Revelation #36 Revelation 21:9-27 (MSG) End Times: The Secret of New Jerusalem


Revelation #36 Revelation 21:9-27 (MSG) End Times: The Secret of New Jerusalem


The consummation of the Kingdom is well underway. John pulled down the façade of Babylon, behind all the glamour there was an abomination. Now John sees a New City descending from a new Heaven, there is a huge difference between the two.  Recall John named Babylon the Great Whore, New Jerusalem is the Bride of Christ.  Babylon was symbolic of people who turned their backs on God. The New City is symbolic of people who have bent their knee to the Lordship of Christ. John gives us a glimpse of the new City of God in which believers will dwell and are dwelling in part now.


Revelation 21:9-11 (MSG)


9 One of the Seven Angels who had carried the bowls filled with the seven final disasters spoke to me: "Come here. I'll show you the Bride, the Wife of the Lamb." 10 He took me away in the Spirit to an enormous, high mountain and showed me Holy Jerusalem descending out of Heaven from God, 11 resplendent in the bright glory of God. The City shimmered like a precious gem, light-filled, pulsing light.


The Angel that brought God’s final judgment upon the unrepentant now guides John into a vision of the redeemed.  It seems that you cannot have a full redemption of loyal Jesus followers without a complete judgment of evil.  The Bride, the wife of the Lamb is the Church. You are a member of the Church, are you not?  You have called upon the name of the Lord to be saved, and been baptized, and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord have you not? If you are, you are of the Church, the Church the body of Christ, you are a part within her, intimately connected.


Unlike Babylon who was promiscuous, you have been faithful and because of that fidelity, the Bride is radiant in righteousness. Yes, the metaphors keep shifting, you’re just going to have to keep up.  The people of God, the Church, is the Bride, the Bride is the City, therefore the City is the people of God.  It’s just the way visions work.


The Angel takes John to the highest peak for the Old Testament prophets saw the nations being drawn to the mountain of the Lord’s temple (Isaiah 2:2, Ps 48:2).  Rome’s 7 hills do not compare to the mountain of God. Unlike the Tower of Babel of Genesis which was to reach into the heavens, Holy Jerusalem is descending from the heavens. In Babel man tried to reach God, in New Jerusalem God has reached man.


The City shines.  It should for Jesus is the light of the world and those who follow Jesus are lights in the world. In Babylon, no light will ever shine again, but here the glory of God illuminates the entire City. 


Revelation 21:12-14 (MSG)

12 She had a wall majestic and high with twelve gates. At each gate stood an Angel, and on the gates were inscribed the names of the Twelve Tribes of the sons of Israel: 13 three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, three gates on the west. 14 The wall was set on twelve foundations, the names of the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb inscribed on them.


In ancient times the walls of a city provided protection.  Life is secure in New Jerusalem.  The Angels guarding the gates most likely mean they allow only those who have bent their knee to the Lordship of Jesus into the City.  You might imagine that the Angels are greeters, doormen, welcoming the faithful to their home. 12 gates afford the people of God abundant entrance.  The foundation of the gates is the gospel, the message of the Apostles. 


Revelation 21:15-21 (MSG)

15 The Angel speaking with me had a gold measuring stick to measure the City, its gates, and its wall. The City was laid out in a perfect square. He measured the City with the measuring stick: twelve thousand stadia, its length, width, and height all equal. Using the standard measure, the Angel measured the thickness of its wall: 144 cubits. The wall was jasper, the color of Glory, and the City was pure gold, translucent as glass. The foundations of the City walls were garnished with every precious gem imaginable: the first foundation jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate a single pearl.


For all you Star Trek fans, New Jerusalem looks like a Borg Cube.  Instead of being black and dark and ominous, it is full of light, sparkling inside and out, luminescent and inviting.  Back to the text.  12 thousand stadia is 1,400 miles.  This is one big city. For you mathematicians, the area of the City, length times width is 144,000,000.  We read in chapter 7 that God seals 144,000, 12 x 12 and that 1000 times more.  Here in New Jerusalem that number has grown, now it's 144,000 and 1000 times more. The thickness of the walls is 144 cubits about 254 feet wide.  But sticking with the 144 cubits, that’s 12 times 12, and 12 is symbolic of the people of God.  This is the City of the people of God. Following John's shifting symbols, 12 represents the people of God, the people of God are the Heavenly Woman, the Heavenly Woman is the Church, the Church is the Bride, and the Bride is the City, and therefore symbolic of the people of God.


The wall of the New City is made of jasper. Jasper is a form of quartz, it comes in a variety of colors.  Gold pure as glass, along with the Jasper can be taken to mean transparency, nothing is hidden. No impurity here, no impurity in the hearts of the redeemed. The transparency also allows for the glory of God to shine through. The interior Holy of Holies in the Temple in Old Jerusalem was said to be covered in gold. John may be telling us that the entire city is now the Holy of Holies, the place where the shekinah glory of God rests.  The shekinah is a physical manifestation of the presence of God. God is with us indeed.


The 12 foundations of the city inscribed with the name of the apostles are also encrusted with precious gems and jewels.  Exodus 28 describes a priestly garment called an ephod, kind of a chest plate, adorned with 12 gemstones.  If John is drawing from this description and applying it to the foundation, he is telling his readers that they are priests in the City of God and those faithful will serve Him forever and ever (Revelation 1:6, 5:10). The twelve gates are each carved from a single pearl. Yes, these are the pearly gates of Heaven.  If we just stand back and look, the City is magnificent, the Bride is beautiful, the Church is radiant, the Heavenly Woman Luminescent, and the people of God opulent.


Having described the City from the outside, John now gives us a glimpse of some inside highlights. 


Revelation 21:21-27 (MSG)


The main street of the City was pure gold, translucent as glass. But there was no sign of a Temple, for the Lord God—the Sovereign-Strong—and the Lamb are the Temple. The City doesn't need sun or moon for light. God's Glory is its light, the Lamb its lamp! The nations will walk in its light and earth's kings bring in their splendor. Its gates will never be shut by day, and there won't be any night. They'll bring the glory and honor of the nations into the City. Nothing dirty or defiled will get into the City and no one who defiles or deceives. Only those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life will get in.


Here are those streets of gold. The inside of the City is all gold and light. This is a vision of splendor. What is most important is that there is no Temple.  John has been following Ezekiel’s vision (Ezekiel 40-46) and in that vision, the Temple is rebuilt.  In the New City John tells us there is no Temple. In the Old Testament, the Temple was the central location of worship, the physical presence of God resided in the Holy of Holies, and the Ark was located in the Temple a constant reminder of the covenant between God and His people. Symbolically the Temple is an intermediary allowing God’s people to have access to Him.  Now, here, in the consummation of the Kingdom, there is no location called the Temple, for the One Sovereign Strong and the Lamb have taken away the need for such a place. Those whose names are written in the Book of Life have direct access to the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit.  What believers now experience in part, will be experienced in full. 


In the old Temple, lampstands were necessary for illumination.  Not here.  The Lamb is the radiance of the glory of God and since there is no darkness in Him the entire City glows with Shekinah, the presence of God (Exodus 13:21-22, 1 John 1:5-10). Jesus prayed that every believer would be in unity, His words recorded for us in the 17 chapter of the gospel according to John “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you…. I in them and you in me” (John 17:20-21, 23 (NIV).  New Jerusalem is a picture of that reality.


Verse 24 “The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it” could turn into a puzzler.  The nations and the kings of the earth met their demise already, so who are these?  Seven times there is a fourfold phrase mentioned concerning the work of Christ:  “With your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9 (NIV) [Note also 7:9, 10:11, 11:9, 13:7, 14:6, and 17:15].  Again prophecies made in the Old Testament help us to understand.


Isaiah 60:1-3 (NIV)

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.

 See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light,

and kings to the brightness of your dawn. [Note also Isaiah 2:3 and 60:4-17]


In the Consummation of the Kingdom, even with the resurrection, believers do not lose their national identities (Ladd, p.284). The Kingdom is full of all kinds of people.


Don’t worry all you romantics out there, no more night doesn’t mean no more night, it means what the night stood for in those days when John wrote is no longer a threat. The night was the time of evil. City gates would be closed for security reasons. In the New City, there is no need for the pearly gates to be closed (Isaiah 60:11).  The Father and the Son are all the security required. Both day and night the glory and honor of the nations enter.  Glory and honor mean worship. New Jerusalem is mega-gigantic, placed on Earth, and descended upon Rome, its walls encompass the entire Roman Empire in John’s day.  That others, the nations, outside the influence of Rome have bent their knee to the Lordship of Christ should be no surprise. John is again reiterating what the Old Testament prophets told.  Isaiah 60:3-4 “Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. "Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar,  and your daughters are carried on the arm.”  Believers from all nations, tribes, and languages, all whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life are free to enter.  Never again will humanity be tainted with impurity, or behaviors that bring shame to the high calling received in Christ, or the need to hide behind deceit.


We’ve seen the outside of New Jerusalem, we have seen some of the inside of the City.  There is more that John is going to reveal about the inside of Holy Jerusalem, in Chapter 22.  For now, stand back and take in the splendor of the new heaven, new earth, and the new city, and in this description of the New City, realize that John is describing you.  For all who have bent the knee to Jesus are the people of God, the people of God are the Heavenly Woman, the Church, the Church is the Bride of Christ, and the Bride is the City.


Ephesians 2:18-22 & 1 Peter 2:4-5 (NIV)

“ Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” “As you come to him, the living Stone--rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him--  you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”


The secret of New Jerusalem is that you are the city. This is your present spiritual reality. You are free to live it to the full. 


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