THE SUN OF HEAVEN based on Rev. 21:15-27
BY GLENN PEASE
Isaac Asimov, the most prolific writer of this age, author of over 500 books, has a delightful essay on gold in his book, The Sun Shines Bright. He gives us scientific confirmation of why God would make the New Jerusalem a city of gold. The ancient world considered gold the most noble of metals. Even though gold is heavier than lead, gold has always been a metaphor for lightness.
People talked of walking with leaden feet, and being leaden-hearted. When you could not stay awake, your eyelids were like lead. But gold, which is nearly twice as heavy, is used to describe the opposite. You dance trippingly on golden feet, and golden slippers are not leaden weights, but are like feathers. To be golden-hearted is not to be heavy-hearted, but happy and buoyant.
Beauty is the key factor that is seen in gold, and, therefore, gold is the metal of aesthetics. God certainly knew that man would discover other metals in the future that would have nobler characteristics than gold, yet he still revealed the New Jerusalem to be a city of pure gold. Why not platinum? It is used in science because laboratory equipment made of platinum is untouched by air or water, or by chemicals that contact it. It can stand temperatures that would melt gold. It can be heated white hot and not be damaged. It is as rare as gold, and superior in so many ways. So then, why not a holy city of platinum? Was God being old fashioned, and behind the times, to reveal the eternal city as one of pure gold? Listen to the conclusion of the most read scientific author of our day.
Neither Platinum nor any other metal ever discovered
has the warm yellowness of gold, and none is anywhere
near as beautiful. Platinum can have all the nobility and
density and high-meltingness and rareness you can give it,
and can even be more expensive than gold, but it will
never have gold's beauty, or be as cherished and
desired as gold is.
If God's purpose was to describe the eternal city as a place of unmatched beauty, then He could not have chosen a better substance than gold. Gold is so beautiful because it is the color of the sun. All through history the sun and gold were related. Gold coins were made round as symbols of the sun. On the hieroglyphics of Egypt the gold circle was called, "Child of the sun." Gold has always been the metal most connected with worship, because of it's connection with the sun--the source of all life on our planet.
The chemical symbol of gold is AU, from Aurora, the goddess of the dawn. In temples all over the world the highest point is covered with gold. You see it today, not only on churches and cathedrals, but on capital buildings. Gold is the highest metal in man's estimation, and God's, as well, for it so beautifully reflects the sun. It is like congealed sunlight on the earth.
All of this is relevant to our study of God's revelation of what heaven is going to be like. John tells us in verse 23, the city does not need the sun anymore, for the glory of God lights the city, and the Lamb is it's light. Jesus is not only the light of the world, but the light of the universe. Notice in verse 24, the nations will walk by it's light. The light of the holy city of gold will be replacing the sun. It will be the sun of the earth for eternity. Since Jesus is the Lamp--the source of that light, He will be forever the sun of the earth, as well as the sun of heaven.
The sun of our solar system has been, all along, just a symbol of the Son of God. It is the center around which all revolves. It is the source of all life, and all warmth, and all beauty. It is the physical symbol of what Jesus is, and of what He will be forever in God's eternal kingdom. He is light, life, and love. All that is beautiful and precious has it's source in Him. The awesome beauty of a city of pure gold, like glass, with Jesus as the sun shining everywhere, answers for me the question a little child recently asked--"will there be shadows in heaven?" Since the positive value of shadows, which is their coolness, and escape from the heat of the sun, is no longer needed, and because the negative aspect of shadows, the evil lurking in them, is eliminated, the answer is no! It is a city with no shadows, for the light of Jesus is everywhere. He is a Sun that casts no shadow. There is no need to hide from the golden rays of His light. We will bask in it's beauty with no concern for sun block. Satan is the sun block in time, but he will have no influence in that golden city.
Jesus is the Light, Jesus shines so bright.
Jesus is the Light, for all the world to see.
Jesus is the One. Jesus is the Sun.
Jesus is the Sun, the one who lights eternity.
In that golden city's brightness,
We will never have a care.
There is universal lightness,
And there are no shadows there.
The brightness of a transparent golden city, with pure light from the very creator of all light, is beyond our comprehension. The golden sun itself is the nearest thing in our experience. It's brightness is more than we can endure with our present eyes. We will need new bodies to endure, and enjoy the golden city with the even brighter sun-the Lamp of the Lamb.
Notice that the gold and the sun come together as the key ingredients in the beauty of heaven. The gold is more glorious than earthly gold, for it is transparent. The sun is more glorious than our solar sun, for it is the sovereign Son of God. The idea of Jesus being the Sun of both earth and heaven motivated me to search the Bible on the subject of the sun.
We all learned in school that the sun is the source of all life as we know it. It provides the light, heat, and energy that makes life possible. Every second, four million tons of hydrogen are destroyed in explosions which start near the core of the sun, where it is 13 million degrees centigrade. More energy than man has used since the dawn of civilization is produced by the sun every second--not every millennium, not every century, not every year, hour, or minute--but every second. The heat from a pin head of the core of the sun would be so intense it would kill a man even if he stood a hundred miles away from it.
To give you another image, imagine a cake of solid ice one and a half mile square, and 93 million miles high. This would make man's biggest ice palace the size of a freckle in comparison. Scientists tell us this gigantic cake of ice would be completely melted in 30 seconds if the full power of the sun was focused on it. Yet in spite of this enormous power, it is considered a mere temporary candle, until God installs His permanent light-the Lamp of the Lamb. The enormous power we see in time is a mere night light. The real power in this universe will not be experienced until we get to the golden city of light, and see the full power of the Son of God. In that golden crystal city everything will be run, not by solar power, but by Savior power. The tree His light shines upon produces 12 different fruits a year, a crop for every month. That gives you just a hint of the kind of power there will be in His light.
If you go back into the Old Testament, you discover that God was considered the sun to the Old Testament saints. The sun has always been the greatest physical symbol of God. The ancients worshipped the sun, and made many alters to it. But their folly did not prevent God's people from seeing, you do not reject the truth just because others pervert it. People will idolize every value, but the people of God are to still treasure them. We read in Psalm 84:11, "for the Lord God is a sun." God was a sun to His people. That is why the blessing God gave to the priests to say to the people was equivalent to-may your days be sunny and bright, and may you walk ever in the light. In Numbers 6:24-26, we read the actual blessing-"The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you; The Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace."
When God's face shines on you, you bask in the sunlight of divine love. When Moses saw the face of God, his own face was made to shine. To have God turn His face toward you was the same thing as being saved from the dark night of oppression. Psalm 31:16, says, "Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love." The context makes it clear he needed to be saved from enemies. Psalm 80:3 says, "Restore us, O God; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved." Salvation is always in the sun, and God is that sun of life in the Old Testament.
The solar system is a symbol of the plan of salvation. The sun is what gives life, maintains life, and saves the world from a dark and cold death. Earth would quickly become a dark and barren hell without the sun. That same picture is what we see on the spiritual level. Cut yourself off from the light of God, and cease to seek His face, and you are soon lost in a kingdom of darkness. We need God's light for salvation and for guidance. He is our sun. Psalm 67:1-2 says, "May God is gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us. May your ways be known on earth, your salvation among the nations." These texts show God's glory rising in the East, like the rising sun, to flood the land with life giving light.
When we go to the New Testament, we see there is only one Person, who can be to the New Testament saints, what God the Father was to the Old Testament saints, and that is Jesus. God was the sun of His people, and Jesus is the sun of His people. He will be the source of light, life, and love, forever. Just as there is no life without the sun in our physical world, so there is no abundant life in the spiritual world, without a sun. The question every human being has to ask themselves, is, who is qualified to be the sun of my spiritual life? People, all too often, pick the moon--that is, some other body that reflects the light of the sun, but is not the sun. It may be religion, church, doctrine, or some charismatic leader, but at best, these are only moons, and not the sun.
It was revealed on the Mt. of Transfiguration that Jesus is the sun. Matt. 17:2 says, "His face shown like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light." His deity was breaking through His humanity. The apostle Paul made it clear that Jesus was the face of God, who would be the sun of God's people, and give them light and all blessings. Listen to II Cor. 4:6, "For God, who said, let light shine out of darkness, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." When John first saw the risen Christ in Rev. 1:16 he wrote, "His face was like the sun shining in all it's brilliance."
In darkest shades if He appear
My dawning is begun.
He is my soul's bright morning star,
And He my rising Sun.
Jesus is the sun, the eternal sun--the source of all light, and life, for all eternity. J. Danson Smith wrote,
No need of the sun in that glory-filled land,
The sun would itself there be dim.
That land where the shadows or twilight ne'er come,
Where the light and the glory are "Him."
To worship the sun is folly, for that is to worship the creation rather than the Creator. Those ancient people who worshipped the sun, did however, have a nobler religion than others. They fell short of the glory of God, but the came closer by seeing the glory of the sun, as His glory. In His Hibberit Lectures on the Religion of the Babylonians, professor Sayce quotes a hymn to Samas the Sun-god, beginning: "O Sun-god, king of heaven and earth, director of things above and below, O Sun-god, thou that clothest the dead with life, delivered by thy hands, Judge unbribed, director of mankind, supreme is the mercy of Him who is the Lord over difficulty, biding the child an offspring come forth, light of the world, Creator of all thy universe, the Sun-god art thou."
Many such prayers as this in the ancient world confirm the words of Paul in Rom. 1:20, "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--His eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." If this be so, you would expect the highest religions of the world to say some marvelous things about God that are true, and so it is. These ancient people could see the impact on life from the sun. Every leaf, every blade of grass, every rose bud, was given life by it. They had no problem believing in a God who was far away, and yet everywhere present to make a difference in life.
They saw the sun, year after year, decade after decade, century after century, rise and set with no variableness, neither shadow of turning, and thus, they saw in the sun, a god of unchanging faithfulness. Those religions that focused on the sun became the most noble of the religions of man. They fell short of the ideal, but they were heading in the right direction, for ultimately, all God's people will worship the Sun. Jesus will be that Sun of heaven. Some of you will remember the old chorus--
Sunlight, sunlight in my soul today.
Sunlight, sunlight all along the way.
Since the Savior found me, took away my sin,
I have had the sunlight of His love with-in.
Jesus will be the sun of eternity, but He is already our Sun now. We set aside the day called, Sunday, to worship Him in a special way. That is the day on which our eternal Sun first rose, and this Sun of Righteousness will never set, but shine forever. The goal of life is to walk in His light, and let His face shine upon us.
At the North and South Poles, the sun only sets once a year. There are six months of life in the light, but in the golden city the sun never sets. There we will walk in it's light with never a night. Heaven is a beautiful sunny day forever and ever, with Jesus as the Sun. Shakespeare wrote,
The glorious sun,
Stays in his course and plays the alchemist;
Turning with splendor of his precious eye
The meager cloddy earth to glittering gold.
This which is only poetry now will be literal reality in that city of gold where the Sun never sets. The sun is not our God, but God is our Sun, and the sun is symbolic of all He will be to us in the eternal city.
Thoughout the universe of bliss,
The center Thou and Sun.
The eternal theme of praise is this,
To Heaven's Beloved One.
Worthy, O Lamb of God, art Thou
That every knee to Thee should bow.
Everything you can learn about the sun--it's power, light, and fire, will increase your love for, and awe of Jesus. Study the sun, and you are studying theology, for it is a symbol of what Jesus will be to us forever. The Gospel is the good news that every person is invited to step out of the darkness and shadow of death, and walk in the light, by receiving Jesus Christ as Savior. The first step is as easy as opening a door, and walking out into the sunlight. Just trust in Jesus, and begin to follow Him, and you are on your way to the golden city where you will live, love, and laugh forever in the light of the Sun of Heaven.