[Originally published as Math & the New Jerusalem]
The Bible contains a lot of measurements
For example, in Revelation, we’re told that the New Jerusalem’s “length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal.” (Rev. 21:16 ESV).
The questions below can be used to help students explore these measurements and get a deeper appreciation for just how incredibly big the city God is preparing for His people really is.
- A stadia is about 600 feet (this is a conservative estimate–others say slightly higher). Knowing this, how many feet is 12,000 stadia?¹
- To put that in perspective, convert the number of feet you found to miles, given that 1 mile is 5,280 feet.
- Now, to get a better sense of that distance, compare it to the distance from Boston, MA, to Orlando, FL, which Google maps estimates the shortest driving distance (at the time I checked it) to be 1,287 miles. Which is greater, and by how many?
Students should find that the measurement of the New Jerusalem is actually greater than that from Boston to Orlando! It’s hard for us to even picture a city of that size—and that’s the dimension in each direction (we’re told its length, width, and height are equal—that is, it’s a cube!).
Henry Morris proposes that we, like angels, will no longer be constrained by gravity but rather be able to move around vertically as well,² making the height measurement extra relevant. The point is that this is an amazingly large city, and math skills help us get a better understanding of its magnitude.
After completing the exercise with students, read Revelation 21 together.
Talk about how the New Jerusalem will be perfect–—no suffering or death. But how to get into it requires being born again. Revelation 21:9 makes it clear that all cowardly, faithless, detestable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars will be in “the lake that burns with fire and sulfur.”
If we’re honest, we’re all those apart from Christ. Jesus made it clear God counts the thoughts of our hearts as well as our actions; in His eyes, hatred makes us guilty of murder, lust of sexual immorality (Matthew 5:21-30). And we’ve all told a lie–and been an idolater, looking to something other than God for what we should have looked to Him for.
While discussing how sin keeps us from God’s Kingdom, 1 Corinthians reminds us that “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11 ESV).
The only way we can enter God’s coming perfect kingdom is through Jesus, being born again in Him (John 3:7). We need His righteousness to enter His perfect Kingdom. Challenge students to make sure they’ve put their trust in Jesus…and then to tell someone about what He has done to save us from eternal punishment and give us eternal life in a perfect world with Him forever.³
- Some versions translate this a furlong, which would be 660 feet. We used the more conservative distance.
- Henry M. Morris, The Revelation Record (Tyndale, 1983), p. 451.
- See LivingWaters.com for evangelism materials and ideas.