The city in two places at once

The place where only God can truly be “all in all.”

A few months ago, I did a podcast episode (#44) on the topic of the kingdom of God being a present reality and a future certainty. In this article I am looking at some other terms that apply to the heavenly reality of godly existence: Mount Zion, the city of God, and the heavenly Jerusalem.

In the books of Hebrews and Revelation, the terms are used interchangeably. Here are passages from each next to another, underlining the key terms to show the comparison:

Hebrews 12:22 – “Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem)…”
Revelation 21:10 – “He then carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain [Zion] and showed me the holy city [city of God], Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven [heavenly Jerusalem] from God…”

Zion has been associated with Jerusalem all throughout the Bible. Yet, when that name is used for Jerusalem, or the mountain upon which it sits, it typically has a prophetic and symbolic meaning. Consider the following:

Psalm 2:6 – “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

This verse is almost universally accepted as being a Messianic verse applying to Yeshua.

Psalm 48:1-3 – “Great is Yahweh and greatly to be praised in the city of our God! His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth, Mount Zion, in the far north, the city of the great King. Within her citadels God has made himself known as a fortress.”

This could be a psalm about the might of the earthly Jerusalem in the time it was written, but it does have overtones of a more expansive and symbolic location (in the far north).

Psalm 50:2 – “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.”

Again, this is a psalm speaking of the eternal judgment of God reaching beyond just the sacrificial system of physical Jerusalem (“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!,” v. 23).

And the most quoted prophecy in the NT (seven times in all) alluding to the rulership of Messiah over God’s kingdom:

Psalm 110:1-2 – “A Psalm of David. Yahweh says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” Yahweh sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies!”

To my way of thinking, the term Zion in the OT represents in foreshadow what begins coming to pass in reality during the ministry of Yeshua, and then comes to be an ongoing spiritual reality in the consummation of that age when the temple is ultimately destroyed once and for all.

Notice some of the “pre-consummation” instances how the city is still “in heaven.”

Hebrews 12:22 – “Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem)…”
Galatians 4:24-26 – “These things are being taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai and bears children into slavery ​– ​this is Hagar. Now Hagar represents Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.”

But then, when we arrive at the Revelation language, it appears the city is now shifted to the action of “coming down” out of heaven:

Revelation 3:12 – “The one who conquers I will make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will never go out again. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God ​– ​the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God ​– ​and my new name.”
Revelation 21:2 – “I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.”

While I would not necessarily be dogmatic on the issue, I think it is a fascinating study of some of the terms and how they are used relating to the symbolic and representative focal point of all Creation. I believe this once again demonstrates a strong continuity between the prophecy of the past in the Tanakh (OT) and the prophetic writings demonstrating fulfillment during the NT times.

What I take away is that the city of God, Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, is a present reality (continually coming down) and also a future habitation of the just for all eternity. The city that lives in two realities at once is the ultimate place of God’s presence, reconciling all things to himself in one. It is in this place that God truly can be “all in all,” (1 Corinthians 15:28; Ephesians 1:23).

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: