Scripture Focus- Revelation 21:9-22:5
John Bunyan wrote the classic book, Pilgrim’s Progress in 1678. He tells of a dream of the trials and adventures of a man named Christian as he flees his home the City of Destruction, for the Celestial City, Heaven. At one point in the journey another pilgrim joins him. He asks, “When do you find yourself in your most wholesome and most vigorous spiritual state?” He replies, “When I think of the place which I am going.”
Philippians 3:20 Our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly wait for a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21 He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of his glorious body, by the power than enables him to subject everything to himself.
1 Peter 2:11 Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and exiles (pilgrims) to abstain from sinful desires that wage war against the soul.
Spiritual life is best when we focus on where we are going. Our status in this life is temporary. We are on a journey to the heavenly city.
In the first eight verses of Revelation 21 we considered the question- What will eternity with God be like?
God will dwell with his people forever.
All things will be made new- a new heaven and earth, and a New Jerusalem.
Death will be no more- God will wipe away every tear, grief, crying and pain will be no more.
The water of life will flow freely- the water represents eternal life.
Every person who believes in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord will spend eternity in heaven.
This world and its history are prelude and foretaste; all the sunrises and sunsets, symphonies and concerts, feasts and friendships are but whispers. They are a prologue to the grander story and an even better place. Only there, it will never end. J. I. Packer said it well: “Hearts on earth say in the course of a joyful experience, ‘I don’t want this ever to end.’ But it invariably does. The hearts in heaven say, ‘I want this to go on forever.’ And it will. There can be no better news than this.”
One thousand years have passed in the progression of Revelation since the angel in v9 was spoken of. At that point he was acting as an agent of judgment. Now, he has the opportunity to present the bride, the wife of the Lamb. This is a reference to the church. The Apostle John is carried away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and shown the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. I believe this is the place, the heavenly city Jesus promised to prepare in John 14.
The New Jerusalem will be radiant. Vv 9-21
The city in John’s vision appears like a massive, precious jewel. V11 Her radiance- brilliance– points to something light radiates from.
The city is described specifically as a jasper stone, as clear as crystal. Modern jasper is opaque and not clear, and is found in various colors. John is apparently referring to the beauty of the stone rather than its particular characteristics. The word here refers to a crystal clear and beautifully cut diamond, a stone that was not yet known as a jewel in the first century. Heaven is essentially described as a flawless diamond, reflecting the glory of God throughout the New Heaven and the New Earth.
The city will have a massive wall- The wall will be anchored by twelve foundation stones and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The wall is about 216 feet thick. The wall is adorned with very kind of jewel- jasper, sapphire, chalcedony, emerald, sardonyx, carenelian, chrysolite, beryl, topaz, chrysoprase, jacinth, and amethyst. There will be twelve gates, three in each direction, each made of a single pearl. The main street of the city is pure gold.
An angel uses a gold measuring rod about ten feet in length to measure the dimensions of the city. The city is 12,000 stadia in length and width, approximately 1,400 miles on each side and about 1,400 miles high, like a cube.
Fort Knox is famous for being the stronghold where America’s gold is held. It is thought to be an inpenetrable fortress. The United States Department of the Treasury has held the nation’s deposit of gold bullion there since 1937. Gold bullion is 99.9 percent pure gold in bulk form. The gold vault is lined with granite walls and a blast-proof door that weighs twenty-two tons. People cannot be trusted, so “No single person is entrusted with the entire combination to the vault. Ten members of the Depository staff must dial separate combinations known only to them. Beyond the main vault door, smaller internal cells provide further protection.” Several fences surround the facility, and armed guards are present. Fort Knox holds 5,050 tons of gold, worth roughly 173 billion dollars. All of the gold in the depository, if pure, could form a cube 19.7 feet on a side. In comparison, although it is disputed and claimed by some to be higher, Warren Buffett claims all the gold ever mined in the world could fit into a cube with sides of just 67 feet on each side, just over 170,000 tons. Our Heavenly Father is so wealthy, he is building a city that is 1,400 miles long, 1,400 miles wide, and 1,400 miles high, all of pure gold like clean, transparent glass!
The New Jerusalem will be glorious. Vv 22-26
The city will be arrayed with God’s glory. God’s glory reflects the truth that he is perfect, great, and infinitely worthy. The glory of God is the beauty that emanates from his character. In the Old Testament, God commanded the Tabernacle and then the Temple to be constructed. They represented the presence of and access to God. Yet they were a mere shadow of the eternal. In the Church Age, believers are described as the Temple of God because the Holy Spirit dwells within us.
There will be no temple in the New Jerusalem because God will be there. The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. Their glory will fill the new heaven and the new earth. Worship will be life and life will be worship, forever in the presence of God. The city will have no need for the sun or the moon because the glory of God and of the Lamb will illuminate it. The nations and the kings of the earth will walk by its light- nations indicates ethnos, people from every tribe and tongue, united as one for the glory of God.
The gates will never be closed. In ancient cities they were walled off for protection and the gates were closed at night to keep invaders and criminals from coming in under the cover of darkness. The gates of the New Jerusalem will never need to be closed because the city will be eternally secure.
The New Jerusalem will be pure. V27
Nothing unclean will ever enter into the New Jerusalem- unclean refers to anything unholy or anything impure.
Isaiah 52:1 O Jerusalem, the holy city. The uncircumcised and defiled will not enter you again.
No one who does what is detestable will enter in.
No one who practices falsehood will enter in.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or homosexuals, no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom.
Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I am warning you about these things- as I warned you before- that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
The eternal city will be a sacred space. Because God is holy his people will be holy.
Those whose names are recorded in the Lamb’s book of life are free to enter the holy city because they possess eternal life through faith in Jesus. The Lamb who bought us with his blood will never blot out our names from his book and will grant them the right to the tree of life and entrance into the city.
The New Jerusalem will be life-giving. 22:1-5
The river of the water of life is described as clear as crystal. It will flow from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the city’s main street.
In Genesis 2:10 a river flowed from Eden to water the garden. So in Genesis it flowed out of Eden, in the New Jerusalem it will flow out of the throne. The source of the river is God himself.
The tree of life will be on each side of the river, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit every month. The tree of life is the celestial counterpart to the tree of life in Eden, in Genesis 2:9. The tree of life expresses blessing and provision from God.
The tree of life is mentioned in Genesis 2 in Eden, and four times in Revelation. The tree of life is presently in Paradise in the intermediate Heaven according to Revelation 2:7. The New Jerusalem will be brought down with the tree of life and all will be placed on the New Earth. Just as the tree was apparently relocated from Eden to the present Heaven, it will be relocated again to the New Earth. The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
Ezekiel 47:12 Fruit trees of all kings will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.
There will no longer be any curse from sin.
V3 The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will worship him.
We will see the face of God. Being holy and righteous we will be able to encounter the glory of God without being consumed. His name will be on our foreheads.
Heaven is a real place. Heaven is where the throne of God and where the glory of the Triune God is eternal. Heaven is a place of worship and service to God. Heaven is eternally beautiful. Heaven is the place of eternal life and abundant provision.
Heaven- Peace, Joy, Fulfillment, Life- Forevermore!