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, having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; 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: on the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.
And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. 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. 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. And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. 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; 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. 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.
And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. 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. 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. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. 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. Revelation 21:10-27 (KJV)
The description of the abiding place of the Bride. The place Jesus speaks of in John 14:1-3.
The description John gives is only as splendid and glorious as he could give in human terms. Whenever you try to communicate the holy to the unholy all you will do is come up far short of actuality. For instance, “the lake of fire” – the fire may indeed be a human description by symbol, however, the reality or the substance is greater than the symbol.
It is like a nuclear physicist who writes down all he knows and hands it to a kindergarten student. That student will have no idea of what he is looking at. God was showing John some wonderful things and inspired him to write the way he has so we could have a little understanding of the glory which awaits us.
In verse 10 the angel takes John, “In the Spirit”, to a mountain where he sees the holy Jerusalem descending “out of heaven from God”. Warren Wiersbe writes…
“The eternal city is not only the home of the bride; it is the bride! A city is not buildings; it is people” (from the BIBLE EXPOSITION COMMENTARY by Warren Wiersbe, Vol. 2, pg. 623).
The city is described as having foundations, walls, and gates.
FOUNDATIONS speak of permanence. The houses we build, though they do have foundations, are only temporary when marked by eternity. They are only the tents of “pilgrims and strangers” (Hebrews 11:8-10).
WALLS speak of protection. This wall of the city is eternal. Nothing wicked and vile can enter this city for the only entrance is by way of the blood of Jesus.
GATES speak of a way in – an entrance. God used Israel as an entrance for Christ to become flesh. Christ is the door through which man can come to God.
The bride of Christ would then seem to be made up of those of Israel who believe and the Church whom Jesus Christ “…hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us” (Eph. 3:14).
Each gate of the city is named for one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Each of the twelve foundations is named for one of the apostles.
In chapter 11 John is commanded to measure the temple (a symbolic gesture of ownership). Here, he witnesses as the angel measure the heavenly city. The dimensions of the city are staggering. FOURSQUARE means the city is equal on all sides. The shape could be either a cube or pyramid. The length, height, and breadth equal “twelve thousand furlongs” – a furlong is equal to 220 yards today – if we say a furlong is equal to 600 feet we would come up with a city fo 1,500 miles long, it would have a breadth of 1,500 miles and a height of 1,500 miles. To help us understand this – to place this city in perspective to the United States, it would cover over half of the contiguous states land mass. It is a large city, showing that God has provided plenty of room for all who will come to Him through His Son Jesus.
Now we come to the wall. It measured 144 cubits. If a cubit equals 18 inches, then the wall would be 72 yards high or 216 feet.
The construction of the city is astounding; walls of Jasper, streets of pure gold, foundations decorated with precious stones (Jasper, 2. sapphire, 3. Chalcedony, 4. emerald, 5. sardonyx, 6. sardius, 7. chrysolite, 8. Beryl, 9. topaz, 10. chrysoprasus, 11. jacinth, 12. amethyst). We can tell by this description that the bride of the Lamb is certainly arrayed in glory and beauty (Eph. 5:27a), the gates are twelve pearls, the street of pure gold. What a place to walk. The thing for which men crave most on earth will be under our feet in the new Jerusalem.
There is no temple (v. 22), “The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it”. Notice the plurality and the singularity of this verse concerning the temple, God, and the Lamb. We will forever be in Christ Jesus and He in us (John 17:21-22).
There is no need of the sun or the moon. Verse 23 does not say a sun or moon does not exist. It appears to be saying that the glory of God and of the Lamb is the light of the new Jerusalem – the holy city come out of heaven from God. The glory of God will be so bright that the sun and moon will fade into the background – similar to how the other stars are unseen during the daylight hours, due to the “glory” of the sun.
Then, “nations” are probably those who dwell on the “new earth”. These have access to the city, but evidently do not live there. These walk in the light of the glorious city. These may be those who chose to remain faithful to the Lamb of God during the thousand years of His reign and during the last attempt by Satan to lead them astray. The very fact of their faith is the glory they bring into the city each time.
They are free to come and go as they please – the gates are always opened.
Only those whose names “are written in the Lamb’s book of life” can enter there.
What construction! What beauty! What a Savior! The Temple of that City and the Light of that City is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb