The vision of the New Jerusalem is grounded in the rest of the Bible. The waters flowing from the throne (Rev. 22:1) and the tree of life (Rev. 22:2) recall the Garden of Eden. So the New Jerusalem is the culmination of the whole Bible’s promise to one day restore the perfect conditions in which Adam and Eve were first placed. And those perfect conditions will build on the “healing of the nations” to bring about unity in the middle of breath-taking diversity.
The radiance of the city and its cubical shape (Rev. 21:11,16) recall the tabernacle and the temple (Exod. 40:34-35; 1 Kings 6:20; 8:11). There are only two cubes in the Bible, the Most Holy Place in the sanctuary and the New Jerusalem. With the New Jerusalem, the most hidden parts of the sanctuary are open and available to all. Where God was once hidden behind layers and layers of curtains, He is now available to be experienced face to face (Rev 22:4).
The very name “New Jerusalem” brings to mind the capital city of David’s kingdom. Jerusalem was the very center of the Israelite kingdom. There were three main north/south roads, one up the Mediterranean plain, one along the Jordan Valley, and one along the spine of the central ridge. There were three main east/west roads, one through the valley of Megiddo, one south through Beersheba and one across the central ridge from seacoast plain to Jordan Valley. Jerusalem was located at the intersection of the central north/south road and the central east/west road. Since there was also an abundant supply of water there, it was the natural location of Israel’s capital city. Just as Jersualem was the center-point of ancient Israel, so the New Jerusalem is the center-point of the New Earth.
Many parts of the design of the city also recall Ezekiel’s visionary temple (Ezek. 40-48). The New Jerusalem is the culmination of the prophetic vision for an ideal land and people that God would create. It would also be the center of the New Israel’s worship of God.
Many details of the New Jerusalem also recall the promises to the overcomers in the seven churches portion of Revelation (for example, the tree of life from the original paradise of God– Rev. 2:7; 22:2, the absence of the second death—Rev. 2:11, the importance of names—Rev. 2:17; 3:5, 12; 21:12, 14; 22:4, authority over the nations—Rev. 2:26; 21:24, the morning star—Rev. 2:28; 22:16, the New Jerusalem—Rev. 3:12; 21:2, 10, and the promise of the throne—Rev 3:21; 7:15; 22:1). The seven churches represent the church militant, the New Jerusalem represents the church triumphant.
The vision of the New Jerusalem doesn’t arise out of thin air, it is a blending of many allusions to the history of God’s leading throughout the Bible. It is truly the grand finale to the biblical symphony.