And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven…

Frank M. Keele

In the early days of the Church the saints were given the opportunity to commence the building of the earthly New Jerusalem. The members of the Church at that time, being exclusively made up of first generation converts were struggling to understand and live the principles of the newly restored kingdom of God amidst misunderstanding, hostilities and persecution. To make a long story short, they were unable and unprepared for so great a task and in the end were driven from the area by their persecutors.

Ever since those early and impressionable days of the Church, the Latter Day Saints have maintained a certain degree of focus and anticipation of a future day. Days when we shall return once again to the area of Jackson County in order to finally accomplish the building up of the earthly New Jerusalem.

One of the critical and often overlooked elements as to how this is to come about is the fact that there is more than just one “New Jerusalem” mentioned in scripture.  I believe that modern day members of the Church are much more focused on returning and building the earthly New Jerusalem than they are on understanding how other New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven, fits into the equation of the Second Coming. So I think we have a tendency to assume or to default to the earthly New Jerusalem in our thinking when the term is mentioned in scripture.

I’m going to say that the interplay between these two New Jerusalems is not well understood by the membership of the Church. It may even be true that a significant percentage of members don’t even realize there is more than one New Jerusalem. At any rate, it’s time to move forward because there is quite a bit to laying a foundation upon which this subject may be understood.

To lay such a foundation requires that we get into the nitty-gritty details of the Lord’s first appearance or when he comes as the bridegroom. We start by going to JS Matthew where we read:

26 For as the light of the morning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, and covereth the whole earth, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.
27 And now I show unto you a parable. Behold, wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together; so likewise shall mine elect be gathered from the four quarters of the earth.

In verse 27 we have this phrase, “wheresoever the carcass is”. We interpret this to mean “wheresoever the body of the saints are gathered”, you shall see why shortly. Keep in mind that this gathering of the “elect” is “from the four quarters of the earth” and so it appears that they are to be gathered in one location at this time. Now we move on to verse 37 and read:

37 And whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived, for the Son of Man shall come, and he shall send his angels before him with the great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together the remainder of his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

We learn here that the Lord “shall send his angels before him” or just ahead of his arrival, “with the great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together the remainder of his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other”. So “the carcass” mentioned above represents the main body of the of the Church (those who shall make the trek back to Jackson County) and “the remainder” represents those members of the church who are scattered throughout the earth. In advance of the Lord’s appearance “his angels… shall gather together the remainder of his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” to be with the main body of the saints.

And where will the body of the Church be gathered? Well, to Adam-Ondi-Ahman of course! But perhaps we are getting a bit ahead of ourselves. We move on to verses 44-45 where we read:

44 Then shall be fulfilled that which is written, that in the last days, two shall be in the field, the one shall be taken, and the other left;
 45 Two shall be grinding at the mill, the one shall be taken, and the other left;

Many in the Church as well as other Christians would assume that this passage has reference to the saints being “caught up to meet” the Lord at his coming but not so. Being “caught up” applies to a completely different set of circumstances and is separated by some twenty plus years in the timeline… going to have to be a future blog I’m afraid.

Verses 44-45 are exclusively associated with gathering “the remainder” to where the body of the saints will be. Now we go to JST Luke 17 where this concept becomes crystal clear, we read:

36 And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord, shall they be taken?
37 And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is gathered; or, in other words, whithersoever the saints are gathered, thither will the eagles be gathered together; or, thither will the remainder be gathered together.
38 This he spake, signifying the gathering of his saints; and of angels descending and gathering the remainder unto them; the one from the bed, the other from the grinding, and the other from the field, whithersoever he listeth.
39 For verily there shall be new heavens, and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

So here the Lord is explaining to his disciples about “the gathering of his saints; and of angels descending and gathering the remainder unto them; the one from the bed, the other from the grinding, and the other from the field, whithersoever he listeth”. With the “remainder” being gathered to the body of the saints we are now ready for the Second Coming.

We need to make careful note of verse 39 as the “new heavens, and a new earth” serve as a key cross-reference to our next passage. We go to Rev. 21 where we read:

 1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Here we have an account of the actual Second Coming or the first of the three events Ezra Taft Benson spoke of. Christ is the Bridegroom and the Church is the bride but apparently the heavenly New Jerusalem is also considered a bride for we are told it was “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband”. The word “prepared” is a distinguishing term that applies only to the heavenly New Jerusalem.

In verse 3 we read the phrase “the tabernacle of God is with men”. Our Jewish friends believe that the Messiah shall some day come and “tabernacle” with them during the “feast of tabernacles” which is a great clue to the timing of this event. This will have to be the subject of a future blog I think. To discover who all will come with the Lord at this time we go to another account of this same event in D&C 133, here we read:

46 And it shall be said: Who is this that cometh down from God in heaven with dyed garments; yea, from the regions which are not known, clothed in his glorious apparel, traveling in the greatness of his strength?
47 And he shall say: I am he who spake in righteousness, mighty to save.
48 And the Lord shall be red in his apparel, and his garments like him that treadeth in the wine-vat.
49 And so great shall be the glory of his presence that the sun shall hide his face in shame, and the moon shall withhold its light, and the stars shall be hurled from their places.
50 And his voice shall be heard: I have trodden the wine-press alone, and have brought judgment upon all people; and none were with me;
51 And I have trampled them in my fury, and I did tread upon them in mine anger, and their blood have I sprinkled upon my garments, and stained all my raiment; for this was the day of vengeance which was in my heart….
54 Yea, and Enoch also, and they who were with him; the prophets who were before him; and Noah also, and they who were before him; and Moses also, and they who were before him;
55 And from Moses to Elijah, and from Elijah to John, who were with Christ in his resurrection, and the holy apostles, with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, shall be in the presence of the Lamb.
56 And the graves of the saints shall be opened; and they shall come forth and stand on the right hand of the Lamb, when he shall stand upon Mount Zion, and upon the holy city, the New Jerusalem; and they shall sing the song of the Lamb, day and night forever and ever.

We start by calling attention to the last phrase of verse 55 which is “shall be in the presence of the Lamb” and the takeaway is that all of those mentioned in verses 54-55 shall be with “the Lamb” when he comes as the Bridegroom. One that is especially noteworthy is “Enoch also, and they who were with him”. In other words, “the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven”.

In verse 56 we learn that there will be a resurrection of all the righteous who have died since our Lord’s resurrection at this time, “when he shall stand upon Mount Zion, and upon the holy city, the New Jerusalem”. By the way, this is not the New Jerusalem that the saints will build but that which comes  “down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband”.

The resurrection mentioned here is but one of three different and distinct times of resurrection spelled out for us in modern day revelation.  A future blog subject for sure…

We have reached the point where we need to prepare to sum things up and present some very interesting and rather critical conclusions. In verse 49 above we have the phrase “the sun shall hide his face in shame, and the moon shall withhold its light, and the stars shall be hurled from their places”. In a previous blog (And at midnight there was a cry made…) we addressed just what would be taking place during the darkness that attends Lord’s Second Coming but lets refresh our memories by going to JS Matthew where we read:

 33 And immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven shall be shaken….
 36 And, as I said before, after the tribulation of those days, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken, then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn; and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory;
 37 And whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived, for the Son of Man shall come, and he shall send his angels before him with the great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together the remainder of his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

So “the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light” and “then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, and… they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory”.

It is during this time of darkness that “he shall send his angels before him with the great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together the remainder of his elect from the four winds”. So it appears rather obvious that the gathering of the saints is not complete until just barely before, perhaps only hours before the world shall “see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory”. So this begs a most important question… In D&C 84 we read:

1 A revelation of Jesus Christ unto his servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and six elders, as they united their hearts and lifted their voices on high.
2 Yea, the word of the Lord concerning his church, established in the last days for the restoration of his people, as he has spoken by the mouth of his prophets, and for the gathering of his saints to stand upon Mount Zion, which shall be the city of New Jerusalem.
3 Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun., and others with whom the Lord was well pleased.
4 Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation.

And now for the question, if  “the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints” and that gathering process is not complete until the Lord comes, how is it possible that we shall build the earthly New Jerusalem prior to the Second Coming as many members of the church believe?

Hmmm, that might be a head scratchier for some but I’m just going to come right out and say that we shall not build the earthly New Jerusalem until after the coming of the bridegroom.  Now supposing that some of you will quote Moses chapter 7 in an effort to counter this argument we’re going to go there now:

60 And the Lord said unto Enoch: As I live, even so will I come in the last days, in the days of wickedness and vengeance, to fulfil the oath which I have made unto you concerning the children of Noah;
61 And the day shall come that the earth shall rest, but before that day the heavens shall be darkened, and a veil of darkness shall cover the earth; and the heavens shall shake, and also the earth; and great tribulations shall be among the children of men, but my people will I preserve;

So here we have darkness, the same darkness we have been speaking of, you know, sun darkened, the moon not giving its light etc. The very conditions that will prevail when “he shall send his angels before him with the great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together the remainder of his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other”… Moving forward we read:

62 And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men; and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem.

In verse 62 we read, “and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City”. Please note the similarity here to the mission of the angels who are to “gather together the remainder of his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” to the body of the saints. I’m going to say that these are just two different ways of speaking of the same event.

Now for the 64-dollar question… Is this “holy city… called Zion, a New Jerusalem” the one that shall come down out of heaven or is it the earthly New Jerusalem that the saints will build? Here’s the first clue, the Lord says “a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City”, so the Lord prepares it, not the saints.

Second clue, the Lord says “for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem”. To define just what the Lord’s “tabernacle” is, we return to Rev. 21 and read:

1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

In verse 62 where the Lord says “that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming” he is speaking of his coming or appearance to the world at large which is his second appearance or when he shall appear to the Jews at the battle of Armageddon. The time between his first appearance and his later appearance to the Jews is a time of preparation.  This is when the saints shall commence the building of the earthly New Jerusalem and make provisions for the great missionary efforts that will be required in teaching and administering the ordinances of salvation to the Jews and the Heathen nations.

Returning to Moses 7, we move on to the next verse and read:

63 And the Lord said unto Enoch: Then shalt thou and all thy city meet them there, and we will receive them into our bosom, and they shall see us; and we will fall upon their necks, and they shall fall upon our necks, and we will kiss each other;
64 And there shall be mine abode, and it shall be Zion, which shall come forth out of all the creations which I have made; and for the space of a thousand years the earth shall rest.

In verse 63 where the Lord says to Enoch, “Then shalt thou and all thy city meet them there” he is merly re-affirming what was said in the preceding verse where he says “for there shall be my tabernacle”, because the city of Enoch and the Lord’s “tabernacle” are one and the same.

Now, lest anyone think that I’ve lost my marbles or stretched the meaning of these verses in Moses 7 we go to a quote from none other than the Prophet Joseph Smith where we read:

First, I shall begin by quoting from the prophecy of Enoch, speaking of the last days: “Righteousness will I send down out of heaven, and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten, His resurrection from the dead (this resurrection I understand to be the corporeal body); yea, and also the resurrection of all men; righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine own elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, a Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming, for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion a New Jerusalem.” (Moses 7:62)
Now I understand by this quotation, that God clearly manifested to Enoch the redemption which He prepared, by offering the Messiah as a Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world; and by virtue of the same, the glorious resurrection of the Savior, and the resurrection of all the human family, even a resurrection of their corporeal bodies, is brought to pass; and also righteousness and truth are to sweep the earth as with a flood. And now, I ask, how righteousness and truth are going to sweep the earth as with a flood? I will answer. Men and angels are to be co-workers in bringing to pass this great work, and Zion is to be prepared, even a new Jerusalem, for the elect that are to be gathered from the four quarters of the earth, and to be established an holy city, for the tabernacle of the Lord shall be with them.
Now Enoch was in good company in his views upon this subject: “And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God” 21:3).
I discover by this quotation, that John upon the isle of Patmos, saw the same things concerning the last days, which Enoch saw. But before the tabernacle can be with men, the elect must be gathered from the four quarters of the earth. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp.84-86)

In the quote above Joseph says, “And now, I ask, how righteousness and truth are going to sweep the earth as with a flood? I will answer. Men and angels are to be co-workers in bringing to pass this great work, and Zion is to be prepared, even a new Jerusalem, for the elect that are to be gathered from the four quarters of the earth, and to be established an holy city, for the tabernacle of the Lord shall be with them”.

So “Men and angels are to be co-workers”, men gather the body of the saints and trek to the future location of the earthly New Jerusalem, angels deliver those who “are to be gathered from the four quarters of the earth, and to be established an holy city, for the tabernacle of the Lord shall be with them”.  Did you catch that… “an holy city, for the tabernacle of the Lord shall be with them”! The Prophet goes on to say:

Now Enoch was in good company in his views upon this subject: “And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God” 21:3).

So Joseph is telling us that Enoch (in Moses 7:62) was speaking of the same event that that John spoke of in Rev. 21:3. For the sake of context we post all three verses one more time:

1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

Now to summarize, if what has been presented in to days post is correct. That is, if the heavenly New Jerusalem appears first and the earthly New Jerusalem follows, that would represent a huge paradigm shift for most members of the Church from what I have been able to gather! It also means our time frame could move forward much faster than with the old paradigm.

For example, from the beginning of tribulations to the Second Coming could be much shorter than if we are waiting for the earthly New Jerusalem to be built before the Lord comes. Perhaps this is what the Lord had reference to when he said, “but for the elect’s sake, according to the covenant, those days shall be shortened”.

Another example, let us suppose that we are presently in the 42 months, if that were the case we could easily see the Second Coming by the fall of 2020…. Something to think about…

Hope you have enjoyed today’s blog, if so, please like us on Facebook, share a link or subscribe. May the Lord keep watch over us all until the nest time…

3 thoughts on “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven…”

  1. Interesting points. I love the chicken or the egg dichotomy regarding the earthly and heavenly New Jerusalem, which comes first. Your argument is persuasive, but please look at 3 Nephi 21:23-25 as well, which sort of implies the early comes first. Also, v.9-10 of Ether 13 comes after talk of the early New Jerusalem giving again the impression that at least some preliminary work had started with the earthly Zion. The Lord could be pulling his “verses out of order routine” here like he does in D&C. Reality would dictate that after the destruction that wipes Missouri clean, societal collapse will have eliminated our ability to built New Jerusalem very effective by human means alone. Don’t see electrical grid up or gasoline readily available. Hence the need for angelic muscle power. Side note: When will or was Malachi’s prophecy about the Lord suddenly coming to his temple fulfilled? 1) at Kirkland Temple in 1836? 2) at temple to be built in New Jerusalem which is contrary to your proposed timeline (to the Saints), 3) temple to be rebuilt by Jews at Jerusalem before his 2nd appearance to the Jews, 4) some other appearance I’m not thinking of? I could keep going on with questions but my index finger is starting to get tired. I’d love to speak with you directly via phone regarding your propositions if you are willing and have the time.

    1. Aric, you pose quite a few questions here and unfortunately I don’t have time presently to respond to all of them. However I will take a quick minute to point out that I believe Ether 13:9-10 points us to the heavenly New Jerusalem. In verse 9 we read “And there shall be a new heaven and a new earth”. So we have a sequence leading up to the New Jerusalem mentioned in verse 10.

      Now, lets cross reference to Rev. 21 where we read:

      1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
      2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
      3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

      See the connection?

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