And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. ~ Revelation 11:8
Historical Jerusalem, in Israel, is the city where Jesus was crucified, and in the text above we have two significant descriptions about Jerusalem. It is called (1) the great city and (2) spiritually, Sodom and Egypt.
This is the true identity of historical Jerusalem in the eyes of God.
Even so, historical Jerusalem serves within the Biblical history of Israel as a type of the Heavenly Jerusalem.
Historical Jerusalem, where the temple was located, was the focal point of the religious life of the Jewish people under the Law of Moses. However, in John 4, Jesus made it very clear that the time was then approaching when Jerusalem would no longer be the place where men go to worship God, for God is a Spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth. ~ See John 4:19-24.
In Galatians 4, the apostle Paul speaks of historical Jerusalem in contrast to the Heavenly Jerusalem. He identifies historical Jerusalem with the Old Covenant, and the Heavenly Jerusalem with the New Covenant. He tells us, “Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.” ~ See Galatians 4:22-26.
When Paul speaks of the heavenly Jerusalem, he cites the prophet Isaiah: “Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord.” ~ Isaiah 54:1
According to Paul, Isaiah’s prophecy applies to the Heavenly Jerusalem, and not to historical Jerusalem.
In Galatians 4, Paul likens historical Jerusalem to Hagar, who gave birth to Ishmael, and he likens Jerusalem from above to Sarah through whom God’s promise was fulfilled, saying, “Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.” ~ v. 28
The Heavenly Jerusalem, is the true holy city of God to which believers in Jesus Christ belong. The author of Hebrews tells us, “…ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the Living God, the Heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels…” ~ Hebrews 12:22
Though historical Jerusalem, and the Heavenly Jerusalem are polar opposites, God established historical Jerusalem as the center of the religious life of the people of Israel to give a foreshadowing of that which was to come.
In Revelation 21, the title “great city” is applied to New Jerusalem, just as it is applied to historical Jerusalem in Revelation 11.
And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God... ~ Revelation 21:9-10
The holy Jerusalem is the city which scriptures tell us that Abraham sought: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. ~ Hebrews 11:10
Shortly after this, the author of Hebrews tells us that Abraham and his descendants (those who are of faith:) desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. ~ Hebrews 11:16
In chapter 13, the author of Hebrews says, For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. ~ Hebrews 13:14-15
The Heavenly Jerusalem, aka, New Jerusalem, is the continuing city which is to come. Not historical Jerusalem.
Historical Jerusalem has been put away as an unfaithful and adulterous woman, and God has taken a new bride. New Jerusalem, the heavenly city (full of the followers of Jesus) is the Lamb’s wife, the holy bride.
Consider the description, the great city, as it applies to historical Jerusalem.
In Revelation 17, the apostle John saw a vision of a harlot which made the kings of the earth drunk with her fornication. In verse 18, the heavenly messenger reveals to John that the harlot is the great city.
Remember, Jerusalem is called the great city in Revelation 11:8. If we allow scripture to interpret scripture, the great city (which is the harlot) is historical Jerusalem in the land of Israel.
The description of Jerusalem as a harlot was also referenced by the prophets in the Old Testament. Consider the following from the book of Isaiah: How is the faithful city become an harlot ! It was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers. ~ Isaiah 1:21
Also consider Jeremiah’s words from God to Jerusalem: For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot. ~ Jeremiah 2:20
Not only is the great city (Jerusalem) referred to in the book of the Revelation as a harlot, but the great city is also referred to as Babylon.
And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. ~ Revelation 14:8
Notice the description of the fornication of the great city in Revelation 14:18. This is consistent with the fornication of the prostitute in Revelation 17: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. ~ Revelation 17:2.
Also in Revelation 17, the harlot has a name written on her forehead: And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, The Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth. ~ Revelation 17:5
This description is consistent with God’s description of historical Jerusalem in Ezekiel 16, in which Jerusalem is repeatedly referred to as a harlot and a whore who committed fornication with other nations. Ezekiel 16 gives a detailed account of Jerusalem’s harlotry and the imagery and descriptions are strikingly similar to the harlot (aka mystery Babylon) which the apostle John saw in Revelation 17.
In Revelation 18, we read the following:
And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, BABYLON THE GREAT is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. ~ Revelation 18:1-3
According to Jesus, Historical Jerusalem was guilty of the blood of the prophets and the righteous men whom God sent to her (Matthew 23:34-39). And this description is also given by the apostle John in the book of the Revelation: And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth. ~ Revelation 18:24
Historical Jerusalem, is now desolate, and no longer the place of the house of God (Matthew 23:39) for she refused to be a city of righteousness.
New Jerusalem (the saints in Christ) is the city of righteousness, and the place where the house of God is!