But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.
Hebrews 11:16 NASB
The unknown author of Hebrews penned these words about Israel’s saints, and their desire for a future heavenly country which we are told in this passage that God will fulfill in a city.
The Holy Spirit uses the scriptures coupled with His working in our lives to lead us into all truth. So what is He attempting to teach us here when speaking of a city that God has prepared? And just who is this city being prepared for?
14 “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.
John 14:1-3 NASB
Jesus begins this promise to prepare a place for His Jewish disciples by telling us that there are already many dwelling places there in His Fathers house. But for whom were those already existing dwelling places created? I ask this question because His promise here is to obviously go back to His Father’s house to prepare more of these dwelling places for His disciples to whom He was speaking at the time. We believe that this promise to prepare a place is also for us, and in fact it most certainly is, listen:
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)
In these scriptures which are related to this future promise of a city, we find evidence of something that we will not hear taught by our Dispensationalist brothers in Christ. In each of these passages of scripture we find Israel’s saints and those of her Gentile offspring. You and I are those offspring, who are believers in Israel’s Messiah, and it is He who we appropriately call Jesus the Christ. The very title that we give Him recognizes His place as Messiah over Israel.
We are told by these Dispensationalist teachers that the promise made in John 14:1-3 requires that we be transported to Heaven for a marriage and a marriage feast during a time when Israel is in Great Tribulation. But according to the Revelation 21 passage above they belong in this city as a bride as do we. Actually what we see is that Israel will also occupy this city, the New Jerusalem which has come down out of Heaven, even as we are taught in both the Hebrews and in the Revelation verses.
So our reformed brethren then would ask how are they and we to occupy the Millennial earthly kingdom if we are in a heavenly city?
The Scriptures teach that a future earthly millennial kingdom was an Old Testament promise. In fact, Dispensationalist tell us that this distinction of future locations one being heavenly in nature and the other being earthly requires or makes necessary this separation between Israel and the church. The separation takes place in what they call a Rapture which is different from that which takes place at the time of Christ’s return.
Both understandings ignore some basic teachings in scripture. The scriptures we are viewing make clear who will reside in this city which is presented by Jesus to John as the bride. He tells us where and when this heavenly residence is planned to emerge. But additionally if we were to cut Israel from her position as part of the bride in this city that would also defy the teachings by Paul that these future residents of this city will be one with those of us who are Gentile believers. We are one new man. And his Ephesians teaching requires that we rule with Messiah (with Christ) on earth as recipients of Israel’s covenants and promises. For this is exactly what Paul’s teaching states in Ephesians 2. We the Old Testament saints and the New Testament saints are now one new man in Christ; and are recipients of Israel’s promised covenants, which require this earthly kingdom. To ignore this truth is the error of reformed theology. And in fact, it is not until following this physical earthly millennial reign that we will acquire residency in this heavenly city. These scriptures make it clear that together those in Christ, His bride, are to take up residence in this city.
Together the saints of God will reign on earth with Christ; and together we will occupy the heavenly City prepared for us. We are the one new man; the bride; the saints of God; the Ekklesia, or called out ones; the future sons of God; the body of believers in Messiah. We are the children of Abraham; the people of faith; One body in Him.