INDUCTIVE STUDIES ON REVELATION
The New Jerusalem
Physical Description of the New Jerusalem
THE SCRIPTURES (21:10-27)
10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. 12 It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are those of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15 And the one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall. 16 And the city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, 12,000 stadia [1500 miles]; its length and width and height are equal. 17 And he measured its wall, 144 cubits [72 yards], according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements. 18 And the material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; 20 the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. 22 And I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 And the nations shall walk through its light, and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it. 25 And in the daytime (for there shall be no night there ) its gates shall never be closed; 26 and they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; 27 and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.
LITERAL OR PURELY SYMBOLICAL DESCRIPTION OF THE NEW JERUSALEM?
We are so familiar with Revelation's description of heaven that many times we lose real insight into what John is doing in this passage. We are not all that impressed with John's description of the New Jerusalem. We fail to note two major things:
Once again, our friend C.S. Lewis makes some really interesting observations about the future. In his book called The Great Divorce, Lewis describes the effect a transformed universe would have upon somebody like you and me who are not transformed.
"My fellow-passengers, who were still grouped about in the neighbourhood of the bus, though beginning, some of them, to walk forwards into the landscape with hesitation steps. I gasped when I saw them. Now that they were in the light [of the transformed universe], they were transparent—fully transparent when they stood between me and it, smudgy and unperfectly opaque when they stood in the shadow of some tree. They were in fact ghosts: man-made stains on the brightness of that air. . . . . I noticed that the grass did not bend under their feet, even the dew drops were not disturbed [by their feet]. . . . The men were as they had always been; as all the men I had known had been perhaps. It was the light, the grass, the trees that were different; made of some different substance, so much solider than things in our country that men were ghosts by comparison [emphasis mine]. Moved by a sudden thought, I bent down and tried to pluck a daisy which was growing at my feet. The stalk wouldn't break. I tried to twist it, but it wouldn't twist. I tugged till the sweat stood out on my forehead and I had lost most of the skin off my hands. The little flower was hard, not like wood or even like iron, but like diamond. . . . Walking proved difficult. The grass, hard as diamonds to my unsubstantial feet, made me feel as if I were walking on wrinkled rock, and I suffered pains like those of the mermaid in Hans Andersen. . . . . [Crossing a stream] a new idea had just occurred to me. If the grass were hard as rock, I though, would not the water be hard enough to walk on? I tried it with one foot, and my foot did not go in. Next moment I stepped boldly out on the surface. I fell on my face at once and got some nasty bruises. I had forgotten that though it was, to me, solid, it was not he less in rapid motion. When I had picked myself up I was about thirty yards further down-stream than the point where I had left the bank. But this did not prevent me from walking up-stream: it only meant that by walking very fast indeed I made very little progress."
Lewis is not saying that we are not real; he is not saying that we are mere shadows. We are real; we are not just shadows; however, when compared to the transformed universe (of which the New Jerusalem will be a part), we had might as well be shadows and vapors who can barely stand on the grass or pass the waters of the radically transformed universe.
Moreover, if God does not annihilate what He creates (the resurrected body of Jesus being evidence for this claim), if He transforms what He creates, then there will probably be transformed gold in heaven; there will be transformed rivers and trees in heaven; there will be transformed pearls in heaven. I wouldn't lay down my life for this claim; however, I feel like this claim is true in light of what happened to Jesus' body at the time of His resurrection.
DESCRIPTION OF HEAVEN
General Description of the Exterior
"The holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the _______________ of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear _______________. 12 It had a great and high wall, with _______________ gates, and at the gates _______________ angels; and names were written on them, which are those of the twelve tribes of the _______________ of _______________. 13 There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west. 14 And the wall of the city had _______________ foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve _______________ of the Lamb.
In verse 11, John claims that the city has the "glory of God." This means that the New Jerusalem will not only be beautiful, it will be beautiful according to God's standards, a perfect beauty.
We've already tasted to a limited degree God's beauty in nature: the mountains Canadian Rockies, the pristine Caribbean beaches, the purity of the desert, a cloudless, moonless night out in the desert where no human light interferes with the light from millions and millions of stars. As beautiful as these sites are, they are still just un-transformed parts of nature. Just think how marvelous they will be then when God transforms them!
The Measurements of the City
15 And the one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall. 16 And the city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, _______________ stadia; its length and width and height are equal. 17 And he measured its wall, _______________ cubits, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements.
Unfortunately, many of our English translations translate literally the measurements of the city. We need to stick as much as possible with John's description so that we don't lose the import of what he is trying to communicate. If the length, the breadth, and the depth of the walls measure 12,000 stadia, what do you think John meant by this? (You may need to refer back to the lesson on numerology: Numerology.)
Next, how wide (in cubits) is the wall which wraps around the city, a cubit being 18”?
Why do you think the city wall has this measurement?
This measurement may mean that the city is impregnable. Ancient Babylon was considered impregnable because its walls were 25' thick. It was said that the walls were so thick that 3 chariots could race along the top of it. The wall of the New Jerusalem, though, is 3x thicker, making the New Jerusalem even more impregnable. If the thickness of the walls points to the city's impregnability, then it is truly impregnable. The number 144, though, is probably indicating something else.
MATERIAL MAKE-UP OF THE CITY
18 And the material of the wall was _______________; and the city was pure _______________, like clear _______________. 19 The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of _______________ stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; 20 the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve _______________; each one of the gates was a single _______________. And the street of the city was pure _______________, like transparent glass.
According to John, the city wall was made of jasper, considered very precious in the ancient world. In fact, as John describes the New Jerusalem physically, he describes in terms of the most precious stones of his day. The Wikpedia Dictionary description of each of the stones is just as good as any other (Precious Stones in the Bible). Whatever else is true about the New Jerusalem, it is glorious.
It is glorious probably for 2 reasons:
ACTIVITY IN THE NEW JERUSALEM
22 And I saw no ___________________ in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its ___________________. 23 And the city has no need of the ___________________ or of the ___________________ to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the ___________________. 24 And the ___________________ shall walk through its light, and the ___________________ of the earth shall bring their ___________________ into it. 25 And in the daytime (for there shall be no night there ) its gates shall never be ___________________; 26 and they shall bring the glory and the honor of the ___________________ into it; 27 and nothing ___________________, and no one who practices ___________________ and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.
Many of us have a distorted view of what heaven is all about. Many describe it as almost being one long worship service. Don't get me wrong. I love dynamic worship. We probably have one of the best worship leaders in the country in our church. But as wonderful as worship is and will be, especially in the New Jerusalem, Christ has come to give us life, adventure, excitement.
First, we won't go to church in the New Jerusalem. Why? Because the whole structure is a church, is a Temple, the place where you meet God. According to 21:24, we are walking through the light produced by the presence of God Himself. It is as if the city is a huge bowl containing the divine ocean, God Himself flooding the city. Wherever you walk, you walk only in the presence of God. He will engulf the city AND you.
According to v. 26, who will bring their glory into the city? The nation (singular) or the nations (plural)?
The closet thing we have to what John is describing here is the parade of the nations during the opening ceremony of the Summer and Winter Olympics. The athletes do not enter the stadium all dressed alike. They don't all come in with blond hair and blue eyes, all measuring 6'3" in height and 180 lbs. in weight. Some are black; others, Hispanic; even, others oriental. They have different color hair; different heights and different weights. They were different costumes representative of their countries. They each have a standard bearer, carrying the unique flag of their country. Moreover, they come in the prime of their life. No 57 year olds among them, except for the coaches who probably don't march in the parade for obvious reasons. That is what makes the parade so glorious—the splendor of the variety of the nations. This just gives us a little glimpse of an even greater Olympic Parade which will proceed through the gates of the New Jerusalem.
WORSHIP IN THE NEW JERUSALEM
What is interesting is that there is no mention of worship in the New Jerusalem. In fact, according to John, name one thing which you cannot find in the New Jerusalem (v.22).
What is that one building NOT in the New Jerusalem?
In other words, the WHOLE structure is a Temple! If the Temple is the place where you meet God, then everywhere you walk in the New Jerusalem is the Temple of God because everywhere in the New Jerusalem is the presence of God.
Moreover, the reason you are able to enter God's presence is that a sacrifice has been made for you. If you look closely, you will see that although John does refer to Jesus sseveral times in Rev. 21-22, not once does he refer to Jesus by His name in this passage. Instead, when John refers to Jesus in this passage, what does he call Him (21:9, 14, 22, 27; 22:1, 3, )?
The reason John refers to Jesus this way is to impress upon us that Jesus' sacrifice is the only reason we are actually living in this splendid structure.
SPIRITUAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE INHABITANTS OF THE NEW CITY
According to v. 27 who will NOT enter into the New Jerusalem?
In all our description of the physical city, it is easy to forget that there are moral implications to this passage. The city has been built for those transformed into the image of Jesus Christ, and nobody else. The goal for our lives in this present world should be growing to be like Jesus. If we do not take Christlikeness seriously now, what makes us think that we are going to be ready for the New Jerusalem when it does appear? Whatever this present life is about, it is ultimately about preparing us for the age to come.