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X. The New Creation and the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-27)

21:1 History as we know it is over at this point, and John begins to describe the eternal state in which believers will dwell. The eternal state in which unbelievers will exist has already been described (see 20:14-15). Believers will live in a new heaven and a new earth because the first heaven and the first earth will pass away.

21:12-14 The city’s massive high wall (21:12) signifies the identity of its inhabitants. First, the names of the twelve tribes of Israel’s sons [are] inscribed on the gates (21:12), signifying that believers from Old Testament Israel will be present within it. Second, the city wall is pictured with twelve foundations and the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb are written on the foundations (21:14). This signifies the presence of believers from the church, which was established in the New Testament era. Old and new covenant followers of the Lord will dwell together in the new creation.

21:15-17 The angel measures the city, its gates, and its wall (21:15) to reveal that the city is a cube of 12,000 stadia in length, width, and height (21:16). A stadia is approximately 600 feet, which means each dimension of the city is approximately 1,400 miles—about half the distance from New York to Los Angeles. The most mind-blowing aspect of these dimensions is the height. It’s a multi-storied city that extends up—and this is just the capital of God’s new creation! The wall encasing this city will be 144 cubits, about 72 yards, thick.

21:18-21 The wall will be made of jasper, an opaque gemstone. The city itself will be pure gold (21:18). The foundations of the city wall are to be adorned with every kind of jewel (21:19). The list of them in 21:19-20 defies comment. Each of the twelve gates will be a single pearl, and the main street of the city will be pure gold (21:21). This is where we draw the idea that there are streets of gold in our eternal home—not of tar, not of cement, but of gold!

21:22 There will be a temple in Jerusalem during the tribulation and during the millennium. But there will be no temple in the new Jerusalem because a representation of God’s presence will no longer be necessary. We will have his direct presence.

21:23-26 There will be no sun or moon needed in the city because the glory of God illumines it, and its lamp is the Lamb (21:23). Our sun is ninety-three million miles away, yet its power is sufficient to illumine the earth. God’s presence, though, can replace the sun with ease because the Lord possesses an even greater degree of power and radiance. That it will never be night there suggests believers’ glorified bodies will never get tired and need to sleep.

Moreover, we won’t get bored. On the new earth, there will be nations and kings (21:24) functioning in a national context and bringing their glory and honor into the city (21:26). Everyone will come to the new Jerusalem as a highlight of their lives on the new earth. And why not, given its splendor?

21:27 While the invitation to dwell in this city is universal, the requirements to enter are specific: Nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those written in the Lamb’s book of life, who have received Jesus as their Savior by faith.

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