Revelation 21

Revelation 21  •  29 min. read  •  grade level: 7
“AND I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea." (Chapter 21:1.) This chapter down to verse 8 brings before us the last of the series of visions to which we have referred, commencing with the words, "And I saw." It is the only passage which gives us any detail of the state succeeding the kingdom and time, a state which has no end, though there are other passing references to it. It treats of the age to come. From verse 9 and onwards in this chapter it is a fresh subject. It commences with giving a description of the bride, the Lamb's wife (or the church), in display, in the glory of the thousand year kingdom, prior to the age of ages. The comparison between this description and that of the false church in chapter 17., which we have already remarked upon, is most striking. It is very easy to distinguish in this twenty-first chapter the difference between that which refers to the age to come—from verse 9 and onward—and the age of ages in the first eight verses, in that in the former it speaks of God and of the Lamb, and in the latter of God only. The reason of this is that during the age to come the kingdom of God is administered by Christ, the Lamb, whereas at the close He gives up the kingdom to the Father, and God is all in all.
Turning to the detail, John saw a new heaven and a new earth. It is the moment when God makes all things new, and both the heaven and the earth will be new then. All will come fresh from the hand of Him who sits on the throne. (Ver. 5.) It will be an entirely new order of things in both spheres. Neither Satan nor sin will ever have access in either. The former things will have passed away. Both will be the blessed handiwork of God for His own glory, and everything connected therewith in perfect harmony with Himself. The first heaven and the first earth are no more. Notice the contrast between "new" and "first." "And there was no more sea." This is very, interesting and instructive, in that scripture compares the wicked to the troubled sea (Isa. 57:2020But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. (Isaiah 57:20)); and what has the history of the first earth been but one long chapter of unrest, trouble and misery?. "The misery of man is great upon him." (Eccl. 8:66Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him. (Ecclesiastes 8:6).) But in that glorious scene of unending blessedness the sea will be no more. All will be stable and fixed. Peace and happiness shall dwell throughout.
“And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." (Ver. 2.) It is doubtless the church of trod in her never-ending glory. Five things characterize it: holiness, newness, her origin is divine, her source and character heavenly, and her position and adornment that of/ the bride. Babylon, the false church, is called "that great city." (Rev. 18: 10, 16, 18.) But Jerusalem from above, the true church, is the holy, city. Her nature and character will perfectly, harmonize with the nature of God, and with the character of the scene in which she will be set. All is holy there. She is new. Jerusalem will be in accord with the scene where God makes all things new. During the thousand years' reign, she is called holy, but not new. Among the promises to the overcomer in Philadelphia, we read, "I will write upon him... the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem." (Rev. 3:1212Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. (Revelation 3:12).) The origin of this city is divine. Its builder and maker is God. Her source and character are entirely heavenly. Those who compose it are heavenly ones. And though, as we shall see, she is viewed as the bride, the Lamb's wife, during the kingdom, when she comes forth after its close, in the glory of the never-ending age of ages, she has lost none of her first beauty, but is seen prepared as a bride adorned for her husband, as on the day of her espousals.
“And I heard a great voice out of the heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God." (Ver. 3.) The prophet hears next a great voice out of heaven announcing an event of momentous importance. "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men." The word "behold" in scripture, as we have already remarked, calls attention ' to something of moment. The tabernacle, which signifies the dwelling-place of God, refers, we think there can be no doubt, to, the city above referred to, the church, as that in which God will dwell. And it will be "with men." There will be no more distinction between Jew and Gentile. Since redemption came in, it was always God's thought to dwell among His people. We find the same thing in relation to Israel (Ex. 25:88And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. (Exodus 25:8)), the church now (Eph. 2:2222In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:22)), in the kingdom (Ezek. 43:1-61Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east: 2And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory. 3And it was according to the appearance of the vision which I saw, even according to the vision that I saw when I came to destroy the city: and the visions were like the vision that I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell upon my face. 4And the glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east. 5So the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house. 6And I heard him speaking unto me out of the house; and the man stood by me. (Ezekiel 43:1‑6)), and here again in the age of ages. Sin being finally, removed, fruit of Christ's death (Heb. 9:2626For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (Hebrews 9:26)), the present moral distance between heaven and earth will completely have ceased; hence there is proximity between God in His tabernacle (the church) and men. There is apparently no revelation as to who these men are, and how they come on to this new earth. But, as we have seen, fire destroys all God's enemies upon the earth at the close Hof the kingdom. (Rev. 20:99And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. (Revelation 20:9).) Nothing is, however, said 'as to what becomes of the vast millennial population, whether Israel or the Gentiles, who are loyal to Christ, when Satan makes his final effort to overthrow Christ's power. We think it probable that 'the men here in view are this population, preserved by divine power for this endless blessing. It goes on to say four things concerning them: first, that God will dwell with them; secondly, they, shall be His people; thirdly, God Himself shall be with them; and, lastly, He shall be "their God.' Mat a marvelous scene of blessing it will be for both the church and for men in this glorious age of ages!
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes;' and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any, more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Ver. 4.) What a lovely witness of the kindness and tenderness of God! He knows full well all the sorrows and sufferings of men under the reign of the usurper Satan and through the working of sin to-day! The harrowing scenes of the battlefield and of the hospital, fruits of Satanic power and human self-will and lust, do not pass unnoticed by Him, who overrules the cruel and malicious rule of the wicked one in whom the whole world lieth. Permitted for the moment in His inscrutable wisdom, He uses them for the chastening, rebuke and governmental judgment of men on account of their evil heart and ways, but the moment is rapidly approaching when, after the great catastrophe of which the Revelation so widely treats has passed, rich blessing will flow in the kingdom of Christ, and the misery of man widely and greatly modified under His beneficent rule. And when time is no more, in the eternal scene of ever-abiding blessedness, God Himself shall assuage the tears of His people. Death, whose dark shadow hovers now over all lands, knocking at every door, from palace to cottage, shall cease to demand its victims. Sorrow, crying and pain which now fill the world, groaning under Satan, sin and death, shall be no more. These things, here called "former things," will have passed away, forever. Life and peace and, joy and happiness will fill that new earth. The presence of God, and God who is love, will be the blessing, joy and solace of every heart. He who 'promises these things is able also to perform. With Him all things are possible. (Matt. 19:2626But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26).) He is strong who executeth His word.
“And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful." (Ver. 5.) The enthroned One declares that He will make all things new. He will introduce an entirely new order of things altogether. Everything will be fashioned anew by His mighty power and wisdom for the glory of His great and holy name. What a comfort and solace for the heart of the tried Christian in the midst of the many evils of the present sorrowful and confused order of things! And He told John to write, for these words are true and faithful. Unlike many of the false and unfaithful words of men, these words are to be fully relied upon. They are true, however many may doubt or deny, them. They are faithful, He will most assuredly bring them all to pass. He would' have them recorded by His servant, thus giving to His people His faithful written pledge.
“And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end: I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." (Verses 6-8.) Again the enthroned One speaks to His servant, saying, "It is done." He has here come to the end of the revelation of His ways with men, that which follows, from verse 9, as we have already seen, giving detail of that which has its fulfillment in the kingdom of Christ, previous to the age of ages. When this latter unending age comes in, all is done that God has promised, and the blessing which exceeds all human apprehension is fixed and abiding to all generations of the age of ages. (Eph. 3:2121Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. (Ephesians 3:21).) In view of it all, He further presents Himself as the Alpha and Omega (that is, the A and the Z), the beginning and the end. None come before Him and none after Him. And the passage closes with two of the most blessed promises of scripture, and with an awful and wide-reaching threat.
The first promise is to the thirsty soul. In view of His glorious and blessed promises, which we have been considering, He whose eyes are running to and fro in the earth is looking out for thirsty ones in the waterless desert of sin that He may quench their thirst. He does not invite them here to come and to drink of the life-giving rivers which He causes to flow so freely. It is better than that. To him that is athirst He says, "I will give." And not merely of the flowing rivers, but of the very fountain thereof. He brings, as it were, the very fountain to his parched lips. The fountain of the water of life. And the terms are "freely." He who paid the ransom price in His own death and blood shedding at Calvary, longs to pour the water of life freely, from the very fountain thereof into the thirsty, soul. And all such, with their thirst quenched and their souls satisfied, will have part in the above promises of God.
The second promise is to the overcomer. This every Christian should be. We are surrounded with the powers of evil and darkness, and are called to sustain conflict with them. And God encourages us, with one more precious promise before He closes. He that gets the victory (which is the force of overcoming) shall inherit all things, or more correctly, these things, that is, the things spoken of in these blessed promises in relation to the age of ages. "I will be his God, and he shall be my son." How deeply precious! Mark the individual character of it. Generally, when scripture speaks of our position and relationship as sons and children, we are presented collectively. But here it is promised to the individual overcomer, that He will be "his God." What fathomless volumes of blessing that speaks! And "he shall be my son." A son of God for eternity! Who can grasp the fullness of blessing comprised in that short, blessed statement? It is the eternal relationship and position of the overcomer.
On the other hand, how deeply solemn is the contrast in the eighth verse. Whilst nothing could be more free and liberal than His promises to those who receive the living water and to those who overcome for Him, nothing could be more awful and searching that this final threat of the living God (into whose hands it is a fearful thing to fall (Heb. 10:3030For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. (Hebrews 10:30)) against all classes of the impenitent and ungodly. Mark well, dear reader, that it is brought in after John had seen in the vision the earth and heaven fleeing away when time had ceased to be, and when God has an eternity of blessing in view for His saints. It gives a detailed list of those who will be cast into the lake of fire. First, "the fearful," those who for fear of the consequences of confessing Christ never decide for Him. Then "the unbelieving," who fail in their responsibility to bow to the gospel concerning the Son of God, which is for obedience of faith among all the nations (Rom. 1:55By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: (Romans 1:5)); or to whatever testimony may have been rendered to them. And "sinners" (adds the original), who practice sin, and show they are of the devil. (1 John 3:8-108He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. (1 John 3:8‑10).) Next, "those who make themselves abominable." (Rom. 1:25-2825Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 28And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; (Romans 1:25‑28).) And "murderers," who kill their fellows, made originally in the image and likeness of the Lord God. (1 John 3:1515Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. (1 John 3:15).) And "whoremongers," who contravene the divine order in creation. (Heb. 13:44Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. (Hebrews 13:4).) And "sorcerers," who dabble with evil spirits, duped by, Satan. (Jer. 27:99Therefore hearken not ye to your prophets, nor to your diviners, nor to your dreamers, nor to your enchanters, nor to your sorcerers, which speak unto you, saying, Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon: (Jeremiah 27:9); Mal. 3:55And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 3:5).) And "idolaters," who disown the one true God, and worship stocks and stones, the images of false gods. (1 Cor. 6:9; 10:79Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, (1 Corinthians 6:9)
7Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. (1 Corinthians 10:7)
.) And "all liars," mark it well, all liars, all who give the lie to God's truth, as well as all who deceive and cheat their neighbor to enrich themselves, or to escape the consequences of their own evil doings. All these shall have their part in the lake, to which is added the solemn words, "which burneth with fire and brimstone," which we have already sought elsewhere to describe. It adds, "which is the second death." Now the very fact of it being called "the second death” shows clearly that the first death (the death! of the body) is not cessation of existence, as many vainly assert. And death, in the sense in which we mostly employ the term, that is, the death of the body (or, if we may so speak, the first death), not being a cessation of existence (for the soul lives on), it clearly shows that the term second death does not imply it either. Nay, death is separation from God. Whether applied to the state of man as morally, separated from God through the fall (Gen. 2:1717But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Genesis 2:17)), or to the separation of soul and body (2 Cor. 5:44For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. (2 Corinthians 5:4)), or to the lake of fire (Rev. 20:1414And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. (Revelation 20:14)), it cannot mean that the one in that condition has ceased to exist.
From verse 9 onwards we have a fresh subject. It would have been more helpful to the ordinary reader, enabling him more easily to rightly divide this part of the book, if the previous eight verses had been added to chapter 20., as that which is therein set forth closes the series of visions in ordered sequence, which begin at chapter 19:17, each one commencing, as we have remarked, with the words, "And I saw." But chapter 21:9 carries our thoughts back again (as so often in the Revelation), and brings before us the glory of the true church, the bride, the Lamb's wife, during the thousand years' reign. And, as we have also dwelt on, it is set forth in striking contrast to the description of the false church in the opening of chapter 17. Let us now seek to apprehend the spiritual force of what is presented. "And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials [or bowls] full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb's wife."(Ver. 9.) How gracious of God to encourage our hearts by the revelation of this glorious vision! He would have us appreciate it spiritually now, as we wait to have part in it in actuality in the coming glorious day of display. And where it is so it cannot fail to produce a deep moral effect upon our walk and ways, and the desire that the same Christ who shall shine so wondrously in His people in the heavenly glory of the kingdom, should shine in us, and be morally reflected in us now. An angel of the same seven who showed John the false woman and her judgment, now shows him the true bride and her glory. She had become the wife of the Lamb. She is one with the holy One who, as the Lamb without blemish, died on Calvary, and lives the triumphant Victor and Savior in glory. She is shown to John as the holy city Jerusalem. (Ver. 10.) It will be the joy and delight of Christ's blessed heart not only to present her to Himself glorious, but to display her before a wondering world, angels and men, in the character of the glorious city of God. Who, with his highest thought, can rise to the thoughts of God concerning the One whom He delights to honor, and the wondrous relationship, privilege and blessing of His bride, the church?
“And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; and had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: on the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb."(Verses 10-14.) Both a suitable condition and a suitable standpoint were needed for the prophet before he could be shown the glory of the holy city. Hence he is carried away by the angel" in the Spirit “to a mountain "great and high." He must be in the Spirit to see this spiritual vision, and above the natural influences of this earth. And then it had to be shown him. An important principle is involved in this for the Christian. It is not difficult if we stand morally apart from things down here to see that which is false and evil,. But things spiritual and heavenly can only be apprehended and appreciated as we live and walk in the Spirit, and even then it is divine grace which shows them to us. The words "that great" are an interpolation. They were put in erroneously by the translators. That which characterizes the true church is holiness, not greatness. That great city applies to the false church, Babylon. (Rev. 17:55And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. (Revelation 17:5).) Here it should read "the holy city, Jerusalem." Four things are spoken of her. She is holy. She is heavenly. Her origin is a divine one. She is the vessel of God's glory. Descending out of heaven she takes her place in the heavenly sphere of the kingdom in display when God shall head up all things in Christ in heaven and in earth. There are different spheres called heaven in scripture which must not be confounded together. The first bride, Eve, the wife of Adam, conjointly with him robbed God of His glory in the first act of disobedience, at the instigation of the serpent. The bride of the Lamb, His wife, as the holy city, is the chosen vessel of God, which has the glory of God, when the serpent shall be bound. Marvelous wisdom and grace! God's heavenly saints once born in nature's darkness, and who had sinned in self-will and come short of His glory (Rom. 3:2323For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:23)), not only will be in His glory in that rapidly approaching day, but will compose the city which is the vessel of its display.
“Her light [or shining] was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal." To whom could this lovely figure refer but to Christ? More or less all through scripture He is spoken of as a stone. (Dan. 2:3434Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. (Daniel 2:34); Luke 20:1818Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. (Luke 20:18).) Peter calls Him a precious stone. Here the shining light of the holy city is like unto a most precious stone! Most precious! None can be compared with Him. And like a jasper without flaw, clear as crystal: He is the perfect, holy, transparent One. From whom could the city receive her shining but from Him who is Light itself, the One who is the effulgence of the glory of God.
“And had a wall great and thigh." The walls of the earthly city of Jerusalem are called "Salvation." (Isa. 26:11In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. (Isaiah 26:1).) From this we may gather the significance of the walls of the holy city on high. It is where the elect of God enjoy in. actuality in all its blessed fullness "the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory." (.2 Tim. 2:1010Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. (2 Timothy 2:10).) The gates of hades could not prevail against the church on earth. (Matt. 16: 18.) Here, where there is no foe, the moral thought of the wall is that of security. The glory of God is there, and it is divinely secure.
“And had twelve gates." The gates of the earthly city of Jerusalem are called "Praise." (Isa. 60:1818Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise. (Isaiah 60:18).) How much more the gates of the heavenly city 1 Twelve denotes administrative completeness. Three face each quarter of the compass. The administration of the earthly kingdom will proceed by the way of the gates from the heavenly city. At the gates are twelve angels, the willing doorkeepers, as another has said, of the heavenly, city. And the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel are inscribed thereon, which, we judge, would further show the connection of the heavenly city with the earth at that day, for Israel will then be regathered and blessed in the holy land, the head of the nations and not the tail (Deut. 28:1313And the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the Lord thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them: (Deuteronomy 28:13)), blossoming, budding and filling the world with fruit. (Isa. 27:66He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit. (Isaiah 27:6).)
“And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." (Ver. 14.) Abraham looked for a city which had foundations. (Heb. 11:1010For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. (Hebrews 11:10).) Here the wall of the city, has twelve. Founded on the ministry of the twelve apostles on earth, the fruit of their labor is seen in this wondrous manner, as the perfect, solid and sure foundation of the wall of the holy Jerusalem, which shall be "compact together" like the earthly city. (Psa. 122:33Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together: (Psalm 122:3).) The names inscribed therein are those of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Paul's writings do not speak of the Lamb, though surely filled with the glory of Him who, is it. But as the holy city in display, the church is not here viewed in the aspect in which his writings present it.
“And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal." (Verses 15, 16.) In Ezek. 40 the man whose appearance was like brass had a line of flax and a measuring reed of six cubits to measure the house of God and the land. (Chapter 40:3.) Here the angel has a golden reed, and the measure is that of a man, that is, of the angel, (Ver. 17.) It is golden, in keeping with the character of the city to, be measured, which is of pure gold. (Ver. 18.) All is absolute righteousness as well as holiness there. The city is seen as a cube in the vision. It lieth foursquare. The length is as large as the breadth— one thousand five hundred miles—that is, reckoning by a stadia, which is the Greek word signifying about the 'distance of a furlong. The height, too, is the same, which shows the necessity of keeping clear of material thoughts in studying such a passage. All is divinely formed and perfect. The measures are great but finite. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. It is to be noted that whilst in Eph. 3:1818May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; (Ephesians 3:18), where it is a question of the apprehension with all saints of inconceivable glory, depth is also mentioned, here it is omitted. May it not signify that behind all that is revealed and manifested in relation to the heavenly and holy city there are depths of God unfathomable which the Spirit searcheth?
“And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass." (Verses 17, 18.) The measure of the wall is the multiple of twelve, which in itself is complete. It is in accord with a man's measure, that is, of the angel, who (though as a, ministering spirit he would be invisible) apparently was seen by John in the appearance of a man, which often occurs in scripture. (Acts 1:1010And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; (Acts 1:10).)
The building of the wall was seen in the vision as of jasper, the same as the appearance of the city's shining. (Ver. 11.) And the city itself was pure gold, like unto clear glass. There is nothing there but what is in full and perfect harmony with the thoughts of God. Purity and righteousness characterize it throughout. But it is not said, "clear as crystal" as in verse 11, where it appears to present Christ, who is God, man having naught to do with the existence of crystal, but likened unto "clear glass," for the city is the church, transparent like Christ, through grace, but formed and fashioned.
“And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation [was] jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, Chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a Chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst." (Verses 19, 20.) These varied colored precious stones, which adorn the foundations of the wall (and which were also on the breastplate of the high priest), in which, as we have seen, were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, appear to set forth the reflection of the divine glory, which shone first in perfection in Him, then on and through the apostles by the power of His Spirit (which should also shine now morally in relation to us), and which in that day shall shine on and through His heavenly saints when they shall occupy their assigned place in the holy city in the heavenly glory of the kingdom.
“And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass." (Ver. 21.) In the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven in Matt. 13 we get the figure of a pearl of great price, which when a merchantman found he went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Verses 45, 46.) The merchantman sets forth Christ, the pearl of great price, the church in her moral beauty and value and unity. Christ, though rich, became poor that He might purchase it. The great price was His own precious life's blood. He gave Himself for it. (Eph. 5:2525Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (Ephesians 5:25).) In the coming day the twelve gates of the holy city on high are twelve pearls. "Each one of the gates, respectively, was of one pearl." (New Trans.) The moral beauty of the church shines at every gate. "And the street of the city" is, so to speak, paved with purity, righteousness and holiness. It was of "pure gold." There is no alloy there. Like the city generally in verse 18, the pure gold of the street is as clear as transparent glass. Perfect transparency wholly characterizes it.
“And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it." (Ver. 22.) The prophet sees no temple in the holy city, as is characteristic of Jerusalem on earth, when in recognized relationship with God. But Jehovah Elohim Shaddai, the One who sits on the throne in Rev. 4:2, 3, 82And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. 3And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. (Revelation 4:2‑3)
8And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. (Revelation 4:8)
, and the Lamb are the temple of it. The introduction here of Old Testament titles of God raises a point full of interest. Many have inquired, whilst fully granting that the holy city, the bride, the Lamb's wife, is the church, where the Old Testament saints are in this glorious scene. Now, although scripture is clear that the church, or assembly, is only composed of saints from the day of Pentecost until the rapture (Matt. 16:1818And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18); Eph. 2:2121In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: (Ephesians 2:21)), it is also clear that the Old Testament saints looked for a city on high. (Heb. 11:10, 1610For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. (Hebrews 11:10)
16But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:16)
.) They were called to heaven. Hence it is thought by many that, whilst the city is a figure of the church, there are indications that the Old Testament saints will occupy a position in, relation to it, assigned to them of God. The title of the Lord God Almighty, and in verses 5, 6 of the Lord God, and of the Lord God of the holy prophets, appear to confirm this thought. And we think that the servants of chapter 22:3, 4, quite a different presentation of His saints from the figures of the city itself, may probably (like also the elders in chapters 4., 5.) include both the Old and the New-Testament saints. Hence you get the Lord God Almighty of the Old, and the Lamb of the New, who are both said to be the temple of the city.
“And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light [or lamp] thereof." (Ver. 23.) Man on earth needs the sun and the moon, and God provided these beauteous heavenly luminaries to administer light, and to rule the day and night. But there is no need either of the luminary which rules, or the one which reflects in that wondrous city of God. His own glory irradiates throughout, illuminating all with, its penetrating beams of blessing. And the Lamb, the true Light, refused by a world which loved darkness, shall be the burning and shining lamp of the heavenly capital of the kingdom.
“And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into [to] it." (Ver. 24.) The nations on earth walk by the light of this city. The words "them which are saved" are not found in the original. The glory of the heavenly city will produce a wondrous enlightening moral effect on the nations on the earth. In Isa. 60:33And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. (Isaiah 60:3) the Gentiles come to the light, and kings to the brightness of the rising of the earthly Jerusalem and her people. But here the nations are viewed as walking by the light of Jerusalem on high. And the kings of the earth bring their glory to it. The words "and honor" should also be omitted. Christ shall reign with His heavenly saints over the earth, and the shekinah glory shall dwell between the cherubim in the temple of Jerusalem rebuilt on earth. (Psa. 99) And all kings shall fall down before Him, and all nations shall serve Him. (Psa. 72) “And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into [to] it. (Vers. 25, 26.) All is one bright day in this glorious heavenly metropolis; the darkness of night is unknown within the glorious walls of the heavenly city of salvation. Hence there shall be no shutting of the gates of pearl, as men shut the gates of their cities in this world, where enemies surround and abound. And the nations shall not only bring their glory to it like the kings, but their honor also.
“And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life." (Ver. 27.) The city is strictly guarded by divine power. Divine grace and love builds the glorious city of His own elect, but divine righteousness and power will rigidly exclude everything that is unfit for its glorious precincts. There shall in no wise enter anything common or defiling, nor that maketh an abomination and a lie. Satan has filled the world with these things to-day. Millions, unclean morally, defile themselves; millions follow all kinds of abominable idolatries; millions love his lie rather than the truth. Not one such shall enter God's city. Those, and those only, whose names are 'inscribed by God in the book of life of the Lamb. (Rev. 20:15; 22:1915And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15)
19And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (Revelation 22:19)
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