Monday, January 19, 2009
Revelation 21: 1 - 27
The final two chapters of the Book of Revelation present the glorious future which awaits every believer of all dispensations and ages. The eternal state of both the saved and lost is described in the first eight verses of this chapter. In addition, verses 9 through 27 present a glowing description of the New Jerusalem. The view is absolutely breathtaking. Let's begin our study.
Verse 1: And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
The passing away of the first heaven and earth occurred at the conclusion of the Great White Throne Judgment. This was part of the renovation of the world which Jesus predicted in Matthew 24:35 when He said, Heaven and earth shall pass away. The time and method are described in 2 Peter 3:7,10-13. Listen carefully to these solemn words: The heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.In the new world, the sea is eliminated, possibly because of its connotation with wickedness: The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt (Isaiah 57:20). Another reason may be that oceanic vegetation is no longer necessary.
Verse 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.
Two Jerusalems are mentioned in Scripture (see Galatians 4:25,26 and Hebrews 12:22). One is earthly and the home of the believers during the millennial period. The other is heavenly-the New Jerusalem, or celestial city, which hovers over the earth eternally following the post-millennial creation of the new heaven and earth. The New Jerusalem is undoubtedly the one Christ has been preparing for 2,000 years, for the Saviour said in John 14:2,1 go to prepare a place for you. This magnificent masterpiece descending toward earth reminds one of the elegant beauty of a bride on her wedding day.
Verse 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.
To this point in time, God's Tabernacle has been located in heaven. Now we discover a change of address. The Almighty descends to earth with His heavenly entourage, settling in the New Jerusalem to begin global operations from this satellite city. The redeemed-in their glorified bodies-live in the New Jerusalem. Those with bodies of flesh-those who were born and saved during the millennial hour- enter the eternal state with their natural bodies. They live on earth, in and under the light of the Holy City (see chapter 21, verse 24). The true beauty of the entire scene is that God dwells in the midst of His people, for a voice cries, 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.Another exciting fact is that believers, with their glorified bodies, will be able to travel as fast as the speed of light, yea, as fast as their thoughts. Thus, they will traverse back and forth to earth from their city in space-the New Jerusalem-in a moment of time. Presently the world's scientists predict that men will be living in space cities before the year 2,000. They don't know the half of it! Amen!
Verse 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.
This verse should be a favorite among God's people. Think of it! Pain, sorrow, crying, and death are forever eliminated in this land of eternal life. No wonder the redeemed are able to triumphantly shout, O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (1 Corinthians 15:55). Never again will a funeral procession take place, for death, the last enemy, will have been destroyed (see 1 Corinthians 15:26). In addition, everything associated with death is also eliminated for time and eternity. Glory! No more disease, heart attacks, automobile accidents, wars or rumors of wars. It is finished is truly the national anthem of eternity.Although these truths are wonderful in themselves, the greatest fact is that the Lord's people see His face (see chapter 22, verse 4). In addition, sin has ceased to exist because Satan is eternally incarcerated in Gehenna, the lake of fire (see chapter 20, verse 10). A new day in a new heaven suspended above a new earth has arrived because...
Verse 5: 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.
Verse 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.
God speaks to John, saying, It is done. As Christ completed His redemptive work for sinners on the cross, He cried, It is finished. Now God, who has made all things new, again announces, It is finished, or done. His will has been accomplished in Jesus Christ-namely, that the earth should be free from the curse of sin and that its inhabitants should be conformed to His very likeness. This has happened. It is done. God adds, I am [the] Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Alpha and Omega are the first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet. Hence, the explanation, the beginning and the end. But what does it mean? In Christ, all creation began without sin (see Colossians 1:15-19). Now, in Christ, it has ended without sin.In this glorious city-New Jerusalem-the spiritual thirst of God's people is also satisfied forever. While on earth, Jesus said to the woman of Samaria, Whosoever drinketh of this water [in the well] shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life (John 4:13,14). That time has come, and God states: I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. It is yours to possess throughout the ages. Enjoy yourselves! However, make no mistake about it. The eternal prize of being in the presence of God in the New Jerusalem, where there is no more death, sorrow, crying, pain, or thirst, is only for those who trust in the merits of the shed blood of Christ.
Verse 7: He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
Who is the overcomer? The one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God (see 1 John 5:4). Oh, be sure of your salvation, because the next verse mentions a motley group of sinners that misses the eternal paradise upon earth.
Verse 8: But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
This text plainly states that those who were condemned at the judgment of chapter 20, verses 11-15, have been cast into the lake of fire, or Gehenna. They were not given a reprieve, a commuted sentence, or a second chance, as some sentimentalists teach. Revelation 21 is the eternal state.No more changes are possible. Those who stood before God's Great White Throne did not make it. Who were they?
The fearful-those who rejected Christ to escape the ridicule of men.
The unbelieving-those who rejected the doctrine of Christ's deity and shed blood as the only means of obtaining eternal life. Jesus said, Ye shall die in your sins-if ye believe not that I am he [or that I am God] (John 8:24). In John 5:40, the Saviour again said, Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
The abominable-those who engaged in wicked practices. They spoke the language of christendom but never lived it: They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate (Titus 1:16).
The murderers-including those who carried hatred within their hearts and minds for others. If you don't believe it, listen to the following: Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him (1 John 3:15).
The whoremongers-those who engaged in fornication (premarital sex), adultery (extra marital flings), or perverted sex.
The sorcerers-those who practiced drug usage for kicks and highs.
The idolaters-those who worshiped or revered anyone or anything other than the living and true God, or who used idols in worship. Remember God's warning, Little children, keep yourselves from idols (1 John 5:21).
All liars-those who deceived others, distorted the truth, and destroyed mankind by lies.
We will continue our study next week with the description of the New Jerusalem.
Revelation 21: 9 - 27
Verse 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 shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.
Here one member of the angelic host which administered the final seven judgments now speaks to John, saying, Come here. I want to show you the Bride, the Lamb's wife, the one who made herself ready [in] fine linen, clean and white (chapter 19, verses 7 and 8) and who returns with Him for the 1,000-year honeymoon (chapter 19, verses 11 through 16).At this point the Bride is envisioned in her final resting place.
Verse 10: And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.
The Bride is pictured as the city of the New Jerusalem because a city is composed of people. Buildings, streets, and light are but aids to the residents. For example, one refers to a city as clean or wicked. Why? Because of its people. Now, as John views God's heavenly creation, he is impressed by (1) the brilliance of the city (verses 9-14), (2) the size of the city (verses 15-17), and (3) the beauty of the city (verses 18-21). He describes the city as...
Verse 11: Having the glory of God and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;
Verse 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:
Verse 13: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.
Verse 14: And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
In Bible times walls were erected for protection. However, since war is forever finished, one may question the presence of this wall in the New Jerusalem. The answer? It serves as a reminder that the God of love protected His people while on earth. This wall is an eternal memorial to the fact that our lives have been hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).
The city also has twelve gates, each inscribed with one of the names of the twelve tribes of the Children of Israel.
The gates are staffed with angels who welcome those possessing the right and privilege of entering the city (chapter 22, verse 14). The twelve angels standing at these entrances are possibly those who worked jointly with each tribe during the earthly sojourn of the people of Israel. We also note that, just as the gates are inscribed with the names of the twelve tribes, the foundations of the wall itself contain the names of Christ's twelve apostles. Next let's consider the size of the city.
Verse 15: And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.
Verse 16: And the city lieth foursquare, 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.
Verse 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.
The angel measures the city with a golden reed or measuring rod. Since the streets are composed of gold and the city is pure gold as well (verse 18), a gold yardstick is appropriate. (It's a good thing that thieves are excluded-I Corinthians 6: 10-otherwise heaven's freeways would disappear!)
Verse 16 informs us that the New Jerusalem is tetragonal, or foursquare in shape. The city is a perfect cube because its width, length, and height are equal. In fact, the angel discovers its dimensions to be 12,000 furlongs wide, long, and high. Most scholars believe this to be a distance of 1,500 miles. Dr. A. C. Gaebelein says, Twelve thousand furlongs constitutes fifteen hundred miles. Seiss states: The golden city is 1,500 miles square; for 12,000 stadia make 1,500 miles.Placed over the United States of America, the heavenly city would extend from the northernmost point of Maine to the southernmost point of Florida and from the eastern seaboard to Colorado. In fact, the major cities of the world are mere villages in comparison with the New Jerusalem.Because it also extends 1,500 miles upward into space, it could literally contain every person who has ever been born, plus additional billions as well.The wall extends around the city and is approximately 216 feet in height, for a cubit is the distance from the elbow to the end of the middle finger (approximately eighteen inches).Now let's look into the magnificent beauty of God's Holy City.
Verse 18: And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.
Verse 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;
Verse 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.
Verse 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.
Wow! Notice first that the wall of jasper represents Christ, in His radiant glory, surrounding His saints. Next the pure gold city typifies the righteousness of God's holy nature, and then the precious colorful stones-startlingly brilliant-picture the Lord's attributes as well as various aspects of His redemptive work.Imagine the scene when the light of the city-the Lord Jesus Christ (verse 23)-shines through the brilliancy of these stones! When John's vision becomes a reality-then and only then-we will begin to understand the term the glory of God! The beautiful city also pictures the saints of all ages joined together in love, for the names of the twelve tribes of Israel are coupled with the names of the apostles. This means that all of God's people from all dispensations have finally been joined together in one truly ecumenical brotherhood. No longer will we be Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, Nazarenes, or Presbyterians. Instead, we will be united brethren! What a glorious day when we lay aside eternally the tags that so often divide us.
Verse 22: And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
On earth, God always had a dwelling place-a temple or tabernacle-where men could come to worship and commune with Him. Such a place is no longer needed, for the tabernacle of God is now with men. He has chosen to dwell with them (chapter 21, verse 3).
Verse 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
While on earth, Jesus said, I am the light of the world (John 8:12). Now, in the eternal city, Christ, in all His radiant splendor and glory, shines forth so magnificently that darkness becomes an impossibility. No wonder there shall be no night there!
Verse 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 honour into it.
Verse 25: And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.
Verse 26: And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.
These verses undoubtedly picture the multitudes who came through the Millennium as born-again, regenerated believers. They did not follow Satan in the final rebellion upon his release from the bottomless pit. Therefore, they entered the eternal state in bodies of flesh. Their rulers, kings, and presidents- also born again and still living in earthly bodies- now bring their glory and honour into the New Jerusalem as well. They come to praise Him who is all in all. As they arrive, there is no fear of assassination, recrimination, terrorism, or robbery. Such events are no longer possible. God is present. Satan is destroyed. Temptation is forever past. Thus, the gates of the city are never locked. Security is needless in the land of eternal day where there is no night. At this point, however, the warning flag is again lifted.
Verse 27: And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.