Do you have a particular city where you like to go and you like to eat and you like to recreate? I do.
You probably aren’t surprised, but my city is College Station. I love to go there and eat there and have fun there, and someday, I want to live there again.
What about you? Is it Dallas or Austin or Fredericksburg or Gulf Shores or Destin? What is your city?
I don’t know what your favorite earthly city is, but if you’re a follower of Christ, your favorite eternal city is New Jerusalem. I want to talk more about our city this morning as we get closer and closer to finishing our study of John’s Revelation.
Remember that Revelation 21 begins eternity. Last week, we previewed heaven. Beginning today, we are detailing heaven.
- Heaven’s Holy City will be protected for eternity, 21:9-13.
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.” 10 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, 11 having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. 12 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: 13 three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.
In verse 9, an angel from the seven-year earthly tribulation began to show John what the new Jerusalem would be like, and he continues with an analogy that we saw last week, and that is the analogy of marriage. Jesus, the Lamb, is married to His bride, the new Jerusalem.
Once again, don’t miss that analogy. The groom is married to his bride. Jesus, the Lamb, a male, has a wife. He is her husband. This marriage is between husband and wife. That is God’s plan.
In verses 10 and 11, John saw the holy city coming down from heaven and from God. It will demonstrate the glory of God and compare to a costly stone of crystal-clear jasper.
In verse 12, we see that it will have a great and high wall. While this city doesn’t need protection, it will be protected as a great and high wall was certainly the custom for any and all great, first-century cities.
These walls will have twelve gates and twelve angels standing guard. The twelve gates have names that correspond to the twelve tribes of Israel, and Ezekiel 48:31-35 seems to give us the order.
31 (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; 32 on the east side, four thousand five hundred cubits, three gates: one gate for Joseph, one gate for Benjamin, and one gate for Dan; 33 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; 34 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. 35 All the way around shall be eighteen thousand cubits; and the name of the city from that day shall be: THE LORD IS THERE.”
- Heaven’s Holy City will be precise in its measurements, 21:14-19.
14 Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15 And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. 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. 17 Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. 18 The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 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, 20 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. 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.
Not only will this holy city have twelve gates representing the twelve tribes of Israel, but it will also have twelve foundation stones with the names of the twelve apostles. See verse 14.
Beginning in verse 15, we begin to see the precise measurements of the holy city. An angel will do the measuring with a gold reed or rod symbolizing perfection.
Verse 16 says it will be a square, but more accurately, it will be what we know as a cube. Its length and width and height are all equal to 12,000 furlongs.
Commentators estimate that to be between 1,400 and 1,500 miles. That is 2,000,000 square miles.
Surrounding the city will be a wall that will be 144 cubits or 216 feet thick. Try to get your mind around that.
Certainly, there are plenty of questions regarding what do these measurements mean. I would simply say to you that if they are symbolic, the Bible is silent regarding the symbolism.
On the other hand, if words mean something, and they do, the Holy Spirit is simply giving us details that are facts. The way that angels measure is the same as humans measure at least in this instance.
In verses 18-21, we see the building materials of the heavenly city. There are no less than fourteen different metals and precious stones. As with the measurements, we could speculate for hours on the symbolism, but the reality is that the Bible is silent.
Therefore, we will simply acknowledge their reality and observe their glory. They are beginning in verse 18: jasper, gold, sapphire, chalcedony, emerald, sardonyx, sardius, chrysolite, beryl, topaz, chrysoprase, jacinth, amethyst, and pearl.
- Heaven’s Holy City will be pure in residents, 21:22-27.
22 But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 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. 24 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. 25 Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). 26 And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. 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.
It was common in the OT and the NT as well to be overwhelmed with the Jewish temple when you first entered a city. Being a good Jew, John initially looked for the Jewish temple here, but found nothing. Why?
The temple was believed to house the presence of God. Therefore, no temple would mean no God. However, in this case, there was no need for a temple because the physical and literal presence of God will permeate the heavenly city. You will have direct and uninhibited access to God if you are a resident of the new Jerusalem.
Furthermore, not only will God be in heaven’s holy city, but Jesus will be there too. The Lamb is the light of the holy city. There will be need for a sun or moon.
Thirdly, God will be in heaven. Jesus will be in heaven, and the people of God will be in heaven. When John speaks of nations and kings, don’t think these individuals are here apart from the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Every human in heaven’s holy city will be there because they received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and his or her name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
My first invitation this morning is for any one and every one to make sure your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. You can do that by admitting that you are sinner, believing that Jesus died on the cross in you place and for your sins and calling on Him to save you.
My second invitation is for every Believer this morning to be encouraged in these ways. Did you know notice that the angel in verse 9 that the angel said that the holy city was the bride of Christ? I thought the Church was the bride of Christ.
The truth is that both are as the city has taken on the traits of the Church. First, the Church is protected for eternity. If you are truly and genuinely saved, your salvation is protected for eternity.
Second, being a part of the Church has a very precise requirement. It’s not be a member of this church. It’s not be baptized. It’s put your faith and trust in Christ and Christ alone.
Third, in being a follower of Christ and in the eyes of God, you are no longer a sinner. You are now and forever a saint, a holy one, and your eternal home is in heaven.
This morning, I invite you to be saved or I invite you to be encouraged about your eternal home in the holy city.