The New Jerusalem
A New Jerusalem
A widely respected man known as "Uncle Johnson" died in Michigan at the incredible age of 120. Perhaps his advanced years could be credited in part to the cheerful outlook that characterized his life. One day while at work in his garden, he was singing songs of praise to God. His pastor, who was passing by, looked over the fence and called, "Uncle Johnson, you seem very happy today." "Yes, I was just thinking," said the old man. "Thinking about what?" questioned his pastor. "Oh, I was just thinking that if the crumbs of joy that fall from the Master's table in this world are so good, what will the great loaf in glory be like! I tell you, sir, there will be enough for everyone and some to spare up there."
A little girl was taking an evening walk with her father. Wonderingly, she looked up at the stars and exclaimed; "Oh, Daddy, if the wrong side of heaven is so beautiful, what must the right side be!"
Today and next Sunday we are going to be looking at maybe two of the most fantastic chapters in the Bible – the last two chapters of Revelation. This morning we are going to be looking at that great city, the New Jerusalem. There are a couple of things we need to keep in mind – John was trying to describe something so wonderful that he did not have words for – there were many times while stationed overseas that I tried to explain things about our country to others – things that we take for granted – plumbing, malls, four-lane highways, how big this country is (Herman drive from Fl to ID). It is hard for outsiders to understand until they have seen it for themselves – well, that is what John was going through, to the best of his ability he described what this New Jerusalem was like.
Let’s start with Revelation 21:9-11:
One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. (Re 21:9-11)
This was the last of John’s visions. He says he is taken away to a mountain, great and high by “One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues . . .” And he is shown the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. This is the same city that Jesus promised His disciples in John 14:2 when He said, “I am going there to prepare a place for you.” Now that city is done and is coming to earth, not only will the city be coming but it will also have the bride of Christ in it – for when this city comes to earth, it will be filled with people – people in their resurrected bodies after the Millennium, prepared to live with Christ for all eternity. Now John has the awesome responsibility of trying to describe what this new city looks like.
First, he says, “[The city] shined with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.” The glory of God gives light to the whole city. God’s glory is full of so much light and shines so brightly there is no need for the sun or for any other heavenly body to give the city light. Just try and imagine the power and radiance of God’s glory – glory so bright that it is more forceful than the beams of light flowing from the sun. The glory of God shines throughout the entire city, so much so, that the city actually shines and has a sparkling sheen to it. It shines like the green of a jasper, and yet it is as clear as crystal. God’s glory glitters off the city as though buildings were crystal clear! One person said it would be kind of like when you walk through a forest after an ice storm – when everything shines and sparkles – the sun bounces off everything it hits – that is what the New Jerusalem will be like!
The next thing that strikes John are the walls of the city. “It had a great, high wall” The great wall around the city suggests that it will be an exclusive city. It will not be built for protection, of course, since there will be no enemies to threaten in the eternal order, but it will stand as a visual reminder that all do not have access to God.
“. . . with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel”. There are people who study Bible numerology. They tell us that the number one stand for unity, two for union, three for the Trinity; four is the number of the earth – from the four directions – (N, S, E, W), five is the divisional number (five wise and five foolish virgins), six the number of humankind. Everything in the Bible that has to do with humanity seems to be in the realm of six – Six days you shall labor (Ex. 20:9). The height of the average person is about six feet. The Antichrist uses for his number three sixes, called “man’s number” (Rev. 13:18).
Seven seems to be the perfect number, or God’s number. God instructed Solomon to put seven steps in the throne of the temple. He established the divine calendar on the basis of seven days, and He has described seven millennia of time relating to mankind’s activity on earth. And twelve seems to be the governmental or administrative number. That’s why we find multiples of twelve in the administration of God’s universe – twenty-four thrones around the alter and 144,000 outstanding Christians who will proclaim the Gospel during the Tribulation.
Here John tells us that there are twelve gates. Twelve entrances that will always be open for God’s people to have access to the New Jerusalem. Three gates on each of the four sides. There are twelve angels who stand guard at the gates. The names of the twelve tribes will be written on the gates. And what about the foundations of the wall? There are twelve foundations and they are magnificent beyond comprehension. In verses 19-21 John tells us about foundations, about how they were decorated – Just try to imagine the beauty – There was jasper – which is gold in appearance but like clear glass in substance, or think of it like this – glass with a gold cast to it; The next layer was sapphire – this stone is similar to a diamond in hardness and is blue in color; next chalcedony, (cal-sed-nee) which is an agate from Chalcedon in Turkey and is thought to be sky blue with other colors running through it; Then came emerald which is bright green in color; sardonyx, a red and white stone; then carnelian, (car-neel-yen) which refers to a common jewel of reddish color; then came chrysolyte – a transparent stone, golden in color, which is different from the modern chrysolite stone which is a pale green. The eighth layer is beryl which is sea green; then topaz – which is yellow-green and transparent; the tenth layer was another shade of green given by the chrysoprasus (kri-se-praz) stone. Jacinth,(jasonth) violet in color is the eleventh level and the twelfth is amethyst (amathist) which is purple in color.
There is question to the precise color of some of these stones but the general picture here is one of unmistakable beauty, designed to reflect the glory of God in a spectrum of brilliant color. The light of the city within shining through these different colors in the foundation of the wall topped by the wall itself which is composed of the crystal clear Jasper. Remember, this is not just a section of the wall, John says the wall – the entire wall – is this way. And how much wall is there? “The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long.”
So the city will be a square, but its an enormous square!! It would be approx. 1500 miles long and wide and high. Let’s try and picture this – the city itself would stretch from the eastern seaboard of the U.S. all the way to the Mississippi River on one side and from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico on the other! That’s a big city!! Dr. Henry Morris, who is an expert engineer did some math on this and gave an estimated population of possibly twenty billion residents,each person would enjoy a block of space of approximately one cubic mile, or its length, breadth, and height would be a little over a third of a mile in each direction!
Now God was not done with the beauty of the city by just building the walls – “The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl.” These are pearls larger than people!! “The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.” Boy, we got excited when we paved the circle drive – but God said, that’s not good enough, the street will be of pure gold.
Are you starting to see the beauty of this wonderful city that we will be living in? Here we build with wood and stone and concrete and make some beautiful buildings – but they are nothing compared to what is being prepared for us. We’ve talked about this before – look at how beautiful this world is – and God spoke it into existence – but close to two thousand years ago, Jesus said, I go to prepare a place for you – how much more beautiful is the city of God than this world? I can hardly imagine.
And in this new city there will not be a temple, no church building, because “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” Remember, the temple was built because man requested it – so that they could go there to worship God – but there is nothing that can confine our God – and in the New City there will be no need for a church building or temple, for we will be in the presence of God and His Son!!
There will no longer be any night, no more darkness, for the glory of God will be the light. And since there will be no darkness, “On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.”
What a wonderful place!! John finishes it off by telling us “Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” I don’t know about you, but I’m glad my name is written there, because it sure sounds like a great place and I’m ready to go, how about you? Next week we will look at Heaven on Earth.