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New Jerusalem

Revelation 21:9-27

Revelation 21 - Quick Links

  • The New Heaven and New Earth
    Revelation 21:1-8

  • The New Jerusalem
    Revelation 21:9-14

  • The Eternal City's Construction
    Revelation 21:15-21

  • The Glory of God and the Nations
    Revelation 21:22-27

  • Revelation 21:9-14


    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."

    Recall from Revelation 17:1, one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls also told John about Babylon:

    Revelation 17:1-2 - 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, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication."

    The angel invites John to see the judgment of the "great harlot," using the phrase "come, I will show you," which is the same phrase by one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls that shows John the "Lamb's wife," the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:10). Perhaps this is the same angel that shows John God's judgment of the "great harlot," as suggested by the similar wording and presentation of the contrasting cities. Though John does not specify which of the seven angels, many speculate that the angel who destroyed Babylon in the seventh Bowl judgment is the angel who explains why God judged it in Revelation 16:19.

    As discussed in Revelation 12:1, a woman used figuratively in Scripture always pictures a city, nation, or people group in covenant with God, or who has forsaken God for false gods. The inhabitants of Babylon forsake God, but in contrast, the inhabitants of the heavenly Jerusalem are in covenant with God. When we compare Babylon the "great harlot" and the holy city side-by-side we see that the two cities have some similarities, but are opposite in other ways:


    Babylon the "great harlot"
    Revelation 17
    Heavenly Jerusalem
    Revelation 21
    One of the seven angels with seven bowls shows John the harlot that rides the beastOne of the seven angels with seven bowls shows John the bride of Christ
    Sits on beast full of names of blasphemyFoundation has names of apostles
    Mother of abominationsNothing containing abominations allowed
    Religious apostate systemNothing that defiles, causes an abomination or lie allowed in the city
    Of the worldHoly - Set apart from the world
    A city built by menA city built by God
    The people are identified with the cityThe people are identified with the city
    Followers of the harlot and the beast are not found in the book of lifeFollowers of Christ are found in the book of life
    Drunk with the blood of saintsHome of the saints
    Destruction of the city avenges the saintsSaints inhabit the heavenly city
    In the wilderness, the beast's heads are "mountains" or kingsThe heavenly Jerusalem is on a great mountain with one King
    The harlot is adorned with gold and precious stones and pearlsThe walls of the heavenly city are constructed with gold and precious stones and pearls for gates
    Clothed with purple and scarletClothed in light
    DestroyedEternal

    The Bible, from a broad scope, is a story of the two cities of Babylon and Jerusalem. After the flood, man rebelled against God in Babel, later called Babylon, but God offered redemption by offering up His Son to die in the earthly Jerusalem for man's rebellion. In the last days, Babylon and Jerusalem will come full circle when the last rebellion before Jesus returns is in Babylon once again. After God destroys Babylon in the last Bowl judgment, Christ will return and rule from the earthly Jerusalem during the Millennium. But after that, the heavenly Jerusalem will replace the earthly Jerusalem on the renovated earth for eternity.

    Recall from Revelation 21:2 that the heavenly city, New Jerusalem is the home of the bride of Christ, the Church (Ephesians 5:23-32, John 14:2-3), and John describes the heavenly city as synonymous with the citizens who comprise the Lamb's wife. The Lamb symbolizes Christ's redemptive sacrifice (Revelation 5:12). Not only does the Lamb redeem creation, He makes it new, including the New Jerusalem, or the Father's house, alluding to " The Jewish Wedding Tradition":

    John 14:2-3- In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

    Since Jesus creates the New Jerusalem for His redeemed, it makes sense that His title of "Lamb" is associated with every facet of the eternal city as a reminder of the price He paid on the cross:

    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."
    Revelation 21:14 - Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
    Revelation 21:22 - But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
    Revelation 21:23 - 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.
    Revelation 21:27 - 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.
    Revelation 22:1 - And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.
    Revelation 22:3 - And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.

    Scripture is clear that the bride, or wife of the Lamb is the Church. Recall from Revelation 19:7-9, the guests at the marriage supper are saints from other dispensations - the Old Testament saints, and the Tribulation saints. But we see that Abraham was looking for the eternal city as part of his inheritance:

    Hebrews 11:8-10 - By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

    This might suggest that in the eternal state, all dispensations of saints become merged together as the wife of the Lamb, and the following passages do show us that the Lord will gather all saints in Him together that God might be in all, which alludes to Him dwelling among all His saints from all dispensations, as discussed in Revelation 21:3:

    Ephesians 1:7-11 - In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth - in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance....
    1 Corinthians 15:28 - Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.

    A major problem with this notion is that it is a form of "replacement theology," where the Church replaces Israel. While the Lord spiritually grafts the Church into Israel and they partake in God's spiritual promises to Abraham (Romans 9-11), there are physical promises God made only to the physical seed of Abraham that will become realized in the Millennium, and the following passage clearly shows that God will recognize Israel as a nation forever:

    Jeremiah 31:31-36 - "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah - not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for a light by day, the ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, who disturbs the sea, and its waves roar (The LORD of hosts is His name): "If those ordinances depart from before Me, says the LORD, then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before Me forever."

    Even though God will make the creation new, we have no reason to believe the ordinances of the luminaries will not continue forever after they go through the Lord's refining fire (2 Peter 3:10-12). Therefore, God will continue to distinguish Israel from the Church, though all are one in Christ under the "new covenant" (Hebrews 8:8-13). That said, note that the city has twelve gates with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, suggesting Israel does share a part in the New Jerusalem:

    Revelation 21:12-13 - 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.

    A gate represents access to something. Those who "do His commandments" to believe on the name of Jesus Christ and to love one another (1 John 3:23, 4:21), they may enter through the gates of the eternal city and have access to the tree of life. But consider that the Lord makes a whole new creation, including a new earth for the saints to dwell in, besides the eternal city. In other words, all the saints from all dispensations will always have access to the tree of life in the eternal city, even if their dwelling place is somewhere else on the new earth and not in the city itself:

    Revelation 22:14 - Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.

    Revelation 21:10-11 - 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, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.

    We continue to see comparisons between the earthly Jerusalem and Babylon. Just as an angel who had one of the bowls of the last seven plagues carried John away in the Spirit to show him the corrupt city, now the same type of angel carries John away in the Spirit to show him the holy city:

    Revelation 17:1, 3 - 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.... So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns."

    Recall from Revelation 1:10 that being "in the Spirit" is different from being in-dwelt by the Spirit, where the Holy Spirit resides within the believer, guiding and directing them until the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30). God transported prophets like John and Ezekiel "in the Spirit" to show them future events.

    When the angel carried John away in the Spirit to show him Babylon, he took him to the wilderness (Revelation 17:3), but when the angel takes John to show him the New Jerusalem it is to a great and high mountain. Symbolically, Jesus is a "great mountain," while a wilderness, or desolate land represents rejection of God:

    Daniel 2:34-35 - You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
    Jeremiah 3:20-21 - "Surely, as a wife treacherously departs from her husband, so have you dealt treacherously with Me, O house of Israel," says the LORD. A voice was heard on the desolate heights, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel. For they have perverted their way; they have forgotten the LORD their God.

    Incidentally, the Spirit took Jesus out in the wilderness so that the devil could tempt Him. In a sense of irony, the devil took him to a high mountain which symbolizes Christ to show Him all the kingdoms of the world he had authority, but would soon lose after Christ's victory after the cross:

    Luke 4:1, 5-7 - Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, "All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours."

    Apparently, Satan did not understand that he would shortly thereafter lose his authority over the kingdoms of the world after Christ's resurrection, or he would not have prompted the rulers of Israel to crucify the Lord:

    1 Corinthians 2:7-8 - But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

    The imagery of the angel taking John to a great and high mountain to see the New Jerusalem parallels the time God took Ezekiel to a high mountain to see the earthly millennial Jerusalem, where He gave Ezekiel measurements of the temple wall like the angel gives to John for the wall around the heavenly Jerusalem:

    Ezekiel 40:2-5 - In the visions of God He took me into the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain; on it toward the south was something like the structure of a city. He took me there, and behold, there was a man whose appearance was like the appearance of bronze. He had a line of flax and a measuring rod in his hand, and he stood in the gateway. And the man said to me, "Son of man, look with your eyes and hear with your ears, and fix your mind on everything I show you; for you were brought here so that I might show them to you. Declare to the house of Israel everything you see." Now there was a wall all around the outside of the temple. In the man's hand was a measuring rod six cubits long, each being a cubit and a handbreadth; and he measured the width of the wall structure, one rod; and the height, one rod.
    Revelation 21:15-17 - 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.

    Isaiah and Zechariah also prophesied about the millennial Jerusalem. They did not view the city from a mountain, but said that the city was on a mountain:

    Isaiah 2:2-3 - Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, "Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths." For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
    Zechariah 8:3 - "Thus says the LORD: 'I will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, The Mountain of the LORD of hosts, The Holy Mountain.'"

    As discussed in Revelation 16:20, at the end of the Tribulation God physically reduces all the mountains in the world to mere hills in a global earthquake, and the Lord's kingdom will become the only mountain on the earth, which symbolizes His preeminence above everything else:

    Colossians 1:18-20 - And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

    In another comparison to Babylon, the Lord will cast that great city down in destruction, but the great city, New Jerusalem will become elevated in God's glory:

    Revelation 18:21 - Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, "Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore."
    Revelation 21:10-11 - 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, having the glory of God....

    The glory of God, also known as the Shechinah glory describes God's splendor and preeminence in the spiritual sense, and the visible manifestation of God's presence in the physical sense, as described in the passages below:

    Isaiah 60:1-2 - Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you.
    Ezekiel 1:26-28 - And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it. Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around. Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. So when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard a voice of One speaking.

    The saints will be able to fully behold God's glory in the eternal state, unlike Moses and John who were not able to in their fallen state:

    John 17:24 - "Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world."
    Exodus 33:18-23 - And he said, "Please, show me Your glory." Then He said, "I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." But He said, "You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live." And the LORD said, "Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen."
    Revelation 1:16-17 - He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.

    God's glory will physically illuminate the New Jerusalem:

    Revelation 21:23 - 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.

    The Lamb is the source of the light of God's glory, because it was through His sacrifice that He was able to give light to men in a fallen world, as discussed in Revelation 21:23. The saints are "luminaries" who reflect the light of Jesus, who is the source:

    Philippians 2:14-15 - Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world....
    James 1:17 - Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
    Matthew 5:14-16 - "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

    Likewise, the New Jerusalem will reflect the light of the glory of God:

      "The 'luminary' of the Holy City is her witness to Christ" (Swete).

      Source: Bible Study Tools

    John describes the light like a precious stone, like a jasper stone. As Jesus is the source of the light of God's glory, He is also the precious stone:

    Isaiah 28:16 - Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; whoever believes will not act hastily."

    Once again, we see a comparison to Babylon, a city also adorned with precious stones, but it will not have the glory of God in it:

    Revelation 17:4 - The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication.
    Revelation 18:15-16 - The merchants of these things, who became rich by her, will stand at a distance for fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, and saying, 'Alas, alas, that great city that was clothed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls!'

    The light of God's glory radiates through the eternal city like a jasper stone. The jasper stone reflects light, appearing as varying colors, in brilliance and sparkle. Jasper comes in a variety of colors on earth, but the likeness of this stone in Heaven is "clear as crystal," like clear glass. Clear as crystal speaks of purity:

    Revelation 22:1 - And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.

    The following passages show that the area around God's throne also looks like crystal, or glass:

    Revelation 4:6 - Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back.
    Ezekiel 1:22 - The likeness of the firmament above the heads of the living creatures was like the color of an awesome crystal, stretched out over their heads.

    Recall from Revelation 4:3 that Jesus appears as a jasper and sardius stone:

    Revelation 4:3 - And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.

    In the Old Testament, the last and the first stones on the breastplate of judgment worn by the high priest are the "sardius" and "jasper" stones. These stones represent the twelve tribes of Israel. The last and the first sons of Israel were Benjamin and Reuben. Names in the Bible are rich with meaning, as shown in the study "What is in a Name?" Benjamin means "Son of the right hand" (Genesis 35:18). Reuben means "The Lord has looked upon my affliction" (Genesis 29:32). Therefore, the jasper and sardius stones show that the occupant that sits on the throne in Heaven is the "Son of the Right Hand, who was afflicted."

    Note that Jesus does not sit at the right hand of any likeness of the Father. Rather, the Son sits at the right hand of the "power of God" (Luke 22:69, Acts 2:29-36). So, the imagery of the light like a jasper stone in the holy city shows that Jesus has sovereignty over the city. Yet, the continual reference to Him as the Lamb of God also speaks of His sacrifice and affliction, represented in His appearance like a sardius stone.


    Revelation 21:12-13 - 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.

    The Lamb's wife (Revelation 21:9), the holy city had a great and high wall. A wall represents security in the Lord, or protection from enemies:

    Proverbs 18:10-11 - The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. The rich man's wealth is his strong city, and like a high wall in his own esteem.
    Nehemiah 2:17 - Then I said to them, "You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach."

    The eternal city also has twelve gates. A gate represents access to something, in this case access to the tree of life:

    Revelation 22:14-15 - Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.

    Jesus is the gate, or door to eternal life:

    John 10:7-9 - Then Jesus said to them again, "Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture."

    While all of God's enemies will be in the "lake of fire," and thus no threat to the eternal city, the gates and the great and high wall serve as a reminder that only those who have access to the tree of life have access to God.

    There are twelve angels at the gates. Since the gates will always be open, the angels probably play a role as greeters rather than guards, like the cherubim in the garden of Eden who prevented Adam and Eve from access to the tree of life. But in both cases, they act as caretakers over the access to the tree of life:

    Genesis 3:22-24 - Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever" - therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

    The twelve gates have the names of the twelve tribes of Israel on them, suggesting Israel shares a part in the New Jerusalem. Recall from Revelation 21:9, all the saints from all dispensations will always have access to the tree of life in the eternal city, even if their dwelling place is somewhere else on the new earth and not in the city itself. But the names of the twelve tribes of Israel on the twelve gates is a testimony to the promise God made to Abraham that he and his heirs would have a part in the eternal city:

    Hebrews 11:8-10 - By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

    The millennial city of Jerusalem also has gates, three on each side like the eternal city that also bear the twelve names of the tribes of Israel:

    Ezekiel 48:30-35 - "These are the exits of the city. On the north side, measuring four thousand five hundred cubits (the gates of the city shall be named after the tribes of Israel), the three gates northward: one gate for Reuben, one gate for Judah, and one gate for Levi; on the east side, four thousand five hundred cubits, three gates: one gate for Joseph, one gate for Benjamin, and one gate for Dan; on the south side, measuring four thousand five hundred cubits, three gates: one gate for Simeon, one gate for Issachar, and one gate for Zebulun; on the west side, four thousand five hundred cubits with their three gates: one gate for Gad, one gate for Asher, and one gate for Naphtali. All the way around shall be eighteen thousand cubits; and the name of the city from that day shall be: THE LORD IS THERE."

    Similarly, the layout of Israel's camp in the wilderness in Numbers 1-2 had three tribes on each side of the tabernacle, but the names were in a different order than on the gates around the millennial Jerusalem:


    Numbers 2 Camp of Israel

    The tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh will become recombined under the tribe of Joseph, so that Levi becomes the twelfth tribe. This is because the priestly order of Melchizedek, with Jesus as High Priest has replaced the Levitical priesthood (Hebrews 7). While John did not specify the names of the tribes of Israel on the gates of the eternal city, it goes to reason they will match the names on the gates of the millennial city, with Joseph and Levi represented, instead of Ephraim and Manasseh, because the Levitical priesthood ended with Christ under the new covenant.

    Incidentally, ancient Jerusalem also had twelve gates into the city, but they were not named after the twelve tribes of Israel. The following is an interesting article that discusses these twelve gates of the ancient city: "What was/is the importance of the gates of Jerusalem?"


    Revelation 21:14 - Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

    Abraham looked for the eternal city with foundations:

    Hebrews 11:8-10 - By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

    A good foundation is built upon rock:

    Luke 6:48-49 - "He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great."

    Jesus is the foundation "rock" of the earthly Jerusalem and the Church:

    Isaiah 28:16 - Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; whoever believes will not act hastily."
    1 Corinthians 3:9-11 - For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

    Jesus built His Church on the foundation of the prophets who prophesied of Him in the Old Testament and the twelve apostles who went out and shared the gospel in the New Testament, with Matthias replacing Judas (Acts 1:12-26), though some believe it will be Paul (1 Corinthians 15:1-11):

    Ephesians 2:19-22 - Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
    Ephesians 3:1-7 - For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles - if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.

    The twelve apostles, who are all Jewish will also play an important role in the Millennium when they govern as judges over the twelve tribes of Israel:

    Matthew 19:28 - So Jesus said to them, "Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."

    As we can see, the Lamb's apostles will continue to help mold the kingdom beyond the Church Age, so it makes sense to see them memorialized in the foundations of the wall around the eternal city.

    Revelation 21:15-21


    Revelation 21:15 - And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall.

    The angel showing John the eternal city has a gold reed, or rod to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. Recall that gold can represent holiness and purity, because it retains all its qualities when tested in fire:

    Job 23:10 - But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.

    The measuring reed is gold like several other items that angels and saints use in service to the Lord:

    Revelation 1:12 - Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands....
    Revelation 4:4, 9-10 - Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads.... Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne....
    Revelation 5:8 - Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
    Revelation 8:3 - Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
    Revelation 9:13-14 - Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, "Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates."
    Revelation 15:6-7 - And out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues, clothed in pure bright linen, and having their chests girded with golden bands. Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever.

    We saw a similar measuring rod when an angel told John to measure the Tribulation temple:

    Revelation 11:1-2 - Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, "Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months.

    John is not to measure the court outside the temple because God rejects it and gives it to the Gentiles. As discussed in Revelation 11:1, this suggests that measuring the temple goes beyond bringing Israel to repentance; it identifies that which God apportions to Israel and therefore takes ownership. We see this same pattern where God reclaimed the earthly Jerusalem, when He measured the city after Israel repented and He reconciled them back to Himself, after a time of exile:

    Zechariah 2:1-5 - Then I raised my eyes and looked, and behold, a man with a measuring line in his hand. So I said, "Where are you going?" And he said to me, "To measure Jerusalem, to see what is its width and what is its length." And there was the angel who talked with me, going out; and another angel was coming out to meet him, who said to him, "Run, speak to this young man, saying: 'Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls, because of the multitude of men and livestock in it. For I,' says the LORD, 'will be a wall of fire all around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.'"
    Zechariah 2:6-9 - "Up, up! Flee from the land of the north," says the LORD; "for I have spread you abroad like the four winds of heaven," says the LORD. "Up, Zion! Escape, you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon." For thus says the LORD of hosts: "He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye. For surely I will shake My hand against them, and they shall become spoil for their servants. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me.
    Zechariah 2:10-13 - "Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst," says the LORD. "Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you. And the LORD will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land, and will again choose Jerusalem. Be silent, all flesh, before the LORD, for He is aroused from His holy habitation!"

    In the same fashion, God showed His sovereignty over the earth by measuring it:

    Habakkuk 3:6 - He stood and measured the earth; He looked and startled the nations. And the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills bowed. His ways are everlasting.

    The Lord also showed a man measuring the millennial temple with a measuring rod:

    Ezekiel 40:2-5 - In the visions of God He took me into the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain; on it toward the south was something like the structure of a city. He took me there, and behold, there was a man whose appearance was like the appearance of bronze. He had a line of flax and a measuring rod in his hand, and he stood in the gateway. And the man said to me, "Son of man, look with your eyes and hear with your ears, and fix your mind on everything I show you; for you were brought here so that I might show them to you. Declare to the house of Israel everything you see." Now there was a wall all around the outside of the temple. In the man's hand was a measuring rod six cubits long, each being a cubit and a handbreadth; and he measured the width of the wall structure, one rod; and the height, one rod.

    The reason the man measures the temple is so Israel will become ashamed of their iniquities when they consider the design of the temple and follow the ordinances and laws associated with the temple:

    Ezekiel 43:10-11 - Son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and let them measure the pattern. And if they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the design of the temple and its arrangement, its exits and its entrances, its entire design and all its ordinances, all its forms and all its laws. Write it down in their sight, so that they may keep its whole design and all its ordinances, and perform them.

    The people who returned from the Babylonian exile wept over their iniquity when they heard the Law of Moses, which included the pattern of the temple:

    Nehemiah 8:5, 8-9 - And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up.... So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading. And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn nor weep." For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law.

    There is something about the temple design, besides the Law of Moses, that exposes Israel's sin. Even though Israel did not understand, God revealed to the Church that the pattern pointed to the Messiah. After the Tribulation, Israel will understand the pattern of the temple and how it points to Christ:

    Hebrews 8:1-5 - Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, "See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain."

    Revelation 21:16 - 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.

    The New Jerusalem is laid out as a square, with the length, breadth and height all equal. The perimeter of the millennial city and the property around it is also laid out as a square:

    Ezekiel 45:6 - "You shall appoint as the property of the city an area five thousand cubits wide and twenty-five thousand long, adjacent to the district of the holy section; it shall belong to the whole house of Israel."
    Ezekiel 48:15-20 - "The five thousand cubits in width that remain, along the edge of the twenty-five thousand, shall be for general use by the city, for dwellings and common-land; and the city shall be in the center. These shall be its measurements: the north side four thousand five hundred cubits, the south side four thousand five hundred, the east side four thousand five hundred, and the west side four thousand five hundred. The common-land of the city shall be: to the north two hundred and fifty cubits, to the south two hundred and fifty, to the east two hundred and fifty, and to the west two hundred and fifty. The rest of the length, alongside the district of the holy section, shall be ten thousand cubits to the east and ten thousand to the west. It shall be adjacent to the district of the holy section, and its produce shall be food for the workers of the city. The workers of the city, from all the tribes of Israel, shall cultivate it. The entire district shall be twenty-five thousand cubits by twenty-five thousand cubits, foursquare. You shall set apart the holy district with the property of the city."

    While the height of the eternal city is the same as the length and breadth, some believe the city is the shape of a pyramid with the base laid out as a square, which more resembles a mountain. While the millennial city is not the shape of a pyramid or a mountain, it is on top of a mountain:

    Isaiah 2:2-3 - Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, "Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths." For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
    Zechariah 8:3 - "Thus says the LORD: 'I will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, The Mountain of the LORD of hosts, The Holy Mountain.'"

    Another correlation related to mountains, the millennial city, and the eternal city of Jerusalem is that God calls both cities "Mount Zion," as shown in the passages above and below, suggesting the eternal city is higher in elevation compared to the rest of the earth, like the millennial city:

    Revelation 14:1-4 - Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father's name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.

    Regarding the shape of a pyramid, some believe the pillar to the Lord in Egypt is the "Great Pyramid":

    Isaiah 19:19-20 - In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD at its border. And it will be for a sign and for a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the LORD because of the oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Mighty One, and He will deliver them.

    There is also speculation that a pre-flood patriarch might have built the pyramid and patterned it after the eternal city, and the Egyptians tried to copy the structure, but were only able to make inferior structures compared to the "Great Pyramid." It also makes sense that Satan would steal and try to counterfeit God's pattern. That said, whomever built the "Great Pyramid" had great precision and knowledge in mathematics and the creation. The following article discusses this topic: "The Great Pyramid of Giza - By Jack Kelley."

    Something else to consider about the shape of a pyramid is that it is the only building with a cornerstone that intersects all the walls of the structure:

    Isaiah 28:16 - Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; whoever believes will not act hastily."

    But a cornerstone in this context is a foundation stone, and not a capstone. The foundational cornerstone is symbolic of the foundation in Christ:

    1 Peter 2:4-8 - Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, "Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame." Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, "The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone," and "A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense." They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.

    Therefore, the pattern of the inner sanctuary of the temple being a cube fits the context of Christ as the cornerstone. And since so many of the aspects of the city represent Christ, it makes sense for it to be the same shape as the most holy place in the earthly temple that also represents Christ:

    1 Kings 6:19-20 - And he prepared the inner sanctuary inside the temple, to set the ark of the covenant of the LORD there. The inner sanctuary was twenty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and twenty cubits high. He overlaid it with pure gold, and overlaid the altar of cedar.

    The angel speaking to John measures the city's length, breadth, and height as 12,000 furlongs each. It is unclear exactly how long this measurement is, since it is not necessarily a human measurement like the wall (Revelation 21:17), but the generally accepted measurement is approximately 1,400-1,500 miles for each dimension.

    White horse
    Source: Wikipedia

    12,000 furlongs can be reduced into multiples of ten and twelve. In my study: "Prophetic Patterns in Numbers," I show that the biblical meaning of the product of the numbers of ten and twelve is "government of divine order," or "appointed persons of divine order." Since the New Jerusalem is the capital of God's eternal government, then it makes sense to find a number that represents "government of divine order" in its physical measurement. The city is foursquare in its layout, so the number four is in the measurement too. Recall from Revelation 4:6, the number four represents the creative works of God, which also fits since the eternal city is part of God's new creation.

    As an interesting aside, if the eternal city is a cube, it would fit perfectly within the moon, as determined using the isosceles triangle formula, as shown to the left (source). Since God patterned so much of creation after things in Heaven (Hebrews 8:4-5), perhaps the moon represents the eternal city:

    Also, considering the massive size of the eternal city, some believe the city will orbit the earth like a moon and never rest on the earth, because physics would not allow for it. However, the natural laws in the present creation may not apply in the eternal state. For a better perspective, the pictures in the following link show the size of the eternal city compared to the current size of the earth: "Size of New Jerusalem."


    Revelation 21:17 - 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 speaking to John continues to measure the city and measures the wall around the city to be 144 cubits according to man's standard, though an angel measures it. A cubit in John's day was the length of a man's average forearm, or about 18 inches, or half a meter (source). Therefore, 144 cubits is about 216 feet, or 66 meters.

    Recall from Revelation 21:12-13, a wall represents security in the Lord, or protection from enemies (Proverbs 18:10-11, Nehemiah 2:17). While all of God's enemies will be in the "lake of fire," and thus no threat to the eternal city, the gates and the great and high wall serve as a reminder that only the righteous have access to the city:

    Revelation 22:14-15 - Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.

    It is not clear if the angel measures the height or the thickness of the wall, but since the wall is not for physical protection, 144 is also symbolic as is the city's measurement, as discussed in the last section. Recall from Revelation 7:4, the number of servants sealed by the angel is 144,000. In my study: "Prophetic Patterns in Numbers," I show that the biblical meaning of 144,000 is "government of divine order," or "appointed persons of divine order," based on the roots of ten and twelve. Indeed, the Lord has chosen these servants from the tribes of Israel for a divine purpose. The number 144, is the number twelve squared, showing an emphasis on the meaning of "divine government" in the number "twelve."

    Since the wall around the holy city and capital of God's eternal government represents security in the Lord and separation from the enemy, it is fitting that the city has the number of "government of divine order" embedded in its measurement. Isaiah saw this eternal "government of divine order" with justice, implying that nothing that could defile it would ever be a part of it:

    Isaiah 9:6-7 - For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

    Revelation 21:18 - The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.

    What we consider rare and of high value in the present world is building material in the eternal state. The construction of the heavenly Jerusalem's wall is of jasper stone. Recall that the light of the eternal city was like a jasper stone, as discussed in Revelation 21:10-11. Jasper comes in a variety of colors on earth, but the likeness of this stone in Heaven is clear as crystal, like "clear glass." The city itself is made of pure gold that is translucent like "clear glass":

      "Employing the language of semblance, John is endeavoring to give a description of a scene which in most respects transcends earthly experience. The constant mention of transparency indicates that the city is designed to transmit the glory of God in the form of light without hindrance."

      Source: The New Heaven and the New Earth - By John F. Walvoord

      "There will be nothing to hide in heaven, consequently there will be no shame. All will live comfortably in houses with transparent walls. None will look suspiciously on his neighbor neither will envy nor covetousness be found there. None will fear the loss of property and nobody will need to lock their doors."

      "Nevertheless, because there are buildings with "many mansion" (John 14:2) and "houses" that the redeemed themselves "shall build... and inhabit" (Isaiah 65:21) with roofs and walls and rooms: enclosures suggesting that personal privacy will still exist throughout eternity in spite of the unprecedented degree of transparency."

      Source: Explore Daniel & Revelation - By Robert Wood, M.D.

    Recall from Revelation 21:15 that gold can represent holiness and purity, because it retains all its qualities when tested in fire (Job 23:10). Something clear as glass, or as crystal also speaks of purity:

    Revelation 22:1 - And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.

    Recall from Revelation 4:3 that Jesus appears as a jasper and sardius stone on His throne:

    Revelation 4:3 - And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.

    As discussed in Revelation 21:10-11, the jasper stone shows that Jesus has sovereignty over the city. Yet, the continual reference to Him as the Lamb of God also speaks of His sacrifice, as represented in His appearance like a sardius stone.


    Revelation 21:19-20 - 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.

    Recall that Jesus built His Church on the foundation of the prophets who prophesied of Him in the Old Testament, and on the twelve apostles who went out and shared the gospel in the New Testament. The names of the apostles are memorialized in the foundation of the Church's eternal home:

    Revelation 21:14 - Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

    But Jesus Himself is also represented in the foundation of the city as the "chief cornerstone," as discussed in Revelation 21:16. Church saints can spiritually build on the foundation of Christ with good works that the Lord awards with precious metals and stones to adorn their crowns:

    1 Corinthians 3:10-13 - According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is.

    This is a nice parallel since the city, New Jerusalem is also adorned with precious stones and medals and is the home of the bride of Christ, the Church (Ephesians 5:23-32, John 14:2-3). God made a similar parallel to the earthly Jerusalem when He redeemed the city and the people after a time of judgment and metaphorically adorned the city with precious stones:

    Isaiah 54:5-12 - "For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth. For the LORD has called you Like a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, like a youthful wife when you were refused," says your God. "For a mere moment I have forsaken you, but with great mercies I will gather you. With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment; but with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you," says the LORD, your Redeemer. "For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you. For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has mercy on you. "O you afflicted one, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems, and lay your foundations with sapphires. I will make your pinnacles of rubies, your gates of crystal, and all your walls of precious stones."

    It is interesting to note that God created Satan and adorned him with every precious stone, but he became filled with pride over his beauty, which was his downfall:

    Ezekiel 28:12-17 - ...Thus says the Lord GOD: "You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created. "You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you. "By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned; therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; and I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones. "Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, that they might gaze at you."

    The following passage declares that when God crafts or adorns someone or something such as a city with precious stones, it shows that He has chosen them and cherishes them:

    1 Peter 2:4-5 - Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
    The breastplate of judgment

    Recall that the breastplate of judgment worn by the high priest had twelve precious stones that represent the twelve tribes of Israel (Revelation 4:3), as shown to the right. But since the precious stones in the foundations in the wall of the city represent the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Revelation 21:14), we should not expect them to necessarily all be the same stones, especially since the twelve apostles were almost certainly not from all twelve tribes of Israel since there were at least two sets of brothers and almost all the apostles were from the area of Galilee, which means they were probably all from just a few of the tribes. In other words, since the stones on the breastplate of judgment represented each tribe in Israel, it does not mean that the apostles represent all twelve tribes in their lineage. The graphic below shows a rough representation of how the foundation wall of the eternal city might look like, based on the inferior earthly appearance of the gemstones:


    Gemstones in the foundation wall of New Jerusalem

    Revelation 21:21 - 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.

    Gates and Foundations

    Recall from Revelation 21:12-13 that the gates had the names of the twelve tribes of Israel written on them that show that the Old Testament saints have access to the eternal city. Here we see that the gates themselves are each a single pearl, suggesting they are massive in size. Pearls have great value in today's world:

    Matthew 7:6 - "Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces."
    1 Timothy 2:8-9 - I desire therefore... that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing....
    Revelation 18:15-16 - The merchants of these things, who became rich by her, will stand at a distance for fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, and saying, 'Alas, alas, that great city that was clothed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls!'

    Each pearl or gate into the eternal city represents Christ, who is the gate, or door to eternal life, giving us access to the tree of life in the eternal city (Revelation 22:14):

    John 10:7-9 - Then Jesus said to them again, "Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture."

    The incarnation of Christ parallels how oysters make pearls:

      "Pearls, as naturalists say, have a mysterious origin. They are the wonderful production of a shellfish, found chiefly in the East Indies. The shell, at a certain time of the year, opens itself, and pearls form when a microscopic intruder settles inside the shell. The mollusk, being irritated by the intruder, secretes materials to cover the irritant. This secretion process is repeated many times, thus producing a pearl."

      "So, the origin and birth of Christ are wonderful and mysterious. God manifest in the flesh, is the admiration of angels. A virgin (the Mother of this Pearl, according to the flesh), being overshadowed with the Holy Spirit, travailed in birth, and brought forth Christ, the Pearl of great Price (Luke 1:35)."

      Source: Grace Gems - "Christ the Pearl of Great Price" - By William Nicholson, 1862

    An oyster is an unclean creature in the water because it does not have fins or scales:

    Leviticus 11:10 - But all in the seas or in the rivers that do not have fins and scales, all that move in the water or any living thing which is in the water, they are an abomination to you.

    God used the eating of clean and unclean animals as a picture to distinguish between Israel and the Gentile nations, or between the righteous and the wicked:

    Leviticus 11:45-47 - "For I am the LORD who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. 'This is the law of the animals and the birds and every living creature that moves in the waters, and of every creature that creeps on the earth, to distinguish between the unclean and the clean, and between the animal that may be eaten and the animal that may not be eaten.'"
    Ecclesiastes 9:2 - All things come alike to all: One event happens to the righteous and the wicked; to the good, the clean, and the unclean; to him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice. As is the good, so is the sinner; he who takes an oath as he who fears an oath.

    But God showed Peter that He does not consider Gentiles unclean any more under the new covenant through Jesus Christ:

      "In order to move the gospel out from the Jews to the Gentiles, Peter was given a vision of a sheet containing many unclean animals and told to kill and eat them. When he refused to partake of the unclean animals, God responded, "What God has cleansed you must not call common (Acts 10:13)." This was preparatory to Peter entering the household of a Gentile, Cornelius, so that the gospel could go forth to the Gentiles. Here, John is told that nothing that defiles will be allowed to enter through the gates of the city":

      Revelation 21:27 - 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.

      "Jesus paid for both a treasure hidden in a field (Israel) and a pearl of great price (the Gentiles)":

      Matthew 13:44-46 - "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it."

      "The pearl Jesus bought was considered unclean, but also of great value. The pearls may stand as a testimony that the redeemed from among the Gentiles, who responded to God in faith, are no longer considered unclean and can pass through the gates."

      Source: Bible Study Tools

    The street of the city is probably the main street or plaza, since the Greek word is singular. The street is pure gold, which can represent holiness and purity, because it retains all its qualities when tested in fire (Job 23:10). The street of gold is like transparent glass that allows the glory of God to shine through it, like the rest of the city:

    Revelation 21:18 - The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.

    Revelation 21:22-27


    Revelation 21:22 - But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

    Recall from Revelation 21:3 that the earthly, heavenly, and bodily tabernacles are all patterns that will pass away in the eternal state (Hebrews 8), because they all point to the ultimate temple of God Himself:

    John 2:19-21 - Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Then the Jews said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?" But He was speaking of the temple of His body.

    In the eternal state there are no more barriers between God and men and He will dwell with His people, coming full circle to when the Lord had complete, intimate, and unhindered fellowship with Adam and Eve before they sinned:

    Genesis 3:8 - And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
    Revelation 22:3-4 - And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face....
    Revelation 21:3 - 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."

    Revelation 21:23 - 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.

    God's glory will illuminate the eternal city:

    Revelation 21:10-11 - 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, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.

    As discussed in Revelation 21:10-11, the glory of God, also known as the Shechinah glory, describes God's splendor and preeminence in the spiritual sense and the visible manifestation of God's presence in the physical sense (Isaiah 60:1-2, Ezekiel 1:26-28).

    God created the luminaries on the fourth day of creation, but light He manifested on the first day, suggesting that only His glory illuminated the creation until the fourth day:

    Genesis 1:3-5 - Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.
    Genesis 1:14-18 - Then God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth"; and it was so. Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.

    Just because it appears that God's glory is the only source of light in the eternal order does not mean the heavenly bodies themselves will cease to exist:

    Isaiah 60:19-20 - "The sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you; but the LORD will be to you an everlasting light, and your God your glory. Your sun shall no longer go down, nor shall your moon withdraw itself; for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended."

    God promised that the ordinances of the sun, moon, and stars would continue forever as a sign of His promise that Israel would eternally continue as a nation, as discussed in Revelation 21:9:

    Jeremiah 31:35-36 - Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for a light by day, the ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, who disturbs the sea, and its waves roar (The LORD of hosts is His name): "If those ordinances depart from before Me, says the LORD, then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before Me forever."
    Psalm 89:34-37 - My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips. Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David: His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before Me; it shall be established forever like the moon, even like the faithful witness in the sky.

    In addition, the monthly lunar cycle continues to mark time on the new earth, as it has since the beginning (Genesis 1:14), which supports the continued existence and ordinance of the moon in the eternal state:

    Revelation 22:1-2 - And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

    Incidentally, at the end of the Tribulation, the luminaries will briefly go dark, and then we see in the Millennium that the light of the sun shines sevenfold brighter than it does now, which shows that the ordinances of the heavenly bodies never cease, even if their light goes out or becomes brighter:

    Matthew 24:29 - "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken."
    Isaiah 24:23 - Then the moon will be disgraced and the sun ashamed; for the LORD of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and before His elders, gloriously.
    Isaiah 30:26 - Moreover the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the LORD binds up the bruise of His people and heals the stroke of their wound.

    The Lamb is the source of the light of God's glory, because it was through His sacrifice that He gives light to men in a fallen world:

    Luke 2:30-32 - "For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel."
    John 1:3-4, 9 - All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.... That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.
    John 8:12 - Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."
    2 Corinthians 4:6 - For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
    Hebrews 1:1-4 - God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
    1 John 1:5-7 - This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

    Revelation 21:24-26 - And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its 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.

    The nations who walk in the light of the eternal city are believers from the Gentile nations:

    Galatians 3:8 - And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, "In you all the nations shall be blessed."

    The kings of the earth are of the redeemed saints who are heirs of the kingdom of God:

    James 2:5 - Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?
    Revelation 1:5-6 - ...To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
    Revelation 5:8-10 - Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth."

    To give glory to someone carries the idea of acknowledging magnificence and splendor, and giving credit where credit is due. Giving honor means to pay respect, or verbally recognize worth, as discussed in Revelation 4:9:

    Revelation 4:9-11 - Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: "You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created."

    The whole chapter of Isaiah 60 is a prophecy that primarily looks forward to the millennial Jerusalem, but has elements that can only pertain to the heavenly Jerusalem. Isaiah's prophecy gives us a picture of how the Lord's kingdom will continue beyond the Millennium into the eternal state, but with some changes and expansions after God permanently deals with sin and makes the heavens and the earth new, including replacing the earthly Jerusalem with the eternal city. In the following verses, we see that the kings and Gentiles have access to the eternal city:

    Isaiah 60:3-5 - The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. "Lift up your eyes all around, and see: They all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be nursed at your side. Then you shall see and become radiant, and your heart shall swell with joy; because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the Gentiles shall come to you."

    Further down in Isaiah's prophecy, we see that the redeemed of the nations and the kings will bring the best they have to offer to the eternal city, to give honor and glory to the Lord:

    Isaiah 60:16-18 - You shall drink the milk of the Gentiles, and milk the breast of kings; you shall know that I, the LORD, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob. "Instead of bronze I will bring gold, instead of iron I will bring silver, instead of wood, bronze, and instead of stones, iron. I will also make your officers peace, and your magistrates righteousness. Violence shall no longer be heard in your land, neither wasting nor destruction within your borders; but you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise."

    Perhaps one purpose of the gates to the eternal city is that the Lord created the city while sin is still in existence, so the gates must stay shut to the creation tainted with sin until the eternal state when the gates are continually open, because sin will be no more. That said, the gates in the millennial city will also be continually open, but it is not about keeping sin out, but to welcome the Gentiles and their kings who bring their tributes to the city - perhaps that is another purpose of the gates in the eternal city too:

    Isaiah 60:10-12 - "The sons of foreigners shall build up your walls, and their kings shall minister to you; for in My wrath I struck you, but in My favor I have had mercy on you. Therefore your gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day or night, that men may bring to you the wealth of the Gentiles, and their kings in procession. For the nation and kingdom which will not serve you shall perish, and those nations shall be utterly ruined."

    The following passages show other prophecies about God's command that the Gentiles send representatives to the earthly Jerusalem to pay homage at appointed times in the millennial kingdom:

    Isaiah 66:18-21 - "For I know their works and their thoughts. It shall be that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see My glory. I will set a sign among them; and those among them who escape I will send to the nations: to Tarshish and Pul and Lud, who draw the bow, and Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands afar off who have not heard My fame nor seen My glory. And they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles. Then they shall bring all your brethren for an offering to the LORD out of all nations, on horses and in chariots and in litters, on mules and on camels, to My holy mountain Jerusalem," says the LORD, "as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the LORD. And I will also take some of them for priests and Levites," says the LORD.
    Zechariah 14:16-19 - And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, on them there will be no rain. If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the LORD strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

    Back to Isaiah's prophecy, John also notes there will be no night in the eternal city as another reason the gates always stay open. The following passage suggests that it is because the sun and moon are no longer emitting light. This part of Isaiah's prophecy can only be speaking of the eternal Jerusalem, because another prophecy in Isaiah 30:26 shows the sun and moon shining light seven times what they do today:

    Isaiah 60:19-22 - "The sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you; but the LORD will be to you an everlasting light, and your God your glory. Your sun shall no longer go down, nor shall your moon withdraw itself; for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended. Also your people shall all be righteous; they shall inherit the land forever, the branch of My planting, the work of My hands, that I may be glorified. A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation. I, the LORD, will hasten it in its time."

    Revelation 21:27 - 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.

    As we close, we have seen throughout this chapter several comparisons between the New Jerusalem and Babylon, and also how the eternal city compares to the millennial Jerusalem and the pre-millennial Jerusalem in ancient times and today:

    Pre-Millennial Jerusalem Millennial Jerusalem Eternal Jerusalem
    Center of the kingdom of Judah Center of Christ's earthly kingdom Center of the new creation
    Governed by kings and emperors in the past, and by democratically elected leaders today Christ will rule in the flesh over the world with His saints God will dwell among His people
    Capital of the Jewish nation Capital of the world Home of the bride of Christ
    At a higher elevation than most of Israel, except for the Golan Heights On a high mountain Massive in height
    City historically had gates, a wall, and a temple - The temple will be rebuilt in the Tribulation, but the modern city extends well beyond the ancient city wall City has twelve gates named after the twelve tribes of Israel, a wall, and a temple City has twelve gates named after the twelve tribes of Israel, a wall, but no structural temple because the Lord is the temple
    Tribulation temple measured by an angel Wall around the temple measured by a possible angel who looks like a man City, gates, and wall measured by an angel
    The glory of God resided in the ark of the covenant in ancient Jerusalem Jesus, the source of the light of God's glory, will reside in the flesh in the millennial Jerusalem The eternal city reflects the light of God's glory
    Ordinances of the luminaries continue forever, and since the beginning of creation they have provided light to the earth Ordinances of the luminaries continue forever, but will shine seven times brighter than today in the Millennium Ordinances of the luminaries continue forever, but God's glory nullifies their purpose to provide light for the new creation
    Those who have ruled over Israel have determined who has access to the city throughout history All nations will have access to the millennial city and will be required to send representatives to the city to worship the King Only those whose names are in the Book of Life will have access to the eternal city
    Jesus built the Church on the foundation of the prophets and the twelve apostles, centered in Jerusalem The twelve apostles will govern over and judge the twelve tribes of Israel in the millennial kingdom The twelve apostles are memorialized in the twelve foundations of the city
    The city is metaphorically adorned with precious stones The Bride of Christ, who reigns with Christ in the Millennium is adorned with precious stones as a reward for good works The city is adorned with precious stones

    What the whole chapter boils down to is that only those whose names are written in the "Lamb's Book of Life," having eternal life through the Lamb, have access to the Lord and to the eternal city, but those who reject God are not redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and go to eternal judgment in the lake of fire:

    Revelation 21:7-8 - "He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. 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."
    Revelation 20:11-15 - Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

    To defile something is to make it unclean (Titus 1:15), and abominations are sins that pollute the land (Revelation 17:4). Nothing that defiles, causes an abomination, or lies will enter the eternal city:

    Revelation 22:14-15 - Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.

    In the eternal state there is no more sin and all are made righteous because of the blood of the Lamb (Romans 3:21-26, 1 Peter 1:18-19), so only righteousness dwells in the eternal city, and also in the new heavens and the new earth:

    2 Peter 3:13 - Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
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