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Revelation 21

Revelation 21

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.

After all the wrath and carnage on the earth and the trouble and tribulation of the righteous given throughout this book of prophecy, it is beautiful to see the end when God makes all things new (v. 5).  After the millennial kingdom and after Satan is defeated once and for all, God will create a new heaven and earth (Isaiah 65:17).  John saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.  The earth had been cursed, and thus it had to be recreated (see Isaiah 24:1-6).  This is the redemption that the creation has been groaning for (Romans 8:22).  The old earth had remnants of death and sin (Ezekiel 39:11-16) even after the millennial kingdom, and this needed to be done away with.  As 2 Peter 3:7 says, “But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”  Revelation 22:3 indicates that in the New Jerusalem, the curse will finally have been totally undone.  On the new earth, God will create a New Jerusalem, a holy city which will descend out of heaven from God with His glory (v. 10).  It is made ready for the saints just as a bride adorns herself for her husband.  The city will be exceedingly ornate and beautiful (v. 11-21) with Jesus illuminating it with His presence (v. 23).  Jesus said that He would go and prepare a place for His saints and then take them there (John 14:3), and this is the ultimate fulfillment of His promise. 

3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

A loud voice from the throne declared that in the New Jerusalem, the dwelling place of God is among His people.  They belong to Him forever, and God Himself will literally be among them.  While believers are on earth, the temple of God is their hearts in which He dwells (1 Corinthians 6:19).  But in the New Jerusalem, believers will walk and talk with Jesus because His constant presence will be the temple (v. 22).  They will see Him face to face (Revelation 22:3-4).  He will wipe away every tear (Isaiah 25:8, Revelation 7:17), and there will no longer be any death.  Even during the millennial kingdom, those who resist Jesus will die (Isaiah 60:12, 66:24).  But in the New Jerusalem no death will ever happen, for no sin will be present.  All will have eternal, glorified bodies.  There will be no more mourning because there will be no reason to grieve.  Before entering the millennial age and the New Jerusalem, there could be some disappointment on the part of those who realized that they didn’t maximize their stewardship in this life before Christ (1 John 2:28, 1 Corinthians 3:10-15).  Perhaps there might even be a moment of realizing that some loved ones aren’t there.  But in the end, Jesus will make all things well by taking all sorrow away as glorified souls learn that Jesus is just, fair, good, true, and faithful.  There will be no lack and only fullness.  All that could bring sorrow will be taken away as Jesus Himself becomes a source of eternal pleasure and joy (Psalm 16:11).  There will be no crying in heaven, for this is a paradise that is uncorrupted by sin, the curse, and by evil people (Luke 23:43). The first things, that is, that which was typical of life on earth before the recreated new heaven and earth, will be gone and done away with forever. 

5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

The Lord Who sits on the throne has made a promise that He will make all things new.  It is unfolding even now as the end draws near.  First things will have to get very bad for those who love wickedness as tribulation and the destructive rule of the antichrist is sure to come.  Even in the present, deceivers and deceptions increase daily (2 Timothy 3:13).  But once sin and death and Satan are done away with, only newness will exist.  Things won’t decay and rot, people won’t age or grow weak and frail, and sickness will be eliminated because the glorified body will be brand new and stay that way forever.  Things won’t go from order to disorder or from new to old, but everything will be new eternally.

And He *said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” 6 Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. 7 He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. 8 But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

God’s promise of newness and a recreated heaven and earth are true because He is faithful and His Words endure forever.  His promise of eternal life and never needing to thirst again stands true for those who repent of their sin and receive Him as Savior by faith.  The revealed and glorious future is a done deal because Jesus said it will happen this way.  Thus, it will happen.  He has been alive from eternity past, and He will reign through eternity future.  He knows the end from the beginning, and as He gives His church a glimpse of the end, they can have confidence in the future and the coming hope.  Salvation is something that cannot be bought or merited, for it comes without cost.  It is a free gift because Christ paid the ransom in full.  This gospel is powerful to save and necessary to be preached and understood, and it will be preached until the end.  Those who overcome by faith by the grace of God Who will keep them and give them strength to stand will inherit eternal life and enjoy the New Jerusalem and the presence of Jesus.  Though overcoming is dependent on God’s promise to finish sanctifying His own, there is also a call for believers to stand firm until the end.  Though God works in and through them to His glory (Philippians 2:13), they still must work out their salvation by exercising their will and making good choices by faith (Philippians 2:12).  Ultimately, true believers can rest in the fact that God will perfect them (Hebrews 12:1-2, Philippians 1:6), and it is this kindness of His that continually motivates them to keep on repenting, growing, and persevering (Romans 2:4).  In eternity, the believer will literally be God’s adopted son or daughter.  Scripture is clear how much God loves His Son and has exalted Him, and He will show great honor and glory to those whom He has adopted into His family on account of their faith.  They are joint heirs with Christ of an incredibly wonderful future inheritance (Romans 8:17).  Believers will worship God forever because it is such a fulfillment and enjoyment for them.  After all, it is He Who has made the New Jerusalem possible.  It is His genius that designed it, and it was His mercy that saved them to begin with.  However, those who didn’t repent of their sin and who, instead of being clothed in the righteousness of Christ, are defined by their wicked deeds will not be part of this eternal paradise.  They were cowards, refusing to step out in faith and believe the truth, preferring to blend in with the satanic influence and pressures around them.  They were abominable because they rejected God and blasphemed His Holy Spirit, the only unforgiveable sin (Luke 12:10).  They were characterized by murder and hate, by immorality, by sorcery, by idolatry, and by lying.  Their wickedness defined them, for their hearts were never made new in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Their part will be in the lake of fire and brimstone.  This is the second death which is eternal, conscious torment forever.  Even death itself is cast into hell, and there is no escape for this eternal punishment. 

9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”

One of the angels who was part of the final seven bowl judgments came to John and told him that he would get to see the bride of Christ, namely, the New Jerusalem.  This beautiful city from out of heaven is where believers will live forever.  It is all of the saints taken together which constitute the wife of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7-10), and they dwell together in the New Jerusalem.  

10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. 12 It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

In the vision, John was carried away to a great, high mountain where he saw the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God Himself with His glory upon it.  The city was holy and brilliant like a crystal clear diamond.  Believers who, even though they may be poor in this life, will not need money in the next life, for all of God’s riches will be theirs to enjoy.  The city had a great, high wall with twelve gates.  At each gate were twelve angels.  Each gate had the name of the twelve tribes of Israel, for it was through God’s promise to Abraham that the world would be blessed.  This is the ultimate fulfillment of that promise to him way back in Genesis 12:1-3.  The city had four sides, and three of the gates were on each side, three on the north, three on the south, three on the east, and three on the west.  There were twelve foundation stones on the wall, each having a name of one of the twelve apostles.  The Lord did indeed build His church upon the confession and testimony of the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20), and the gates of hell did not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).  The New Jerusalem testifies to that fact, for the gospel did go forth.  All who believed the testimony of the apostles and the Word of God had this city for their eternal home. 

15 The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall. 16 The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. 17 And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements. 18 The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; 20 the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

The angel with John had a gold measuring rod with which he measured the city, its gates, and its wall.  The city is laid out as a square at its base, for the length is the same as the width.  It is 1500 miles per side, and it also ascends upward for 1500 miles.  Thus, it would appear as a gigantic cube.  At the Tower of Babel, sinful man tried to reach the heavens by building up to Him, but here God brought heaven down to earth because His Son had come down to earth to save sinners.  The wall of the city was 72 yards wide (144 cubits is approximately 18 inches each which comes out to 72 yards), a measurement that, while the vision was in the angelic realm, would stand true in the new earth as man would see it.  The gold of this city was clear, and the whole city was made of it.  The wall was a precious stone, also transparent (v. 11) to allow the illumination of Christ to shine through it all.  The foundation stones were not rocks or clay, but they were giant gemstones of various colors (c.f. Isaiah 54:11-12). If reading about the beauty of sapphires, emeralds, topaz, amethyst and many other pure and new gemstones with God’s glory and of heavenly origin in the New Jerusalem doesn’t create a major desire to look forward to actually being able to see it in person, then something is wrong. The twelve gates were twelve giant pearls, for each gate was one single pearl.  Like the rest of the city (v. 18), the streets were pure gold, transparent so that Christ’s glory could shine.  Even the elements of greatest wealth on a cursed earth are made new and better in the New Jerusalem.  Thus, even the greatest treasures of the world, which can’t be brought into eternity to begin with, wouldn’t be reflective of the standard of God’s newly created brand new eternal treasures. 

22 I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. 25 In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; 26 and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; 27 and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

There was no physical temple in the New Jerusalem, for the Lord Himself and the Lamb are the temple.  Even in the first heaven, there was seen to be a temple of some kind (Revelation 11:19, 14:17, 15:5, 8), but in the new heaven God’s presence will be near and real to all who dwell there.  The city will have no need for the sun or any luminary such as the moon to shine upon it to give it light, for Jesus Himself and the glory of God will be its light.  There will no longer be any night (Revelation 22:5), for it may be that the glorified body won’t need sleep to recover.  Every tribe, tongue, and nation will be represented in the New Jerusalem, for some of all tribes, tongues, and nations will have responded to faith in Christ throughout history.  The gates of the kingdom will never be shut, and the glory of the nations will be brought into the city.  The glory of the nations of the old earth was immorality and abomination and spoil and plunder.  The honor of the nations in eternity are those who are loved by God, who rule with Him as kingly royalty (1 Peter 2:9), and who live there with the entire earth to enjoy and explore.  They are the honor of their respective peoples, tribes, and tongues, and they carry the honor and rewards with them that Christ has bestowed upon them.  They will be able to walk out of the city and explore the earth, and then they can come home back to the city later.  All of creation will be redeemed, and an entire new earth like the garden of Eden will be at their disposal to enjoy. There will be no more sin or death or curse, and, thus, there will be no unclean or sinful people to be concerned about.  There will be no danger, and the fear of man will not be upon the animals any longer because there will be no sinful impulses for them to fear.  All the people will know God and walk in His ways.  Believers will never have to worry about an evil person sneaking in to their holy city or causing the earth to fall into decay and a curse like it did last time.  It won’t happen because only those who live in the New Jerusalem on the new earth will be those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 22:14-15).