The New Jerusalem and the City of Destruction

My family and I received the call to the New Jerusalem and it is just too good for us to turn down. We didn’t want to go without telling friends and family. We read about it in Revelation 21:10, 11: “And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.” If you could only see a picture of it—the grass is a living green, the flowers, the beauty—it’s all there, anything that you could ever want, or imagine.

Paul tried to describe it, but look what he says, “As it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man, the things that God has prepared for them.” I Corinthians 2:9. You can’t imagine it, Paul says; it’s beyond description the things that God has prepared for us.

Abraham caught a glimpse of this city in his mind’s eye. “By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he should afterward receive for an inheritance, and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in a land of promise as in a foreign country.” He never really became a citizen; it was a foreign country to him. The whole rest of his life he was a foreigner, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise. “For he waited for a city that has real foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Hebrews 11:8–10.

Why did Abraham leave his relatives, friends and the comfortable home where he had lived? When Abraham caught a glimpse of that city, he said, “Lord, however you lead, wherever you lead, I’m going. I am following.” And there the Lord led him away from his comfortable surroundings, his boyhood friends, work acquaintances from his job and all that he had established there. He led them away and he went out and he lived in tents. Imagine, for the rest of his life, in tents, moving here and there, having to pitch a tent every place he stopped. See Genesis 12.

As Abraham was journeying, his cattle began to increase. His nephew Lot was with him, and his cattle increased. Soon Lot’s herdsmen and Abraham’s herdsmen got into arguments because of all the cattle, and the watering situation. See Genesis 13.

Abraham came to Lot, who was the younger man, and he said, “Listen, Lot. We’re headed for a city. Let’s not argue or have our herdsmen argue. You go any place you want; you can stay here, or take anything you want. I’ll take anything that’s left.” See Genesis 13. Abraham knew that this wasn’t his home. It did not matter whether he was in the valley or ravines. Wherever he was, it was only a temporary place for him.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we had that same attitude in the church, and in church offices, and church duties, and all these things? This world is as a temporary journeying place with temporary duties until we get to our heavenly home. Abraham showed an unselfish attitude. I wish we could all live in tents, maybe not literal tents, but like Abraham lived, that we would see our houses and our dwelling places as only temporary abodes.

If we could only break away from the hypnotic trance of this world like Abraham did. If we could just get our eyes beyond that car or cars or whatever it may be in our driveways or out on the curb that is holding our affections. Oh, that we could take our affections away from our wardrobes, our homes or whatever else that may consume our time and our planning. They are all going to burn together. The Rolls Royce will burn just as well as the Volkswagen. The Taj Mahal is going to burn right along with the row houses of Washington, D.C. They are all but temporary dwellings whether people realize it or not. We do not own anything in this life; we just lease it. We are temporary sojourners and are just living here for a little while. I believe with all my heart that it’s not that far away.

We have received two calls. One of them is to the city of destruction which is an easy call and has a lot of temporary benefits. Even though it is an easy call, the retirement is lousy. Let me tell you about that call.

To accept that call, you do not really have to do anything. You can either sit down and watch television or go out and work hard earning a living. You can eat and drink and marry and give in marriage just like they did before the flood, and you’ve got the call. It is all paid for; the journey is paid for. The devil has your ticket and your name is written right on it. It is yours; you have got it. You can be basically a good person, outwardly. You can be a social person or a cultured person; whatever you want and it is all yours.

The only way you can forfeit that call is to take the cross of Jesus Christ. Take Him as your Saviour and as your Lord and your Master and take His cross for your cross. That is the only way you can forfeit the call. Other than that, it is yours for the taking. It’s all paid for; the way is free. The Devil has paid the way. It’s an easy call. There’s only one sad thing about that call. A whole lot of people have that ticket which is made out for the city of destruction, but think they are going to the New Jerusalem.

Jesus said, “Not every one who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of My Father in Heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, look, we have a ticket to heaven; look at all these things we did. We prophesied in the name of Jesus. In your name, Lord, we cast out demons. We did many wonders in the name of Jesus, in your name, Jesus. And then I’ll declare to them, says Jesus, I never knew you, depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:21–23).

They thought they had a ticket that was stamped to the New Jerusalem and it was to the city of destruction. What a disappointment that is. Jesus says in verses 13 and 14, “Enter by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way.” You see, it is an easy way. It can encompass all your peculiarities and all of your prejudices. It can encompass all of your traditions and all of the things you think you should do. It is a broad way and many there be that go in thereat. But, remember, it is the broad way and leads to the city of destruction. The way to the New Jerusalem is narrow and the way is difficult.

Did Jesus really say it is difficult to get to heaven? Yes He did. He said it over and over again, but He has given us the strength, and it is the way that He has paid for. He wants everyone to make it and promises to be our personal guide, but it is not the easy way. It is the difficult way that leads to life and there are few who find it.

As I said, this way to the city of destruction is the easy way. But the retirement is lousy. Let me tell you about that retirement. The next moment, according to the Bible, after they die, those on that road wake up a thousand years later, a thousand years too late.

The centuries have passed by as in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, because when you are unconscious, totally dead, you know not the passing of time. The Bible says the dead know not anything. The Bible says they are asleep. Jesus said they are asleep but to them it is instantaneous; instantly they are awake. There they are outside of the New Jerusalem. One moment they are here; maybe in an auto accident, a heart attack, or something happens, and instantly they are in a new place, outside the New Jerusalem, in the city of destruction.

In Revelation 20:7, 8, it says, “Now when one thousand years are expired, Satan will be released from his prison, And he will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them to the battle: whose number is as the sand of the seas.”

Here we have the two great cities of earth, the New Jerusalem and the city of destruction. There was a time when God’s people lived in tents while those in Sodom, Gomorrah and Babylon built great and beautiful cities where they made their homes. But now the tables are reversed. Now it is God’s people who are in the city and it is those who have followed Satan who are all living in tents out there in tent city, out there in the city of destruction, in the country of Gog and Magog.

In Revelation 20:12, we find there is going to be a great white throne set up above the city: “And I saw the dead, both small and great, standing before God; and books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged according to their works by the things which were written in those books.”

What a time that is going to be when all the inhabitants who have ever lived on earth from the beginning to the end are all going to be at one place at one time—all the good and also the wicked. Some in tent city and some in the New Jerusalem. You will be there and I will be there; whatever our beliefs, we will all be there. Whatever our lives are like or whatever our habits are like, or wherever we are planning on going, we will all be there—every one of us. All of the inhabitants of earth are to meet at one place at one time. Do you ever wonder what it would be like to wake up outside the New Jerusalem?

You know it can happen in just a moment of time. Maybe you are driving down the road and all of a sudden someone swerves out, coming the opposite way in front of you and you get that panic feeling that comes up over you. You reach for that brake, your eyes open wide, and there’s that sound—an instantaneous split second crash sound of crashing metal, and instantly you wake up. You thought you were in the car. You pinch yourself. Where am I? And for a moment your thoughts go back to where they were, about what you were planning to fix for supper that night. Oh, the accident; I never made it home. My family. Where are they? Oh, no, my existence is over, and I’m a member of the church. My dear friend, that will be a heartache that will pierce so deep that there will be no remedy if you wake up in the wrong place. That will be a heartache that will go deeper than anything we’ve ever known or experienced before. And there is going to be no cure, no remedy. I will tell you, friends, that unless we are having a deeper experience than a lot of us are, that is a nightmare that ought to haunt us every night and every day because it is going to be a reality; it is going to happen. Jesus said that the way to destruction, to that city of destruction, is broad and it is easy, but the way to the city of God, to the New Jerusalem, is a narrow way. It does not matter what tradition is, what human opinion is, or what everyone else is doing. No, the only way to get there is God’s way. The only way is the narrow way.

There are many people who have a lot of false hopes today. They can sing songs about going to the New Jerusalem and get all excited about it, be happy and smiling. A lot of people are giving false assurances today, but there are a lot of people going to be disappointed. A lot of people who think they are going there, are not.

We have got to become like Jesus to go there, not only in name, but also in character. I John 3:2, 3 says, “Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be: but we know this, that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” What a high calling. There is only one way to become pure like Jesus, and that’s by spending time with Him every day.

How do we break the shackles? We all know that we must spend time with God. Somehow when we sit down, we fall asleep. It’s just like we are shackled with shackles of iron. How can we ever break through the shackles and really develop a relationship with Jesus Christ?

II Corinthians 3:18 says, “We all with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory into glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

Are you being transformed into the image of Jesus Christ? There is no transformation without beholding, and we become what we behold. “By beholding, we become changed,” Wesley said.

If we are spending more time beholding television, the newspaper, the magazines of this world, and listening to rock radio, rock music and all these things of the world, than we are with God and His word, I can assure you we are not being transformed into Jesus’ image. We are being transformed by what we are beholding, by what we are seeing. There is no way we are going to the city of the New Jerusalem if we are spending more time with the things, the entertainments, and the attractions of this world than we are with our Lord Jesus Christ, because where the heart is, there is where we are going to spend time.

Are we being transformed into the image of Jesus Christ? That is the question. Are you less easily offended today than you were a year ago? Are you conquering those thoughts in your mind, those thoughts of pride and of self-emulation? That is a serious question because God reads the thoughts, and He reads the heart. Is your love all wrapped up in fashion and sports, and the things of this world, or is your love changing so that those things are losing their glitter? Where are your affections or your conversation? Do you love to talk about Jesus, or is your conversation all about this world?

We all have a call, and there is a position that God has waiting for us. It is an administrative position with great responsibility, if we will accept the call. Look at Revelation 3:21: “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me in My throne, as I also overcame, and sat down with My Father on His throne.” In Revelation 20:4, “I saw thrones and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. And I saw the souls of them that had been beheaded for the witness of Jesus Christ and the word of God who had not worshipped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on his forehead or his hands and they lived and they reigned with Christ a thousand years.”

The Bible reveals that those who are saved are going to judge. Paul says we are even going to judge angels, the fallen angels, of course. Now, Jesus, of course, and the angels, the Bible reveals, are judging. God goes through and judges enough to know who is righteous and who is lost. The judgment of the lost, other than the fact that they are lost, is given into the hands of the saints. The Bible reveals that there are different punishments for different people.

The Devil has always accused Jesus of being a tyrant, intolerable, and being unjust. No one is going to be able to tell God He is unjust, tyrannical, or any of these other things, because He is not doing the judging. He is giving it into the hands of human beings who will judge their own parents, their own children, their own relatives, their own kinsmen, their own neighbors. The saved will be doing the judging and you know they are going to be fair.

Just imagine being able to see yourself in your living room and there see your son and your daughter and can see their thoughts. You see the angels struggling for their souls and there is the great controversy going on. You see the convictions of their lives and then to your horror you see yourself sitting there watching television while the great controversy is going on for your children, while they are under conviction. There you are earning money, hurrying to get ready for the Sabbath, hurrying to get ready for church, hurrying for everything, and they are not there. You think, Oh, if I could live my life over again, but you can’t. Later you were converted, but it was too late.

You look out your windows and you see your neighbors. You go outside the door and you can see their thoughts, wondering about your religion, what made you tick. There you see the angels in a great controversy for their souls and you are unconcerned. Then a thought flashes into your mind that you are going to meet them again; you are going to have to look into their eyes at the end of the millennium. You are all going to be there together. There your children are going to look up into your eyes. There you are in the city, and there they are in the city of destruction. Oh, if you had only helped them. There are your neighbors saying, If you had only told me; why didn’t you tell me?

There’s going to be anger and resentment outside the city. There are going to be tears for lost opportunities, tears for loved ones, tears for family.

Today is the day to make sure of our calling. Today is the day to do our witnessing. Today is the day to talk with our sons and our daughters and our next door neighbors. Tomorrow it may be too late. Today is the day to give money for the spread of the gospel. Today is the day to make an appointment to meet together on that other shore. Look at Revelation 22:14. It says, “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” Verse 17 says, “And the Spirit and the Bride say, Come.” Here is the call, friends, He’s calling today. He says, “Come. Come. And let him who hears say, Come. And let him who is thirsty and whosoever desires, let him take of the water of life freely.”

You need to make an appointment to meet around that great white throne by the river of life that flows from that crystal white throne. Today is the day to accept that call. We have all received the call. Today is our day of probation. Today is the day that God has given us life to make our calling and election sure. We are but sojourners in this earth. Let him who accepts the call, give the call.

Pastor Marshall Grosboll, with his wife Lillian, founded Steps to Life. In July 1991, Pastor Marshall and his family met with tragedy as they were returning home from a camp meeting in Washington State, when the airplane he was piloting went down, killing all on board.