Revelation 21:3

a loud voice from heaven
The NU text has from the throne. A loud voice from heaven told John not to write what the seven thunders uttered (Rev. Rev. 10:4+). The same voice commanded John to take the little book from the hand of the angel which stood on the sea and earth (Rev. Rev. 10:8+). A loud voice from heaven called the two witnesses up to heaven at the time of their Rapture (Rev. Rev. 11:12+). A loud voice from heaven indicated that those who died at the time of the worship of the Beast would be blessed (Rev. Rev. 14:13+). A loud voice from heaven called God’s people out of Babylon prior to her destruction (Rev. Rev. 18:4+). In each case, the voice is probably that of God. Here, the voice refers to God in the third person which may indicate it is that of a mighty angel: “This is an announcement about God, not directly from Him.”1

Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men
Tabernacle is σκηνὴ [skēnē] , Heb. 11:9] . . . [used] in the account of the Transfiguration . . . Mtt. Mat. 17:4; Mark Mark 9:5; Luke Luke 9:33.”2 The same term is used of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness (Acts Acts 7:44) and of David (Acts Acts 15:16). The Beast blasphemed the tabernacle of God (Rev. Rev. 13:6+). The temple of the tabernacle of the testimony was opened prior to the pouring forth of the seven bowls of wrath (Rev. Rev. 15:5+). The tabernacle is the meeting place between sinful man and a holy God. Through His work on the cross, Jesus created the Temple of the Believer , the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit among believers in this age (1Cor. 1Cor. 6:19; 2Cor. 2Cor. 6:16; Eph. Eph. 2:19-22). But the spiritual union of believers with Christ is not the ultimate communion which the voice now declares. “For 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” (1Cor. 1Cor. 13:12 cf. Rev. Rev. 22:4+).

Such an unveiled view of God is impossible for mortal men. No living person has ever seen God in the fullness of His glory (John John 1:18; John 6:46; 1Jn. 1Jn. 4:12); He is invisible (Col. Col. 1:15; 1Ti. 1Ti. 1:1.17) and “dwells in unapproachable light” (1Ti. 1Ti. 6:16; cf. Ps. Ps. 104:2), exposure to which would mean instant death for any living person (Ex. Ex. 33:20). But in heaven, “the pure in heart . . . shall see God” (Mtt. Mat. 5:8), since they will be perfectly holy.3

He will dwell with them and they shall be His people.
He will dwell is σκηνώσει [skēnōsei] , related to σκηνὴ [skēnē] , tabernacle. The same root word, σκηνοω [skēnoō] , describes God dwelling among men in the incarnation (John John 1:14). People is λαοὶ [laoi] : “peoples” (TR and NU texts), but λαὸς [laos] : “people” (MT text). If plural, it may refer to the nations (ἔθνη [ethnē] ) which bring their glory and honor into the city (Rev. Rev. 21:24-26+).4 Of all the things which God could say concerning the blessings attending the eternal state, why is this emphasized by being the first? Because it is the greatest blessing found in all of Scripture. In this promise is found the culmination of the scarlet thread of redemption which runs from Genesis through Revelation. This has been the great purpose of the Kinsman-Redeemer, Jesus Christ (see commentary on Revelation 5:2). Since the rebellion of Adam, every tabernacle, every Temple, every correspondence between God and man has been with this ultimate goal in mind: the restoration of full fellowship between God and man. Thus, the great multitude which John saw coming out of the Great Tribulation were blessed by being in God’s presence night and day: “And He who sits on the throne will dwell [tabernacle] among them” (Rev. Rev. 7:15+). Now, in the New Jerusalem, man will see God face-to-face (Rev. Rev. 22:4+)—without the encumbrance of sin which has separated man since the Fall in the Garden of Eden. See The Abiding Presence of God. Being His people speaks of an intimate relationship between God and men (Lev. Lev. 26:11-12; Jer. Jer. 7:23-24; Jer. 11:4; Jer. 30:18-22; Jer. 32:38; Zec. Zec. 13:8-9). They are only His people because He has given them a heart to know Him. It is a work of God. This spiritual restoration had already begun for Israel in the Millennial Kingdom:

For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land; I will build them and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the LORD; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart. (Jer. Jer. 24:6-7) [emphasis added]

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, “Know the LORD,” for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more. (Jer. Jer. 31:33-34) [emphasis added]

During that time, God’s sanctuary had been in the midst of Israel (Eze. Eze. 37:24) within the Millennial Temple. Now, in the New Jerusalem, God is the Temple—the entire city is as the holy of holies of all previous temples. In the past, both Israel (Hos. Hos. 1:10; Rom. Rom. 9:26) and the Gentiles (Zec. Zec. 2:10-11) were “not his people.” In the eternal state, all the redeemed are His.

Notes

1 Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8-22 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1995), Rev. 21:3.

2 Frederick William Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 754.

3 John MacArthur, Revelation 12-22 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 2000), Rev. 21:3.

4 “A noticeable change from the singular to the plural λαοί [laoi] , ‘peoples,’ makes an expansion beyond the boundaries of Israel, usually referred to by the singular λαός [laos] , ‘people.’ ”—Thomas, Revelation 8-22, Rev. 21:3.

Read Revelation 21:3