With this post, we will finish Revelation 21. Yeah, I know you want me to drag this out forever, but I sometimes think I heard the voice of the Lord, telling me, I will come back when you finish this study. So on that note, we have one more chapter, for what it’s worth.
The funny thing about that, hearing God’s voice stuff. His voice almost always sounds like my voice, and yes, I desperately long for Him to return to retrieve His church. So what could be an honest inspiration from the Holy Spirit may be nothing more than one of my internal desires.
If what I just said was my driving motivation, then you would think I would have recklessly plowed through the book of Revelation. Not that its any of your concern but I struggled most of my life with an undiagnosed learning disability, and, though I finally found out what the problem was, the only assistance I obtained was to sit, undisturbed, for up to three hours, so I could take my college chemistry tests.
So, hurriedly does not work for me, and I have to build word pictures in my mind. I have been learning and studying the Revelation alongside you, and have become quite adept at painting word pictures of the events.
As we enter this next portion, I must admit it sort of bores me.
Because, while I have childhood images from Sunday School of massive pearl gates, (try to imagine how big the oyster would have to be to hold such a pearl.) I have come to the conclusion that most of what I learned as a child, was erroneous. I suppose I should tell you, that I cannot stand the thought of talking just to talk, so I will try to find relevance to what we are about to see in scripture.
I long for you to gain what I have gained, and that is a passionate love and desire to see our heavenly Father and Jesus.
(Revelation 21:10 NASB) “And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,”
Where is this Holy City now?
The obvious answer, from the passage above, is that it’s in heaven.
That’s great, now tell me, where heaven is?
The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the church in Ephesus, wrote, “we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Then the answer lies in the location of this heavenly place. Once again we turn to Paul. The second letter that he wrote to the church that met in Corinth conveyed this, “while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NASB)
So this place called heaven is currently NOT seen with the naked eye.
(Revelation 21:11 NASB) having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear Jasper.
The context is heaven; therefore, it is heaven that has the glory of God.
Camp here for a minute. Jesus is God, and we are in Christ.
Because of that, could it be said that someday, we too will have the glory of God?
The answer is yes. But take this to the next step;
Since we are in Christ, shouldn’t we be emitting that glory now?
Then what prevents us?
The only logical answer lies in the fact that we are walking around in broken vessels, which, admittedly allow other things to leak out between the cracks. But, that will change one day soon, as we will be changed.
(Revelation 21:12-13 GW) “It had a large, high wall with 12 gates. Twelve angels were at the gates. The names of the 12 tribes of Israel were written on the gates. (13) There were three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.”
This imagery of the 12 gates would have been familiar to John.
““These are the exits of the city: on the north side, 4,500 cubits by measurement, shall be the gates of the city, named for the tribes of Israel, three gates toward the north: the gate of Reuben, one; the gate of Judah, one; the gate of Levi, one. “On the east side, 4,500 cubits, shall be three gates: the gate of Joseph, one; the gate of Benjamin, one; the gate of Dan, one. “On the south side, 4,500 cubits by measurement, shall be three gates: the gate of Simeon, one; the gate of Issachar, one; the gate of Zebulun, one. “On the west side, 4,500 cubits, shall be three gates: the gate of Gad, one; the gate of Asher, one; the gate of Naphtali, one.” (Ezekiel 48:30-34 NASB)
Interesting how this passage above does not show up in several translations. An acquaintance of mine began to point out how God seems to take an interest in groupings of three. The commentator Albert Barnes, said,” there does not seem to be any special significance to the number.” Since the Holy City is square, then it is highly convenient to place three on each side and name them with tribes of Israel. Ah, one other thing. When Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden, an angel was placed at the gate and prevented them from reentering and accessing the tree of life. Perhaps, these angels will have a similar function.
(Revelation 21:14 NASB) “And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”
(Revelation 21:15-17 NASB) “The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall. (16) The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. (17) And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements.”
If you can find an ancient map of the Middle East that shows the land promised to Abraham, and attempt to ascertain the land coverage using the scale of the map, it takes up most of the Middle East. Thankfully someone did the math for us, and it is about 1500 miles square.
(Revelation 21:18 NASB) “The material of the wall was Jasper, and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.”
Both of these images are of Jasper. The image that is impossible to find is pure gold like clear glass.
(Revelation 21:19-20 NLT)The wall of the city was built on foundation stones inlaid with twelve precious stones: the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.
Again I turn to the Apostle Paul.
“Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself.” (Ephesians 2:20 NLT)
How many disciples were there?
Yes, you are right 12, and so the city is built on 12 foundation stones.
(Revelation 21:21 NASB) “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.”
I mentioned this to my wife. Her response was,
Why do you assume that God needs an oyster to make a pearl?
Okay, you got me, but having gone to the local fair, where a vendor allowed you to pick your oyster out of the tank for a fee, crack it open with a little help, and extract your pearl, I have an idea where pearls typically come from.
Do you know how they knew there was a pearl inside?
Because they put the irritant inside the shell, that caused the oyster to react and form a smooth surface around the irritant.
Then how big does the oyster have to be in order to make even one pearl big enough to serve as a gate?
It’s a rhetorical question and does not require an answer.
Before I move on, this idea that a thing of great value and beauty must be formed because of an irritant has grabbed my attention. Unfortunately, my life has been filled with irritations.
How come I can’t see the beauty?
Maybe, I just don’t know what to look for.
(Revelation 21:22 NASB) “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.”
Based on the instruction given to Moses, on how to build the temple, we can know exactly what it looked like.
“but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.” (1 Corinthians 13:10 NASB)
Maybe I can apply this idea of the “partial” being done away to the temple. When Jesus died the curtain or veil, if you will, was torn from the top down and demonstrated that God was not there anymore. We now have full access to God through the Son. And, we are in Christ. So whatever He is, so are we. We, are also told that our bodies are the temple of the Lord. While there is a Holy City, there is no temple. I guess that means that the Holy Thrones are set right in the middle.
(Revelation 21:23-24 NASB) “And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. (24) The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.”
This is another section that should have rung true with John.
“No longer will you have the sun for light by day, Nor for brightness will the moon give you light; But you will have the LORD for an everlasting light, And your God for your glory. “Your sun will no longer set, Nor will your moon wane; For you will have the LORD for an everlasting light, And the days of your mourning will be over.”
(Isaiah 60:19-20 NASB)
There will never be darkness again, and no more shadows for the bad people to hide in.
Having worked the graveyard shift I slept during the day. I had to tape aluminum foil in the windows to keep out the sun. But here I go again, applying my brokenness to God’s environment. We may never experience tiredness or hunger again.
What does it mean when it says, “The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.”?
If I applied two considerations “walk by its light” and the fact that Jesus, in this scenario, just a short time before this moment, killed without hesitation, all those who were fighting against Him; then my assumption would be, that this means these people are approaching Him humbly, listening to what He says, and obeying His law. While that might be true for a handful, many of these people, with their heads full of rocks, are still cursing God and ignoring Him. So, let’s set aside our assumptions and dissect the words.
The term nations still applies to those outside of Judaism, but that is a context-driven term, especially since so many of us Gentiles accepted Christ and were adopted into the family. I suppose that makes us Jews spiritually. So, let’s generalize and say that the Nations are those, still walking this earth after the seven years of wrath are over, and they have not yet come into the family. (Psst, many never will.)
Walk is the Greek word peripateō. It means “to make one’s way, to live, to conduct one’s self.”
This idea of conducting one’s self leans toward submission.
Do slaves lean toward submission?
Certainly, they do, but you will never have their heart. God is love. I know that love is hard to see at times, but it’s true. It was His love, over time, that gave me reasons to love Him back. And, He has adopted me and all my quirks, along with all the others that have come to Him.
Now the term walk also denotes following a way. Currently, in this intentionally dumb-ed down world we live in, where we can’t identify between a male and a female, it is becoming more difficult (the younger you are,) to find a proper way to follow.
Allow me to straighten something out for you. We were made in God’s image, and even if you don’t choose to believe it, He (God) placed His moral law in your heart. So, if you set out to murder someone and follow through with it, you had to work through an intense moral battle and determine that you would ignore God’s moral law. This is a brutal and confusing way to live; the evidence of this lies in the answers people give when asked, why did you do that? Oh, they know why, and yes, it was all of the above.
(Revelation 21:25-26 NASB) “In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; (26) and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it;.”
It will continuously be light, for there will be NO night. Well, okay.
The gates will never be closed. Are you kidding me?
Oh yeah, that broken human side of me creeps into the study. I always lock the car doors. At least there are massive angels standing guard at each gate.
Glory is the Greek word doxa and also means honor, praise, and worship. However, this looks, God accepts it.
Honor is the Greek word timē, which means value, esteem, and dignity. Therefore, it appears that honor has to be something precious.
In light of this, “they (the nations) will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it;”
“Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths. And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them. If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the LORD smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. In that day there will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, “HOLY TO THE LORD.” And the cooking pots in the LORD’S house will be like the bowls before the altar. Every cooking pot in Jerusalem and in Judah will be holy to the LORD of hosts; and all who sacrifice will come and take of them and boil in them. And there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts in that day.” (Zechariah 14:16-21 NASB)
What Zechariah describes is mandated.
Do the nations have a right to refuse?
Well, they have freedom of choice, but it is NOT God that gives them an out. Refusal means NO rain on your crops and He calls it a plague. I am unsure where I got the idea that they had a second chance because I don’t see it now.
“The heaven which is over your head shall be bronze and the earth which is under you, iron. “The LORD will make the rain of your land powder and dust; from heaven, it shall come down on you until you are destroyed.” (Deuteronomy 28:23-24 NASB)
And I end chapter 21 with this.
(Revelation 21:27 NASB) “and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
This makes NO sense unless you can see it as a final recap that begins with the millennial reign and the Holy City has come down. If you try to make it chronological, then you still have people practicing abominations after the great white throne, and that is not a logical assumption.
So, the only place I can apply a statement like this is, as I described, during the millennial reign.
Remember, the gates stay open all the time. In my busted world, if I leave the door open flies and mosquitoes come in, that will not happen in God’s kingdom, as there are those angels to help keep pests out.
Do you realize that God also has a plan of redemption for the nations during this time?
I am jumping ahead, but the answer lies in Revelation 22.
“in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” (Revelation 22:2 NASB)
Remember that the nations are still mortals and can be killed or wounded. That doesn’t seem possible in a land where peace reigns, but maybe. The word healing associated with these leaves can be medically oriented or a service rendered by one to another. That service would then be the internal healing that allows that one, or perhaps many, to come into the family.
For those who fret, as they say, no one comes to the Father except through Jesus; I ask you to think this through, as NO family member will overstep and go beyond the will of the Father, who has not changed His heart, and longs that every person comes back into the family/relationship.