In this last and final chapter of our study of the book of Revelation I will close it with Revelation chapter’s 21 and 22. It needs to be said that this is not a complete study of the Revelation, even in these final two chapters. In fact, this final chapter is really going to primarily cover Revelation 21. But even in this short chapter, we get clarity into what has been burning in the heart of God since Genesis 1, and that’s simply Him dwelling with man in eternal, unbroken fellowship.
In Revelation 19 we saw clearly that Jesus Himself, in flesh and bone, throws the antichrist and the false prophet alive into the lake of fire, never to emerge again. After this Jesus also slays all those that have taken the mark of the beast. And then starting in the beginning of Revelation 20 an unknown angel appears having a great chain in his hand to bind up the devil for a thousand years at the start of Jesus millennial reign on earth. And at the close of this 1,000 year period, the devil is released from prison, to deceive the nations one last time prior to Jesus ultimately destroying both satan, and all those that join with him at the close of this millennial reign.
Closing Revelation 20, is all the unrighteous dead throughout world history, those that have lived and never repented during their lifetime, are brought up before God in what’s called the second resurrection and are sentenced to the second death in the lake of fire, the death of both soul and physical body. This is terribly glorious. It’s terrible because untold billions will live eternally separated from God in a place of torment and punishment. But it’s also glorious because Jesus has recreated the earth and made preparation for the eternal age in which all the resurrected righteous throughout world history will live together with God.
And finally, it’s here in Revelation 21-22, that we see the start of a brand new order, without satan, sinister angels, sin or sinners along with the shout “The Former Things Have Passed Away.” This is the thing that the human heart has craved since the fall of mankind in Genesis 3, and it’s here, and here to stay for all those that have loved His appearing.
The Descent Of The New Jerusalem And God The Father (Revelation 21:1-4)
Revelation 21 opens with these amazing words from John in as he records what he sees in Revelation 21:1-2, “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I John saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” As the new order begins, it’s clear from Revelation 20 that every person throughout world history has arrived at their respected eternal destination which is either with Jesus or without Him. The resurrection of the righteous which occurs first has happened followed by the resurrection of the unrighteous dead.
The prophet Isaiah wrote down some 700 years prior to Christ’s birth truths about the New Jerusalem. He penned in Isaiah 63:17-19 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, and her people a joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people; the voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, nor the voice of crying.” What powerful truths about the yet future eternal city that Isaiah seen under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
And once again we see that Biblical thought has always envisioned the saints dwelling on a redeemed physical earth in relationship with the Trinity. It’s Greek thought that has crept into the Church, more than Hebrew thought, where we have started to believe that a person’s soul travels from earth to a spiritual place removed from an earth like state for eternity. We must return to a Bible centered thought where we are dwelling with God in a resurrected body on a newly recreated earth.
And in John’s day the sea was filled with unknown depths, unknown animals and great darkness. It wasn’t conquered by them like it has been in our day. The mystery that was hidden, has now been made known. The two orders are contrasted here by John in Revelation 21:1 where he no longer sees the sea (1st Cor. 13:9-12).
Both John and Peter allude to the earth going through one final cleansing process before God the Father descends to dwell with the redeemed eternally. This is what Peter has to say in 2nd Peter 3:10-13 “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat: both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”
It seems that both Peter and John are speaking about the removal of the “first age” or the sinful order. And it seems to me personally that God is cleansing the earth by fire to fully remove anything connected to life in this age (2nd Cor. 5:17). Paul, there in 2nd Corinthians 5:17 speaks about the new birth and the old things passing away. But what we know by this verse from both history and personal experience, is that anyone who has given their life to Jesus hasn’t physically been removed. It’s not once you give your life to Jesus you disappear and a new you appears. It’s just that your dead spirit is regenerated and the process of new life in your old, physical body begins through the work of the Holy Spirit. This new birth both in our personal lives and in the age to come are a powerful truth.
God so loves Jerusalem that He has named the believers eternal dwelling place “the New Jerusalem.” And if God loves Jerusalem then, He surly loves it now. Which means that we should also shift our attention so that we are loving what He loves and hating what He hates.
When we look throughout the Bible we can see that some of the various of ones in the scriptures were most passionate about seeing this heavenly city that God is preparing for His bride. Abraham was one of those. We can see this clearly in Hebrews 11:8-12. I can see him on that day, when the long awaited city, the one that he spent his life looking for descends shouting “I told all of you…there it is…I knew it existed, and I knew it had actual foundations.” Beloved, this city will have gates, walls, rivers, trees, buildings, and a real foundation. What a glorious thing to live for.
It’s through this city that we have understanding that God is going to be preparing a people for a prepared city. The bride of Christ, the espoused wife of the Lamb will be made ready for the city in which she will inhabit. Here are a few verses that speak of this very reality. Psalm 16:3 says “As for the saints who are on the earth, the excellent (Mighty, splendid, noble, famous, majestic, glorious) ones, in whom is all my delight.” Paul said in Ephesians 5:26-27,32 “…that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of the water by the Word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she might be holy and without blemish…this is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church.”
And again in Revelation 19:7 we see John saying “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” It’s clear through these passages and many others that God has prepared a city for a prepared people. This is our eternal dwelling place with God, forever, as He has made our lives ready to be with Him eternally.
John continues in Revelation 21:3-4 by saying “And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” John lets us know that heaven and earth kiss as God and man once again live together, but this time it’s for eternity. Here we see the longing of God the Father finally fulfilled “…and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people.” This is the central thing that has burned in God’s heart from before the foundations of the world. He has longed to have a people that love Him in the way that He loves them, and now, in the new earth He finally has it.
This assures us that the days of looking up towards heaven and feeling distant from God are numbered. We won’t always feel the sting of separation from Jesus, missing Him and mourning for His return. Those days are surly numbered according to the Word of God. It’s also true that in this day we will no longer pray “our Father who is in heaven” because for the first time since Genesis 3:8 man will be joined back into right relationship with the Father eternally.
Along with God dwelling with man, also come nearly unbelievable blessings. When life is as it should be there is no more sorrow, tragedy and evil is left behind in the old order. And it’s here in the new order that nothing from the past can touch us, eternally. If we have ever heard good news, this is it!
There Is Need To Overcome (Revelation 21:5-8)
John continues in his encounter with Revelation 21:5-8 by stating “Then He who sat on the throne said, behold, I make all things new. And He said to me, write, for these words are true and faithful. And He said to me, it is done! I am the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murders, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
Right in the midst of John’s encounter God the Father saw fit that a strong exhortation of warning be given to every Christian who would read this letter in the future. John is so impacted by the glory and weight of God and this city that he has to be instructed to write what he’s looking at. He seems to be so overtaken by the glory and severity of what God the Holy Spirit is showing him, that God reminds him “hey, John, write down what you’re seeing, so that others can see it as well.”
The making of all things new has already been done in principle through Christ on Calvary, but now the fullness of that victory is actually being done in real time, forever (John 19:30). The Kingdom of God has been inaugurated but not yet consummated, but in this vision that John is seeing, he see the future consummation of what God began on Calvary. This means that the future of the Christian isn’t unclear, but crystal clear. The compellation of all things has been told to us in advance to give us confidence in our journey, so that we live beyond this age and into the age which is yet to come.
One of the things that’s common with most all of the books of the Bible is to use them primarily for non-Christians and not for Christians, as they were intended for. We do this by holding non-believers to a Biblical standard which is totally unbiblical. Those that love Jesus are bound to this book, but those that are far from Him are not obligated to this book in the way that Jesus calls those who love Him to be. And with this being said, it’s critical to see that this exhortation is being given to struggling Christians to give them incentive to overcome that which is presently in front of them and that which would come against those at the end of this age.
The need to overcome is great in our day and for all those that don’t overcome and end up being overcome themselves, the second death is promised. This is a call to stay steady in the midst of hardship, pressure and crisis and to keep the prize before you. This exhortation to overcome is concluded with a warning not to be cowardly regarding your allegiance to Jesus, this prophecy and your resolve to love Him more than life in this age. That word cowardly is Strong’s Greek word #1169 and it simply means fearful, timid or afraid.
Specific Dimensions And Features Of The New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:9-21)
John’s encounter starts to shift from the specifics of God dwelling with man to what this heavenly city actually looks like. John says in Revelation 21:9-10 “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And He carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.”
When John sees this glorious city descending, the word that’s used to describe it, is that of a “bride.” He sees this city as something beautiful, glorious and majestic like a bride on her wedding day. In the Old Testament the nation of Israel was considered the bride of God and their city Jerusalem was never disconnected from them as a people. The people and their city were considered one and the same, as it is here with this eternal city.
The gentile has no continuing city here on earth, therefore I (Patrick Walton) an called to seek a homeland (heaven). The Jews on the other hand have a continuing city here on earth, Jerusalem. But the New Jerusalem is the joining of Jew and Gentile together forever in one location.
In John’s Holy Spirit led encounter he is now able to see the New Jerusalem, the Holy City which is contrasted to Babylon, the filthy city he was shown in Revelation 17:1. In Revelation 17:1 it says “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters.” But in contrast to this filthy city, he is then shown in Revelation 21:9 “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” This was shown to John so that we would see the drastic contrast between that which is filthy and that which is holy.
John is now carried away to a high place for a better vantage point of the holy city. From here John is able to see and hear the dimensions of the Holy City which will descend out of heaven from God. And what’s so glorious about this city, is that the city itself has the glory of God built into her. The glory of God that was present in Revelation 4 is the same glory that this entire city possesses. It’s also clear from John’s encounter that this is a mountain city. Beloved, this entire city, which we are going to see the dimensions of in a moment, is actually a mountain throne city. It’s all the above.
John says in Revelation 21:12-14 “Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel; three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west. Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” In this eternal city called the New Jerusalem we are able to see the joining of both the Old and the New covenant in one city. The twelve tribes labored for the birthing of the Lamb which we the gentiles have received from. And now through the twelve apostles and the gentiles we labor now for the rebirthing of the nation of Israel into the kingdom of God. This is the glory of God the Father dwelling with a people whom He calls His family or a bride made ready for her Husband.
I would’ve loved to seen John’s face when he seen his name written into the foundation of the eternal city as the Holy Spirit’s showing him this glorious vision of what’s been burning in the heart of God throughout uncreated history. What John would’ve also seen is that this eternal city houses both Jacobs sons and Jesus’ disciples. Which means that we labor today for the restoration of the nation of Israel based on God’s prophetic promise for tomorrow. These verse’s alone give us enough reason to contend for their restoration into the fullness of God’s plan.
John says further in Revelation 21:15-16 “And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, it’s gates, and it’s wall. The city is laid out as a square; it’s length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed; twelve thousand furlongs. It’s length, breadth, and height are equal.” This reed that John is shown isn’t to be confused with the reed from Revelation 11:1 when John was instructed to measure the temple and those who worshipped there. This reed here is solely given to measure this cities grandeur.
From the dimensions that John is given it’s clear that this city is laid out like a square, just like Solomon’s temple was in 1st Kings 6:20. A furlong is a Greek measurement that was approximately 600 feet or about one-eighth of a mile. The squared city is 12,000 furlongs and 12,000 x 600 feet which equals 7,200,000 feet or 1,580 miles in height, width and length. The world’s tallest mountain is Mt. Everest and it’s around 29,000 feet tall or about 5.5 miles in height. This throne city, the New Jerusalem, this mountain throne is 1,580 miles high. God’s intention of creating this symmetric city is for countless reasons, one of which being because it speaks of its completeness. It’s given to us so that our hearts soar in worship as we daydream about our future.
Revelation 21:17-18 says “Then he measured it’s wall; one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. The construction of its walls was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.” The walls themselves are 144 cubits which was also a Greek measurement for about 18 inches. This means that the walls of the city are 216 feet thick or ¾ of a football field. And once again, we see that these walls, this very city, has the nature and glory of God built into her.
Revelation 21:19-21 “The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones; the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the six sardius, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls; each individual gate was one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.”
No other city has ever been dreamed up to look and contain the glory of what the uncreated God has prepared for those that love Him and love His Son’s appearing. With the glory of God built into her, we are left only able to peer through the lattice seeing whatever God will allow us to take in, during life in this age. It’s reserved for that coming day, when we shall see Him and be changed. But until then we have ample passages that give us insight into what’s going on throughout this city.
If each side of the squared city is 1,500 miles long, and there are 12 gates, this means that there is about 500 miles between each gate. That is a serious amount of distance between each gate.
The Glory Of The Lamb In The Midst Of The City (Revelation 21:22-27)
John switches gears from the specifics of the city to the glory of Christ in the midst of the city. John says in Revelation 21:22-23 “But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is it’s light.” Throughout history God dwelled within the Holy of Hollies, and in the New Testament era, the early Church moved away from temple life and created a theology of community where God dwelt in the midst of. And here in the age to come, God is dwelling with man in unmediated fellowship and communion so there’s no need for a temple or a mediation process for which to encounter God. The separation is over and the age of proximity of the Lamb and His Father has come, and it’s here forever.
The future coming day of unbroken fellowship with God must become the anchor of our souls, the hope of our lives and the foundation of our families. Though tragedy touches us in this age, our hope isn’t here, in this age, but there, in that yet coming eternal age.
The glory of God’s light as seen in the New Jerusalem is something that we can touch in part now through fellowshipping with the Holy Spirit who indwells the believer. No light for eternity because the Lamb is bright enough, should cause us to worship, not wonder in doubt.
John closes Revelation 21:24-26 saying “And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in it’s light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. It’s gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
Much of what Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 60 is seen here in John’s encounter. In the eternal city, every tongue, tribe, nation and language will be present. National identity won’t be stripped while everyone is forced to stand in a uniform row. The God of glory will have all of His creation joined together, under the banner of His Father, who has an international family of affection.
The gates of the city are never shut because of its safety and the safety of those who dwell in it. Though it has walls there is nothing to protect the people of God from. This is security that we have never seen in this age or even dreamed of.
The power of Verbal Plenary Inspiration is that it’s not the author, or the process that’s inspired by divinity, but the very words. John is using earthly idioms to describe his experience. And as John closes this chapter it’s clear that the Holy Spirit was right when He said that nobody gets into the city without first going through the Man Christ Jesus. This is God’s eternal city and it’s also our home. We are going to live with God eternally, forever, never to be parted again and the strength of our lives must be rooted in this reality.