The city’s exact dimensions are measured by an angel and reported to be 12,000 stadia, the equivalent of 1,400 miles or 2,200 kilometers, in length, width, and height (Revelation 21:15-16). Even though these proportions may have symbolic importance, this doesn’t mean they can’t be literal. In fact, Scripture emphasizes that the dimensions are given in “man’s measurement” (Revelation 21:17). If the city really has these dimensions (and there’s no reason it couldn’t), what more could we expect God to say to convince us? (I deal with whether the dimensions are literal in appendix B of my book Heaven, “Literal and Figurative Interpretation.”)
A metropolis of this size in the middle of the United States would stretch from Canada to Mexico and from the Appalachian Mountains to the California border. The New Jerusalem is all the square footage anyone could ask for.
Even more astounding is the city’s 1,400-mile height. Some people suggest this is the reach of the city’s tallest towers and spires, rising above buildings of lesser height. If so, they argue that it’s more like a pyramid than a cube.
We don’t need to worry that Heaven will be crowded. The ground level of the city will be nearly two million square miles. This is forty times bigger than England and fifteen thousand times bigger than London. It’s ten times as big as France or Germany and far larger than India. But remember, that’s just the ground level.
Given the dimensions of a 1,400-mile cube, if the city consisted of different levels (we don’t know this), and if each story were a generous twelve feet high, the city could have over 600,000 stories. If they were on different levels, billions of people could occupy the New Jerusalem, with many square miles per person.
If these numbers are figurative, not literal (and that is certainly possible), surely they are still meant to convey that the home of God’s people will be extremely large and roomy.
The cube shape of the New Jerusalem reminds us of the cube shape of the Most Holy Place in the Temple (1 Kings 6:20), the three dimensions perhaps suggestive of the three persons of the Trinity. God will live in the city, and it is his presence that will be its greatest feature.
For more information on the subject of Heaven, see Randy Alcorn’s book Heaven.