Eternity Newsletter Cover Art - A Study on Mount Zion and the New Earth
Below is the cover art for the Newsletter on the theme of Eternity. While this is an illustration based on Revelation chapters 21 and 22, it is an imperfect image with a great deal of artistic license. Let's analyze it with Scripture.
But before we look further at any illustrations, we should note that God did not choose to communicate to us in images, but in words. Yet, in His Word there are many complex descriptions in visual language that we "see" in our minds. Great care must be taken to not allow these images in our minds to take their place alongside Scripture. They are at best an imperfect human representation of God's reality that is accurately conveyed in His Word, but often imperfectly interpreted in our flawed human minds. This has always been a great encouragement to me, because mankind has illustrated so many beautiful scenes that have been a great inspiration to me of heavenly beauty - yet these are nothing compared to what God has prepared for us: "as it is written, 'What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him'" (1 Corinthians 2:9 ESV).
So, in the illustration for this edition of the Newsletter, we see a depiction of the New Earth, joined with the New Heaven by God's Holy Mountain in the distance.
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband" (Revelation 21:1-2 NASB).
We see God's Holy Mountain depicted here as a pyramid because it is called Mount Zion: "But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain" (Psalm 2:6). "Thus says the Lord, 'I will return to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts will be called the Holy Mountain'" (Zechariah 8:3).
Now, the present day location of Jerusalem is often called Mount Zion in Scripture, but it is not the Heavenly Mount Zion that comes down from Heaven. For example, we see that "David captured the stronghold of Zion, that is the city of David" (2 Samuel 5:7), yet this earthly location is where the New Jerusalem will be founded: "For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His habitation" (Psalm 132:13), "Indeed, the Lord will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places. And her wilderness He will make like Eden, And her desert like the garden of the Lord; Joy and gladness will be found in her, Thanksgiving and sound of a melody" (Isaiah 51:3), "For the Lord has built up Zion; He has appeared in His glory" (Psalm 102:16).
This heavenly Zion comes down out of Heaven after the New Heaven and the New Earth are created (Revelation 21) because in the book of Hebrews, the author connects Mount Zion with New Jerusalem, so it is very likely that they are one and the same: "For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind, and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word be spoken to them. For they could not bear the command, 'If even a beast touches the mountain, it will be stoned.' And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, 'I am full of fear and trembling.' But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel" (Hebrews 12:18-24).
Yet, many people illustrate New Jerusalem as an enormous cube, rather than a pyramidal structure. Perhaps this is because the Apostle John states that the City was laid out in a square: "The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal" (Revelation 21:16). This is also the case of a pyramid, however, whose base is laid out in a square. Here we also see that New Jerusalem is the same height as it is wide, which means that if it was to stand on our present earth, its top would extend well out of the atmosphere. We do not know how large the New Earth will be, so we do not know for sure what this will look like.
Another interesting thing to note here is that if New Jerusalem is a pyramidal structure, this would also help to explain why the heathen of the ancient world were so obsessed with pyramidal structures for their enormous temples (where their "god" would descend to dwell on the top) because satan imitates God's perfect plan with his perverted one.
In the image at the top of the New Jerusalem we see a great light. This is an illustration of when John sees God Himself dwelling with man at the top of His Holy Hill and He will be a light to them, for there will be no more need of a sun or moon, but God Himself will be their light: "Then the moon will be abashed and the sun ashamed, For the Lord of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, And His glory will be before His elders" (Isaiah 24:23), "And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life" (Revelation 21:23-27).
In the illustration, we see a canopy around New Jerusalem. This is from Isaiah where the Prophet says, "then the Lord will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy. There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain" (Isaiah 4:5). Now this may depict an earlier scene in the Millennial reign of Christ, because it mentions night and day, but I have included it here.
I've added a depiction of the heavenly bodies bowing in obedience to God's light from Mount Zion, as a metaphor that all the creation is in perfect obedience to Him. Also, because there is no sun refracting through the atmosphere, I've allowed us to see the stars at all times. Of course we do not know exactly how things will look.
We see a river running down the side of Mount Zion, which flows down to the bottom of the page. This is an illustration of the River of Life that proceeds from the throne of God through the city. Scripture does not say if the River of Life flows out of the city as I have depicted here, so again this is artistic license. We also see along the riverbank, a depiction of the Tree of Life with its fruit that gives life and the leaves that heal the nations:
"Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever" (Revelation 22:1-5).
"'Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.' Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city" (Revelation 22:12-14),
"'I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.' The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come.' And let the one who hears say, 'Come.' And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost. I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book. He who testifies to these things says, 'Yes, I am coming quickly.' Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen" (Revelation 22:16-21).