(3) And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
This verse is a profound help in determining the identity of the New Jerusalem as the new covenant people of God. When God spoke through Jeremiah those famous words about the coming of the new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34), he said “And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” That was not a new thought, God also gave this promise to the old covenant people, saying in the law, “I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God.” (Exodus 29:45). The continuation of God dwelling among Israel was contingent upon their obedience to the covenant (see Leviticus 26:12 and the context surrounding it). We know the history of how Israel rejected the covenant and God removed his presence from them; but when God promises the new covenant, we hear that, through Christ, the relationship between God and man can be reestablished. Although Revelation 21:3 is speaking of the fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:33 and other places with similar points (Ezekiel 43:7; Zechariah 2:10-11), it is the words of Ezekiel 37:27 that are specifically borrowed by this verse.
“I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. (27) My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (28) Then the nations will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.” (Ezekiel 37:26-28).
Ezekiel was speaking of the new covenant in Christ when he said, “My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” This is not something that would be accomplished in heaven, but in the church. Paul, quoting from the very same scripture, also demonstrated that the dwelling place of God among men was within the church, saying,
“What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (17) Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, (18) and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:16-18).
And in many other places the church is described as the dwelling place of God among man (1 Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 2:21-22; Hebrews 3:6; 1 Peter 2:5), so that there could be no doubt as to the interpretation of Revelation 21:3; God has left us every resource necessary to understand that the restoration of his relationship with man was accomplished by the blood of the new covenant.