The New Heavens and New Earth.
All Things Made New. v1 - 8.
The final vision John has is of the eternal day..
1. "Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea."
The first thing that John saw in his vision was a new heaven and a new earth without any sea. There are only three other Scriptures where this is mentioned (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22 and 2 Peter 3:13). Paul writing in Romans 8:21 - 22 states that the whole creation groans as it awaits to be set free from the curse in that day. That eternal "day" will come after the Great White Throne judgement, an event immediately precluded by the existing heavens and the earth being destroyed by fire (2 Pet. 3:10). God will create a new heaven and a new earth which shall remain eternally, since they will not be marred by sin.
2. "Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."
John then sees descending out of heaven and from God, but not alighting on the new earth, what he describes as the "new Jerusalem". He defines it as being the bride or the Church of Christ which has been arrayed by Him and for Him (Isaiah 61:10). Clearly this is not intended to represent a literal city.
3. "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."
As John looked in his vision a loud voice announced from the throne that the dwelling place of God is with men and that He will live with them forever. They will be His people and He will be their God.
4. "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."
In this state of eternal bliss the past tears and the cause of them shall be forgotten, their memory being blotted out by God. There will be no more death (1 Cor. 15:26), sorrow or mourning. There will be no more pain for the old conditions and order of things have passed away.
5. "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."
The Lord Jesus Christ declares from the throne that He is making everything new and that John is to record it, for His words are true, trustworthy and will come to pass.
6. "And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts."
Here Christ, the Beginning and End, declares that in His eyes they have already come to pass. He promises to freely give the water of life to whoever sets his heart on eternal things.
7. "He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son."
Those who are victorious (by faith in Jesus Christ) will inherit all things and He will be their God and they shall be His sons.
8. "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, 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."
Having stated in general terms who will enter eternal bliss, Christ makes clear who will not. First in the list are the cowardly or timid, those who through fear of men never fully commit themselves to God or turn back from following Christ. They stand in contrast to those who "overcome". The "unbelieving" those who do not receive Christ as Saviour. The abominable, are those who practise detestable sins: murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers i.e.. Occultism, idolaters, those who give supreme devotion to anyone or anything other than God. Finally "all liars" are to be excluded from heaven. Paul writing to Timothy says that in the last times there will be those who depart from the faith and speak lies (1 Tim. 4:1 - 2). Their allotted place is the lake of fire, the second death - referring to everlasting conscious punishment, "where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched." (Mark 9:48).
The Bride of Christ. v9 - 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."
The angel who had shown John, Babylon the harlot, now by way of contrast shows him the new Jerusalem, the Bride of Christ, the Church (Rev. 17:1).
10. "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."
The angel lifted John to the top of a very large and high mountain where nothing could obscure his vision of the city descending from heaven. Note again that he does not say that it descended to earth.
11. "having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal."
It is filled with all the splendour and radiance of the glory of God for He dwells in the midst of it. The light of it is likened to the precious jasper stone, a crystalline brightness.
12, 13, 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."
The city is surrounded by massive walls, a symbol of its eternal security. There are twelve gates; three each side of the compass; with twelve angels guarding them being another emblem of security. The fact that there are gates indicate freedom (to come and go). The gates are named after the twelve tribes of Israel. The wall of the city has twelve foundations and on them are the twelve names of the apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:20). The significance of the names of the gates and foundations is the spiritual unity of believing Jews (from the Old Testament patriarchs to the 144,000 who were sealed and all other Jews who have accepted Christ as their Saviour) together with all Gentile believers (Eph. 2:14). "The names of the apostles on the foundations show that this city is (entirely) built on the saving work of Christ" (John Wesley).
15, 16, 17. "And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal. Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel."
The angel measured the city with a gold measuring stick. It was found to be as wide as it was long and as high as it was wide; that is, about 1500 miles; in the form of a cube. The measurements of the city are symbolic of its vastness and perfection (John 14:2). The measurement of the wall was about 72 yards, it is not clear whether this is the height or width.
The Glory of the Bride . v18 - 27.
18. "The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass."
In describing this city as being made of precious gems and pure, crystal clear gold, John is trying to describe a glory and beauty that excels all human imagination (1 Cor. 2:9). "He attempts to describe realities for which there are no human words" (John Wesley). The city is surrounded by the majestic bearing of jasper and its purity and holiness can only be likened by John to pure gold (Eph. 5:27).
19, 20. "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 sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst."
The twelve foundations of the wall (see verse 14) are described as bring made of twelve types of precious gems. Of the twelve only three are mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament, jasper, emerald and amethyst. These different stones, with their different qualities and colours, depict the different attributes of Christ which are manifest in His Church, being wrought in us by His Spirit through His word as faithfully passed on by His apostles.
21. "The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass."
The gates were made of pearl. Jesus on two occasions used pearls to describe the Word of God (Matt. 7:6) and of the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt. 13:45). The street was made of pure gold the same as the city.
22. "But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple."
There was no place of worship, or temple, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ fill every part of it and His people's communion is instant, continual and directly with Him.
23. "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 its light."
There is no need of sun or moon for the glory of God illuminates it and the Lord Jesus Christ is the Light of it.
24. "And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honour into it."
The redeemed from all nations shall walk in the light of it, which is the light of Christ. Those who once ruled on earth, having been converted, will bring their glory and lay it down at the feet of their God and Lord - and so shall we all.
25. "Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there)."
The gates will always be open, implying that while this will be the eternal dwelling place of saints they are not prisoners but enjoy the freedom of the sons of God. "They will be permitted to go forth and visit every world, and survey the works of God in all parts of His dominions" (Barnes). There will be no need to shut the gates anyway as the devil, his demons and all unbelievers will already be confined to the lake of fire.
26. "And they shall bring the glory and the honour of the nations into it."
The glory and honour of the nations, the redeemed of all the nations shall be brought into it.
27. "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."
On no account, for it will be impossible, shall anything unholy, sinful, or anyone who is immoral or dishonest, enter heaven. It is only for those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.
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