I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God... The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long.Such a wonderful vision of hope--God replacing our decaying world with a new one--followed by a description of the city, complete with measurements. (As a side note, anyone know why God gives us the measurements of things seen in visions? I don't think we're going to re-construct this, and I'm pretty sure we'll know it when we see it. "Wait, no, this one's only 10,000 stadia... can't be the Holy City.")
-- Revelation 21:2, 16
In this passage, however, I am more struck with awe than hope. And simply because of two words. But before getting to those words, I want to discuss the rest of the passage. First, it helps to understand that 12,000 stadia is equivalent to 1,400 miles. So, when God is describing a city laid out like a square 1,400 miles on a side, he's talking about something this size:
That's Fargo, ND in the upper-left, Miami, FL at the bottom, and Maine & Quebec in the upper-right. And God is describing this all as one big city.
But that's not the kicker for me. It's the two small words: "and high". Yes, those two words say that God's city is 1,400 miles TALL as well. It's one HUGE cube. To give some perspective, Mt. Everest is 5.5 miles high (from sea level). The space station orbits at an altitude of 217 miles. 1,400 miles is insanely high. And assuming John did not document the first declaration of airspace, these are some LARGE buildings.
Looking at it a different way. Say we peeled the entire earth like a giant orange, with the peel consisting of everything between the height of Everest (5.5 mi) and the lowest point on Earth, the Marianas Trench (6.8 mi below sea level). We then take this "peel" and stack it up inside this cube. We'd run out of "peel" with another 170 miles of space to go.
Or a geekier way to look at it: The Death Star was a sphere only 100 miles in diameter.
I'll tell you one thing: that's no moon!