THE RICHNESS OF INTIMACY
Lord of life, the God for all seasons; I need your hand upon me as I face trials and tribulations.
Read REVELATION 21:15-27
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.
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.
‘I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power … to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.’1
In the details of the city, John is doing his theology by architecture. The Holy of Holies in the Jerusalem temple was a cube, symbolizing the holy perfection of God, and the new Jerusalem is a vast cube. This is the Holy of Holies, but on a colossal scale, stretching (if centered on Patmos) from Rome in the east to Jerusalem in the west. It is the perfect counterpoint to that archetype of imperial oppression, Rome: the value of the letters of ‘Nero Caesar’ when written in Hebrew is 666; the value of ‘angel’ is 144.
The gemstones make the city, the bride of the Lamb, a counterpoint to the harlot’s ‘precious stones’ in chapter 17. The list here draws from both the gems representing the twelve tribes on Aaron’s breast-piece2 and the treasure of the king of Tyre.3 Whatever worldly wealth is gained by greed and exploitation pales into insignificance in comparison with the riches of being the people of God by the gift of his grace.
Given all the allusions to the Old Testament, especially to Ezekiel, it comes as a great surprise that there is no temple. The temple signifies the meeting point of heaven and earth, the limited presence of God in the world – but now the whole city is filled with God’s presence as heaven and earth unite. The space occupied by the presence of God is the same space occupied by the people of God – here is God in an intimacy with his people that has no limit. Remarkably, the ‘kings of the earth’ and the ‘nations’ (v 24), who have previously been the enemies of God, are able to share in this privilege.
In what ways have you experienced intimacy with God as a treasure beyond price? How might you grow in that sense of intimacy and its value?
Father, I am forever grateful for your call upon my life. You chose me and made me your child. I give my thanks and praise to you.
1 Eph 3:17,18 2 Exod 28 3 Ezek 28
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