly without sin and his undeserved death on the cross, followed by his resurrection three days later, meant that, as a believer, God sees my life as Christ lived it. That is grace.
But it took me many years after conversion to fully realise it. Mainly due to one of my seniors looking for every shortcomings as a boy, alongside the Roman Catholic teaching that one mortal sin committed meant Hell for all eternity.
But the truth of grace still stands as fact, and it always will.
Reading the Bible, I was able to see that there always have been a steady pattern, each taking a similar but slightly different form. Starting with the Garden of Eden, this was an area of perfection and natural beauty, the paradise of God. Together with our first parents, God himself dwelt in the Garden, even walking in the cool of the day. When the couple sinned, they were expelled from the garden and from the Tree of Life which flourished within it. In the outside world, after the Curse was pronounced, (Genesis 3:14-19) they first noticed that various trees no longer yielded edible fruit. Trees such as Oak, Elm, Ash, Birch, Spruce, Cedar, Pine, along with many others were now yielding seed which were unfit for human consumption (See Genesis 1:29-30). Therefore mankind ever since lived by the sweat of his brow as he prepared and ate bread. In turn, he also watched the spectacular contest as the Tyrannosaurus Rex turn on to the Triceratops, and realised the gravity of the sin they had committed in the Garden, and therefore their own struggle for survival. According to the narration, T.Rex was a vegetarian before the Fall of Man, along with all other predators, they were all herbivores before the Curse (Genesis 1:30) as the plants that they were meant to feed on became unfit to eat after the Curse.
Later, God established the Tabernacle among the children of Israel. Represented by the Ark of the Covenant, situated within the Holy of Holies which was a cubic structure, this was to be the dwelling place of God. As with the Garden of Eden, nobody was allowed near it except the High Priest, and only then once a year, to offer the Atonement for the whole nation.
The Jebusite city of Jerusalem was captured by King David and was made the capital of Israel. His son, Solomon built the First Temple. Thus this original principle carried over from Eden, a dwelling place of God within the midst of the habitation of Man. Jerusalem was a good representation of Eden and a shadow of a more glorious Jerusalem which is still to come. But for it to happen, sin must be dealt with permanently, and so God became incarnate as the Man Jesus Christ to forever atone for all our sins, and to have his righteousness imputed on us who believe. As such we are cleansed from our sins and made fit to dwell in his more glorious city, the New Jerusalem, of which the present capital of Israel is a figure.
The New Jerusalem will be huge - about 1,500 miles (2,430 km) each side. The Scripture gives it as 2,430 km long, wide and high, to form a cube. Whether this was what the writer meant it is still, to me at least, unclear. If true, then if the city was placed at the Northeast of the USA, so that the east wall is aligned with New York City, then we would be able to see the upper side of the wall from the UK, three thousand miles away. If the city is a cube, then this is backed by both Solomon's Temple and the Second Temple, existing at the time Jesus Christ was on earth. The inner sanctuary, known as the Holy of Holies, was cubic in shape. When the Lord Jesus returns to set up his throne of his father David, his throne will be housed within the cubic sanctuary of the Third Temple of Ezekiel 40, which will overlook the city of Jerusalem, wherein it will be built. Again, this will be a figure of Eden restored.
On the other hand, Scripture describes a very high mountain, on which the city will rest (Revelation 21:10). Could the mountain itself be 1,500 miles high? For it is also written that the wall will be 65 metres high. But this could equally mean 65 metres thick. We can't be sure.
On each side there will be three gates, each made of a pearl, all twelve of them, each also with the name of each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Therefore if the city has twelve gates, that means that people will be free to enter and leave the city, as in the case of Jerusalem today. Revelation 21:24-26 says that the nations shall bring their glory and honour into it, with splendour brought in by the kings of these nations. So there is strong indication that there will be a large population of the saved living outside the city, but will have full access to the city every day, as the gates will never be shut during the day, and there will be no night there.
But who are these people living outside, and who will live within it's walls? The city rests on twelve foundations, each having the name of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. The Bible also says that the city comes down from heaven as a bride prepared for her husband. (21:2,9). The New testament teaches that the Church is the Bride of Christ (for example: John 3:29, 2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:23-33). The twelve foundations bear this out, as the twelve apostles were the founders of the churches after the resurrection of Christ. Therefore its the saved from the Resurrection to the Rapture - the Church Age, who will have their homes within the city walls (See John 14:1).
The city will be 2,430 km square. This gives an area of 5,905,900 square kilometres. Of course, it would be utterly impossible to give any accurate numbers for its population, because only God knows exactly how many there will be. But by using some population statistics, we can give some guesses, but please bear in mind that that's what they are - guesses.
According to the 1997 census, the population in the UK was 243 humans per every square km. This was equal to a square 64x64 metres per person, if everyone was equally distributed. That is over half the length of a football pitch for each person. In an area of 5,905,900 square km, this would support a population of 1,434,890,700 people. Then again, if we multiply this by four, leaving each with a square 32x32 metres per person, the population would reach 5,739,562,800. Then again this is just a rough guess. To round up the number to 5,800,000,000 it looks very small compared to the number of people who ever lived throughout the whole of human history. But taking a look at the population of some of the largest nations in the world (1997), we get this:
China comes very close to the original conservative population number in the New Jerusalem. But again, if the number looks small, this would endorse what Jesus Christ had once said, that the road to destruction is broad, and there are many walking on it. But the road to life is narrow, and very few will be able to find it (Matthew 7:13-14).
But the fact that the city has twelve gates seem to indicate that there will be many more living on the new Earth outside, but will have full access to the city. These may include all the Old Testament saints, among them a number of antediluvian saints. These include Adam, Abel and Enoch. Seth, the son of Adam, born to replace the murdered Abel, had a son, Enos - who was an evangelist. From him men began to call upon the Lord. (Genesis 4:26). There could have been a remnant of several thousand saved souls before the Flood, failure for others to repent eventually dwindled the number down to eight - Noah and his family. Then there might have been a remnant of Shem's descendants saved, then from Israel, a remnant from each generation (See my last blog, I Have Reserved 7,000..." On top of this, after the end of the Church age, 144,000 Jews will convert a multitude, so great that they cannot be numbered (Revelation 7). Added still to this will be those born during the Kingdom reign of Christ in Jerusalem. A significant number of these will be saved. Hence, throughout eternity, nations living outside will bring their glory and splendour into the city.
Finally, let me define this narrow path. It is not whether it's the right church, denomination or the right religion. The gate to the narrow path is Jesus Christ himself. For there is no other name under Heaven in which we can be saved. Only Christ himself and him crucified. There is no other way.
Now is the time to turn to Jesus Christ for salvation, after being convicted of your sin and your unworthiness of eternal life, having broken the Law of God. If you repent and believe on the Lord, you will eventually have a home within the New Jerusalem.