Notes on Revelation 21:9-27 and 22:1-5

Revelation 21:9-27; Revelation 22:1-5
CHAPTERS 21:9-27; 22:1-5
In comparing verse 9 with chapter 17:1, you will find this likeness, that it is one of the seven angels who have the seven vials that gives the description of Babylon, and that it is one of them also who describes the bride of the Lamb, the holy city, with the whole of the prophecy from verse 9. The historical unfolding of the mediatorial service of the Lamb is already contained in this book.
What is found in chapters 21: 9-27 and 22: 1-5 does not form a continuation, either historical or prophetic, of what precedes. It is a description of the holy Jerusalem, and there are many circumstances which precede what is in the beginning of the chapter. The angel, in the same manner, describes Babylon after having given her history.
Verses 9-13. It is in heaven, in the glory only, that the bride, the Lamb's wife, is spoken of in the accomplishment of
God's ways concerning her. The present dispensation is only the assembling the living stones of this city, the assembling of the saints, the church. Through the resurrection, we shall all be placed without sound (see 1 Kings 6:77And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building. (1 Kings 6:7)) in the glory prepared for us. This is the bride of the Lamb, not of the King, as in the Old Testament. The church has part in the sufferings, as well as in the glory of Christ; and to her Jesus is the Lamb, and not the King; the manifestation of the heavenly, and not of the earthly, righteousness of God (for in the last case Christ ought not to have died). This heavenly righteousness is hidden in God, unknown to the world, but known of faith. Before the world, the death of Christ is the greatest injustice of man. The Lamb is also the manifestation of the patience and of the goodness of God. But, as to the accomplishment of righteousness with regard to His death, no true estimate could be made of its value, except in heaven. No reward on earth could have been worthy of what Jesus has suffered. The manner in which Jesus glorified the Father could not be worthily recompensed but in placing the Son at the right hand of the Father. To suffer for having done well, and to submit to all-this is the part of a Christian. It is better to keep Christ's character than one's cloak. The church has part in all this. She has the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ and of His resurrection. She becomes the Lamb's wife in His glory, as in His rejection: she has part in His sufferings. We cannot have a portion with Christ above without having it with Him here on earth. Christ is one whole.
The spouse of the King is the spouse on earth. The bride of the Lamb is the church in glory. She has the enjoyment of the ripe fruits of the tree of life, whose leaves are for the healing of the nations. Even in the glory grace is the portion of the church. Government in justice characterizes Jerusalem on earth. The city comes down from heaven. The city which comes from the earth is Babylon. Here it is the holy Jerusalem. She comes from heaven. She is not found on the earth; there is no thought even of her there. It may be manifested to the earth; but in its origin it is a heavenly thing, also in its character, in its nature altogether.
What comes from God is holy. Jesus, the only man who really came forth from God, was perfectly holy. He was not of the earth. It is impossible that anything could stain the origin of the nature of what comes from heaven. " He cannot sin, because he is born of God," 1 John 3:99Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. (1 John 3:9). Our risen body is a house of heaven: it is a glory reserved in heaven. What is truly of God abides in God and cannot fade. In its nature life, essentially divine, is not only pure, but it cannot fade nor become corrupt.
There is still something more-" the glory of God." Then the city has the form and the beauty of what God manifests in the glory. God is glorified there: all shines with His glory; all relates to it, bears witness to it, and is clothed with it. " We rejoice in hope of the glory of God," Rom. 5:22By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:2). Christ shall come to be glorified in the saints, and the church is clothed with the glory of God Himself. It is precious to have always God's true object in view, which cannot stop on this side His glory. If one would get at the bottom of the counsels of God, one must look to His glory. What makes me, in traveling, pass through such and such a place, is not the desire of seeing that place, but of getting to an end beyond. The sight of the glory sanctifies truly, and gives an object far above all that could be prepared to stop us here on earth. We shall never walk well here below, even in the smallest details, if the great end is not constantly before our eyes. If I have any object on this side the glory, even the welfare of the church in detail, my soul will suffer from it. In this consists that which elevates all the Christian does-if in everything he has the glory of God in view.
The Father, we have seen, is never mentioned in the Revelation; nor have we here the children of the Father, but the bride of the Lamb. This book speaks of government and glory; and God, in this book, takes all His titles save that of Father. The apostles of the Lamb (v. 14), not the twelve tribes of Israel, are the foundations of the city. The prophets knew that these things were not for themselves, but for us; 1 Peter 1:1212Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. (1 Peter 1:12).
There is a perfect order. The golden reed (v. 15), the exact righteousness of God, measures all and judges all. The result of the work of God is perfect. Nothing is wanting; nothing is too long; nothing is too short. All is perfectly regulated. Not a stroke of the hammer remains to be given. All is perfect-God is the Architect.
Verse 18. God's glory is the building of the wall; this jasper represents God. Christ is girded with pure gold, and it is said, " Righteousness is the girdle of his loins." It is the divine righteousness accomplished in Jesus, not the earthly. Verse 21. There is also purity, transparent glass, the perfect purity of God, which can no longer be defiled; chap. 15: 2. The purity is no more of water, but of glass; it is consolidated, and rendered firm. The church, one with Christ, is seen there, having the righteousness of God, His purity, His holiness. The justice of man does not become a Christian. One cannot mix together with grace the earthly justice, which says " Eye for eye, tooth for tooth." The righteousness of heaven can ally itself with grace, and the only righteousness that becomes a Christian is a heavenly righteousness. It gives, and no longer exacts. God having communicated His nature to the Christian, he is raised above sin, and is made partaker of God's holiness; 2 Peter 1; Heb. 12. The true character of the Christian is that of divine righteousness and holiness, and that of grace-what becomes God, when He is manifested as man. We want faith to lose our fortune and to forgive; but if it is coming out of the society of man, it is entering into that of God. What a portion for us, and how it does elevate our souls! This righteousness, this holiness of God, cannot be fully manifested until the church is seen in glory.
The difference of the stones (v. 19, 2o) contains details which are above my knowledge. It is said of Satan, that before his fall he walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire-that every precious stone was his covering; Ezek. 28:1414Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. (Ezekiel 28:14). The precious stones were on the breastplate of the high priest. These stones are not pure light, but the reflection of the divine glory, where the most elevated creature walked before its fall. It is in that position that Christ places the church on His heart, as high priest, and in the full manifestation of which He places her in the glory. The church is in that glory. It is what is nearest to God when the question is about the glory. It is the radiancy of divine glory reflected, and manifested in its varied beauty in the creature, and this in its most immediate relationship with God, a radiancy of divine light on and through the creature. In Ezekiel, this is the case in creation; on the breastplate of Jesus, in grace; here, in glory. In the first case the creature could not maintain itself there. Christ maintains the church there in its weakness. He places her there in the strength He has Himself in the glory. The point here is the right of the sovereignty of God, who places the church in this glory; and not the affection of the Father to His children.
Verse 21. The twelve gates are twelve pearls-that is, what is beautiful, the perfection of moral grace in the church, a pearl of great price (Matt. 13:4646Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. (Matthew 13:46)): it was what Christ had looked for. The street of the city is of pure gold, as it were transparent glass; no defilement is any longer possible. Jesus will no more have to wash our feet in order that we may enter into the presence of God for our worship. In the glory we shall be standing on purity. The more we walk there, the more we shall get into purity, without having the need of conscience to be on our guard. The more we then let go our affections, the more we shall praise God. This is great rest to him who loves holiness. The precious stones express the solid basis of our glory, and we shall walk on purity. This is heavenly rest.
Verses 22-27. There is no more temple-that is to say, nothing that contains and hides the glory of God. God is the temple. He receives and encloses His people. If one came out of the temple, one found the world. Then we shall be shut up in God. He is the intimate center of everything, as also the circumference of our happiness. If we would come out of purity, we must come out of God, who is infinite. All God's names in this dispensation, save that of Father, are here. The Lamb, He who has suffered, and in whom our affections are concentrated, is also the temple. God shall be the Sun of the city (v. 23) and we shall know as we have been known. This has consequences. The nations upon the earth, spread in the judgment, walk in its light, the light of the city. Jesus saith, " The glory which thou hast given me, I have given them, that the world may know that thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me," John 17:22-2622And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. 24Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. 25O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. 26And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. (John 17:22‑26). There will be a world which shall know it and see it, in the manifestation of that glory. The affection of the bride delights in the glory that belongs to the Lamb, and the bride is manifested in that glory.
The church, which is the manifestation of the goodness and of the glory of God, shall be the light of the world. It is in our glory that the world shall understand what a Savior we have had. What joy for us, in whom will be seen, in the ages to come, the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness towards us in Christ Jesus! (Eph. 2:77That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:7)). When the world shall see us there, it will then understand that God has loved us as He has loved Jesus. Everything corresponds with our portion here below. The earthly Jerusalem will take vengeance (shall execute the vengeance) on God's enemies. We are here on earth the instruments of the grace and of the glory of God. Sinners may speak of it from the heart. This will continue in heaven. The church shall be in the glory, the testimony rendered to grace; and the earthly Jerusalem shall exercise the severity of justice against sin. God is now rejected and despised in us; He shall then be glorified in us.
Isa. 60 shows that the earthly Jerusalem has the earthly government and the rights of the justice of God. " The nation that will not serve her shall perish," v. 12. As to the heavenly Jerusalem, the nations of those who arc saved shall walk in her light. All that God shall perfect in the glory ought to be manifested through the Holy Ghost here on earth. By anticipation the Holy Ghost gives us the foretaste of this glory. And the knowledge of that glory is a principle of action which the world can never understand; but it can see the fruits of it. The selfishness of the world understands the grace that is in the Christian, which can forgive; but, in principle, that grace is foolishness to him. Yet, although the world does not understand our motives, it sees the faithfulness, which is a testimony rendered to grace. May God be sanctified in us by the sight of that glory!
The beginning of chapter 22 shows us the relations of the heavenly city with the earth and the world. The world will see that we have been loved, and will know how much we have been loved, when at the appearing of Jesus we shall appear also with Him in glory. When He appears, it must be before some one. His appearing is the manifestation of His glory in the world where He has been rejected, but which God made the theater of all that He manifested of Himself. It is there that sin entered; that Satan reigns; that man has lived in open revolt against God; that angels have served; that Jesus has suffered; that He has conquered hades, death, and the prince of this world. Nothing is more simple than God's manifesting the glory of Jesus and that of Christians in this world, where they were despised. We shall now see the great principles of that glory.
The earthly Jerusalem has almost all the characters of the celestial one. Yet there is an essential difference. It is in the heavenly Jerusalem that the glory is, and it is from thence that it shines upon the earthly Jerusalem. Our Christian discipline here in the earth enables us to manifest this glory. The earthly Jerusalem is upon the earth, the seat of the government of God in justice. The glory requires that all the nations should be brought low; Zech. 1:21; 2:8-13; 8:22, 2321Then said I, What come these to do? And he spake, saying, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, so that no man did lift up his head: but these are come to fray them, to cast out the horns of the Gentiles, which lifted up their horn over the land of Judah to scatter it. (Zechariah 1:21)
8For thus saith the Lord of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye. 9For, behold, I will shake mine hand upon them, and they shall be a spoil to their servants: and ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me. 10Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord. 11And many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto thee. 12And the Lord shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again. 13Be silent, O all flesh, before the Lord: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation. (Zechariah 2:8‑13)
22Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord. 23Thus saith the Lord of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you. (Zechariah 8:22‑23)
, etc. Under Israel we see the patience of God in government, with the incapacity of Israel to profit by it. Under the government of the New Jerusalem the law will be put in their heart (Ezek. 36:2727And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. (Ezekiel 36:27)), and will enable them to answer to this government of God, and God will manifest His glory there, " and my people shall be all righteous."
In the heavenly Jerusalem there is a display more complete and more intimate of the resources that are in God to bless, if there are any miseries, and not obedience. In heaven are the fruits thereof continually presented in all their richness and in all their variety. At the same time there are also on the tree of life the leaves destined for the healing of the Gentiles. In Eden, man's innocence was put to the test. There were the two trees, the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The life, without which man can do nothing, and responsibility-such are the principles of all religion.
As to responsibility, man found himself in two positions-in innocence and in sin; that is, in Eden and under the law. The law requires obedience after the knowledge of good and evil is entered; and if there is evil, the only effect of the presence of God is to make us haste away as fast as possible. The law acts on the responsibility of man who has the knowledge of good and evil, and brings it to bear on him, but does not give life.
Christ has taken up man when hopeless on the ground of his own responsibility. He took the responsibility on Himself, and has given life. He becomes thus everything to man. He comes as expiation and as mediation, puts Himself under the responsibility according to all the requirement of God, gives full satisfaction, takes upon Himself all the result of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and takes the place of the other tree, and imparts life. Man ate, not of the tree of life, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When man places himself under responsibility, he is surely lost. To recognize that Christ is the source of life, and yet to keep the responsibility of one's own salvation, is to be in confusion and in fear. Christ must answer as Mediator, and be the source of life. Thus it is that pure grace is the only way in which we can have to do with God. We shall even see traces of these things in the heavenly Jerusalem. Everything concerning ourselves is accomplished. Life and responsibility being united, it is a joy for us, as well as for the angels, to do the will of God. May God enable us to understand and to apprehend well these two principles, life and responsibility! If we take the responsibility upon ourselves. it is all over with us-we are undone.
Life is represented here under two figures: (1) A river of living water. We have not only the life in us, but we are drinking forever of that life which proceeds from the throne of God, and flows in abundance through the city. (2) A tree of life. One might have eaten in Eden of the tree of life, but in that tree there was no principle of healing. Here this is not the case. The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the Gentiles. This tree of life is more blessed. Those that are in the city find food in its fruit, and from its leaves proceed the resources of life for those who are still on the earth. There is the joy of communion. We drink of the river of living water. Although this is the highest joy, yet it is a joy also, even for God, to do good to those who are in want. It is grace, it is goodness. We are made partakers of that joy in the holy city; we shall enjoy there the grace which heals, as well as the grace of drinking in His holiness. There is joy in heaven for one sinner that repents.
Thus in the heavenly Jerusalem, there is neither innocence without grace, nor responsibility and the law without life.
Verses 3, 4. There is the center of all authority—the throne of God and of the Lamb. The rest there shall not be a rest of idleness. His servants shall serve Him. Nothing shall separate us from God, and we shall see His face; and in our foreheads (v. 4) nothing will be seen that is not the expression of God. All that God is, His name, shall be in our foreheads (that is to say, manifested in us in the most visible manner). Slaves had the name of their masters marked in their foreheads. We shall see the face of God. The pure in heart shall see God. The whole world shall see that we are the servants of God. All this is even before the world a plain manifestation of what God is. Verse 5. All that is here is an eternal state for the church.