|New Heaven and New Earth
The remainder of this chapter is a description of the New Jerusalem and the New Earth. The descriptors are not all known. Old things have passed away now and all things are new: earth, heaven, and Jerusalem.
v 1: John now sees a new heaven and a new earth. He says the first heaven and the first earth are not there anymore. Also, there was no sea, as we know it. Jesus, Himself, said they would pass away (Matt. 24:35). The Old and New Testaments "new" usually mean "new in respect to freshness" rather than "new in respect to existence". In other words, we could say "a fresh heaven and a fresh earth. The first earth was contaminated with sin and destroyed. No explanation is given for the "no more sea" phrase. However, one of the BIblical expressions of instability is he sea. The sea is shapeless and formless. It assumes the shape of its container. It can be manipulated. The sea is a symbol of fallen humanity. Without God, we are vulnerable to the pressures of sin and Satan. Therefore, there will be no sea because there will be no evil. The heaven that was destroyed is the first heaven or the atmosphere about the earth. Recall we discussed earlier there were three heavens. The two NOT destroyed were the cosmos and God's abode. The first heaven was destroyed because it was full of sin after being close and affected by the earthly sin. The seas as we know them will no longer be needed or exist. The earth now is about 3/4 sea water. This means that most of the earth is inhabitable. However, in the new earth, the sea would not exist giving us the ability to have the entire earth on which to live. There will be no animals in the new earth. There will be a hydrologic cycle atmosphere as it was in the beginning after the creation. A hydrologic cycle has to do with the heat of the sun during the day and the coolness of the night. The moisture in the atmosphere will "water" plants and supply fresh water by the exact balance of evaporation and condensation. That was the way it was designed from the beginning. After the flood, the ecology and environment and geology changed so much there had to be a different cycle involving rain. There was no need of rain in the original hydrologic cycle. That is why the people of Noah's time did not understand what Noah was building and why. This is a separate study in itself.
v 2: John now sees a new Jerusalem. He even calls himself out by name. He is emphasizing what he is really seeing. The new Jerusalem comes from God out of heaven. It was prepared beautifully and perfectly as a bride would be for her husband. This heaven is the renewed heaven. Many commentators try to "spiritualize" this verse. To see a giant city (it is LARGE which you will see later) drop down from heaven is absurd to some. They say there is no reason to not take literally the establishment of the new Jerusalem. This city was the center of Christ's governing during the Millennium. This is difficult to believe. But, this is a supernatural thing that is happening. The beauty is accented also by the purity of the people, the white coverings, as they now have the perfect Christ and Jerusalem on earth. This was prepared by God. Remember, that Jesus went to prepare a place for all believers (John 14:2; Heb. 11:16; 1 Cor. 2:9).
v 3: John now hears a great voice from heaven saying to behold the tabernacle of God. One must understand that the tabernacle was given to Moses during the Exodus to be for the Hebrews the earth home of God. The Holiest of Holies was where God existed as a focal point. No person could enter the Holiest of Holies except the chief priest. That was only once a year on the Day of Atonement. This protection of the inner sanctuary is because it was so sacred. The Holiest of Holies was the innermost room within the tabernacle. So, when we examine the words in this verse we see that God has sent the tabernacle to God within the new Temple in the new Jerusalem. Since all of the saints will be able to know God more personally, ALL people will have access to God and not have to go through the Chief Priest for Atonement (which, of course, is not needed anymore by the saints).
v 4: God will take away all tears and no more pain or death. There will be no sorrow and the associated tears. All the old things (or as some would say, "old baggage") will pass away and be forgotten. This is a world of weeping. Who is there of the human family that has not cried? Who that has not wept over the grave of a relative or friend; over his own losses and cares; over disappointments; over treatment received from others; over his sins; over the follies or vices of his fellow-men?
Since tears can be for joy or sorrow, I am personally not sure ALL tears will be eliminated. All sorrow will be eliminated. Therefore, all the tears of sorrow and disappointments will not exist anymore. However, there will be only joy in heaven. We will have many of the characteristics as we have now; we tear for love and joy. I believe we could still tear for the sheer beauty of the new earth and Jerusalem, of seeing Jesus, of hearing the greatest music, and any other things which would be the greatest of God's creation. However, belief in elimination of all tears or not will not affect salvation.
v 5: The personage sitting on the throne says that He made all things new. He also tells John to write that the words are absolutely true and faithful. Jesus is enthroned at this time; so, Jesus is probably the one speaking to John. All things being made new infers that all things will stay new. The theory of Entropy will not exist. This is a very complex law of Thermodynamics that essentially says that all things are under a wear out or decay. However, in the new life, there will be no aging. Every tree will bear perfect fruit eternally. God will provide all light necessary by virtue of His being there. Everything will stay eternally young and new as at the time of creation. Perhaps, all old will turn back to being young. We do not know for sure. We only know of the perfection of God's creation will exist.
v 6: Now Jesus says to John that He is the Alpha and Omega (we have seen this before - Rev. 1:8; 11; 22:13) and the beginning and the end. Jesus will give the thirsty people the water of life. This goes back to Jesus at the well in Samaria (John 4:14; 7:37-39). This water of life is symbolic of the Holy Spirit.
v 7: Jesus says all people that overcame shall inherit. Good examples of overcoming are in chapters 2-3 on the seven churches of Asia. All those that overcame (true believers) the temptations of earth that were contrary to God's Will will be God's own, forever. Christ is the heir of all things (Heb. 1:2; Psa 2:8). Those who are in Christ are "joint-owners" with Christ (Rom 8:17). That inheritance is incorruptible, undefiled, will not fade away , and is reserved in heaven for us (1 Peter 1:4-5). What a glorious inheritance.
v 8: These are words of contrast and words of restatement and that all those who were NOT true believers would take their time in the lake of fire and brimstone. This is the second death that was explained earlier. This is the final mention of the fire.
The "fearful" and "unbelieving" is very similar to the sin of unbelief all by itself. It is the unbelief that prevents going to heaven (John 3:18). ALL sins can be forgiven except the sin of unbelief. All the other listings of sin in this verse are forgivable and are of a lesser degree than unbelief. The "abominable" is specifically blasphemous associated with idol worship. The "murderer" is for criminal homicide (also includes anger - Matt. 5:21-22. The "whoremonger" (Greek pornos is a person practicing sexual activity outside of marriage (also lustful thoughts - Matt. 5:28). The "sorcerer" (greek pharmakeus is related to the use of drugs to induce false religious fantasies and occult experiences. The term "idolater" (also includes covetousness) is one whose religious worship is directed toward a material object which in turn turns into demonic spirits. The term "liar" is specifically related to Satan himself who is the father of all liars (John 8:44) and those that practice deception - especially false teachers.
v 9: Now we look at the Holy city. John says that one of the angels that delivered the vial plagues talked to him. He tells John to go with the him so he can show John the bride, the Lamb's wife. The last reference to an angel was 1000 years earlier. Now this angel is going to give John an introduction to the beautiful city (Jerusalem) where he and other saints will dwell one day.
v 10: The angel carries John in the spirit to a great mountain. He showed John the great city that descended out of heaven. From this position, John can see everything clearly. He is obviously looking at the city in total rather than in pieces.
v 11: It has the glory of God and light which are like precious stones; clear as crystal. It is already obvious that the holy city is like no other city. Babylon was the greatest city on earth for some time. Now it is gone. The new Jerusalem is shining with the glory of God. The descriptions to follow of the city is what John sees. All of the things he saw he explains in descriptions of things of which he knows. We do not know how the city will look; however, we can accept the descriptions as symbolic of beauty, richness, brightness, and significant.
The "Shekenah glory" originally filled the ancient tabernacle (Exod. 40:34) and the temple of Solomon (2 Chron. 5:14). Now, the tabernacle of God is with the people and His glory illuminates the new Jerusalem. John only has the language to compare what he is seeing to a very precious jasper stone. The radiant light was "clear as crystal".
The Shekenah is a Hebrew word not found in the Bible. However, it is used in many Jewish writings to refer to God’s presence. The term means “that which dwells”. It is assumed throughout the Bible whenever it refers to God’s nearness either in a person, object, or His glory. It is often used in combination with glory to speak of the presence of God’s.
v 12-13: The walls do not have a security purpose (keep out or keep in). They symbolize the security of God for His people. The gates will not be closed because there are no evil persons of which to be afraid. It has twelve gates. At the gates are twelve angels, one angel at each gate. On the gates are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. This assures that the godly men and women of ancient Israel will be residents. It will also be a remembrance of the patriarchal ministries of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel), with the twelve sons of Israel. The sizes of the gates are not given. But, we can assume the height is similar to other gates and walls of the past times. The gates were probably almost as tall of the walls. The angels will also not be for protection. They will be spiritual ministers. They will minister as necessary the "heirs of salvation".
Of the 12 gates, there were three each for the north, south, east, and west sides. Each gate is named for a tribe of Israel. This probably is layed out used for Mose's wilderness tabernacle. Every time the Hebrews put up the tabernacle in the wilderness, three tribes settled in on each side of the tabernacle (Numb. 2:1-31; 3:23, 29, 35, 38).
v 14: In between each of the gates is a foundation named for the 12 apostles. Some ask the question whether Judas is to be one of the apostles listed. He probably will not be. Then, if there are twelve apostles, who is the twelfth?
I suspect Judas Iscariot is not represented. Will Matthias is there? Remember (Acts 1:20-26) the 11 remaining apostles thought they needed to get a twelfth apostle who would take the place of Judas. There were two very good people, Matthias and Joseph (called Barsabbas, also called Justus). They prayed and drew lots. Matthias won the lot. The people were chosen by Peter and the other apostles. Matthias was not necessarily chosen by God. I believe Paul has a very good chance of being chosen for one of the twelve apostles. There were not any early Christians that did more than Paul to further Jesus. He was even be martyred.
Measure the City
v 15-17: Now the city is measured. Why would it be important to put in scripture the size of this new city. The measurements are made with a golden measurement tool by an angel with John. This is probably based on similar prophetic measurements Ezekiel performed (Ezek 40). It is interesting to read this description and do some comparisons. The dimensions show that the city is IMMENSE. So far, John has talked about the beauty and has given descriptions of the outside (walls and gates).
The shape is unique. The way the scripture is written, the city is a perfect cube; all sides are equal, height, width, AND HEIGHT. There are some who think the city could be shaped like a pyramid. The words of scripture give the common terms for a cube. In addition, the pyramidal shape has always been associated with paganism. The cube is the specified shape for the Holiest of Holies. Most cities were shaped as squares (Babylon and Nineveh). But this city also has an equal height. A cube is a symbol of perfection; therefore, this is probably the symbolism.
The measurements were all 12,000 furlongs (Greek: Stadia; one stadion equals approximately 607 feet). It is not known whether the 12,000 furlongs is the circumference or just one side. If the side is 12,000 furlongs, the city would be about 1380 miles on each side; which is about 1,900,000 square miles. If the circumference is 12,000 (one side is 3,000 furlongs) then the city would be about 345 miles on each side; which is about 119,000 square miles. Both of these are very respectably sized cities.
One analyst did a comparison of population density for a discussion piece. Using London as an example (117 square miles), the number of people for the two conditions above would be 3.3 BILLION and 53 BILLION REDEEMED people. The Revelation Record (see Bibliography) says that the size of the city would go from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and from the atlantic Ocean to Colorado. That is a large city. The Record also gave a size comparison related to the number of people.
v 18-20: We should emphasize this point again; this is what John sees.
The city is pure gold, so pure it looks clear as crystal or glass. The twelve foundations (described in verse 14) are "garnishing" with precious stones. They symbolize the great beauty of the foundations. The stones on each of the layers of foundations are:
v 21-22: The gates appear as a single pearl (remember pearly gates). This may be a gate which is open, bright, and pearly in appearance. The streets appear to be pure, almost clear, gold. We will have ample time to revere the beauty of God's paradise when the time comes. The only real way to absorb the beauty of this city is to see it from a distance. Imagine being high and above the city and looking at the beautiful glow of all the colors one could ask to see. The sheen of perfection is something to behold. There will be more than just gold in the street and jewels in the walls and foundations and gates. There will be water and trees. There will be beautiful parks and magnificent public buildings as well as the living quarters for the saints ("in My house are many mansions").
v 23-25: In the "old days" the temple was where God resided. Now there is no need for a temple or for a place of isolation from His people. This New Jerusalem IS the residence of God AND His people.
God is Light; Jesus is the Light of the World. There is no need for other light. God supplies the never ending bright light of Jerusalem. Though not found in the bible, there is an Aramaic-Hebrew term, Shechinah, for the presence of God. The Shechinah Glory is a term for the illumination supplied by God in this new world.
At this point, there is great discussion on the meaning of kings on earth. For some reason, this was a surprise to all scholars. All the redeemed (Jews and Gentiles) live in this new city. It appears there will be an administration or organization of nations and rulers with Christ as the King. However, all will have access to New Jerusalem. These kingdoms are headed by selected saints. Some say this is the point in scripture that says there are levels and responsibilities of the saved. They will be equal as persons in the eye of God. However, by some technique, Jesus will select certain people to lead certain areas. This may be associated with what we did with our God given gifts and talents on earth before the new city. Remember, works were not required to be saved (although being a Christian with no works is a dry or dead Christianity). But, they might be related to our heavenly jobs.
The gates will never be shut since they are open in the light and there is no night. There will be no sin, everything can be open for everyone, all saints.
Who will enter
v 26-27: No one will enter who can defile, work an abomination, or make a lie. Note that this does not say there are any who fit that category. They were all destroyed by Christ. The Greek says "they shall positively-not enter" the Holy City implying there is no person who is in sin now. The nations and their kings will finally have learned how to live and lead. The Lord and the other leaders will exercise loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness on the earth.
|Water and streets
General: The great omnipotent God had a great, holy, and eternal purpose to His creation (universe and us). Sin intruded. However, in the grand scheme of things in God's eyes, the intrusion was temporary. As we have been taught in Christianity, God's purpose will NEVER be thwarted. The great curse has been removed for the creation. God's kingdom has come.
v 1-2: We have been looking at the holy city from the outside. Now we will look at the inside. There is a river of the water of life coming out of the royal throne. Water coming out of the throne is a question. It appears this is to remind us continuously that Christ was the giver of the water of life (John, 1 Cor., Exod.). It could, or in addition, have life giving properties. The symbol of water if used because water is essential for life. Christ is essential to life. Now, we have the water of life forever. Some say the first example of the water of life came when Christ was on the cross and was speared in the side (John 19:34). Blood and water poured out. There is a physiological reason for the separation of the water and blood pouring out. However, if represents the water of life from Jesus. He promised the water of life to Nicodemus (John 3:5) and the woman at the well (John 4:10-14) and the multitudes at the feast of the tabernacles (John 7:37-39)
Now appears not only the river but the tree of life. It is probably the same tree that was in the Garden of Eden. That tree had some remarkable life-preserving qualities. God had to remove it when Adam and Eve introduced sin. It appears the trees of the first garden and the last garden are the same. The tree of life appears to really be a tree in the center of the street and on each side or a river. This tree apparently will give 12 kinds of fruit, one for each of the months. This, of course, is saying there is going to be 12 months to a "heaven-year". This may just be for us. The Bible mentions about half a dozen different fruits. [By the way, the apple for the Garden was probably an apricot according to the strict Hebrew.
The leaves will be for the healing of the nations. We discussed the "nations" which will be the organization in New Jerusalem. However, what are the tree leaves going to heal? The word for healing is therapeia. It normally means serving, caring, or healing; hence "therapy". But for what? Since there is no sickness, the interpretation is for their nutrition and well being. The word basically meant "cure" or "service". So, it could be read "the leaves of the tree were for the service of the nations." The healing symbolism could be in this leaves example. Although no healing will be necessary, it could be the symbol to have perpetual health. The scripture "In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river ....." is a little confusing. How could one tree be in the midst of the street AND on either side of the river. The most reasonable is that tree of life is not a single tree; but, it is duplicated all over the city.
Here are some critical bible trees:
v 3: The curse, Adamic, will no longer exist. The ground will not longer be cursed to bear thorns and thistles; nor will man be separated for his God anymore because of sin. God and the Lamb are there and the people will serve Him. No greater honor could be attained. There will be work to do; an eternity worth. Life with Jesus will not only rest and worshiping of God; it will also be a life of productivity and teaching. We will be listening to others; we will be singing with all; we will be worshiping God. We could see the secrets of the infinite universe and limitless cosmos. Perhaps we will develop to perfection the particular gifts and talents God originally gave to us. We will not be limited to our capabilities of our earth bodies. Remember, we are in the eternal bodies. So we will be capable of things heretofore thought to be impossible.
v 4: Now Christ's face will be seen. His name shall be on the peoples' foreheads just as He promised (Rev 3:12). We do not know the character of the marking; but, it will be done.
v 5: There shall be no night. But there will be no need for a candle or sun. The Lord God will give them light. This will mean there is light inside the city. The previous discussions about God's light was from the outside In this new city, Jesus prepared "many mansions". Now we live in them as Christ promised. We will not be living as family units as we know them now. There are simply to many complex problems to live like that (divorce, multiple marriages, one partner believer and one not, being members of polygamous households, living together without marriage, other marriage variations brought about by human wants, etc.). Some feel that correct marriages in accordance with God's law may make the allowance for them to live together in heaven. We will, of course, be one family. We will, however, see and know all of the saved people in heaven.(Rev. 21:23, 25).
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