Sometimes a term for Heaven or eternity, the term “New Jerusalem” is a concept found largely in Judaism and Christianity. It is called the city of God, the tabernacle, Zion and many other names. Mostly, it refers to the dwelling place of the Jewish and/or Christian God, which believers will see at the end of time or when they die.
The New Jerusalem may be a figurative or literal place, depending upon one’s interpretation of Scripture. The Hebrew prophets spoke of Zion being established and a return of the rule of King David’s line -- a time when God will re-establish His reign on earth. This is often referred to as “The Day of the Lord.”
In the book of Revelation in the Christian New Testament, the Apostle John refers to the New Jerusalem in his writings. He says, “And I John saw the Holy City, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven” (Revelation 21:2a, KJV). This occurs after John’s visions of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, after Christ has defeated Satan once and for all. Once Satan has been defeated, God will create a new Heaven and a new Earth, of which the New Jerusalem is a part.
Whether the New Jerusalem is a literal city or a figurative one, the concept, for both Jews and Christians, is that it will be where God rules. As such it will be a place of no sorrow, no death, pain or suffering. Every person will be whole and happy. The taint of sin will be removed from the earth, and humankind will be fully restored to fellowship with God, as in the time of the Garden of Eden -- only without a serpent waiting in the wings to destroy it.
In all likelihood, the use of Jerusalem as the pinnacle of the reign of God is because this was a concept familiar to Jews and early Christians alike. Jerusalem has always been the holiest city for both faiths and was indeed, the very center of worship for Jews, since their Temple rested there, by the order of God. Jerusalem was the “official” place of worship for Jews, the only place they could offer sacrifice and receive atonement for their sins. Restoring a perfect new Jerusalem makes sense when viewed in this light. Since Christians revere Jerusalem as the place of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is also a likely spot for Him to return, in their view.
No short article can cover the complexity of the New Jerusalem concept. It has been studied and analyzed by biblical scholars and rabbis for centuries. It is however, safe to say that the New Jerusalem, whether literal or figurative, is a place of peace, happiness and blessing.