During the “age to come,” the New Jerusalem will not actually descend upon the earth, but will rest above it. It will be, if we may so speak, the Court of Heaven, the gathering place of the glorified saints, when taken up “to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thess. iv.), and from whence the ascending and descending communication will be made, during that dispensation, with the children of men still in the flesh. The overwhelming splendor of the Heavenly City itself will, no doubt, be veiled from the weak and imperfect vision of man by the canopy or cloud which will hang over Jerusalem during that age, as expressly revealed by Isaiah (ch. iv). In that day, “them that are escaped of Israel… that are left in Zion… and remain in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, … and the Lord will create upon every dwelling-place of Mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night, for upon (margin, above) all the glory shall be a defence” (margin, covering).
During that dispensation the earthly inhabitants will, of course, have no personal access into the “New Jerusalem,” but the “ladder” of communication being thus established between the Heavenly City above, and the “Holy Oblation” beneath, Ezekiel’s temple will then indeed prove “the house of God”–the Bethel, and “the gate of heaven.” The glorified saints of the first resurrection issuing from its sacred portals above, shall descend and ascend as the chosen agents of the Lord–the ministers of the King, for rule and for government, and for dispensing its blessings to the children of men–becoming then the ministering angels or messengers to the inahbitants of the millennial earth. (Comp. Heb. i. 13, 14. with Heb. ii. 5, and 1 Cor. vi. 2, 3, &c.)
But at the final judgment, when this earth shall undergo its complete dissolution by fire–when “the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall BE BURNED UP” (2 Pet. iii), so that not a shred shall retain its former character or condition–when the sea, existing during the millennium, shall give up its dead at the general judgment–when God shall create that “new earth” in which there shall be “NO MORE SEA,” on which there shall not be a vestige or remnant of anything once stained by sin or polluted by Satan’s tread–when there shall be no more curse–no more death; but when ALL things “SHALL BE MADE NEW:” —then shall the “New Jerusalem” descend UPON that earth “to tabernacle with men” (Rev. xxi)–then shall its twelve glorious gates–corresponding to the twelve gates of the earthly city–be open day and night, and the “Tree of Life” lost in the Garden of Eden, be then restored to Adam’s redeemed posterity–the occupants of the “new earth.”