The New Jerusalem

Revelation 21

Read Revelation chapter 21. Here we have that marvelous description of the New Jerusalem. Back in Revelation 20:11, John said, “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away, and there was found no place for them.”

We reach the point now where the heavens and the earth are no longer there as we know them. This fits in perfectly with what Peter said in II Peter 3:10–13: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”

You recall that Jesus had previously said in Mark 13:31 that heaven and earth shall pass away. There will come a time when Jesus comes again and the heavens and the earth shall be destroyed. So, we have the scene in Revelation 21: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.” What is meant by “and there was no more sea?” Perhaps it merely means the sea as being part of the earth also is passed away. But, as we see the use of the word “sea” in prophetic literature, in Revelation particularly, it seems as though the sea is symbolic of the masses of humanity who are under the power of Satan. Even in the Old Testament, that thought seems to be expressed in one of the prophesies of Isaiah.

In Isaiah 57:20–21, Isaiah said, “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. ‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked’ ” There is no peace for the wicked. They are restless as the waves of the sea. The sea forms a fine symbol for the restless masses of humanity who have never found their peace in God. You will


recall in Revelation 13:1 that the beast that represented the oppressive governments of the earth came up out of the sea. This suggests the thought that it is that portion of humanity that is alienated from God and has not found rest in Him from which emerge those great oppressive powers. Notice, also, Revelation 17:15: “And he said to me, ‘The waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.’ ”

So, perhaps, what we are seeing in Revelation 21 is not merely the suggestion that now the heavens and the earth, as we know them, are passed away. They are burned up, are destroyed and are no more. Also, that the wicked, the masses of humanity who have turned their backs on God and who have simply allowed themselves to be subject to the power of Satan, are no more. So, all who remain to enter the presence of Almighty God are those who have been faithful and loyal to God and to the Lamb.

Verse 2 says: “Then I, John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” The New Jerusalem, the city of God. You recall that even back in the Old Testament times, according to Hebrews 11:10, Abraham was waiting for the city that has foundations whose builder and maker is God. But, then, as we come to Hebrews 12:22–23, the writer says, “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven.” And Paul said in Philippians 3:20: “For our citizenship is in heaven.” Therefore, our names are enrolled in the Lamb's Book of Life. In Hebrews 13:14, the writer said: “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.”

Our goal and our destination in life is the New Jerusalem that has its origin in God. It comes down out of heaven as a bride adorned for her husband. We saw that figure in Revelation 19:7–9, as a symbol of the church. The church, as the bride of Christ was adorned with pure garments and prepared for the great marriage of the Lamb. Now, we see the bride again in Revelation 21:3: “And I heard a loud voice from 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 will be with them and be their God.&rsquo ” The tabernacle of God is now with men. Again, going back to Hebrews 8:1–2, the writer said: “Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.”

That tabernacle that was erected in the wilderness of Sinai under the leadership of Moses and under the direction of God was only a temporary tabernacle to be replaced by the temple. It was simply a foreshadowing of that great tabernacle which finally God makes His dwelling with His people for eternity.

And so, in the very next chapter, Hebrews 9:11–12 says: “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” Jesus Christ entered into the true tabernacle, for the earthly tabernacle was merely a type and a foreshadowing of that eternal one yet to come in which God's people will be able to dwell eternally in the presence of God.

Returning to our text, Revelation 21:4 says: “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” The pictures we get of the final abode of God's people is a place where there are no more tears, no death, no mourning, no crying, no pain and, according to verse 6, no more thirst. It is a place where the needs and the desires and yearnings and longing of men are finally fully satisfied. They find fulfillment in God's presence where He supplies all of our needs and relieves us of the difficulties and pressures of this life.

And so, verse 5 says, “Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I will make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’ ” God has made a new home for a new people. In II Corinthians 5:17, Paul said: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” God is trying to


create in this world new people who are a prepared people. They are prepared for the new home that God has prepared where all things finally have become new.

Verse 6 of our text in Revelation 21 says: “And He said to me, ‘it is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.’ ” He is saying, I am the Originator and I am the One who brings the consummation of all things. So, the fulfillment of human purpose, human destiny, is to be found in the One who originated us, who created us, and the One who now is trying to call us into His eternal presence. Verse 6 continues: “I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.” God shall provide for our every need.

Verse 7 says, “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.” Notice, God said he shall inherit these things. That expression, “inherit,” is used throughout the New Testament of various things, but all suggest the same kind of thing. We are told in Matthew 19:29 that we will inherit eternal life or everlasting life; in Hebrews 1:14, we will inherit salvation; in I Peter 3:9, we will inherit a blessing; in Matthew 25:34, those who were judged to be righteous in the great judgment day of God were told that they would inherit the kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world. Who shall inherit? Who in this life are those who inherit? It is the sons who inherit.

God tells us in Revelation 21:7, that he who overcomes shall inherit these things and “I will be His God, and he shall be My son.” What a beautiful thought! It is expressed more clearly for us in Galatians chapters 3 and 4, where we learn how we can become sons who have the right to inherit all these great blessings that God has prepared for His people.

In Galatians 3:26–27, Paul said, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” In verse 29 Paul writes: “And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” The promise that God made to Abraham so many centuries before, the promise that in his seed would all the nations of the earth be blessed, is for our benefit. We are made sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus because we have put Christ on in baptism. As we read on in Galatians


4:6–7, Paul said, “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’ Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”

Yes, we have the right of inheritance because of sonship, sonship in relation to Almighty God. No wonder the apostle John could say in I John 3:1: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know him.” What manner of love God had for us that we can become sons of God, able to inherit eternal life and able to inherit the blessings of the New Jerusalem!

Continue to read Revelation 21:8: “But cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” There is no annihilation of the wicked. The wicked do not simply cease to exist. The Revelation given to John was that they shall be cast into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. That is punishment. Who shall be punished? The fearful. Remember, Jesus said so often and God has expressed to His people throughout the Bible so often, “Fear not, for I am with you.” If we really trust God and believe that He is with us, then we need never fear.

There is another sense of fear, however. Remember the man who was given one talent in Matthew 25:35? He said, “And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.” And then, notice what the judges said of him in verse 30: “And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” God does not want unprofitable servants, those who are fearful, who are ashamed or afraid to say, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and He is the savior of the world and the one who can save my soul.”

Are we ashamed? Are we afraid? Heaven is not for the fearful. It is for the courageous, those who trust in God, who understand His promise: “... I am with you always, even to the end of the age? (Matthew 28:20). Hell is the place prepared for the fearful and for the unbelieving.


You can recall that Jesus said, “... for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” James said in James 2:18, “... Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” My obedience is the expression of the fact that I believe and trust my God, but hell is the place for the unbelieving. It is the place where the abominable will be. Remember the picture shown in Revelation 17:4–5: “The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations, and the filthiness of her fornication. And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”

God simply will not tolerate men who give themselves over to the abominations, to the enticements, to the allure, and the attractions of the world and the things that it offers, for the things of the world will pass away. Hell is the place for the fearful, the unbelieving and the abominable, for murders, for fornicators, for sorcerers, the modern equivalent of which are those who use drugs and potions and enchantments to bring others under their power.

Astrologers, drug pushers, psychics, faith healers are all modern versions of the ancient sorcerers who would try to lead men under their power by their enchantments, by their fakeries, by their sorceries and deception. Hell is the place for idolaters, including the covetous for who money has become God, according to Ephesians 5:5. It is a place for liars. What an awesome list of things that will send people to hell! None of these will be found in heaven.

Back to Revelation 21:9–10: “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.’ 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.”

An interesting thing happens here as has happened before in Revelation. Recall on one occasion that John was told about the lion of the tribe of Judah and when he turned to see it he saw a Lamb. And now, he is being told about the bride, the


wife of the Lamb, and when he is taken to see her he does not see the bride, he sees a city. He sees, according to Revelation 21:11–12, the holy city Jerusalem “... having the glory of God. And her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. 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.”

Here is a city that has a wall great and high, suggesting protection. God's people need have no fears for they are protected, and yet, in a moment, we shall see that the wall is really not necessary. In fact, we have already seen it, for the sea is no more. Heaven and earth have passed away and now all of the redeemed are in the presence of God and in his presence alone. Nevertheless, we see a wall which is great and high, and then, in verses 13 and 14, “Three gates on the east , three gates on the west. Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”

Here on the gates we have the names of the twelve tribes of Israel and on the foundations the names of the apostles, suggesting God's people under the old covenant and God's people under the new covenant. In other words, as we have seen previously, the holy city, New Jerusalem, represents the redeemed of all the ages. It is God's people and under the new covenant, those who are His church are found finally in the presence of God.

Revelation 21:15–16 continues: “And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. 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. It's length, breadth, and height are equal.”

What we see here is a figure that staggers the imagination. In fact, it is totally incomprehensible. A furlong is an eighth of a mile. Twelve thousand furlongs would be something like 1,400 or 1,500 miles long. This city is a city that would stretch all the way from New York to Houston, Texas. It is a city that would in length and breadth cover more than half of the United States.


This is a city of immense proportions, but it is not a city that simply extends geographically in such directions. It extends the same length into the heavens, into the sky, because the length and breadth and height of that city are all the same. You have a massive thing described—something we cannot even visualize and conceive in our minds.

Here is the place where God resides, in the holy city that defies description. John has to produce for us the most exaggerated kind of figure in order to convey to us the immensity, the grandeur, the scope of this glorious city. It is a city that has walls of jasper which, apparently, is something more like our diamond.

Imagine a city with walls composed of diamonds. John, obviously, is not trying to give us a literal description of the city, but is trying to use figures and symbols to suggest to us something that is beyond physical description because he is describing spiritual realities. But, if a physical description of this is so great and marvelous and immense, think of what must be the spiritual reality behind it and the reality of God's presence and preparations that God has made for His people.

Verse 17 says: “Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty–four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel.” Now, we were told that the walls were great and high and, in fact, 144 cubits is about 218 feet in height. That is something like a 20 story building. That is a big, tall wall. That is a wall great and high by any human standard and so, after the wall is presented to us, we think there is security suggested. But, on the other hand, what is a 218 foot wall going to do for a city that is 1,500 miles tall? We have here a description of something that is, in essence, indescribable, but John is trying to convey a message to us.

Notice verse 18: “And the construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.” Again, we have something here that staggers the imagination. There is nothing like this on the earth. Here you have gold that is translucent. It is gold that you can see through. Gold like crystal: what a phenomenal picture that is! What would somebody pay if they could get hold of such a thing as that, something that simply is far beyond all of the most precious jewel that could be conceived? And so, the city was pure gold like clear glass.


Read verse 19: “And 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, 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.”

There is no point going into detail and trying to examine each of these precious jewels because, obviously, there has simply been gathered together the most precious jewels available to the ancient world and John is describing a city composed of the most precious things men knew. This suggests to us that God has prepared for us something that is far beyond our wildest dreams and imaginations.

Paul summarizes the whole thing in I Corinthians 2:9: “But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ ” It is something you have never seen. It is something you have never heard. It is something that is beyond your capacity to see and hear. God has prepared something great and glorious for those who love Him.

Now, we come to verses 21 and 22: “And 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. But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.”

Speaking of pearls, somebody suggested that the pearl is the only precious jewel in existence that is created through suffering and, perhaps, the gates being of a single pearl is suggestive that it is the suffering, persecuted people of God who pass through those gates into the presence of God and the Lamb.

Notice verse 22: “But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” Here we see the fulfillment of what was said back in Revelation 3:12: “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. And I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.”


Yes, those who overcome will be the ones who partake and participate in the New Jerusalem which comes down from God.

Look at verse 23: “And the city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it, and the Lamb is its light.” Here we see that the glory of God fills the New Jerusalem. It is interesting to trace the glory of God through the Bible.

Back in Exodus 40:34, the glory of God filled the tabernacle. In I Kings 8:11, the glory of God filled the temple built by Solomon. John 1:14 says of Jesus that “... and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” And now, at the consummation of the ages, the glory of God fills the new city, the holy city, Jerusalem, which is prepared for the people of God. Now, we come to verses 24 and 25: “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. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there).

The nations shall walk amidst the light thereof and the kings of the earth bring their glory into it because those who are God's people, as we have elsewhere in Revelation, come from every nation and tribe and tongue and people and their citizenship is in heaven. So, finally, those from all the nations populate heaven itself. Verses 26 and 27 continues, “ And they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it. 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.” Only dishonor and shame will be outside the city. Only those people who have brought glory and honor to God shall enter into that eternal city.

The Bible presents a marvelous symmetry. That is, the first three chapters of Genesis and the last three chapters of Revelation serve as a glorious beginning and an exciting climax to the revelation of God's will for mankind. Genesis tells us God created the heavens and the earth and Revelation tells us he will create a new heavens and a new earth. Genesis tell us that God created the sun and the moon and the stars, and Revelation 21:23: “And the city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God illuminated it,


and the Lamb is its light.” Genesis tells us of the cunning and the power of Satan and Revelation tells us that Satan was cast into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. Genesis tells us of man fleeing from the presence of God, but God searched us out and Revelation 21:3–4 tells us: “And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’ ”

A great preacher in the church some years ago was on his deathbed in great agony and one who stood at the bedside gently asked him, “How are you doing?” And he said, “I am almost well.” And for God's people, that is the way it is. Even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we shall fear no evil because we know, “You are with me. Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).

We are almost well when we reach the point of death because there remains for us the entrance into the New Jerusalem, into the new heavens and the new earth. But, it is for those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life. It is for those who are of sons of God. If you have a right of inheritance of all the blessings of God, for as many of you as are baptized into Christ can put on Christ. Do you want Him in your life? And do you want to be able to eagerly anticipate that great day, when Jesus comes again to receive His own? Will you be in that number?