Have you protected your copyright yet? Copyright piracy is estimated to cost millions every year. Before letting anyone see your work, make sure you've registered your work for copyright protection. For more information, click here.

number 12 in Scripture symbolizes government. This, then, is the fulfillment of the prophetic words of Isaiah, "The government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

The city is amazingly vast, measuring 12,000 stadia long, high, and wide. In modern measurements, 12,000 stadia equals roughly 1,500 miles about the distance from Los Angeles to St. Louis or from New York to Denver. For comparison, the moon is about 2,160 miles in diameter. The fact that the city measures exactly the same in all three dimensions does not mean that it is a perfect cube, only that it is a city of perfect proportions and symmetry. It may be intricately formed with spires and domes and graceful buttresses and bridges, or it may be a perfect pyramid. Whatever its shape it will symbolize perfection and it will be the realization of utter beauty.

In verses 18 through 21 John goes on to reveal the materials from which the city is made.

21:18-21 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.

Let your imagination savor this image: a structure of crystalline transparent gold surrounded by a wall of diamond-like jasper, rising from a layered, kaleidoscopic foundation of precious stones of all colors. Light cascades from great jewels embedded in the sides like the light from an intensely bright rainbow. The entire effect is so brilliant and variegated that it can only be described as heartbreakingly beautiful. To see it would bring tears to your eyes and a throb in your chest.

The multicolored foundations, as we have seen, symbolize the twelve apostles. They portray the fact that the truths proclaimed by the apostles shine forth with a many-faceted and brilliant light. Paul, in Ephesians 3, says that "now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms." The Greek word in this passage for "manifold" (polupoikilos) literally means "many-colored" or "multicolored." The image Paul gives us is like that of the twelve multicolored foundations of the New Jerusalem: God's brilliant, prismatic wisdom flashes forth through the vehicle of the twelve apostles.

Each gate is composed of a single pearl (which suggests the existence of some very large oysters!). Despite all the jokes you have heard about Saint Peter standing at the "Pearly Gates" of heaven, there are in fact twelve such gates and we don't see Peter guarding any of them!

The fact is that these gates of pearl have a deep symbolic significance. A pearl speaks of beauty born out of pain. The beauty of a pearl comes from the pain of an oyster. A pearl is formed when a tiny grain of sand gets inside an oyster's shell, causing the oyster to become irritated and uncomfortable. The oyster relieves its pain by covering the irritating grain of sand with a soft, lustrous nacre that hardens into a beautiful, glowing pearl.

This is a beautiful picture of how the redeemed have emerged like a beautiful, luminous pearl out of the pain of Jesus Christ. The Lord told a story of just such a pearl. "The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls," He said. "When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it." The merchant in the story is Jesus, who gave up everything His prerogatives as God, the worship that is due Him, and even His mortal life in order to redeem the saints, which He deemed a pearl of great price. He sold all He had to purchase you and me for Himself.

Because of the sacrifice Jesus made to redeem us, the redeemed will never forget throughout eternity the pain and the shame of the cross of Christ. They will sing forever,



The Light of the City



The remainder of Revelation 21 describes the transcendent light that illuminates the city.

21:22-27 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 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. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 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.

Throughout Revelation we have seen references to a temple in heaven. That temple remains throughout the Millennium as the original model from which the earthly temple is copied. But in the new heaven and the new earth there is no temple. Why? Because the true temple, of which the one in the old heavens is a symbol, is the True Man, Jesus Christ Himself. God in man is the temple.

That is why Paul says, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?" If God dwells in you, then you are a part of this heavenly temple. You share the honor of being the dwelling place of God.

The radiant light of truth emanates from this profound truth. People can see all things clearly by that truth. So glorious is it that there is no need for the sun or the moon. It does not mean that there is no sun or moon in the new creation. It simply means that the city is so bright that it needs no additional illumination. It will be lit continuously by the glory of God, which has come to dwell in man.

The gates of the city will never be shut because there is no night, and thus no need for protection. Cities close their gates at night as a defense against enemies. But there is nothing that can harm in the new world that is to come. The kings of the earth will bring their glory in not to compete with the glory of God but to have it revealed by the light of God. Nothing impure can enter that city, because only the redeemed will be admitted.



The Life of the City



Now we come to the last chapter of the last book of the Bible. John begins by describing the life of the Holy City.

22:1-5 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

Here is a thrilling picture of abounding fertility, of life on every side a river of life, a tree of life, yielding life-giving fruit and leaves for the health of nations. This description parallels Old Testament passages such as Psalms 46:4, which says, "There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God."

Similarly, the prophet Ezekiel relates his vision of a river, wonderful for swimming, which flows from beneath the threshold of the temple where God lives forever. Since there will be no eternal temple structure in heaven, the only temple that could exist in heaven forever is the one described in Revelation 21:22, which says "the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple." Again, this is a parallel image of the crystal-clear river that flows from the throne of God in the New Jerusalem.

The tree of life that is found by the river in the New Jerusalem is identified with the tree of life in the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 2:9, the tree of life is growing in the center of the garden, alongside the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The Garden of Eden disappeared from the earth sometime after Adam and Eve were exiled from it, but in Revelation 22:2 it appears again in the center of the Holy City.

The river symbolizes the Holy Spirit. Jesus said of those who believe in Him, "streams of living water will flow from within him," to which John adds, "By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believe in him were later to receive."

The tree is a symbol of Jesus Himself. He is the way, the truth, and the life the tree of life. When we obey the Word of God we are feeding on Jesus, drawing life from the nourishment He offers. The tree of life gives us spiritual health, enabling us to flourish as we obey His word and live by His example.

From this magnificent scene of the life of the Holy City flow three ministries that the redeemed saints will perform:
First, empowered service. The saints will joyfully serve God. There is no greater privilege, pleasure, or joy that you and I could ask than to spend eternity in service to the God of our salvation.

Second, intimate fellowship. The saints will see His face and bear His name, just as a bride bears her husband's name and sees his face.

Third, enlightened authority. The saints shall reign for ever and ever.

Remember George Bernard Shaw's complaint about heaven as an "inane, dull, useless, miserable" place? Have you ever pictured heaven as a boring place? You couldn't be more wrong!

What is it that causes boredom? Selfishness! The feeling of, "I want to be gratified, I want to be pandered to, I want to be indulged, I want to be excited, I, I, I!" But in heaven there will be no selfishness. There will be continual excitement, discovery, anticipation, gratitude, praise, and the joy of being a partner in an eternal adventure with God Himself!



"Behold, I Am Coming Soon!"



The rest of Revelation 22 is an epilogue. It is the other bookend that, along with the first bookend, the prologue in Revelation 1, contains and encloses John's vision. It serves not only as an epilogue for the book of Revelation, but as a fitting conclusion to all 66 books of the Old and New Testaments.

The epilogue consists largely of assurances. The first assurance is given by the angel, one of the seven angels of the seven-bowls-of-wrath judgment. The angel, who has been John's guide in his vision of the new heavens and the new earth, gives John the assurance of the truth of what he has seen.

22:6 The angel said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place."

This is God's own guarantee that the words of this vision are to be believed. They are trustworthy and true.
The second assurance comes from Jesus Himself. John records this assurance in verse 7:

22:7 "Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book."

Many people neglect this great concluding book of God's Word, feeling that it is too difficult or troubling. But Jesus says that the words of this prophecy are to be read, studied, and kept and that those who do so will receive a blessing. They will be ready to meet their Lord when He comes.

Then John adds a personal word of his own.

22:8-9 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, "Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!"

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22