Perhaps you’ve seen a recent meme that has been making the rounds on social media. There are different variations of the meme, but most of them feature a picture of either heaven’s gates or a wall, along with the caption: “Heaven has a wall with strict immigration policies. Hell has open border policies.” Needless to say, those in favor of President Trump’s proposed wall to help America protect its southern border have been fueling the meme’s popularity.
I myself don’t claim to have all the answers concerning what the United States should do about illegal immigration. That’s not the purpose of this post. My purpose here is to clarify what the Bible teaches about heaven. I can’t fix Facebook and Twitter, but if I can help just one person get their thinking straight about heaven’s “wall,” I will have done some good.
So, let’s get started. The “heaven” that has a wall around it is the heavenly city of New Jerusalem that is described in Revelation chapters 21 and 22. New Jerusalem’s wall has twelve gates cut into it. That’s three on the eastern side, three on the northern side, three on the southern side, and three on the western side (21:13). Each gate is one solid pearl (21:21), while the wall itself is solid jasper (21:18). There is an angel posted at each gate (21:12), and each gate goes by the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel (21:12).
The wall has twelve foundations, and upon each foundation is written the name of one of Christ’s twelve apostles (21:14). Each foundation is made from a different type of precious stone: jasper, sapphire, chalcedony, emerald, etc. (21:19-20). The wall is 124 cubits (approximately 216 feet or 72 yards), which most likely refers to its width rather than its height.
If you wonder how a wall can be 72 yards thick, let me point out that the city it surrounds is approximately 1,400 miles squared (Revelation 21:16). That means the city is 1,400 miles long in not only length but also width and height. That adds up to over two million square miles, enough territory to take in most of the entire eastern portion of the United States! If you are going to have a wall around a city that size, the wall had better be big!
New Jerusalem is made of pure gold, but it’s not the kind of gold that we know. It’s a gold that is transparent enough to look like clear glass (21:18). The city’s street is made of this same type of gold (21:21). By the way, that’s not a typo on my part. The city of New Jerusalem has a street (singular), not streets (plural).
The transparent clearness also extends to the river that has its source at the throne of God and runs through the city. This river is described as being clear as crystal (22:1). The city has a tree of life, too, a tree that yields a different type of fruit each month (22:2).
One thing the city doesn’t have is a temple. It doesn’t need one because God the Father and God the Son are literally present on the scene (21:22). It has no sun or moon either, because the glory of God illuminates it (21:23; 22:5). Try to imagine all the glory that beams forth from God the Father and God the Son bouncing off not only all that clear gold but also that clear river. It’s no wonder that the city doesn’t have any lighting problems! Oh, and did I mention that there is no night there (21:25; 22:5)?
There is, however, an important fact about those twelve gates inside that wall around that city, and this fact gets to the heart of this post. Those gates are never closed (Revelation 21:25). That throws a definite monkey wrench into the the comparison between New Jerusalem’s wall and President Trump’s proposed wall, doesn’t it? Furthermore, New Jerusalem is a city in which all kinds of different nationalities walk (21:24; 22:2). That throws a definite monkey wrench into any segregated “white nationalist” thinking.
Look, I’m not writing this to chose a side between Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi. Let’s keep politics out of this. All I’m trying to do is keep our thinking straight when it comes to using certain Bible passages to make questionable analogies about current events. As Christians who take the Bible seriously, we have to be better than that. Is illegal immigration a major issue in 21st century America? Absolutely. But, please, let’s stop trivializing the Bible just so we can get a bunch of likes of Facebook.
For the record, the city of New Jerusalem is not even the heaven that Christians go to now at death. That heaven is described in passages such as Isaiah 6:1-3, 2 Corinthians 12:1-4, and Revelation 4:1-11, and no mention is made of it having gates. A ton of Bible prophecy has to come to pass before the city of New Jerusalem comes front and center in God’s plan, and I’ll list the order of those prophetic events as the close to this post. Again, I just want us to understand scripture properly. If we can do, that will take care of most of our meme problems. So, as a means to that end, the order for God’s prophetic plan goes as follows:
- the Rapture (1 Corinthians 15:50-58, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11)
- the seven-year tribulation period, ending with the battle of Armageddon (Revelation chapters 6 through 19)
- Christ’s 2nd Coming (Revelation 19:11-21)
- Christ’s thousand-year reign upon the earth (Revelation 20:1-6)
- Satan’s final rebellion (Revelation 20:7-10)
- the Great White Throne judgment (Revelation 20:11-15)
- the passing away of the old heaven and the old earth (including the old city of Jerusalem), and the instituting of the new heaven, the new earth, and the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-8)