V1111having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper.. The city has “the glory of God”. That goes beyond the robe of the bride, which was woven by herself, although the robe was given to her by God. In Christ we see the light of the glory of the knowledge of God (2Cor 4:66For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.) and here the church has that glory. The church is just as in full harmony with God as Christ is. Just like the glory of God is visible in Christ, the glory of God is visible in her (cf. Jn 17:2222The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one;). What has been revealed in the Lord Jesus will also be seen in this city.
When you consider this to be applied to people whom by nature had no part of the glory of God (Rom 3:2323for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,), isn’t it an indescribable grace? It is indeed no more than grace by which you have got part of it (2Cor 4:66For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.). Therefore you are now able to boast in the hope on the glory of God (Rom 5:1111And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.) that has become a reality in this portion.
The glory of God, as it is expressed in chapter 4:3, is in all kinds of ways also the part of the church. The jasper stone which is mentioned there, is also to be found here (and also in the verses 18-1918The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.19The 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;). This stone is to be compared to the diamond that is familiar to us, which can be cut in such a way that the light is being reflected in a variety of magnificent colors. That light, which soon will be visible in a fully uninterrupted glory, should now already be radiated by the church (cf. Phil 2:1515so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,). That is only possible by the Spirit (Acts 7:5555But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God;; 2Cor 3:1818But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.).
V1212It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names [were] written on them, which are [the names] of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.. The church is built in a way that it can reflect or radiate the glory of God, which glory in no way can be darkened or disturbed. This is because she has a wall and gates and foundations. A wall ensures the safety (Zec 2:55For I,’ declares the LORD, ‘will be a wall of fire around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.’”) and holiness and makes a division between the holy and the unholy (Eze 42:2020He measured it on the four sides; it had a wall all around, the length five hundred and the width five hundred, to divide between the holy and the profane.). In this city all the saints have gathered whom have glorified God in their lives on earth. The wall makes sure that nothing can enter the city that does not belong there (Psa 122:33Jerusalem, that is built
As a city that is compact together;
), which now is still possible in the church (Gal 2:44But [it was] because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage.; Jude 1:44For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.).
But it is a wall with gates. Gates are related to government. In former days court cases were held in the gates of cities (Rth 4:11Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there, and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz spoke was passing by, so he said, “Turn aside, friend, sit down here.” And he turned aside and sat down.). The great emphasis on the gates underlines the meaning of the city as a governing body. The gates allow the good to enter and keep the evil outside. A gate also means a secure and controlled access to the temple. They form a connection between the city and the earth during the kingdom of peace. The angels are the servants at the gates, they are the guards. Their duty as channels of God’s blessing, like in the Old Testament, is over. That duty is for the church (Heb 2:55For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking.). The wall with its gates is all the more to the glory of God (Isa 60:1818“Violence will not be heard again in your land,
Nor devastation or destruction within your borders;
But you will call your walls salvation, and your gates praise.
Names are written on the gates. That has to do with the custom that gates were named after the cities which they were leading to. The Damascus gate is for example the gate through which you are led on the way to Damascus. Therefore the gates with the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel point out that the blessings of the church will go to Israel in the first place.
V1313[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.. With the holy city Jerusalem, the tabernacle of God (verse 33And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,), it is the same as with the tabernacle in the wilderness. In each wind direction there were three tribes and the tabernacles was in the center (Num 2:1717“Then the tent of meeting shall set out [with] the camp of the Levites in the midst of the camps; just as they camp, so they shall set out, every man in his place by their standards.). All blessing goes out from the center and all worship goes to this center:
1. It begins with the “east”, the side where the sun rises. The light of the new day of the kingdom of peace is present.
2. The “north” reminds us of the time that God had to judge His people through the means of the nations from the north, because of their unfaithfulness, a time that is over.
3. The “south” speaks of the summer warmth, the summer that has come.
4. The “west” is the side where the sun goes down, which shows that there also comes an end to the kingdom of peace.
There is an application to be made for the proclamation of the gospel in our time and also for the church now. We must try to reach all nations with the gospel and also all age groups and social layers of the population, meaning everyone, without distinction. A church needs to have both a high wall and well-functioning gates. Some churches have too many open gates that there is no more mention of a wall. The other way around can also be the case. In that case a church has only a high wall and not a single gate. In both cases there is no separation for the Lord.
V1414And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them [were] the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.. After the gates the wall is described in more details. The foundations are not the twelve sons of Israel, but “the twelve apostles of the Lamb”. The twelve sons of Israel have never been related to the Lamb on earth. The twelve apostles have become the founders of the church (Eph 2:2020having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner [stone],) after the Holy Spirit came and the church came into existence. The foundation is Christ (1Cor 3:1111For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.). This is the city with foundations to which Abraham looked forward to (Heb 11:1010for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.).
V1515The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall.. Then John remarks that the angel has “a gold measuring rod” in his hand. The rod is of gold and therefore meets the glory of God. The city and its gates and walls are to be measured with a Divine measure. Earlier John was ordered to measure the earthly Jerusalem (Rev 11:11Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, “Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it.). Only, there was no mention of a rod of gold and John also is not to measure a certain part.
When God measures something or gives the order to measure, He tells us that it belongs to Him and that it is recognized by Him (cf. Zec 2:1-2,121Then I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, [there was] a man with a measuring line in his hand.2So I said, “Where are you going?” And he said to me, “To measure Jerusalem, to see how wide it is and how long it is.”12The LORD will possess Judah as His portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem.; Eze 40:3,53So He brought me there; and behold, there was a man whose appearance was like the appearance of bronze, with a line of flax and a measuring rod in his hand; and he was standing in the gateway.5And behold, there was a wall on the outside of the temple all around, and in the man’s hand was a measuring rod of six cubits, [each of which was] a cubit and a handbreadth. So he measured the thickness of the wall, one rod; and the height, one rod.). ‘To measure’ also means to determine the position and the calling of the city, with the boundaries attached to it. Of all that belongs to the city, of everyone who finds himself there, of everything that is decided – as it is said, the gate in former days was the place of jurisdiction and therefore it refers to decisions – and of the holiness of the city – indicated by the wall – is to be decided whether it is in agreement with the glory of God.
V1616The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal.. The city is not only square – which is indicated by the mention of “its length is as great as its breadth” –, it is also cubical, for its height has the same measure. That reminds us of the Holy of Holies, that according to its measures was also a cube (cf. 1Kgs 6:2020The inner sanctuary [was] twenty cubits in length, twenty cubits in width, and twenty cubits in height, and he overlaid it with pure gold. He also overlaid the altar with cedar.; Eze 41:44He measured its length, twenty cubits, and the width, twenty cubits, before the nave; and he said to me, “This is the most holy [place].”). By her length and breadth it stands in connection with the earth and by her height in connection with heaven.
The “fifteen hundred miles” which the angel measures, is to be compared with about two thousand two hundred twenty kilometers. That the city has perfect even sides says something about the full balance in everything that God establishes. He gives the right weight to every truth of His Word. We see that in the way He carries them out. He never emphasizes one truth to the expense of another truth.
That the city can be measured indicates that it is limited. That goes for everything that has to do with man. Only God is endless and man is by definition limited. At the same time the church is perfect in accordance with the eternal counsels of God and the size of it is immeasurable (cf. Eph 3:18-1918may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,19and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.).
V1717And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, [according to] human measurements, which are [also] angelic [measurements].. With the “seventy-two yards” or “one hundred [and] forty-four cubits” (NKJV) the thickness of the wall is probably meant, which therefore counts between sixty-five and seventy meters. Anyway, it is a perfect measure (one hundred and forty-four is twelve times twelve). At the same time it also implies that each man can have only a limited imagination of the ‘measures’ of the church. In this measurement “a man” and “an angel” are placed on the same level. Both of them are creatures and therefore limited in understanding all the glory of God.
V1818The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.. In verse 1111having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. you saw that jasper is an image of the radiance of the glory of God. The wall of the city is of this same material. The glory of God therefore has the same function as a protecting and dividing wall. The glory of God prohibits and prevents anything unclean entering the city. Therefore, if the glory of God would be revealed more amongst us, then many things would be prevented that do not fit in the light of that glory (Acts 5:1313But none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem.; Gen 28:1717He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”).
This is the fourth time that the wall of the city is being dealt with. In verse 1212It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names [were] written on them, which are [the names] of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. the mark of the wall is mentioned: great and high. In verse 1414And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them [were] the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. the foundations of the wall are mentioned. In verse 1717And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, [according to] human measurements, which are [also] angelic [measurements]. the wall is talked about in connection with its size. Finally this verse speaks about the building material, the material the wall is made of.
The city is “pure gold, like clear glass”, which means that the city is of transparent gold. In the old creation that is not possible, but it surely is in the new one. It makes clear that the city is made of a material that is fully transparent, without any dark spot, without any blemish or anything unclean. The city is in this characteristic similar to God. How could the city of God have something that is dark or blemished? Everything is transparent and meets the glory of God.
Now read Revelation 21:11-18 again.
Reflection: Which aspects of the city are mentioned and what do they represent?