THE DWELLING PLACE OF GOD
Lord, You are the ultimate temple.
Read REVELATION 21:9–27
The New Jerusalem, the Bride of the Lamb
9 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
15 The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 16 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia[a] in length, and as wide and high as it is long. 17 The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits[b] thick.[c] 18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.[d] 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.
22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Revelation 21:16 That is, about 1,400 miles or about 2,200 kilometers
Revelation 21:17 That is, about 200 feet or about 65 meters
Revelation 21:17 Or high
Revelation 21:20 The precise identification of some of these precious stones is uncertain.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
The forthcoming city needs no lights. Jesus generates all the light it needs.
Now the grand tour begins. An angel acts as guide to John, offering to show him the bride, the wife of the Lamb, which is also the city, called New Jerusalem. What a vision! What a contrast with fallen Babylon! Here truly is a tale of two cities. The idea of a city can be off-putting to those with experience in earthly cities – with their noise, litter, stress, and crime. A city can be a crowded and cramped place.
From a high mountain, John sees the city descending in all its glory. Its gates and walls suggest both security and openness. There are gates on each side, so that from whatever direction you come, you could enter. Its size is extraordinary: in its width and length and height (1,400 miles each way). It is a cube, the shape of the holy of holies in the Old Testament tabernacle where God dwelt. It shines with the brilliance of a precious jewel. We are presented with a city that is huge, solid, and beautiful, sporting gates of pearl and streets of gold.
All this is to be understood as symbolic language, describing the redeemed people of God as both a beautiful bride and a shining city. Here is a place of purity and security, where there is access and fellowship and in which everything is carefully planned and prepared. There is no need for a temple, for God is in the midst of the city; no need for the sun or the moon, since the glory of God suffices. All that is beautiful and good and true of the cultural treasures of the world will enrich the New Jerusalem. Men and women will be fulfilled in their labor, in harmony with their neighbors, and live together in a pleasant and well-suited environment. What’s not to like?
It is strange to think of our future as a city. What a model to choose. But what a city!
Lord, give us holy imaginations that set our hearts on fire. Grant us new vision that will help us to keep going in our daily lives.