NT Prophecy – Revelation 21

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long. The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits thick. 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 agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, 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 gold, as pure as transparent glass.
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.

  • Revelation 21:1-27

Noted Biblical Scholars, Teachers, and Preachers Comments

Revelation 21:1-8 ‘New Heaven and New Earth’: “Following the final judgment, the history of the world as we know it will come to an end. Some have said that God will renovate the entire universe, creating a ‘new heaven and a new earth’ (verse 1). Whether this is a renovation or a brand—new creation has been debated by many. Isaiah 65:17, which speaks of this event, uses the Hebrew word bara, (which means to create ex nihilo), implying a brand-new heaven and earth. ‘For behold, I create [bara] new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be remembered or come to mind.’ This new creation ‘will endure’ forever before the Lord (66:22). With this new creation the old heavens ‘will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up’ (2 Peter 3:10-12). According to God’s promise, believers will one day live in this new system ‘in which righteousness dwells’ (verse 13).”

  • Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson, Exploring Bible Prophecy

Revelation 21:1 ‘A New Heaven and a New Earth’: God means that this planet should continue to exist after it has had a new creation and renewed its youth. The regeneration of his people, their new birth, is a foretaste of what is yet to happen to this whole world of ours. We have the first fruits of the Spirit, and we groan within ourselves while we wait for the fullness of that new creation.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes

Revelation 21:2 ‘new Jerusalem’: “Cf. 3:12; Hebrews 11:10; 12:22-24; 13:14. This is the capital city of heaven, a place of perfect holiness. It is seen ‘coming down out of heaven’ indicating it already existed; but it descends into the new heavens and new earth from its place on high. This is the city where the saints will live (cf. John 14:1-3). bride. An important NT metaphor for the church (cfi Matt. 25:1-13; Eph. 5:25-27). John’s imagery here extends from the third part of the Jewish wedding, the ceremony. Believers (the bride) in the New Jerusalem come to meet Christ (the Bridegroom) in the final ceremony of redemptive history (see note on 19:7). The whole city, occupied by all the saints, is called the bride, so that all saints must be finally included in the bride imagery and bridal blessing. God has brought home a bride for His beloved Son. All the saints live with Christ in the Father’s house (a promise made before the church began; John 14:2).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Revelation 21:3 ‘God dwelling with man’: “If there were no fire in hell, and no ‘worm [that] dieth not’ (Mark 9:48), hell would be hell enough, because moral creatures are cut off forever from the sunshine of God’s face. And if there were no golden streets, no jasper walls, no angels, no harps, no living creatures, no elders and no sea of glass, heaven would be heaven enough, because we shall see His face and His name shall be on our foreheads.
“It is the manifest, conscious presence of God that makes heaven heaven. And it is the refusal of God ever to manifest His presence to those who do not want to be good that makes hell what it is and makes the world what it is. If God were to manifest Himself to people all over the earth, every nightclub would be emptied or would turn into a happy prayer meeting. Every house of ill fame would be emptied in five minutes, and everyone with deep repentance and sorrow of heart would be down on his knees before God asking for forgiveness and weeping tears of happiness. It is the presence of God that gives bliss to moral creatures and the absence of God that brings everlasting woe to moral creatures.”

  • A. W. Tozer, The Attributes of God I

Revelation 21:5 ‘A New Heart’: ”What a wonder it is that a man should ever hate a new heart. If a lobster loses its claw in a fight, it can grow a new claw—and that is thought to be marvelous. It would be wonderful if people were able to grow new arms and new legs. But whoever heard of a creature that grew a new heart? If a branch is lopped off a tree, perhaps the tree will sprout again and grow a new limb. But whoever heard of old trees getting new sap and a new core? Yet my Lord and Master, the crucified and exalted Savior, gives new hearts and new cores. He has put the vital substance into human beings afresh and made new creatures of them.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes

Revelation 21:6 ‘quenching thirst’: ”Many things we think we need, and yet we live without them. But thirst is an urgent need, involving the loss of all comfort and even of life, if it is not supplied. There is no forgetting this pain and no stopping it except by drinking. The pain of thirst is keen to the last degree, and the desire to drink is intense beyond imagination. Need of water is a terrible need, but the need of divine grace is even more dreadful. If his soul’s thirst is not relieved, a person will die as surely as though slain by the sword.
“Some people begin to be conscious of their soul’s great need; these are the ones whom tie Savior calls ‘thirsty.’ They have a dreadful need, and they know it by God’s grace. If I were some learned anatomist, I could give a lecture on the theory of thirst. Yet, though I cannot do this, I know practically what thirst is—as well as a doctor could tell me. When I am thirsty and am invited to drink, I do not refuse because I cannot explain my thirst. Nor is there any absolute necessity, in order to be saved, that we should know all about how it is that Christ can supply our needs. I may not be able to explain scientifically why this glass of water quenches my thirst, but I know it does. The liquid gets at the various organs and supplies them with what they require. I know enough about water to drink it when I am in need, and, practically, that is all that is needed. If I know enough about Christ to understand that he can meet every need of my soul, and if I take Christ to be my all in all, the matter is done.
“Let us notice that being thirsty is not enough. It is not my sense of need; it is Christ’s power to bless me and my yielding myself up to Christ that will bring me salvation. The text plainly hits at the remedy for the thirsty soul. What does a thirsty man do to get rid of his thirst? He drinks.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes

Revelation 21:9-27 ‘The New Jerusalem’: “After God announces that He will make all things new, one of the angels who had the seven bowls of judgment comes to John and says, ‘Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb’ (verse 9). John is then transported to a high mountain, where he can obtain a panoramic view of ‘the holy city, Jerusalem’ (Revelation 21:10), which will come clown out of heaven from God Himself.”

  • Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson, Exploring Bible Prophecy

Revelation 21:16 ‘twelve thousand furlongs’: “This would be nearly 1,400 miles cubed or about two million square miles, offering plenty of room for all the glorified saints to live. length, breadth, and height. The city has the symmetrical dimensions of a perfect cube, which parallels its closest earthly counterpart, the inner sanctuary in the tabernacle and temple (cf. 1 Kin. 6:20).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Revelation 21:18-20 ‘jasper’: “See verse 11. This is the material of the thick wall—diamond! pure gold, like clear glass. Unlike earth’s gold, this gold will be transparent so the overpowering radiance of God’s glory can refract and glisten through the entire city.
“Because some of the names of these gems have changed through the centuries, it is difficult to identify each one with certainty. Eight of the twelve stones are found in the breastplate of the high priest (Ex. 28, 39), and the other four may also be related to the breastplate. The gems picture a brilliant, indescribable panoply of beautiful colors that send forth the light of God’s glory.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Revelation 21:25 ‘Open gates – Peace’: ”Shut gates signify war; open gates mean peace. There will be no more fear of war, no enemies to gather together to battle, no Armageddon to be dreaded by the glorified church of Christ, which will be in perfect peace forever.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes

Coffee and Revelation – Introduction
In going to the website of the Wee Flea, you can search for any episodes of “Coffee and Revelation” that may have been uploaded pertaining to these chapters.  At the time this post was published, Rev. Robertson had not finished his video series.

My Thoughts

For you mathematicians, the Rev. MacArthur quote for Revelation 21:16 is a bit off.  Twelve thousand furlongs is 1,500 miles which when squared, you get 2,250,000 square miles.  He got his final number right, but he explained getting the number wrong.  Of course, the city is also 1,500 miles high.  That would make more than three and a third billion cubic miles, but only God can comprehend even one cubic mile.  As I have read elsewhere, the new Jerusalem will not fit on the mountain that holds the present Jerusalem.  If you went up the east coast of the USA, starting in Miami, Florida, 1,500 miles is in New Hampshire.  But all of this is based off a slight error.  Many scholars think that 12,000 stadia (NIV) is more on the lines of 1380 miles.  Thus, MacArthur’s numbers are close on the area of the city, but it is not a furlong that is the measurement.  Thus two million square miles is more accurate and maybe 3 billion cubic miles is better.  And we can walk from Miami to New York City, instead of continuing to New Hampshire (as an example of the length).  Or, since we are talking about Jerusalem, how about the distance between Jerusalem and Rome (maybe Bari, Italy since Rome is about 1430 miles away).

But let us not get ahead of ourselves.  I have heard many pastors and read many commentaries about how God will “fix” this world.  No matter how badly we mess it up, God will fix it.

No, the old earth, the one we are on now will be destroyed.  A new earth and a new heaven will take its place.  Many could, if they felt like it, guess as to how that works.  Is there a multiverse as the comic books suggest?  Or actually a parallel universe to this one, hidden behind a veil for us to populate after God’s judgments?  What difference does it make?  These questions will probably never enter our minds because we will be in the presence of Almighty God.

First, a new heaven and new earth carries with it a new set of physical laws.  Get Sir Isaac Newton and a few other strong Christian scientists to work on that.  If the new Jerusalem rested on our existing earth, most inhabitants would be unable to breathe.  The breathable atmosphere is 6km or a little under 4 miles.  The troposphere is about 4 miles thick at the poles and 11 miles thick along the equator.  It makes up about 75% of the mass of the earth’s atmosphere, but the “atmosphere” of the earth is 60 miles thick.  Thus having people live almost 1,400 miles from the foundation of the New Jerusalem means that there is atmosphere there.

Yet, we have no night.  God is our Light.  Could God not also be our mass?  With mass, the natural laws of this world could explain how atmosphere, breathable atmosphere, could exist 1,400 miles into the sky, because God provides the gravitational force to hold that atmosphere in place.

Sorry, most folks think about transparent gold, and they get confused and go no further.  I love the scholarly comment above that sees transparent gold as being logical to radiate the light from God better.  It makes sense; if God went around the corner of a building, transparent gold walls would not cast a shadow.  There are no shadows, and no night.  God dwells among us.  And before you ask about sleep, the transformative dream that my wife had in the year 2,000 showed her that the more we moved, the more energy we had.  As long as we keep moving, there will be no need for sleep if her dream is correct.

I got tripped up on Revelation 21:24, with nations coming together and kings giving their treasures to God.  If all believers are in the New Jerusalem, where do these nations and kings come from?  But that is quoting Isaiah 60, tying yet another aspect of OT prophecy being fulfilled.  All believers will be united, and we will bring our treasures and lay them at the feet of Jesus.  As I discussed this with my wife, she said, “Sweetie, you are a nation unto yourself.  You are the king of that nation.  And you will give up everything in order to be with Jesus forever.”

As for the gems in the foundation and such, I wrote maybe 4-5 years ago about the differences in the gems on the priest’s breastplate and the gems that form the foundation of the New Jerusalem.  The best guesses of the scholars relating the names of the stones that a different are really talking about a stone that is roughly the same color.  Thus, one eyewitness can record that a blue stone, in a vision, might be lapis lazuli while another eyewitness might say the stone could be a sapphire or a blue topaz.  I am confident that the stones are the same.

So, wash your garments and get ready.  It will be wonderful.  Okay better than that, but they have not invented the words to describe it yet.

Some Serendipitous Reflections

Revelation 21: “1. Imagine yourself at the wedding feast with Christ: Are you the happy bride, or a lady-in-waiting? A direct participant, or a distant spectator? Why?
“2. How do you feel about knowing that the Holy City will be your hometown? How do you feel about the fact that this is what Jesus has prepared you for?
“3. What has caused you mourning, crying, and pain in the past year? What does it mean to you to know that this will pass away?
“4. How must the early Christians have greeted this vision of what was in store for them? How do you respond to this same hope?
“5. Create your own worship service based on Revelation 21:1-22:6.
“6. What difficulties of comprehension does this eternal city, the river of life, and the immediacy of these events pose for you? What bearing, if any, do these realities have on your present life? Why?”

  • Lyman Coleman, et al, The NIV Serendipity Bible for Study Groups

There is one set of questions for this chapter.

Substitute whatever group for any reference to a small group or ask who could come to your aid.

If you like these Thursday morning Bible studies, but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Thursday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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