The Shape of the New Jerusalem, Pyramid or Cube? (New Earth 7)

The length, width and height of the New Jerusalem are all the same, suggesting a perfect cube (Rev. 21:16). But there is another shape whose length, width and height are the same, and that is the pyramid. There is nothing in the description of the New Jerusalem in Revelation that requires either a cube or a pyramid? So how should we decide? Should we envision the New Jerusalem as a cube or as a pyramid?

Most interpreters envision the New Jerusalem as a cube and, in my view this is probably correct. A cube has twelve edges, but a pyramid has only eight. The description of the New Jerusalem makes abundant use of the number twelve and never uses the number eight. The New Jerusalem has twelve gates, twelve foundations, walls 144 cubits high, and dimensions measuring 12,000 stadia (Rev. 21:12-21). This wide-spread use of twelve coheres with the major use of twelve elsewhere in Revelation and the New Testament. It is the number of God’s people and the city becomes the bride of Christ when it is filled with saved humanity. While the text does not specify the shape, a cube would be consistent with the symbolism of Revelation.

What is theologically significant about the cube is that the only other cube in the Bible is the Most Holy Place of the Old Testament temple (1 Kings 6:20). Its sides and height were completely equal. The New Jerusalem, then, is modeled on the Most Holy Place. What is forbidden to all but the High Priest in Old Testament times is now open to all the redeemed. Relationship with Christ elevates all to the roles of kings and priests. All have face to face engagement with God (Rev. 22:4) in the heavenly Most Holy Place, the New Jerusalem.

5 thoughts on “The Shape of the New Jerusalem, Pyramid or Cube? (New Earth 7)

  1. Robert Whiteman

    After reading this post, I would like to know how you interpret the actual height of the walls as given in Rev 21:17, as compared to their length, while leaning toward the idea that the city is a cube.

    Also, what does the number of edges of the geometrical shape have to do with this as far as meaning anything? However, are you familiar with the use of the number 8 in scripture, and what seems to be it’s significance?(e.g. Matt 5:3-12, 8 blessings that comprise the entire process of salvation in this life in both justification and sanctification. 2 Peter 1:5-7, 8 steps of sanctification. 1 Cor 13:4-8, 8 things that love is and 8 things love is not. Phil 4:8, 8 things those sanctified are to “think on”. Circumcision was on the 8th day. 8 souls saved from the flood. Ps 119, 22 groups of 8 verses each, describing the sinners need of the law of the Lord in order to become sanctified[Ps 19:7-9]. Etc.)

    One other question: why do you conclude there are only two possible shapes, being limited to either a cube or pyramid? Have you considered a tall mountain, with an elevation that equals the length of each wall? God does speak of “My holy mountain”(Isa 65:25, speaking of the new earth).

    I’m not suggesting that any of the above “proves” anything that would conclude the shape of the New Jerusalem, no more than the evidence presented in the original post does. With all that is contained in scripture, the actual 3 dimensional shape of the city remains speculative at this time, doesn’t it. (“probably correct” indicates speculation doesn’t it?)

    To your question; “How should we decide?”, my answer is; 1 Cor 2:9, or, “when we see it”.

    Reply
    1. Jon Paulien Post author

      Appreciated your list of eights. As noted earlier, I see the description of NJ as more figurative than literal. Most of the pictures of Rev don’t hang together in an artistic sense. They are images to be heard more than images to be seen. Note how crazy some of the artwork on Rev gets trying to portray it visually.

      Reply
      1. Robert Whiteman

        I actually cringe most of the time when coming across some artist’s idea of the Holy City, and usually protest out loud, even when alone. Who could hope to understand these things from our present position? We can’t begin to imagine.

        I’ve never really lingered on the city’s description since it is actually not very descriptive, but I easily accept the possibility of the city’s description being figurative.

        For now, it’s like a large, wrapped present under the tree waiting for Christmas day.

        Reply

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