God’s final Word – Chapter 21, verse 9 through 22, verse 5

God’s final Word – The celestial city of Heaven

The following comes through the notes of Mark Ramsey and the responses of the class.

  1. Looking back

    “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God ; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:1‭-‬6 NIV)

    When the class was asked for their response to this passage, one class member noted that Christ has promised to come back for us. Therefore, these were the best words.

    Another class member said that this underscored her urgency for sharing to her grandchildren.

    Yet another class member noted the wedding feast imagery. He noted that the bride’s party (the Church) would wait for the party of the bridegroom to come at an unknown time. The bride’s party would need to have oil (the Holy Spirit) in their lamps when the groom’s party came. The groom would take the bride to his home (heaven).

    Still another class member noted the wedding feast imagery. He noted how only those with white robes would be allowed to stay and that the robes would be supplied.

    Another class member noted that this all combined to erase their fear of death.

    Finally, one class member observed how this worked to encourage them to share the good news.

    The apostle John was among the eleven that memorable night. Decades later, pondering those events, John recorded Christ’s promise that He would come again to receive His church to Himself and to provide that special place that was prepared for them – a place in His Father’s house that has many rooms. Sixty years later, near the end of the first century, this same John was given a guided tour of the eternal dwelling place of the saints, the new heaven and earth.

    As we take in these incredible scenes, we need to keep in mind that this is an inspired, prophetic unveiling of our eternal home. Human language is inadequate to fully describe the unimaginable magnificence of the believers’ indescribable eternal home.

  2. The origin of the celestial city — Revelation 21:9-10

    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. (Revelation 21:9‭-‬10 NIV)

    “The bride, the wife of the Lamb” – this image has several meanings in Scripture – the physical Jerusalem and its inhabitants; Israel, the Old Testament people of God and the church, the New Testament people of God. Here, the image of the bride encompasses all of the Old and New Testament concepts. It will be the dwelling of all the redeemed of all the ages. Hebrews 11:10 and 12:22 describe the heavenly Jerusalem “whose architect and builder is God.” The angel then has John witness this Celestial City complete its descent to the new earth.

    For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. (Hebrews 11:10 NIV)

    But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, (Hebrews 12:22 NIV)

  3. The appearance of the celestial city — Revelation 21:11

    It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. (Revelation 21:11 NIV)

    John uses two words to convey its stunning appearance: glory and brilliance – two terms that describe the brilliant glory of God. This most likely refers to the fiery, glowing presence of God-shekinah glory.

    When John refers to the “jasper” stone, this probably refers to an unblemished, perfectly clear diamond. Nothing on earth even begins to compare what God has prepared for us.

    One class member commented on the difficult matter that John faced translating what he was shown by God into something we can understand.

    That class member wonder what might John have seen to tell us of “brilliance” and “glory?” Considering that he described transparent gold (something that does not occur normally in our universe), what else has he seen, but not been able to describe?

  4. The exterior of the celestial city — Revelation 21:12-14

    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. (Revelation 21:12‭-‬14 NIV)

    Upon the gates were the names of the 12 tribes of Israel, representing the totality of the Old Testament people of God and upon the foundations were the names of the 12 apostles of Christ, representing the New Testament church of God. The city will be the dwelling place of the united people of God, whose salvation rests on the completed work of Jesus Christ.

  5. The dimensions of the celestial city — Revelation 21:15-17

    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. (Revelation 21:15‭-‬17 NIV)

    The size of the city is staggering – nearly 1,500 miles along one wall! This city will be perfectly proportionate to the new earth, which God will fashion for the eternal state.

  6. The materials of the celestial city — Revelation 21:18-21

    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. (Revelation 21:18‭-‬21 NIV)

    When asked about the gates (each made from a single pearl), one class member commented on how pearls get formed when an injury gets inflicted on the oyster. Likewise, our entry into heaven depends on the stripes laid on Christ for our healing.

    Another class member commented on the pure white quality of the pearl and the purity of Christ’s sacrifice.

    The foundations of the city will be adorned with “every kind” of jewel. Such materials probably symbolize the great diversity of people that will dwell within the city’s walls. Secondly, the city is pure as gold, pure as glass, reflecting the holiness and glory of God. Third, each gate will be created from one giant pearl. The significance of the “pearly gates” is often missed – John Phillips comments:

    “All other precious gems are metals or stones, but a pearl is a gem formed within an oyster- the only one formed by living flesh. The humble oyster receives an irritation or wound, and around its offending article that penetrated and hurt it, the oyster builds a pearl. The pearl, we might say, is the answer of the oyster to that which injured it.” ( Exploring Revelation, p.254)

    The pearl represents pain, resulting in beauty, reminding us that Christ’s suffering had an eternal purpose and opened heaven for us.

    There will be no vanity, no materialism, no envy, and no greed.

  7. The distinctiveness of the celestial city — Revelation 21:22

    I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. (Revelation 21:22 NIV)

    There will be no temple. The center of worship will be the Father and the Son. All the inhabitants will worship forever in the presence and by the power of the Holy Spirit.

  8. The brilliance of the celestial city — Revelation 21:23-27

    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 21:23‭-‬27 NIV)

    When asked, one class member said that this brought her feelings of security and peace in light of the pervasive power of God.

    Another class member noted that all believers have their names in the Lamb’s book of life. That will ensure our entrance to heaven.

    The new creation will not have seasons, nor require sources of light as God will illumine heaven and earth with His own glory. In this new creation, God will replace error, sin’s corruption, the fallen flesh and the evil administration of the world. As light dispels darkness, the holy, shining presence of God will drive out all wickedness and falsehood. In this light-the glory of God – all nations will walk. They will pass through the open gates without hesitation. Can you imagine what a glorious place this will be?

  9. The blessing of the celestial city — Revelation 22:1-5

    Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:1‭-‬5 NIV)

    The water of life is not water as we know it; it is a symbol of eternal life.

    With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:3 NIV)

    And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (John 14:13‭-‬14 NIV)

    It is a constant flow of everlasting life from God’s throne to God’s people. The tree of life is the celestial counterpart to the tree of life in Eden and this tree provides for those who are immortal. The tree of life was a familiar Jewish concept that expressed blessing and the celestial tree symbolizes the blessing of eternal life. The 12 kinds of fruit yielding its fruit every month emphasizes the infinite variety that will fill heaven. The term, “month”, is an anthropomorphic expression of the joyous provision of eternity couched in the familiar terms of time since this is an eternal state and time is no more.

    “Leaves were for healing” – the Greek word, “θεραπείαν” (healing) does not imply illness and a better way to translate it would be “life-giving” or “therapeutic.”

    The saints in the New Jerusalem will also see God’s face.

    Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (Matthew 5:8 NIV)

    Being perfectly holy and righteous, they will be able to endure the heavenly level of blazing, glorious light from God’s presence without being consumed-something impossible for mortal men.. The redeemed will also be God’s personal possessions – leaving no doubt as to who they belong to forever.

    Their (our) heavenly experience reveals that we will reign forever and ever.

    To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:21 NIV)

    Can you imagine? The glorious reality that we, as sinful rebels, made righteous through Christ, will enjoy intimate fellowship with the Father and the Son, Jehovah God Almighty, and the King of kings and Lord of lords, serve Them and reign with Them forever in complete joy and constant praise. Indescribable; incomprehensible.

  10. Reflection

    How does the description of our ultimate destiny address your present frustrations, sorrows or fears? Reflect on the influence our study of this passage has on your attitude, your decisions and your relationship with others.


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