Revelation 21 – A New Heavens, A New Earth, and A New Jerusalem [B] The nature of the New Jerusalem.

Revelation 21 – A New Heavens, a New Earth, and a New Jerusalem

(ONE) (v.9 – v.10) AN ANGEL WILL SHOW JOHN THE CITY IN GREATER DETAIL.

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

(a) I will show you the bride . . . showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem: Passages like this make some wonder if the New Jerusalem is a literal place at all. Some suggest that it is really just an exotic symbol of the Church, the Bride of Christ.

(b) This heavenly city is literal, but it is called the bride, the Lamb’s wife because it is the place where all God’s people are gathered.  In this sense the New Jerusalem is certainly like the bride; but this association doesn’t diminish the reality behind the image.  The city is associated with the bride to awe us with a sense of its beauty.

(TWO) (v.11 – v.14) THE CITY’S BRILLIANCE, WALL, GATES AND FOUNDATION.

Having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west. Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

(aHer light was like a most precious stone: John is first struck by the glory of this city.  She shares in the glory of God, and it is expressed in the radiant line that shines from her.

(bShe had a great and high wall: The wall is not needed for defense, because there are no more enemies.  But the great and high wall gives the city perimeters (this is no cosmic nirvana) and shows us that some will be excluded from the city (only the righteous can enter).

(cTwelve gates . . . and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: The names of the tribes on the gates communicate the unity and heritage that the people of God have with Israel.  God will never forget the tribes of Israel, even unto eternity.

{i.Three gates on the east, three gates on the north: Some have thought the arrangement of gates looks back to the camp layout used during the Exodus (Numbers 2).

(dThe wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb: The foundations are an eternal testimony to the apostles, and their permanent place in God’s plan.  If it isn’t build on the foundation of the apostles, it’s isn’t the right place for God’s people.

{i.} The New Jerusalem and the church are founded upon the apostles (Ephesians 2:20).

(THREE) (v.15 – v.17) THE DIMENSIONS OF THE CITY.

And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal. Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits,according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel.

(aThe city is laid out as a square: The New Jerusalem’s length, height and width are equal.  This means that it is either a cube or a pyramid.  A cube is reminiscent of the Holy Place of the tabernacle, suggesting that the entire city is the Holy Place.

(bHe measured the city with the reed: The size of the New Jerusalem is enormous; twelve thousand furlongs equals 1,500 miles.  This is the same distance from Maine to Florida; the square footage would approximate the size of the Moon.

{i.} “A city of this size is too large for the imagination to take in.  John is certainly conveying the idea of splendour.  And, more importantly, that of room for all.” (Leon Morris)

{ii.} Henry Morris, guessing that there will have been 100 billion people in the human race, and that 20% of them will be saved, calculates that each person would have a “block” with about 75 acres on each face to “call their own.”

(c) According to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel: In this case, the cubit measure of a man is the same as an angel’s measure of a cubit.

(FOUR) (v.18 – v.21) THE BEAUTY OF ITS STRUCTURE.

The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

(a) When we read of jasper and pure gold and all kinds of precious stones, we should take these as literal representations; yet they express realities of another world.  We can gain a brief glimpse of what John saw, but we can’t even begin to see it in fullness until we see it with our own eyes.

{i.} John’s use of material riches to describe the city “is his way of bringing out the very great value of what God has for His people.” (Morris)

(bJasper . . . sapphire . . . chalcedony: The precise identification of these gemstones in modern terms is difficult, but the impression is of unending, staggering beauty.

{i.} “The symbolism is not meant to give the impression of wealth and luxury, but to point to the glory and holiness of God.” (Johnson)

{ii.} If there is any Biblical reference point for this assortment of gemstones, it is probably the High Priest’s breastplate (Exodus 28:15-21).

(cLike clear glass . . . like transparent glass: “The constant mention of transparency indicates that the city is designed to transmit the glory of God in the form of light without hindrance.” (Walvoord)

(d) If the dimensions and descriptions seem confusing or impossible, there are two main principles to keep in mind.  First, we must understand the ideas communicated in the details (glory, beauty, splendor, and so forth).  Second, we must understand that this is the city whose architect and maker is God (Hebrews 11:10).  We should expect it to be beyond our comprehension.

original source

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.