Revelation
1-4 A New Heaven and a New Earth 5-10 All Things New 11-18 The Holy City, the New Jerusalem 19-27 God Almighty and the Lamb Are Its Temple
A New Heaven and a New Earth

1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer [any] sea. 2And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And 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, 4and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be [any] death; there will no longer be [any] mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

V11Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer [any] sea.. When all evil and all evil doers have got their everlasting unchangeable, horrible destination, the attention of John is drawn to a completely new heaven and a completely new earth. “The first heaven and the first earth” have had their time, they have fled away (Rev 20:1111Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.) and have dissolved by fire (2Pet 3:7,127But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.12looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!). In that way room has been made for “a new heaven and a new earth”.

The great difference with the first earth is that the sea which is still in the millennial kingdom of peace (Eze 47:2020“The west side [shall be] the Great Sea, from the [south] border to a point opposite Lebo-hamath. This is the west side.; Zep 2:66So the seacoast will be pastures,
[With] caves for shepherds and folds for flocks.
; Zec 9:1010I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
And the horse from Jerusalem;
And the bow of war will be cut off.
And He will speak peace to the nations;
And His dominion will be from sea to sea,
And from the River to the ends of the earth.
; 14:88And in that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea; it will be in summer as well as in winter.) is in eternity no more there. Also the turbulent, rebellious nations which the sea represents and the ungodly that are like the sea (Isa 57:2020But the wicked are like the tossing sea,
For it cannot be quiet,
And its waters toss up refuse and mud.
) are no more there. There is an atmosphere of a constant, complete rest. The true theocracy has started. God reigns or better said: directs, for here it is more about God Who dwells in rest, while there is nothing more to be restrained, there is nothing more that may possibly become rebellious. Then righteousness will be dwelling on earth (2Pet 3:1313But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.) and will not only be ruling like in the millennial kingdom of peace. Everything will inwardly and outwardly be in accordance with God’s Being.

The old creation was perishable (Psa 102:2626“Even they will perish, but You endure;
And all of them will wear out like a garment;
Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed.
; Mt 24:3535Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.; 1Cor 7:3131and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away.; 1Jn 2:1717The world is passing away, and [also] its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.) and therefore temporary. The new creation is completely new and of permanent, everlasting nature. The new is not a replacement by the renewing and the improving of the old, but the new heaven and the new earth have never been there earlier. The second one is not only different than the first, it is also better than the first. Just as what God has worked in the redemption is different and better than what man has lost because of sin. God has not only solved the problem of sin, but given something far more wonderful instead.

With God the second always has preference over the first. You find often in the Scripture that the second or later born is given preference over the firstborn. Just look at for example to Abel whom is given preference over Cain, Isaac over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau, Ephraim over Manasseh, David over his older brothers (cf. also Job 42:1212The LORD blessed the latter [days] of Job more than his beginning; and he had 14,000 sheep and 6,000 camels and 1,000 yoke of oxen and 1,000 female donkeys.; 1Cor 15:4747The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven.; Heb 8:66But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.).

V22And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.. After the wonderful total picture of the new heaven and the new earth, John sees a city. This city is the center of the whole new scene. Also in the new order of matters where there is no sin anymore, there is room for holiness. The city is “the holy city”. Holy has the meaning of being separated. Separation has not always to do with separation from evil. When God for example sanctifies the seventh day, it means that He has given this day a separate place compared to the other days (Gen 2:33Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.). In that way this city takes a separate place in the whole new order.

This city is “the new Jerusalem” which indicates the contrast with the old Jerusalem. It is a movable city. It comes down “out of heaven”, for heaven is the land where it belongs. It comes “from God”, for the beginning of the city lies in God, in His counsel. The new Jerusalem comes down without coming on earth, in order to, as it were, make a connection between heaven and earth, to connect them together.

The city looks like “a bride adorned for her husband”. This description makes clear that this new Jerusalem is the church. After a thousand years she still has the same radiant beauty that she has had during her wedding (Rev 19:77Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride [lit wife] has made herself ready.”). The test of time absolutely did not have any influence on her. To all eternity she will keep that beauty.

The city is ‘holy’ and is compared with ‘a bride’. That means that God, Who is light – holiness has to do with God as light – and love, is seen in that city. Here the church is perfectly suited to be related with Him, because she perfectly meets with His Being. Therefore she also fully satisfies His desires, she belongs to Him, she is like Him (Eph 5:31-3231For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.32This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.; 1Jn 3:33And everyone who has this hope [fixed] on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.).

Actually, this new Jerusalem must be distinguished from the heavenly Jerusalem (Heb 12:2222But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels,). With the heavenly Jerusalem is meant the dwelling place of all heavenly saints. The heavenly Jerusalem is the heavenly capital from where the kingdom of peace will be governed. It is the center of government in which believers from the Old Testament and from the New Testament have their place and task. The new Jerusalem consists of only those who are the church of the living God, the dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Also when there is mention of ‘the Jerusalem above’ (Gal 4:2626But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.), it is something different than what is called here the ‘new Jerusalem’. The Jerusalem ‘above’ is not that much of a city with government characteristics, but it indicates more a sphere wherein the believers live. That sphere is a sphere of freedom that stands opposite to the law. Therefore the Jerusalem above is put in contrast to the earthly Jerusalem, which represents the sphere of the law.

V33And 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,. After John has seen these beautiful and substantial new things, he hears a loud voice. That voice comes with a declaration from the throne, the seat of the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God has reached its final destination; it has achieved its purpose. The explanation says that God dwells with men. He does that in “the tabernacle”, which refers to the church, for that is the dwelling place of God in the Spirit (Eph 2:2222in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.).

There are more names used for God’s dwelling place, like a temple and a house. That particularly here it is spoken of “the tabernacle” as a dwelling place, refers to the mobility of the dwelling place, like the tabernacle during the journey in the wilderness of the people of Israel. It is also nice to consider that the word ‘tabernacle’ is also seen in what you read about the dwelling of the Lord Jesus among us. When you read “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:1414And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.), it literally says ‘the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us’, meaning ‘dwelt in a tent’.

The tabernacle speaks about the way in which God dwells with His people. The tabernacle in the Old Testament is an image of God’s dwelling place. The real dwelling place of God is to be seen in the Lord Jesus and in the church.

A remarkable thing is that it says that God will dwell “among men”. That it is a special joy for God to dwell with men, is to be derived from the fact that it is mentioned three times in this very verse. All these people together are His people. There is no more mention of separate nations. Nations came into being because of sin, but all consequences of sin have been taken away. Therefore there is no more difference between Israel and the nations. Israel will not have a privileged place anymore.

Israel had to do with counsels from the foundation of the world (Mt 13:3535[This was] to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
“I WILL OPEN MY MOUTH IN PARABLES;
I WILL UTTER THINGS HIDDEN SINCE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD.”
; 25:3434“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.) and had an earthly and temporary existence. All earthly and temporary things will then be no more. There will only be people, believers from all ages, without exception. The only distinction that will remain concerns the new Jerusalem, the church. She has originated from before the foundation of the world.

The verse ends with an expression of special intimacy between God and His people. “God Himself”, without any intermediary, like for example Moses or Elijah or a high priest, “will be among them”. There will not be anyone anymore through whom God relate with His people. He is the God of that very great people. And that very great people has and knows no one else than Him alone as their God.

V44and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be [any] death; there will no longer be [any] mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”. When that wonderful situation has come, every memory of sorrow, which was inseparably related to the first things, will be taken away. The best description that we can make of the glory of eternity is by mentioning what we absolutely will not find there. We cannot yet grasp the glory of what surely will be there (cf. 2Cor 12:44was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.). Nevertheless we can certainly understand that what often makes our life difficult and troublesome on earth today and what makes us eagerly long for heaven, will not be there anymore. Therefore this description is in itself a great encouragement already. The very five words that tell us what will not be there anymore, now define the whole world events and the whole world history since the fall of man.

In chapter 7:17 it was already announced that God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, like a mother wipes away the tears from the face of her child. He wipes away “every tear”, where after never a tear will arise again ever. Everything that now still causes tears will then be disappeared. Then every man will live in perfect harmony with God, perfectly in agreement with God and perfectly unanimous with every other man. When there is no more sin there is no more death and therefore nothing that is related to death, like pain and sorrow, of which tears are the expression. It will never come back, for “the first things” definitely “have passed away”.

Now read Revelation 21:1-4 again.

Reflection: What causes you most to be longing for the new heaven and the new earth?


All Things New

5And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He *said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” 6Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. 7He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. 8But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part [will be] in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” 9Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10And 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,

V55And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He *said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”. Now speaks “He who sat on the throne”. To sit on the throne means that He has all power and guides all things according to His will and in that way achieves His aim. We cannot imagine how what is new will look like. You can compare that with a grain of wheat. If you look at it you cannot imagine that an ear of wheat will grow out of it. Or when you look at a caterpillar, neither can you imagine that a butterfly will come out of it. Paul uses a number of images to clarify the difference between earthly and heavenly things (1Cor 15:35-4935But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?”36You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies;37and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else.38But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own.39All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one [flesh] of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish.40There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the [glory] of the earthly is another.41There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.42So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable [body], it is raised an imperishable [body];43it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;44it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual [body].45So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul.” The last Adam [became] a life-giving spirit.46However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual.47The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven.48As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly.49Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.), but our comprehension is too small to imagine all of it. However, we do know that all sad things are gone and “all things” will be new.

It is not new in contrast to old, but new in the sense of something that has never existed, for nothing and nobody will ever grow old in the new creation. Everything for which man has ever made efforts will then be established by God. Man is not able to make an end to death and things that are related to it, because sin dwells in him. To man that situation remains an idle dream, but for the faith it is the great reality.

After this wonderful promise that He will make all things new, John is ordered for the third time to write down (Rev 14:1313And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.”; 19:99Then he *said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” And he *said to me, “These are true words of God.”). By writing it down, it becomes fixed (Isa 30:88Now go, write it on a tablet before them
And inscribe it on a scroll,
That it may serve in the time to come
As a witness forever.
). When we sometimes forget these things, we can read it again. In order to avoid any insecurity, it is added as a confirmation that these words are “faithful and true”.

V66Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.. Then as a mighty closure the cry sounds: “It is done!” At that moment all things have become new. Then the full result is seen of the work of Him Who once cried: “It is finished!” (Jn 19:3030Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.). The rest, the peace and the harmony that are grounded in that work, will ceaselessly be enjoyed forever by God and the ones with whom He dwells.

He Who has said it, is the eternal God, “the Alpha and the Omega”. He fulfills from A (“Alpha” is the first letter of the Greek alphabet) to Z (“Omega” is the last letter of the Greek alphabet) what He has said, which means that He will fulfill His Word to the jot. He is also “the beginning and the end”, which means that He stands at the beginning of all things and at the end of all things He will be still standing. There is nothing before Him and nothing after Him. All things are kept in relation with Him from eternity to eternity. There is an eternity, because He is the eternal One.

At this breathtaking moment, where time and everything attached to it, has disappeared, actually an invitation spontaneously goes out to everyone who has no part in it yet. When there are readers who have not got a part in it yet, then it cannot be otherwise than that a desire arises to get a part in it. It is most assuredly possible! When there is a thirst for the living God (Psa 42:22My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;
When shall I come and appear before God?
), He will quench the thirst, just like the thirst of the Samaritan woman was quenched by the Lord Jesus (Jn 4:1414but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”).

V77He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.. Besides thirst there is also a fight needed to gain part of that glory. There is actually resistance in the form of persons or doctrines that stand in the way and want to prevent a person to gain part of that glory. But there are powerful weapons available that secure the victory. Therefore the inheritance of these things is given to those who have overcome the world through the faith (1Jn 5:44For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.). They have overcome by the blood of the Lamb (Rev 12:1111And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.). They are more than conquerors through Him Who has loved them (Rom 8:3737But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.).

The conquerors will be faithful to the end, until the wonderful inheritance can be taken into possession. Then the new creation will be experienced in the closest relation with God and to the joy of God. This is the only place in the writings of John where there is mention of our position as sons. It is also a personal relation. Each person will have his own relation with God and God with him. He will not disappear in the crowd of people with whom God dwells (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,).

V88But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part [will be] in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”. After the extensive, but at the same time very limited description of the glory which is the part of the believers, the part of the unbelievers follows. The contrast is enormous and will never be negated. It will remain forever and ever. This is the part of those who are no conquerors and who haven’t thirsted for God.

The first category of people of whom is said what their part is, are “the cowardly”. The cowardly have never dared to confess the Lord Jesus. They stand on the side of the enemies and will perish with them. Also the other categories will not inherit God’s kingdom (1Cor 6:1010nor thieves, nor [the] covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.).

There is mention of “their part”. That excludes the destruction of the soul. It also excludes the possibility for them to obtain the blessing after a course of time. The doctrine of the universal atonement is a serious attack on the authority of God’s Word and damages the gravity and perfection of the work of Christ. The substitutional suffering of Christ would not be necessary if all people will ultimately receive part of the eternal glory. But all who have no part of the work of Christ because of their refusal, will come into the second death, with the result that they will be definitely cut off of all life, on which they will never have their share.

V99Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”. With verse 88But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part [will be] in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” a chronological portion has been completed which has ended in eternity. What comes after that cannot possibly be a follow-up, for nothing else can follow after the eternal situation. Therefore from verse 99Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” we are taken back to the time that directly precedes the eternal situation, namely the kingdom of peace. A description follows of the glory of the church as the heavenly city, which is the place where from Christ’ government over the earth takes place.

Verse 99Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” starts with nearly the same words that you also have read in chapter 17:1. Here it also starts, as in chapter 17:1, with “one of the angels who had the seven bowls”, though it is added here that they were “full of the seven last plagues”. The full bowls are shown, in order to make clear that the city could only come after the judgments of God have been executed over the earth. Furthermore you see that in both portions the description follows of a woman and a city. If you compare both portions to one another, you see a relationship with both a great difference between what you now already have learnt about Babylon and what you will be seeing of the new Jerusalem.

The church is presented here as “bride” and as “wife”. Probably ‘bride’ refers to her glory towards the world and ‘wife’ refers to the intimate relationship towards the Lamb, the Bridegroom. ‘Bride’ can also possibly refer to the first love for that one particular Man Whom she loves above all things and ‘wife’ may refer to the fulfilled desire of the love and its continuance. Both aspects remain applicable forever.

V1010And 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,. In chapter 17:3 John was led into the desert. Here he finds himself in an exalted position. He is allowed to see the bride, the wife of the Lamb from the mountain. Now what does he see? He actually sees a city. That means that the woman who is the church, also has the characteristic of a city. The city is shown to John just like God has always seen her from eternity. In that way Moses was also allowed to see the promised land from a mountain (Deu 34:11Now Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan,) and Ezekiel saw the future earthly Jerusalem and the new temple from a high mountain (Eze 40:22In the visions of God He brought me into the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain, and on it to the south [there was] a structure like a city.).

John’s position is far higher than that of both of them, for he is allowed to see the new heavenly Jerusalem that comes down out of heaven from God. Just like the city in eternity comes down from God (verse 22And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.), just like that it also comes down into the kingdom of peace.

The church is the dwelling place of God, where from blessing goes to the earth, in both the kingdom of peace and in eternity. Here it is also “the holy city”, the city that God has set apart for Himself to be His city, His dwelling place. It is the city with the name “Jerusalem”, which means ‘foundation of peace’. In and through the church the name of the city will fulfill its meaning. The city is both the dwelling place of God and the place where His throne is. Therefore the city is also the center from where He reigns and directs for the benefit of people.

The last time that a city is mentioned in relation with the earth, is Babylon. The first city that was mentioned in relation with the earth, is the city that was built by Cain (Gen 4:1717Cain had relations with his wife and she conceived, and gave birth to Enoch; and he built a city, and called the name of the city Enoch, after the name of his son.). Cities on earth are not built to the honor of God. The city that is built by God is originally heavenly and spreads the honor of God and Christ.

Now read Revelation 21:5-10 again.

Reflection: What does it do to you when you think of the future of the unbelievers?


The Holy City, the New Jerusalem

11having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. 12It 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. 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. 14And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them [were] the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall. 16The 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. 17And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, [according to] human measurements, which are [also] angelic [measurements]. 18The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.

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?


God Almighty and the Lamb Are Its Temple

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; 20the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. 21And 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. 22I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23And 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. 24The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. 25In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; 26and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; 27and 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.

V19-2019The 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;20the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst.. Then the foundations are further examined. The foundations are adorned with all kinds of precious stones, yes, they consist of precious stones. They all together appear to be a foundation of twelve layers. Each layer is a foundation, which makes the city to lie on twelve foundations. Those foundations are not hidden in the ground, but are visible. The city is to be seen in its whole size, because it is considered to have come down from heaven from God, without coming on the earth.

The rank order of the foundations is given as follows:
1. The “first foundation”, the lowest one, on which all other foundations are laid, is again “jasper”, the image of the glory of God. The color is that of a transparent crystal.
2. The “second” foundation is “sapphire”. The color of sapphire is beautifully blue.
3. “Chalcedony”, the precious stone of which the “third” foundation consists, appears only here in the Bible. Its color is green-blue.
4. The color of “emerald”, the “fourth” foundation, is radiant green.
5. The color of “sardonyx”, the “fifth” foundation, may be lightly flamed black, brown, red and white striped.
6. “Sardius”, the “sixth” foundation, must have a beautiful red color.
7. “Chrysolite”, the “seventh” foundation, is of golden yellow color.
8. The color of “beryl”, the “eighth” foundation, can be different. This precious stone has amongst others a red, blue, green, yellow, purple and even a colorless variant.
9. “Topaz”, the “ninth” foundation, is deep splendid yellow.
10. “Chrysoprase” the ”tenth” foundation, is according to the meaning of its name, golden green.
11. The color of “jacinth”, the “eleventh” foundation, is not known (to me).
12. “Amethyst”, the “twelfth” foundation, has a violet color.

Although the exact color of each precious stone is not known, you nevertheless still have an impression of the overwhelming brilliance and splendor which the colors radiate from the foundations that are lying on each other. They merge together and each color reinforces the other colors. It must be a pleasure for the eye. It is about building materials that never perish and about colors that never fade away. The whole reveals the power and wisdom of the Creator.

You also come across twelve precious stones in Ezekiel 28. Those precious stones reflect the glory of the creation. You also find twelve precious stones in Exodus 28. There they are related to the breastplate of the high priest and reflect the glory of his service which he does for the sake of the twelve tribes of Israel.

All of the precious stones are different. We will all together be clothed with the glory of God, but it will never be forgotten how the glory of God on earth has been expressed in a unique way in every redeemed person. They altogether form a unique display of the glory of God. Each child of God can show something of God’s glory in his life. In the precious stones gold represent the common glory – the whole city is of gold, verse 1818The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.. The precious stones themselves represent the glory that each individual believer has and which distinguishes him from every other believer, while on the other hand he complements the other believer in that way and reinforces that believer’s glory.

V2121And 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.. Each of “the twelve gates” consists of a pearl. That reminds us of the value that the church has for the Lord Jesus. The church is a pearl of great value to Him (Mt 13:4646and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.). The twelve gates will eternally remind to all sides in creation that He has given Himself for her. If the church is as precious as a pearl to Him, can it then be the case for us that the fellowship of saints is unimportant or insignificant (cf. Heb 10:2525not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging [one another]; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.) or would we despise her least member (Mt 18:1010“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.)?

Another special characteristic of the city is that there is only one street. Therefore it is impossible to get lost or to walk off the road. All believers there go one way. It is impossible to have divisions there. Just as the city is of pure gold, which is gold that is like clear glass (verse 1818The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.), the street is also of “pure gold, like transparent glass”. The street refers to your walk in this city. There will be no danger for pollution, for in that city you are in accordance with the golden transparency of the street. At the same time it is an appeal to walk now already like you will be doing there too.

V2222I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.. John does not see a temple in the city. Therefore it is not about the earthly Jerusalem that the prophets are speaking about, for there will certainly be a temple there (Eze 40-44). A temple reminds us of sin, for the temple is a separate place in the city. That means also that there is a certain distance between God and His people. The veil in the temple emphasizes the separation between God and His people.

That distance and that separation are not found between the church and God and the Lamb. God dwells in the church and He Himself is the temple of her, just like the Lamb is (cf. Isa 8:1414“Then He shall become a sanctuary;
But to both the houses of Israel, a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over,
[And] a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
). The church is in the direct, immediate presence of God and the Lamb, without any distance or separation.

V2323And 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.. The city as a whole is the temple of God. God dwells in the city and in that way the city is the temple. There is no separate temple. Therefore there is no separate light, the sun or the moon, that lightens the city from outside. If God dwell in the city, He is its light. His glory could never be illuminated by something different that would have a greater glory. The brilliance of His glory lies all over the whole city.

And wherein is the brilliance of His glory to be seen? In the Lamb. The glory of God will always reach the city through the Lamb alone (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.). We know and see the Father only through the Son (Jn 14:6,96Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.9Jesus *said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and [yet] you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how [can] you say, ‘Show us the Father’?). The sun and moon are means to pass on the light in the creation. In Genesis 1 you see that there is first light on the first day and that afterwards on the fourth day the sun and the moon are called by God to show up. But the city of God is not illuminated by natural, created means. There is a direct illumination that comes from God Himself. That the Lamb is the lamp actually indicates that the Lamb is the means, but that doesn’t change anything about the fact that God’s light is directly present, for the Lamb in Whom this light is visible, is also God.

V2424The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.. The church passes on the light of the glory of God, which lies over it by the Lamb, to the earth. The church is like the sun for the nations. Through the light of the Lamb the church gives light in which the nations may walk. The church, which we are, will be the channel through which the blessing is passed on out of heaven to the earth. We ourselves will enjoy in our glorified bodies the blessings that surpass far beyond the earthly blessings.

The kings of the earth will bring their earthly glory to it (cf. Psa 72:10-1110Let the kings of Tarshish and of the islands bring presents;
The kings of Sheba and Seba offer gifts.
11And let all kings bow down before him,
All nations serve him.
; Isa 60:3,5-7,93“Nations will come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising.
5“Then you will see and be radiant,
And your heart will thrill and rejoice;
Because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you,
The wealth of the nations will come to you.
6“A multitude of camels will cover you,
The young camels of Midian and Ephah;
All those from Sheba will come;
They will bring gold and frankincense,
And will bear good news of the praises of the LORD.
7“All the flocks of Kedar will be gathered together to you,
The rams of Nebaioth will minister to you;
They will go up with acceptance on My altar,
And I shall glorify My glorious house.
9“Surely the coastlands will wait for Me;
And the ships of Tarshish [will come] first,
To bring your sons from afar,
Their silver and their gold with them,
For the name of the LORD your God,
And for the Holy One of Israel because He has glorified you.
). It is not clear to me how we should imagine that. We may probably think of the appearance of heavenly saints to these nations on earth. After all, the church will reign together with Christ as the wife of the Lamb. These heavenly saints represent Christ. By acknowledging them as channels of heavenly blessings, the nations will honor Christ.

V2525In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed;. Where the light of God rules, there is no darkness. The day will not be followed anymore by the night. The morning without clouds (2Sam 23:44Is as the light of the morning [when] the sun rises,
A morning without clouds,
[When] the tender grass [springs] out of the earth,
Through sunshine after rain.’
), the day without anything that causes shadow or darkness, has come for the heavenly church. All things are fully transparent. There will be no fear for thieves that would want to enter in, for all darkness has disappeared and is gone forever (1Jn 2:8b8On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining.). The city will be all light and glory.

V2626and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it;. It is said one more time that the glory and the honor of the nations will be brought into it. It clarifies how much the church is the center of blessings in the kingdom of peace. She is in herself not the source of it, for all blessings come from God. But she certainly is the means through which God leads His blessings to the earth.

The nations will respond to that with appropriate gifts. It will not be so much about material gifts, but surely about the recognition that they in no way have any glory and honor that serve to magnify themselves as if they owe that to themselves. The nations have actually behaved themselves like that in the time of the rejection of Christ. Then the church was not counted, but was rejected and persecuted. Now it is exactly the other way around. God makes sure that His church is honored according to the extent that she was dishonored (cf. Rev 3:99Behold, I will cause [those] of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and [make them] know that I have loved you.).

V2727and 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.. Into the city can enter only that which contributes to the glory of the city. It is impossible for anything to enter into it that could possibly damage the glory of the city. Everything that is related to sin and of which the elements are still on earth, gets no chance to penetrate into the heavenly city. Should there be anything unholy that tries to enter into it, or anyone who does wrong things, the light will directly expose it. Nothing that belongs to the darkness will manage to unremarkably enter into the city. The light is at the same time its safety.

But there are certainly some who enter into the city. That concerns believers, people “whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life”. It is not the nations of the earth, for flesh and blood cannot enter into it. Neither are they the believers of the church, for they are the city. Which believers are we actually talking about then? Those are all the dead believers from the Old Testament and the martyrs who were killed after the rapture of the church. They do not partake in the church, but they surely have a part in all the blessings that God has promised to all who have put their trust in Him. They will enjoy those blessings in the heavenly part of the kingdom of peace.

Now read Revelation 21:19-27 again.

Reflection: What is different in the new Jerusalem compared to the old Jerusalem?


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