City

Revelation 21:1-27

City - Enseñanza (audio)

Think about the way a pearl necklace hangs from a woman’s neck. It falls, and then it rises so that the first and last pearls in the string sit next to each other, divided only by the clasp. When the clasp is undone and necklace is stretched out, the first and last pearls seem far apart, but when they are joined by the clasp, they are brought closely together.

The Bible story begins in a garden, ends in a city, and all the way through, points us to Jesus Christ. The garden and the city may seem a long way apart. But, like the pearls on the necklace, God has brought them remarkably close together.

The Bible begins with God creating the heavens and the earth. It ends with God creating a new heaven and a new earth. Everything that Adam lost will be restored and much more besides.

A New Heaven and a New Earth

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven, and the first earth had passed away. (Revelation 21:1)

We can easily understand why God would make a new earth, but why would God make a new heaven?

Before there was ever rebellion on earth, there was rebellion in heaven. Satan wanted to ascend to the throne of God, and so he was cast out. The possibility of evil existed both on the earth and in heaven.

But now John sees that the enemy will be consigned to destruction forever, and that God will shape a new heaven, free not only from the presence of evil but even from its possibility.

Then John says that he saw a “new earth.” “New” means that it will be wonderfully different. “Earth” means that it will be strangely familiar. The destiny of the Christian believer is not a dreamlike existence in an imaginary world. God will reshape, recreate, replenish and renew this planet (Romans 8:21).

The joys of the new heaven and earth are beyond anything that we can imagine, but God uses two pictures to give us some inkling of what lies ahead for His people. They are the city, and the garden

Jerusalem, Jerusalem

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. (Revelation 21:2)

At this point in the story, human history as we know it has been brought to a close. London, Chicago, Jerusalem, Cairo, Peking, Moscow, Baghdad, Bangkok, Johannesburg and Calcutta, are all gone! The earth has been laid bare in the fervent heat of God’s judgment (2 Peter 3:10, Hebrews 1:10-12).

Now John saw a new city coming down from heaven. He immediately recognized its skyline. Jerusalem! It was unmistakably familiar to him.

Jerusalem is full of significance in the Bible story. This was the place where God came down to meet with His people when the cloud of His presence filled the temple.

Taking the Measurements

The new city was absolutely vast. It was laid out like a square, and measured twelve thousand stadia (Revelation 21:16). That’s one thousand four hundred miles, about the distance from New York to Houston. The area covered by the city would be about three-quarters the size of America or five times the size of Great Britain. It is absolutely overwhelming.

John had already seen that God’s people are more than anyone could number. Now God was communicating that He has a vast city for this vast crowd. He has a place for every one of His people.

The measurements of the city are given in three dimensions. “It is as wide and high as it is long” (21:16). In other words, it is a perfect cube.

John would have seen the significance of this immediately. The most holy place in the temple, where God met with His people was also a perfect cube, thirty feet long, thirty feet wide and thirty feet high (1 Kings 6:20).

The old city had a holy place, where the presence of God came down. The new city is a holy place, where God’s presence will remain. In the old Jerusalem, one room was filled with His glory. In the New Jerusalem, the whole city will be filled with His glory, and a vast crowd of men and women more than anyone could number are able to live in the light of God’s presence.

Paradise Restored

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life…On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month” (Revelation 22:1-2).

Up to this point in the vision, John has viewed the New Jerusalem from the outside. But now, he is invited to come inside. As he enters, the picture changes and no doubt to his absolute astonishment, John sees a garden!

The Bible story began in a garden and now, at the end of the Bible story, this paradise is restored. But notice that there is no tree of the knowledge of good and evil in God’s new garden city. Evil can no longer be known there. This garden is free not only from its presence, but even from its possibility.

In the new garden, God’s people have access to the tree of life which bears twelve different crops of fruit, ready to pick every month. The variety of fruit speaks of the riches of life continually replenished in the presence of God.

The pleasures of God’s new Garden city will surpass anything Adam knew in the Garden of Eden. You will taste fruits Adam never tasted, and enjoy pleasures Adam never knew.

Serving and Reigning

His servants will serve Him. They will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 21:3,5)

In the first garden, Adam served God by ruling or reigning over the animal kingdom. He stood in authority over them. But when the serpent came, he did not maintain his rule.

But now God’s people are restored to a position of serving and reigning. Thankfully, this does not mean that we will all have jobs in government administration!

When God speaks about us reigning, He is telling us that life will be ordered and brought under your control. You will no longer be subject to the tyranny of time, piles of paperwork and all that goes with it. You will no longer swept away by unpredictable tides of emotion, deceptions of the mind or impulses of the will. You will no longer endure dysfunctional relationships, and you will no longer be subject to danger or death.

Your life will be ordered, your work fulfilled, and your relationships whole. Life itself will be brought under your control, and you will be free to fulfill all the purposes of God.

Enjoying the Presence of God

The throne of God and of the lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face. (Revelation 22:3)

God’s presence in this city is its greatest blessing. In the Garden of Eden, God came down as a visitor and made Himself known. He did not impose himself on the man and the woman, but gave them the opportunity of choosing a relationship of faith and obedience with Him.

But now, God has gathered a vast community of people who have come to love God freely. So God is no longer a visitor. His throne comes down into the city so that God’s people may live in His presence and enjoy Him forever. “Now, the dwelling of God is with men” (21:3).

The Great Invitation

The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ (Revelation 22:17)

John saw twelve gates into God’s garden city. There were three on each side, indicating that people would come from the north, south, east and west into it (21:12-13).

John saw an angel at each gate (21:12). At the beginning of the Bible story the Cherubim and a flaming sword guarded the entrance to the tree of life. But there is no flaming sword now. Jesus Christ has come and the sword of God’s judgment has been broken on Him. Now the angels stand by the gates not to forbid entrance, but to provide a welcome for all who will come.

The Lord Jesus Christ has opened up the way to everlasting life for you. He offers all this to you, but you must come! Enter, by repentance and faith, into what Jesus has opened up for you. Come and receive the life that He offers to you. Come to Him, because His people will enter into this marvelous city.

The Spirit and the Bride invite you to come. The bride is the church. If you have not yet come to faith in Jesus Christ, it is more than likely that there is a Christian somewhere who has been praying and longing that you will do so. It is my privilege, to speak for the bride and I invite you to come.

The Holy Spirit also says, “come.” God wants you to be part of this, and He invites you. Do not stand at a distance from the priceless gift God offers to you. Come!

Photographs and Memories

I’m grateful that my wife Karen enjoys putting photograph albums together. They are a wonderful record of our lives. We experience life in different places at different moments of time. When I look through the photograph album, I remember, ‘yes, I was there, then.’

As you read the end of this book, you are in a particular place at a moment in time. You know yourself to be here, now.

If you have come to Christ, the moment will come when you will know yourself to be there. And when you are there, you will be there forever.

Pause for Prayer

Gracious Lord,

I come to receive by faith what you offer to me in Jesus Christ. I ask that you will make me a citizen of your kingdom, and that one day, Christ will lead me into the place He is preparing for all His people.

Thank you that this is His promise for all who believe, and therefore that it is His promise to me. Help me, to live for Your glory until that day dawns.

In Jesus name, Amen.

City - Escritura (audio)

Revelation 21:1-27

The New Heaven and the New Earth

1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And 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 from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

The New Jerusalem

9 Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed— 13 on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15 And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. 16 The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal. 17 He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel’s measurement. 18 The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

(ESV)

Use these questions to further engage with God's Word. Discuss them with another person or use them as personal reflection questions.

1Which characteristics of God’s Garden City appeal to you most?
2On what basis will people be allowed or denied access to the New Jerusalem?
3What difference can the Christian’s hope make to the reality of daily life now?
4What is the most important thing God has taught you through this book? What difference can this make to your life?

Detalles

ESCRITURA Revelation 21:1-27

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