INDUCTIVE STUDIES ON REVELATION

The New Jerusalem

Physical Description of the New Jerusalem
Part 2
(Rev. 22:1-5)

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THE SCRIPTURES (22:1-5)

1 And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, 2 in the middle of its street. And on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 And there shall no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His bond-servants shall serve Him; 4 and they shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. 5 And there shall no longer be any night; and they shall not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall illumine them; and they shall reign forever and ever.


A GARDEN

John continues with his description of the New Jerusalem. According to John, what flows from the throne of God?

Moreover, where does it flow?

It is hard NOT to see here a reference to the great river Ezekiel described which came from the new Temple in Jerusalem in the last days. What does Ezekiel say about this Temple (47:1-12)?

1 Then he brought me back to the door of the house ; and behold, water was flowing from under the threshold of the house toward the east, for the house faced east. And the water was flowing down from under, from the right side of the house, from south of the altar. 2 He brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around on the outside to the outer gate by way of the gate that faces east. And behold, water was trickling from the south side. 3 When the man went out toward the east with a line in his hand, he measured a thousand cubits, and he led me through the water, water reaching the ankles. 4 Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the knees. Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the loins. 5 Again he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not ford, for the water had risen, enough water to swim in, a river that could not be forded. 6 He said to me, "Son of man, have you seen this?" Then he brought me back to the bank of the river. 7 Now when I had returned, behold, on the bank of the river there were very many trees on the one side and on the other. 8 Then he said to me, "These waters go out toward the eastern region and go down into the Arabah; then they go toward the sea, being made to flow into the sea, and the waters of the sea become fresh. 9 "It will come about that every living creature which swarms in every place where the river goes, will live. And there will be very many fish, for these waters go there and the others become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. 10 "And it will come about that fishermen will stand beside it; from Engedi to Eneglaim there will be a place for the spreading of nets. Their fish will be according to their kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea, very many. 11 "But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh ; they will be left for salt. 12 "By the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail. They will bear every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing."

According to Revelation 22:2, what grows on both side of the river which flows from the throne of God?

According to Ezekiel 47:12, what flows on both sides of the river which flows from the Temple?

Ezekiel and John are most likely describing the same thing. But this doesn't seem true since Ezekiel says that the river flows from the Temple, while John says that it flows from the throne of God and the Lamb. According to John, though, who is the Temple in the New Jerusalem (21:22)?

It is by no means an accident that when John describes the city, he mentions the river which flows through the city. The reason he mentions water is that water was a precious commodity back then, especially in the near desert-land of Israel. There are lovely patches of ground throughout Israel; however, it could easily become a desert land. In fact, if you go to east/south-east of Jerusalem, you will come upon a desert which rivals the Sahara desert. Water is necessary for life; there will be an abundance of it in heaven.

As you read verses 1-2, do they remind you of any place in particular in the OT?

In case you are wondering if we are stretching it here, according to verse 3, what else is NOT in the New Jerusalem?

All this means to imply that God's original purposes for us, seen in the Gen. 1-2 account, are finally being realized. When man sinned, he deferred God's will and plan for our lives. We were cast out of the garden which God had blessed. Instead of a garden, we are thrust into the desert. Instead of blessing, we receive the curse. Christ began to undo the curse with His first coming. In fact, the first word in His Sermon on the Mount is "Blessed." According to Paul, when Christ gave us His Spirit, He intensified the blessing (Gal. 3:14). With His second coming though, Jesus completes God's plan for our lives and bestows upon us the blessing. Take a wild guess and guess how many times Christ/John gives us a blessing us in the Book of Revelation.

Because God the Father Himself has now come to dwell among us, what shall we see (v. 4)?

This according to Roman Catholics is the high point, the goal of all God's working in our lives. Whereas at the beginning of Revelation we saw that a sea separated us from God, that sea is no more. Instead, we will then have direct access to Him. No matter how many millions will surround the throne, you will be alone with Him:
One soul in the whole creation you do know: and it is the only one whose fate is placed in your hands. If there is a God, you are, in a sense, alone with Him. You cannot put Him off with speculations about your next door neighbours or memories of what you have read in books. What will all that chatter and hearsay count (will you even be able to remember it?) when the anaesthetic fog which we call 'nature' or 'the real world' fades away and the Presence in which you have always stood becomes palpable, immediate, and unavoidable?

What will be on our foreheads?

This means that we are branded "His" forever. You can only have one brand though. The Brand of the Antichrist or the Brand of Christ, the brand of heaven or the brand of earth, the brand of the Spirit of God or the brand of the things of this world. For Christ, it is always "either or," never "both and." He either owns all of you or none of you. He is either Lord of all, not Lord at all. Christianity is not ultimately about money, time, effort, service, etc. It is truly all about Him.

As much as I respect my Catholic brothers, seeing God in the face is not the climax of the second coming. The climax comes at the end of the physical description of heaven. According to v. 5, what shall we do forever and ever literally "unto the ages of the ages."

Two things here:

  1. The idea of Christ's people reigning with Him forever and ever is a recurring theme throughout the New Testament. When we received Christ into our lives, we received not only God the Son into our lives, we received "the young Prince of the universe" (MC, BK 4, Chp 8). According to Paul, we become co-heirs with Christ. We enter into His inheritance which includes reigning. Lewis was not joking around when he climaxes The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe with the coronation of the 4 Pevensie children. We are destined for the throne.
  2. Second, the phrase "unto the ages of the ages" means that the future is going to be dynamic, not static like many Christians claim. Think about the different ages in human history: there may be continuity between them; however, each age has its own unique characteristics.
    The Age of Greece: literature, democracy, beauty.
    The Age of Rome: construction, high-speed communication.
    The Middle Ages: spirituality.
    The Renaissance: the arts, rebirth of Rome and Greece culture.
    The Age of Enlightenment: science, reason.
    The Postmodern Era: myth, spirituality.
    Each age built on the past of mankind, while each age added something to the story of mankind. Again, as Lewis comments: "And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before."
In light of all the wonderful things that Christ is going to do for us, even though it means for us going through the tribulation, what does John pray in Rev. 22:20?