An angel's view of the city
Revelation 21:9-end
r21b

21:9
I'll show you the bride
    This angel continues to show John the city and to explain it through 22:11. Then Jesus declares the close of probation and tells about His coming with His reward, and the apostle leaves his parting thoughts, closing the book.
    Compare this woman with her rival in chapter 17. 17a-2wmn

A plague angel
    Why would one of the angels who helped pour out the plagues (or was about to pour out his plague) show these things to the apostle (and to us)? Apparently because he had the perspective of good and evil which were in conflict at the end of time. One other passage with this pattern of thought occurs in the book. Instead of showing John the bride's reward, he showed him the reward for the false bride. The similar wording invites comparison.
   "And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:. . .  So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy. . . . And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. . . ." (Rev. 17:1-6)
   "How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously [luxuriously], so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. Therefore shall her plagues come in one day. . . . (Rev. 18:7, 8). 1807.

The bride the wife
    Will the marriage have already occurred when the city comes down? Yes but in a sense this may be the final stage in the marriage process. The husband brings His bride home to be forever with Him.

21:10
Great high mountain
    Perhaps this is John's way of describing an aerial view. The mountain top is in contrast to the wilderness or desert. Compare Jesus' third temptation in the desert mt0408.

21:11
Glory of God, precious light
    God's glory His character ex3318 (Ex. 33:18, 19) shines clearly as the city descends. This cannot be separated from the light of truth that we must hold even now as precious (rare or expensive) light (John 1:14, jn0114) . The text says that the city shines and that her light is precious. As part of the city, you and I may be channels of God's brilliance!
   What makes truth about God so valuable? God's way as expressed in His law is the way of happiness (Ps. 1:1, 2). Satan's forces have tried to distort truth and to make it appear wrong ro0125. The path to the kingdom is steep and narrow. Only with our eyes fixed on Christ and trusting in the light of the Word can we remain faithful. Moses "chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward." (Ex. 11:25, 26, NIV)
    A literal translation of the passage: "having the glory of God, her luminary, like a stone most precious, as jasper, flashing forth."

21:12
Twelves

     ----

"And [the city] had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." (Rev. 21:12-14)

Security and restoration
    The great and high wall, the gates, and the angels give a picture of security.
    Why would an angel be at each gate? Think about this as you read the following passage.
Gen. 3:22-24)
    When the city of holy people comes down and the wicked are destroyed, the curse of sin and separation from God will be completely removed. Angels guard the gates, but the righteous are inside, never more to be separated from the tree of life (22:2). The work of the angels is to keep out those who have refused God's gift of restoration of character (21:27). After the wicked come to attack the city and are finally destroyed (20:9), certainly the gates will be open and the angels will not need flaming swords.

21:13
Gates and foundations
     Look back at the text. What is associated with the gates? Is it the apostles? No. Do you recall how the camp of the children of Israel was laid out?. Three tribes were located on each side with one of the three as the principal tribe (See nu02 and the map at the bottom of that page.) The sanctuary was in the middle. And the apostles?
    The household of God is built on the foundation of the apostles with Christ as the cornerstone. The Spirit guided John to use essentially the same imagery as is in Paul's letter to the Ephesians. And who is the building in Ephesians? It's us. And at the end of the thousand years, if we are faithful, it will be us again as the city with twelve foundations.
    Another question arises? How are the apostles the foundation? Do we make images of them so we can appeal to them for some kind of grace? Not at all (Ex. 20:4) 1316d. Among them are the authors of the New Testament. They were the first leaders in preaching the gospel. The Old Testament revealed Christ in shadows or symbols (Heb. 8:1-6). So our foundation is Christ (1 Cor. 3:11) as revealed through the pens of the apostles. And the gates?
    "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. . . . I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." (John 10:9-11).
    So our Lord is the foundation and also the gate. The two parts of our Bible reveal Him 1104wi.

21:15
He had a gold reed

      "And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. And the city lieth foursquare. . . ." (Rev. 21:15, 16)

Why would the angel measure the city?
    One of the plague angels is speaking to John v.9. Let's consider what the city represents. It is the Lamb's bride 2101. It's the church you and I if we are faithful. The church is the bride His fiancée who makes herself ready. She prepares herself 1615a-ma. When every doubt about both bride and groom has been removed, she becomes His wife. By measuring, the angel confirms the perfection of the city. zc0201f.

How do church people become Christ's own eternal partner?
     "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church. . . .  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." (Eph 5:23-27)

    You may be familiar with this passage of counsel for husbands and wives. This time we are looking to see what the Spirit has revealed about the church. She is to be perfect. No spot and not even a tiny wrinkle! And how do we get clean and smooth? By the washing of water by the word jn1717. The Scriptures don't save us but we need them to know what the bride, whom we want to be part of, can get clean!
    And who washes us? It's Christ Himself, through the Spirit seen above as water. We saw this in different symbols in chapter 19. Christ will prepare His church to be in perfect union with Him. This is symbolized by the marriage relationship 1907. It is seen also in the story of the ten virgins in the first part of Matt. 25.

The measuring stick
    "And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city. . . ."
    We discussed measurement for a different purpose in chapter 11 1101b. I believe it's the same reed here. This reed is golden, perhaps to emphasize measurement by the standards of heaven. Notice above what the cleansing solution is. It's again the Word. We are cleansed and then measured by the purity of the water. And measurement is judgment. Judgment and preparation come before the marriage. These are two main things that happen to us during the preadvent judgment. it is during this final time that the righteous are sealed r07a. The final people of God are seen often in the book of Revelation. We must not fail to pay attention and pray for this preparation for heaven. Precious opportunity.

21:16
The perfect city

    "And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel." (Rev. 21:16, 17)

    We often look at the description of the holy city in this chapter and try to get an idea of what heaven is like. Will the city really have the measurements given in this text? 1500 mi. (2400 km.) on a side? Since it's a cube, it would also be this tall. I've wondered whether life could be more in three dimensions. Of course what God tells us in the Bible is true but the city seems a little strange. Actually, we are probably missing the point. This is symbolic language. The reality is beyond our imagination ro1133. And I'm glad it is. I trust God and will enjoy learning the marvels of God's new creation. We do know that we will eventually live on this planet made over ps3711, mt0505. It will be real. We may expect to do creative things and interact with people. What a joy to look forward to.

The city is the people of God.
    "Behold, the LORD hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the LORD: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken." (Isa. 62:11, 12 is6212) What a marvelous promise.
    I see the concept of "equal" here to symbolize perfection. The measurement is checked by the angel and found to be absolutely perfect perfect in every dimension. "May [ye] be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." (Eph. 3:18, 19). The people of God, as this city, will be filled with His fullness. They will perfectly reflect His character of love! Of course, our perfection is the perfection of Christ. It is His gift that we may accept!
    The equality of length, width, and height may indicate that they are perfectly the same as the standard.

144 cubits
    This and the twelves in our text, remind us of the 144,000 sealed ones v.12, 1401b. We may also compare twelve thousand furlongs with the twelve thousand who were sealed from each of the tribes of Israel 0704b. Noting that the city is a cube and counting the twelve edges, we have 144,000 furlongs (or stadia).
 

An idea about the dimensions of the city
   "Have you considered the texts, 33 of them, that mention Mount Zion? Over 20 use both Mount and Zion together. One of these is Ps 48:2, "Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King." 
   "It calls Mount Zion the city of the great King.  It seems to me that Zion, New Jerusalem, is not a cube, but a mountain;  a mountain that is as tall, 12,000 furlongs, as it is wide and long, 12,000 furlongs.
                             ________________
                            /\                     |
                          /    \                   |
                         /       \             12,000
                       /           \               |
                      /              \             |
                    /                  \           |
_________/___________\__ __|____
                         12,000

   "Joel 3:17 'So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.'"

   Jere Stearman, who shared this idea with me, acknowledges God as the source of all true knowledge and I agree. We realize that we don't know perfectly.
   Although nicer than the cubical city, the picture is still a little strange according to what we are used to since the mountain slope would be very steep though not as steep as in the sketch (even without flat land at the top). When we arrive, we will understand. The reference to it being "foursquare" v16 leads me to see it as a cube meaning perfect. The language of Revelation is symbolic.

Man or angel?
    The measurement was "according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel." John is writing about what he saw here. Was he just confused about whether the cubit was a man cubit or an angel cubit? I don't believe that the Holy Spirit who guided the apostle would have impressed him with any confused messages. The point we may understand is that the characters of the humans who will make up the city will be as perfect as those of the unfallen angels specifically as perfect as the angel who helped pour out the plagues and is here showing John the city.

21:18
Wall and foundations

      "And the building [material] of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst." (Rev. 21:18-20)

What is a wall?
    In verse 15 we saw that the angel would measure the city, the gates, and the wall. The city and the wall have been measured. Now we examine how the wall is constructed. In a minute we will look at the gates. So what is the wall of an ancient city? It's a protective barrier to keep enemies out. Perhaps here it represents our eternal security from evil. In the foundations are the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (v. 14). We will be secure as inheritors of the righteousness of Christ, passed down through the spiritual lineage of those who first knew the incarnate Christ. It is a secure foundation.
 

By faith he [Abraham] sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles [tents]. . . . For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. (Heb. 11:9, 10)

Why jasper?
    God is described with this mineral in 4:3. He is thus the bride's wall of protection 0402. Jasper is varied shades of red. The Lord promised his oppressed people that He would be like a wall of fire around them so that the city would not need walls zec0203ff. So we may see the wall as Christ.

Why twelve different stones and minerals?
    Someday we may understand the significance of each foundation perhaps not before the Lord in person explains it to us. The point to notice here is that each is quite different from the others, yet is important for the wall. This is like the church, the body of Christ.
    "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues." (1 Cor. 12:27, 28).
    I believe that in the new earth we will have the joy of working in different ways to honor Christ and to bless others. We don't know what the society of heaven will be like, but we can eagerly anticipate it. Even here, we experience real joy in fellowship with others who love our Lord. Certainly in heaven we will work in perfect harmony, enjoying to the full our particular function. Yet life won't be like a factory assembly-line job. We will have freedom as well. "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." (1 Cor. 2:9). We dare not speculate beyond what we are told in Scripture, but it seems to me that in the foundations, each with a glory of its own, we may see that, with our own new name, we will have a special part in the harmony of eternal life 0217!
    The prophet Ezekiel was shown in symbols the harmonious interaction of the heavenly beings. We may one day become a part of that society!
 

Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces. The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel. When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went. (Ezek. 1:15-17)

21:20
Why these particular stones?
    They had an important function in the sanctuary system. Why they were chosen there, I don't know. Look at the passage:
    "And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron's garments to consecrate him, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office. And these are the garments which they shall make; a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a broidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle: and they shall make holy garments for Aaron thy brother, and his sons, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office. . . .
    "And thou shalt make the breastplate of judgment with cunning work; after the work of the ephod thou shalt make it; of gold, of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine twined linen, shalt thou make it. Foursquare it shall be being doubled; a span shall be the length thereof, and a span shall be the breadth thereof.
   "And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, even four rows of stones: the first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle: this shall be the first row. And the second row shall be an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond. And the third row a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst. And the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper: they shall be set in gold in their enclosings. And the stones shall be with the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names, like the engravings of a signet; every one with his name shall they be according to the twelve tribes." (Ex. 28:3, 4, 15-21)
    You can compare to see how many of the stones are the same as are used in the foundations. Perhaps all of them really match. Translators sometimes guess what modern words to use. And we are dealing with two languages, Hebrew and Greek. It's important to notice that both the stones in the brestplate and in the foundations relate to the twelve tribes. One might explore the possibility that the colors are those that make up the rainbow ge0913.

21:21
Gates and street

      "And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several [individual] gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass." (Rev. 21:21)

    Today large perfect pearls are highly prized. In our verse each gate is an individual pearl. I don't picture the gates as being spherical but as having the glowing appearance we associate with pearls. One day we will see with our own eyes.
    "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it." mt1345. Our Lord is that pearl. In a full relationship to Him we have all the treasures of heaven. To get the pearl we must turn over to him all our earthly treasures, committing them totally to His glory. Above we concluded that He was the door and hence the gate. What does it mean to us that He, as revealed through the apostles, is the gates? I'll let you think about it. Consider 22:14 2214.

Golden street
    We often hear of heaven as having golden streets, but the text says "street," singular. A very small town may have only one street, but we don't picture the holy city as a small town. So we have more to learn. The Greek word is plateia. Looking up the word, plaza, which we have borrowed from Spanish, we find that it comes from the Latin, platea, which is essentially our Greek word. The Hebrew equivalent (according to the Septuagint) is best translated in Dan. 9:25 as "street" (or "plaza," NASB) da0925.
    We will see the street of heaven again in chapter 22. "And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it [the city], and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life. . . ." 2201,2. The golden street is the broad place where people congregate. It's the heart or plaza of the city.
    In Acts 9:11, we find the street called Straight and infer that there were other streets in Damascus that weren't so straight ac0910. Thus the word can also mean what we normally think of as a street today.
    Of course, planning to walk there with Jesus is more important than understanding the details. Pure gold, transparent glass! John must have used the best words he knew to describe the glory of the place. In John's time I expect many streets were unpaved and littered with animal pollution.

21:22
No temple

      "And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it." (Rev. 21:22)

    The temple of biblical Jerusalem was a visual and spiritual centerpiece. At first it seems strange that such a structure would be missing from the holy city that will come down from heaven. Compare je0316. There is a temple in heaven today. "Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man." (Heb. 8:1, 2). When the tabernacle literally "tent" was established as a permanent structure, it was called a temple.
   "The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD'S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try [or "examine"], the children of men." ps01104, ha0220.

So what happens to the temple?
    In Psalm 11, we saw both God's temple and His throne. Here, when the holy city comes down v9, we have only the throne 2201. Our text says that the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple. This is a "temple" in a different sense. Was there a temple in heaven during the thousand years? In 20:6 we saw those who would reign with Christ as priests and identified them as the great multitude.
    "Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them." (Rev. 7:15). We understood this to represent their work during the thousand years 0715.
    The sanctuary service was established to represent how God saves us through the slain lamb, Jesus Christ (ps07707; jn0129). In the wilderness the structure involved with the services was a tent or "tabernacle." Later, as a permanent structure, it was called a temple. Judgment is part of the process of the sanctuary 1407d. Those claiming righteousness will be judged before Jesus comes 2212. During the thousand years, the temple will be used for judging the wicked 2004ju. When it is clear that no more sinners will ever claim restoration through the blood of the sacrificed Lamb, that phase of the temple services will end. Will we still need our Lord? Absolutely. In Him we will still live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). He and the Father will ever be our joy.

21:23
God and the Lamb are the city's light

     "And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof."
    The sun and moon help us see. The glory of God will illuminate the city ze1406. We can imagine that somehow God and the Lamb will glow. Do you recall the story of Moses encounter with the people after having been with God on the mountain? Read Ex. 34:27-34.

    When Jesus comes with the glory of the Father and of all the angels, those who have loved darkness will not be able to bear the glory.
 

For the mystery of iniquity doth already work. . . . And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders. (2 Thess. 2:7-9) 

Temple and light return to Eden
    In Eden before Eve and Adam chose to rebel against God, there was no need for mediation and so it is reasonable to expect that there would not have been a temple. We first hear of the tabernacle long after this, but it was patterned after the temple in heaven which would have already been established he0802. The promise of a redeemer was given right away ge0315, and a system of the sacrifice of a lamb ge0404 was in place. Before sin entered there was no destruction of life ro0512. Thus faith was placed in the the promised seed who was expressed in the sacrificial system. God in heaven heard the prayers of the new sinners.
    What did Adam and Eve discover when they sinned? That they were naked ge0307. From this passage, we may assume that they had walked and talked with God. Sin has caused the separation is5901,2. So were they naked before and just didn't know it? God knew that there was a difference because He took the life of an animal and made them clothing ge0321, re1615e. They would have been clothed in light just as the angels are 2co1114. Having been in the direct presence of God they would have carried the glow just as Moses did when he came down from the mountain with the stone tables ex3430. I believe that artists have missed this point. Our first parents didn't have to hide certain parts of their bodies behind bushes.
    In our passage we see a restoration to the conditions before the fall. The earth has been polluted by sin and is steadily getting worse. One day, the faithful will enjoy a new heaven and a new earth! By God's grace, I am determined to be among them and I want to meet you there, too.

21:24
Nations bring honor and glory

      "And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it." (Rev. 21:24-26)

Nations walk in its light
    We expect from this description that the city will be a center of worship and that people will live outside it and travel to it. In fact, Isaiah agrees.
 

   For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. (Isa. 65:17, 18)
   For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD. (Isa. 66:22, 23) 

    Often "nations" are the enemies of Israel. In our passage, John clarifies that these are the nations of the saved. If we see Jerusalem here as a broader term for God's redeemed people, perhaps the kings will include people from other parts of God's vast universe.


21:25
Gates open and no night (v.25)
    "And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there." Having no night doesn't seem like a logical reason to keep the gates open by day. I understand the sentence to mean that it will be day all the time is6025. In the sinful earth, city gates were closed at night. Here, if closed, it would be during the day and thus it will never happen. Then why have gates?
    I expect that, when the city descends and the wicked are resurrected, the gates will be closed. We compared the gates to the gate of Eden guarded by an angel 2112se. With the cleansed earth, they will ever remain open. Why have gates? Maybe to remind us that our Redeemer, by His unique sacrifice,  won for us the freedom from danger a freedom that endures for unending ages.

21:27
Only those whose names are in the book

      "And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life." (Rev. 21:27)

    Nothing of this sort will enter because no evil is left anywhere. Why then the statement? This is one of three descriptions of those who will not be in the holy city. The other two are in verse 8 and in the next chapter (2215). How often we hear of grace as leaving us free to behave as we please supposing that we will just naturally become righteous. It's right that we see ourselves on the inside of that city that comes down. We must ever remember, however, that we are still weak and often tempted. When we come across the descriptions of those who will not be saved, we need to take a quick look to be sure we are not pictured among them. Of course no evil people will remain after the final punishment described in the previous chapter. Before that punishment ends, however, there will be. Thus the descriptions are appropriate.
    Our chapter ends with a positive note. Those whose names are in the Lamb's book of life will be there. We considered these people when the book was described earlier 1308d. Here we may add a note. It's the "Lamb's" book because the sacrifice on Calvary removed any doubt that He had the right to place our names there.
    May God grant us the faith to accept the grace into our lives.

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