Revelation Episode 21

Beth's Notes

The Apostle Paul tells is in 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 (NIV):
2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know--God knows. 3 And I know that this man--whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows-- 4 was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. 

What Paul heard he was forbidden to communicate, possibly because it applied to him alone as he was getting ready to suffer many things for the cause of Christ. God always equips and prepares his saints with the grace needed to walk through what He has in store for their lives. Always. When we look back we can see clearly. If we do not have the need, we do not have the grace to meet the need. He is no grace waster. Also, God desires for all of us to exhibit a strong faith in Him and His Word and not merely be dependent upon another’s experience. We are to own our own faith, so to speak. Paul’s experience, however, no doubt contributed to his great conviction of  2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV) where he states: 
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 

And Paul should know, Amen?  Paul’s faith was strengthened to prepare him for all the hardships ahead which he was about to suffer – indeed, he called them light and momentary troubles - yet they were anything but.  As Jesus told Ananias in Acts 9:15-16 (NIV):  
15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” 

Paul, unlike the heroes of Hebrews Chapter 11 whom the world was not worthy of, had had a glimmer, a small taste, of the amazing glory that lay ahead. Indeed, Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 2:9-10 (NIV):
9 However, as it is written:  “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” -- 10 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.

King David also writes of this in Psalms 8:3-9 (NIV):
3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?  5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: 7 all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, 8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.  9 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! 

The blessings of salvation were prepared by the Father, carried out by the Son, and applied by the Holy Spirit to all believers who love God. Children of the King do not have a blind faith. God has given us all we need to know through His Word to welcome by faith the things promised from a distance. Like the heroes of Hebrews 11, we read it was said of them in Hebrews 11:1-2 (NIV):  
1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. 

Faith is what modern day saints are commended for as well. As we read again in Hebrews 11:6 (NIV):
6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Also, referring to Abraham – the father of faith - in Hebrews 11:9-10 (NIV) we are told:
9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

Regarding the heroes of the faith, Hebrews 11:13-16 (NIV) also adds:
13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.  5 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country--a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. 

And, as we shall soon see, the great city He has prepared for us.  Lastly, Hebrews 11:32-40 (NIV) ends with their sterling example of faith:
32 And what more shall I say?  I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37 They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated-- 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. 39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40 God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. 

That was of course, Jesus, our Savior.  Ah…such great faith they exhibited! Faith that God loves to bless. Faith we would do well to emulate. That is what God is looking for in all His children. Nothing honors Him like our faith, Amen? Nothing. Remember what the writer of Hebrews tells us in Hebrews 11:1-2 (NIV):
1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.
In its essence, faith is being sure... and certain  about unseen hopes and realities. That this is honorable is seen in the fact that Old Testament worthies, the ancients, were commended for it. Faith is also a way of viewing all experience since it is the way in which believers see the universe for what it is—a creation made by God for His purposes and that is to bring many men to glory. 

These Hebrews 11 saints all kept heaven in their eyes while all the while keeping earth under their feet and God was well pleased. As Hebrews 11:13-16 tells us:
13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country--a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. This city is certainly not for them alone but for every believer in sweet Jesus. His desire is for us to know and stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. He has given us all we need to know to follow Him faithfully in confident assurance. Hebrews again tells us in Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV):
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 
While the realization that we presently have of Christ’s preciousness in this life is imperfect at best – it is but a taste – yet it is to be a taste that makes us long for more. After enjoying the taste of the sweet fruit of the Spirit and the Living Water, and all the grace He bestows, it makes us hunger and thirst for the fullness of it all, Amen? One that has been in heaven for five minutes has a greater understanding than an assembly of divines here on earth. We have ungratified desires presently but soon enough every wish shall be satisfied and we will enjoy the sweet eternal world of everlasting peace and joy. Our trials and our troubles will be long gone and our every wish abundantly satisfied – we shall weep no more.  Amazingly, the triumph of Christ’s glory will be shared by us – we shall be co-heirs with Christ Who is heir of all things.

Now we are going to read Chapter Twenty-One and then discuss:
Prayer: Father open our eyes that we might see clearly exactly what you would have us to learn. Take away all that is about me and fill me to the fullness of You Lord Jesus because if you do not teach us nothing worthwhile will be taught. We ask this for Your glory alone.

1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars--their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.  This is the second death.” 9 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15 The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 16 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long. 17 He measured its wall and it was 144 cubits thick, by man’s measurement, which the angel was using. 18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass. 22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. 

Prayer: Lord if you do not teach us nothing will be taught. Holy Spirit, make the Word come alive to us – make it come alive. Both for your glory and our good. 
There is a great economy of words in Scripture, Amen? Many unanswered questions rolling around in our heads yet, in God’s perfect wisdom, He has given us everything we need to know about our future dwelling place.  As imperfect as our present ideas are of these things which God has prepared in advance for those who love Him - His heirs of mercy – yet, we know enough, by revelation of the Holy Spirit, that the saints above are all supremely blessed. The infinite fullness of joy, delight and the sufficiency of Christ is theirs in abundance – making all our mouth’s begin to water and long for our heavenly home. These saints plunge into the bottomless and shoreless sea of God’s infinite blessedness. There is no end. Their weeping had turned to laughter and they mourn no more. Sin is shut out and they are shut in – eternally secure in their privileged position.    

History as we know it is over at this point. John now begins to describe the eternal state in which believers will dwell. Scripture has already described for us in Revelation 20:14-15 (NIV) the eternal state of the unbelievers:
14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. 
In a vast contrast, believers now live in total bliss in an entirely new and different new heaven and a new earth. The wording itself indicates that these are not mere duplicates of the existing heaven and earth, rather they are qualitatively new, having to do with its characteristics, properties or attributes. The first heaven and the first earth have now passed away.  God is making all things new. Nothing will be tainted by sin and depravity.  Praise Jesus! 

There is remarkably little revealed in the Bible concerning the character of the new heavens and the new earth, but it is evidently quite different from our present form of existence. It would do us well to remember that the entire universe has been tainted and affected by sin and must be made completely free from sin’s consequences – as the wages of sin is death - therefore God will create an entirely new universe – everything will completely disintegrate regarding the old one and it will be replaced by a glorious new and entirely different creation. Isn’t it amazing, when we look out the window at all the beauty of this earth and the glory of the heavens to ponder that it will all be gone as in a blink of an eye and something extraordinarily better – far beyond our imaginations – will take their place? It takes my breath away. 

There will be no more sea. Presently three-quarters of the earth is currently underwater, it will all become inhabitable for God’s people.  I find it  interesting that at the time of Peleg in Genesis 10:25 (NIV) Scripture tells us:
25 Two sons were born to Eber: One was named Peleg, because in his time the earth was divided; his brother was named Joktan. 

And again 1 Chronicles 1:19 (NIV) we are told:
19 Two sons were born to Eber: One was named Peleg, because in his time the earth was divided; his brother was named Joktan. 

Remember repetition in Scripture is a “heads-up” for us. This occurred at the infamous time of the Tower of Babel when man sinned greatly seeking to build a tower to heaven and God comes down and confuses the language and scatters them over the face of the whole earth.  In Scripture the waters is often symbolic of the nations. Perhaps at this time – the time of Peleg – God divided the nations by waters as well as confused their languages. Now we see God making the new earth with no sea. The nations will no longer be divided in the new earth. The full earth will be inhabited.

We discover in verses Two through Four John’s attention is immediately being directed to that which is central in the vision – “The Holy City, the New Jerusalem”. The city is declared to come down from God. The only description of the New Jerusalem is given in Verse Two, which says it is “prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” An indication that what is presented is a city or dwelling place that has the freshness and beauty of a bride. This beauty, however, is beyond our feeble imaginations. Even magnified a million times over we would still find our descriptions of it wanting to the comparison of seeing with our own eyes the splendor of it all.     

Presently, Christ dwells in a heavenly city with the souls of all believers who have died.  During the Millennium, when Jesus rules, God’s people will live and work on the earth as we know now, with their capital being in Jerusalem. Thereafter, however, God destroys the heaven’s and earth making them completely different and new. The Holy City, the new Jerusalem, comes down from heaven in all her splendor, as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And a loud voice from the Throne in Verse Three saying in Revelation 21:3-4:        
“Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 

Sweet, sweet words of eternal bliss and encouragement, Amen? God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit dwelling with us on earth. This symbolizes that God is now present with humanity in the new earth and in the New Jerusalem. To be sure, our God is a “with-us” God and His actions go to great lengths to demonstrate that fact. 
The presence of God in Scripture frequently connotes fellowship and blessing. God’s presence assures an entirely new state for those who inhabit the New Jerusalem and the New Earth. Everything will be different. Everything. 
Remember, sin has tainted all – nothing has escaped the tenacles of its touch - including the heavens itself with the presence of Satan having been there. Therefore, all will be destroyed and made new. No remnants of evil will remain. This marvelously created beautiful city will become the capital (of sorts) of the new creation and be known as the new Jerusalem. And there God will dwell in the midst of His new creation and live with His people. Sin is removed and with it all hurt and sadness and disappointment and death. Crying is the vocal response to sorrow in contrast to tears which are a silent response. There will now be an assurance of endless blessedness. One that is very hard for us to rightly conceive, Amen? Again, as Paul stated in 2 Corinthians 2:9-10 (NIV):
9 However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” -- 10 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.

In Verses Five and Six God says His promise of making all things new is indeed true because His Word is to be counted trustworthy and He will always be faithful to His Word, no matter how spectacular the promise may seem to us. We can always count on the fact that He will do what He says. His people will experience complete and total satisfaction in the new creation symbolized here by the quenching of thirst. Nothing is required except to come and drink. This refers to the abundant character of eternal life and the blessings that flow from it. It stands as a fulfillment to Isaiah 55:1 (NIV):
1 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!  Come, buy wine and milk  without money and without cost.” 

God invites people in need to come to Him. By coming they indicate that they are trusting in and relying upon Him for salvation and are agreeing to obey His commandments. The blessings God gives them are available without cost. Salvation is a free gift of God, whether it refers to spiritual redemption or physical deliverance. Probably both are intended here. The Lord asked the people how they could be so interested in other things besides Himself as He is the only One who can bring genuine satisfaction and fulfillment. Throughout all of history people have tried to find satisfaction through a myriad of things other than God, Amen?

God introduces Himself as “the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.” Christ also introduced Himself with this same terminology in Revelation 1:8 (NIV):
8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” 

And again in Revelation 22:13:
13 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” 

In Verses Seven and Eight we discover yet another promise to glorified believers described here as overcomers – God will be their God and in glory each shall be His son. This expresses the intimate relationship between the saints and God in the eternal state. Frequently in Scripture, particular promises are given those who triumph in faith, but here the generous provision is made that they shall receive a full heritage rather than some particular aspect of divine provision. Promises to overcomers are included in the messages to the seven churches.  
By contrast, those who practice the sins of the unbelieving world will be excluded from the New Jerusalem and New Earth and as we have discovered, they will be destined for the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This interruption of heaven’s description is a reminder that those who persist in their sins and rebellion against God will spend eternity in the lake of burning sulfur, which is the second death. He is faithful in reminding everyone – no one should be taken by surprise, Amen? This judgment is a righteous punishment for their sins, eight of which are itemized here, adding, this is the second death. It should be obvious that this passage is not affirming salvation by works, but rather it is referring to works as indicative of whether one is saved or not. Our works are a testimony to our salvation, or lack of it. Obviously many will be in heaven who before their conversions were indeed guilty of these sins but who turned from them in the day of grace by trusting in Jesus Christ as their Savior. Though works are the evidence of salvation or lack of it, they are never the basis or grounds for it. The cleansing blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sins – past, present, and future.

In Verses Nine through Eleven we discover one of the seven bowl angels giving  John a closer look – a bird’s eye view if you will - of the amazing Holy City to come, the New Jerusalem – here characterized as a bride.  He was taken to a vantage point where he could observe the entire scene.  Carried by the Spirit to a high mountain, John saw the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, shining brightly with the glory of God. The city is ablaze with light which is compared to the brightness of a precious stone. This costly and precious stone, Jasper, is used lavishly throughout the New Jerusalem. As the glory of God is the sum of His infinite perfections in their manifestations, so the New Jerusalem reflects all that God is. Breathtakinly beautiful.  
Since the city is not a literal bride, the Truth represented here is that the city is being compared to a bride for its beauty and splendor. The overall impression of the city as a gigantic, brilliant jewel compared to jasper, clear as crystal, indicates its amazing beauty. John was trying to describe what he saw and to relate it to what might be familiar to his readers. Yet, it is evident that his revelation transcends anything that can be fully described. Because this city will be arrayed with God’s glory, it will be more radiant than a cut diamond. Again, John is referring to a city which is described as a bride, not a person or group of people. This is confirmed by the description of the city which follows.
In Verses Twelve through Fourteen the Apostle John is faced with a tremendously impressive scene having to ransack the resources of his language and metaphors. He uses jewels, gold and pearls to seek to describe the indescribable glory which the Holy City reflects. Some spiritual things are very difficult - if not impossible - to rightly describe Amen? This city is glorious in every aspect, reaching to tremendous heights and embodying characteristics to remind believers of their rich spiritual heritage. 
John first sees the city’s massive high wall with twelve gates and twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of Israel – three on the east, three on the north, three on the south, and three on the west. Secondly, the city wall is pictured with having twelve foundations with the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb inscribed on the foundations. Thus, both the church and Israel are represented in the city; the former are represented by the apostles’ names on the foundations in Verse Fourteen, and the latter by the names of Israel’s 12 tribes on the gates in Verse Twelve. The distinction between Israel and the church is thus maintained here. The implication of the fact of gates on each side of the city is that people will have freedom to go and come. Old and New covenant followers of the Lord will dwell together in the New Heaven and the New Earth. Scripture is silent where we will exactly be – the New Heaven or the New Earth. Yet what we do know for certain is that Jesus has gone ahead to prepare a place for us. Jesus tells us in John 14:1-4 (NIV):
1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.” 
Our place in heaven will be personal and perfect – just like Jesus. Again, there does not seem to be any solid objection to the concept that believers in the new heaven and the new earth will have such a city as their home, glorious in every aspect, reaching to tremendous heights into the new heaven, and embodying characteristics to remind them of their spiritual heritage. However, Scripture does not state specifically if we will dwell in the New Jerusalem or the New Earth. It is implied that the residents of the New Jerusalem will be able to travel elsewhere on the New Earth.                                                                                    
Interestingly, the number 12 is a very prominent number in Revelation.  John saw a gigantic city, surrounded by a great, high wall with 12 gates.  The 12 gates bore the names of the 12 tribes of Israel. The number 12 is prominent in the city with 12 gates and 12 angels in Verse Twelve, 12 tribes of Israel in Verse Twelve, 12 foundations in Verse Fourteen, 12 apostles in Verse Fourteen, 12 pearls in Verse 21, 12 kinds of fruit in Revelation 22:2, with the thickness of the wall 144 cubits – is 12 times 12 - in Revelation 21:17, and the height, width, and length, 12,000 stadia, about 1,400 miles in Verse 16. The city has walls north, south, east, and west with three gates on each side in Verse 13 and with an angel standing guard at each gate in Verse 12.
In Verses Fifteen through Seventeen we discover an angel who measured the city with a measuring rod of gold, about ten feet in length. He uses it to measure the city, its gates and its walls. The measuring rod the angel uses was a common unit measurement among the Jews, normally a reed ten feet in length. The city is 12,000 stadia in length and width (a stadia being approximately 600 feet), meaning approximately 1,400 miles on each side (1,400 miles is about half the distance from New York to Los Angeles). Tremendous as is the dimension of the city, the amazing fact is that it is also 1,400 miles high. It appears to be a multi-storied city that extends up – and this is just the capital of  God’s new creation!
Commentators differ as to whether the city is a cube or a pyramid.  Inspiration, however, does not indicate the shape.  In addition to measuring the city itself, the angel measures the wall that by comparison is much smaller at about 216 feet.  However, the city wall was always used as a defense against evil forces.  Since there will not be any evil, a tremendous height of the wall would no longer be necessary.  It seems to be predominantly used to showcase the beautiful city.
In Verses Eighteen through Twenty-One we read that the glory of the New Jerusalem appears to be as awe-inspiring as its dimensions.  As John gazed at the wall, he saw that it was made of jasper, an opaque gemstone and probably as clear as crystal as well.  The city as a whole was made of pure gold, as pure as glass.  Here, John was using the language of appearance.  John endeavors to describe a scene that in most respects transcends earthly experience and words.  The constant mention of transparency indicates that the city is designed to transmit the glory of God – reflecting the brilliance of His glory.  

The foundation of the city wall was adorned with every kind of precious stone making it a sight of indescribable beauty with the light of the city playing upon the multi-colored stones of the foundation. The wall will be made of Jasper and the city itself of pure gold as pure as glass. The various stones are represented as layers built upon each other, each layer extending around all four sides of the city.  

The decorations of the foundations of the city walls with the apostles’ names inscribed on them include every kind of precious stone - 12 stones involving different colors making it a sight to behold – a sight of indescribable beauty. The constant light of the city continuously plays upon the multi-colored stones. The first foundation is of jasper – mentioned twice previously - the color of the jasper is as clear as crystal.  The second foundation is a brilliant sapphire, blue in color with the hardness of a diamond; the third is chalcedony from Chalcedon, Turkey and is basically blue with stripes of other colors. The fourth, an emerald, is a bright green; the fifth, the sardonyx is red and white; and the carnelian, the sixth, called a “sardius” in the nasb, is usually ruby-red in color, though it sometimes has an amber or honey color. 

In Revelation 4:3 (NIV) Scripture states the carnelian stone is coupled with the jasper to reflect the glory of God stating:
3 And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. 

The seventh, chrysolyte, is a transparent stone, golden in color and therefore different from the modern pale green chrysolyte. The beryl is a sea green and is the eighth foundation; the ninth foundation is the topaz and is a transparent yellow green; the tenth foundation is the chrysoprase which is also another shade of green; the jacinth is violet in color and is the eleventh foundation; and the twelfth foundation is amethyst and is purple. The stones together provide a brilliant array of beautiful colors. The gates resemble huge, single pearls, and the street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass. Simply stunning.

In the next part of the vision, in Verse 22 John begins with stating the clause, “I did not see,” indicating a new and important phase of the revelation he received. John finds no temple in the New Jerusalem. This stands in contrast to the Old Testament, where Israel first had the tabernacle and then the temple. This is also a sharp contrast to the Millennial city where a temple is built for the worship of God.  Here the shadows are dispelled and, as the Scriptures indicate, the Lord God Himself and the Lamb are the temple of the new city. This is reminiscent of Paul’s words in Colossians 2:16-17 (NIV) regarding shadows verses reality:
16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 

No longer is a structure necessary, for believers are in the immediate presence of the Lord with no need for an earthly mediator or shadows of eternal things to come. The word for “temple” is the sanctuary, or God’s dwelling place – the Holy of Holies, in the temple of Israel. Believers will now have access to the most sacred, intimate fellowship with the Lord their God in fulfillment of the many promises given to the saints.

In Verses Twenty-Three through Twenty-Four we discover that there will be no sun or moon necessary in the city because the glory of God illumines it and its lamp is the Lamb.  Therefore there will be no more need for them. God Himself is the city’s light as there is no darkness in Him. Believers are exhorted to walk in the light in their present existence on this earth in keeping with their future in Heaven. John tells us in 1 John 1:5-7 (NIV):
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 

Our sun is ninety-three million miles away, yet its power is sufficient to illumine the earth. God’s presence, though, can replace the sun with ease because the Lord possesses an even greater degree of power and radiance. That it will never be night there suggests believers’ glorified bodies will never get tired and need to sleep.
Moreover we will not get bored. On the New Earth there will be nations and kings bringing their glory and honor into the city. The nations of the saved as well as the earth’s rulers are said to walk in the light of the city bringing glory and honor into it. Nothing impure will ever enter the city – only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life are eligible.  All that are there are the objects of God’s grace. This is describing an eternal perfect environment. The absolute moral purity stands in stark contrast to the centuries of human sin and depravity. 

The commentator in the Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible states:
“The reward of God’s people is often described as enjoying His presence.  Psalms 16:11 (NIV) states:
11 You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. 

1 John 3:2-3 (NIV) also tells us:
2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. 

Revelation 21:3 (NIV) states:
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” 

Lastly 22:3-4 (NIV):
3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 

This is referred to as being with Christ in John 12:26 (NIV):
26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. 

Seeing Christ’s glory in John 17:24 (NIV):
24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” 

And sharing in Christ’s glory as in Romans 8:17-18 (NIV):
17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. 18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

And Colossians 3:4 (NIV):
4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

All saints will reign with Christ and sit in judgment even over angels:
I Corinthians 6:3 (NIV) tells us:
3 Do you not know that we will judge angels?  How much more the things of this life! 

This expectation of believers is called an inheritance in Hebrews 9:15 (NIV): 
15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance--now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. 

And in Romans 8:17 (NIV):
17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. 

Lastly in Matthew 25:34 (NIV):
 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.’” 

This inheritance is secured in heaven as 1 Peter 1:3-4 (NIV) states:
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you.  

We have this secure hope, which is an “anchor for the soul” as Hebrews 6:19-20 (NIV) tells us:
19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. 

This hope should not lead us to any sort of complacency, rather it should challenge us to press forward and endure hardships for Christ’s sake.  Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV): 
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 

And again in Philippians 3:14 (NIV):
14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 

Also, in 2 Timothy 2:1-5 (NIV):
1 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. 3 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs--he wants to please his commanding officer. 5 Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules. 

Lastly, in Revelation 2:10 we are told:
10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. 

Christ will reward those who have performed distinguished service with incorruptible crowns of righteousness, life, and glory.  Paul again tells us in 1 Corinthians 9:25 (NIV):
25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 

And in 2 Timothy 4:8 (NIV):
8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 

James adding in James 1:12 (NIV):
12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 

And lastly Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5:4 (NIV):
4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. 
It seems appropriate for us  to close with Hebrews 12:22-29 (NIV):
22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. 25 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken--that is, created things--so that what cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.” 

These are Beth’s personal notes, due to this fact sources are not often stated.

Continue Reading