The 20th chapter of revelation dealt with life during the 1000-year reign of Christ upon the earth. At the end of that time satan will be cast into hell for eternity, as we will begin a new aspect of our eternal life. The 21st chapter deals with what heaven will be like from two perspectives:
- Vs. 1-8 What life will be like for those in heaven
- Vs. 9-27 What heaven will look like
It is important to realize that it is very difficult to express the eternal from the vantage point of the finite. Even though this is the most complete chapter on the subject to be found. Paul in writing to the Corinthian’s in his 2nd letter to them spoke of his own experience saying, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago; whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows; such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man; whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows; how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” Now there will come a time as Paul says in 1 Cor. 13:12 that even though “now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” Eternity will be a timeless place where everything that was past is future and everything future is past because everything is present.
Vs. 1-8 Behold I make all things new
Vs. 1 It is interesting to compare how the world begin with how it will begin again:
- The world began in a garden, but eternity will begin in a city
- It was started with the words “In the beginning God created” and eternity will start with the words “Behold I make all things new, and it is done” (verses 5-6)
- In Gen. 3 a cure is pronounced because of man’s curse and is 22:3 God pronounces no more curse therefore we will not need the cure because we will have been cured!
- In the first chapter of Gen. God creates the heavens and the earth and in Rev. He creates a new heaven and earth
- In the 3rd chapter of Gen. death enters the human race in Rev 21: 4 there is an announcement that there will be no more death
In the bible there are three words that speak of the heavens:
- Atmospheric: Which speaks of the gas’s that surround the earth.
- Stellar: Which speak of the sun, moon, and stars.
- Third heaven: Which is described as the place where God abides.
What John sees as being recreated would deal with the areas where man’s fall affected them. Peter in his 2nd letter wrote that, “the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up….the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?” Science tells us that the earth is 25,000 miles in circumference and 8,000 mile in diameter and at the center is made up of a liquid lake of fire which at certain times under pressure erupts to revealing this truth. What this tells us is that simply put we are living on a bomb.
Apparently in the new heaven and earth there will be no division of land meaning that people will not be separated based upon ¾ of our earth’s service being water.
Vs. 2 John sees a literal city coming down out of heaven which he will describe at length in verse 10-27. God spoke through Isaiah in chapter 65:17 and chapter 66:22 about this saying, “behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.” And “as the new heavens and the new earth Which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the LORD, “So shall your descendants and your name remain.” Jesus also spoke of this saying in John 14:2-3 “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” In this book Jesus spoke to the Church at Philadelphia saying, “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. And I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.” Abraham and his descendants after him we are told in Hebrews 11:10 “waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”
Vs. 3-5 Here we are given the most important part of this new city, “He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people.” The word “tabernacle” is a word that carries the idea of fellowship and blessing and is the same word that John uses in his gospel saying in 1:14 that Jesus “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. The origin of the word goes back to the time prior to the temple when Moses was instructed by God to build a sanctuary in order that He may reveal Himself to His people. In the 40th chapter of Exodus that which God spoke about building the tabernacle in the 25th chapter was filled with His glory. The problem with this was that His presence among them was interrupt constantly by their sin so that only on the day of atonement would He fill the tent with His glory. Ah but in John’s declaration in the words of His gospel God’s glory was again visible in His only Son who pitched himself next to us that we might see His glory. Yet still based upon Philips words in John 14:8-9 asking Jesus to show them the Father Jesus said, “He who has seen me has seen the Father”. Jesus had already declared to them in the 10:30 that He and the Father were one. Paul wrote to the Col. 1:15-19 concerning Jesus that He is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist of. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell” So here He will take up His permanent residence forever dwelling with us so that all of His character will be known by us.
Vs. 4-5 John describes here, first in negatives (what won’t be in the world any longer).
- “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes”: What a great picture of the comfort of God.
- “There shall be no more death”: Gone forever will be the cure of our rebellion.
- “Nor sorrow”: Those emotions tied to our sin will no longer have a place.
- “Nor crying”: Gone as well will be weeping for our failure
- “There shall be no more pain”: All such things caused by our sin even pain shall find no place to roost in heaven.
I believe furthermore that all such memories well fade into the context of those things God worked in our lives for our good and His glory.
The word “new” here is a word that speaks of such as new in character and so great is this that God attests to this truth based upon His nature.
Vs. 6-8 The citizens of heaven will be satisfied people. Notice the words “it is done” speaks of the truth that God will put back into order what He intended. He identifies His ability to do so by who He is:
- “I am the Alpha and the Omega”: These are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet which is to say that He sum total of everything.
- “The Beginning and the End”: These words speak of His deity as He is not just the first in the point of time but rather the source and origin of all things.
- “I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts”: Finally, He offers an invitation to all to partake of Him and be refreshed with only the condition that you do so freely.
The “overcomers” of verse 7 are best understood by the words of John in 1st John 5:4-5 where he tells us that they are those, “who believes that Jesus is the Son of God”.
Finally, we see here those who will not be in heaven:
- “cowardly”: Faithless and fearful as they denied to death trust in Jesus
- “unbelieving”: Disbelieving and untrustworthy as they declared God word not trustworthy.
- “abominable”: The word means to stink and in this usage speaks of a person who is so polluted that there is a stench about them.
- “murderers”: The person who kills intentionally
- “Sexually immoral”: The sexual promiscuous
- “sorcerers”: The druggist
- “idolaters”: The image worshiper
- “And all liars”: Every untrue, deceitful, and wicked person
Vs. 9-27 Come I will show you the great city
Vs. 9-10 One of the angels who’s first assignment was that of delivering the sever judgments of God upon a world that rejected Jesus is now given the privilege of revealing the dwelling place of God and His bride. The angel declares that he will show John the “bride the Lamb’s wife”. A city cannot be a bride but like a wedding dress upon the betrothed it reveals the truth that she is His chosen wife. The angel declares the glory of the gown (the city) in which the bride will be placed in. In verse 1 John saw this city coming down out of heaven here he is taken to a higher view of the city.
Vs. 11-14 Here we are given the general description of this eternal city. Now it is important to remember that this city has already been described as “new, holy out of heaven and from God”.
- Vs. 11 Tells us that it will be a city where it will be completely illuminated by the glory of God which is specifically said to be coming from the Lamb. The light is like most precious stone probably a reference to diamond. Everything in the city is built to reflect and refract light which suggests to us that we will forever be aware of the glory of God, what Moses desired to see but could not, we will make our home in.
- Vs. 12-14 Furthermore this will be a walled city that is both great and high which would indicate that it is exclusive and only those who are their based upon the Lord’s worthiness will find themselves inside the wall. The wall will have 12 gates three on each side guarded by angels named after the 12 tribes of Israel. The angels will be an honor guard to allow those to enter in and go out. The appearance of those names will remind us of god’s faithfulness in spite of man’s failure. There will be 12 foundations inscribed with the names of the 12 apostles which will remind us of God’s faithfulness to His Church.
Vs. 15-17 The dimensions are given us, and they will equal about 1,400 square miles or the length of San Francisco to Cincinnati in length, breadth as well as height approximately ¾ of the size of the U.S. The walls just mentioned are 216 feet tall with no function as God will dwell in the city co perhaps they will speak to us of our security in Him? Heaven will not be in the sky as we know it but rather upon a recreated earth above which will be a recreated heaven which we will come and go too.
Vs. 18-21 John also lists the construction materials which are made up of very expensive material on earth but will be common materials in heaven. So, what does that tell us? Well, it seems that in heaven the materials used will be beautiful to behold but of no value other than to reflect what is precious the glory of God. It also seems that the materials are layered to create a rainbow effect. The gates are of made of one solid pearl man think of the oyster. Perhaps the reason is to be found in how a pearl is formed? A tiny grain of sand injures the oyster causing it to secret a fluid to protect. I think that is what Jesus has done for us as he has secreted His save around us who caused His injury and made something beautiful out of common dirt.
Vs. 22-27 John notices five things missing from this city:
- There will be no temple: The temple was the place where God would shoe His glory but in heaven God’s glory will be seen everywhere.
- There will be no sun or moon to light the city: why because the Light of the world will be the light of heaven.
- There will be no nations: Only one nation centered around the King of King’s.
- There will be no sleeping as we will have forever entered His rest and gates will never close to this.
- Finally, there will not one person who does not want to be there.