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Revelation 21:9-22:5 by Robert Dean
Series:Revelation (2004)
Duration:1 hr 0 mins 5 secs

What is Heaven Like? The New Jerusalem. Revelation 21:9-22:5

 

In the new heavens and the new earth there is no curse anymore; there is perfect environment. What is heaven like? We don't know. There are three heavens described in the Scripture. The first is the atmosphere around the earth, the second has to do with the universe—solar system, all of the stars, etc., and the third is the throne of God. There are only a couple of places in the Scripture that give us a glimpse into the throne of God—Isaiah 6; Revelation 4 & 5. All of the other events take place on the earth. In fact, when we die and are face top face with the Lord, and we go through the judgment seat of Christ, we are in a period of time before we return to the earth with the Lord at the end of the Tribulation period, and we are not going to spend eternity in heaven; we are going to spend eternity on the earth in the new Jerusalem. The only place in the Bible where that is described is in Revelation 21:9-22:5. The reason that we are told so little is because we couldn't even come close to comprehending it. It is so far beyond our ability to comprehend and understand and relate to what eternity is going to be like in an unfallen state with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father on the earth. In what we see in the few passages that talk about this is a lot of comparisons—this is like that, but we don't see any real substantive details. One thing we can be absolutely sure of: we are not going to be sitting on a cloud playing a harp! Remember that when God created Adam originally it was not to do nothing; He gave him tasks and assigned responsibilities to him as part of the first divine institution of individual responsibility. It wasn't toilsome because sin had not occurred yet. The penalty for sin was that man would eat by the sweat of his brow. All of a sudden labor which was pleasurable and enjoyable, the fulfillment of God-given responsibility, became toil with the fall. When we get into the eternal state there are going to be responsibilities, things to do, but we have no idea what they are. There is nothing in the Word of God that gives us insight into that, but it is not silent about the place where we are going to be, and that is the new Jerusalem.

 

In Revelation 21:9 we begin with a fuller description of the new Jerusalem that is initially introduced back in 21:2. There is some discussion among dispensationalists, Bible prophecy scholars, as to whether these events in 21:9-22:5 describe the new heavens and new earth in the future or whether they go back and give us another look at the Millennial kingdom. One of the reasons they do that is because of some of the things mentioned, e.g. 21:24, "The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it," as if they are not inhabitants of the new Jerusalem. But there are several reasons why this cannot be the Millennial kingdom. The first is because in Revelation 21:4 it talks about the fact that there is no longer any death, crying or pain. In 21:1 all things have been made new. Then there is no longer any sea, mentioned in 21:1 as well as later on in the text there is no longer need for the sun and the moon, 21:23. There is no longer any night, 21:25. There will no longer be anything unclean or practicing abomination and lying, 22:1. So that is not characteristic of the Millennial kingdom where there are those who are to be born and who at the end of the Millennium will follow Satan in a revolt against God. There is no longer any curse, 22:3; no longer any sun, 22:5. So there are remarkable differences between what is described in 21:9-22:5 and what will take place during the Millennial kingdom.

 

Chapter 21 introduces the new heavens and the new earth. Revelation 21:1 NASB "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer {any} sea." Some people suggest that that doesn't mean they were destroyed, it just means that we are moving from one phase to another phase. However, when we look at the differences just listed where there is no longer a sun, no longer a moon, no longer a salt sea then we know that this is a new earth, especially in conjunction with 2 Peter chapter three where the old is burned up.

 

When we go back to Genesis 1:1 where God created the heavens and the earth, what is the picture in our minds? What did they look like in Genesis 1:1? If we have stars there we are wrong; the stars aren't created until the fourth day. So the heavens doesn't mean the starry sky; it means an empty space. That is what God created on the first day—space, finite space within which the universe would go, and He created the earth. That's it, just space and the earth. Now when we get to the end, what are we going to have? No sun, no moon, and it doesn't mention stars but that suggests there will be no stars either; just an empty black space and the earth. Genesis 1:1 describes the first universe: the heavens, no stars, no planets, no moon, no sun, nothing. There is just the universe itself and within it the earth. This was the pristine earth which was the abode of God and the abode of the angels, and it is described in Ezekiel 28:14ff which deals with the fall of Satan as he is typified by the king of Tyre. It was a different kind of earth, and then when Satan fell into sin and God judged the planet then we read in Genesis 1:2 NASB "The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep…" There was no darkness before, so how was it illuminated? By the glory of God, just as it is at the end. It doesn't say that but we can extrapolate back from the end to the beginning because if this is the abode of God as it will be at the end then His glory illuminated it. There was no darkness; darkness comes as a result of sin and judgment, and it is 24/7 darkness. What is the "deep"? It is the salt sea. Now we have a salt sea as a result of sin; there will not be a salt sea at the end.

 

In between from Genesis 1:3 and Revelation 20:15 what we have is a fallen world that is impacted by sin. The world actually becomes fallen after Genesis 3 but it is still impacted by some degree by sin because when God begins to create on the first day, what does He do? He separates the darkness from the light. Before that there was all darkness. There was still the residual of the initial judgment every night. Darkness in Scripture is real but it is also symbolic and representative of the effect and consequence of sin, and that would go back to the original sin of the angels. So there is this parallel between the original creation and the creation of the new heavens and the new earth. John is going to describe this and from Revelation 21:9 he gives us the details, but in typical Hebrew style he gives us an initial summary at the very beginning, 21:1-8. In verse 2 NASB "And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. [3] And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God [the Father] is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them.'" This is then followed by the detail.       

 

Revelation 21:9 NASB "Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, 'Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.'" This verse and verse 10 is very similar to what was said about one of the seven angels coming to deal the last series of bowl judgments. John is commanded to come, just as he was commanded to come in Revelation 4:1 where he was called to heaven so that God could show him the things to come. He is now taken to a high mountain to see the new Jerusalem. [10] "And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God." This takes us back and shows us as a reminder of the structure in 17:1, "Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, 'Come here, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters.'" And what does John see? Babylon, the city. In 21:9, "Come here, I will show you the bride," what does he show? The city. So there is a parallel there and the contrast is between Babylon, the abode of the demons and spirits and the center of the rebellion against God, with the new Jerusalem, the holy city of God which will be the abode of the saints—primarily church age believers, Old Testament saints. All other believers—Old Testament Gentiles and Millennial saints will have their abode on the earth. Hebrews 11—Abraham has faith because he looked for a city without foundations—the new Jerusalem.

 

Description: Revelation 21:11 NASB "having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper." It expresses the glory of God. There are some who think that jasper is a sort of greenish stone. Others believe that the word used here in the Greek could refer to a type of diamond, but what is clear from the text is that this is a stone that is clear as crystal.  Earlier in Revelation chapter four, describing the throne of God, it says that around the throne of God it was like a clear jasper stone. The glory that we see here is the brilliance, the effulgence that comes from the very character of God. At the core of His being, we are told, God is light. What we will often here is people saying that this is the Shekinah glory, but Shekinah is a Hebrew word which means the dwelling, the dwelling presence, the glory of His dwelling. But here it is the glory of God that is so brilliant now and unveiled that it illuminates the entire universe.

Revelation 21:12 NASB "It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names {were} written on them, which are {the names} of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. [13] {There were} three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west." One of the things we have probably heard is that the new Jerusalem was created to sort of hover like a satellite over the planet during the Millennial kingdom and then brought down to the earth during the eternal state. There is no support for that. There is no evidence anywhere that the new Jerusalem has any abode or anything going on with it until Revelation 21 and it descends from heaven—the heaven of God, not just the starry skies. Each of the twelve gates having twelve angels is a picture of security. There is no enemy anymore because the enemy is destroyed. The walls, the gates and the angels standing guard there depict security. The gates are always open; they never close. Anyone can comes and go, and this would not be true if there was a threat from some enemy. So the depiction here is one of complete security. The fact that each of these twelve gates are identified by the name of one of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel indicates for us that there is going to be the presence of Old Testament believers in the new Jerusalem. What it interesting is that we are not really sure which names go on which gates, but there is a passage in Ezekiel 48 which describes the new Jerusalem and this is probably the orientation. Ezekiel 48:31-34 NASB "shall be the gates of the city, named for the tribes of Israel, three gates toward the north: the gate of Reuben, one; the gate of Judah, one; the gate of Levi, one. On the east side, 4,500 {cubits,} shall be three gates: the gate of Joseph, one; the gate of Benjamin, one; the gate of Dan, one. On the south side, 4,500 {cubits} by measurement, shall be three gates: the gate of Simeon, one; the gate of Issachar, one; the gate of Zebulun, one. On the west side, 4,500 {cubits, shall be} three gates: the gate of Gad, one; the gate of Asher, one; the gate of Naphtali, one."  The identification in Ezekiel applies to the Millennial Jerusalem but it probably applies to the new Jerusalem.

The third thing we see is a description of the foundations of the wall in Revelation 21:14 NASB "And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them {were} the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." It is not clear how these foundations work. Are they all on top of each other, or are they related to twelve different stones? Who are the twelve apostles? Judas wasn't a believer, he got kicked out. Peter came along and said choose a new one, and they chose Matthias. Then in Acts 8 God chose Paul. But God knows who the twelve are. This represents the church, and we can say that the inhabitants of the new Jerusalem are going to be the Old Testament saints from Israel and believers in the church age. We know that the church is going to be there because at the beginning the church is described as the bride of Christ.

Revelation 21:15 NASB "The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall." So now we get into a description of the dimensions of the city. [16] "The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal." The word used for "square" in the Greek indicates a cube. [17] "And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, {according to} human measurements, which are {also} angelic {measurements.}" This describes the depth or thickness of the wall. [18] "The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass." We can't imagine gold like that. [19] "The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone 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; the twelfth, amethyst." We are not really sure how the Greek translates into these stones—sure on most of them but not on all of them. Notice there are twelve stones there and there is a similarity between these stones and the stones that are found in the breastplate of the high priest, but they are not identical. There is also a similarity with Ezekiel 28. [21] "And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass."

These stones are similar to what was found in Eden the garden of God and the covering that was on Lucifer who was the anointed cherub who covered. But there are only nine of the twelve there. But again, we are not exactly sure of the meanings of the Hebrew words and the Greek words because they are not used in that much literature and so it is difficult to really be confident as to what some of these stones are.

What is not going to be there. Revelation 21:22 NASB "I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple." There will be in history four temples in Jerusalem: Solomon's, Zerubbabel's and its renovation under Herod, Tribulational temple, and Millennial temple. There will not be any temple in the eternal state because God Himself will take up residence with man and there will not be any need for a temple. [23] "And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp {is} the Lamb." Jesus said: "I am the Light of the world." [24] "The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it." The Greek word for "nations" is ethnoi [e)qnoi]. It can describe Gentiles or nations. There is an overlap here and at the very least it is talking about Gentiles. It reminds us that even in the eternal state there is going to be distinction between Israel and the Gentiles. In this passage it talks about nations because in the next clause it talks about the kings of the earth. So there will still be national distinctions on into eternity, therefore the idea of universalism or internationalism where individual state sovereignty in broken down is anti-biblical. There will be nations. At that time there is only going to be one language and all are going to be obedient to God, and even in the Millennial kingdom there will be other nations on the earth. All the nations (Isaiah 2) will come to Jerusalem to worship. The nations of those who are saved—these are those believers who survive the Millennial kingdom, get resurrection bodies and go into the eternal state, but their abode is not going to be in the new Jerusalem.    

Revelation 21:25, 26 NASB "In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it." They will be coming to worship God as a result of that which they produced in the eternal state. There will still be labor there of some kind, and they will be brining the results of that, as they did in the Old Testament, to the temple to honor God. [27] "and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life." That is the list of those who are saved, and those are the only ones who survive the judgment at the great white throne and the end of Revelation chapter twenty. This is a statement that there is no longer going to be any sin, the curse is gone, and there is no longer going to be the problem of sin in the new heavens and the new earth.

A description of the throne room. Revelation 22:1 NASB "Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb." Think about the descripti0on here and compare it to the description of Eden in Genesis chapter two. In Eden there was one river that flowed out of Eden, then it divided into four. There is no place like that on the earth today. We have where three or four rivers come together and make one larger river but not one river coming from a single source and then dividing into multiple rivers. So the throne of God is at the center of Jerusalem and out of that proceeds this pure river of water. [2] "in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve {kinds of} fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." This is the first mention of the tree of life since Genesis. It is either a single tree or it lines the boulevard, and every month there is fruit that is borne. It shows that there will not be the kinds of seasonal divisions that we have today. Everything grows, everything produces, and there is no division. But it is clear that there must be some sort of calendar or means of calculating time and progression because it says they bear their fruit every month. The healing of the nations: why do they need to be healed, it is the new heavens and the new earth? Bad translation, it should be "health." It is promoting something positive; it is not countering something negative.

Revelation 22:3 NASB "There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; [4] they will see His face, and His name {will be} on their foreheads." No more sin, the curse is rolled back, there is no evidence of sin anymore. The name on the forehead emphasizes and intimacy of fellowship that everyone will have with God.

Revelation 22:5 NASB "And there will no longer be {any} night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever." The fact that this has been stated about three times now indicates that it is an important issue: there is no night there. That reinforces the fact that day and night is evidence of sin and judgment.

That brings us to the conclusion of the prophecy of Revelation because starting in the next verse is the conclusion to the book.

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