The Seventh Vision: Of the Heavenly Jerusalem.
v. 1. And I saw anew heaven and anew earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
v. 2. And I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
v. 3. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them and be their God.
v. 4. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.
v. 5. And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He said unto me, Write; for these words are true and faithful.
v. 6. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
v. 7. He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be My son.
v. 8. But the fearful and unbelieving and the abominable and murderers and whoremongers and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars shall have their parts in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death.
The eyes of the believers are here turned to the coming, complete salvation, Here we may look and lift up our eyes, for our salvation is near: And I saw the new heaven and the new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and the sea is no more. John sees the fulfillment of all the prophecies relating to the glory at the end, Isa_65:17; Isa_66:22; 2Pe_3:12-13. The believers inherit the Kingdom which was prepared for them since the beginning of the world, Mat_25:34. The new heaven and the new earth they are called, because they are altogether different from this present world, steeped in sin as it is. Everything that has any connection with sin will be removed altogether. Therefore the sea also, from which the dragon came forth, will be no more.
But the center of the picture was the most glorious: And the holy city, New Jerusalem, I saw coming down from heaven from God, all ready like a bride arrayed for her husband. All was ready for the marriage of the Lamb, and so the New Jerusalem, the holy city of God, the Church of Jesus Christ, consisting of the sum total of all those that were faithful to the end, came down from heaven, where the great majority of its members had gone, according to the soul arrayed in all the gifts of her Husband's grace and mercy. So the entry of the blessed congregation of God into the eternal habitation prepared for her is here described. Of this we read further: And I heard a loud voice out of the throne, saying, Behold, the dwelling-place of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and themselves will be His people, and Himself, God, will be with them. And He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and death will no more be, nor sorrow nor lamenting nor pain will any more be; for the first things are passed away. The divine voice itself explains the picture, thus doing away with all types. When the children of Israel journeyed through the wilderness, the Tabernacle of the Lord was also in their midst, and God dwelled in the Most Holy Place. But that was a temporal, earthly, imperfect type, pointing forward to the blessed perfection of heaven. It is evident from the whole description that it is impossible, in words of a human tongue, to convey even a distant idea of the glories of heaven. But the unspeakable beauties of eternal bliss are at least suggested. There God will live in our midst, as our own God, our supreme good and highest source of joy and satisfaction. And we shall be His people, His own, purchased with the blood of the Lamb, and now the treasures of His house. Every tear that was caused in this world, by its misery, its sorrow, its sin, its suffering, shall be wiped from our eyes; and there shall be no more occasion for weeping, no death, no sorrow, no lamenting, no pain. All these things were characteristic of this world, and they have all passed away when the last day brings us the consummation of our salvation.
God the Father Himself made the announcement of this joy and bliss: And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, new I make all things. All creatures, heaven and earth, we ourselves, will be new. Sin and all the consequences of sin will be removed entirely from our bodies, and we shall be filled with a new eternal life. Beyond conception everything will be more glorious than even creation was at the end of the six days, when the Lord saw that everything was very good. Again the voice of God sounded forth: And He said, Write, for these words are faithful and true. Our faith and our hope are not based upon our own opinions and ideas, but upon the infallible Word of God, which will remain when heaven and earth shall pass away.
With solemn emphasis another announcement rings out from the throne: And He said unto me, It is done: I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. I shall give to him that thirsts of the fountain of the water of life without price. He that conquers will inherit these things; and I shall be to him God and he shall be to Me a son. As Christ, when He hung on the cross, called out: It is finished, thus announcing to the world the completion of the work of redemption, so God the Father here states that it is done. All waiting and hoping is over; He who is Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, who is from eternity and has all things in His hand, will turn over to them that are His children the full enjoyment of heavenly bliss, of the inheritance which He prepared before the foundation of the world for those that love Him. Salvation is the work of God alone, and every person in the wide world that thirsts after this salvation, that desires the mercy of God in Christ Jesus, may have this wonderful water of life without money and without price, Isa_55:1-2. He will be God's son, God's daughter; and God will be his Father throughout eternity.
The very opposite lot is reserved for the unbelievers, for the malicious enemies of Christ: But as for the craven and the unbelievers and the abominable and the murderers and the adulterers and the sorcerers and the idolaters and all the liars, their lot will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. So all the people in the world that rejected the Gospel of Jesus Christ: those that feared the devil and his power more than God; those that refused to believe; those that indulged in abominations of every kind; those that persecuted the people of the Lord; those that lived lives of utmost immorality; those that made use of sorcery in any manner; those that worshiped the anti-Christian beast and his image; those that did not want to accept the love of the truth, but proved themselves true children of the devil, the liar from the beginning: all these will find out to their great sorrow that God is not mocked. They will have their reward, with the dragon and with the beast and with the false prophet, in the abyss of hell, in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. That is the second death, everlasting destruction, everlasting damnation.
The vision of the heavenly Jerusalem:
v. 9. And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.
v. 10. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
v. 11. having the glory of God; and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;
v. 12. and had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel;
v. 13. on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates.
v. 14. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
Although the entire description is given in figures, in type and allegory, yet we are able to form conclusions as to the glory of the marriage in heaven from the glory of the bride, the Church of Christ: And there came one of the seven angels that have the seven vials filled with the seven last plagues, and he spoke with me, saying, Come, I will show thee the bride, the wife of the Lamb. Here is a contrast to the great harlot, the servant of the devil, as she had been pictured in the previous chapters: the holy, immaculate bride of the Lamb, the Church of Christ, cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.
It is an impressive scene and a wonderful description: And he took me in the spirit upon a mountain great and high; and he showed me the great city Jerusalem descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God; her splendor resembled that of a very precious stone, like jasper, clear as crystal, having a great and high wall, having twelve gates, and upon the gates twelve angels, and names in. scribed, which are the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: on the east three gates and on the north three gates and on the south three gates and on the west three gates; and the wall of the city having twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. So John's mind and spirit was again dissociated, for the time being, from his body, as the angel took him along to give him a full view of the Church's glory in her state of triumph. The glory of God shone round about her, not from angels, as on the fields of Bethlehem, but from the throne of the Lord itself. This glory will pervade and permeate the Church in eternal life, giving to her a splendor which can be described only by comparing it with the most dazzling of precious stones. The heavenly Jerusalem is safe against all enemies, for her walls are great and high, and her twelve gates are guarded by strong angels. The twelve tribes are mentioned because the Church of Christ is the spiritual Israel in its perfection. And the city is built with a firmness, with a solid foundation which cannot be equaled anywhere else, for it is erected upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief Corner-stone, Eph_2:20. Every one that has based his faith in Jesus Christ, and in Him alone, is built here in time upon the foundation of the Church, and will, in the great beyond, belong to the perfected communion of saints.
The measurements and the ornaments of the city:
v. 15. And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city and the gates thereof and the wall thereof.
v. 16. And the city lieth four-square and the length is as large as the breadth. And he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.
v. 17. And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.
v. 18. And the building of the wall of it was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.
v. 19. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;
v. 20. the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.
v. 21. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl; and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.
This is a picture which, both as a whole, by the impression which it makes in its entirety and in all its various traits and parts, transcends all imagination. It all stands out so absolutely beyond all human conception: And he that was speaking with me had as a measuring-rod a golden wand, in order to measure the city and its gates and its wall. And the city lies four-square, and its length is the same as its width. And he measured the city with the wand, twelve thousand stadia [at six hundred to six hundred and twenty-five feet], its length and its width and its height are the same; and he measured its wall, one hundred and forty-four cubits, the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. All of this is intended to show that the Church of the perfected saints, the Church Triumphant in eternal life, will have that perfection which God has planned for her in every respect, 1Co_13:10. There will no longer be any inequality or unevenness, but all believers without exception will know God perfectly, will bear the perfect image of God in their own bodies, will be perfectly happy and blessed, will enjoy all the gifts and blessings of eternity in the fullness of perfection.
But the description has only begun: And the material of its wall was jasper, and the city is pure gold resembling transparent glass; the foundations of the wall of the city are decorated with every kind of precious stone: the first foundation, jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, onyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; he eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each individual gate made of a single pearl. And the streets of the city are of pure gold, transparent as crystal. To the idea of perfection and immensity conveyed in the first part of the description there is added here that of a splendor past all human understanding. One thing stands out beyond the slightest doubt: there will be such glory, such beauty, such splendor as cannot be reached even by the fondest and most daring imagination of man. Everything will be light, clear, full of ineffable glory. All the ways of God will be manifest before our eyes, and one miracle after the other will be revealed to us.
The wonderful glory of the city:
v. 22. And I saw no temple therein; for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
v. 23. And the city had no need of the sun neither of the moon to shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
v. 24. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it; and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it.
v. 25. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day; for there shall be no night there.
v. 26. And they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it.
v. 27. And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination or maketh a lie, but they which are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.
A few features of the picture, at least, give us an inkling of the ineffable bliss that awaits us in our heavenly home: And a temple I did not see in her; for the Lord God, the Almighty, is her temple, and the Lamb. When we reach the consummation of our hopes in eternal life, we shall no longer be obliged to have any means of grace, the Word and the Sacraments; for we shall see God face to face and shall know Him even as we are known, 1Co_13:12. The same thought is repeated in the next verse: And the city has no need of the sun nor of the moon to give light to her; for the glory of God illumines her, and her lamp is the Lamb. As we, here on earth, receive the physical light which we need from the sun by day and from the moon by night, but only inasmuch as the sun and the moon are bearers of the light, so we receive our spiritual light through the Gospel and not by the direct revelation of the unclouded glory of God. But in heaven we shall need neither sun nor light nor the Gospel, for there the open glory of God and of our Savior will serve for our eternal enlightenment.
It is a blessed light which will surround us at that time, as John writes: And the nations shall walk by her light, and the kings of the earth will bear their glory to her, and her gates they will not close by day, for night will not be there; and they will bear the glory and the honor of the nations to her. See Isa_60:3. The elect instruments of God in the Church Militant, the patriarchs and prophets and apostles and martyrs and all others that were leaders of God's Church here on earth, together with those who were mighty ones here on earth, will bring the glory which was given them through their salvation to the holy city of God. There will be a great, happy, eternal communion of saints, of those that accepted the salvation of Christ. The city is secure in the light from the throne and from the Lamb, and the Lord Himself will hold the gates open to those that are bought with the price of the Lamb's blood and have accepted His merits. Thus will all the glory and honor of all the world and of all the nations be assembled in the city of God, to the praise of the Savior.
Only one class of people is excluded: And there shall not enter into her anything profane and he that commits abomination and lie, but only those that are inscribed in the Book of Life of the Lamb. Those that are not permitted to enter into the gates of the heavenly Jerusalem are such as have excluded themselves by their unbelief and their consequent life of abominations and lies, which was a proof of their unbelief. But those that are written in the book of the Lamb, the true children, the elect of God, will enter the heavenly city, where they will have complete and perfect salvation. Then shall the righteous shine like the sun in their Father's kingdom. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear!
The seer is shown the heavenly Jerusalem, the Church Triumphant, as it descends from God out of heaven, and gives a description of the glory of perfection, as well as that can be done in words of human tongue.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Revelation 21". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany